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Friday, June 01, 2007

Kangasala 24h 2006 Race Report

So let's go back in time to 25th and 26th of August 2006...

It was Friday and I had a day off work to pack all things to car, take care of the usual household chores and be there in time. Things looked good with the weather, it was sunny and warm, the temps a little over +20 C, and it was forecasted to be this way from Friday to Saturday.

I had my dad as a pit crew for me, and we were there in time, but we didn't really have any spare time so it was a little bit hectic... we managed to put together our pit shelter/pavilion and organize all other things too.

All the stuff is out from the car...

...and our pit is ready!

After that I went straight to the start line, I didn't have time to ride the lap to know what is ahead of me...

The start was blindly fast as the most of the racers were part of the teams. The first couple of laps were pretty fast for me too but not too fast. I remember that after first lap I was thinking that this is a really hard course. There were lots of roots and tough hills. You have to be crazy to ride this for 24-hours!! But, quite soon I got rid of those thoughts. I had a plan. I had divided the race in my mind to two 12-hour blocks. The first 12-hours was to get through the nightriding, after that the real battle begins... and actually, that was to be the case.

Before the darkness I was in 4th or 5th place...

I had lights ready on my bike for the night hours, so all I had to do before the darkness was to attach the battery to the frame and connect it with the lights. I was using Sigma Sport Mirage and Mirage X lights (older version) with Ni-Pack battery. The night riding started pretty well but quite soon I had to slow down because it was simply too dangerous to try to ride with the same speed as in the evening. At the same time the first problems started to arise. The cable connection between the battery and the lights were loose. The battering from the trail was so hard that I was losing lights all the time. I had to stop very often to reconnect the cables. I fixed this problem in the pit with electric tape.

But that was not all. I started to have problems with gears and I had to adjust my rear derailleur in the pit. My pit stops were getting too long, but there was a lot of racing left so I wasn't too worried. More problems were coming, the other of my batteries went out of power! Yeah, I was in complete darkness and didn't see a thing. Fortunately, one slower team rider came behind and I rode with him to the end of the lap.

The night riding was almost done (about 10-11 hours of racing behind), but I didn't feel too good. I was in pain. I was hammered from the constant battering from the trail. I had way too high tire pressure during night hours, and that made things so bad. I let off some of the pressure a couple of times, but it wasn't enough. But in the morning I let off some more. I wasn't using chamois cream, so my ass was in fire. My hands weren't too happy because of the hard grips on my handlebar...

The sun started to shine, but I was doubtful to continue. But after night things had changed, I was in second place. Some of the solo racers had decided to sleep. So I continued but riding felt really painful. Then the big thing happened to me. I was in pain, but I started to think my wife who was seriously injured in a horse riding accident over a year ago and was still recovering from it. I thought that my pain is nothing compared to all the pain my wife has gone through. It is only 24-hours... fighting with injury is a lot longer and harder battle. My emotions were really high, but bang, suddenly I was in a spirit of battle. I made a decision in my mind that I can do this, I can ride to the end. I started to put the hammer down and I was riding much faster laps. The rider in first place had a good lead on me, but I was also closing on him...

Things were clicking together now. We had too slow pit stops with my dad in the night hours, but now they were faster. Eating and drinking was working great. The temperature was rising, but I poured cold water on my head. The bike worked great.

In the afternoon I was forced to ride some slower laps due to fatigue but a couple of gels gave me a little extra energy I needed. At the same time the rider in third place was closing on me... can you believe it? We had raced over 22 hours and the battle for the second place was just starting! The last few laps I tried to ride furiously and they were pretty good laps, but in the lap 33 he caught me and I couldn't respond, the guy was simply too fast in the end. After that lap I had ridden almost 23 hours 20 minutes, so I decided that it was enough. I was thinking that there was no way I could catch him, so I ended in third place. But I was extremely happy...

My first 24-hour solo race was an amazing journey. After all, for me it was a mind game. It was mind over matter. After 12 hours I wasn't so sure if I could continue, but then the magic happened to me. At the same time I found things in me that I wasn't sure before that they existed in me. I figured out that in 24-hour solo racing you can learn a whole lot more about yourself and that 24-hour racing is really beautiful.

This was certainly an "once in a lifetime" experience, but I will never ever forget it... it was larger than life.

When I and my dad were back in my home, I had difficulties to get out of the car... I would say that it was funny feeling...

After this, the question is: what will the next 24-hour race hold for me...?

By Toni at 1:29 | Permalink |
Category: 2006 Race Reports