24 hr WSC seemed to last a whole week for me, since I had to leave the Bay Area on Wednesday morning before the race. It took about 19 hrs to drive up to Whister, but I stopped between Portland and Seattle on Wednesday night. The drive there actually didn't seem that bad. I was just a little worried my legs were going to be really stiff by the time I got there. Friday before the race I pre-rode the course and thought that it actually seemed a bit easier and more plush than last year. A couple of really technical sections had been taken out due to the 2010 Olympics. I thought this would be a better course for me. On Saturday morning it was raining, but everyone was hopeful the rain would let up and the sun would come out like the previous few days. It was still raining at noon when the race began. I was set up next to Brett Wolfe. His wife Loni had promised to help me out until Alex Wheeler arrived. Alex was flying in straight from Euro-bike to help me out in the pit. Talk about hard-core!!! As I was racing the first few laps I was trying to calculate what time Alex would get there. Due to the pouring rain, I hadn't set up my night bike with lights in case I needed to switch bikes sooner. I was hoping he would arrive in time.. The first few laps I was feeling pretty good, I was staying close to Marg and Monique and worked on staying steady and consistant and not taking any breaks. I had started out on my Giant and was planning on riding my brand new Blur at night.
The course was still fun the first few laps although the roots and rocks were kind of slick with all the rain. I thought the course was holding up pretty well. On my 3rd lap I was going a little fast on a wooden bridge. I hit my brakes, and when the bridge turned, of course my bike kept going straight. Just as someone yelled "careful with that bridge girl" I hit my head on a rock and jammed the end of my handle bars into my chest! It felt great!!! Other than that I didn't have any major crashes or wrecks. I saw so many people flying over their handlebars on some of the technical descents, I decided to be smart and get off my bike on a couple of difficult sections.
After my 5th lap Alex had shown up. I was so relieved. He had off course already set my Blur up, and I switched bikes. I put my other helmet on, which was set up with my Lupine light. Unfortunately, I was having some shifting issues and the chain kept falling off the big cog and I had to stop a few times on the first night-lap to yank the chain back out from between the cassette and the wheel. Not that big of a deal. I switched bikes again while Alex worked on the Blur.
I think it was around 3 in the morning when I started seeing something in the air that looked like snow-flurries. It was getting really cold! By the time I got back to my pit, the rain was pouring down, and I had gotten really cold. I was shaking so hard I had a hard time holding on to the hot soup Alex had made me. David and James, who were Marg's mechanics, came over and offered to give me an electric blanket. They were going to hook it up to a car-battery. Someone else offered me his glove liners because I had run out of long finger gloves. I put my short finger gloves over the liners. After I changed all of my clothes and put my water proof adidas jacket on, I was still cold, but I had stopped shaking. Time to go back out again.
This is when I really slowed down. After the "hypo-thermia" incident, I could never really get warm again, even on the climbs. I also had a really hard time keeping any food down. Every time I tried squeezing a gel into my mouth, or take the smallest bite out of a reeses peanut butter rice crispy treat, I was gagging and my stomach turned. When I did manage to swallow some food, it came straight back up. I tried to force down some eggs that Alex made in the morning, but I couldn't even take one bite. Alex seemed a bit concerned when, after my 15th lap, I came into the pit, and sat starring into space. Afterwards, he said that he couldn't really make out what I was trying to say because I was just mumbling. 24-hr racing is so much FUN!!! At some point earlier in the race,I had been in 2nd place, with about an hour on Monique, according to my pit-crew. But as I was sitting there, starring into space, I see Monique, FLYING by, looking very spry and fresh!! I knew there was no way I was going to catch her, because I was happy just making it around the course at this point. My last 2 laps were pretty much just surviving. I tried chugging a little Ensure, which gave me back some energy. I was so out of it however, I had to slowly walk a lot of the single track. Many other riders seemed to be in the same boat. I was sooooo happy to see the finish-line after my final lap. Drew who was announcing, gave me a big hug and was kind enough to not ask me too many questions over the microphone.
In the end, I rode 17 laps, about 169 miles, and got 3rd place. I was happy to be on the podium again. I know I could not have done this without Alex's help. He was calm but efficient. Always had a second bike cleaned, lubed, and ready for me to hop onto. Batteries charged and lights set up, food hot and ready to eat (I probably should have taken more advantage of this...), dry clothes for me to change into, camelbak filled up. Thanks Alex! Thanks also to my sponsors X-fusion shox, Magura, Giant, and Adidas clothing and eyewear. I could not have done it without all the great equipment and your support.
The race wasn't quite over for me on Sunday at noon. On monday I had to get up (after a pretty sleepless night) to begin my drive back to San Jose. I probably wasn't the safest driver on the road. Every time I had to stop for gas or food, people were giving me funny looks. I had a hard time getting out of the car, I moved like an old lady. My legs were bruised, my eyes swollen, and I kept dropping things because my hands were completely numb. 24-hr racing is a great sport... I'm sure I'll be back next year!