Wednesday, August 01, 2007

24 Hours of Killington Race Report

I don't know why I call these things 'Race Reports' as the actual race is usually the least fun part of the weekend...

After finalizing our travel plans, I rose early on Friday morning to finish packing and get some coffee made. I hadn't packed the car yet as I was expecting Kent 'Chewbaake' Baake to show up around 6:30am. I actually got out of bed when the alarm went off at 6am instead of hitting the snooze button a dozen times and waiting for the 'I'm on my way' cell phone call to actually start getting ready.

We had some Thule drama when my trusty (hardly) V2 rack exploded when trying to mount Kent's spare bike to the rack which resulted in a quick replacement with a Rocky Mount that I had laying around. Of course the end of the Thule bar as all buckle-rusted which made it really hard to get that bike tray on there. 7:45am and I already had a sweaty shirt.

We left at around 8am and met up with JoFo and MattyD on the road. We both cruised through Baltimore at about the same time and they caught up to us a few miles before our arranged coffee stop at the Chesapeake House on I95. It was a 'Sea of Humanity' and we had a bit of a line to contend with but we made it out alive with our caffeine juice.

We made good time and had little traffic to contend with. We rolled into scenic Rutland, VT, around dinnertime and found Killington shortly thereafter. We got our race stuff from Laird, surveyed the start/finish and headed up to the land of team camping. The camping was up in the overflow parking area which was all crushed gravel. Great for level-camping, but not super soft. We got a spot right next to the streetlight (good idea) and the toilets (REALLY good idea).

We hit dinner at a local establishment and Kent proceeded to do the usual of ordering WAY too much food, which we pretty-much threw down our throats AND THEN we ordered dessert. We spent the usual five minutes discussion strategy, which is to say we decided the order for the race lineup. Sorry, that's about all we usually do. We walked out of the restaurant to a nice rainbow that had served as a reminder of the rain but also as a subtle reminder of hope for good conditions.

Back at the camp site, I offered and the boys accepted some hot 'Talladega Nights' action. We watched the movie, I fell asleep in the magic chair and everyone laughed. The next morning, Bruce (the announcer) asked Kent about the race and Kent says 'If you ain't first, you're last.' I laughed my ass off. He later thought better of it and was worried that people would think we were arrogant but I reassured him that it was just funny. It was funny. We aren't arrogant. We won so that made it more funny...

Rain threatened most of Friday and Saturday through the afternoon. We had spells of rain Friday night and Saturday morning until around 11am or so. We were worried. We had heard stories of hub-deep mud in sections of the course. We prepared for a real slog through the muck. We were all pretty nervous and excited about the coming 24 hours.

JoFo got suited up after the racer's meeting at the start/finish and we all rolled down to watch the beginning of the race. No rain. No sun, but no rain. Ominous clouds stretched out from the top of the mountain over our heads, reminding us to stay humble.

After one lap, Joe had us in a solid, respectable 12th place. He was top 10 or so in the run and hit the course pretty hard. None of us were familiar with the course and there were various reports of poor course-marking causing JoFo to do a double-take here and there, making sure he was on course. We were stoked and the race was on. JoFo hollered a few instructions to Kent on his way to a super-fast lap, moving us into 6th. I mounted an hour later and came back in from a good lap. We were now in 3rd place overall. MattyD ran out of the transition area when I got back and rode us into 1st overall. There we stayed until the race ended.

I used my cell phone as my timing device. Some day I'll get a watch. A few times, I picked up the mobile and noticed 'new txt message' on the display. Susan and the kids colored a few signs and Susan used her phone to send me pics of the kids holding up 'Congrat-u-lations' (on three lines) and 'Good Luck Daddy.' There's nothing more motivating and heart-warming. It really gave me a sense of ease and relaxation knowing that my family would still be proud of me, win or lose.

The weather was perfect. It never got below the 50s at night. Besides shorts and a short-sleeved jersey, I only wore my loose knickers on one lap, the weather was that consistent. I missed one transition by about 2 minutes, Kent missed one by about 3, both because people turned in faster-than-expected laps. It was a great problem to have and we stressed about my mistake but were in a position to laugh about Kent's on Sunday morning. Neither would matter as we won by two laps.

I rode my (sponsor) WTB tires again. They hooked up AGAIN! I'm sick and tired of loving these tires. I ran Exiwolf 2.1 front and rear. This is classic East Coast riding at its best. The rooty, rocky trails were tight and there was little room for error if you wanted to stay on the bike. It was all about setting up, holding on and repeating. Sometimes the technical parts came one after another in quick succession. Sometimes there were a few bike lengths between them. No matter what, good lap times meant good riding.

After Joe decided to go out for his sixth lap (!), Kent and MattyD drafty me to head up to the end of the course for snacks, beers and pictures. We hiked up through the woods and got some good pics, hollering at all of the riders that came through. After JoFo cruised through, we went down to the start/finish and handed him a beer. We celebrated our two-lap win and, mostly, that Joe decided to go out for a lap that was pure fun. That's how we wanted to ride and that's how we ended up winning. We don't have to win to have fun but winning sometimes adds to the fun. This time, it made it more fun, winning strong and happy with our #1 man and City Bikes co-Captain JoFo rocking out for a final lap even though we had the race in the bag. Two laps is a real win...

After the lasagne dinner, courtesy of Laird and Granny Gear, we drove to MattyD's family compound in Cow Hampshire. After stopping for grillables and a few growlers of beer, we got to the house and I promptly fell asleep. The boys walked the short distance to the pier and jumped in the lake. They made dinner of steak, sweet and white potatoes and shells and sauce. Total post-race boys meal. A few beverages and we were all in bed early. We drove back in 8.5 uneventful hours. Little to no traffic. Luck.

This represents the last of the (planned) 24 Hour races for us with Granny Gear. Laird has been gracious, positive, inspirational and we feel like he personally cares if we have fun or not. He takes race promotion pretty seriously and the professionalism really shows through his staff. Laird invented the format and he really has it dialed. Laird and Granny Gear are always relaxed in their haste, serious about fun and things run on time. Many thanks and my hat is off to Laird and all of the staff and volunteers involved with Granny Gear.

So, we are currently in first place for the National Points Series, but that might change. We are considering Landahl and Moab so we still might have some racing to do. The SM100 is just around the corner so let's get ready to head to Harrisonburg...

Thanks to Chewbaake, MattyD and JoFo for another great race. I'm very lucky to be able to hang with you guys.


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