While I’m somewhat new to the 24’s, it’s not new to my team, Troupe Racing Co.. One rider, Randy Profeta, is a long time 24 hour racer and has competed in the world solo’s and finished 2nd in his class. Other team-mates have gone solo many times and have been on mixed teams for years. Going into this race, I had a wealth of information to draw on. Plus, I had done my homework in the form of a solid winter/spring base phase, built some intensity with early season races, and rehearsed my nutrition. I felt that I had prepared the best I could for this race at this time of the season.

Tim rolls through the course at the 24 HOA, spring 2009.

Tim rolls through the course at the 24 HOA, spring 2009.

The venue for this round of the 24 Hours of Adrenaline was Hurkey Creek campground, in Idyllwild. 24 HOA has a long history of racing at this venue and the course is a local favorite. It’s considered elevation and takes us up from the desert scrub and dusty trails at sea level to pine trees, creeks and mountain meadows. There are a few fire-road sections, but overall the course is rolling single track, fun twisty downhills, and a few technical climbs.

We arrived early on Saturday morning while other team-mates arrived on Friday to set up on our campsites which were along the course. We had reserved 3 premium spots on the final paved road as it winds through the campground. This area would serve myself, Damon Mann who was also riding solo, Troupe’s 5 woman team that was entered in the 5 person open class, and Kevin Akerman who was racing in the solo 8 hour event.

Race prep consisted of the usual. We had plenty of time, and I took some pride in getting number plates on bikes, light mounts in place and checking air pressures. For this event, I chose my new Blur XC, and my Superlight as a second bike. After that, I moved on to nutrition and gave those that were helping run our team support some info on what I would want. Pretty straight forward there: I ran on Hammer H.E.E.D., Sustained Energy and Hammer Gel, with the random “real” food item every so often. Once everyone on the team was set and bikes were ready, there was nothing left to do but check in at the timing station and take our places at the start.

Before we knew it, we were off and running – literally. 24 HOA gets the event going with a 1/4 mile run around the campground. Being a solo, this is nothing more then a jog while the team riders sprint for position to beat the traffic on the first climb.

I opted to pace with one of the riders of our women’s team for the first lap. I had raced this event last year, but Michelle had not. She was uncertain of the course and I thought it would be nice to have some company for lap. We made our way quickly through traffic until we reached the first downhill section, aptly titled “The Exfoliator” where we were separated. Soon after Michelle came on the radio saying she had crashed, but was ok. Luckily Kevin wasn’t too far back and stopped to get her back up and rolling.

I shifted into the middle ring and settled into my pace. My plan was to be a bit conservative in the early hours and not back down over night. Still, I felt like I was cruising. I thought many times of how I rode this course last year, and many times had to walk the climbs. This year was different. I was comfortably climbing everything, working though the tricky technical spots, and flowing through all the single track. In short, I was having a great time.

It’s been said by someone that 24 hour racing is 50% mental, and staying positive is critical. I believe this was one of the reasons I was feeling good. Even though I was taking this race serious (it was one of my “A” races for the spring season), I made an effort to chat as I rode through the check points, or wave to those who cheered in the campgrounds, and even holler back at the party that always gathers on the final short technical descent. This group is at the race every year. They hang out and cheer for and heckle every rider long into the night. Their enthusiasm makes that one of the best portions of the course.

You find little things that have some sort entertainment during these races. At one point, I jumped on with a few team riders that were battling it out. As we rotated through a pace-line I found myself pulling them back into the campground and into the timing station. As one of the riders went to sprint past me to the finish of his lap, the other stopped him and pointed out that I was a solo rider, and that I had “earned it” – the right to lead them into the finish/timing station. It’s little moments like that that are really unique. Even though these events are supported financially by the team’s, many times its the solos that make it special and are respected out on course.

The miles went by through the day and into the evening. I had stopped at our pit station occasionally to change gear or grab a quick bite to eat. But overall, my plan was working. I was not stopping, my pace was good, and nutrition was doing what it was supposed to.

Around 10 PM, the temperature started to drop. Having learned a lesson from last year, I knew that a damp and sweaty base layer is certain death. I pulled in and immediately changed clothing and put on a long sleeve base, long sleeve jersey, dry bibs and leg warmers, and my Hincapie jacket. I also grabbed my helmet that was set up with lights, mounted my bar light and was off again with a pop-tart in hand.

Temperature continued to drop from daytime highs of upper 50’s to the high 20’s. It was no longer cool – it was cold. Water left outside in our pit had started to freeze. My bottles were now H.E.E.D. slurpees. Staying moving was critical. If I kept riding, I was comfortable, but any stop would bring on almost instant hypothermia and uncontrollable shivering. I felt great despite these conditions, and the number of riders on the course was beginning to thin out.

At 4:30 AM, I pulled into the timing station and did some investigating. I was sitting in 3rd at this point, and only 3 solos were still on course fighting out the cold. I had 3 laps on the rider in 4th, who last came though hours earlier. I decided that it was time for a break. I headed back to the pits, changed clothes, and sat down in the comfort of the RV for 1 hour. This gave me some time to eat and close my eyes for just a few minutes. At 5:50 AM, I was back on the bike and feeling great.

Morning laps at Hurkey are beautiful. Riding through Johnson’s Meadow was nothing short of epic. The cold temperatures had left a layer of white frost on everything and the trees and bushed seemed to sparkle in the morning light.

As I came into the timing station, I was relieved to see that I was still sitting in 3rd. As long as I was logging in laps, I would not be caught by the rider in 4th – or anyone else for that matter.

By 11 am, It was mathematically impossible to catch 2nd place, or for me to be caught by any rider behind me. So, despite feeling pretty good and still having some gas in the tank, I decided to finish the race and officially log my last lap. I took my time and counted my last lap as a personal victory lap. I thanked the volunteers at the check points, and event stopped to to take a few photos along the way.

I was stoked – I had made the podium in one of the races that I had always wanted to do well in. Back at our campsites, we popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Our women’s team had taken 6th against teams of all strong male riders, and Damon had rode his way up to 4th in the solo.

It was a great day for Troupe!

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