Today's One Fall Ride post comes from Salsa sponsored rider Danielle Musto. And yes, it was one really, really long fall ride. -Kid
In 2011 my top goal was to win the Singlespeed division of U.S. 24-Hour National Championships. The race was in the back of my mind for the majority of the season. During every race, every hard interval day, it’s what kept me going when I wanted to stop.
Now it's been over a month since crossing the finish line of tha race and already it seems so long ago. But, I have a few memories of the race that are so crystal clear they seem like yesterday.
Breakfast: As ridiculous as this sounds I can remember exactly what I had for breakfast that day. Scott went out early to get it so that I could sleep in. I woke up to a huge steaming cup of coffee and a breakfast bagel from Panera. I ate breakfast in my PJ’s and tried to enjoy it as much as possible. I knew that it would be my last meal for the next 24 hours that didn’t have the word gel in it and involve being squeezed out of a soft flask.
The Start: My bike was across the field (we had a Le Mans start) and it felt really weird to be lining up without it. The sun was beating down on us and since there was no tree cover it felt especially harsh. I was drinking constantly out of my Hydrapak and started to worry that I was going to empty it before we even started. Finally the promoter said “Go!” and we were off running. It was my first time running at 7,000 feet and it wasn’t pretty. Between the heat, lack of oxygen and my lack of running skills I felt like I was going to pass out before I even reached my bike.
Last Daylight Lap: This is usually my favorite lap of a 24-hour race and Nationals was no exception. The temperature had finally dropped and my legs still felt good. There was a certain part of the course that had a particularly good view and it was amazing at dusk. Looking out I could see the Rocky Mountains west of Colorado Springs and the sky was a mixture of pink shades blending into blue. It’s hard to put into words how beautiful it was, but I remember being incredibly happy to witness it while riding a bike.
First Night Lap: My pit crew told me to stop and put on warmer clothes when the sun went down but I was still warm and didn’t want to stop. I didn’t realize how quickly the temperature would drop when the sun went down. I got really cold halfway through my first night lap. Every time I went down a hill I felt like I was jumping into an icy lake, and my lungs started to ache from the coldness of the air.
Middle Of The Night: The course seemed much more deserted and quiet. Every once in a while I would see a rabbit darting into brush on the side of the trail, or the blinking rear light from a rider ahead, but for the most part I felt very alone. Every once in a while I would pass or get passed by a rider, and I could tell that everyone was in the same boat. The energetic greetings we had been giving earlier had turned into tired whispers. Talking required too much effort.
Stomach Issues In The Middle Of The Night: There was a point in the night where my stomach started to shut down. I didn’t want to eat or drink anything and when I pulled into my pit area I requested “real food.” The problem was that nothing tasted good. I remember Scott handing me a bagel with peanut butter, a pop tart, cookies, and a banana. Whatever he gave me didn’t taste right and I would spit it back out. I remember looking up at my mechanic as I sprayed the ground with a pop tart and for some reason we thought it was really funny. So I kept spitting food out and laughing. All of a sudden I had the mentality of a two-year-old.
The Chickens: At some point in the middle of the night two men dressed up as chickens jumped out of total darkness and started chasing me down the trail. They surprised me so much I almost fell off of my bike. I couldn’t wait to get back to the pit area to tell my crew about it but then I started to worry that I was hallucinating. The race promoter later posted a picture of them on Facebook. Proof that I didn’t imagine them!!!
Daybreak Lap: During my night laps I always look forward to sunrise. I remember riding in the dark but slowly starting to see a faint pink tinge to the sky. Slowly but surely I was able to make out certain parts of the trail again. A rock here, a sand pit there, and then the entire trail was visible again. It was awesome pulling into the pit area because I could put faces to the voices of the people who had been cheering for me at night.
Last Lap: Out of all the memories, this one was the best. I will never forget the feeling of riding the last 13 miles and knowing that I had 1st place locked up. Or the huge smiles on my pit crews faces when I pulled up to the tent before crossing the finish line. Out of all my memories of the race, I am pretty sure this one will always be my favorite!