Lap 11 felt better but not optimal. My stomach was fine and I had not cramped all day. The problem was my lack of caloric intake yesterday. As someone I respect is preaching, “Hydration in a bottle and nutrition in your pocket”, I seemed to be struggling with the nutrition in the pocket deal. But now Mo was making quinoa and stopping at the pit to down something was making a difference. What was hurting was the metal aspect and the lack of sleep. Hallucinating while riding is disconcerting. The biggest hit to how I felt happened as I arrived at my pits 42 minutes past midnight and reportedly in 4th. This confused me a bit, behind the leader now by 5.5 minutes. I thought I was in second and how the hell was everyone surging past me. I sat down to eat some quinoa and put on some warmer clothing. I really wished I had the strength to quit. #51 Chris Brown also seemed to be making a move and now was back in a solid second place a minute and a half ahead of me. We glanced at each other to download hurt information and I slipped back into the darkness.
Lap 12 was about going through the motions and slipping into a dream state I was able to crank out a 1:29 lap, much slower then planned. I was obviously in need of a mental boost. Most of the time was spent in the pits eating and putting on warm clothes. Mo suggested my lap times were still in the 1:10 range. Around 2:11 Am I slipped away from my pit again feeling a tiny bit better with warm clothes and a belly full of food.
Lap 13 was much the same and still in 4th place just 17 minutes out of first place. Again the discussion in the tent was how much I had slipped back from the front while the others seemed to be pulling away. How in the hell did everyone get so strong. It was obvious I was in the company of some pretty fast folks. Wondering if I could hold top 5 I walked away from my pit just after 3:40 AM and towards a dark blue sky. Dawn would be coming soon.
Lap 14 I did much better time wise on the trail but the pit stop took a bit longer. It was getting COLD and I had to go all winter riding gear. Mo suggested I start downing some hot coco/coffee and I have to admit … it felt good. I left the pit 35 minutes off of the lead and apparently I had stopped the bleeding and I was not going to get lapped after all. At 4:50 Am the daylight started to appear and my energy levels started to level off. Darn … I think I was feeling good.
Lap 15 is a huge turn around. During the lap I started going faster and I felt more motivated to nail every section. It felt like it went by real fast and as I had enough light to see the misty landscape I figured I would stop in to start removing lights.
“Sweetie! You are in second. Vince looks bad and he just went by 36 minutes ago”, Mo grabbed my arm.
I still lost a minute on that lap but I was feeling great. I slammed down the rest of the quinoa and gulped a mug of hot coco. The pit area was now buzzing with energy and I think we both new I was about to surge. I went out on another lap around 6 Am with full intent on attacking real hard.
Lap 16 went by real fast and I came into my pit at full speed to get news on how I was doing now.
“Second!”, shouted Mo as I ripped off my remaining lights and started to take off.
“Vince came by 9 seconds ago”
I ripped through the timing tent and sprinted out on course. I was hunting for a black and red jersey.
I past numerous solo riders on my 17th lap and I made sure to do it with such authority that no one would follow. Approaching the pit I wondered how I was going to be able to sustain the pace for the next 5 hours. Did I attack too early?
“Your in the lead!!!” Mo proudly announced and gave me a fresh feed.
“Oy gosh I don’t know if I can keep this pace”
“Your doing great”
“OK … bye”
My 18th lap went slower and I decided to slip into a defensive mode. I was careful not to crash or have a mechanical. And if any solo rider approached I would jolt.
“Your doing great sweetie you were 9 minutes in front of Vince and he is spending a bunch of time in his pit now.”
Lap 19 I slipped back into a survival dream state. It was a longer lap and I was real happy to arrive at the pit because at time I felt like I went to fast and I was too exhausted to go on. But as it is bread into me I kept forward momentum. I fully expected Vince to take back his lead, after all I had erased 30 minutes in 1 lap. Darn, I totally played into his hand. He was resting and now I was vulnerable.
“Vince has exploded honey he is now 24 minutes behind and someone new, Russ Moul is in second 11 minutes behind you.”
That confirmed it. Just like in Frog Hollow and my surge past Dave Byers, this guy was going to hunt me down on the final lap. I spent no time in the pits and headed out for my last lap. If I could come in moments before Russ but not until noon I could win this thing. And 1 more lap is all I had left.
The 20th lap was slow but counting off all the sections made it better. As I counted the last climbs and the last “rock garden sections” I went faster and faster. Before I knew it I was standing on top of the last climb just 3 minutes from the finish line. It was 11:50 Am and I was in 1st place. I wanted to wait until I was certain noon was going to pass before I made my grand entrance to the finish line. Some riders appeared at the bottom of the climb and to my amazement one of them had a solo plate. Holy cow, this guy wanted to race. I busted down the hill and towards the finish line.
The crowds had gathered along pit row and it was chaos. Teams were vying for positions and to get that last lap. I wanted to see if this other solo rider was surging. I stopped at the finish line ready to hoist my bike. I unknowingly passed my own pit where Mo would of told me I was more then a half hour ahead of the next guy. But I had not and I stood there wanting to take the win and finish.
“Will he go another lap folks?”, the announcer blurted.
I looked towards pit row and searched for a solo plate.
I looked back at the timing clo
ck and the start/finish tent.
I needed to wait a full 20 seconds more to take the win with 20 laps. Of course going out on another lap would mean a certain win but I had no water and no nutrition for another. I looked and squinted back towards the riders coming towards me.
Screw it, I thought to myself and with that I starting running towards the timing tent.
“Yeaaaaaaaaa …. 3 ……. 2 …….”
“BEEEEP”, my transponder was picked up by the lap sensor.
“… 1 BANG”, a gun went off at my ears and I left the timing tent for another lap. How would I finish this lap? If I didn’t I would be disqualified.