Sunday, July 31, 2011

24 hours of Wausau 2011 Part One

A couple of months ago, Rafal said that he was gonna do the 12 hour race at the 9 Mile Forest in Wausau, WI, so I agreed to meet up with him and MK. I was also stoked to see the smarter, more eloquent, and better looking brother of Christopher Wolff, William was gonna be shucking and jiving for 12 hours also. Considering the abject lack of endurance riding that I have been doing this year, I stuck to the 6 hour race.
About 400 souls started the race via a lemans start. There is no more wonky sight than cyclists running.

Its like watching a monkey try to dribble a basketball.
Then once we started the first lap, it was a lot of waiting for everybody to walk through the rocky section at the one mile mark. I was running the Ferrous SS, and was loaded for bear, turning a 34:18. Rafal told me at dinner the night before that there was only 300 feet of climbing per lap. Rafal and will also joked about how people would be walking the one singletrack climb. I chuckled too but I ended up walking that every time.
Anyway as we got towards the end of the first lap we kind of found our rhythm's and started getting acquainted with the folks that we would be spending the day with. I got to ride with Jason Gaikowski, fellow former Kansan, recently of QBP, as the grand poo-bah of Marketing. We took turns throughout a couple of laps catching up on life. Jason and I rode together for about 70 miles in the 2008 Dirty Kanza.
At the end of the lap I eventually caught up with Rafal, and we rolled through our support station. I was taking 2 bottles of water (a 16oz and a 24oz) per lap, and that seemed to be enough for consumption and cooling.
After a couple of laps you sort of fall into a rhythm of steady state activity. My laps seemed to consist of staying fluid on the singletrack, staying on top of the gear on the gravel, and pushing my bike up the singletrack climb. I learned a long time ago that you can do a lot of work (and look cool) riding 3 mph up a climb, or you can just walk by your bike at at 3 mph. Somewhere on the 3rd lap, The Good Doctor Buffington made contact with me as I was pushing my bike, as did Danielle Musto. Both would proceed to ride what I was walking, but once we hit the gravel sections of the course, I would make up a little time, then they would catch me again as I pushed my bike up the one climb each lap. It was a vicious cycle.
We finally caught another SSer on the 4 th lap. It was around this time that I realized that there was some meteorological treachery afoot, and the sky was looking rather grim. As we finished the lap, they were saying that the storm was going to hit in about 30 minutes.

I figured I might as well get as far as I could on a dry course as opposed to waiting it out. I as I rolled back out I did not see any of the folks that I had been with, but they were all doing 12 or 24 hours. About half way through my 5th lap I saw a chain laying in the trail, so I put on the brakes as I went around a corner. Sure enough, there was Rafal, without a chain, looking bewildered. I alerted him to the fact that his chain was back down the trail, and gave him my extra 9 speed quick link. Made it past the climb as the wind started to pick up and the temp dropped. This storm looked to have all the makings of a real humdinger. A few miles later it started to pour. I got to about mile 9 of the 11 mile course before they told us that the laps had been suspended due to lightning, and that the lap we had just ridden (most of) would be cancelled (expletive).
It was at this point that I was:
  • Wet (soaked would better describe it)
  • Pissed
  • still in the woods in a lightning storm
As someone that has promoted events I usually hesitate to criticize the judgement of race directors, but as I stood in the woods, in the pouring rain, with lightning crashing around us, I was passing some pretty serious judgement on that decision. Someone showed up that knew how to get back to the start/finish line, so about a dozen of us went screaming down these flooded logging roads. We got back to the finish and were told that once the storm abated the race would resume. A big box truck was sent out to pick up other riders that were still out on the course. Once everyone got back and the storm dissipated, the 6 hour period of the race had elapsed. So my race was over. I got 5th in the Mens Solo class.
I am sure that the promoter had a great reason not allow us to finish the lap, but in my mind, a more reasonable approach would have been to allow people to finish their lap. Then communicate to them that the race would resume once the storm was over.

Ali and Jappers wait out the storm.

Rafal and his mustache were in full force for the race restart. William looking decidedly dapper in his kit.

The race restarts. The rest of the story tomorrow.


Single_Speeder said...

I don't think I like you anymore.

Joshua Stamper said...

Just making sure you were reading. You live on the front range now, it makes it easier for the rest of use to envy/hate you. You do have facial hair on your side....just saying.