Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Wausau 24 Report
Wausau 24. The name says it all. 24 hours of some of the most technical single track Wisconsin has to offer. Most of the team showed up in some form or another. Matt (Papa) Dale showed up for a 12 hour solo. Todd and Erik rocked out a 24 hour duo. Even Dakota and Dustin Dale showed up to cheer and help their dad. But I had something different on my mind, the 24 hour solo. I signed up a long time ago. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But as I did my final checks before the race, I was having some doubts. Having never done a 24 hour race before, I didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare. I only could go off of the advice of veteran endurance racer and former Wausau 24 champion, Ron Stawicki. His advice was to “do the race, then you’ll know how to prepare next time.” Ok, I could try this. With one ear bud in, I started the race. Ten a.m. seemed a good time to start; but ten a.m. the following day seemed far off. I got into my groove easily in the first couple of laps. Wausau has a lot of variety to offer in this course. You start off going through a lot of roots then into some flowy single track sections, into a few rock gardens. It offers all the challenges you could want without getting bored. Perfect. The last thing I need to do is get bored. Each 10.5 mile lap takes about an hour. I had plenty of time to roll into the pit and get a fresh bottle of fluids and food if I needed it between laps. I have to thank my family and friends for helping me with the fuel stops. About 7 laps in I started to get some cramps in my leg that would bother me for about the next 30 miles. But at that point I needed to stop thinking about my sore body and worry more about my final daytime pit stop. This was an important one, I needed lights. The rules required me to have them on my bike around 7 pm, but I didn’t need to really use them until later. Getting into the dark laps, I knew it was time to put on a fresh kit, new chamois cream and maybe see where I stand. I had been in the top 15 most of the day while the leaders duked it out. The guys in the neighboring pits were pushing hard, maybe too hard. They wanted to win and burned themselves out. It was a true tortoise and hare race. They ran fast and had to rest. I went slow and steady and stayed consistent throughout the day and night(and day). Somewhere in the night, while others were dropping like flies, as I pushed on and I moved up in the results into 3rd place. I knew this race was going to hurt. I knew it would be mentally draining to hit the same trails for 24 hours. What I didn’t expect was how emotionally draining it could be. It was 8 am. I had ridden for 22 hours, the whole time telling my legs “just a little further.” Now my mind had no more and I broke down. I added about a half an hour to this lap as I crumbled within my own mind. Physically and mentally exhausted, I stumbled in completing another lap. My parents gave me the pep talk that I didn’t want to hear, even though I knew I needed it. I scooped a last shovelful of chamois cream and reluctantly took off. After all, I was in third, which was actually quite unexpected, and this was going to be my final lap. Just after 10, a full 24 hours after starting, I finally came into a finish. I got a good look at the winner’s bike. Like mine, it was covered in dirt. He had all but burned through his tires. He had threads showing all along the sidewalls from the punishment that the rocks dished out. Luckily my Maxxis Aspens were still in great shape. As I thought about it, my bike held up extremely well. I didn’t have the mechanical issues that you would expect in 24 hours of abuse. All in all, I did 21 laps, over 230 miles and finished on the podium. Can’t wait for next year!