Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Perspective from the pit crew...

Brian always wonders what it is like for us in the pit area during the race, so he asked if I wouldn't mind writing about this last race from my perspective. Well, be careful what you wish for Brian! :)

So when the race is over, the dust has settled and, well, we've all gotten a little sleep, we spend a lot of time rehashing the race and talking shop about what could be done better next time. Hard to criticize when he wins, but there's always room for improvement, right?!

We took off early on Friday morning for a long weekend of visiting with the family and racing. I was looking forward to *finally* having a mountain bike race near Sacramento. I was even more excited that it was in Cool, only fifteen miles up the road from a house we lived in when I was growing up! I knew the weather would be nicer than Laguna Seca and that we would get the chance to see lots of family come out for the race.

Leading up to the race, Brian is always restless. This time, I suppose you could say I got lucky that my schedule put me in Colorado the weekend before the race, because I came home from that trip to find our two cats shaved, his car washed and the all the gear packed for the race! I'm surprised he didn't put in the new back yard while I was gone too! lol Many of the nights before the race, he tosses and turns - drives me nuts! So I was happy the race was finally upon us. We headed up on Friday, checked into our hotel in Folsom. Later that afternoon, we finally got out to Cool, found the school and tried to figure out where to set up camp. We ran into Terry Wahlberg and her husband Rick. We were pitted next to them last year at 24 Hours in Monterey - such nice people, so I was happy to pit right across from them again this weekend. Brian took off to do a "quick" lap of the course (he ended up hopelessly lost!) and I caught a cat nap in preparation for the long weekend ahead of us!

When it got down to the race on Saturday, we had everything ready to roll. It gets a little easier to plan for each race I think. The start of the race was a little crazy, but fun and we were shocked to watch Brian roll through the chute in first place! All I could think was ah crap, he doesn't even know the course! What happened to the plan?!? THE PLAN!!!! Apparently, that was already out the window and left somewhere back behind him, maybe with the slow little puddle jumper of a motorcycle that was supposed to be leading the race?! It's funny to be a spectator at an event like this. The start is so exciting, but then after a few minutes there's this huge void of nothing. The pit area falls silent and we just hang out. There's not much to do but wait and wonder how long the laps will be!

When the first rider came down the hill, I was shocked to see Brian! This type of race, all the solo 24 hour riders are usually pacing more slowly than the team riders or 8 hour riders, so it was a huge surprise. It worried me a little, but one look at him and I could tell he was working at his own pace. The nutrition plan is what I really worry about. That's my job or so I'm told. :) I also keep track of his lap times, what he's doing each lap (like changing bikes, etc) and make sure that his laps are being tracked correctly. This race had a different lap tracking system than we've grown used to, so I wasn't checking the postings every lap this time - it gave me more time to kick back and relax, which was nice considering we had lots of family and friends around to hang out with.

Brian's nutrition plan wasn't always a big worry for me until 24 Hours in Monterey last year when he had trouble with his stomach after dark, so he stopped eating for a few laps, which resulted in him laying on the ground at 4 am completely miserable and unable to finish because he was so far behind. I never want a repeat of that, so I incessantly hound him to keep eating. This resulted in some hilarious exchanges between us as the day progressed. Examples? About lap seven or so, Brian started gettin' cranky and said (and I quote): "If you want something to worry about, why don't you count my calories?" Of course, I am left with no time to respond so the next lap, I asked him if he wanted any food. His reply? He lifted his shirt pointed to his stomach and said "this is 2,000 calories right here!! Didn't you count my calories?!" It took everything not to laugh at him! :) It's amazing how unreasonably cranky riding a bike for 24 hours can make you!

Mid afternoon on Saturday, Brian requested a bottle of water. Of course, the one thing I hadn't anticipated. Given the lack of shade, the water was hiding out under the back of the truck to avoid the sun. I ran to grab a bottle and as I came back around into the tent, he was already running to go out again. *SIGH* Good night. I'm supposed to chase him? He runs a six minute thirty second mile average on a MARATHON. I can't even keep up with him while he's running and I'm riding a bike! Somehow I managed to dig deep and catch him before he hit the out tent to start his next lap. I almost ate it by stepping in a gopher hole - must have looked funny. :) I doubt he'll even remember this happening!

After a while it gets easier to get him to eat - I just shove food in his pockets and he doesn't even pay attention. By nightfall, we start putting all the food options out on the table so Brian can just grab what he needs and go. It works pretty well actually. I always sleep from about midnight to sunrise so I can pack us up and drive us to where we're staying. Chuck stays up drinking his Rock Star energy drinks and chatting with our neighbors.

It was fun to watch Miles race hard and visit with his wife, Melissa and play with Madeline - she's such a cutie! I bet in a few years we'll see her racing hard in the 24 minutes of adrenaline out at Laguna Seca! :) Congrats on the win Miles - awesome considering that rough start with a flat on both your first and second laps!!

As the day wore into the night and back into the day, I was impressed by the atmosphere of the race. It was great to see the race director, Jim, walking around and spending the time talking to everyone. I may have been tired, but I seem to remember him walking around at one in the morning with a Chewbacca costume on?!? That was hilarious and I have to give him props for making the effort to make all the support crews and spectators comfortable. It was also fun to watch the competition that developed between the top two single speed riders and the collegiate teams - it was a fun, competitive atmosphere and we had a good time.

I always look forward to waking up in the morning to see what Brian has done in the night. I wasn't disappointed this time - he managed to stay completely consistent. It was a first that he only had two slow laps right before sunrise. I was impressed. According to Chuck, he only had one hard time where he stopped, put his hands on the table and looked like he was having a tough moment. Apparently, Chuck told him to knock it off and get back on the bike, which he did! I'm impressed and I'm glad to see him getting very tough mentally during this race. I was greeted the next lap with quotes and the vocal stylings of Carlos Mencia over the radio. :) I knew Brian was having fun when he started saying "dee da dee!!!" and singing "Would you like an apple pie with that?" If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just google that song line and you'll find one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

So I guess to sum it up, the first daylight laps always go by fast, the nights go so slowly and once dawn hits, it's an exciting race to the finish! It's always hard to get used to the lack of sleep, but we've gotten used to making it work. It wouldn't be possible without Chuck's help - he keeps the bikes running perfectly and makes it fun around camp. Definitely owe him a big thanks!! Especially for the yogurt! ;) LOL

Special thanks this race to all the family and friends who showed up to support Brian. It was nice to have both my Dad and my father-in-law Tim there to help hand Brian his nutrition bottle and take pictures, our moms to cheer him on, my sister Katie (who brought us fresh Starbucks coffee and cookies from work - thanks Kate!), her boyfriend Kile and friend Mike to cheer and Miles and Melissa who stuck around that extra 15 minutes part his award ceremony to support Brian with Madeline about 3 hours past her bedtime! It made a huge difference in his morale for this race and I think he looked forward to seeing everyone for the 30 seconds he was in the pit each lap. :) A special thanks also goes out to my Dad for calling from Starbucks on Sunday morning to get us hot coffee (I know Chuck and Rick appreciated it too!) and my Mom for bringing a roll of TP cause the bathrooms were out of it! It was great to have the support and company :) We hope you can all come out again for the next big race in five weeks!

We'll get some pictures up here this week. I'm off to bed....still trying to catch up from this weekend!

No comments: