Lessons from My First 24-hour Bike Race
This entry was posted on November 17, 2015.
In all my years of bike racing, I have never made it a priority to race a 24-hour event. Whether it was the lack of friends or the dislike of not getting sleep, I have just avoided this racing format. Or maybe I was just never given the ideal opportunity to jump in. I recently got this opportunity for a race I had been interested in for a few years now.
I have always loved a good night ride. During the summer heat or during the winter when that sun goes down way too early, I find myself looking to ride in the dark. I have slowly compiled a killer set of lights and have built up my immunity to the scary sounds of the dark.
I was asked by a good friend to join his 25-hour team. Yes 25 hours. It’s supposed to run on the time change weekend and give you another hour or racing. This year, 25 Hours in Frog Hollow was a week after the time to change to avoid Halloween schedule interference, but they still ran the full 25 hours. I got down a day early in my RV (I am always looking for a reason to get my motorhome out, and this is the perfect occasion).
So here is what I learned from my first 24 hour race, along with some tips to help if you’re thinking about doing one:
1. Share the expectations of your team. If everyone is there for a good time, plan on having a good time. If everyone wants to go for the win, make sure you are doing everything you can to help the team.
2. Communication is key. I actually think a nice white board would have been great to have around to know when the last rider went out and their ETA. I found myself asking the previous rider more than once about when I might be heading out on my next lap. Setting up camp together is also a big deal; stay close together.
3. Bring lots of lights and a way to charge them. We had a generator going to keep lights charged. Most events will have a neutral charging station so you can recharge lights if the need arises during the night. I was able to get a couple laps in without having to charge my lights. And trust me, more lumens is always better. Going from 250 to 2000 lumens is a game changer on the descents and technical areas of the course.
4. Bring some good shelter. Whether it’s an RV, a tent or an empty horse trailer, have a spot to get out of the elements and get warm. Plan on a fire with firewood or a propane setup.
5. Pre-ride the course if you can. This helps with any race. I tried a lap the night before and ended up getting lost, so I took my first day lap to get the course dialed.
6. Expect to ride slower in the dark. Even with a zillion lumens you are still going to be slower in the dark. Expect it and plan for it when getting ready for your next lap.
7. Stay warm. Bring all of your cycling clothing. It can get really cold at night (especially here in the Utah desert), and you never know when a wind or rain storm might move in.
8. Have fun. Make some for goals each lap to keep yourself going.
After doing my first 24-hour race, I am ready for more. It was a lot of fun and definitely tested my abilities and pushed me to my limits. I would recommend signing up for one if you have been on the fence.