For the 10th time I toed the start line at the Breckenridge 100, you would think that it would get easier after doing a race so many times but it only engrains the suffering that is to come in my mind. I decided a couple of years ago that I would do this race 10 times then I would give it a break. After finishing 2nd for the last three years I was hungry for the win.
The 6 am start was not the coldest it has ever been but it was chilly enough to want to get the race going. The first climb over Wheeler Pass went well I was feeling good and the trail was in great shape, a little snow to cross but for the most part it was a beautiful morning and warming up quickly.
After two and a half hours I finished the first lap and was quick to start the second lap of three, this lap is the hardest but the most fun with lots of climbing but with that comes lots of descending. Halfway through this lap I had one of the worst crashes I’ve had in a long time, riding along the Little French Flume I caught my handlebars on a tree and flew off the flume backwards, down an embankment, into some logs. When I finally came to rest, I was 15 feet below the trail and not sure if I was broken or not, after a minute or so I gathered myself together and climbed back up the to the trail. Other than a couple scrapes and bruises luckily I was ok and continued with the race.
I was in the lead from early in the race, but really didn’t know how much of a lead I had and pushed hard all the way to the end. I was really glad to take the win again this year in a race that I feel a little bit of ownership with, I still can’t believe that I’ve done this race 10 times, I feel very lucky to have been healthy enough to be able to do this race for 10 years and to have won 7 times is just incredible to me.
I made the trip back to Gallup NM again this year for 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest which served as the 24 Hour National Championships for the second year. After having a horrible race at this event last year, I was ready to come back for redemption! The weekend weather was looking good with daytime temps in 80′s and nighttime temps in the 40′s.
The race started at 11am Saturday and finished 24 hours later on Sunday. The start of the race was a traditional start rather than the Le Mans style start used by many 24-hour races. This was fine with me, as I’m not a huge fan of the running start. The pace was quick for the first lap and I got an early lead in the solo race. I kept the pace high for the first 12 hours of the race trying to get as much time on the competition as possible. The course started off in great shape, very dry and dusty but smooth as butter but as the day went on the trail started to get blown out and pretty rugged. When the sun went down and the lights came out, I had about a 25 minute lead on second place but I kept the pace high to keep all the chasers at bay. The night laps are usually when I feel the best, it’s always fun to rip around in the dark as fast as you can, and this race was no exception!
By about 2am, my closest competitor had dropped out and I was a full two laps ahead of the next closest soloist. That’s always the coldest part of the night and a somewhat warm night turned very cold, with some crazy temperature inversions, parts of the course were a good 15 to 20 degree difference from the start/finish area. I had such a big lead that I could just put things in cruise control and take it easy for the remainder of the race. It was still a difficult time after pushing so hard for the first 16 hours and my whole body ached! This is the part of 24 hour racing that’s the hardest; the last 6 hours, when you’re just counting down to the end and it can’t come soon enough. Luckily, I had such a lead over second place that I was able to stop two hours before the end of the race. I’m very happy how things turned out this year at 24-hour nationals, I was so disappointed last year, I worked very hard through the winter and the spring to be in top form for this race and I think I nailed it pretty well. When I began racing, I never thought I would win a national championship and now I’ve won four and can hardly believe it!