24 Hours of Rocky Hill Recap – Piglets Point of View

Off-Camber Trains of Thought:

Ryan: When Kevin came to me and asked for a partner for 24 Hours of Rocky Hill, I was under the impression that he was joking. I’ve only heard, and seen, the likes of Rich Szecsy, Ray Porter, and the bearded wonder Mike Frazier even attempting this race. Surely two Cat 2 racers with minimal racing experience (in comparison to the field) do not belong at such an event. The inquiry came in around summer time, so October seemed like it would never come. I accepted, and started training.   With the experience and knowledge of Rich at our disposal, we made sure to pick his brain on training techniques, schedules, benchmarks and the like. Long endurance rides, hill repeats, sprint sessions, and just spinning for the hell of it became our lives. However, nothing Rich told us and nothing we learned about ourselves during our training months could prepare us for the ass whooping we were about to receive.

Kevin: Needless to say this was going to be an eye opening experience…the longest endurance race I have even been in the vicinity of, much less competed in.  My previous longest ride was the JB 6 hour in January 2012.  Somehow the idea of trying this as a 2 man didn’t seem so bad…I mean it’s only 12 hours of riding…right?  So I teamed up with the other Piglet, Ryan Kota, and we started training.  We had to rely on midnight rides during the summer just to beat the heat and get extended rides in.  I also competed in a couple of 4 hour Smurfboys over the summer; however, almost all of these rides ended up with me in the pain locker, sick to my stomach.  I could not get my nutrition figured out.  I tried all kinds of drink mixes, foods, etc. all with the same outcome, so I went back to my old nutrition plan…straight water and solid food bars.  I got to try it out only once on a 30 mile ride, and didn’t seem to have any issues so I decided let’s go with it.  We won’t go into the goals Ryan and I set for ourselves…let’s just say we were shooting for the moon!

Let The Pain Begin:        

Ryan: I was the lucky one who got to begin the race with what I would like to consider a heavy jog around the premises of the Rocky Hill Ranch. I couldn’t shake off the increased heart rate and unevenness throughout my legs until halfway into my first lap. Surprisingly, I turned in my fastest lap of the weekend regardless of my numerous bodily problems. 57:04. Kevin came in after blazing a sub hour lap as well. Team morale was extremely high at this point. But with it being only 2 hours in, we both had a lot to learn, and 22 hours for Rocky Hill to dominate our minds, bodies and souls. Nothing came easy from this point on.

Kevin:  At the beginning I was just trying to get used to the trail, feeling out the flow, crushing the climbs, getting a little surprised by how loose the soil was at the apex of the climbs, but overall feeling good for the first two laps.  By the end of my 3rd lap (lap 6 for the team), the cramp monster had started a feeding frenzy on my legs.  Some help from the pit in making sure I was getting electrolytes, food, water, and rolled out muscles and I was back on the bike.  Surprisingly I was feeling great after that as long as I was on the bike.  Between laps while sitting in the pits is when my body was most unhappy, but the watchful eye of the awesome pit crew kept me eating and hydrating, so I was able to push on.  I knew Ryan was starting to have issues on his end, but he wasn’t giving in that easily.

Ryan: We both began progressively turning in longer laps for the next 8 hours, gradually slowing down to our survival pace. The fun for me didn’t start until about 11pm the first night, after turning in my 5th lap of the day. The stomach aches I was fighting off for the past 2 laps got the best of me, and everything I had eaten in the past however many hours came right back up. I thought I was done for; I could get barely any nutrition to stay down. It’s not even midnight!  At this point, I can give up, fight for another lap or tell Kevin to go out for a second lap. My brain decided otherwise. I downed some animal crackers (compliments of Frazier) and ginger ale and begged the pit crew to let me go out for 2 laps so Kevin could sleep. At this point, Kevin is the team’s strongest rider, I need him to sleep. I was told I was too pale in the face to do consecutive laps.  After coming in after my next lap, the stomach aches returned. I told Kevin I needed him to do 2 laps. The bad ass went out without asking any questions. I once again lost my lunch and migrated back to the animal crackers and ginger ale to refuel.

Kevin: Around 1 AM in the morning I started my 2 lap back to back session to give Ryan a chance to catch some sleep and recover.  The first lap I was moving, feeling really good at this point and turned one of my fastest laps of the race (1:09:02).  I came in knowing I was going back out, but found out I may need to do another one after that depending on Ryan being able to recover from being sick.  So I slowed it way down, rolling a much slower 1:42:56.  I was fighting to control the bike at this point, my arms and back were beyond fatigued and needed a rest.  I came in and low and behold Ryan was there kitted up and ready to roll.  I can’t tell you how relieved I was at that point.  I really wanted some rest.  As Ryan went out for his two lap stint, I cleaned up, changed into a dry kit, ate a little grub and tried to catch some rest.  Rest did not come easy.  As soon as I lay down, my stomach demons started raising their ugly heads.  After about an hour I gave up and just sat in the pit tried to eat a little more and settle my stomach.

Ryan: Now I have no choice but to do 2 laps.  The first lap was slow, but nothing compared to my second lap, which took over 2 hours. Not even a mile into my second lap, my head light started dimming. I stopped in an opening and turned on my bar mount light, only to receive a constant flashing (battery is dying). Shit. No light, no nutrition, feeling like garbage. I called Nebs to see if Kevin could scratch my lap. No more than 5 minutes later, after playing with my light, I got it on a constant stream, and once again called Nebs. This is when I found out that Kevin was on the verge of vomiting himself. Shit. I have light now, but still no nutrition and still feeling like garbage. There were so many reasons I didn’t want anything to do with that lap. What kept me going was a combination of random thoughts, including Luke kicking my ass, Ray passing me, again, all the hard work Nebs, Kocian and Nikki (Vern was taking his turn grabbing a quick nap at this point and actually missed both of my trips to dinosaur world) went through to get my ass out on the trail, but most importantly, the fact that I had a teammate, and he was counting on me to do my job. Pedal, Damn it!

Kevin: Ryan came in a little after 7:00 AM, and it was my time to get on the trail again.  Unsure how it would go I geared up and jumped back on the bike and was back rolling, luckily the sun had just come back up and I was rolling in the light again…that was a much welcomed change.  Surprisingly, my body responded, and I pulled in a respectable lap time of 1:15:29.

Ryan: As I sat in the pit before my presumable final lap, I somehow convinced Frazier to do a lap with me. I’m still feeling out of it at this point, and I need any motivation I can get. Mike pulled me through this lap, there’s no question about it. Near the end, he told me to buckle down and drop the hammer on the flats, and I did just that. With my body not wanting to drop anything but itself into a bed, I cannot thank Frazier enough for getting me through my last lap. Sidenote: We stopped to help a hot Russian chick fix a flat.

Kevin: The FINAL LAP…they told me in the pit, as long as I finish the lap before the cutoff, or within 1:30:00 of starting it we are guaranteed 3rd place.  So of course I was going…plus I couldn’t let Ryan get more laps in than me…hehe.  I convinced Scott to roll with me for one more lap, now that he had evicted his own stomach demons.  This lap HURT, it hurt to get on the bike, it hurt to pedal, every small incline felt like the Rocky Mountains.  I slammed it down in granny gear and made it up the first mile of climbs, Scott right on my tail.  As soon as we leveled out I went ahead and grabbed a couple of gears and tried to maintain a steady cadence…next thing I know I hear Scott yell at me to go for it.  I didn’t see Scott behind me again…sorry buddy.  There were very few riders on the course at this point, most teams had thrown in the towel, so it was lonely.  It was also about 80 something degrees, I was getting a little warm.  My focus was just make it to the next landmark, just make it up this hill, just keep moving…my head was starting to play games with me and I was starting to watch my computer.  How much time do I have to finish this lap?  How much farther? Will I make it in time?  Well I made it through the last of the tough climbs, and all I had left was the screaming downhill.  I knew we had it at this point.  There waiting for me again was Scott.  He cheered me on then paced me to the finish.  Thanks buddy!

Finishing Never Felt So Good:

Ryan: 24 hours later, we stood behind only 2 teams on the 2-man open category. Kevin and I were more than happy to take home 3rd place, just as long as we could go home.

Kevin: Performing this race as a two man actually pushed me harder than had I attempted this solo.  I wasn’t just out there racing for myself and personal pride; I was racing also for all the training and preparation Ryan put in, and I couldn’t let him down.  So every time it was my turn, no matter how much it hurt, I jumped on the bike and pedaled for everything I was worth.  We made it through 18 laps (166 miles), 9 laps each (83 miles).  Our first 24 hour competition and somehow we tough out a 3rd place finish in the 2-Man Open Category.   That was icing on the cake.  I was just happy to have completed, and as a team we had a rider on the course 98% of the time.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due:

Ryan: A race of this magnitude can certainly teach a person a thing or two about themselves. One thing I learned right off the bat is that I could not have completed nearly as many laps as I did without support. Each and every individual that was camped out in the Pig tent helped me tremendously throughout the 24 hours. Vern kept the delicious food coming and prepped my bike to perfection before each lap. I don’t know how the lights went on and came off, but they did. Luke whipped my ass into shape and snuck in some guerilla warfare on my demons during the early morning hours. Nebs was there to massage my cramping legs, neck, and made sure I was eating and hydrating at all points throughout the night. Nikki caught a warning sign the second time I lost my lunch and was taking care of the situation seemingly before it started; this was on top of her constantly preparing my bottles and feeding me. Gina kept me under control and fed me Ray’s food when all I wanted was fruit. Scott warned me about hydration after I came in from a lap where I literally drank nothing from my water bottle. Frazier brought animal crackers and ice cold ginger ale, my only sources of nutrition for a good portion of the night. Charity kept a smile on my face through her constant chamois cream adventures and general awesomeness every time I caught her in the pit. Kocian always made sure to check on me, and even offered up his own food when he realized I was searching for something to stay down. Ray, although quite busy on the trail, was sure to keep my spirits high every time he passed me. Rich, although not there in person, was there in spirit. Without Rich, I wouldn’t have been interested in such a race, wouldn’t have been a part of such a team effort that has been built up through the years, wouldn’t have been given the best opportunity to succeed thanks to the tent and generator, and ultimately wouldn’t have had the motivation to finish strong when I had nothing left to give.  Thanks to all who were involved for making it a great way to jump into endurance racing, I couldn’t have done it without you. Also, thanks to the rest of the Pigs for following the race online and sending much needed positive vibes when we needed the encouragement the most.

Kevin: This was in no way a 2 person effort; I can’t even begin to tell you how much the other Pigs did to help us to our 3rd place finish.  All I can say is a HUGE thank you goes out to the most awesome pit crew, Gina for the encouraging trash talk, Nebs for the much needed massage, Luke for keeping us all positive, Vern for all the mechanic work and awesome grub coming out of the kitchen, Matt Kocian for also helping out with the bikes.  The other Pigs who also paid to kick their own ass for 24 hours solo inspired me to continue riding.  Mike and Scott thanks for all the laughs and keeping it fun, Charity for being an absolute monster, and Ray “the machine” Porter, for passing me on almost every lap on your way to 18.  It was an honor to ride with all of you at Rocky Hill.  To Rich, even though you were not there in person you had an impact on all of the Pigs.  Thanks for all the coaching and encouragement.  Finally, to my wife, Nikki, you are absolutely amazing; you not only stand by my side in all of these crazy adventures, you jump in head first with me.  You more than once got me to man up, and keep pushing on.  Love you!

New Outlooks:

Ryan: I can assure you that this is only the beginning. Training will be hit harder, benchmarks will be set higher, and a similar endurance race will be penciled on the calendar soon enough. The Piglets are here to stay!

Kevin: I learned a ton, a lot about myself and just how far my body really can be pushed and my pain threshold.  More training is needed, but I can see huge strides from where I was just one year ago.  Having a team as dedicated and loyal as the Big Pigs made this event something I will always remember, without that it truly is just a suffer fest.  Next year?  My goals have yet to be determined, but I know I’ll be attempting another 24 hour race at some point…possibly Rocky Hill 2013.

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