Thursday, May 18, 2006

Appeal of 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race Revealed

One Rider's Report on 24 Hours of Adrenalin

I had never been interested in racing or even attending a 24-hour mountain bike race — until this year. In fact, for the past few summers, when friends formed relay teams or planned to compete as solo riders in these events, I was baffled. Why they would be attracted to non-stop cycling, day and night? What was the appeal? I thought only of sleep deprivation and the danger of biking dark trails.

Recently, I discovered the unique appeal of endurance mountain bike racing when I joined a 5-woman relay race at the 24 Hours of Adrenalin, May 13-14, at Laguna Seca in Monterey. I had never intended to race at this event, even though my boyfriend, Norman Field, of Team Santa Cruz, was returning for his third year in a row, this time to compete as a member of a local team called Dirty 5-Way Superstars.

But fate works in strange ways: Two nights before the race, my bicycling friend, Winona Hubbard, of Team Santa Cruz, called and told me that she had a last-minute opening on her team and would I please consider racing with her? When she promised me that the emphasis was on fun and that there was no pressure to try and win, I was tempted. When she added that we would all be wearing fun costumes at the race, I shocked myself by saying YES. That's how I became the fifth member of the Go Go Go Girls Team.

On Saturday morning, an hour before 10 a.m. race start, I found the colorful campsite of Winona and her husband Alex, also of Team Santa Cruz, who was racing in a two-man relay with his brother, David. I met the other Go Go Go Girls: Henrietta from Pacific Grove, Renee from Auburn and Michiko from Berkeley. Amazingly, Team Captain Winona had pulled our group together from online bulletin board postings and from acquaintances she had made at other races. We were meeting each other for the first time to do the race!

By Sunday morning, after riding 40 tough, hilly miles, I was quite tired after only 90 minutes of sleep during the past 24 hours. But I was also happy that I had finished 4 laps - far more than I imagined I could do! I discovered that the real joy of the event was the teamwork. While I won't say I was joyous at 3 a.m. after doing my first night ride ever, I did find that riding in the dark, guided only by moonlight and the light mounted on my handlebars was more fun that I had expected. As our team members handed off the baton to each other, lap after lap, hour after hour, we built a camaraderie and cheered for each other. We rode hard and pushed ourselves to go fast, but we kept it fun by wearing costumes and staying positive no matter what the time was on the official race clock.

We were very proud to ride to a third place finish in the 5-Woman Relay Division! It was also a special treat to share the awards ceremony stage on Sunday with other talented Santa Cruz athletes including Norman's Team of Dirty 5-Way Superstars, (Cory and John Caletti, Dan O'Connor and James Borgman) who placed second in the 5-person co-ed relay team, after John Brown's Family Cycling Center team captured first place in that division. I certainly enjoyed our moment on the podium at the awards ceremony, but the real prize was making new cycling friends and the profound satisfaction of taking a risk to say yes to a new bicycling adventure!

For photos visit:

For race results: