Strategy: 2009 24 Hours of Fury - Solo

The 2008 24 Hours of Fury was my first solo 24 hour race and I really didn't know how I'd hold up. I'd be satisfied if I didn't just give up and go home somewhere around 2am. I surprised myself and completed 12 laps or ~120 miles. That was good enough for a 7th place finish in the male solo geared category.

At first, the misery and exhaustion made me think, "Ok, I completed a 24 hour solo race. Don't need to do that ever again. Been there, done that." After a couple months, I looked at the results again and realized if I'd completed 1 more lap, I would have finished 4th. Given that I slept from midnight to 4am during the race, I thought, "I could do that. 13 laps is do-able. 4th place is possible."

So, when registration opened for the 2009 12/24 Hours of Fury, I immediately registered for the solo category. I've trained harder for it this year and now I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

I sat down today and came up with a strategy for the race. First, I should say, that if I get 12 laps again this year, I'll be very happy. That is still a big accomplishment for me. However, I'd like to figure out what I could potentially do in this race if I play it smart and have a little luck.

2008 was the first year for this race. I think there'll be more people participating this year and the level of competition will be higher. That means, 13 laps will not cut it for 4th place. So, what can I shoot for? My average lap time last year was around 120 minutes. Here's a table with time of day and lap times:

I had some unnecessarily fast laps in the beginning. I'll keep it to a ~70 min/lap pace.

Then from 5pm to 6:30am (pretty much all night) I was moving SLOW. I remember cramping up a bit on the fourth lap and then feeling bad after that until after I took a nap and did my first morning lap. Also, I didn't pay attention to my battery charge and ran out of light on the last lap before midnight. I was moving very slow on that lap.

Recently, I've noticed when I ride between 5pm and 8pm, if I haven't eaten dinner, I can bonk (psychologically) very easily - I think low blood sugar makes me feel extremely demotivated to ride. [I don't have that problem in the morning with breakfast.] To avoid a low blood sugar bonk, I need to stop and eat a substantial dinner. Probably a good idea to do the same for breakfast.

I think going slower (staying out of the anaerobic zone) on the early laps along with correct and consistent use of electrolyte capsules and drink mixes should help me avoid leg cramps. [Last year, I didn't know about electrolyte capsules.]

I'll go a bit fast on the first couple laps because the legs will be fresh and the adrenaline will be flowing - so assume a 70 minute lap for the first 3 laps. Then assume 90 minute laps from 5pm to 6am - all night long. All other laps, assume 80 minutes - don't under-estimate solar power. Add 20 minutes for laps where I need to eat.

The table to the right shows the results using those assumptions. 17 laps would be AWESOME! I don't really expect to achieve that number of laps but I'm going to pretend that I can until my body tells me, "NO!" or "STOP!"

How many laps will it take for a 4th place finish this year? Last years' winner completed 21 laps! I expect 2nd and 3rd place will finish 20+ laps this year. Using top 10 spreads from last year and from previous years' 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo results, it seems like 4th place will come in pretty close to 3rd. Usually, there's a race for 1st and 2nd place and then a race for 3rd and 4th.

It is extremely unlikely that I'll place 4th; however, there is a good chance that 16+ laps will land me in the top 10 again. With a bigger, more competitive field this year, I'd be very, very happy with that. [Heck, I'll be overjoyed with 16+ laps even if I place last.]

Bring on on the Fury!