I stumble into the RV, my brain isnâ€™t working quite right, I know I need to get out of my sweat soaked clothes, eat, and wake up my brother before I go to sleep. I start to change but get distracted by hunger and start to prepare some food. Before I make much progress there, I look at the clock, itâ€™s 3:30AM. I set the alarm for 6AM so I can wake up in time for my next lap. Clothes are hanging all over the RV, mostly air drying stuff Iâ€™ve already worn. I chase down my clean, non-riding clothes and start to put them on but decide Iâ€™d better eat something first. Pour myself some chocolate milk and chug a little before my numb right toe reminds me I need to get out of my wet clothes. This time I manage to finish changing. Then I scramble up some eggs. I put some seasonings on them and too much salt but it doesnâ€™t bother me one bit. Scrambled eggs have never tasted so fluffy and good. Drink a little Gatorade and some chocolate milk. The adrenalin is finally starting to drain out of my system. Iâ€™m getting tired fast.
I look at the clock again, itâ€™s 4AM, time to wake up my brother. With my warm socks on at least I have feeling in my toe now. Kevin is groggy and really hurting. He had some bike problems and he pretty much blew up on his last lap. After his last lap heâ€™d packed up his gear and told Kyle (our team leader) he was heading home. Fortunately, the 90 minutes of sleep heâ€™d gotten helped his attitude a lot. I tell him â€œJust go out there and ride. Donâ€™t worry about racing, just take it easy and ride the loopâ€?. Kevinâ€™s not hungry, but I talk him into eating a banana and hand him some Cliffs Blocks (basically small Jello like cubes of calories). I air up his tire for him and stumble back into the RV to try and get some sleep.
If you havenâ€™t figured it out by now my weekend was spent riding a 24 hour mountain bike race (The Coolest 24) on a 4 man team. Essentially, you spend 24 Hours running one giant relay trying to get as many laps in as you can. Different teams have different strategies. For our team we just took turns running laps. Race a lap for an hour, rest for 3 hours, then race another lap. Our team got 24 laps in which netted us a 4th or 5th place finish in a field of 20 or so 4 man teams.
Iâ€™m not sure how my teammates talked me into it, but I rode the first lap. My bike of choice was my Titus Switchblade. With 6â€³ suspension it was a bit more bike than the trail needed, but my only other bike is a Redline Monocog 29â€³ (a rigid singlespeed). During the first lap I did fairly well. I passed a lot of people early on and wound up finishing in the top 25 of the 120+ racers on the first lap. My official time for the first lap was 54 minutes and some change.
Unfortunately, during the break between my first and second laps Kevin spotted a crack in the rocker arm on my Titus which pretty much ended the day for that bike. We talked about what I would use for a bike for the rest of the race and eventually I decided to ride my Redline Singlespeed for the second lap and see how I did.
My second lap was pretty rough. I goofed up and didnâ€™t tighten my rear axle down enough and so had to stop halfway through my lap and tighten the nuts down to stop the wheel from rubbing on the chainstay. I was also a bit slower on the downhills. My Redline doesnâ€™t have any suspension at all, so on a lot of the downhills I was flying down them getting jarred all over the place just at the edge of control. This was particularly interesting on the night laps with my light bouncing all over the place making navigation even more challenging.
On top of this, riding a Singlespeed bike is always a bit of a compromise, my Redline is geared at 32Ã—20 with 29â€³ wheels which is an all around gear ratio. I wasnâ€™t able to go very fast in the flats, but I was able to climb up all but the steepest hills without getting off and pushing. Between the mechanical stop and the singlespeed, I figured my time for my second lap was shot, but I turned in another 55 minute lap which was pretty decent all things considered.
I decided to stay on the singlespeed. A regular geared bike would probably be a little faster, but then I would have to get used to a bike Iâ€™d never ridden before. When it was all over I turned in one more lap at 58 minutes and two laps at just over an hour each. I think my average time was about 58 minutes which I think is decent considering 2 of the laps were in the dark and I was riding the singlespeed.
This was my third 24 hour team race. The last two I raced on 5 man teams and put in 5 laps each year. Racing on a 4 man team with faster teammates, I had a quite a bit less rest between laps and riding a singlespeed defintely stepped up the challenge factor. For me these races are a huge challenge and a lot of fun at the same time. Between laps, eating, and working on bikes I ran into a lot of friends that Iâ€™ve met over the years cycling and made some new ones while I was at it. Racing itself is a reward and riding as hard as you can at 3:00AM you are able to do a lot of soul searching. Incidentally, after nearly quitting the race in the middle of the night, Kevin had one of his best laps of the race and just called me and told me he wants to race in next years event.