Solstice came and went… and of course, there are stories to tell. So go grab yourself a Gatorade and unzip for a Blaine cold rag wipe-down special… its time for the race report.
First, let me preface this with something.
I will never do Solstice Solo again. That’s not to say I won’t do another 24H solo, cause believe me, I’m goin back to Pueblo without a question… but Solstice is a time for gathering with friends, hammering a lap, then hammering a cold beer. Solstice is a weekend away from the grind where I play bikes. Nothing compares to meeting up with your friends at 2am for your graveyard lap at the start pen… talking shit, then sucking wind up the first hill cause you already played all your cards on the first lap. The camp fires, the site visits. Just overall, its how I want to enjoy it in the future, and with my family growing, I fully intend to turn it into camping weekends, and possibly including them in future races should they decide to take it up.
I missed out on it this year, and I feel it already, a bit of melancholy knowing that I have to wait till next year to 24h with my Big Unit Brothers. But there’s lots to do still, and Fall Epic 8 team is always a go. Not the same, but it is what it is!
Anyway, enough… RACE REPART!
I drove up on Saturday morning, it turned out to be a good idea as I got a pretty solid nights sleep the evening before and the drive there was really… uneventful for what I thought it was going to be. Found Riots home base, parked and unloaded all of my gear.
Neil was a good Directeur Sportif and set up the Apex tent for me to call home for the next 24 hours. It came in hella handy. Cause.. .DAT SUN THO.
After putting down almost 6 bottles of hydration even before hitting the start pen, I knew today was going to be tough. The sun was hot, the ground was hot, the dust was hot, everything was hot. I do well in heat for sure, but man alive, I was having visions of fighting off the sun like at Pueblo again. Only this time, I knew the sun was going to be out for at least 8 hours vs. Pueblo’s 5.
I got up to the start pen with about 5 minutes left in the count down. Almost perfect timing really, just enough time to settle up in the back and get ready for the inevitable trainwreck of climbs and single track entries….
Lap 1 was pretty much that, lots of bottlenecks. I took the time to relax and just get into the groove. Riot and I meandered through the lap laughing it up. He mentioned that I picked good lines. I didn’t know if he was serious. I then slid out like an idiot on a corner and we both kinda laughed at it, after a while Riot left me behind and I settled into what I felt was going to be a comfortable pace for the 24h, at least at this point.
Lap 2 was pretty much just riding around. The course had cleared up quite a bit and bottle necks weren’t a thing anymore. I actually felt really good. There isn’t much to report till about lap 4.
Lap 4… this is where things got raw. The heat was really starting to get to me. I like heat, but one of the things I’ve done in the last year or so after hot rides, or long rides, is go grab food at about this time, then take a nap. My brain was screaming at me to eat and when I did that, it seriously unleashed a massive Seratonin bomb. I suddenly was just… sleepy as hell. I wanted to lay down and have a solid 1 hour nap. It was brutal. I knew I wasn’t “tired” but holy shit I wanted to nap so badly it hurt.
Blaine had none of it. Gave me a flat pop, a cold wet rag over my head and told me to eat a gel.. then sent me back out. Honestly I’m not sure what that was all about but suddenly I felt a LOT better.
I managed to get to the night and slapped the lights on. I settled into a lap with a 10 minute break at the pits each time through. I’ll be honest, it took me till about 9pm to get re hydrated after fighting my body all day.
The night laps were fairly straight forward. One of the things that happened was that somewhere, everything just.. stopped hurting. I couldn’t push much harder, but I suddenly felt really good. Just.. tired. I continued my lap / break / lap / break ride through the night, and felt good about hitting my 14-15 lap goal.
Lap 11 is where it fell apart for me.
I was happy to be riding without my lights again and was fairly confident in my ability to continue on for another 4 more laps. The warm sun was feeling really good, and I was well fed and well hydrated for the Sunday onslaught of heat.
Little did I know I was on the edge of snapping. I had ridden passed Speed O Rama and knew that this was the harder part of the course by way of single track and was fairly pumped to get passed Pining for More to the longish double track where I’d drink and recover… but first I needed to sneak through the rock garden.
I don’t know what happened but I literally blacked out for a second and found myself in the middle of the garden heading towards a rock. I know I went into it way too fast and couldn’t correct. I hit something head on and went down. Holy shit though I endo’d hard, and went helmet first into a boulder. I thought I broke my neck. I’ve ridden this rock garden a hundred times… and honestly I don’t know what happened, but man alive. The helmet is a write-off, but it saved my life, no joke. Wear your helmet, don’t be an idiot.
Anyway, I check myself over and saw I had gashed my knee AGAIN. This time deeply. I rode to the next marshal and called it before something worse happened. There was a fast downhill “double track” that had gotten fairly grooved out over the night and dragged my tire on my last time through. If that went bad, it woulda been game over by way of dislocation or seriously broken bones.
I rode back to the start pen and checked in with medical. My headache was gone so I figured I had nothing to worry about there, got cleaned up.. and handed in my card. I meandered my way back to camp. It was about 9:30 when I got there.
Kids were waiting, and wife had shown up, but race was over… and I was perfectly fine with it. I placed 11th out of 24 riders in my category. Had I kept going, I coulda probably hit 5th.
I drove home, had the dirtiest sandwich I could find, parked my car in the garage.
Actual conversation with my wife:
Her: Did you unpack?
Me: yeah everything’s in the garage
Her:…… um you just parked the Rav in there and everything’s still in the trunk
Me: close enough
Overall… honestly I set out what I wanted to do with this 24h. I rode all day, all night, and then saw the sun come up. I stopped for breaks, but I didn’t… STOP and that was the kicker… so I feel accomplished in what I did, even though honestly I coulda did more. I just figured at that point that Team Canada still hasn’t decided to add me to their roster, so I wasn’t there to impress anyone other than myself… and I feel secure in saying I did what I wanted to.
Mad props to Riot and Giant though, felt a bit like a bum in the tent considering they’re both fighting for 1st place, and here I am shitting the place up. Truly on another level. Though man I question Giant’s on bike diet, that’s some mad dedication I just don’t have 🙂
Also big thank you to Blaine for helping me get through the race and putting this monkey to bed. The last few days of not having to think about it or how poorly I did really feels a lot better then having that nagging hook of “… you know you want to do this again, you know you can be better”. Let me know if you want to head to Arizona with me and crew that!
Pueblo has the honour of being the hook in my mouth now. I’ll be back for you buddy.. but not yet. I’m going to go re-visit the iron for a bit. I’ve spent the last 5 years doing nothing but cardio. I need to do a serious round at the gym and then re-focus on training for another round in Arizona. I’ll come back trained, skinny, and angry…. and hungry for 4x4s.
…. though man, already looking forward to next Solstice. 359 days to go.