Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Bicycle Built for 2

As I type this, gunnar and Jackie are at the Casdorph abode picking up Dan and Eric's tandem for use in the nationals next week. Yes, not only is Dan our SuperNanny, he is also our tandem guru and is loaning us his fancy Cannondale. He is a man of many talents, indeed.
After last year's torture fest, we swore that we would purchase a tandem early in the year, get it set-up to our specs and practice a bit on the durn thing. Well, the race is a week from tomorrow and we haven't set booty on a tandem since our pain-filled debacle last year. (We never got around to buying one). We were hoping to learn from our mistakes, but we've unfortunately forgotten them. I am sure it will all come back to us in due time, though.

The goal for this year is to not sink my teeth into gunnar's backside.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

24 Hours through the Eyes of Stanley Pain

I said I'd never do another Duo (did one way back when and it went poorly after things got dark)
I said I'd never do another Laird event. Well I didn't, but Sam Hill did.
That and I had an offer I couldn't refuse.
And a swell young man to team up with!

And with that, the rest of us Team Bi-atch'ers went about finding teams. Yes, if you click on the links you'll find out how they did, SPOILER ALERT!!!
Goose got on the iPlayOutside/WVMBA Dream Team Men's 4 Man Pro
Betsy found herself a partner and they decided, the two of them, to enter the 4 Person Women's Expert field, the iPlayOutside/WVMBA Women's Dream Team
And Sam partnered up with Morgan Miller to become Hipster Doofus and the Kessel Run

Course, this is the week after us all doing the Mohican 100, and me, doing the short-bus route of only 100K instead of the 100M cause I was and still am feeling poorly.
The night before that race, as it rained and thundered, I lay not sleeping, hoping and wishing that they wouldn't have the race, it was way too much water.
It started on time and it was actually a decent day.
A few nights before the 24 Hours of Big Bear I lay in bed hoping and wishing the same thing. It was raining, I was not sleeping well, I was still harboring the sickness.
Well Friday came and things were drying up, and although it was going to be hotter than the hubs of Haites in Motown it would be a fair bit cooler up at Big Bear.

But just to make sure that we had the best possible racing experience, I brought out the big guns, spent the $10 and hired Dan the Man Casdorph to perform Nanny duties for the day. He's a tried and true Vet of these things. Keeps his cool under pressure, smells nice, doesn't eat too much.

Here's Dan accepting my most gracious stipend-

Here's Sam, Morgan, and his Dad Mike. Too many shadows, but we look happy and alert on Saturday morning. I haven't told Morgan that he's going to do the first lap (that includes the ridiculous LeMans run that kills the legs)!

Here's another for the family photo album. The calm before the storm, Elizabeth, Jackie-O, Sam and Morgan-

Here's the pretty Betsy, or is it Elizabeth? Can't always tell them apart-

Getting tired, may have to take a break here...
More in the morning! Must rest.
Can you feel the excitement?!
I can.

Up, up, up, it's a good day for up!
Today is the first time all week that I've actually gotten up on time and don't feel like death. I think I've turned the corner on this bug and *may* just may mind you, get to race this w/e. Oh I hope...

So back to the race at hand.
We're getting the camp set up, tents and awnings nicely arranged, tables filling up with goodies, Morgan is settling in on the fact that he has to go first and run (he's never done the first lap before, and my oh my, everyone should experience that at least once!).
5 minutes before High Noon and Morgan is no where to be seen. His dad has his race bike, we're all waiting. 2 minutes to go and he comes rolling down, drops off his training bike, jumps in on the right hand side of the front row and ready to go. Good boy, there's always room for a winner on the front row-

Here's Cassie or is it Cassie Jo?, Betsy's Teammate for the weekend, and the Fastest Mom-

This was the first time that I *haven't* done the lead lap, and it's a mixed bag for sure.
It's always exciting, the crowd, then anticipation, the wrecked nerves. But it's also the wrecked legs, the crowd, and the wrecked nerves.
Doing the Duo Pro and not feeling 100%, I knew that I'd probably just have one chance at getting fast lap, and doing the run before hopping on the bike wasn't going to make it fast.
Elbows, dust, flying feet and cleats, and everyone is off-

And with that, the race and the clock starts, and there's no stopping until at least 24 hours later. No rolling over and hitting snooze.
Yuck, phooey.

Here's Morgan, back on the bike and rocking hard-

And lookie there, it's Chris, on his SS, did I forget to mention that 2 of the 4 on that team were on SS?-

Now it's just racing.
No time to take more snappies. No time to hang out at the venue looking for schwag, chatting with friends both old and new, young and old. No drinking beer just cause it's afternoon.

Luckily, we're up in the "Penthouse Suites" thanks to Mark Schooley. We're away from the crowds, we got a little shower facility, we got all important shade, we got Mark's brother Mike who will, whenever you want, cook up anything or even just make you a cup of Jo.
This and the fact that we have our Nannies, Cassie's husband Jeff, Morgan's Dad Mike, and my buddy Dan, is going to be a huge and deciding factor in how we do. HUGE.

The week prior has seen gobs of rain, but for the past few days it has been windy and scorching. A Friday recon confirmed that things were drying, but the water table is high and the little streams and trickles are still running and will continue to do so.

Morgan comes in, about 15th or so. He looks happy, a little muddy, and we have a nice exchange. I'm out on course.
This is it, if I want to turn a fast lap this will have to be the time.
Little traffic, legs fresh. After this lap we gotta turn things down a notch else we blow sky high before midnight.
Pedal, pedal, pedal, I'm pedaling about everywhere on the course. Most of the course is fast and furious, but then you hit these sections of mud and running water. Some of the running water is nice and hard underneath, some of it is hiding a big hole. I've raced at Big Bear for quite a while and I've never seen it like this, and guess what, it's only gonna get worse and weirder with all the riders churning and burning more of it up.
I didn't preride the course, but I know most of it well enough. Pines I'm taking fast, remember some of the local lines, all the fun stuff before the creek bed down hill I'm rolling fast and furious, miss one quick line, but bring it back and get in the groove soon enough.
Then the creek bed.
I've learned that to go down it slow is harder on you. But you gotta stay on top of things if you let it rip. I'm letting it rip.
Get down to the bottom clean enough and get to hammer out the rail grade climb out. If you can stay on top of a big gear you can really move on this section and right now I can.
Later in the lap, the rear der. is hanging up (yet again!!) on the top cog, so I'm just gonna have to try and not use it. Muscle it through like I'm on the SS.
Don't try and ride through the rock garden, but get through it quickly, down some water, relax the breathing and get ready for the steep nasty climb up and out.
Everything's still good, cleaned the uphill, now it's just fast, slightly rocky double track to the end.
Soon enough I see the gravel road where the WV Night Club boys are camping. They're giving me grief as usual and then right after that I make a bad shift, jump on the pedals and snap my chain. Ack.
So I stop, pick it up and start to run. About a 1/3 of a mile or less to the end. Crappie pants!
Run, coast, scooter in a section, finally up and over the bridge and into the main compound and we exchange the baton and Morgan is out, we're in third overall at this point.

Then it comes over the loudspeaker, "Sam Hill has turned the fastest lap, 1:07!"
Sweet. Even with that stupid busted chain and running.
Now I just hope that a few other heavies don't have great laps, or get caught up in traffic or the ever growing mud.

Dan takes my bike, shakes his head and we walk back to camp.

I brought lots of extras but strangely enough, no extra chains. But that doesn't matter, I got lots of spare links and though it worries Dan, I'm fine w/ splicing the chain back. "As long as your good w/ a chain tool I'm not going to worry."

So I find my post lap routine-
Down a bag of Clif Shots (thank you Mohican post race grab bag!!), drink the rest of my bottles, grab a banana, have a cup of V8, shower off, put on some clothes and sit.
There that oughta do it.
Rinse, lather, repeat. Ad nauseum.

Cassie had flatted, poor dear, and instead of having the spare bike at then end of the airport, Jeff brought the camera (bad boy Jeffie-poo), so she gets the thing fixed and all, but has plenty of traffic to get through.

Betsy comes in a bit after me, she's not very happy w/ her lap, says she having problems just riding out there. No groove for the grrl.
I tell her to shower, she doesn't want to, but she eats, cleans up (she cleans up nice!) and rests.

They really don't have anyone to race against in their class but these women are pretty determined to race to their fullest. And as we shall see, they do!

Dan's still a nervous wreck about my chain.

Morgan comes in, most folks except for the Solo riders haven't even done one lap and here we are on our second.

Definitely a toned down lap. Not working so hard, not feeling as great either, oh boy, gotta watch how I feel, it's still on a bit after 3pm.
Mud sections are getting bigger, start to consider running them as the side routes are getting mucky too. Things to keep in mind for later.
Then just like clock work, I'm getting close to the WV Night Club and POW, SPURT, FIZZLE, my rear tyre goes limp.
So I ride in, heavy on the front.
Morgan and I exhange nicely, Dan walks the bike back to the camp.

The WV Night Club is now the VooDoo Lounge!

Next time back for Betsy and she's much happier, she too has turned Fastest Lap, and so far, and now I'm pretty certain, I have fast lap.
We will be King and Queen once again!

Meanwhile Dan has taken my limp rear wheel down to visit Robbie L. who's wrenching for Tinker and available to us he said, so we're using him.
They can't get air to stay in the tyre, I fear a tear, so Robbie lets me use his nice wheel. Just hope I don't trash it! No more VooDoo Lounge please...

I'm probably missing all sorts of sordid details, but you know, I can only remember so much, I can still play the sick card, and I'm listening to Download. Got a lot on my mind.

Morgan comes in, and I'm out.
Once again, trying for just tempo laps now. No hero moves.
The mud sections are now such that I run along side them, or at least the bigger ones. A few other sections are getting tricky depending on what line you take, I auger in on one and try to remember NOT to do that again. Just muddy knee and gloves, but it kind of hurt and definitely knocked my groove out of whack for a bit.
It's now getting on past dinner time. I'm still just drinking the bottles and eating post lap. Seems to be working fine. Contacts are still in and haven't given my issues yet either. Cruisin' cruisin' cruisin'.
Then come the Voodoo Lounge and sure enough, chain drops off the ring and doesn't want to get back on. So I sit there, whilst the heckling continues and I shake my fist at them as I get rolling again. Darned kids and their dolls and pins!
Luckily they must have felt bad for that was the last time I would have issues there.
Sweet, the curse has been broken!

Also somewhere in there my folks stop up.
Dad is busy foraging for food, Mom is hanging out chatting w/ the Millers, Dan and the others and enjoying our fine accommodations.
Also Morgan's mother has to leave, so she takes some dirty clothes home only to return clean and dry in the morning. What a nice touch!

We're up on our closest competition by a few hours at this point, BUT and it's a big but, we haven't lapped or really shaken the ladies. Our camp mates seem to be relentless.
You go grrls!

Next lap out for me will be in the dark.
Oh joy. As I've posted before fiendracer blog I don't really enjoy the night laps much. Have had problems with lights, whatever, just haven't had too much fun.

Morgan comes in, I go out.

Well this time proves to be a bit different, I got a spanky new MiNewt X2 light on my helmet and I'm borrowing one of the Miller's Dinotti lights on the bars. Both are little tiny LED systems and both are light and work well.
Maybe it was the lack of pressure to go fast, maybe it's the newer lights, maybe it just was. But I'm actually have a good time on a night lap. A little hot still and I'm sweating like that stuck pig everyone talks about, but the glasses (had to switch out the contacts) are not fogging up and I'm rolling fine.
La-la-de-da. Having fun now we are.

I return, Morgan goes back out.
Then I hear the talk.
Mike is a bit concerned about Morgan, he's looking a bit "peaked and out there".
We had talked about maybe doubling up on a night lap, to allow a little more rest at the expense of being out there a bit longer.
A double-edged sword to say the least. I've talked to riders that were on both sides of this. Some said it wrecked them, especially the first guy to do it, some said it worked out ok.
Well the Millers had done it before and they had a plan. Come in, and there's a chair to sit on. The Nannies swap out and check batteries, all the food you want is sitting there, you eat and drink, the bike gets a once over, you rest a bit and then take off. Sounds rather pleasant eh?

And sure enough, Morgan comes in, after a pretty lengthy lap, ends up being his slowest one of the event.
Uh oh, what have we done? It's quarter til 1am, are we wrecked? Ack.

So I'm out for two.
Pretty uneventful, except for the fact that I'm still hot, still sweating mucho, still having a decent time at night.
Come in, and just like Mike said, I sit, eat, get taken care of, rest and roll on out.
Second lap is much like the first. No pressure, going slowly, riding fine, lights are burning bright, everything's groovy.

Come in, chat w/ Morgan a bit. He's talking about doing two, but I let him know that he doesn't have to, just ride smoothly, bring it back in fine form.
He's out.

I'm back to the camp. A bit whooped. Eat my usual, find some pasta to scarf down, clean up and actually try to lay down in the back of the bus.
But I can't sleep and Dan and Mike are talking about Morgan. So I get up, tell them that if there's any concern on how he's doing that I can do the next lap, I'll be fine. I just won't be down at the exchange area, when Morgan comes in, just let me know and I'll be down there w/in a few minutes.
"Be all right..."

Morgan comes in, a fine enough lap, but we don't need to push it, so I ramble up and out of bed, get on down there and go out again. It's quarter till 6am, getting light out, I have my lights on, but don't use them.
I'm feeling ok, but my crotch is starting to be a little tender. Stand up a bit more, try and sit in one place and not be bounced around. Should have brought the Thud-Buster out for the this. "Note to self..."

My lap's ok, but I'm not feeling too perky.
Usually with the dawn, the birds, the cyclic nature of humans, you really start to perk up. Well I'm not. Butt aches, tired of eating, not too much motivation.

Dawn approaches, and with it a new day, and a new level of suffering-

I come in, rather listlessly, Mike is going out w/ Morgan, just to make sure. He's a good Pop.
Well Morgan's got a fire under his butt and really smokes this lap!
He's risen from the dead and is all sorts of ansty to keep on going.
He drops Mike pretty hard, pretty early in the lap, ungrateful son... :)

Also somewhere in the middle of the night or sometime we finally lapped the grrls. We're also up 3 or so hours on the next team. We could almost stop right now and still get first.
So could the grrls, but they're not talking about that, so we can't either.

The gauntlet has been thrown down at the camp!

It's 8:52am as I start to roll out.
I'm coasting and staying off the saddle as much as I can. I think I'd be ok if it weren't for that. Oh well....
Then I start to think and calculate in my head... If I can turn a fast enough lap this time, we'd have enough time for Morgan to put in a good lap and quite possibly, if we take the challenge, I could go out for a 9th lap! Oh joy, a quest, a challenge, and I'm pedaling once again.
Doing my best, looking at the clock, calculating my estimated lap time, trying to focus.
Pedal, pedal, pedal.
Lose some time on the final climb as it is just taking forever, but I'm in with a 1:21 lap.
And for the first time, Morgan is NOT at the exchange area! He's been really good about that and I've been a little slack, but apparently I've caught him off guard, that's good, our game is afoot!

Like to mention here that the women were always waiting for each other. Not once did they slack.

I do think Betsy's about had enough though-

Here's Dan keeping a watchful eye over Elizabeth. Earlier in the day she fell asleep, right there in that chair, while eating a Tina's Frozen Burrito. Couldn't figure out what was in her mouth when she woke!-

So the camp is pretty excited with our new found challenge. I'm trying to eat, clean up, and start to wonder how this is all going to pan out.
Soon enough Morgan's back, but the laps not done. He pulled the cleat from his shoe before the Airport, came back, is swapping shoes and is back on the course.
He's lost some time, but if he has a good lap he'll make it back in time.

Also now I glance over at Mike. Boy he is looking wrecked. Between the Nanny duties and going out for a lap, he is cooked, well done, stick a fork in the poor guy.
What a champ though!
Here's Mike and Twila-

So Morgan comes in, 11:45am, plenty of time still.
Oh great. My butt is aching, but I only have to go around the course, nothing heroic or nothing, just finish the lap.

Already, with so many riders done or out, the course is starting to dry out.
I'm pretty determined to not to get too dirty, pretty determined to somehow find a way to pedal and not ache. This first is reasonably easy, the second not quite so.
I'm chatting w/ folks. Stop and talk w/ Jeff Wortherly and actually talk to Barry Jeffries from Dirty Harry's on Jeff's cell. Then I'm off, standing up pedaling some more. Chat some more. Getting tired of all this. Walking a bit more.

Finally I make it to the top of the last climb, make it to the VooDoo Lounge and then I see Chris. He's got a PBR for me.
Well somewhere out there I heard I guy say "you don't get a beer until you finish the lap" and for some reason I thought I should do that.
That was stupid. Poor Chris had been waiting for quite a while (it was a looong lap) and then had to drink both that and his beer. I should have grabbed the beer, taken a swig and then ridden on it, beer in hand, and finished the stupid race.
My only regret for 24 Hours.

So I finish our 17th lap!-

And Morgan and I walk back to camp-

So that's it! Whew.

Here we are, me wondering why the cheque says "the Kessel Kid", that's not us!!-

Ahh, the Victors, and the others-

And here, the Grand Dames, our real competition-

And then those slackers doing the 4 Man Pro thingie with Granny and everything!
Jason C., Andy W., Joey the Hobbit, and Chrissy-

Low and behold it's the old(er) guys, they were housed at the Penthouse Suites too (actually they were *the* team there) and they did great too, battling it for the win in the final laps. They would be Matt Ross (Dawn of the Dead, no lie!), Matt Markus, Old Bob Vernon, and Scott Root-

And lastly, for now, is the man that put it all, or at least, a lot of it together for us, JR Petsko. Here he is along side his teammates, the Smokin' Fatties winning the Big Boy class-

Big shout out and thanks to Julz at / (yes it's still there) for also being instrumental in getting these Dream Teams together.
Thanks neighbor, we sure did have a fun time suffering!

iPlay's coverage of the 24 Hours of Big Bear

Congrats Morgan, you're now a 2-time Winner in the Duo Pro Class!!

Shout outs and many thanks-
* The Mike and Twila Miller family, for picking me to race w/ their son, and for going above and beyond.
* Dan and Nancy Casdorph family, for allowing Dan to play Nanny yet again and probably wrecking him for a few days.
* Jeff Smith family, for aid and assistance, for allowing Cassie and Cassie Jo to play w/ Betsy and Elizabeth, and for bringing out Levi to keep it all in perspective.
* Mark Schooley family, for the fine digs, fine amenities, fine food, and for making Big Bear Lake the mountain biking place it is today.
* Pathfinder, for supplying Team Bi-atch with goodies and allowing us to put in on our account, on account we ain't got no money!
* Robbie L., from Pathfinder and beyond, for expertise help and assistance whenever we call.
* JR, for working so hard for all we racers and for stopping smoking!
* Cannondale & Rob V., for just being there so often.
* My folks, for still putting up with these "antics".
* Joel G., for giving us press and making us feel like we're something after all.
* My wife Betsy, for telling me to do it anyway.
* Our Fan, for cheering us on, where ever you may be.

We sure did bring a lot of food and beer.
Ate some of the food but hardly none of the beer, here's what we had to tackle for the next few weeks (especially since this race put the hurt on my beer drinking ability)-

Also here for you discrimination and viewing pleasure are two sessions around the course via the GPS overlay-
* Second lap, forgot to turn it on for the first.
* The Double-header, two night laps, with a little "break" inbetween.

Enjoy. We certainly did.