AUGER WINS 24HRS OF SUMMER SOLSTICE
This just in from 24 Hr solo racer, Erick Auger, from the Canadian race: 24 Hours of Summer Solstice…
My first competition of the year has finally arrived. It is always the decisive moment when I can validate if my preparation will permit me to be competitive. This year I feel ready to overcome all the challenges and attain my objectives. The 24 hours of the Summer Solstice is the largest competition of its category in Northern America. The high-level of its competitors make it a race that one cannot pass. A few days before the event Saturday’s meteorological forecast was not very favourable since it predicted heavy rain falls. Even though I prefer dry conditions, I am mentally prepared to confront the muddy conditions. As predicted, the rain was waiting for us the morning of the race. This time, the meteorologists were right.
At the starting gate it is time to discuss with the other solo competitors. This year, I am now in the 40 years and over category, and the friendly atmosphere within the group is palpable. My main objective is to win in my category while remaining competitive with the runners in the 40 years old and less category.
Once the signal is given, I soon detach myself from the other cyclists in company of Francis Lambert and Matthew Spark. We ride together without tempting to distance ourselves from each other, as collaboration is often the best strategy in the beginning of a race. The circuit is very wet and muddy but remains rapid. Later on, in the race, the rain stops and the mud’s consistency changes to clay, making bike handling more difficult. As soon as the trails begin to dry, the rain falls resume even more heavily. More than once during the lap we had to walk and push our bike, thus draining more energy than usual. At approximately 18h00, they announced that the 17 km run would be shortened by 2 km in order to bypass a mud field. Around 17h45, while in the zone where the cyclists must register each lap, I briefly discuss with Francis Lambert. He was waiting for the officials to close the mud field before initiating his next lap. As for my part, I committed a judgment error by leaving immediately. This forced me to run alongside my bike in the heavy clay during 15 minutes resulting in a mere few seconds gain in front of the cyclists that had, for their part, waited patiently for the official shutdown of this loop now impracticable.
At nightfall, I did a single rapid transition for the night to eat, then to install my powerful Night Rider light system. During this transition I opted not to change my clothes since I knew that the comfort of dry clothing would be short lived in this rain. My 21h00 loop was very arduous since I had no choice but to walk 75% of this 15 km lap, thus increasing my lap time to twice of what I had registered in my previous laps. I finish this lap completely exhausted and worried at the thought of having to ride 13 more hours in these infernal conditions. My motivation is still strong since I am leading the race and I know that if the conditions are hard for me, they are certainly for the other competitors.
At my feed station, I hear rumours that the race might be shortened to a 12-hour race. These rumours are rapidly confirmed when I register my eighth lap. I feel a boost of energy just at the thought that I have but one more lap to complete. I completed the 12 hours with 9 completed laps, that is, 2 laps ahead my closest opponent. In all, I did 148 km in this 12-hour race. Francis ended up first in his category which makes it a double win for Quebec riders.