“Back In The Saddle Again” – Kirk Gentle at Bessie’s Creek 24

Kirk Gentle During 2011 Race Across America

Story by Kirk Gentle,

Wow, what a race day and night!  First, I’d like to thank Ken Jessett and his volunteers who put on a flawless race and Ankur Wadhwa who so graciously hosted the event at his La Quinta Hotel.  Thank you both, you are indeed both great cyclist in your own right and genuinely incredible men.

Now on to the race – a special congratulations go out to Kurt Searvogel, Greg Colvin and Mr. Swift – the 12 hour competitors whose tail lights disappeared from sight rather quickly into the early morning darkness.

I couldn’t decide to do the 6, 12 or 24 hour race until about 5:30 am on race morning.  My wife, Meg, and Crew, reminded me that to stay in Race Across America (RAAM) shape, I should just go out and ride the 24 hours and focus on the big picture.  I had only ridden 3 centuries since RAAM of last year, so I wasn’t sure how my conditioning was.  What I did know was that saddle soreness always raises it ugly head sometime during the first couple of hundred miles – so I needed to be prepared.  Did I say “be prepared?”

We spend a lifetime preparing to ride against relentless headwinds, but it never seems to get any easier.  And so it was the winds that everyone talked about all day and all night.  The roads were quite pleasant, with very little traffic and an abundance of green meadows and trees as evidence of the heavy rains we’ve had recently.  Racing under the sunshine was pretty much a long training day; it was a 30 minute push into the SE headwinds with a 40 minute recovery…and do it again…and again.  Once the sun began to set we kept hearing that the winds would lay down about 8:00 pm; but nope – then we heard the winds would lay down at midnight; nope – in fact I believe they strengthened about 1:00 am., never to actually die down.  It’s funny though, I kept telling myself – “Ok, on the next lap the winds will lay down”. Ok, “Well, maybe on the next lap…?”  My wishful thinking didn’t stop the winds but it did keep me positive through the 24th hour.

All in all it was a great event – with only a brief shower in the afternoon and pleasant temperatures throughout the 24 hours.  My nutrition was questionable, with stomach issues throughout, and my typical right knee pain and saddle soreness prevailed – but those are details that we continually discuss and try to improve upon.  Thank you, Mark Metcalf, for sharing your saddle improvements with me!

Isaiah says “all of our accomplishments come from the Lord.”  So God gets the glory for providing for us a beautiful day of competitive racing.  Let’s remember from where our gifts are established and may the tailwinds be at our back “next time.”

Editor’s Note:  Even though Kirk didn’t mention it, he won the 2012 24hr Bessie’s Creek 24hr Standard Division – Congratulations Kirk!  :) 

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