So I headed out on my first loop - looks like they were going to take about 17 - 20 minutes. so I decided to do three loops and then would return to the tent to refill my water bottle and grab food and water! I did this a few times but then realised it was too long before filling up my bottle. Two laps would be better. There was a water station close by with some lovely girls serving ice cold water, which I think really made a difference too - I had read an article recently about ice cold water hydrating much better than at normal temperature?? Definitely seemed to be working for me! So my new routine was two laps, water, two laps , water and then return to the tent for some food. I was sticking with the smoked salmon - think I am going to give up with the energy bars - I can only eat a couple now before the sight of them makes me feel sick. I am definitely not buying any more until I use up all the hundreds I seem to have!
I am starting to feel a lot better now - much stronger.It was kind of fun figuring out the best way to ride the loop, which gear to be in with each hill, when to pedal faster etc etc. It was a nice feeling overtaking people constantly - you are allowed to draft inside the Canyon so every now and then I would be able to tuck in behind a couple of guys going faster and then get a little bit of a rest at high speed, before pulling off after a few minutes. So I pretty much stayed on this schedule for the next few hours, stopping to eat after 4 laps. Then I started looking at the clock - 11 o'clock. Really? i am not even half way? Seemed like I had done that lap a million times. So at about midnight I went to my tent with the original plan of heating up some stew I had brought. Of course I didn’t have a lighter! So - cold stew and more salmon! Then I decided to recharge my lights and my Garmin so I plugged them in and lay down for a while - 10 minutes, then I decided on another 10 minutes. It was weird - I was laying there wide awake, but completely exhausted. I didn’t want to move and found it hard to keep my eyes open but I was still wide awake - there was no way I was falling asleep! Maybe it was the 5 hour energy boost, along with all the other gels and caffeine!!! So after about 25 minutes I carried on. But I think the rest helped - I was feeling good and it felt better in the cooler evening temperatures. I started riding really strong - rode all night like this, feeling good. I was looking forward to the sun rising - still 6 hours to go! I kept to the same schedule and really believe that smoked salmon saw me through! Bike felt awesome and this schedule really suited me. I should have had more water bottles of course. After my laps I would sit down for a while - which was good to have a rest - but I felt it would have been nice to have a support crew and maybe not have stopped quite so much. During the night I had asked my position in the race - it seemed I was way ahead in my age category but I was more concerned about my overall place. Second - 4 laps behind. Then in the middle of the night this guy started talking to me - turns out he was the leader. he was at about maybe 255 miles when i was at 235 ish. But I was going a lot quicker than him at this stage. So I suddenly decided that maybe I could catch him and got excited at this prospect so I started pressing pretty hard. I couldn’t really see exactly who this guy was in the dark, but I knew he had a red bike and I started watching the lights. It was hard to know if I was going faster or slower than him - I knew I hadn’t overtaken him. So when the sun came up it was much easier to tell. He seemed to be struggling a little bit at this stage - but I had no idea exactly the difference in laps between us. So I pushed a little bit harder - and this seemed to spur him on to also push harder. I wasn’t gaining on him! So I eased up a little bit and started chatting to other riders - probably did an hour or so at this slower pace and enjoying the ride. then I noticed the other guy seemed to be in poorer shape than me, suffering a little.So I decided to speed up again and definitely started catching him - i had this idea I could take a few laps away from him. So I was pushing harder and harder, overtaking him once and then kept pushing. Getting closer now - 3 hours to go - 2 hours to go. I am working hard, putting in a big last effort. With three hours to go I put all my goo in my bottle, stuffed my face with smoked salmon and decided I wasn’t going back to my tent again! I was still pulling in for water every two laps but I was putting down some pretty good laps nownstop. I could see the other guy was definitely suffering and I was definitely pushing. Other people on the road were now encouraging me “he’s just in front of you. You can gain a lap” So I really did push harder. Then with about an hour and twenty to go I overtook him again and he said “I am doing 2 more, that’s it - how about you?” I answered that I planned to do as many as I could - so I put my head down, pushed hard and got one done. One hour left. One hour and I figured I could do three more laps. So I pushed really hard - absolutely sprinted and I ended up getting those three laps done - with ten minutes left - not enough time for another complete lap. But I overtook him on that very last lap - I really wasn’t sure how we were placed. I knew he had been a few laps ahead and I had gained a couple back, but really didn’t know what had happened in the night. I knew I had overtaken him with an hour to go and on my next lap I took another half a lap out of him. And then I pushed as hard as possible and caught and passed him with about half a mile to go. I was super excited - I thought maybe I had caught him. He must have known he was in the lead, because as I came past he hadn’t tried to speed up or anything - but I was unsure. Maybe he was just too exhausted. Anyway I crossed the Finish line and pretty much collapsed myself. It had been unbelievably difficult but a fun day (maybe?) 362 miles in 24 hours