I knew it was going to be hot but I didn’t know it would have a definite impact on the weekend. Going into the 24 Hours of Rapelje I secretly was hoping for a new distance record for 24(ish) hours. And on my side was a course (a new one according to their Facebook page) that only has around 600 feet of climbing a lap. All I needed to do was average 12.8 miles per hour in heart rate zone 2. And it was entirely possible until you factor in 100 degree temperatures. Then it all goes out the window.
I walked, maybe shuffled a little to my bike and took off on lap one. It was hot already but I was prepared with silk white covering my entire body. This was a good move but the consistent beating of the sun will take its toll. At the end of the lap I was right on score averaging 12.9 miles per hour and figured that when I got the course dialed in I could average 13+.
The next lap I averaged about 12.8 which was a tad slower but I still had faith and kept slurping my water and tried a little eating on the bike. But it seemed that my heart rate was going faster then normal causing me to slow down.
As the race wore on I went slower and slower and started to get discouraged stopping at the pit tent for longer periods of time. Mo tried to lift my spirits with ice drinks and yummy coconut water. I started to notice my pit person getting sun burned even with a heavy coating of sun screen and spending most of her time under the canopy. It was HOT.
Out on course I flipped through my GPS to find the temperature page. 97 degrees. This was why my heart rate was zone 2 just standing off the bike. I knew I shouldn’t go into zone 3 with this kind of heat. I knew the consequences … certain heat exhaustion. And another “get together” with paramedics. So I kept slowly pedaling along. I was averaging around 9 miles per hour by around 7pm.
It all seemed dismal but in reality I was smart. I was at least still going while others were sitting in their pits completely cooked.
“How am I doing, anyone close?”, I quizzed Mo in the pits.
“Your doing great, there are two people closest to you but they are two laps down.”, Mo answered.
“My GPS is reporting 107 degrees out there”, a totally exhausted Ross Brown, who was sharing my pit with me (and proudly so), reported.
I continued to pedal, get through brutally slow and long laps. At 11 miles it seemed so ridiculous to be taking so long. The sun set with a beautiful display of color and Mo came out to pedal me in, stopping now and then to take in the beauty. Back at the pit I suggested she go to bed and get some rest. I was three laps up now and I would just slog throughout he night. I mean, what else was there to do. Plus it was now cool so I could start going fast again.
As I neared the end of my first dark night lap I did not feel motivated to ride any longer. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I felt … BORED. I was comfortably pedaling along with no discomfort but the laps were getting old without competition to play with. Plus my goals of distance records were totally out the window. I was fighting boredom.
The only thing keeping me entertained was a rear tire that kept going flat. Flat because it was so hot the day before my Stans fluid had dried up and a cactus thorn was wriggling its way into my tire to ensure that I needed to stop every 10 minutes to pump up my tire. I rode with a few team mates who could of maybe helped but I just waved them by. Then once inflated I would whizz by them again.
When I got to the pits Mo was sitting and looking at her notebook. She looked up with concern.
“We have a tiny issue, there is this guy …”, Mo started to gently raise her voice in a concerned matter. She was being very serious and I was nervous about what she had to say.
“First I have to deal with my tire.” “It is flat again.” “I need to borrow your wheel or put a tube in this one.”, I started to access my options.
Mo left the pit area and returned with a bottle of Stans sealant. I mean … is she a professional pit person or what? AND … it worked. Initial attempts at airing up a newly filled tire of sealant was unsuccessful but when I put a co2 cartridge to it, bam, it seated against the rim. And it held. problem solved. Then she stood there waiting for my attention. Looking at me. I could tell she had something important going on so I inquired about “this guy”.
“Well he was late for the race and signed in 20 minutes after everyone started.” “And he has managed to do one hour laps consistently and even has almost caught up to only one lap behind you”.
“Is it Dave Byers?”, referring to the Frog Hollow Race where this guy was doing such consistent laps that he took everyone by surprise.
“No”, she giggled. “I don’t know who it is but watch him sweetie.”
We walked over to the timing tent together and started to do math. I was still comfortably in the lead and I assured her that if I needed to I could rip the legs off an elephant at any time. I really was looking forward to anyone to step up and challenge. I rode into the night with purpose … it felt good.
As I approached the end of the race I was 3 laps up on the nearest competitor. Our “situation” with “that guy” dwindled after I put in some pretty good laps. The lad had just went to his pit and never returned. Just to make sure I would win and to make my pit person feel better (she is a drill sergeant) I went out to put my lead to 4 laps. And as per usual it was one of my fastest laps of the race at 56 minutes. Mid morning I raised my bike in victory and used the rest of the 24 hours to eat, relax, and shower. It was the least amount of miles I have ever needed to win a 24 hour race as well as the hottest race ever in my carreer. But I got to see my friend Ross finish his first 24 hour race solo with 10 laps … awesome first effort. And my team mate Jinx who got second overall really had a great effort as well. These are the things that really matter and elements that made the weekend another huge success. This race is a keeper.