Nap Time! Or Not - 25 Hours Of Frog Hollow
Sunrise. One of the only times I've been in the middle of a lap at a 24 hour race and wishing for my camera. It was surreal - the thin silver crescent of the moon hung low on the eastern horizon like a bowl with Venus, Mars and Jupiter dripping from the sky into the moon. Scattered clouds captured the light of the sunrise as the celestial quartet faded slowly into the magenta, fuchsia and oranges. Every turn on the road climb revealed an new phase of the sunrise, the colors ever changing. It was our 20th lap of the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow and one of the few moments where I was completely distracted from the bone chilling cold and ever present wind. A moment that was imprinted on my mind and one that will never happen again.
Rewind 21 hours and I was standing on the side of the road, holding Nick's bike and waiting for the clock to hit 10:00 and for the race to start. Dust clouds swirled around the footsteps of every person who passed. It had been windy since the sun has risen to drag the temperature out of the overnight freezer. The occasional gust sandblasted the faces of everyone waiting for herd of runners to grab their bikes. 25 Hours of Frog Hollow was underway and Nick soon snatched his bike from me and was gone.
Mentally, I was ready to race and ride hard. I'd come into the race wondering if I could come close to Lynda W's record lap time. And then Thursday happened and my ability to even ride had been called into question. My hoped for lap times were thrown out the window and replaced with the simple goal of just finishing each lap relatively pain free. Our plan - while still relying on the clockwork alternating every other lap, had also shifted to me being smart and being willing to bow out of things started hurting. If that happened, Nick would do as many laps as he wanted and then call it a night. I also changed how I normally dress - instead of going light and knowing the climb would warm me up, I opted to dress a little warmer. If I could keep my leg warm, might be able to prevent any spasms. So it was knee warmers even at the start for me. The sun was warm but the wind cold and I didn't want to take any chances.
At the tent, the first rider came in, the wind already a hot topic of cursing. Nick was in the top five, ahead of all the other duo teams. I took the clothes pin baton and didn't look back. The first big test - I had to be smooth and efficient as I could feel my hamstring on every pedal stroke on the climb. An ever present ache, reminding me that I wasn't 100% and not to ride like I was. I could live with that. It took a little more focus on efficiency and body English to get smoothly through the rough and rocky sections. I still managed an hour flat for my lap so I was pretty happy about that. Not bad at all.
I had one more lap in the daylight. We were only four laps in, but had already gotten nearly 30 minutes on the second Co-Ed duo and were neck and neck with the men's duos, including our camp neighbors. We were nipping at a 25 lap race at that point, but I knew that wouldn't last. Between the wind smacking you in the face around every corner - even on the descents! - and the ever present thing in my leg, I knew my pace for sure would slow. The question was how soon and by how much. Nick was doing awesome - holding mid :50 lap times. I was just over an hour heading into the night.
The sunset lap - signaling the start of nearly 13 hours of darkness. It also brought hope for all the riders. Hope that the ferocious wind would finally die down for the night. It had settled just after sunset the night before and before that. Hopefully tonight would follow that same trend and maybe we would be able ride and not fight the wind. But the darkness was also ushering in the cold. I could feel the chill seeping into the air as I made my way around the course. The next laps would be calling for more clothes for sure!
In transition, our ginormous blue hooded puffy was no longer the object of hilarity, but a much sought after accessory. How big is this blue puffy? Well, Nick looks like the Michelin Man wearing it. The hood fits OVER his helmet - with his light attached. It's our transition coat - an unofficial baton of sorts that keeps both of us nice and toasty while waiting and when riding between pit and transition. Big enough for me to wear a backpack underneath - so when I'm running with just a water bottle, it's really big. Cim even called me Viola! (Blueberry girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). There were plenty of puffy coats in pit this year, but Nick and I were the one ones who got to share ours and both stay warm. With temperatures brushing the high 20s, that coat was a life saver. That and our awesome Mr Buddy heater in our pit tent! After the Turtle died in Tucson, the one thing that has been consistancy awesome is that little heater and a 6 gallon propane tank. Instant warmth!
We kept going with our rotation as the night got chillier. My leg was starting to ache a little more with each lap, coming more to the forefront of my mind on all the technical sections and the climbs. The wind hadn't died down at all - just continuing gusting from every direction. I was starting to get worried about my leg - not by the pain, but by the constant ache. I left Nick a note asking if we could change strategy - have him ride double and me do singles. Not at all our normal strategy, but what I was hoping would dull the gradually increasing throbbing. I hadn't been able to run from transition to my bike all race and dismounting was getting more painful. I could still ride well and was holding my own. But when I got back from that lap, Nick's response was "My fork seized up. Riding rigid right now and wrists hurt. Just back off a little okay?" It seems we were both having our issues!
So we would maintain our rotation, just chill out a little. We had plenty of time on second and were actually still leading the duo class overall. It was time for us to start doing math. Would we have enough cushion to be able to take a nap? Math at that point in a race is hard - calculating how fast the other teams could possibly ride. How long would it take them to catch us and how many laps could they do? Fuzzy math is right because there are so many variables. And while we were doing that math, we kept riding. No sense stopping while trying to figure things out...
And so I found myself out on that sunrise lap - something I hadn't ever seen at Frog Hollow before. Usually I'm in the timing tent at sunrise, helping out with timing (and keeping track of our competition.) And that sunrise lap was the best sunrise lap I've had - and it was finally calm. No wind and just a beautiful morning. Our 20th lap and Nick decided that it was time to stop - we were far enough ahead and there was not much time left. His wrists were hurting badly and my hamstring was aching. I was perfectly happy to stop. It was 7:42 and we had a nice 20 laps. Time to watch and wait to see where things would end up. Waiting is almost harder then just riding!
After 25 hours, Nick and I had maintained our lead in the Coed Duo Class with our 20 laps at 21:42. Matt and Caroline Reid of Kelowana Cycles finished in 2nd with 18 laps at 25:16. Daniel Sturm and Jessica Robinson of Jersey Represent took third with 16 laps finishing at 24:25. We did drop out of the lead in Duo overall, with the leading Woman's Duo (Howler Monkeys) getting 21 laps at 26:16 and the Men's Duo 1st (Survive on the V) and 2nd (Fire on the Mountain) both getting 22 laps at 25:03 and 26:19 respectively.