Packing for a 24-hour race is a project in itself. After work on Friday I spent the rest of the day charging batteries, making multiple trips to the grocery store, and digging out my warmer clothes. Hanson Hills is a few hours North of Grand Rapids and temperature predictions for the night were low-50's/high-40's. Good for riding...bad for sitting around. Thanks to the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company we were able to take the shop van...which meant I could be excessive in my packing. I basically brought all of the gear that I own just to be safe :-)
Saturday morning came WAY too early with my alarm buzzing at 4:30 a.m. I finished packing my lights, double checked everything a million times and before I knew it my teammate/favorite travel buddy was sitting in my driveway. It was time to head up North.
|Our van was fully loaded|
By the time we arrived at Hanson Hills recreational area we had exactly 58 minutes to unload our gear, set-up our pit area, register, and get kitted up. Instantly Jill and I voted for Eric to do the first lap and I have to say, not feeling rushed to get to the start line was really great.
|Our home away from home for the next 24-hours|
Eric came through the transition area and then it was my turn. Hanson Hills is a really fun course full of twisty singletrack and a few steep but short climbs. The course is sand based and there were a few really sandy pits out on the course. Those were the most fun because my fat bike just bombed right through like it was nothing. Before I knew it I was already bombing down the very bumpy and sandy downhill into the transition area for Jill to take off.
|Obviously we were undecided on whether to fist bump/slap hands|
Having a few hours between laps was a novelty. It was pleasantly cool out but the sun was beating down on us and I kept getting sleepy. Just when I would reach the point of contemplating taking a nap it would be my turn to go out again.
|Eric working hard!|
|Even though it was still bright out it would be dark in an hour...|
|By the middle of the night we all started to look slightly dazed and confused :-)|
By the middle of the night Jill headed inside to try to get some sleep while I did another night lap. We had been told to watch out for Bears and Porcupines out in the woods and my crazy imagination got even crazier with sleep deprivation. Jill mentioned to me that she would make little "wahoo" noises every now and then to warn off the animals. I thought it was a good idea but for some reason became very indecisive about what noises to actually make...total sleep deprivation. Instead I just stared straight ahead and pedaled as fast as I could. I didn't want to look into the woods...because if something was watching me I would rather not know about it.
In the past when I've raced 24-hour races solo I always had huge fantasies about what it must be like to be on a team. I always envisioned warm cozy beds and lots of sleep. Au contraire my friends...NOT SO MUCH!
In reality, it was like this...
|3 a.m. picnic!|
|5 a.m. selfie...getting ready to ride in the cold, dark woods|
As luck would have it I also had the sunrise lap. This was by far my worst lap...mostly because I was exhausted. And then I started to beat myself up because I was like, "if you get so tired racing on a team how are you going to race solo????" Eventually I stopped being so hard on myself and enjoyed the first rays of sunlight shining through the trees. Although I didn't like it as much as the dusk lap it was still pretty awesome!
Finally came my favorite lap. Brent (the promoter) allowed the 4-person teams to do the last lap together. So Steve, Jill, Eric and I all dressed up in our Metal kits and headed off into the woods to pack down the sand with our fat bikes one more time.
Since Steve didn't have a Metal kit he borrowed one of my Metal jerseys. Also, sweet...Steve and I wear the same size. That's just awesome :-) We can share clothes!
This was an experience I won't forget. From eating seaweed crisps and gummy bears with Jill at 3 a.m., to laughing hysterically for no reason at all, to riding together and having a ton of fun on the last lap and most importantly...taking the overall win on our fat bikes!
I couldn't have asked for better teammates then Jill, Steve and Eric! I definitely plan on racing with these guys again soon.
Epilogue: We finally drove home early afternoon on Sunday. I slept a little bit and then was strangely too tired to sleep Sunday night. Monday I worked and then Tuesday I flew out to Vegas for Interbike. Hence the reason for the late, late, late blog post. I've been trying to stay on top of training, work, getting ready for a few more races and dialing in sponsors for this winter and next summer. Lots of exciting things happening....hopefully I can update soon..really soon!!! I know I'll be posting a few pics tomorrow from a new sponsor that I'm really excited to be partnering with :-)