Part Three - The Race
Remember the last movie you saw that totally surprised you? The one where you thought that you knew what to expect because you'd seen the previews? That was the Burn 24 Hour Race.
I have been racing in cross country mountain bike events for about five years. I've done some epics, a whole bunch of short, fast races and even some mountain bike time trials. I had nothing in my data banks to compare this event to since I've never tried anything like it. Being a 24 hour race rookie, my approach was to go in with one goal in mind - have fun. Let me tell ya, this is the event for that! My goal meshed well with the goal of our team (We called ourselves the D-List) which was to ride hard, have a good time, and hang out in the gooch RV. (See previous three posts) It was a blast from start to finish.
And much like a regular XC race, the starting line was packed full of nervous competitors, all with high hopes and a stomach full of butterflies. For some unexplained reason, I wasn't jittery. I felt relaxed because I knew that a steady pace and keeping our wits about us would be more beneficial than trying to win in the first lap.
The race was unique in that each team had a choice of how they would like to handle the Le Mans start. You could choose a designated runner (which we did) or place your bike in a transition area and run to it, pick it up and ride from there. Obviously, the solo guys and gals had to do the latter of the two.
Once we were rolling on the trail, I started picking off traffic that thought that they could win the race in the first lap. Although the trails were not very technical, riders were crashing everywhere due to impatience and traffic. Luckily, most didn't get hurt due to the fact that the cluster kept the speeds pretty low. By about mile number two, I was in a line with 3 or 4 guys riding a conservative, steady pace. In chatting with them I discovered that a couple were solo racers. My hat goes off to anyone with the kahunas to ride 24 solo. The "steady pace" was a bit quicker than I thought. My lap time for my first lap was 20th fastest overall for the entire event. Total for all racers for the entire event was somewhere about 2400 laps. I'm happy with that. I guess being relaxed helped.
As the day progressed and through many transitions, I concentrated on staying fueled and hydrated. Our team strategy was for each member to do one lap at a time until about midnight. Then we would let Pookie pull herself out of the night rotation and Skippy and I would do at least two laps per turn. The plan worked pretty well. We were all staying relatively fresh and maintaining good lap times. Sleep was pretty good thanks to the unfair advantage.