24 Hours of Targhee - Pro Men's Podium (L-R: Dave Byers, Jay Petervary, Forest Dramis)
With a season's worth of training and a week's worth of logistical preparation, all for this race, I thought the hardest part of the weekend would be just getting over my nervousness. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
The 4 star accommodations of our pit area.
Twenty-four hours races all begin with a Le Mans Start. This means the bikes are set up in the start gate, racers walk behind a line and everyone runs to their machine for the start. Organizers love this and think it creates drama and excitement for spectators. Racers hate this. Hate this. Bikers don't run...we bike. The start was uneventful, as with 24 hrs in the saddle ahead of us, no one really ran. One notable exception was the enthusiastic guy from Colorado who jumped on his bike, got out of the saddle, took two pedal strokes and promptly broke his chain 5 meters from the start line. That kept the mood light.
Relay team members went straight to the front on the first climb, as did Jay P., and from there rode off the front of the group of solo racers. We were in no hurry, and rode together, chatting, for the first few laps. We were all surprised to see that Rebecca Rusch was at the race since it was just last weekend she won the 24 Hr World Championships. We were also later surprised to see that a "pro" setup includes a massage table and personal rub down after every few laps. We were not surprised to see her passing us. Often. After a half dozen or so laps the solo guys seemed to separate out and I think we all started thinking about actually "racing".
It's hard to think about going a bit harder, knowing you have 18 hrs left to ride, but my personal strategy became "go fast on the flats and downhills, and as slow as possible on the climbs". I saw my main competition as Dave Byers, Kris Quandt and Rob McCall and I tried to keep track of where they were throughout the race. Unfortunately, Kris had some knee issues and was forced out in the night, but he was able to tough it out for another lap the next day and finish. Rob, it seemed, chose the unorthodox method of riding a few laps super fast, then resting. I thought this tactic a little crazy until I noticed he posted 20 laps and ended up in 4th or 5th. This left Dave Byers as my main threat. Strangly, Dave and I never crossed paths, it seems we were riding pretty much the same lap times but on opposite ends of the course.
I rode from noon until 6:30pm without coming off the course, figuring then would be a good time to eat real food, get the lights set up, lube the chain and sit for a bit. A bunch of friends stopped by throughout the day, to help out and cheer. A big thanks goes out to Amy, Lauren, Dennis and Cheryl. And a HUGE thank you to Paul who drove over to take the midnight to 4am shift!!
The night was....interesting. In a race as long this, anything new, any change, is good. Riding at night, it must be said, is a blast. Lap times went up slightly because descending got slower, but the climbs were the same. I was still passed by Rebecca often, once I think she passed me twice during the same lap, but I may have been hallucinating. I saw a porcupine, a herd of deer and almost hit a deer on a descent. One would think they'd move when bright lights approached, but one would be wrong. The forecast was for rain and snow, but all night we were treated to cloudless skies and just a light breeze. Shooting stars were fairly common and the temperature stayed reasonable, with the exception of the low lying "bridge area". All the racers were shocked by the change in temp there. If I had to guess I would say it was 25°F within a 1oo meter circle of that bridge. Frost on all the vegetation and the bridge itself. Quite slippery. I came in again around midnight to eat, warm up and have Paul adjust my brakes. Surprisingly I felt quite good. I've always done well without sleep and my legs were feeling pretty good considering I'd been riding for 12 hrs.
The worst moment of the race occurred around 5am when, for the first time since I was about 12, I had a very bad asthma attack. Unfortunately I was only about half-way through the lap leaving about 3.5 miles to ride before I could get my inhaler. I rode slowly, walked a couple of the hills and finally got back to the start line where Aly then ran back to the pit and came back to find me sitting in the dirt, wheezing. My inhaler didn't really work very well, but I thought maybe it would pass and headed out for another lap. Sadly, it never really went away, though I will admit, it made no difference in my speed over the next 7 hrs. I had only one speed. Slow.
The best moment of the race, for me, came when Jay P passed me around dawn and we stopped at the side of the course to watch the sun rise over the Tetons. It was a beautiful sunrise and just a great moment. One of my favorite things about races like this, is that even though you are trying your best to beat the guy next to you, the guy next to you is still your friend. Around 7am I came back into the pit for more real food, a change of jerseys and to get an update on the standings.
At that point I was 1 lap behind Dave and 2 laps behind Jay. With a lap averaging around an hour now, I knew I'd never catch Jay, but I had hopes of catching Dave. However, my body decided that going faster really wasn't an option and all I could hope for was that Dave was feeling as poorly as I was. Turns out he was feeling as poorly, he was just feeling poorly at a little faster speed then I was. On the second to last lap Dave passed me with a word of encouragement and a pat on the back, thus increasing his lead over me to 2 laps.
Two hours later I crossed the finish line, very happy to be finished, very proud of my effort and very empty.
Final results, 1st Jay - 26 laps :: 2nd Dave - 25 laps :: 3rd Forest - 23 laps.
One last thing that needs to said, "Thank you", to Aly for such huge support. None of the solo racers could have done this race without a great crew, and mine was outstanding. Not only during the race, but though all the weeks and months of training that went into this. Whether it be making great food, giving massage, giving up nights out or just providing encouragement; this was a team effort and I never could have done it without Aly. Thank you.
Thanks again to: Amy, Lauren, Dennis, Cheryl, Paul for cheering and race day encouragement. Cary for training rides, training plan help, mechanic duty, wisdom and encouragement. Stenlight for providing the lightest, brightest and longest lasting lights in the race. And thanks to Twinsix, Gu and OR for season long support.
Some numbers that you may find interesting:
Total laps: 23
Total elevation climbed: 24,656 ft
Total miles ridden: 161 miles
Fastest lap: 39 min 45sec
Slowest lap: 1hr 20 min
Average lap: 1hr 3min
Average speed: 6.7 mph
Average HR: 145
Maximum HR: 177
(Max attainable Hr during the last 5 laps: 141)
Approximate calories in: 8,950
Approximate calories expended: 11,300
Food consumed during race:
22 Water bottles with Perpetuem and Gu2o - 3300 calories
5 Honey Stinger Protein bars - 1500 calories
22 Gu packets - 2200 calories
3 Packages of Clif Shots - 600 calories
2 Cans of stew - 300 calories
2 Turkey sandwiches - 600 calories
1 Banana - 150 calories
2 Handfuls of potato chips - 300 calories