Mountain bikes. A strange breed of bicycle that I’m not too familiar with. They’ve got more in common with my motorcycle, with their fancy suspension and straight bars, than with my Salsa Casseroll or Surly Long Haul Trucker . Yet somehow I’ve ended up on Topanga Creek Bicycles 5 Man team and we’re going to race these contraptions for 24 hours! How do I get myself into these things?
I’d never raced a bike before, or anything for that matter. Oh, and we’re going to race on a lap that’s mostly singletrack. Yeah, never really done that before either. Saturday seemed like a good time to start though, and at 12pm sharp, we did. Somehow I ended up on the faster team, but I was clearly the anchor. And by anchor I mean dead weight.
I didn’t have much fun on my first lap, and was cursing the course, bike, sand, ruts and anything else I could see. I told myself that I wasn’t going to do it anymore, and then I rode 3 more times. 2 times in the dark. The dark was actually more fun I thought. With enough light you could see ok, and everyone’s pace mellowed out a bit. I was even able to catch and pass some people in the dark. That was a confidence booster for sure. My times didn’t change that much, but I rode the course better with each lap.
Yeah, I had to walk a lot of the course too. Some of the course was just too challenging for me. I wasn’t the only one walking, but I still would’ve preferred to ride it all. In time I’ll get better I’m sure. I kept thinking back to how much I struggled on my first metric century, and realizing that now I’m capable of riding a 400k. I didn’t get there overnight, although apparently riding all through the night does help.
Our team managed 5th place overall and I ended up having a great time. I know it sounds crazy, but I think the 24 hour solo category is more my speed. The lap times were slightly lower and endurance was the key, not sheer power. Wait a minute. Did I just say that I want to ride a bike in the mountains all alone for 24 hours? I think I did. What is wrong with me?