Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Finale 24 hour solo
Haven't posted many words on this at all. My thoughts have been allover the place. There have been a million things to do, so it just never happened. However, it is time to put finger to keyboard.
We arrived after an incredibly painless flight and car hire in Nice, followed by a 140km drive north into Italy in the lovely wee town of Finale. In actual fact there are 3-4 distinct parts but in essence there is some settlement between 3 large eastish/westish ridges, which are criss crossed with old trails, before the land gives way to the blue, blue sea.
We were staying in a self catering apartment in the old town area and there was any number of boutique shops, easy going small restaurants and coffee establishments to let the hum drum of normal life slip silently from our brows and shoulders.
Transporting the bike was the usual no problemo in the trico, and the day before, the day before the race i put it together, torqued a bolt or two and wound gradually up the road to test it out.
As ever, the seemingly never ending s bends that are ubiquitous in the south of france, italy and spain kept me climbing towards the sun. My j-macs and 1 water bottle soon ran out, but i had hit the trails by then and they were just how i like them. Sinuous rocky and technical.
A large snake fell out of a tree at one point. Im not sure which one of us was more suprised.
Prior to my complete dessication i headed for home and then we enjoyed an amazing meal where you picked the wine from the cellar and there was no menu, just what the chef had caught from the sea that morning.
The day after we headed up to the race HQ to find a nearly empty field, the expo area, and a long thin field stuffed with tents. The majority of racers seemed to be in motor homes, parked on the edge (in some areas precipitously) of the access road. Nevertheless, i pitched the trusty north face mtn marathon coffin tent and then we signed me on. Pretty time consuming, but hey, its the old world.
After a couple of glasses of vino tinto and early-ish night led to a solid sleep and awakening raring to go. A classic day, blue sky, sun and excellent coffee.
The race itself i am going to summarise. The course was short (7km), rocky, with braking bumps, an inch or so of dust and a lot of singletrack which was either steep up or steep down, but never sustained in terms of gain or loss. In other words, it was fast. There was no way to chill out on a 34:18 29" wheel. There were a lot of good fast riders, and the solo class was pretty stuffed with capable and prepared athletes, much more so than i am used to in the UK.
After 5 hours the dust took its toll. I had intended to race the full 8 hours until i needed lights, at which point i was going to eat some pasta, have a beer, and go out for another 7 hour stint for the night. So much for that!
I stopped for 1/2 hour at 5 hours in and had a LOT of fluid. The dust and the heat (31degrees C) meant i was dehydrating rapidly. The technical course and fast pace led to a struggle to drink any amount per lap.
Another few hours and i stopped for pasta and (in an unheard of move) went for a shower. I hoped the dew would lessen the dust a little, but after refueling and going out again, it was just as prevalent. Indeed the lights overnight meant it was kind of like driving in fog...
So, at 2.30 am i sort of clanged to a halt. Trina was asleep in the tent, and i thought it'd be grand to have a snooze in my puff jacket and pata~guide pants. Ha! after 50minutes i awoke shivering lying on the ground. I almost got in my kit bag to warm up, but figured if i just sat there id eventually get fed up enough to go out on the bike again. Nothing went through my head at all...
Well, oddly and slightly embarrassingly, i didnt go out til after 6 am. At which point i felt great and battered off 10 or 11 laps.
During the off time i had been down in the mid thirties, at the end i was 23rd or 24th. Ok, in some ways, as there were some quality riders, but way off what i wanted to do.
To be honest, although it was super good to be in the dry (and although the dust was a challenge, it was never onerous to the stage of fury like some of he UK mud), and the race course was excellent - technical, involving etc if short - i am unclear if i will ever do another 24 hour multi lap race. This was my 3rd solo, and i have done one pair, which is arguably harder, but more rewarding...you are racing for someone else too, so its less of a brain cramp.
I dunno, its always this way soon after...ill never do it again, then 3 months later the cheque is in the post.
Post race was just eat sleep wine and chill. A classic way to recover!
I am really looking forward to the chance to go back to Finale, the trails accom, food etc are magic...maybe finale stock?