I went down to the 24hrs of Lake Placid, this time to lend a hand rather than race. All I can say is that it was really strange going to a race not to race. Anyways this one is a rather long post with lots of typos and grammatical errors, enjoy...
Friday, Sept 5:
This is probably the first time in a couple years that I can recall where I went to a race not to race. I am going as the support person for a couple teams heading down the the 24 hours of lake placid. A solo racer and a 4 man team, plus we are meeting another mixed 4 person team down at the race. As the story goes I was never invited to ride with the 4 man team. I was thinking of going to do it solo, but my lights are in complete shambles from the last 24 hour race. In the end, another friend (Delko) desperately needed a support crew as he was entered in the solo class. He asked me and at first I wasn't sure if I wanted to go and not race. But eventually common sense caught up with me. Delko is a cool guy who needed a hand; what else can I do? I zipped my mouth, realized that I have no pride, and went to lend a hand.
Problem #1 (Trying to cross the boarder) We traveled in two vehicles, the first of which had all the bikes. On the way down we joked that we were going to get pulled over at the boarder. Sue enough once we arrived at the boarder we had to park and get inspected. We waited around for an hour or so as they ran us trough all the checks they could think of; no I haven't killed anyone, no I was not planning on to either, no I am not smuggling drugs. Hmmm, should I tell them about he three families we are smuggling? Don't get me wrong, in the end the boarder people were professional and we got on our way without too much of a hitch. I just was thankful we weren't the guy who got pulled over right before us, last I saw he was having his car torn apart. Good luck man, I hope they have a caressing touch.
With the delay we decided to eat out and set up in the dark. Because my financial worth (my bike) was not hanging on the outside of a car a block away, I was able to relax and enjoy the greasy Italian fair. Being the trouble maker I am every so often I would interject "hey what are those kids doin' near the bikes!" Just so I could watch Delko or Big Mario jump up ready to pound some punk trying to make off with their prized possessions. The rest of us laughed at the show, it was quality dinner time entertainment.
Saturday, Sept 6:
When I woke up I had slept 11 hours, it was nearly race time and the tent city was now in full effect. This support crew thing might not be so bad if I can get caught up up on my sleep. Ha, ask me again in 24hrs and I will probably laugh. Anyways, everything was relaxed and everyone was chill in the morning. Noon rolled around and the race was off without a hitch. Delko acutally listened to Big Mario and myself by deciding not to try and win the first lap. This is even after we , now all I have to do is make sure he eats. We had a bit of trouble with that in the duo race we did back in June. Big Mario almost had to hold him down and shove food down his throat. I personally find this funny since I am always looking for an excuse to eat. Anyways as I write this its currently 3:30 pm, 3 laps in and everything smooth as the flawless skin of artificially airbrushed supermodel.
Problem #2 (4 pm- Where is the food?): I looked at his food stash. This can't nearly be enough for him. Plus he told me not to bring food for myself, he would take of that... Apparently not. When I mention the lack of food, Delko tells me he eats like a bird. I don't know, all I can go on is how much I would eat, and it is one hell of a lot more than what was brought. Oh well, I did bring one dinner with me (just in case) and I am sure I scam food off other people. I am sure it will all work.
Its 9pm and all is good, so far most of my day consists of splitting my duties between taking care of Delko, playing with the energy kid, Collin and typing this article. Playing with Collin, the energy molecule, is by far the most entertaining. This kid has an inexhaustible supply of energy. He just rides his bike in circles around the camp ground daring you to catch him. He is quickly becoming the crowd favourite. He belongs to the mixed 4 person group we were meeting down at the race site. 5 years and completely adorable. When I play with him, I notice women are inexplicably attracted to me. When they ask if he is mine, I tell the truth that he doesn't and that I also would be dead from exhaustion if he was mine. With that they usually stop talking to me. Hmm, maybe I should start lying and say yes?
Anyways, Delko is a bit more work. He is still taking it easy and riding his race; however, every lap I go to work supporting him. I clean the chain, get equipment and then I pretend I'm his friggin' mother by making sure he eats. He only wants to eat watermelon slices and balks at food with some carbs and protein. "You ain't going anywhere until you finish that food mister" I catch myself saying. I quickly look in my shirt to see if all this new found estrogen has resulted in breasts, no luck. Anyways it is all paying off, I just checked the standings and Delko is smoking along in first with a lap on the field.
Problem #3 (3 am- Where is Delko?):What happened to Delko. Big Mario said he saw him on the course. He also said he looked fine and he should be in any minute. It has been 2 hours since that conversation and I haven't seen or heard any hint of him. I checked the lap sheets and he hasn't been around for 3 hours. Now I am really worried, all sorts of scenarios start running through my head. This definately can't be mechanical. Could he be lying in the bushes some where coughing up a bloodied lung in the dark? If so does anyone know? Bloody hell, he is my responsibility, I have to do something! So I borrow some lights, a helmet, and a bike. I plan on riding the course to find him. As I head off, I run into Delko coming in. Turns out I had just missed him when he was coming through for his following lap and the timing people had an extra sheet of results lying around that they hadn't entered. I feel like an idiot. Yes, I worry too much and I suck.
Delko's only concern after winning is his helmet hair
Problem #4 (5 am - Crash and burn?): As expected it is getting harder and harder to get Delko to eat as he feels that he can't hold any solid food down. Even the baby food has lost its appeal - yes baby food, this was Delko's idea not mine. I have even resorted to using physical threats to get him to eat more but he is bigger and meaner than me so they really don't hold much weight. Come 5 am he is looking worse for wear and really doesn't want to ride at the moment. We head back to the van, warm it up and he takes a nap. He has a couple hours on 2nd place so I let him sleep, but I wonder if he is going to ride when he awakes. After an hour I wake him up. He whines and complains (hey, who wouldn't) but surprisingly it took NO motivation on my part to get him to eat something and back on the bike. Delko is one determined guy.
The morning sun has now rolled in (6:30am) and I can tell things are getting better. Delko just turned a lap twice as fast as 3rd place! Plus he has two laps on second. He is looking like he is in really good form as he cruises through the morning and comes in an hour early with an assured victory. It has been an amazing year and ride for Delko. I can remember just last year it was Delko's his first 24 hour race. He was part of our 4 man team and he had a bit of trouble turning in 5 laps. Now one year, and a lot of training later, he wins the men's solo class turning 3 times as many laps. It just shows the kind of determination this guy possesses.
Now that Delko is in and relaxing my attention turns to our 4 man team. This race is a little unique in that they pull the plug at exactly 12 noon. If you haven't finished your lap, too bad, so sad, it sucks to be you. The other team that I travelled with (Elvis's pelvis) is right on the wire. Big Mario is out, and if he turns a respectable sub hour lap it that will give Curtis an hour 5 minutes to get in the final lap. So far this event Curtis has a fastest lap of 1hour 7 minutes. At about 1 hour before noon, Big Mario comes running in pushing his bike. He had to run the last kilometer and when it is all said and done Curtis has 57 minutes do his thing. Curtis leaves completely focused, and for some strange reason I have faith.
We are standing around the finish area watching the last few riders desperately trying to make the cut off. At about 1 minute to noon we haven't seen Curtis. We know he won't make it now. We look up and see the last rider who might make it and start to cheer him on. "Come on, you can make it" we all yell. Wait a second isn't that Curtis? As Curtis swings around for the small loop to the finish we start yelling at him to "ride you beeyatch, ride!" We go down to the last climb that leads up to the finish (pictured right) and cheer him as he sprints the final few meters. I even run beside him yelling, Tour de France style. As he crosses the line I look up to see if he made it on time; 5 seconds to spare . Yes, five frickin' seconds. Right after that he collapses off the bike and he has to be carried as he can't walk. Once he regained his composure he mentioned that he wasn't feeling any pain that whole lap, he was just running off adrenaline yelling at himself to go faster. His main gig is competitive rowing and I guess he knows where to find that last bit of something. In that final lap he ended up cutting 10 minutes off his fastest time. All this at the end of 24 hours of racing; you just don't get to witness that every day.
My take home
Everyone in our group had a great time, including myself and the crowd favourite little super Collin. Incidentally, Collin won his 2.4 minutes of the Adirondacks (Pictured right). Anyways, through the whole event I found that It was hard, very hard, to sit by and watch all this happen without getting in there and cranking off a few laps. It makes it especially difficult if you know you can be competitive in a field, but ultimately, it makes you appreciate all that goes on to allow you to go race and have fun. I suggest that if you race, you should vounteer for the whole day at least once. It will definately give you a different perspective on things. Finally, if anyone out there has family members, friends, or a partner who always go to races. Go take them out for dinner, they totally deserve the attention.