I wanted to say a couple things about my time at 24 hour worlds before it was to late. Lately life, riding bikes and racing bikes have been more important to me than writing about it.
I was extremely nervous about racing my bike in Italy, the logistics of it, the time, the money, it was a lot to think about. Luckily I have Incredible sponsors who stepped up and kicked in extra money so I could make the trip happen, namely Infinit nutrition and Bolle covered most of the travel expenses and Santa Cruz stepped up huge and basically took care of everything else from lodging for the entire trip, to support, to food.
Allan Cooke was my support from Santa Cruz this was his second time supporting me at 24 Worlds and he has got it dialed! He took care of my bikes for the race and every time I switched bikes I had a perfectly clean and dialed bike, his title at Santa Cruz is the doer of things, if something needed to be done he does it and does it well.
My girlfriend Marlee Dixon also came along for support and a nice trip to Italy, she was incredible the entire time literally shoving food in my mouth as I went by and handling all nutrition needs, lights and anything else that need to be done. Lastly my good friend Troy Scott came for support as well, him coming on his own dime is huge it really means a lot to me that he made the trip. Basically what I’m getting at here is my crew was kick ass!! Once the race started I didn’t have to think about anything and I knew they had me covered.
The town in Italy where the race took place, Finale Ligure was a beautiful little Mediterranean mountain bike destination. With an Enduro World Series stop there and a long history of downhill, in my book it was the perfect spot for a bike race. The course was good riding with a mix of single track and double track with some nice technical sections in there for good measure, the only thing I didn’t like about it was that it was 7 miles long, which I thought was very short for a 24 hour race and this would come into play once the race started.
We averted huge disaster the day of the start of the race, the start had always been at 12 noon and I had no reason to believe it was otherwise. Supposedly there was an e-mail that went out the week before the race changing the start time to 10 am. I never received said e-mail, so I had no reason to think the race didn’t start at noon. The day of we pulled into the venue about 9:45 am, feeling pretty good about how much time we had I decided to go to the start area with a bike and get a good spot for my bike to grab after the running start.
When I got over there the bike corals were full and everyone was standing around with kits and helmets on, I thought this was a bit weird then it hit me this race is about to start! I asked a guy with a British flag on his jersey what time the race start was and he informed me 10am! A wave of panic rushed over me as I sprinted back to our pit yelling as I got there the race is starting in 5 minutes! I got dressed grabbed my other bike and rode back over to the start jumped a couple fences and got to the front of the start with one minute to go. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and the recurring dream I’ve had about showing up to a race as its starting and you have nothing ready, well I just about lived that dream. The almost missed start really had no bearing on the outcome of the race just a little hiccup in a long bike ride.
I’m not going to go into a blow by blow of the race that would take to long and my memory is not that good. For the first couple laps Jason English, Cory Wallace and myself were fairly close to each other. I knew that these were the guys I needed to watch Jason had won 7 world championships and Cory had been 2nd many times.
This year and I as I get older I have tried to put more emphasis on pacing especially in 24-hour races. Early on the pace was good and at about lap 3 or 4, I was riding with Cory and he took off with a hard pace I didn’t chase because I thought the pace was good and he would blow, well he didn’t blow he lapped me twice.
I have never been lapped in a 24-hour race, ever, granted the laps were 7 miles but still the effort that Cory put down was an incredible thing to witness. He ended up winning and beating Jason by a lap and a half, I ended up in third a half lap behind Jason, about were I was behind him at worlds in California. I think Jason and the rest of us had a hard time with passing, since the course was so short and with over 400 solo riders, it was a constant battle and very frustrating and mentally draining.
Coming into this race I had no idea what to expect having never raced in a foreign country before, let alone Europe. It was an incredible experience, the culture is so different over there, cycling is an honored sport not a segment of society that’s looked down on even hated like in US. The Italian people were all very nice ready to help us Americans as we struggled in a foreign land. The food in Italy probably my favorite thing about the trip, it was incredible! The seafood, cured meats, bread, and pasta, it was all wonderful! And you can’t forget the vino, it was all good and cheap. Traveling overseas is not easy I see a lot of people doing it all the time and I really don’t know how they do it. Don’t get me wrong I will remember my trip to Italy for the rest of my life it was an incredible experience that I will cherish forever. I guess I’m just happy staying home just as much and riding my bike I really don’t need much more than that!