24 Hours of Rapelje Race Report

I don’t know when I started thinking and realizing that maybe I should blog about last weekend’s bike race. I have great support, Triple Ring Productions for paying my way to the 24 Hours of Rapelje, and Carbo Rocket for setting me up with enough juice to rip off 235 miles in 24 hours. Yes, 235 miles and this is how I did it.

11:01 AM Lap 1 (1:03 lap/2 sec pit)

You couldn’t call it running but maybe the work lofting would describe it best. I ran in the grass beside the road and calmly found Ed who was holding my bike for me. He had a bewildered look on his face. I leaped onto my bike an joined the mob heading West with the Crazy Mountain Range in the distance.

I took the lead because in Rapelje there was no way to tell the soloists apart from the teams riders because the organizers don’t supply us with rear plates. the only way to tell is to ride to the front and look back as people try and pass to see if their number plate is of the 100 series.

The first one to pass was Aaron and it looked like he was adapting to mountain bike racing well. He was driving hard so I let up and he started to build a lead on the rest of us.

Suddenly Sten passed me and I was wondering if he was going to go out too hard. I set in behind him since he was in the Solo category. Then Andrew spazing out  passed me and then waited until a ditch crossing to pass Sten. He crashed into the ditch and actually had a interlude with Rich as he went down. Sten said, “someone’s trying to pass in the wrong place”, or something like that.

Aaron was riding very well and I was feeling so proud of him but eventually Andrew finally obtained the lead and I grabbed his wheel. He insisted on hammering the pace so I let him go out into the sage brush alone thrashing the hills and costing the rest on his single speed. I kept him in sight but when I took the “rock section” the field got a bit ahead of me.

Just before the race started the race organizer took out our favorite rock section because he learned that last year some riders missed the turn and gained a little advantage.

Near the end of the lap there is a open cattle grazing field. The field followed the flags marking the course until they ran out. we all stopped and wondered where the course went. We rode across the field to the West until we retained the flag trail. Apparently the organizers were marking the course and didn’t meet up in one section.

A the end of the lap I regained the lead as Andrew had the disadvantage on the downhill to the pit area.

12:04 PM Lap 2 (1:01 lap/1.5 min pit)

I settled into a great steady race pace and the lap went pretty well. I was under way and happy to be finally going for 200 miles. The dust had settled and I was feeling good. At the end where we got lost, near a windmill I call “winds of change”, the route had been marked well so there was no getting lost. The GPS track shows the different routes back to thee start area.

Andrew was still riding aggressively but I was also feeling my oats so I put in a strong lap, that is until near the end on the last farm road climb along a fence line. A huge storm rolled in and lightening was crashing to my right. Then the hail hit and was beating me into a pulp. I winced and made my way the best I could.

I entered thee road to the finish and in that last section got extremely muddy and started to fear that the race would be canceled for the second year. I rolled into the pits yelling for any status on the race. I wanted to get out on another lap before they canceled.

Andrew came rolling in erasing my lead. I knew I had to keep him in close check because if they canceled the winner of the next lap would win the race.

1:08 PM Lap 3(1:17 lap/5 min pit): Trying to avoid the mud  was easy at first but some sections was coating me from head to toe with mud. This made my progression slow but I didn’t want to wear out my bike before the race even began. The name of the game is protecting the equipment. Andrew caught me pretty easy with his stomp it into the mud attaching style. This is the beauty of single speed, no gears and extra equipment to protect.

As we passed the windmill “winds of change” and entered the fields to the finish we were suddenly stopped by gumbo mud. I could see in the distance numerous racers stuck with 4 wheelers trying to pull them out. I knew we would have to run our bikes.

A guy on a 4 wheeler drove us like cattle across the field and had us jump the fence. I followed Andrew close because I figured this was our last lap. The course was being re routed once again.

As Andrew drove hard and pushed the pace I had no option to stick with my heart rate plan. I drove hard through the mud as well.  It was going to be delightful to watch him die later on.

The pit was total chaos. I scrambled to put on a rain jacket under my helmet and over the rest of my mud laden quivering body as Ben takes my bike to the hose and quickly cleans the drive train off. The bike was still a mess so I opted to take out my Leader hard tail. I was ripping apart my pit area looking for my fender as Andrew went out for another lap. I had to go, I couldn’t let him go. This could be the last lap.

Ben cleans bike but it is till too muddy. Putting on rain coat as Andrew heads out while I am looking for my fender.

2:30 PM Lap 4 (1:12 lap/1.5 min pit):

While Ben was back in my pit area cleaning my race bike the hard tail I was on was absolutely brutalizing my body and I was afraid the frame would break. The Rapelje course is one of the roughest around with its cow hoof holes.

Andrew was not riding as aggressively this lap and it was pretty easy to keep him in check.  Near the end and again a different route past the “winds of change” we passed a rider and suddenly Andrew started to slow down. I thought great, the next couple laps I get to watch him unravel from all the aggressive riding. He informed me that he just lapped his competition. He slowed even more and I rode on thinking that would be the last I would have a riding partner.

3:44 PM Lap 5 (1:11 lap/4.5 min pit)

I rode a lap alone to find Andrew in the pits. Apparently he had broken his crank. I offered up my hard tail and he looked as though he was out for the duration. He had a plate of food and was starting to party. I left my competition and walked to the transition area. Apparently the next person down was Rich and Sten with another ride in close chase.

4:59 PM Lap 6 (1:11 lap/1 min pit)

Another lap down in the books I was riding steady, relaxed, and in first position by almost 30 minutes. I was having a hard time reading the spread sheets in the transition area so I couldn’t tell exactly if I was putti
ng time into my competition or not. It did look like Rich and Steen had a lap up on me  but I knew that couldn’t be the case as I never saw them pass me.

6:12 PM Lap 7 (1:12 lap/ 1 min pit)

I cruised through the pit and thanks to all the TNR folks I had fresh water bottles of Carbo Rocket 350 ready. I cruised to a 100 miles at 7:15 pm at last road climb (just past the “winds of change”) to the finish. It was 8:15 into the race and I was wishing that I could do the Butte 100 that fast.

7:25 PM Lap 8 (1:09 lap/7 min pit)

I started this lap by catching up to Ed Stalling. At this point I was also neck and neck with my TNR friends (team). I quickly realized that I could keep his pace and retain my heart rate goals. I had to let him go but not before he graciously rode with me for a while. What finally lit a fire under his chamois was when a 3 person team rider passed us. I said, “are you going to just let him go? Its your competition”. Ed took off like a bolt about 10 minutes later.

I was on the downside of my 200 mile quest when I caught up to Sten and Rich and finished another quick lap. I was now a lap up on second and third place. It was nice to get some sort of perspective on where everyone was at and also to see my buds riding together.

8:41 PM Lap 9 (1:10 lap/6.5 min pit)

I kept the pace stead but being up so far on first place was making me complacent and actually a little lonely (mentally bored). It would be a while to catch Rich and Sten so I wondered when the TNR trio would catch me. I rolled into pit row to discover Rich and Sten lounging and eating like it was a neiborhood bbq.

“Rich, let go out for another lap”, I yelled.

“OK, I just need a moment”.

I mulled around and wanted to get going.

“Are you coming or what”, as I walked around to their pit area.

“Rich you don’t need to go out of you don’t feel like it”, mentioned Sten.

This was a lost cause so I headed out for another lap.

9:58 PM Lap 10 (1:16 lap/1.5 min pit)

Now I was getting real complacent and slow due to the fact I was now 2 laps up. I know know that I had extra help from other volunteers to fill my water bottles. Thinking back this must of been when that happened because I remember my Carbo Rocket tasting a little funny … almost no taste. I was getting regular Carbo Rocket (110 calories) instead of my 350 calorie Carbo Rocket that was in a cooler. I was stopping at the aid station to get extra water and wondering why I was fatiguing a little.

11:15 PM Lap 11 (1:16 lap/16 min pit)

Back to the CR350 I started to feel better but then my stomach starts to feel alien.  I wasn’t having stomach problems it was just feeling a little lonely like I was feeling. I wasn’t hungry just wished I had some Bridge Pizza. It was dark now and the distant lights is all I had to keep me company. I kept tabs on the stars to make sure another storm wasn’t rolling in. In the pits I succumb to lonely stomach syndrome by eating a small piece of fish. My friend Ross had caught these lake trout a week before and smoked them for me. It was DELISH!

Out on this lap I brought Marcy’s ashes. I selected a nice tree and spread her ashes on the course on the far side near the only pine tree section. I also posted a photo of her so that the ones that knew me could say hi as they passed. It was a good lap.

12:47 AM Lap 12 (1:20 lap/11 min pit)

I was thinking of that yummy fish that I only had a tid-bit of at the pit when I hit the 175 mile mark. It was looking like the record would be easy. At the pits I started to party by having some more fish, yum. I expanded my itinerary to a pot pie. I set it in a pan of a little water to heat up while I was on my next lap. I put the flame of the stove at lowest possible.

2:18 AM Lap 13 (1:21 lap/24 min pit)

I put in another dark lap and the lights were working great. I would put the battery on charge in the pits and grab the charged one. I kept noticing two and sometimes three headlamps in the distance at the halfway part of the course. I was thinking it was Rich and Sten and it looked like they were holding their own. I was hoping to run into someone by now. I was close to my record and needing company. I was now at 190 miles at 3:40 AM ,  one lap to 200.

I rolled into the pits to a pot pie in the first stages of catching fire. The pan had run out of water and started burning the pan and it’s contents. I ate what I could which was about two or three jerkyized pieces of turkey and hard potato chunks. The crust tasted pretty good but I wondered if I would be affected by the tinges of carbon front he burnt sections.

I decided to try pot pie #2 but with way more water this time. Lucky for me Larry was heading out for his lap soon. I waited so I could ride with him and share the 200 mile moment.

4:03 AM Lap 14 (1:26 lap/12 min pit)

Larry and I rode mostly in silence concentrating on a nice sunrise lap. Larry seemed to start out exhausted but soon near the end was re-energized by the morning sun as it crested the horizon. I reached 200 miles at 5:09 AM, 18:09 into the race at the windmill (“winds of change”).

5:41 AM Lap 15 (1:23 lap/3 min pit)

I decided to rip off a insurance lap and enjoy the morning sun.

7:45 AM Lap 16 (1:22 lap/8 min pit)

It was over at 5 in the morning but I did one more lap to celebrate Rich and Sten’s 200 mile. I cant believe these tow did it, what a great job. In the end it was 1 – 2 – 3 team Muleterro.

My lap sheet in the transition area with a few comments from others. Who was keeping track of my time? I call them love notes.

Missoula Thursday Night Ride members. 1st Solo and 1st Three man team (Aaron, Ed, Larry).

My second 24 Hours of Rapelje trophy and this one was earned. My first race completion!

Team Muleterro. Myself 1st solo, Sten and Rich in 2nd and 3rd solo, The woman’s team first and the men’s team first. Total domination.

Missoula Montana Racers. 1st both Women and Men Solo. 1st Three man team. Total domination.

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