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Downtown Temple,NH

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

24 Hours of Great Glen

Having done this race once (last year) and having significantly upgraded my bike, any anxiety I may have had (see last year) was non-existent. I was totally looking forward to this race and couldn't wait to get started.
acidotic RACING would be sending two 4-person teams to compete: aR-Black and aR-Grey. Hey, don't blame me on the names, blame Mr. Dunn.
The 'Boneyard'
The course was a roughly 8.5 mile loop at the base of Mt Washington with nearly 1100ft of climbing...EACH LAP. You climb early and you climb often. I'm not sure what the breakdown is but I'd guess it was roughly 60% carriage roads vs 40% single track. The course was nearly identical to last year with the exception of an additional climb (go figure) up behind the Great Glen Center and a short section of single track that took some of the speed out of one of the carriage road corners. Oh, and the 'boneyard' or 'plunge' hill near the finish (popular with spectators because of the potential for crashes) was redone with the addition of a million 'stairs' on the steep hill (which made for a jarring ride each lap).
Blueberry Hill
The race itself goes from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. However, we all headed up on Friday and camped at the base of Mt Washington. Chris 'do you know who I am' Dunn was able to get a huge camp area reserved for us right at the base of the auto road. Although I think the effort is somewhat easier than a 24hr running relay (like Reach the Beach), the logistics are harder and the rest is shorter. We had roughly 2 1/2hrs between rides. In that time we had to get back to the campsite, change, clean & fix your bike, eat, change, check your bike and head back to the transition. The 'downtime' definitely wasn't relaxing. However, this year we made a change, actually two changes: we had a camp cook (Nancy Clark) and a camp mechanic (Jay Meyers). Both did a fantastic job keeping 8 hungry, tired, 'I don't want to work on my bike' guys happy.

aR-Black and aR-Grey
Mountain bike racing is weird from a runners perspective. They have a gazillion categories (32 I think), some folks are WAY too serious and most are WAY to into their bikes. Other than that I'd say most are a much nicer version of road bikers. One of the best features of this particular race is the real-time scoring. Each rider carries a RFID card and we scan in and out of each lap. Results are updated in real time throughout the race. So as soon as you finish your lap you can find out have fast you did, and where your team is in the standings. Very cool. This year there were nearly 200 teams, 28 in our class (Mens Sport..whatever that means??). In reality there is only one team though: the other acidotic RACING team. That's what makes this event such a blast. You're out there riding with 400+ riders but you pretty much ignore them all except the rider on the other aR team. Chris attempts to stack the teams, I mean match the teams evenly, each year. After all, we want to race head to head. We want it coming down to the last lap.

This years teams were:
ar-Black (Austin S, Chris D, Ri F, Steve S)
ar-Grey (Ted H, Jay D, Steve W, Brayden D)
Ted near the finish
Near the finish
Although there was some friendly trash talking going on between the teams, I'd say most was between Chris and I (probably started by Chris...as usual). As I wait for Chris to mature as a runner (and catch up), he is clearly a stronger mountain biker, kicking my butt last year. I had two goals this year: beat Chris on as many laps as possible and make sure aR-Grey takes home the acidotic Team Title. In addition to upgrading to a spanky new Trek this year, I've also put in a lot of miles on the trails. I was ready to challenge. As it turned out, Chris would be their 2nd rider and I'd be our 3rd. Therefore, we weren't riding head to head. He'd post a lap time and I'd have to go out and try to beat it.
On lap #1 Chris rides a  52:24 lap. As soon as I finished I check my lap time: 52:21.
On lap #2 Chris rides a 52:42 lap. As soon as I finished I check my lap time: 52:34.
Of course I wasn't rubbing this in his face at all...nope, not me. I was pumped.

My next 2 laps would be ridden back to back and at night. We do this to give everyone a little more downtime at night and hopefully get some sleep. The first lap went well and I felt good. Night rides are always slower (for obvious reasons) and my time was 58:47. My second lap was a disaster. Maybe not that bad but I was bonking badly. I had run out of energy and was literally struggling to stay on my bike. I crashed nearly a dozen times, coming completely off my bike every time but each time I landed on my feet. I guess if you're going to crash, this is the way to do it. I finally made it back in 1:05:56.
Lap 3: Chris 1:00:17 vs my 58:47
Lap 4: Chris 1:07:58 vs my 1:05:56
Coming off Blueberry Hill
Wow, this was going better than I thought (at Chris' expense of course).  Well it wasn't long after that our little fun and games would come to an end. As I was coming into the finish of my 5th lap (58:51) I came across a biker pushing his bike....with no chain. The racer was Chris. I was totally bummed. I think one of (if not the biggest) fear of all riders is getting a mechanical failure. It's one thing to lose on ability or skill or training but nobody wants to lose on a bike failure. The same failure would plague him on his final lap as I passed him again around mile 6. Although rideable, he couldn't really climb well with the chain. I tried to get him to ride with me (mostly down hill at this point) but he clearly wasn't in it anymore. Within a 1/2 mile he was out of site. My last lap went well as I finished up in 54:55. In the end aR-Grey crushed aR-Black, finishing 2 laps ahead. It's not the way we all wanted it to end. I mean, I knew aR-Grey would kick butt but we wanted to compete on ability, not on who had the better running bike.
I had a fantastic time regardless. I was happy with most of my riding (except the climbing..I still stink). The course was rideable and in great shape and I barely had to get off my bike for anything. Can't wait until next year!

Final results:
aR-Grey was 18th in the Sport Class and 40th overall (with 26 laps completed)
aR-Black was 22nd in the Sport Class and 49th overall (with 24 laps completed)

5 comments:

Michael said...

You gotta feel bad for poor Chris. He's well on his way to becoming a card-carrying member of "CBS" - Crushed By Steve. A not-so-exclusive club for which I am a founding member. :)

Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...

Great job Steve. Did you have a chance to talk to Mike O'Connor at the race? His team did really well in the sport division (what's up with all these division anyway). See you at Pinnicle

Steve Wolfe said...

Yeah, we saw Mike several times during the weekend. His team did great.

Douglas said...

Steve,
I'm so envious after reading your post that I'm trying to drum up a team from this area to compete next year. Sounds like a fun challenge, and congrats on your performance and the team's.
- Douglas

Steve Wolfe said...

Douglas, I'd highly recommend it. It's a TON of FUN (although I have yet to ride it in the rain...that would stink). Definitely try it next year!