As I lined up for the Oregon 24 hour Nationals Race, I could feel the wave of nerves and emotions coming over me. This would be my first solo event in a few years and only my second 24 hour mtn bike race. Was I ready? Could I push through the struggles with out my team there to help me? How would my body and mind hold up? Would I crash?
So many un answerable questions ran through my mind as I jumped up and down and shook out my arms. But then, just as Mike the race director was counting down, a calm voice came into my mind “Be present, be focused, and breathe” and then the voice became a whisper “and, Mama I am here.”
Spirit B’s words turned into my meditation for the next 24 hours and 20 some minutes. When the starting whistle blew, I felt like something had taken over my body and I could feel all of my nervous energy get turned into useful adrenaline.
I imagined that I had turned into a machine and Jason, (who was my amazing one maned support pit crew/ coach) was my driver. Right before he left me on the starting line, he said “Ride the first three laps as if you had to be home in three hours to pick up the boys.” So, that is what I did. At the end of those three laps, I rolled into the pit and asked, what next? “Take these salt pills, eat this gel, here’s your new bladder, and ride this next lap at a slightly easier pace” “and come back with an empty bladder” with in 2 minutes of arriving I was off again. And that is how it went for the majority of my laps.
Luckily we both figured out pretty quickly that the best way for me to succeed was to have Jason monitor my fluid, calorie, salt and caffeine intake AND coach me all at the same time. In adventure racing, I am used to being the one on the team who reminds everyone to eat and drink. However, in this style of racing, I was able to turn that side of my brain off and focus on riding as fast and efficiently as I could.
The 11 mile course had a bit of everything, technical bits, flow, awesome descents, punchy climbs (every lap had 950 ft of elevation gain) and fast fire roads. At first I was nervous about how many people would be on the trail with me, as I was a bit out of practice with single track passing but that proved to be a non issue. I also didn’t know how I would deal with having to go round and round on the same course, I thought that I might go a little insane after seeing the same section of trail for the 15th time. However I found that the trail changed every lap, more rocks started to emerge and the light changed. By the time dark came, I was ready for it. The temperature dropped from 100 degrees to a very pleasant 60 degrees, there were less people out and I was able to be in my own bubble of light.
At around 4, the temperature dropped another 15 degrees, and along with it my body started to drop. Jason sat me down and gave me some hot ramen. “Are you human?” He asked. “What do you mean?” I said back in a confused and tired stupor. “You are CRUSHING!” I had been going non stop for 20 hours and I was about to start my 17th lap. I didn’t really know where I was in the group at all and Jason hadn’t been updating me on the standings. “You are the first female, you are in 5th place over all and you are on track to beat the record.”
This news fueled me for two more laps, my pace had slowed down from doing 1 hour laps to 1 hour 15 minute laps, but I was still pedaling. Spirit B’s mantra came in “I’m here with you” and “Be present, focus and breathe.”
At the end of my 19th lap, I rolled into the pit with tears rolling down my face. I was done. I was exhausted both mentally and physically but deep down I knew my race was not over.
I immediately sat down, took off my helmet and said “don’t say anything” I knew Jason would want to talk me into going back out, but I didn’t want to hear it yet.
He handed me a bagel and some water. I cried some more. “Ok. Let’s hear it” I said in between mouth fulls of bagel and sips of water.
“You are an absolute beast” Jason said carefully and gently “You are first place women’s and you have broken the record…. but if you go one more lap you can secure your 5th place over all. And, doesn’t 20 laps sound better than 19?”
He was right, twenty had a much nicer ring to it than 19, and I still had time. I got up, “Ok” I said. “But it’s not going to be pretty”
On that last lap, I walked all of the technical sections, and took my time to say good bye to every section of the course.
As I rolled down the final hill to the finish, a wave of gratitude and excitement washed over me. We had done it. I found new limits and then pushed past them, Jason coached and supported me amazingly well and Spirit B had been there with me the entire time- whispering our mantra at the perfect moments.
Total Miles: 220 miles in 24 hours and 20 minutes
Total Elevation: 19,000 ft
Below is a list of my top gear and food. Take a look and let me know if you have any questions!
- My 2021 Ellsworth Designed Truth XC bike: This new ultra light bike will be out in limited production soon. It is an absolute dream to ride.
- CushCore Tire Inserts: I credit my ability to still feel my hands after 24 hours to these. These inserts have been super popular with enduro riders but are now getting very popular with gravel and now endurance riders. I also didn’t have any problems with flats at all.
- Schwable tires: I have used these tires for the past ten years. They are my go to!
- Enve wheels: the lightest and in my opinion best out there
- Columbia Omni Freeze technology – I wore a shirt, arm coolers and a neck gaiter for the entire time. In the extreme heat of the day, this technology kept me cool and comfortable!
- Pearl Izumi Mountain bike shoes: These are super comfortable and good for technical and hike a biking.
- Exposure Lights: I used one match stick one on my helmet and one on my handle bars- both made my light bubble bigger than ever which kept me awake! They also last forever off of a single charge and are super easy to operate.
- Ergon Grips and seat: Ergon knows what’s up when it comes to keeping you comfortable and moving on the bike. I have been using their seats and grips for the past 15 years.
- Mission Farms CBD Relieve Gel: I had Jason rub this on my lower back every other lap. It was so amazing!!
- Shimano Components: Do I need to say more?? Best brakes, shifters, drive trains etc out there
- Salt Stick Pills and fast chews: Keeping up on my salt intake is huge in hot races and or big efforts. Jason handed me a salt pill every lap, and sometimes in the middle of a lap I would take a chew.
- Osmo Drink Mix: I love this stuff, it’s not too sweet and goes down easy!
- Dan’s special drink gu: If you know you know. It’s way too good and fuels me up for big days!
- Spring Energy: After 15 years of adventure racing, I thought I could no longer take in any more gels. However, a few months ago, I tried Spring, and now I love it. While I still can’t exclusively eat them, they were a really nice treat and are fast too eat!
- Laird Superfood Instafuel: In the middle of the night, I swear this stuff saved me. Hot coffee with superfood and fat in it?! YES please 🙂
- Other things I ate: Pizza, salty bagel, Ramen, Picky Bars, Pringles