This was the 15th running of the biggest 24hr mountain bike event in North America. Organized by Chico and held at Albion Hills Conservation Area, just north of Bolton.
As it happens a work friend and I have done all 15 of them. The race is a relay format going from Saturday at 12pm and last lap starts before 12pm Sunday and across the finish before 1pm Sunday.
The course was approximately a 17 km of loop, about 1/3 double track, 1/3 open single track and 1/3 tight single track. Terrain is rolling with a some medium climbs, but lots of short steeps.
Oh ya, we ride thru the night, that means dark, in the woods, without street lights. I don’t have the latest 1500 lumen light set, so with my meager 400lumens, 200 on the bar, 200 on the helmet I get a spot in front of the bike say 10ft dia at 20 ft from the bar light and the same in the direction I look from the helmet. Everything outside that tunnel of light is dark. The trail unfolds as you ride, so if you want to go fast you need to pay attention and anticipate the terrain. A red blinky on the back to let the people behind know you are there and to have something to follow. Awesome to see a line of these red lights ahead, twisting along the trail. Amazing how the LED lights are getting so good. In the past we used the lead acid batteries with halogen bulbs we would get 150 lumens (15 watt bulb) and maybe get 1.5 hrs on a charge. There were lots of laps where my batteries ran out. Now loads of light, great battery life and lap times are almost a fast as day laps.
Team configurations vary from Solo, and Tag Team, 5 person age group to 10 person corporate. I think there were 300 teams and more than 2500 competitors. This year we were a 5 person team that included 3 BCC members – Dru, Alex S, and me, others were Chris and David. Teams are given a timing chip and one person per team is on the course at a time. Teams with the most laps in the shortest time win. Range of riders is from superfit champions to casual riders out for fun. Super fit 42 minute laps, very fit 53 minutes (read Alex S), fast (me and Dru) 1 hour, to the not so fit 2 hrs.
During the time between laps, we hang out at the campsite to recover enough and be ready for the next lap, make and eat some food, and tell stories about how many people we passed, the narrow misses, being in the zone and flying thru the single track, how tough or easy that lap was, how big the tree was, how the fastest riders seem to go by and disappear up the trail in seconds….
Couldn’t really ask for nicer weather, warm with supper low humidity and cooled of a night. The organizers set a great track. As expected it gets a little rough with all the traffic, (like Queen'sQuay), thank Heaven's for suspension.
For entertainment, a mud pond is set for the last laps with the crowd egging the riders to make the attempt, this year Chris was the last rider and took the dare with predictable outcome.
We had a great bunch, had a goal to get in 4 laps each for 20 total, ride fast, and have fun, which we did.