A Tale of 4 Races: Part 4
24 Hours of Summer Solstice.
Also, this: I’m baaaaaaaaack.
Well, sort of. My cough has finally subsided, save for a few outbursts throughout the day, but my voice is soft and shaky, and it occasionally takes a rest–not a good thing for a Dramatic Arts teacher. I’m positive and I joke about it, and “everything is awesome…always awesome” but when it really comes down to it, I’m sort of not. My heart constantly feels like it wants to leap out of my chest and it’s a real drag. Worse, while my coughing is infrequent, the results are pretty drastic. I can’t tell whether my lungs are collapsing, or my throat is constricting, but I can’t breathe and it’s freakin’ scary. Isn’t this the same way I’ve started my last several posts…dang.
At least I finally feel like I have my legs back (which is why I said I’m back) and I think I’m on the road to being myself again. Gee, that’d be nice.
Nonetheless, I tried to ignore whatever this lung/throat/heart thing is, and looking back, my Spring was pretty epic:
- April 13: Turkey Point XCM #1 (marathon, +/- 30k)
- April 20: Sausage Suit ITT XCM #2 (marathon+/- 50k)
- April 28: Paris to Ancaster (70k)
- May 11: Spring Epic 8 Hour (solo, 80k)
- May18: Long Sock Classic XCM #3 (MARATHON +/- 75k)
- June 1: Kingston Trophy XCM #4 (half marathon (+/- 30k)
- June 22: 24 Hours of Summer Solstice (team of nine, 4 laps, +/- 80k)
Hmm, I wonder why I didn’t get a chance to blog. Like I said in my last three posts, I was either racing (badly) or recovering (poorly).
I also jammed a few other rides in between, a few Tuesday Night Races (at the King Race Series–noice), and two O-Cup pre-rides (Woodnewton and Albion), but there wasn’t a chance to really dig deep, because you know…family, work, and health…so basically my time on a bike this spring was mainly racing. To be clear, I have not spent a moment building my cardio, core, or strength.
So yeah, not good.
Btw, the Albion O-Cup course was an absolute blast–as it always is–and Woodnewton…wow. I gotta say, that place is epically fun. Technical, climbey, and a great rip! I even got to visit my pal who lives in the nieghbourhood, Mark Summers (of the Joyride Summerses) after the race…
What’s the Deal With Training?
So, in my posts earlier this season, I kept asking whether I could enter a marathon race with little prep, and rely solely on core fitness and muscle memory in order to finish. Um, see above. I did a bunch of them, so clearly it’s possible, but it just wasn’t fun or easy. I’m 47, and that’s far from old, but I’m past the spring chicken stage of my life–you know, when I could sleep for 3 hours a day, nap whenever I wanted, and function on bacon and cashews. On the other hand, most of my peers chase a little ball around a big lawn while guzzling a beer or four.
Or worse, they do yoga.
Boom. Epiphany. Cue doves, a beam of sunlight from the clouds, and a chubby winged kid with a lute.
I need more.
I need a lot more.
In my weakened physical state, and what I like to call “eat a row of Oreos simply because they’re in the house-itis” my body changed. It didn’t turn to mush, but damn close to it; my arms and chest didn’t coagulate, but they sort-of-agulated; and my legs and lungs–well they just didn’t have the steam to give it 100%. More like 53% (with a lot of grunting and groaning and unnecessary cussing).
Hmm, yoga I will try. Wait. Do, or do not. There is no try.
Any day you can nail a sweet Star Wars quote…well, that’s a good day.
My epiphany made me realize how much I need the other stuff in order to actually recover, perform at last minimally, and have a somewhat decent time. The equation is simple: BIKE + CORE + YOGA + WEIGHTS + CARDIO.
It sounds obvious, and I’ve probably even said it before, but it’s way harder to put into practice, especially with a broken throat and this family and work stuff poking its head through my time on a bike.
Work/Life/Riding Balance? Pfft.
Okay, enough of this. It just makes me feel lousy. What I really want to talk about is the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice, because I can tell you this: If you’re looking for a place to be awesome and shake a few demons off the Tree of Crap (an actual tree), the 24 Hour is just the place to do it. The race came at a terrific time. The school year was ending, I had just finished the mammoth task of report cards, and I needed some space. Well, 24 hours of bikes, friends, and actual alone time was just what I needed. And guess what? My team, 8 absolute beauties, decided to call us “Team Colin (and the Colonoscpoies). So cool. Something else cool happened, and I had nothing to do with it. In fact, I was merely a bystander.
I Got to See Magic Happen.
Yeah, actual magic. I got to ride with the overall winner of the race, my pal Nick Elmsley. Magic. Pure magic.
My team of 9 riders did 23 laps.
So did Nick.
Yes, Nick Elmsley–who, the last time I looked, was only one person–rode 23 laps.
24 hours and 23 minutes. 15k per lap. 300m elevation per lap.
Nick Elmsley, rode 345 km…on a mountain bike…in one day.
6900m of climbing.
Here’s how it all went down (and it’s also my first Race Report that isn’t an actual report of the race…
One Magic Lap Report. 24 Hours of Summer Solstice: June 23, 2019 at approximately 10AM. (Albion Hills)
My lap starting times were noon (the first lap), around 10PM (the 10th lap), and 7AM (the 19th lap). Each of my laps was over an hour. Ugh. Not great. So, at about 9AM, after I was finished my contribution for the team, I visited my Team van Go friend, Tyler See. He was tag teaming, but his partner was done, so he was on his own to finish. Tyler was my guy at my third Epic 8 Hour, and it was because of him that I got my first 100k pin. He saw I was in dire shape, and rode a few laps with me to get me over the hump.
He wasn’t hurting, but I figured he could use the company, so I offered to ride a lap with him.
He ate breakfast, I showered in my RV, and at about 10:30, we embarked on a lap. Tyler is a great pal, and it was nice to just ride and chat. When we got to the Solo pit, we saw Nick.
Nick was on his 22nd lap, and he was standing squarely in front of a wall.
I was heartbroken for him, and in awe–and in equal measure. The Elmsleys are like family to me. Nick had been riding for almost 22 Hours. His entire body was as stiff and cramped, he was bloody, filthy, and war beaten. Looking at him was a thing of horrendous beauty, and to think of his output since noon the day before, and all through the dead of night, almost took my breath away.
Here’s the picture:
- I was either behind him rubbing his shoulders (it was like massaging concrete), on my knees rubbing his calves (like harder concrete), or feeding him some watermelon.
- Nick was surprisingly chill (although he hadn’t been a minute earlier).
- Nick’s mom and dad were trying to get his shoes off to change them–because his feet were a vision of horror–and he needed fresh kicks
- All around us, the race continued. Riders were smiling, racers were ripping, bells were belling, and a dude with a hose was giving riders some respite in the perfect morning sun.
It was like being in the middle of a battle, and my friend needed some support. It sounds hokey, but it was an honour to witness. I offered to “ride with him” for while. I say “ride” because even in his state, literally after A DAY OF CONTINUAL RIDING, the dude was still faster than me and kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I was there. I often wasn’t.
We chatted. We actually chatted. I was out of breath, and he was carrying on a conversation with me.
I’ve never seen such an athlete engage in such a task. It was humbling and awe inspiring.
We finished the lap, and Nick embarked on his final lap without me: solo, just the way he started.
I stuck around the FINISH to wait for him to complete his final lap. An hour or so later, he appeared outside the START/FINISH tent, and the race was over.
End of (not a) Race Report.
So that’s it. One more 24 Hour race is in the can. The weather was perfect, the course was a true beauty, and the event was awesome (like it could be any different). Honestly, I don’t think there is a single thing that could have made the day better. Except…
I listen to the universe. It’s never wrong. I’ve also started speaking to the universe, so when Chico (Adam Ruppel) was announcing the prizes after the race and, holding up a sweet prize, he said, “This is worth $1,500 all day long…”, and I told the universe, and those around me, that I was winning the prize he was announcing.
Boom! XTR brakes, a Light & Motion Seca light, Smith helmet, and socks. Thanks Shimano, Light & Motion, Smith, and Chico.
And so, the day got even better. Thanks universe. Check out my prize:
A Final Word
These 4 races and 4 blog posts…I put them together for a reason. I couldn’t write them as they were happening, but I wrote them in my head over the last two months. Looking back, they tell the story of a really awful beginning, to a somewhat hopeful present, complete with a few podiums, an epiphany, and lots and lots (but not enough) riding.
Also, space. I didn’t need space from my bike or my family or my life. It’s ridiculous to need space from the things you love. I just needed space to stand back, and appreciate and enjoy, the things I already had. I’m pretty good at seeing what’s in front of my face, but it’s nice to reinforce it, and with time such a rare commodity when you work full time and have a family…24 Hours was just about perfect.
Some More Stuff to Say
Look at these kings. They’ve been racing the 24 Hour for as long as it’s been a race. So glad they include me. My fellow teammate, Bill, and I share the exact same philosophy about bike cleaning and stretching. Geoff was meticulously cleaning his cassette, when I picked up a stick from the bush around the site and scraped the gunk off mine. After the 30 seconds it took me to dislodge the big stuff, Bill and I said “Done!” at the same time. “Hey, dude totally took my joke” I thought. After my 9 second stretch before my lap, he made the same joke. Nice.
Also, Rich’s Saeco espresso machine…awesome.
This team is always so dialled. If they didn’t love so far away, I’m sure we’d be BFFs. Well, if they didn’t live so far AND if they actually liked me. Love these guys. Photos courtesy Ted Anderton and Apex Photography. Awesome shots!
If you haven’t bought your pictures, do so. 8 Hours is a looooong time to spend in the bushes, and I know Ted personally. Accurate indexing software doesn’t exist, so he indexes EVERY one of the 3,000 pictures after the race. Dude is legendary.
A Few More Photos:
And my favourite shot:
Okay, One More…
Full size, no cropping, 24 hours and 23 minutes on a bike. Legendary: