N24HC Race Report
Hi again all! I’m back with another race report. This time my crazy friends dragged me to the National 24 Hour Challenge in Middleville, Michigan. This is a 24 hour bike race, draft legal, consisting of 3 loops. You start off with one 120 mile loop, then proceed to a 24 mile loop. You ride the 24 mile loop until dark, and then commence the never ending string of 7.6 mile loops.
This is the first year I decided to race my bike over 6 hours. I am very pleased to have tried it out. I say that now, because after a week of rest and recovery, i.e. a 50 mile run on Saturday, I can now enjoy what I have done. My friends Laurie and Zack, were the ones who twisted my arm and made me sign up for this 24 hour challenge.
A quick thank you to my family and friends who crewed for me. Every break I took, they were like a nascar pit crew filled with energy and motivation. I would stop, someone would grab my bike, the others would fill my bottles, and keep me going. You all are so very awesome! Thank you Renee, Ma, Angie, Maggie, and Angela.
Ok, now for the actual ride report. Boy oh boy was it friggen hot. I believe the temperature got up to 91 or 92 degrees. I love the heat, but not while I am racing… The beginning of the race started out as one huge pack of riders. I rode somewhere in the middle of the pack getting passed by much more experienced pack riders. To be honest, I don’t like drafting in big groups. As an Ironman triathlete, I am much more comfortable by myself in time trial mode, but I knew I did not have the experience the other riders did, so I should save as much energy as possible.
Finally about 40 to 50 miles into the day I decided I had enough and would help pull the peloton. I made the move to the front where Damon had been and not too many back was Jessop, the soon to be record holder. Damon, Jessop, and myself shared pulls for the last 60 miles of the first loop. We had quickly dropped the large peloton somewhere around mile 50 or 60, I believe.
Damon, who was pulling super strong, stayed with Jessop and I through the first 24 mile loop. Once again we were each taking equal pulls and all were hurting because of the demon ball of fire in the sky. Struggling to stay properly hydrated, we all decided that we would stop every loop for a quick nutrition refill and then move on. After super strong pulls on the first 24 mile loop, Damon had some hydration errors, which caused him to wave Jessop and myself on. Damon stayed back to get things under control.
Now, with just 145 miles or so under our belts, it was just Jessop and myself working together. I never met Jessop before this day, but I could tell he was a phenomenal rider. My experience in ultra cycling was limited to 12 hours and I had no idea what to expect riding through the night. Well, it turned out I would be drinking Redbull and occasionally slapping myself in the face.
Jessop, 2 years younger than me, had done this race last year and did exceptionally. Little did I know, I would continue to ride with him for the next 16 hours or so. My crazy goal I set for myself was over 500, with no real expectations. Jessop, on the other hand had calculated that we were on pace to break the record. I was stunned that it could actually happen.
After another 5 loops on the 24 mile loop, it was time to turn in our day cards and start the 7.6 mile night loop. My friend and crew member Maggie, had let me know that I would need about 30 loops or so to reach 500, I laughed, and she assured me it was doable.
Into the night we rode and I couldn’t have been happier once the ball of death disappeared into the ground. The moon was up and it was a beautiful night. I was finally able to cool down enough to eat solid food. I had been using nothing but Carbo Pro and Cliff Gu’s the entire day. I scoffed down an Uncrustable and a few pretzel sticks. I felt phenomenal! After a few hours the night started getting to me. I kept head nodding and my eyelids felt heavier. Jessop had formed a plan that we would stop and refuel every 3 laps. This soon turned to every 4 laps to keep us in line to set the record.
The plan was working and our pattern of pulling and drafting became second nature. Somewhere around 6 am, with the sun just starting to peak, I began to get really tired. With about a mile and a half to go in the loop, there is a large downhill with a 90 degree turn at the bottom. It was a chance to gain some ground and rest up a bit. I was following Jessop at this time, starring at the red light on his bike and making sure I was close enough to get a proper draft, I closed my eyes. Next thing I know, I opened my eyes to see Jessop had already made the turn and I was going straight. I corrected and took a wide turn, peddled hard to stay on his wheel and knew I would have to stop. This was not our scheduled stop time and I knew he was strong.
When we came into the crew area, I had to make a difficult call. I had to stop, and felt that if Jessop stopped with me he might not get the record. I stopped to refuel, drink a Redbull, and wake up a bit. At that time I told Jessop to keep riding and he was sure to get it. Jessop reluctantly took off on his own. After waking up a bit, now on my own, I continued down the start chute. I felt refreshened and had no idea what my milage would be. I was sore for sure, but felt good around the 20 mph pace I was holding.
I finished 509 miles with 15 minutes left on the clock. I knew that riding 7.6 miles in 15 minutes was going to be more than I could handle, and with no partial loops recorded, I knew I was finished. I got off my bike ate a quick snack and waited for Jessop to come through the finish. I heard he had started the lap about 5 minutes prior to me finishing and he said he felt strong. He finished his last loop giving him 516 miles with 3 minutes to spare! What an awesome sight and feeling it was. Jessop and I worked together relentlessly, wanting to slow down so many times, but now it was all over. We were both done and filled with pain and joy. I was super excited that I was a part of Jessop taking the overall milage record!
Sorry for the lengthy story, but it was a long ride, lol. Hope you enjoyed my version of what happened that day/night. It had been a long race, so my story is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate ;). Have a great day and Happy Biking All!
Bike Happy Bro!