Yup that is what we were looking for. Craig Stoeltzing, Jason Gaikowski, Travis Donn, and myself won convincingly in Wausau, WI at the 2nd of three stops for the Granny Gear 24 hour National Series. It was one to savor for sure.
Thursday morning early we headed out of KC. Amber and I were riding with Travis, and Craig was caravan'ing with Jim Cummins and Dave Burnett, leaving room in his car for Jason on the way home who would be flying into Wausau after business obligations in Dallas. Thursday we hooked up with Pappy Long and James Shefflet for our first glimpse of the 2009 course. I was happy to find that you entered your first section of singletrack much sooner than previous years I raced there. The first half of the race was a little to much doubletrack, but it made the miles go by quickly. There was some awesome singletrack sections in first half and particularly one long run that kept getting rockier, tighter, and more downhill at the same time until it shot you out of the woods all grinning and churning. The 2nd half of the course you lead off with the most taxing climbs of the trail, but they were not much after thinking back on Big Bear, and then some great singletrack that took a lot of focus to ride fast. They had it marked as just over 14 miles long, we could tell that it was going to be fast, like never take it out of the big ring fast.
I was leading us off which meant doing the run, which seemed unusually long. I sprinted (Cameron style sprint) to the first U-turn of the run, so as to not get trampled from the 238 people behind me. I think I was something like 6th or 8th to my bike and then I was in 2nd entering singletrack. I went into the lead after the first section of trail, but some dude bridged up to me from behind. We were storming along together, and he attacked out on the road and pulled me along for awhile, then I went hard up the roller climbs and could not shake him. Then we relaxed a bit and worked together with his big wheels charging the doubletrack and me leading through the singletrack. After doing the majority of the work he let me roll into the tent first, and send Jason out in the lead for the first lap. All of us had good 1st laps and established a lead in our first rotation. Our main rival team from Montana was something like 10 minutes down when I got the baton the second time. This was my lap to try for the fastest lap, without having to run at the start I thought I would have comfortably had a sub 1 hour lap, but now with that effort in the legs and moving heavily into lapped traffic it was going to be far from comfortable to hit my sub hour goal. My half way check was good, 27 minutes and change, but I knew the second half of the course was not as fast and much tighter for passing. I kept steady and only had one incident with a lady tipping right in front of me through some rocks and me having to start cyclocross season a couple of months early. In the tent to swipe the card and stop my time 59.59, how sweet a difference one second can make. It would hold up as the fastest lap for the event.
Craig had to endure a punchy little rain storm that came over in the afternoon, it initially slowed the trails, but as soon as the gravel soil drank up the water it made the course much better. My third lap was a blast with the singletrack packed in and allowing you to relax more through the corners instead of drifting and fighting for traction every corner. The sun went down while I was out and I finished the last few miles with my headlamp on. Night time is where the race is won or lost, teams can flounder through the trails making mistakes and getting frustrated while wasting precious energy, or if everyone stays positive and keeps the morale up and keeps having fun and staying focused you can bring the sun up well on your way to the podium. Everyone on our team did a great job of staying consistent and not making mistakes. Travis was a 24 hour rookie but you would not have known it by his lap times or his attitude, I did not have any doubts that he would not ride phenomenally well, but I was still impressed with his efforts. I had the last night lap and saw the sun rise on the trail, that experience is worth millions. My 5th lap was my worst for sure, I went the slowest and was in the most discomfort. I never really slept a wink and all the campfire breathing was making my chest pretty wheezy. With the sun coming up and Jason finishing his 5th lap we were all left with one to go. Everyone was storming in the morning. Sometimes you get those magic morning legs and you will like a bill and just have more fun than you ever do riding. I was definitely was having that kind of lap on my last lap. I knew the trail and was feeling pretty decent and a couple of miles in I lapped and dropped the Montana rider. Jason finished us off and we took top honors.
After picking up camp and enjoying a drink with the team, I promptly crashed in a stupor in a lawn chair. I woke up a few minutes before the awards and wobbled over to where the podium was. For winning the fastest lap competition I got to put on a crown and mount the podium by myself, that was enjoyable. Our team won and got some nice Light and Motion lights. We cruised over to a burger joint where I had Ice Tea, Sweet Fries, and a BBQ Bacon Cheese Burger, all capitals. The drive home was no ridiculous marathon like West Virginia, but we did drive south of St. Paul before getting a room and it took lots of loud music and rolling the windows down and sticking my head out to wake up.
24 hours of 9 mile was a wonderful experience and just what we had been training hard for. 2 down and 1 to go. Moab in October, We Will Be Ready, all capitals. But first there is a good bit of local fun with RIM, Cruise the Blues, KC Cup, and more.
Love ya, Love your Show.