Thursday, June 28, 2007

Solstice Wrap Up

*Sorry for the delay. School year has come to a close and it's been busy as heck.

Once the 'door' was shut, I did everything inside to keep it shut - basically just getting back on the bike, lap after lap after lap and kept pedaling. I can't thank the support that I got from Chris, Matt's mom and auntie (Doris & Ruth), Jenn and all the boys in the Fishing Hole to keep going.

My night laps went by without incident. I was doing back to back laps, then coming in for a break - food, change of clothing, and a quick nap. The decision to stay out of the tent was the best one I may have made. I kept warm by the fire on the cot with sleeping bags and blankets while I ate and rested. Hot soup, watermelon, coke and a few cheese crunchits woud sustain my energy level for the rest of the race.

The worst part of the night ride was the amount of dust hanging in the air. Riding with a HID made you feel like you were riding in fog. Before long day was starting to break off in the distance over the trees. This was a bit of a pick-me-up. The end was in sight.

Before I knew it, I was starting my fifteenth lap, I passed through the timing tent and asked what time the cut off was. I was ready for this to be my last lap. At the same time what I found out was that I was in ninth place. My spirits lifted and I was pumped. Right then and there I knew that I was going to go for sixteen laps - I wanted 9th place.

What helped me decide to push through and do another lap was my experience at the Mansfield 8 Hr race back in May. Towards the end of that race, I was contemplating finishing up my ride even though I had time to make the cut-off. Why bother going out for another lap, I had a good race. What made me go back out then was training . . . . mental training. I thought that if I couldn't go on and ride until the very finish in an 8 hr, how was I going to make it through a 24 hr race? So I pushed on, got one more lap in. It made a huge difference in my standing - I made a top ten finish. The biggest thing though was it gave me confidence that I could go on, not give up and push through. Whoever said that it's 90% mental and 10% physical was right.

That experience helped me decide to go back out for a sixteenth lap. I wanted another top ten finish and to beat my original goal of 15 laps. So that's what I did. I had plenty of time to make the cut off, so I just cruised. I was riding the first quarter of the lap thinking about my entire race, thankful for not having any major mechanicals or problems with the bike . . . . and the next thing I know I flatted. Got a stick tangled up in my rear wheel and the value got sheered off. I panicked a bit, but managed to get the tire changed quickly and off I went.

I got a bit emotional coming across the finish. It was a long, hard race and I was so thankful for being able to conquer the demons that haunted me at the start. I captured 9th out of 30 solo riders in my age division. Sixteen laps equaled aprox. 280km of riding in a 24hr period.

I had a few goals for this race - the first was to ride the entire race, especially through the night (last year I had lighting issues which kept me out of 3.5 hrs of the race), the second was to get at least 15 laps, and third was to place in the top ten. Mission accomplished. This race, thus far in my limited racing career, has been my biggest accomplishment and I am most proud of it.

Next 24 hour solo in August.

*I've received a bunch of photos via e-mail from friends who took shots during the race. I'll try and post them up later today/tomorrow.


Dex said...

Congrats! Great write up and great finish. Love reading about your experiences - very inspiring!

lenny said...

Very good write up...

You should be very proud of your efforts, especially mentally. You done well and you made lots of us proud!!


The Vegan Vagabond said...

I'm so proud of you Big Ring! I knew you could do it...

Craig said...

Thanks guys!

fitzski said...

Great job, Craig. Finding that mental tunnel, and staying in it, is difficult - you've got to shut out a lot of things. Just keep the blinders on and disengage from the world for a time...

Glad that everything went smoothly as well (minus one flat... pfft... big deal) - food, lights, support crew, weather, etc. You're perspiration... er, INSPIRATION, for the rest of us!