24 Hours - last chance
Wow. I don't think it has sunk in yet. When I learned that the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest would be the final USA Cycling National Championships, I focused the entire first half of the year preparing. Coach Adam planned the training out - it was my job execute and physically get ready for 24 hours on my bike. Nick and I organized the race plan and he was also my awesome crew - managing every detail so all I had to do was ride my bike. There were plenty of hiccups along the way - from a tweaked knee before the Growler, a nasty cold a week ago and a perennially irritated Achilles' tendon (pick a side - both were taking turns being cranky) - but everything seemed to be falling into place.
We got to Gallup Wednesday morning and found a great pit site - away from the noise and dust of the venue, but right on course. With the Back of the Pack crew also showing up with six other soloists, having a good location was important. We also go to hang out with that fun gang all weekend - the best part of any 24 Hour race. It was a very chill and relaxing few days before the race. Again, Nick handled all the details and set up an awesome pit - easy in and out, with good visibility for riders passing by. All I had to do after the start was roll up, listen to Nick, communicate with him and head out again.
And that's what I did. With Nina Baum back to defend her title from last year, I knew it would be a fast start and a tactical race at the end. It would also be very different then last years 15 hour stage race, rain delayed national championships. This time, the race would last the entire 24 hours, testing both body and mind - as well as the stamina of the pit crews. I rode my own race, letting Nina set the pace for the first few laps. Only my second solo, but I've raced enough 24 hour races with Nick to know that it doesn't really start until midnight. I just needed to stay strong, stay fluid and stay steady through the heat, dust and winds the forest dealt out. And with Nick's help, that's exactly what I did. I took the lead on the 10th lap and held on until the end, finishing 12 laps at 21:55:53 winning the final USAC 24 Hour National Championships. Laureen Coffelt was second, also riding 12 laps and finishing at 23:30:08. Nina Baum held on for third with 10 laps in 17:45:36. I think it was the hardest thing I've done - and everyone who rode this weekend deserves a huge congratulations. I will have the full novel posted up soon!