As I pushed my bike up a steep section of 2″ deep sloppy mud, I couldn’t help but think “What kind of an idiot rides in crap like this in the middle of the night?” Then the inescapable thought bubbled to the surface “What kind of idiot composes blog posts in his head while riding in 2″ deep oatmeal at 2AM”.
Our drive to the Coolest 24 Hour race (that’s the name of the event) was interrupted about 15 minutes short of our destination on the climb to Pilot Hill. Pilot Hill is a little town off of Highway 49 at the top of a steep windy road. When we got to the steep part of the hill the engine was running great, but the RV was slowing down, until eventually we had no power at all. I managed to pull the RV onto what is probably the only section of dirt shoulder on the side of the road big enough for a 34′ RV in the 5 mile climb, even so the RV stuck out into the narrow road for a foot.
We called AAA and arranged for a tow then waited. After about 30 minutes a highway patrol car showed up and gave us a good looking over and tried to push the RV further off the side of the road with his car. I wasn’t surprised to find his car was unable to motivate our RV up a 15% grade while the road was slick from rain. The tow truck finally showed up and the driver had a hell of a time getting our RV on the tow rig.Â About 3 hours of jiggering in pouring rain and eventually the driver called out a second truck. We arrived at the garage in Placerville at around Midnight. Fortunately, they let us overnight in the RV there.
We woke up and my oldest daughter, Liz, came out and rescued us. We loaded a bunch of stuff from the RV into the van, they dropped me off in Cool for the race, and headed home. I was lucky Fred and Kelley Randle (my personal saviors) let me crash in their trailer for the duration of the race and gave me a ride home at the end of the weekend.
The rain from the previous night continued all morning and all through the afternoon. I was on a 5 person co-ed team with the Dirty Avacodos with Adam, Angel, Mike, and Rick.Â Since I was late, they put me at the end of the roster (24 hour team races are relay races). My first lap was at about 5PM. It was still raining. Unfortunately, I had no front fender and forgot my glasses at the trailer.Â That turned into a horrible choice for a rainy lap. Within the first 100 yards, I had mud in my eyes and was blinking frantically to clear them. I thought briefly about turning in and getting my clears but decided not to… bad call, my eyes are still sore a full day later from crud that flew into them on that first lap.
The trail was super slick and covered with a thin layer of slimy wet mud. In places it got deeper, into a soupy 2″ deep goop best described as oatmeal that sucked your tires in and robbed you of momentum. There were also sections where the mud was even deeper. It was particularly bad near the creek crossings. There were 100 yard sections of 3-4″ slop.
I had decided early on that using my single speed bike was the best choice so the rear derailer wouldn’t get clogged up with mud. Though I did suffer for it and stuggle on some climbs, overall I think it was a good choice. Lots of geared bikes were having mechanical issues. Fred opted to clear his drivetrain off twice a lap, stopping at a deep creek crossing to rinse the drivetrain and relube it. Even with the singlespeed, I layered the chain lube on thick. My bike choice and maintenance paid off. I didn’t have a single mechanical issue all race.
My second lap started at 12:30AM so I had time for some dinner, set up and cleaned my bike, layed out my clothes, and caught about 45 minutes of sleep before my lap.
Having good lights is a necessity for night laps.Â I had some great ones my brother, Kevin, lent me (I’ll try and get all the mud off them before I return them). The rain had let up since sunset. I was hoping for better trail conditions. Unfortunately, though visibility was much better, the trail was significantly sloppier and my legs were tired. I still managed a decent lap time, but I think I could have done better if I’d changed to an easier gear before my lap. The views during night laps are absolutely incredible. As you come around a few curves, you can see the lights from Auburn on the opposite side of the ravine. Also, for me the moon was just barely visible behind the clouds.
I finished my lap, cleaned and lubed my bike. At the rate laps were going, I figured I could get a solid 5 hours sleep in. It turns out that that I could have gotten a solid 8 hours in. The rain had started back up at 4AM and was pretty solid all through the morning. The organizer decided to call the event at 10AM, 2 hours earlier than planned. In addition, our team was even slower than anticipated throughout the morning. We would only be able to get 14 laps in by the cutoff time. I had anticipated getting at least 3, maybe 4 laps in for the race, but I wound up with only 2 laps for the entire 24 hour event.
It turned out that our team won it’s division… I’m not sure how many teams in the 5 person co-ed, but a victory under those conditions is just gravy. Thanks to all the Dirty Avacados for putting up with me and thanks for Global Biorhythms for putting on a great 24 hour event in spite of horrid conditions.