Tuesday, May 27, 2008



Part Two - The Unfair Advantage

The rules for racing in a 24 hour mountain bike event are pretty simple; race as many laps as you can as a solo or a team (with anywhere from 2 to 5 members) in 24 hours. You can use any type of bicycle you want, you can be any level of racer, you can even use a unicycle if you think it will give you an advantage. But nowhere does it state that you must sleep in a tent. Nowhere does it require you to be uncomfortable for those 24 hours. You are completely within the rules if you stay at a posh, 5-star hotel with room service and a mini-bar. Trouble is, most 24 hour venues aren't anywhere near civilization. Well, at least not close enough to race a lap or two, travel back to your snooty, high-dollar hotel for some shut-eye, then travel back for your next turn. Just isn't practical.

But, there isn't any reason that you couldn't bring the hotel to the race venue!

On the Wednesday before the weekend of the big Burn 24 Hour Challenge, Pookie and I were busy packing tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, camp stoves, etc. for the upcoming adventure. Having camped the night before a race on a couple prior occasions, I knew the time off the bike was gonna suck. Camping is great. Racing is great. Camping and racing together suck. You don't get a good night's sleep because the ground is hard, you get cold, you get hot, you get hungry, it's loud in the majority of camp grounds, and it usually smells funny. Skunks love camp grounds.
I was up for it because it was a new challenge. I've never attempted anything like this before and wanted to see just how tough it would be. I mentally prepared myself for the suckiness.

And then Skippy calls me Thursday at work. I vividly remember the voicemail he left me. "You're not going to believe this." Then a long pause. My mind raced, full of worst-case scenarios. Did the event get cancelled? Was Skippy arrested and thrown in jail for indecent exposure? Did Chris run off to Thailand? WHAT?

"Adam got a 36 foot RV for us to use this weekend. I'm not kidding either. This is for real." Holy box of chocolate cover ants! An RV? It was like a giant weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could sleep inside and race? The whole 24 hour experience just got 900 times better, and it hadn't even started yet!

You see, Adam, his brother, and his dad own a company that does interiors and such for custom coaches. You know, tour buses for country singers. Nice RVs. One of their good customers who owns these coaches to rent out to people recently sent them this one for some work. Adam asked, and they were gracious enough to let us live in it for 24 hours.

It was like a dream come true. No hard ground. No barking dogs. No cows on a nearby farm that sounded like there were being mutilated by aliens. (Happened to us in WV - no lie)
The coach would be our base camp, our sanctuary, our hide-away from the noise and bustle that was the Burn 24 hour camp ground.

The thing was ginourmous. It took up an entire corner of the grassy parking area at the entrance to the event. I know if I had rolled in there and seen the thing, I would have immediately thought "I wonder what pro team that belongs to?" I'm sure most folks were confused as hell when they saw the banners hung on the outside. The Roanoke Cycling Organization banner is rather nice and unpretentious. The Team D-List banner that said "Press Pass Required" was the icing on the cake. It was meant as a joke, but no one ever came over to say hi the entire weekend. I think we scared 'em. Not in a "I bet they're really good" way, but more of a "I bet they're a bunch of snobby, euro-pro, high-dollar, someone get me a latte" kinda way. Sorry. Didn't mean to be snobbish. Our intent was to be comfortable, and it worked.

Team D-List, brought to you by El Toreo and Mail-It Plus would like to thank Star City Coachworks and Music City Coach for supporting us in this event. Having this incredible vehicle at our disposal made it possible for us to refuel, revive and rest after each of our stints on the race course. I sincerely believe that our results would not have been nearly as good had we been operating Team D-List from a tent. Thank you!!

The only problem now is that our impression of 24 hour events is skewed. We lived in an RV as nice as my house while most others stayed in tents and slept in their cars and trucks. We are now spoiled rotten - and loved every minute of those 24 hours!
Stay tuned!


Kris said...

Wow..I don't even know you and the RV makes me hate you! ;-)

Tim Grahl said...

This reminds my of my first 24 hour event last year. I got invited by Kona to come out to a little (haha) 24 hour race they sponsor outside of Tucson... the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. I was part of the "Media Darlings" team.

We didn't stay in an RV, but we were in the Kona team tent which was about 20 feet from the lap tent. We could literally stand under the Kona easy ups and hear the names being called coming in for laps. So no walking or waiting at the lap start getting cold for your rider to come through.

Not to mention our bikes were wrenched on by the Kona team mechanics and we had all the food/drinks we could handle.

All I had to do was drink, eat and ride. Definitely spoiled for the next time when I had to camp out and fix my own damn bike.