28 May 2009
24 Hours of Fun, Fun, Fun
This last weekend was the 24 Hours Round the Clock in Spokane, WA. For those not familiar, this is a 24 hour mountain bike race. uBRDO Team Project (uTP) supported 3 teams and it was a production of epic proportions. We left Kirkland with 4 pop-up tents, 4 coolers, 4-6ft tables, 9 bikes, a giant box of bike parts, and the rest of the van was filled with the miscellany we would need for 2 days of MTB racing.
Things were a little crazy trying to get out of town but we eventually made our destination at 5:30 am Friday morning after driving all night and getting an hour of sleep in the van in a rest stop. Not an ideal way to start the weekend.
Setting up camp was a blur in our delirium and trying beat the heat didn’t help matters. It was about 30 degrees hotter in Spokane than we are used to on the west side of the Cascades. We did manage to put together an impressive camp for the team that was dubbed “The Condo.” Friday was pretty low key with everybody making their way in throughout the day. We got everybody signed in, got our race volunteers squared away, started drinking and then went as a group to pre-ride the course.
Chaos ensued as our very buzzed riders were having a grand time checking out the course but ended up totally freaking out the other riders not on our team. Which seemed funny because I would have figured everybody had at least a few beers in them by that point. Apparently, not so… and too bad for them. It was fun.
We ended up getting pretty good sleep that night and all woke up ready to go Saturday morning. After a huge breakfast at a nearby European pancake house (the potato pancakes were to die for) the first riders got kitted up and made ready to race. I was a big ball of nervous jitters (no, not too much coffee). I was to do the starting lap, which included a La Mans style start. We had to rack our bikes, head to the start line and wait for the gun to go off. Then it was a 600m run up a hill, back down to our bikes and then ride back up the hill. The run was only 3 1/2 minutes or so, but I have never been so happy to get on my bike. Running in bike shoes and helmet is pretty lame. I’m told this is the traditional way to start a 24 hour race…
Being on a 5 person ladies team was fantastic. We had about 4 hours between laps and we did great. “C” was pulling down our fastest laps, “A” was hauling ass after not even touching her bike since CX season, “CH” was consistently solid, and “L” was a breath of fresh air. She came ready to race and she certainly did that with her consistent performance throughout the race.
The best part was the team dynamic. No bickering, no weird ‘girl’ stuff, and no drama. Just great attitudes, a willingness to keep at it, and a desire to have fun and race hard. I came back from my night lap at about 2 am and slept from about 230-5 am. I woke up wondering if we were still racing and sure enough the girls had kept at it during the middle of the night. As I prepared for my 7 am lap, I wondered how my legs would feel after so little sleep and being stuck in the heat the day before. As it turned out they felt pretty darn good and I put in 1:16 lap. Not my fastest but certainly not the slowest either.
I had given “C” the option of waiting for me to do another lap so she could get some more rest. When I came in she had a huge smile on her face, said she felt great and was ready to go. I handed her the timing chip and away she went. About the time I was starting to get ready to do another lap (an hour or so later) we got a call from “C”. She had crashed and the medics were advising her to abandon the race. She had punctured her knee cap and couldn’t move her leg for a few moments. She told Scotty she thought she might be able to continue on. We made the decision for her and I grabbed my bike and headed out to restart the lap. At this point we were solidly in second place and had been since the very first lap the day before. But with me restarting the lap we were getting bumped down to 3rd.
I spent that whole lap calculating how many laps the 3rd place team had done (assuming they hadn’t dropped out) and when I would need to come back through the timing tent to be able to do an extra lap to beat them. We had to start the last lap before noon and I was mentally preparing for my 6th lap. To my surprise, “A” was waiting for me at the timing tent ready to take the timing chip and rally the course one last time. She came back 1:17 later with a smile on her face.
We had done it. We had successfully completed our first ever 24 hour race, we stepped up when things went awry and overcame what would have been a looming 3rd place finish. 18 laps for a total of 270 miles got us 2nd place.
Now it’s not all about winning. Heck, we didn’t win. But we did great even though none of us had any idea what we were doing. All of uTP was pretty wiped after the race. The boys ended the race in 8th place after 2 really hard crashes in the first rotation of laps. The 2 man team was DFL and gave up about 6 hours into the race. They slept a solid 8 hours that night. Hilarious.
It sure was a lot of fun and I’m thinking about making a solo run at it the next time around. Sounds crazy but I think I could do it. The course was long enough that even after 5 laps I didn’t have it totally figured out.