First our team, there was Tom who is a Cat 5 road racer, but a very strong MTBer, Carson a Cat 3 road racer, and this was his first MTB race, and first time he would be riding at night, Chris another Cat 3 road racer and a top 5 sport racer in the MTB world, and then me, been racing MTB for the past 17 years.
The course is an 8 mile lap with probably close to 1200 feet of climbing per lap, not sure the actual numbers, but that is what I have heard. Mostly all singletrack with alot of off camber switch backs both up hill and down.
This race starts off with having to run to your bike, the past few years they had you run through the camping area, and to your bikes at the start of the singletrack, well they found out that caused bottlenecking in that first section, so this year it was a shorter run, and a long ride up almost a mile long gravel road. I was chosen to lead off for us since I have the most mountain biking experience of the 4 of us, and since running isn't my high point i was happy to see a short run, maybe 75 yards. I got to my bike, did some cyclocrossing and jumped on and went, once on the gravel climb, I was able to pick off a couple guys, and entered the woods section at the top in the top 10, and was able to hold that position for the 1st lap. I turned in a 50 minute lap time for the 1st lap not including the extra starting area, and that would set the tone for the rest of the race as we knew what kind of lap times were possible, and something to shoot for. The other guys set out on their laps, and we were all in about the same range of lap times, which meant if we could keep that up we would reach our goal of 24 laps.
Second time out was just my best lap, I was able to clear the entire course without having to put a foot down anywhere, and I turned another lap right around the 50 minute mark. There was a mandatory rule that if you start a lap after 7 pm you have to have your lights installed, not on, but you have to be ready incase it gets dark, and since my turn was coming up right around that time I installed them and was ready. Thankfully I didn't need them as I was able to get back to the bottom of the hill before dark. I tried laying down at that point to rest before heading out on my first dark lap sometime around 11. My turn came up right about that time, maybe a little before 11, and I have ridden in the dark before, but it has been a long time. My new light was nice, but since it was mounted on my handlebar, and my older light was on my helmet and wasn't quite as bright I had a hard time seeing somethings. I got back to camp with a lap time a bit slower than my day times, but still under an hour. We talked about how to ride the night laps, and decided to do 2 at night, but switch it with another guy so you ride one, take a 45 minute or so break and then back out so the other guys can get 3 hours or so of sleep, so I get back and have to try and stay awake for my next ride. Tom was who I would be doing laps with, and he was like myself a little slower at night. I head out for what I was hoping to be my last night lap as I knew my old light would only last about 1 and 1/2 hours, and even though there was a place to recharge the lights, 45 minutes on a charger wouldn't get me much. I lost my helmet light about 1/2 way through my second night lap, so that would slow things down quite a bit, and it proved to be as that lap time was just over an hour, and I was having a hard time turning the pedals over on some of the climbs. I was happy when I came out of the last section of woods, and knew I had about 5 minutes till I could get off the bike and get some sleep. And sleep is what I did, set my alarm for about 3 hours from the time I laid down figuring that would give me enough time to get back up and ride again. I rolled out of bed around 6 when Chris started his lap, and got dressed and ready for my next lap. I didn't really eat anything before going out again, and I was regretting that decision about 1/2 way through that lap, but I knew back at camp there was to be some pancakes and bacon, so that kept me rolling. I got back just before 8, and knew that I would probably have to ride again if everyone kept the same lap times. Around 9:30 the team that was winning came around to see if the top 5 team just wanted to call a truce and stop riding after the lap we were on, we thought about it, and knew that we were a lap behind 3rd place, but only about 40 minutes infront of 5th place, so we told them we were going to keep pushing on. Chris started his lap just before 10, so I knew at that point I would have to go again, but I was able to have 4 pancakes, 6 pieces of bacon, and a cup of coffee, so I was ready to go. Chris came out of the woods at just before 10:45, so I knew I had just over an hour to do this lap incase I wasn't feeling it I could try and soft pedal some sections if need be and still have a good lap time as we had to finish the lap before noon. I was feeling pretty good, and just taking it one corner at a time, and one hill at a time. I came across the line with about 20 miutes or so to spare, and was pleased with the fact that I was able to start the race strong, and finish the race strong as well.
Overall I figure I rode just under 60 miles in a 24 hour time frame as I did 7 laps, and everyone else was able to get 6 in, so that put us at 25 laps, one lap more than our goal. I think we put together a very good team that was able to ride about the same pace for the entire time, and hopefully next year we can do it again and maybe break into the top 3. Now it is off to get some sleep, pictures from the race will be up probably tomorrow sometime.
|24 Hours of Seven Oaks|