|30 minutes after my last lap. It's 8 am. No, that isn't a recovery drink. Well, actually, it kinda is...|
It is hard to explain a 24-hour mountain bike race to someone who hasn't done one. Yes, it is hard. No, it is not so hard that lots of people couldn't try it; judging from the wildly divergent array of bikes, people and abilities I passed (and was often passed by) on the course, I'd say anyone with a sense of adventure and a willingness to push themselves can give the format a go. No, you don't have to race the whole 24 hours. Yes, you will likely be up the whole damn time, due to either nerves about having to do a lap, being too wired to fall asleep after doing a lap, or having to prepare/recover for you next lap.
What's it like to do one? Imagine a night drinking in reverse. First is the hangover; which is the time spent racing. After the first lap you feel like crap, you want to puke from giving it too hard, too soon, for too long(binge-drinking anyone?). As you lie on the ground (be it grass or bathroom tiles), trying to hold down the water you just drank, you ask yourself the same question you do after a night drinking so hard you forgot your name, in that time between waking up and the advil kicking in:
"Why didn't I stay the hell home last night? because this, right now, right here, sucks. And not in a good naked way either."
It's just after the race that you start to feel a warm glow. It can be from heat stroke, or from the lack of sleep, or both, but there is no denying that you feel awfully good. It seems like everyone is smiling, and everyone seems a lot friendlier. Of course, that could just be the booze or the exhaustion, but nonetheless, that's how it feels, man.
Like a epic night out, It's the adventures that occur during that time that keep you coming back to a 24 hour. It's the stories told by people you know, people you don't know, and people you hope to know better. It is the experiences that occur, some strange; some funny, and some full of pathos. It is being able to come home and tell tall tales to family, friends and co workers that make it so fun to go to these. Especially when it is coupled with great riding, great teammates, and really crappy music that makes you want to kill the organizers; Everyone needs a focus.
For those who care, Tall Tree sent 2 teams ( a five and four person) and a solo rider to represent at Albion Hills on June 23rd and 24th. Four man was Andy, Marty, Noah and Pete. Five man was Craig, Mark, Steve Grant and Chris. Mike A. rode solo. We placed 2nd, 13th, and 5th, respectively. No bath salts were used in the achieving of these results, nor were any unicorns or snow flurries spotted.