I’m a lot of things, like incredibly good looking, massively witty and a guaranteed laugh, but admittedly, I’m no endurance mountain bike racer. I have contemplated it and 2012 even held my first 50 miler, 100 miler, and stage race. I almost carelessly slapped my name down on the registration of 24 Hrs of Colorado Springs, the 24 Hour National Championships. Almost, but after six consecutive days of gut wrenching racing at the burly Breck Epic I decided I had met my crazy quota for the year and would save a few first-times for next year.
That left me available to crew for teammates and see what this 24-hour racing business was all about. Bad decision, as I may never race one now. Ever. Haphazard has always been my approach, not calculated and knowledgeable. This event is packed with precision and even complex math.
As I saw it, 24-hour racers are the dragon and giant slayers of the mountain biking kingdom. Let’s be honest, I’m probably more of a girl-squire. Not so much a knight.
There’s probably a geeky statistics student who has the calculations for how few people race bikes as compared to the general population. Then there’s the number within the number, it’s tiny, of people who race their bike for 24 consecutive hours. Completely on purpose.
How 24 Hour Mountain Bike Racing is an Art of Medieval War:
-The handy pop-up team tent with sponsors’ logos on it is actually designed specifically for the roughage of battle. It bears your colors and is ready to pack up when the army marches. It holds maps and strategies for battle and houses the servants.
-The crew is the racer’s servants. They sharpen swords and polish shields. There’s a blacksmith to shoe the war horse and a maiden to rub racer-soldier’s feet.
-There’s a great stink of blood, sweat, and dirt. It roars through the night and heightens in the wee hours of dawn as racer-soldiers continue to trample past.
-The most heroic knights become the stuff of legend. Ravens from singletrack.com fly to far off kingdoms to announce their defeat in battle.
-Many say Sir Cameron Chambers could slay a dragon with one swift swing of his battling ax.
-The greatest warriors are stone-faced and furious. They hardly eat. They live on the desire to slaughter and conquer. They don’t sleep. They only ride and ride and ride and ride.
-When the racer-warriors do eat, they ravenously inhale any food or drink in sight.
-The racer-soldiers only stop briefly to change swords and mounts.
-Legend has it Lady Jari Kirkland makes flawless, unwavering and valiant charges into battle all day, all night conquering everyone in her path.
- Team-armys crack helmets and toast to victory as they masterfully crush dragons lap after lap.
After watching a 24 Hour Nationals from start to finish, minus the couple of times I tried to sleep stark-upright in a camping chair, I believe 24 hour racing is the modern form of Medieval battle. I witnessed a sophisticated IT guru frying bacon on a propane heater. I saw the blood of fresh wounds and the scars of previous battles. I saw the faces of young warriors as they chased the older ones. I saw children eating dirt and parents letting them. I saw victory and defeat. And all I can say is if people think ultra-endurance mountain bike racers are a rare breed, there is nothing farther from the truth.
Ultra-mountain bike racers protect the realm.
Musick started mountain biking in denim shorts one New Mexican summer a decade ago. After three years as the only girl on the college mountain bike team she moved from her home state of Virginia to the Rocky Mountains. Colorado changes people. She was schooled and mentored by top pro riders on Colorado Springs group rides. She became instantly captivated and in 2007 won the Colorado State Series. Currently she rides and races with the YetiBeti Women’s Mountain Bike Team, works at Carmichael Training Systems, and is a part of start-up company Enduro Bites, making her days full of freakin’ fast peps. Musick writes about her struggle with depression and the therapy she finds on the bike. She’s a badass (first year) singlespeeder who’s not taking prisoners in the race of life. Thanks to sponsors Stan’s NoTubes, Yeti Cycles, Ergon, Twin Six, Golden Bike Shop, Noosa, Bulumu, White Girl Salsa, Cooper Door Coffee, Honey Stinger, Optic Nerve