|Start/finish line and the timing shack. Bet the timers were happy when the rain moved in!|
Because the timing was so quick between laps - about 30 minutes total in pit, it was really important to be efficient. The lack of lap racing lately showed a few times as I struggled to stay focused on the tasks at hand - write down my time, make a note on the plan sheet, refill water, quick wipe of the bike and get something to eat. I think the eating was the hardest part because there just wasn't time to allow things to settle before getting back on the bike. We'd been minimal with our setup since we'd poached the parking lot the night before the race. Just the table with the stove, the food tubs and one chair out to sit on. Everything else was put away. Granted, because we were on vacation and hadn't anticipated doing a race, a lot of the 24 hour race stuff like the hunting tent was still at home. So it was even more important to be efficient. The little metal table doesn't have that much room on it!
|Ready to race! Yes, had to use my watch since I'd lost the Edge mount somewhere on the roads between KC and Minnesota|
My second lap went nice and smooth. No issues at all and I was remembering a few more section of the course each time. I was starting to lap some people, but passing was a breeze. There were plenty of places where the course opened up enough to allow me to sneak around. I just needed to remember where they were! My legs were a little tireder then I would have liked for my second lap, but that was expected coming off a week of vacation and riding every day. No taper at all here! Even so, I pushed as hard as I could both up and down. After Nick headed out for lap 4, I asked someone about results. No live results up yet - but they would work on it. Fair enough. It wasn't like our plan would change based on where we were. The race wasn't halfway done yet. I would worry about results later. We were keeping track on our sheet like we always do. We were ahead of our planning, and so far seemed to be riding consistently.
I headed out for lap 5 at about 11:12. My first lap with the prologue had been about 50 minutes and my second had ben about 48 minutes. I am notoriously bad at math during races - and the more complicated the math gets, the worse I am. So I was just riding along, riding hard but not with a sense of urgency for most of the first long climb. I'd gone pretty hard on my second lap, hoping that perhaps Christy had slowed down and they wouldn't be using the first lap for the fastest lap prime. I was feeling it a little. And then... Something clicked in my head. There was a four hour race as well. The four hour race would be starting at noon. If I didn't drill the rest of the lap, Nick would be heading out just after that race started. I'm not sure what made me think about it, but once it hit me, I had no choice. I couldn't let up, couldn't settle into a comfortable pace. I switched my watch over to clock time, forgetting again that we had started 3 minutes early. That meant the 4 hour race would also start 3 minutes early but I didn't make that connection. I just knew I needed to get to the line before noon and had to pedal as hard as I could to make it happen. I took some chances on the tighter turns, dunking into lines I wouldn't have normally taken. Every second counted. On the final climb into the finish chute, my watch read 11:56 - plenty of time - if the race started at noon. I'd made it! But as I turned into the downhill finish, I could see both Nick and the crowd of racers waiting to start off to the side. I could also hear the race director giving the 1 minute warning. Yikes! I sprinted into the finish to hand off about 30 seconds before the start of the 4 hour race. I'd made it - but I'd shelled myself to do it.
Nick told me later that he'd been waiting there, wondering if I realized the timing of the finish for that lap. We'd missed it because on the original plan, I was supposed to be finishing the fifth lap at about 12:20. Well behind the start of the four hour race to not have to worry about it. But we'd both been riding about 4 minutes faster then our planned finish times, which put us right at the noon. As the clock ticked down, he was getting more and more worried that I wouldn't make it in time. Seeing my bright neon gloves rolling around the corner was one of the best sights that whole race.
That lap took it out of me though. I knew I would have to slow down the rest of the race. Went back to the van, got some food and drink and flopped in the chair. Whew. Two, maybe three laps left to ride. And a mark of well designed endurance lap course - after three laps, I wasn't bored with the trails. I was still having fun and enjoying the ride. The finish climb up to the transition area, not so much - but the rest of the course was still making me smile. It was also after noon - halfway done with the race, so time to figure out if I could check results. I left the van a little early and did some poking around - it wasn't easy, but I was able to figure it out and see what was going on. There were three Co-Ed Duo teams and I just needed to know the numbers to check laps. One team had four laps at 4:28, another had 5 laps at 4:36 and we had 4 laps at 3:58. Huh. Need to check those numbers again. Yep, showed that we had four laps at 3:58. So we were in second? Something didn't seem right. I was chewing the numbers around in my mind as Nick came around the corner. Totally wasn't ready for him, not even on my bike. Whoops. I'd get a gentle scolding on the clipboard when I got back.
Riding steady, still trying to figure out what sounded off with the results. I spun up the long hill at the start. Legs were tired from that last lap. I would definitely not be breaking 50 again. Four laps at 3:58. Something was off there. Yes, we'd finished a lap right about 3:58 because I'd gotten Nick out before Noon. That was it. That's why the numbers were off. I'd finished that lap, and I was the odd numbers. That had been lap five, not four. Somehow they were missing a lap. With the mystery solved, I turned my attention back to the trail. I would handle the missing lap when I got back. As anticipated, I was definitely slower on that lap. My push to get Nick out before noon had sucked all the pep from my legs, leaving me quite happy to just pedal and enjoy the trail at a slower pace. It was still challenging though! Sure enough, when I finished my lap, I had the note "Please B ready/moving..." scribbled on the plan. Yup. I know. Sorry about that. But I had more important things to deal with - a missing lap. I took our clipboard with the plan up to the timers. Now we were missing two laps! I explained the issue, showed them the clipboard with the plan and our scribbled completed data. Two sets of handwriting with the notes and the numbers. The timers took our numbers down, took a photo of the plan and said they'd fix it but to bring the board back when we were finished. Easy enough.
Now it was getting tight for that 11th lap. With how sluggish I'd been on my fourth lap, I knew the fifth would be just as slow - eating in to the margin we'd built up. And there was weather moving in. I don't mind riding in the rain, but I'm not used to how real dirt handles rain or riding on wet roots. I stuffed my rain coat in my pocket just in case and headed back to the transition area. I'd already decided that I would just ride smart. If it was fast enough to give us the margin to go out again, so be it. Nick told me to be careful when he tagged off. There'd been some sprinkles while he'd been out on the course and it was getting a little slick. Nodding, I headed off in the hills. With the clouds building, the trees closed in around the trail. Kinda spooky. There were more people on course now with the four hour race and it was nice to see the flashes of color from the other riders. Thunder was rumbling the background and the clouds were getting thicker. I definitely slowed down on that lap. Keeping the bike upright was a priority on the slick dirt. Decomposed granite gets faster as it gets wet - not so much real dirt! I almost beat the rain in - the sky was starting to open up when I tagged off to Nick. The temperature had dropped enough to cause the blue puffy to make an appearnce1 Nick said he wasn't going to get hurt trying to make back - was just going to ride smart. Fair enough. I was pretty sure I didn't want to do another lap anyway! So time to get cleaned up and dry. I wasted no time pedaling back to the van, making it just before the downpour started. Ahh, to be warm and dry. With the rain, I know we were finished, so headed over to the timers building to check in. While the lap times might not have been 100% accurate, they had the right number of laps. All was good. Now just to wait for Nick to finish.
|The only time there was any sun on Nick's last lap|
|Coed Duo Podium - Whiteout in third with 7 laps at 7:26, Team Marlow with 9 laps in 8:36 for second and Alien Baby with 10 laps at 8:10|
Overall, this was a great race. We weren't sure what we were in for when we drove into Casper and this was a pleasant surprise.The course was well though out - and while it was short, it was challenging enough for every rider. The faster you went, the more you had to think about things with less time to react. Pre-race, they encouraged riders to mingle at the sponsor brewery in downtown Casper - Frontier Brewing Company. After the race, there was food - freshly made hamburgers, brats, delicious coleslaw and the best baked beans I've ever had. Beer from Frontier was available to those who wanted and we were able to hang out with other riders and swap stories. A band was playing in the lodge, adding to the festive vibe. The only downer on the after party was the downpour that moved in just before the awards! But since the lodge was open, we all got cozy and took the party inside! As we were driving back down Casper Mountain, Nick was already making plans to come back next year - this time ready to race!