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Downtown Temple,NH

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

24 Hours of Great Glen (Rain Edition)

This would be my 4th year doing 24HOGG, which is essentially the mountain bike version of Reach the Beach but logistically a bit more challenging. The work is harder but the down time is more enjoyable. In each of the previous three years, the weather over the 3-day weekend has been near perfect. The key being zero rain. The first year there was some serious mud in sections but trail improvements over the years had pretty much eliminated most of the junk stuff. Over the last 2 years I'd say the course has been nearly 100% ridable for a decent novice rider (aka me). The one thing I've said at the end of the race (every year) was if it ever rained this race would blow.
Oh did it blow.

Camp Wolfe

Of course just 'rain' would have been a blessing. What we got on Friday and Saturday was some of the hardest sustained rain I've ever seen. Flash flooding rain. I did manage to get my tent setup within seconds of the first downpour and surprisingly my stuff managed to stay dry all weekend (thanks to a water proof tent, screen room setup over my tent and two 10ft tarps over my screen room).
 A group of us headed out late Friday afternoon to pre-ride the approximately 9 mile course during a break in the rain. The course would be a mix of carriage roads (~60%) and single track trails (~30%) and grass fields (~10%). We were only a couple of miles in when the skies opened up again and it pretty much poured the rest of the ride. The trails went from bad to awful fairly quickly. Very muddy, lots of standing water and extremely slick (and these would be the best conditions all weekend).

My teammates this year would be Brayden Dunn, Kevin Tilton and Scott Mason. Kevin and Scott would be first time 24HOGGers (maybe last time after this weekend). I would lead off with the le mans start (approximately 1/2 run around the pond) before heading out on the bike. A few of us decided to start in the back, run easy and not get caught up in the bottleneck that happens on Blueberry Hill less than a 1/2 mile into the race. I should say we did not want to be the bottleneck. I guess we didn't think about all the other folks willing to step up and take this job from us. Sure enough, no sooner did we mount our bikes and we were all riding a conga line up Blueberry Hill (slowly). A little patience and eventually it opened up and crowded trails would become a non issue.
Heading up Blueberry Hill
Although the rain would hold off (mostly) for the next 24 hours, the presence of hundreds of mountain bikers riding lap after lap for 24 hours did unbelievable damage to the single track sections. By my second lap, most of the single track would be practically unridable. The course became 5 miles of speedy carriage roads mixed in with 3 miles of pushing a 26lb mountain bike through the mud. Serious mud. Fun was done.
Finishing Lap 1
Riding back to back laps at night (to give folks more time to rest) was a painfully long experience. Riding at night, with fog, light rain, slick trails and miles of mud really takes all the fun out things (really?). To top it off I flatted coming down a steep technical muddy section (at night of course) and had to fix a flat with my bike mostly submerged in mud. With all the mud that was inside my tire after I installed the tube, it's amazing I even made it back to the start/finish line. Joy. After a little midnight maintenance, I was off to bed for some much needed sleep.

I wouldn't ride again to nearly 7am, mostly due to my teammates having as much fun as me while riding at night (thanks guys, appreciated the sleep!). My 5th lap would be my last, and surprisingly would be one of my best. Some early morning trail work had removed several inches of mud from a few sections and actually made the course a bit more ridable. I probably rode 95% of the last lap and actually had some fun. Not enough fun to ride another lap but fun still the same.
Last Lap

24 hours of hike-a-bike wasn't really what I was hoping for but now I know what it's like when it rains. For the record, I was right.

Thanks to Gianna Lindsey for most of the pics.
Next up: Hampshire 100 this Sunday (100k mountain bike race).

1 comment:

Scotty "PHAT" Graham said...

Wow sounds hard. How is logistics tougher than RTB? In RTB you have 200+ miles of driving and eating sleeping on the run. Everything is in one place at 24hogg.