I have been thinking about this race all season, worrying, planning, and worrying some more, only to lay in bed thinking about it. The thing about 24 hour racing is that it’s really, really, really hard! Especially when you get a bunch of crazy hammerheads from around the world in one place, things get really interesting. Riding your bike for 24 hours is not that big of a deal but racing for that long is. There is a big difference, when you are so tired and sore and you just want it to end, except you have to dig really deep for the 3rd time and keep racing. That’s how it was this year at the 24 Hour World Championships.
I am really impressed with WEMBO, the organization who oversees this 24 worlds thing. They change the course every year to somewhere new around the world and this year it came to Weaverville California. The organization for the race was top notch. It was very well done, great volunteers and the local community came together to make the race a really good time.
Santa Cruz bikes was the tittle sponsor and they were on hand to give myself and 2 other Santa Cruz racers support. It was great to have them at the race but it also added pressure for me to perform well in front of my bike sponsor. It ended up the contrary, having them in my corner made things very relaxed and mellow. We all just hung out and the night before the race, Allan Cook (who was there to wrench and give support to all of us) cooked a fabulous meal and it really just eased the stress of the whole event.
The course was really suited to my strong points, one big climb then all descending on single track. We rolled out in a neutral start and onto the first climb the pace was pretty light. Soon enough Kelly Magellky and Tinker Juarez jumped out and upped the pace, I was happy to just let them go. I stayed with a comfortable pace and was joined by Mike Macall, we rode together for the first 3 laps with Kelly and Tinker just ahead.
It was a pretty hot day and on the 4th and 5th laps I had a bit of leg cramping, nothing horrible, but the climb was very steep and required a lot of power to get up it. Once night fell I had passed Kelly and Tinker had dropped out, so I found myself in the lead. I knew that there were lots of strong guys behind me including 5-time world champ Jason English, and Canadian National champion Cory Wallace.
I continued in the lead making 0-10 second pit stops for the entire race. At around 13 hours in, Jason and Cory caught up to me and both passed me. I was a bit inclined to chase but I was feeling low so I decided to stay steady. By daybreak I had a solid grasp on 3rd with Jason riding away in the lead and Cory dangling in 2nd by about 20 minutes.
With 4 hours to go in the race, I was feeling pretty rough, but Cory was falling apart even worse, he was down to only a 6 minute lead and we had 2 maybe 3 laps left. I was not in the mood to chase since I just wanted the pain to end… Of course, now I had bigger problems since the 40 minute lead I had on Mike in 4th was down to 25 minutes, and he was charging. This woke me up, along with my girlfriend and main support Marlee who had been pushing me to go get Cory. People talk about the 2nd wind, well this was like my 4th wind, I just started to hammer, “time to dig deep” I kept telling myself, I went as hard as I could, ignoring the pain, and at the end of the lap there was Cory in his pit, he looked shattered and I knew I had him.
I went out on the 20th lap and kept looking back and never saw Cory so I went hard but I was saving a bit just in case I had to do a 21st lap. It was going to be close, the rules for this race were if you cross the line before 24 hours has expired then you can go out for another lap, I finished my lap with 10 minutes to spare, I wasn’t sure how far back Cory or the hard charging Mike were, so I came through the finish and the pits and grabbed another and started the 21st lap. I only rode to were I could see the finish and race clock, and I could also see where Cory would be coming from, if he did make the time cut at least I would have a couple minute lead on him for the last lap. In the end he didn’t make the cut when I saw that clock hit 24 hours I was so happy to be done, it is one of the best feelings out there to be done with a hard fought race especially a 24 hour event.
2nd place at the World Championships, wow, what an accomplishment! I am so happy with the effort I was able to give for this race especially at the end, I wasn’t even sure I could do this race 3 weeks prior, after suffering cracked or bruised ribs. I was not feeling the greatest, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise since I got extra rest and this time it paid off. It has been a great season for me and this definitely put an exclamation point on it!