Saturday, June 20, 2009
Race Report: LEVI24 2009
After 2008 without a 24-hour solo race (a DNS with Kangasala 24h) I was finally back to my thing. Before the actual race report, a few words about my “build-up” and a significant change in strategy and attitude.
From September 2008 to March 2009 my “training” was only bike commuting and maybe all that work at my workplace. April and May I did some longer road rides, MTB-Lohja 24h with a team and in late May, two weeks before the race, I did the only long mtb training ride (almost 6 hours) in hot 29 Celcius weather. After that I just kept my motor running with short rides (a 2h45min ride a week before the race). After this kind of preparation I was a little doubtful about my chances in a 24-hour solo race but I felt rather good during that last long mtb training and it gave a lot of self-confidence.
In contrast to my previous 24-hour solo races I was going to LEVI24 with a totally different strategy. In the past I had a pit crew helping me in the pit and keeping me updated about my placing in the race. I felt that I want to really race against myself and to see how far I can go. This time we were going to almost forget the rest of the race and I would concentrate on my own riding. My wife was going to support me before the night and after that I would be alone.
I pre-rode the race course on Friday afternoon but it wasn’t completely marked. A lot better than in 2007 (and that wasn’t bad either), some parts were the same as in 2007. The length about 9-10 km. My goal in the race: 30 laps and 300 km.
The morning of the race was cloudy and cold, only 8 C. There was also a small shower but after that the weather improved slowly. I started the race from the back of the field and wanted to avoid the rush of the start. After the first lap I started to get to my rhythm and things went pretty smoothly. The weather was perfect during afternoon and early evening, sunny and 17 C. I knew that the first 12 hours shouldn’t be a problem but after that things would get harder. I rode 19 laps in the first 12 hours. I was well in my target for riding 300 km and I wanted to have some kind of edge at the halfway point.
As the night started, it started also to rain. I really hoped that it would have stayed dry, but no. It was to be an epic ending because it rained most of the night. My riding was really tough. For the first time I used MP3 player and the music really helped me. I fell one time in a technical rock section as it was wet and slippery. Fortunately I was ok and only small scratches to my bike. But even with the music the night was super tough. My back was hurting like hell and every lap was painful. But I just kept going and tried to motivate myself in every way. And somehow it all worked. My pit stops weren’t too long and I was in the survival mode.
In the morning I was close to my goal. 29 laps and just one more and 30 laps completed. I did that and then we had a really hard rain shower. The course was already wet but after this it was flooding. I noticed that a couple of solo rides called it a day. I didn’t know my place, as was the plan, but I had a feeling that I was close to 3rd. I had time to ride at least three laps. I felt really tired after the night but strangely now I felt better. My back was still hurting but I decided to continue and rode two more laps. At 23h09mins with 32 laps I decided to stop my race. I could have rode at least one more lap, maybe even two but I really was in pain. I finished at 3rd, the rider in 4th place rode 30 laps. Full results at ChampionChip Finland website.
Overall I think that this was my best 24-hour solo race. Officially I rode 320 km and broke the 300 km barrier that I have been thinking that I can some day brake, althought the distance in my bike computer was close to 300 km. During the hard night hours I was wondering if this is too much of suffering and riding another 24-hour solo race, Kangasala 24h, seemed really insane. But now as I am recovering rather well I feel that I still can improve and ride even better.
Special thanks to my wife for supporting me, without you this would have not been possible. Thanks also to my parents, wife’s parents, Jan of Pyöristi, Simone Lega, my big brother Tatu, aunt Leakaarina and all you blog readers! And thanks also to the organizers of LEVI24 for putting a great event!
In the morning...
Heading out for another lap.
On the podium with Isabell!