24 hour racing. There is nothing else quite like it. Actually, in some ways it kind of reminded me of my college days when I was working towards my degree in Architecture. We would stay up all night working on our projects, only instead of drinking a lot of water and eating healthy food, we would drink a lot of beer and eat pizza.
I teamed up with my three of my bro’s from Rassy’s, Squirrel, Chia Chad and Jason, who are all experts. We had a very strong team and anything other than a win in the four man race would be a disappointment.
I caravanned up to Seven Oaks with tPod and we got there about three hours before the start. When we got to the venue, I could tell that this was going to be a good time. The grassy field at the bottom of the ski hill was a tent city. There aren’t too many things cooler than getting a whole shit pot of mountain bikers together for an all night race. I found the Team Rasmussen camp, parked the car and got set up. Team Rasmussen had the coolest set up by far. We had two power generators, a couple of canopies with a ton of lights, super cool people and a lot of great conversation.
We came up with our starting order and a basic plan for how we were going to do the race. Squirrel would be our lead out man, I would go second, Jason went third and Chia was last. During daylight hours, we planned to do one lap rotations. During the night rides we did two lap rotations to allow for extra time to get some sleep. Our plan was simple, we wanted to lead the first lap and build upon that lead throughout the race. About 30 minutes before the start I rode the beginning of the course to check out the new stuff. The trail system at Seven Oaks gets better and better every time I ride it. Troy, Kyle, Ron and everybody else do an incredible job with the trail work and race organization. I look forward to doing any kind of mountain bike race, no matter what the venue is like. But I especially look forward to all of the races at Seven Oaks.
I decided to wait at the top of the initial climb to see how things were going for Squirrel. I heard the gun go off and a few minutes later I could see the first rider, Squirrel, scurrying up the hill. I knew he would be the best man to lead out. I have yet to see another dude that can handle a mountain bike as well as he can. I figured that he would have a pretty easy time getting to the front and staying there through the tight and twisty section that started each lap.
After the last rider struggled through, I rode back down the hill to the transition area to wait for Squirrel. The first rider came down the hill and he was not wearing Rasy colors. The second and third rider came down, they were wearing Rasy colors, but neither of them was Squirrel. I asked one of them what happened and they said that Squirrel had flatted. Shit! He finally came in around eighth place, riding with a rear flat tire, he didn’t even think about walking his bike in. He’s the man!
I took the baton and headed out for my turn. I passed four people before I got to the top of the hill. I passed another two before I got to the bottom. I passed a few more later on and about midway through the first lap, I passed the marathon man himself, Jeff Kerkove. I didn’t see anybody else after him. I got to the transition area and was told that I was the first guy in from the group of second lap riders. So I managed to pass everybody and help our team regain the lead.
I was a little surprised that I was able to catch everyone because I felt like I was riding like a bull in a china shop. It was my first time on my full suspension bike in race conditions and it was a far cry from what I was used to with the feather light Mongoose. My first lap time was somewhere around 31 minutes. My fastest lap time was around 29:30 in the daylight and my fastest night time lap was around 31:30. I was surprised with my night time laps because I had never ridden in the dark before. I suppose that I can mostly attribute that to knowing the course really well with the assistance of Fig Nooners helmet light that he loaned me. I didn’t even need my handlebar lights because the helmet light was so bright. Thanks Nooner.
We managed to hold off the competition and take the win. I’m not sure what the margin of victory was, but it was large enough that we were able to take it easy on our final laps.
My laps were pretty uneventful, a crap load of fun and no crashes. I never had any trouble with lapped traffic, which is very typical of any mountain bike race in Iowa. It is very rare that I ever have trouble getting around lapped traffic in our races. Add to that the words of encouragement that I get when I do pass other riders. I owe a huge thank you to all that allow me to pass quickly and for the words of encouragement as I pass. I don’t always get a chance to say thanks and/or return the kind words, mostly because my heart is jumping out of my throat and obstructing my vocal chords. I’m kind of freaky that way.
I did have one close call however. If, prior to the 24 hours of Seven Oaks, you were not familiar with my friend/bodyguard Chewbacca, you probably are now. He was a part of DQ’s pit crew along with a couple of beautiful women that didn’t spend near enough time at the race. Chewie is not a cyclist, however I think that he gained a newfound appreciation for us greasy mountain bikers. He truly got into the ‘spirit’ of the event and was very ‘active’ throughout the night. Then again, it shouldn’t surprise me because Wookies are known to be creatures of the night. So I’m riding along the trail under the cover of darkness, when all of a sudden I smell the pungent odor of fresh animal feces. I ride a little further and there squats Chewbacca in the middle of the trail unloading a Cleveland steamer (a DQ term). I yelled at him, ‘not on the trail Chewie!’. He let out a howl that echoed across the face of the ski hill and disappeared into the woods. Apparently he was looking for DQ, who had decided to take in a short siesta on the side of the trail. Nature was calling and he answered.
And now it’s time again for a couple of side notes and observations.
Props to DQ for his valiant effort in hanging with Kerkove. I’m sure that he surprised a lot of people with how well he was hanging. The man also knows how to recruit a pit crew. At one point he was lying on the ground in his pit with one hottie feeding him grapes and another massaging his legs. He sort of looked like Attila the Hun in the midst of one of his grand feasts.
If you’re ever hanging around Chewbacca and Fig Nooner and Nooners mouth begins to get on your nerves, I have a solution for you. Simply tell Chewbacca to beat him up. Shortly thereafter Chewie will give chase and you can watch Nooner run away like a little girl. It’s funny watching Nooner run because his man boobs start flopping up and down. If he isn’t careful, someday one of his breasts will flop up, hit him in the face and give himself a black eye. I give Nooner a lot of crap, but he is a good guy and he takes it well. For all of the crap that I give him, he doubles it up on me. Good luck at school dawg.
Thanks to Grandmaster Lou and Jan for hanging out and cheering everybody on. Lou and Jan are a lot of fun to hang out with, especially when Lou tanks so much wine that his lips turn a dark shade of purple.
Next up is the Sycamore/Targhetto Time Trial. I won last year and I will be looking to defend. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.