My ear plugs aren’t working. Can I push them farther in my ear? Will they get stuck? They’ll send me to the ER. I don’t want to ride in an ambulance. Why can’t I fall asleep. I’m tired. I wish they’d turn the music off. Oh no, already! My tent shake wake up call. It’s my turn to ride. Why am I here? I love racing. I can’t believe I signed up for this again. I’m so excited to be here. I’m cold. I am alive. My light isn’t fully charged and it’s my turn to ride a lap. What if it runs out? Can I conserve during the climbs? I can ride in the dark. I really hope I don’t have a flat tire. Should I lube my chain? Eat? Wait, what did I do with my water bottle? Should I wear my jacket? Vest? Both? I run to the transition tent to await my teammate. Gosh it’s crowded in here for 3am. I can’t see. Ooh an empty chair, I think I’ll sit. Where is he? How long has it been? Am I hungry? Should I take off my down jacket? Where is he? Boom! Transition done and quickly. I didn’t even say hi or ask how it went. I’m the worst teammate. Run. Pedal. Breathe. I feel great! I was born to ride a mountain bike. The stars, the sound of my tires on desert sand. The stream of lights ahead of me. I am in heaven. This is why I am here. The energy pushes me forward. Cowbells in the night. What is a 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race? Back in the early 1990s, a man named Laird Knight started Granny Gear, an endurance mountain bike racing production company. The first 24 hour races mimicked the 24 Hours of LeMans car race. The bike races started in the same way– with a run to your bike before going full bore into the first lap. After the LeMans style start, racers ride on a designated course in laps for 24 hours. Teams switch riders each lap inside of a transition tent. Some riders race solo, and others on teams of 2 up to 10 people. Most 24 Hour races begin Saturday noon and end at noon on Sunday. During the 24 hours, racers must ride in the dark, sleep in suboptimal conditions, and despite their exhaustion– perhaps an upset stomach, potential dehydration and minor injuries such as scratches and cactus spines– continue to the finish. The team with the most laps in 24 hours wins. Why Race a 24 Hour Race? You may wonder why anyone would wish to race for 24 hours. I often ask myself this question, and hard, as I am driving to the venue. It’s fun in a twisted way. But it is fun. You make new friends, build camaraderie with not only your team but other riders, you get to see amazing scenery and you can say you raced a mountain bike for 24 hours. It’s a fantastic outdoor experience. While some take the race seriously, the rest are simply out to have a good time mountain biking. There are 24 Hour National Championships, but these are sparsely attended compared to the unsanctioned 24 Hour races– because most people who go to 24 Hour Races do it for the experience. A 24 Hour Race is an event you will never forget. The 10 Steps to Becoming Addicted to 24 Hour Mountain Bike Racing 1. Find a race. I recommend 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo in Arizona, produced by Epic Rides. However, there are 24 Hour Races all over the World. 2. Choose a category. Will you ride solo? Duo? 4 person or 5? Solo means you and only you will ride for 24 hours. Duo is 2 person. Duo is the most competitive class. 4 person teams can be casual, but the most casual team is the 5 person. While the top teams are gunning for the win, most 5 person teams are relaxed and fun. 3. Set the tone for your team. If you want to win, make that clear. If you want to have a beer between laps, make that clear (if you are age, of course). 4. Pick your team. With mission statement in hand, choose the team that will help you reach your goal of winning or drinking more beer. Your team will also run more smoothly if you have a few extra hands on hand. A chef, a soigneur, a mechanic, your own rock band playing your theme song. 5. Train. Train as you would for a cross country race. You need to have speed. The laps are typically fairly short, and at times around one hour. You need to train for that one hour effort (check lap times of the chosen race to determine how long you will be on the bike for a lap). In order to get the repeatability, I like to do a week or two of two-a-days. If you have questions or need a plan, I am a coach and I can help. 6. Dial in your lighting. Find a good light. Then have a secondary light. Then have a back up light. As well you will need an emergency light. I’ve been racing 24 Hour Races for over 10 years, and I have almost always had a light failure, or at least had to help someone else who had a light failure. I’ve been using NiteRider since I’ve had my first light. I like to run dual lights. One on the handlebar and one on my helmet. My back up and emergency lights stay in my back pockets. 7. Ride at night. Riding at night is not difficult, it’s just easier in a race if you’ve practiced. Practice riding with your exact lighting set up, and practice riding on dim settings so you know what it will be like if you need to conserve. Night riding is fun! Beware of freakouts when riding at night alone. It happens. 8. Set up camp. Arrive at race venue early. Fridays are the best days so you can choose the optimal spot for sleeping, close enough to the exchange tent and in a good position to leave on Sunday. In that order. 9. Pre-ride course. For serious racers, you need to ride at race pace so you know the course. For the casual riders, ride the course so you know it. Know where you can pass and will be passed and be aware of alternate lines. Remember, there will be a high volume of riders on the trails, so knowing the trail is the best way to avoid bad situations. 10. Race Day! Relax, focus, have fun! Now you know how to get into 24 Hour Mountain Bike Racing. We’ll have more tips and reports from the 2014 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo over the next few weeks, so stay tuned to mtbchick.com! I will be racing for Skratch Labs Bacon Power team! (See here for the 2013 24 HOP) ~namaste mtbchick
We’re heading to the mountains for Thanksgiving this year– with a Camp Chef stove, boxes of fresh food from the local farmer’s markets, mountain bikes, tents, bouldering gear and friends.
We hope you enjoy your family and friends and have time to reflect on all that is good in your life. Make this a memorable holiday!
We’d like to share a film with you. Worn Wear, from our friends at Patagonia, is a montage of stories about articles of Patagonia clothing worn for 10-20 years or longer and passed from generation to generation. It’s a beautiful story about sharing, using things until they are completely worn out, fixing them, and wearing them more. This is a great time of year to consider sustainability, and be mindful of your shopping and the gifts your buy for others. Give all of your gifts the sustainability check– is this an heirloom piece?
Enjoy your feast, and we’ll see you tomorrow!
I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to ride with the Skratch Labs team at the 2013 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. The people who make up Skratch Labs are an amazing and like-minded group of people. I enjoyed every moment of the weekend. Even the drama.
A 24 hour race is rarely chaos-free. And this was no different.
Our race started as any team would wish, sitting nicely in first place after Jason Donald burned a super hot lap, coming in first after the LeMans style start run, and 2 nd or 3rd overall for the entire first lap.
Mechanicals ensued. Aaron’s crank arm broke in half and ejected from his foot leaving him without a pedal to stand on. Marisa crashed. Alex couldn’t repair Aaron’s crank (a carbon Specialized crank– not compatible with standard cranks/BBs). Aaron flatted on his replacement bike. It seemed as if we were doomed. Jay kept up the cooking. We started in first, fell to 12th and landed in 6th afterall. It was an epic race, and I, since using exclusively Skratch and real food, has zero cramps the entire race.
From the Pueblo, my partner, Alex, and I headed to Lee Vining to do a bit of ice climbing. It was an incredible drive across the vast open spaces of the West. I never tire of the vistas, the expanses, the solitude of the desert.
Please enjoy a small gallery of photos.
2013 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo Skratch Labs Team/Team Bacon Power:
In the middle of nowhere lies an epic playground for the soulful mountain biker. Said nowhere happens to be in central British Columbia, Canada, far from the teeming cosmopolitan masses of Vancouver and safety-gear-clad lift served masses of Whistler. This playground is known as the South Chilcotin Mountains, and is accessible only by foot, hoof, 26″ (or 29″) tire– or float plane.
Crystalline lakes dot the region and act as a runway for Tyax Air. Mountain bikers can easily get away for a few days by hopping on one of Tyax Air’s float planes. With Big Mountain Adentures , adventurers can ride Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish in addition to the South Chilcotins.
My 2010 adventures in the Chilcotins still rank as the best trip of all time, and as I reminisce, I share a few photos from Sterling Lorence.
Over the past several years, we have seen the National mountain bike scene move from beautiful mountain
resorts to small and possibly obscure towns. What used to be held in Big Bear at Snow Summit resort in Southern California– the first race of the NORBA National Mountain Bike Race Series– is now at Bonelli Park in San Dimas and is the Pro season opener. And to add a healthy amount of confusion to the idea of National mountain bike race series, this particular race at Bonelli Park is a part of the Pro XCT Tour from USA Cycling, the US Cup Pro Triple Crown series (ad isn’t the US Cup it’s own mountain bike race series?), Team Big Bear Series and the Kenda Cup West. There may be another series, however we’re unaware at this time. For the most part, the Pros race for the Pro XCT Tour and the Triple Crown, and everyone else can participate in the California series and the Kenda Cup West.
Welcome to San Dimas, California! You may know of San Dimas from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Beyond that, a cyclist needs to know where to find food. And perhaps where to go for fun, but really, where to find good food.
One important ting beyond food is of course a bike shop that can provide those last minute items such as CO2 cartridges, race nutrition, the gloves you left behind, and a derailleur hanger to replace the one bent from the plane ride to ONT. The best bike shop in town, and right next door is Incycle Bicycles. Incycle San Dimas (there are 4 locations) is right next to Bonelli Park on Arrow Highway and Bonita. Refer to the map below.
San Dimas is also a Route 66 town. Motels and googie signs still sprinkle the landscape, although you’re more likely to see a Starbucks or McDonald’s than an old diner– The Golden Spur excepted (it’s technically in Glendora, though).
You’ll be traveling to the San Gabriel Valley, and therein can find amazing food, great rides and a few fun landmarks along the way.
Frank G. Bonelli Park offers myriad activities for the family. From horseback riding to fishing, if your support staff needs to do something while you are pre riding the course, they can even hit a few holes on the Mountain Meadows Golf Course. Need to relax after the race, or settle the legs after a hard pre-ride? hit the Hot Tubs at at Puddingstone Resort!
A fun stop for movie buffs is the modernist church from the final scene of The Graduate. Remember Dustin Hoffman pressing his face against the glass screaming “Elaine!”– the original Wedding Crasher!
A stroll down Bonita Avenue at San Dimas Avenue will present you with gift shops, small cafes and antique stores. The street is reminiscent of the original cowboy days of San Dimas, with brick walkways and old style building facades. This is also the scene of the criterium of the San Dimas Stage Race, which attracts the top talent from across the Nation.
Stay tuned all week for more information about where to eat, shop and relax during your stay in Southern California.