Wednesday, October 10, 2007
24 hr Race
Last weekend, I rode the 24 Hours of Hell in Paradise MTB race on Kualoa Ranch. It was a great event held on private property that's rarely opened to bikers or campers. From what I hear, this is some of the best mountain biking on Oahu. The course was great...it had everything, starting with a steep climb, slipperty downhill and rocky and at times muddy singletrack. The HACC fielded 2 teams, and I rode on the Coed team. Our only goal was to get some good riding in, sans injury. We had no strategy, just rotating through our 5 person teams, each riding a lap. The day basically consisted of 1) Ride, 2) Clean Bike, 3) Change Clothes, 4) Drink beer, 5) Eat, 6) Rest, 7) Drink Coffee, then repeat. For the most part, weather was good, but the rain showers during the day on Saturday made the course difficult late at night. We decided that 2 of us would pull double laps late at night...goal was to make up some time and give the rest of the team a break. Little did I know that the single track was going to turn to mush. I pulled the first of the double lap at 1:45 am...the lap was going fine, just had some mud buildup...not enough to slow me down. Before taking off for the 2nd lap, I decided to clean off some of the mud. The 2nd lap started out well. Legs felt strong as I made it through the climb and downhill as quick as any other lap...then came the singletrack. At this point, it was slick and unrideable. I could barely stay up on the bike, so I decided to run and push the bike. This became difficult...eventually I looked down and noticed that the entire drivetrain, fork, and wheels had large clumps of mud caked on it. Nothing on the bike would turn. Eventually I pulled off enough mud to make the bike rideable. Once I got back on the bike, I noticed a much larger problem...my light was dimming. Looked down on my watch, and saw that I had lost tons of time...I should've been at the end of the lap, but still had a couple miles to go. I was way off my pace, and I miscalculated how much light power I had for the lap. I learned that these halogen lights fade pretty quickly, as it became pitch black in a matter of seconds. So, had to ride with a maglight in one hand for the last couple miles...this was way more challenging that I had expected, as I had to navigate rocky single track with one hand, while I tried to keep the light steady. When I rode the course again in daylight, I was amazed that I made it through that lap without crashing into one of the many large rocks sitting in the middle of the trail.
Thankfully, my next lap was just after sunrise. The course at this hour was much drier, and full of amazing views of the Kaaawa Valley. It's a shame this area isn't open to the public more often.
We exceeded our expectations by taking 2nd in the Men's Team Division and 3rd in the Coed division. In the middle of the night, we learned that both teams were winning...was very shocking to us, since no one had really put in many miles mountain biking. For me, this was my 4th ride this year...and it's been 7 years since I rode on a regular basis.