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24 Hours of Finale 2010, my report… Michael

The Freaks come out at night

So, there’s this race…. it’s called the 24 Hours of Finale. For me, it’s about a 7-9 hour drive from München/Munich to the shores of the Mediterranean a few short kilometers from France and worth every second of it. The region is called Ligure and the town is called Finale Ligure. If you ever want to see a beautiful part of the world and ride on a really great course, this one is for you. On the way there you go through a beautiful mountainous region of Switzerland where they speak Switzer Deutsch on one side of the tunnel and Italian on the other side. A rather bizarre thing that harkens back to the days when people couldn’t go through a tunnel to go from one side of the mountain to the other.

Most of the Los Lobos

We put together a 4 person team made up of two current BWR Europe members (Andre’ & myself) and two non-BWR Europe members (Theran & Christian). Unfortunately, a week or so before the race, Christian ended up in the hospital with some sort of infection and couldn’t race, of course. When we hit Finale, in fact, up until the rest of the team finished registering on Saturday morning, we didn’t know that we were going to have a replacement for Christian. Lucky us though, Steffan joined us to be our fourth man. As it turned out, he was a great addition to the four-some!

Man.... this is steep!

The race for us team folks started in the Plaza of Finale. For the solos, it was the now well-known LeMans run. However, that also had a twist (it was extra long). I was the ‘Start’ guy for our team, maybe not the best of ideas, but it happened. I’d been fighting my rear tire to keep it aired up as tubeless for a couple of weeks and it haunted me. I had to finish the short lap instead of doing the long version and seemingly lost a lap or two instead of getting the 2 that we were supposed to have been given for doing the climb and a lap.

After that, Andre, Steffan & Theran went in succession. The heat took it’s toll quickly as we’re all from Germany and Switzerland where it’s been nearly winter temps and raining for months. The 30 C temps wore me out for sure and I know that the other guys were feeling it as well. So, we went from doing two laps each to one until it cooled down. After that, everything went smoothly until both Steffan and Theran managed to break their light mounts (both repaired with the help of duct tape & zip-ties). The good times continued throughout after that.

I loved my night laps as did everyone else. It was cool and beautiful out. Plus, as the hours wore on, fewer and fewer people were on the course. In the middle of the night you could nearly go a whole lap without seeing anyone. Strange as there were, in theory, up to 500 people on the course at any given time.

In the end, we somehow lost a couple of laps due to scoring errors and what I have now figured out…. I had 414A while the rest of my team had 415B-D. Odd that none of us noticed it the entire time that we were racing either.

Steffen riding through

Thanks to the guys for helping me have a great weekend! Unfortunately, I never caught Theran on film. I might have to see if I can steal a photo from elsewhere to add to this post.

The course is not easy but at the same time I wouldn’t classify it as easy by any means either. Our gear might say otherwise though. I broke my frame on the last lap and Andre’ realized a couple of days after the race that something was wrong with his frame as well. Turns out his was broken as well. Mine is on it’s way back to Black Sheep to be fixed or replaced and I believe that Andre’s Niner will be heading in to be warrantied too.

Right behind the head tube is a big crack

Oops

Next year, I am considering doing this race solo. We’ll see how this turns out as it comes closer to being reality.
Thanks to Supernova for the lights, Geax for the tires, Carbo RocketBiciclista, FRM, Chris King, Specialized, Sock Guy, Singlespeed.nl, Independent Fabrications, Crema Cycles as they all made the racing that much thought free and fun.

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24 cremona 2009 – By Ed

Sand is not my friend

Sand is not my friend

Well, well, well, I have been reading another blog and it seems as if I the target of the blogger.  You know the one who doesn’t have much to say about much I don’t post much and don’t have a head the size of a hot air balloon.  So in deference to his extremely popular blog and my much less so popular blog I will avoid using the words “not much to post” and “took pics on my ride today” and stick to his uncanny ability to pump up his own inflated ego.

Racing is not really the best way to have fun, 24 hour racing makes racing even less fun and as I did one last weekend I have spent the past week trying to recover my will to ride.  Not as easy as one might think.  I don’t want to see any mountain bikes at all, I don’t want to ride the road bike and I want my freaking calf to quit cramping.  I broke a chain and raked the teeth of my crank set up the back of my calf causing an immediate cramp and bunches of blood, but the cramp won’t go away, it seizes up at random times while walking the dogs or riding causing a bit of pain.  Not that it bothers anyone else, but I care about me, at least when things hurt me.

Ouch!

Ouch!

So the race went well, I got one flat, one broken chain, one continually dragging rear disc brake, 16 hours of rain and mud more slick than ice. Fun, no?  Well not really.  The race began with a stupid long run, I hate runs to the bike, it makes me tired and hurts my feet in my cycling shoes.  You must get to the bike, and although all the people competing for the overall run like sprinters, I, myself, trot slowly.  As I get to the bike most everyone else is already flying onto the trail acting as if this first lap will decide the final placing of the race.  NOTE TO ALL YOU GOOFY PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THIS, IT IS THE FINAL TOTAL NUMBER OF LAPS YOU DO THAT MATTERS, NOT WHO FINISHES THE FIRST LAP FIRST.

So I cruised around dodging people, getting passed and in general saying hi to folks I have met at previous races and members of the Los Lobos club.  It was kind of nice, well really I felt good so I was having fun and for the first 8 hours it was pretty much just like that, ride along have a good time and enjoy the off and on again rain.  It all changed as I stopped at 10 PM to grab some food and take a quick shower and have a few beers before I went off to sleep for a bunch of hours because my partner in the duo class had gone home and wasn’t going to ride anymore that night, so why should I?  Well we were in first place!  What me in first place at any race, no.  So instead of kicking back and having a good time I looked for a coke, some meat and some chips and ate as much as I could as fast as I could and was back out on the course.

Overnight I managed to do a bunch of laps, but our rival teams had two riders going all night, not one.  (I should clarify it was cumulative not cooperative for the lap total) So for every two and half I did, they did four.  It was mentally wearing to pass people, and know I was still losing laps.  I managed a brave “I can do it” face until 0400 and just had to sit down for a few minutes and promptly fell asleep for an hour.  Upon waking I jumped up and realized I was really really hungry.  So I ate and ate and ate and then finally left the dry safety of the Lobos tent city for seven more hours of fun in the rain.

As the race continued parts of the course where closed due to danger for the riders, and as the course was modified we got to ride new and more slippery sections of “less” dangerous trails.  Well they where wider than the stuff they closed off, so when I fell I had less chance of smashing a tree with my face, but more of a chance of smashing the ground with my face.  Fun, fun, fun.   I made it until noon, when, generally speaking most 24 hour races stop, when I crashed.

At this point I was standing up and riding more than sitting, and I won’t tell you exactly why, just think water, mud, 17 hours and a nice light and normally comfortable saddle and well I hope your imagination takes you to why I was standing.  So I was pedaling down a pretty straight slippery flat section of double track when I lost concentration for a second lost my front wheel and fell way faster than it took you to read this.  It hurt, not just my pride, as a few people saw me, but my wrist too.  It felt like a mild sprain and hurt like a mild sprain and I needed a reason to hang up the old cleats.

At this point we couldn’t catch first place and third was too far behind to catch us so why not take advantage of the excuse?  I could have taken some advil and kept on going, or eat a bunch of grilled Pork and sit down and relax.  Well relaxing seemed the order of the day.  The pork was very good.  Thanks Stefano.

All in all a pretty good race.  I am recovered physically at least, my legs felt good two days after the race, but I am not motivated to ride at all.  Bikes are bringers of pain, not the fun machines they where prior to the race.  Another week maybe the fun will return, but today it is drizzling and instead of riding I am typing this drivel.  I need three more hours this week to reach 18 hours riding, but what the hell, I like popcorn and petting our dogs, so I will eat popcorn and pet the dogs and think about riding, that should help my fitness level, right?

Mmmmm, I'm hungry!

Mmmmm, I'm hungry!

I had a good race and had some bad luck, some good luck, thanks to SingleStoff and the Lobos guys and took second overall.  Not a bad weekend, I just hope to ride as well in a month in Finale.

For those of you who are interested, King Cages rock, not a single lost bottle for me but others lost bottles everywhere, the Avid brakes I used where very good, aside from the constant dragging which turned out to be the fault of a bad bleeding job by a local shop, I used Kenda and Maxxis tires, the Crossmarks where not great in the mud, the Karmas not any better, but no tires would have been good on this course.  Who else?  Oh a great frame by Stoic cycles that is now being painted and the best handle bars in the world Luv Handles by Groovy Cycles.  Oh and I used several products for energy from Hammer nutrition to keep me fueled physically.  Mentally, well I am never stable there.  Hope you are all well and next time I hope some funny stuff happens because it is more fun to read about my failures than successes.  Of course I have very few successes so I won’t have to wait too long to write something funny, to me at least.

(From Michael…. many more photos of the race here on Flickr)

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24 Hours of Palladio

NOTE: I’m posting this for Ed Husted who has internet problems where he lives in Italy. Hey, Italy is known for wine and scenery, not it’s IT business.

_______________________________

Several attempts to write an entertaining and enjoyable report of the 24 Hours of Palladio have failed so I will write a truthful and less than enthralling story.

Okay, I may have to relay some of the strangest things I have ever seen or experienced at any race, but remember these are Italians who believe that cycling is more like air than a hobby. The race ended rather well for me, a cappuccino and a dolce (a tasty slice of chocolate cake) eight minutes before the official end of the race then the ride across the finish line to see the winning teams all riding across the line together. A strange sight to see as the eight man teams seemed to be celebrated far more than the Solo riders, male and female both. Maybe I am a bit prejudiced as I race solo, but strange to me nonetheless.
Well, I should provide a little more information on my participation in the race. Trying to access the 24cup.com website the night before the race turned up a crashed site with no information, but I was sure the race began at two o’clock. Just to verify I did some other searches the next morning and found the unofficial website and realized the start time was in fact ten o’clock. So I was behind schedule from the start, which seems to be how I run when it comes to bike races. In spite of my lateness in leaving I arrived to register and get my start numbers with just a bit more than an hour to spare. Change clothes, put water bottles on the bike, stick my front wheel on the bike and off to the start line.
For some reason the Italians have one thing in common with the American 24 hour race scene, a Le Mans start. I hate those things, running to get your bike seems wrong and it never spreads out the field, it just makes me a little irritated. So trotting to the bike was the best I could manage, and as I was certain getting involved in the crazy start of race antics would be foolish, I made sure to be one of the last off the start. A good idea in theory, but as I had no idea of the course layout or the exceptionally bad bike handling of my competitors, being last proved to be very bothersome. Needing to pass forty or fifty crazy caffeinated Italians in Lycra was nearly impossible. Of course I knew I had 23:57 still to go so bumping and fighting for position in the first three minutes seemed foolish. Deciding that slow and steady was the best option, I just laid as low as I could without getting involved in the “race”.
Early on it became more than clear that the feeling of the race was not brotherly and there was nearly no camaraderie, just cut-throat racing, especially those on eight man teams. These people never said a word as they passed, one would hear huffing and puffing and then some lunatic would choose to pass on the shortest line possible, even if that meant nearly dying. I witnessed two members of competing teams, mind you about two hours into the race, fight for the best line down to the start finish area and then collide. One nearly fell ten to fifteen feet off the edge of the trail, and the other literally bounced off a retaining wall causing him to need help from the medics. It was two hours into the race. I wanted to yell, “22 more hours, guys”, but resisted. The second really strange incident happened to me. Needing to walk up a section of trail, I would always ensure I was not anywhere near the best line for the climb, but this didn’t seem to occur to number 25 (name unknown) who yelled at me for walking, four hours into the race. Okay, I was walking, okay I was off line, okay it was four hours into the race, okay he yelled but it was four hours into the race and if the two or three seconds it took him to yell at me caused him to lose the race, I apologize, but he dropped out not much later. I guess I must have ruined his whole flow (lots of sarcasm).
So I had twenty more hours to go, most of which went by without any incidents or much conversation from my competitors, which I did not find too unusual. Most of the conversation was one way, me saying, “good job” “va bene” and “molto grande”, often times returned with a loud EEEEHHHHEEHHH which I took as leave me alone. Naturally, I kept up with the encouragement and was eventually talking to several of the racers. Most spoke only Italian to me, so I am assuming the returned words were also encouragement, but I have been mistaken before. Three of the racers, the eventual winner and his pace man, along with a tandem, okay two riders but considered one person, would talk to me with random fragments of English and me returning in the bits of Italian I knew. It was pretty funny and I am sure that if an outsider had been recording the conversations they would have made no sense at all, but at the time it was a pretty nice.
As races go this one had problems, not just the lack of a support crew, or any time checks or any help at all during the race, but the biggest problem was the 5k course. That would be 3.2 miles in American. So as for also battling with the fatigued and mental blocks of wishing to sleep and just stop, I had to keep coming right past my car every fifteen to twenty minutes. It was a tempting place to sleep, eat and get in my car and drive home. Every time I needed to eat, I could sleep, and a couple of times I did. I slept about four hours total and am pretty sure that I lost a top ten finish due to the sleep. If I had not slept I may not have had a decent attitude late in the race, so I think it may have been a catch 22. Sleep is the enemy at a 24-hour race, but not sleeping and still not winning is just not smart.
Naturally I am not smart but I did finish and I hope I left the impression that I had a good time. At the end of the race, as I normally do, I tried to thank all the volunteers who had helped, the paramedics, the course marshals, and the good people who put on the race. I say I tried as I really could only say stuff like thanks a lot and I had a good time, which I am sure most did not understand. I just hope it came across as friendly. But this race was good for a couple of things. I realize I cannot do eight 24-hour races that have 3 mile courses, and I rode 65 more miles than I had planned on riding. I rode 300k or 185 miles and 6600 meters or 21000 feet of climbing, which has made me pretty happy. I will do the next two races, because I have committed to help promote the European Single Speed Championship, which is being put on by a great group of guys in Cremona, Italy, and I have registered for both. I will reevaluate after those two races and weigh the overall series points I have versus the enjoyment I am getting from the races, but with 3 mile long courses, how much fun would you have? Hopefully the next race I do will be more entertaining, but if not, be assured I will make something up that will entertain. Ed

Some other observations from the race are I really need to ride more on the mountain bike. I ride five or six days a week, on the road most days, but really noticed that the climbing in a big gear is not the same as riding the SS uphill for 24 hours. Nothing is, but I think I need to get a little more saddle time in off road. Hopefully up at Riva del Garda, as they have big climbs and some world-class single track. In spite of the lack of overt friendliness of my fellow racers, it seemed that at the end of the race nearly every solo racer had a positive comment, normally something like Bravi or Brava, both of which I take as a good job. I guess, with a couple of days between the race and writing this, has changed some of my perspective of my fellow races. A couple of the guys and gals racing in their first 24 solo race pushed harder than I would ever have even tried. A few of the racers were so far down in the overall standings it would have been wiser to have just packed it in, but they did not. Much respect to them, and I hope one day to be able to suffer as much as they did. Lastly, I just don’t get the eight man racing team concept and the admiration that it seemed to inspire in all the racers, solo, duo and four man teams alike. It seemed as though everyone would dive out of the way for the eight man team riders, maybe I don’t recognize the people racing. Perhaps they are real life pros just out for fun, but the rudeness they displayed towards the rest of us on the course made me think, it does matter how you win. I personally would not be proud of any win I had if my teammates had acted as these people did. Then again I am American so maybe I don’t have the same perspective on racing as my fellow racers….but it does matter how you win. Next month, April 19th-20th I think will be my next race 24-hour race, I hope for a better result, at least 50-75 more kilometers and a friendlier atmosphere. Thanks for reading this and I hope you are all doing well.

And for the postscript the official site claims a 5k course the unofficial site claims a 4k course, so I don’t know which is true. I like to believe the 5k version as it makes me feel better. Both sites list elevation gain at 110 meters per lap and officially I did 62 laps. All is well that ends with me at home safe, and I am.

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New uniforms and new members

Well, today I got a package from the States. It included my uniforms for Big Wheel Racing made my Pactimo which are fantastic! I’ve always been a big fan of Voler bike clothing. I’d previously found that the quality was so much better than any custom manufacturer that I’d seen (think…. Verge which which has never impressed me, especially with their logo being larger than others on the uniform).

O.K., back to the point of my post. The quality and the beauty of these uniforms is fantastic! There’s a reflective strip on the back of the jerseys and the vest. Wow! Can’t beat that, can you? Also, the sublimination is really well done too.

Yes… it’s still raining and raining and raining. Ugh!

In other team news. We’ve added two more folks to the Big Wheel Racing European team. First, we have Ed Husted (that’s him on the poster below) who lives in Italy but is originally from Rolla, Missouri. Next we have Marty Dudel who is also American but lives over my Heidelburg. We’ll be adding some more non-Ami’s as we go on. Please welcome these boys to the team.

Ed is racing in an Italian 24 Hour Series and the first race comes up on Easter weekend. Kera and I might go down and play support crew for him. We need to figure that out.

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