Mountain Bike Race Report - 24hr of Summer Solstice

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.

Views: 296

Comment by Kerri on June 30, 2012 at 7:26pm

Awesome report Jeff - congrats to you and the crew.  You make getting dirty look like SO much fun....and the gleam in your eye and smile on your face today as you were recounting the event basically said it all! 

Comment by DRU on June 30, 2012 at 9:15pm

Hands down, one of the most fun races ever! I had hardly finished my last lap before I was begging to be included on next year's team! The campsite was rad, so close to the track that we were able to tag-team from the site as opposed to hanging out at the finish line... Good times, good times! Thanks for the great report post Jeff!

Comment by qb on June 30, 2012 at 9:38pm
Sounds like a bike race broke out in the midst of a party! Great work to all of you. Did you just keep alternating Laps or did you do a couple before the hand off? Did everyone use suspension or could you get away with a cross bike with some good knobbies
Qb
Comment by DY on July 1, 2012 at 8:49am

Great account Jeff.  Thanks for taking the time!

Dan.

Comment by Jeff N on July 1, 2012 at 12:10pm

qb, their are some who ride rigid frames, 29ers and single speeds, but most ride bikes with suspension. It is  possible with a cross bike fitted with 50mm tires at 40 to 45 psi,  but you would need some practice in the trails , and possible doesn't mean preferable.  The bike suspension smooths out a lot of little bumps so makes it easier to hold a line and maintain bike speed.

Comment by Paul van Dongen on July 3, 2012 at 1:04am

So what's that equation? n + 1 = number of bikes one should have? Think my next one really must be a mountain bike so I can get in to doing this stuff. Looks like fun. Thanks for the run down, Jeff.

Comment by Steve Wolowich on July 3, 2012 at 9:46am

Yes very cool and what looks like alot of fun. Well done to the entire crew.

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