26 May 2012

24 Hours Round the Clock - day 1/2

It was just a matter of time and here it finally is, my first 24-hour mountain bike race!

Tony Bravetti, Jesse Nofziger, Aaron Griffith and I signed up for the Round and Round 24 Hours Round the Clock (I know, what a mouthful!) and today was the day. The categories were roughly these.

  • Solo
  • 2-person team
  • 4-person team (that would be us)
  • 5-person team
  • 'Corporate' (I guess this is where a bunch of people show, ride one lap and then start drinking)

Yesterday Jesse, Tony and I pre-rode the course and it was a good thing. Having a clue about what is around the corner and how long each climb is really helps. Since the race did not start until noon I had some time to walk around and take pictures. One of the coolest things going was the finishing arch that was getting constructed; people were hanging all sorts of bicycle paraphernalia on a steel frame. Little did I know they were going to light this thing up at night. Flame on!


Just past the transition area was where you rack your bike. Like most 12 and 24-hour events, the start is Le Mans style so all the runners had to put their bikes somewhere that would allow them to grab it at the end of the run. I got there early and positioned my bike in what I thought was a good spot - all the way at the end of the transition zone so I would not be trying to ride through a bunch of runners.


Within no time at all the bike racks looked like this. FULL.


After much stalling and futzing with my bike (I swapped tires and went with my light, fast ones - it was a good call), some wardrobe adjustments and last minute snacking and hydration it was time to line up. Along with 200+ other people! The starter's gun was a cannon. He had this massive revolver and there was no doubt whatsoever when this event got underway.



Before the start my teammates kept joking that I was 'the runner' on our squad but truthfully I didn't mind going first. Sure it's a bit chaotic but it's also kind of fun. I lined up near the front just in case I had a chance of beating some other runners but as usual, my running speed was just slightly above average compared to all the other competitive teams. Oh well. Maybe someday they will have a Le Mans start that lasts 20 miles. Then everyone better watch out. :) It's also the case that some people can run like the f'ing wind for about 500 m but then put them on a bike and they go backwards at almost the same rate. WTF? Luckily none of them fell down right in front of me and I was able to navigate through most of them pronto. Especially since the bike lap started with a hill.

The run was down the start/finish straight where the transition zone was and then left up the first hill you ride while on the bike. At the top we took another left and ran down a side hill to the campground and then did a small dirt road detour back to the transition zone where we grabbed our bikes. Here I am finishing the run and getting on my bike.

Look out, here comes Martin…!

Turns out some guy had planted himself at the top of this first hill and filmed everything.

As soon as I got to the top of the first hill my fears about my gear were realized. I was pedaling faster than I ever have on this bike and people were still blowing past me. Rats. After just one or two miles Michael Brazel passed me and I tried like hell to hang onto his wheel but there was no chance because 1) he's faster than me and 2) his gear was bigger. I got passed by about four more single speed riders and each time I tried to hang to no avail. I also noticed that every single one of them were on a larger gear.

Note to self: I guess one gear is NOT appropriate for every course. Lesson learned.

So this first lap consisted of me pretty much spinning my brains out. It was sort of demoralizing to get passed not just at first but along the ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE LAP. Heck, just last week I was passing geared bikes left and right. What can you do.

I cruised into the finish straight (while getting passed by a couple of more bikes) and handed off our timing chip to Tony. Lap #1 done.

Tony had told me that the average speed of the winning team last year was something like 17 mph but  it just did not register or I didn't believe him or something. Truth be told, I did not know until today just how fast I could go (or couldn't go in this case) on my bike with this gear.

As I made my way back to our camp for refreshments I happened to pass Michael Brazel's camp. After articulating my frustration with my gear he up and offered me a bigger one. THANKS. I switched my chainring from a 34 to a 36. Then I had to add a link of chain so it would reach but rolling around it felt fine and I was psyched for lap #2.

I then proceeded with my transition protocol which pretty much ended up being the same for the entire race.

  • Change out of my damp cycling clothes.
  • Drink my recovery drink (one large bottle w/3 scoops of Perpetuem).
  • Clean and oil my chain, it was DRY and DUSTY out there… big time.
  • Get some solid food.
  • Grab my camera and stroll around taking pictures (while sipping on a big bottle w/1 tablet Nuun and 1 scoop HEED).
  • Maybe head back to the van for some down time, maybe not.
  • Put my damp cycling clothes back on.
  • Roll around for a bit and then head to the transition area and wait 15 minutes or so for our team to show up.
  • Suck down a gel right before I took off again.

Lap #2 felt significantly better, thanks again Michael for the gear. I was still able to ride all the hills and suddenly I was able to pedal the flats as well. On the previous lap I was having to spin/coast/spin/coast/spin/coast. You get the idea. Lap #2 felt better than #1, I was starting to learn the course. I also did not have to spin like a gerbil on an exercise wheel.

The only bummer on lap #2 was that I suffered my one mechanical and got a pinch flat. I changed the tube pretty quick but unfortunately did not put quite enough air in it at first and had to stop again to top it off. That said, I'm really psyched with my time considering I spent about five minutes standing still, my moving time was still really consistent so obviously I did not get flustered.

By the time I started my third lap the rules stated you had to have lights on. This was a requirement as of 8:00 PM I believe. They did not have to necessarily be turned on yet but you had to have them with you. I was borrowing some lights from Justin Angle and of course I never test rode them prior to NOW. Thank goodness they worked. Like a charm actually. I kept them off for half of the lap and then turned them on for the second half. I had a 600 lumen light on my helmet which in retrospect is the minimum I would recommend and a 200 lumen light on my handlebar which was a nice compliment and plenty bright if you had the more powerful light up top. When I finished it was just getting really dark. Tony took off with lights on for sure. Lap #3 done.

After three laps with this bigger gear it still felt good, I got lucky for sure.

Upon completing lap #3 I put on my civvies and noticed that I had to put on pretty much all my clothes as it was getting chilly. The forecast was for 45 tonight! I got some cool shots walking around in the dark. Here is the finish arch that got lit up once the sun set.


Looking at my Garmin files I was really consistent for the first three laps, I guess that's a good thing. I did learn some things and here they are.

  • If you want to do well in the run you need to RUN. I held back (habit from longer runs I guess) but it was just 600 m so I should have gone harder.
  • If you ride a single speed know the course and know what gear to ride.
  • Breathing all that dust sucks! My throat and lungs were paying the price for sure. I joked with someone that after three laps I felt like I had just had a pack of smokes. They laughed and concurred. And I was only half way done.

Here are all the pictures and video.

Sleep zero
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Workout Food on the bike - bottle w/1 tablet Nuun
off the bike - Nuun, HEED, Perpetuem, gel, various solid food
Time of Day lap #1 - 12:00 PM
lap #2 - 4:00 PM
lap #3 - 8:00 PM
Workout Type race
Course 15-mile loop, mostly flat, hard trails. A few short climbs and descents the longest climb was maybe .5 miles.
Equipment Mountain Bike
Clothing bib shorts, sleeveless undershirt, short sleeve jersey, cap, full finer gloves

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