This past weekend was the Burn 24 Hour Challenge, and my second endurance race in as many weeks, so was a real test of the recovery stage of my knee. My plan was to do the entire race on the rigid singlespeed. However, after the first 5 laps, I (along with a couple of other riders who also switched out their rigid forks in favor of suspension) decided that the screaming fast descents were just too jarring and that my hands would need a bit of a rest in order to complete the race, so I switched to my suspended singlespeed. I found it amusing how many folks at the race actually recognized "Spot" (my leopardskin painted bike) before me!
Anyway, although I was understandably disappointed that I finished last in the Solo Women with only 13 laps total, I was encouraged by the fact that I completed one more lap than last year and rode the entire race on a singlespeed (I believe I was the only woman to do so). I also had a great time seeing so many friends again and riding one of the most fun courses on the southeastern endurance circuit. Dark Mountain is just a blast to ride. My knee seemed to hold up reasonably well until the last couple of laps which I ended up having to walk a lot of due to some worrisome pain in the joint. I periodically iced my knee during the race which seemed to help some, and the worst of the pain did gradually begin waning with some light stretching, moist heat and rest after the race was over. I was happy to have been able to finish the race with no major issues, and hopefully being able to rest a few weeks between my next couple of races this year will facilitate a full recovery by next spring.
There were a lot of positives for me during this event, despite my race placing. One tremendous surprise for me came when Tyler, the race promoter, asked if he could do a video interview with me about my race experience! I hope I was coherent enough to answer the questions sensibly. I also have to give a word of gratitude to all the other riders who made the race seem more like one big friendly group ride than a competition. The other solo racers are my constant inspiration and can dig deeper within themselves for strength than imaginable. My fellow singlespeeders (and there were plenty of them at this race) really know how to have fun and push themselves all at the same time. The teams were unbelievably encouraging, cheering all the racers on all through the night. It was great to see and talk with folks who are my inspiration and have made my bicycling career a joy, like Javaun Moradi and Jen (thank you so much for managing my bike at the start area and making sure my number was attached!), John Moorhouse, Eddie O'Dea, Heather Mosley, Brian and the Charlotte Dirt Divas (my hair stayed braided the entire time, and your cheers really kept me going!), Matt and all the other singlespeeders out there (you folks just plain ROCK!), and all the other solo riders including Bob Anderson (you're just amazing, always with a smile and a kind word to every rider on the trail, all day and all night long, even when you've been in the saddle for nearly 24 hours yourself!).
Of course, extra special thanks have to go out to some people who made it possible for me to even do this race.
Race Director and Source Burn President. You really know how to put on a race, and are truly one of the heroes of our sport. Thank you for all you do. And your son is precious!
One of the "main men" of the Brushy Mountain Cyclists who maintain the Dark Mountain Trail System. You folks have worked very hard and the results are obvious to anyone who rides this awesome trail network. You and Ellen and the rest of the volunteers were also just a delight at the checkpoint. You really kept me going when I wanted to just give up. Thank you for posing for this picture with me, and for all your hard work and dedication.
Steve's team (Regina, Steve, Mike, Pete and Will). You folks were the best support crew I could ever ask for, even all the while racing yourselves - and pulling off a third place finish among some very tough competition! You took care of everything for me, and even kept me laughing the entire weekend with all your shenanigans.
(photo courtesy of Fit To Be Tried Bikes)
My coach and constant source of focus and encouragement. It meant a lot to me to be able to talk with you near midnight on Saturday when I was feeling lost and hopeless. You brought me back and kept me going. It made the last few hours of the race so much easier to have you call me again first thing in the morning with those last few words of advice and support. You make me feel equally as important and worthy of your time as your elite clients and it's my privilege to call you not only my coach, but also my friend.
And my husband Steve
As always, you are my foundation, my heart and my love.
Steve also has a gallery of tons of photos from the race Here