24 hour mountain bike race
July 28-29, 2018
Nine Mile Forest in Wausau WI
"Why aim small?" That has been my motto the last few years, now that time has freed up
(son off to college).
Marji Gesick 100, Dirty Kanza 200, Bear 100, Dairy Roubiax, Applecreek 50k trail run,
Sole Burner 5k walk/run...nevermind the last one, are all events I competed in in the last couple of years.
This year I was "on the fence" about entering a 24 hour solo mountain bike race. I've ridden over 14 hours a couple of times last year but was still intimidated. When I found out the race director of the Marji Gesick (widely considered the hardest one day race in the United States) entered, that was it! I'm in!
Let's say I am inspired by his attitude and blog
I drove up the morning of the race, set up camp, and realized I was NOT at my solo racer reserved site.
Quickly, I tore everything apart, stuffed it in my car, and drove a couple of hundred yards to Site #9.
Frantically, I set everything back up with about 30 minutes to start.
Saturday, 10 am.: The gun, or whistle, or whatever, went off and I slow jogged the 1/4 mile to my bike.
For the next 8 hours I rode steady but casual, never feeling out of breath, or the burn in my legs.
About 6:00 pm my support person Brian told me I was in 3rd place (out of 11).
Within the next couple of laps I must have passed third place (there is no way to differentiate from the relay people).
Now in second I pedaled into the night still feeling fresh.
About midnight I had enough of energy bars and started drinking Coke and eating the pizza and maple syrup sent over by teammate Todd Mertz.
Around 2 am I started dabbling in the caffiene pills, to stay awake...which turned out to be the biggest challenge.
My legs were fine, my wrists were a little sore, and contact areas were chafe free (thanks to Assos chamois cream.)
Most my stops were less than 6 minutes.
A few successful tips and observations:
- Pay for the a solo camp spot on the course, and share it with your friends and teamates. It is just a place to keep your stuff, not sleep...you came to race 24 hours, not sleep, correct?
Anyways seeing them and their friends and family every lap or so lifts your enthusiasm, not to mention they may offer warm food.
- Go ahead and eat alot starting a couple days prior to race start. The couple of pounds you gain won't matter, but the topped off glycogen (energy) will.
- Core training is vital! For about a decade I have used the excercises found in this article:
My only variation is do two sets of push-ups. Do some pulling actions with your arms, upright rows, and dips (triceps). I also do two sets (about 8-10 reps) of stiff legged deadlifts.
When done, follow up with some core stretches. These work for me:
Do these prior, and if necessary, during your race.
- Ride efficiently. Use your singletrack riding skills to shorten your lap times. Avoid unnecessary braking.
- On the smooth doubletrack ride no-handed and shake the fatigue out of your wrists.
- Late at night, you will only notice your lack of sleep if you stop. I felt fully awake when riding.
- Caffeine is good. Fatigue from lack of sleep may cause a crash...bad.
- After 12 to 14 hours you may as well switch to regular food like pizza, eggs, and bacon.
Energy bars become inedible after a while. You are not riding "full gas" so digestion should not be a problem.
Always carry a gel (like Gu Roctane) with BCCA's. I still had one every lap.
- Assos chamois cream...apply every three hours.
- Use a full suspension 29er with a larger tire like 2.35". Inflate 2 PSI less then normal.
- Bar ends are not a crime! I like the Ergon GP3 grips.
A few lessons learned, for next time, include:
- Obtain your competition's race numbers, memorize or write them on tape and attach to your bike.
There may not be a way to differentiate solo from relay people. I never knew if I was passed or was being passed by a solo competiter.
- raising my stem slightly may have helped reduce wrist fatigue.
Solo Camp on the course is a must!
Various friends and teamates dropped off coolers and food.
I was eager to experiance the night laps and later more eager to experience the sunrise.
"Checkpoint Charlie" was about a third the way into the 13 mile lap. It was a "rest area" with water and music. I never stopped once. It was a race afterall.
Not me, but a cool image that captured the essense of nightime racing.
When riding for 24 hours comfort is priority. I opted for:
- soft suspension settings
- 2 lesser psi in my 2.35" tires
- loose fitting jersey
- well padded bibs
Lesson for next time: Flip stem for a more upright position (less weight on my wrists).
The finish! 24 hours and 12 minutes later it was over. It was strange to lose and entire day on a bicycle,
but also pretty "far out".
My goal was to do 16 laps (that won last year) and average 1:24 a lap. Also NO SISSY LAPS! No naps or laps over 2 hours. Also, never give up on chasing the leader. Goal acccomplished. I think I could have rode 4 to 5 minutes a lap quicker.
No letting up! Even though I could have sat in camp the last four hours and still get 2nd, that was not my objective.
I wanted to test my limits and make the winner earn it.
Awards! I scored a couple of tires and two chains. Good stuff.
Will I do this again 2019? It is doubtfull as I am already joining Jon Lester in "The Crusher" a
225 mile "enhanced" gravel race crushergravel.com/,
followed by the "Marji Gesick Out and Back" mountain bike race (This non-advertised version involves starting at the finish of the already sick 100 mile race, riding the course in reverse to the start, running 1/2 mile, then riding to finish. marjigesick100.com/
- Jabitz out