Here’s a very useful tip for you to keep in mind if you ever want to do a 24 (or 25) hour race, solo. Don’t have this thought as the sun goes down: “I’m going to be riding my bike in the dark for the next twelve hours.”
Because, while perfectly accurate, it’s not a particularly productive thought.
Luckily for me, I was no longer riding alone. The Hammer and I would be riding through the whole night together. We’d watch the sun come up together.
So with Imagine Dragons playing (like I said, The Hammer got to pick the group for the first lap), we took off.
Then Heather came riding by us, flying. Doing her team proud. Not realizing that she was coming by us on the right, The Hammer moved right and they nearly collided.
“I’ll see you guys soon!” Heather shouted.
“No, Heather, wait! Ride slow and hang out with us!” I yelled back.
Nope. She was gone.
A Short Review of the Boombot Rex
The Boombot Rex we were using to play music was fantastic. Loud enough for both of us to listen to — although we had to decided between listening to music and talking, since if the music was loud enough for The Hammer to hear, it was too loud for me to hear what she was saying.
Oh, and the volume buttons are tiny — difficult to sense when you’re wearing thick gloves in the middle of the night — and placed in a hard-to-reach position on the underside of the speaker.
Oh, and the speaker kept falling off the mount when we were descending fast down rocky sections, to the point that I finally stopped putting it back on the mount and just stuffed it in my jersey.
“OK, this thing is not for mountain biking on the Jem trail,” I said, after it fell off the mount the third time.
In its defense, however, I’m not sure anything is made for mountain biking on the Jem trail.
The Evolution of my Eating Philosophy
After each lap, we’d stop and eat something. Which—as I sit here, comfortable and relaxed—sounds great. Eat whatever you want, every hour or two, with no penalty, no guilt.
But when you’ve been riding for fifteen (or sixteen or eighteen) hours, it’s really difficult to find something you can tolerate eating.
“What’ll it be?” Zach or Brooks would ask as we pulled into the pit. And I would have no idea. We had brought all this food — two ice chests and two bins full of food — and I’d say, “I don’t know. Nothing sounds good.”
But little by little, I figured out what I liked to eat. The food just had to pass a surprisingly simple test:
It needed to require absolutely no effort to chew and swallow.
Pizza? Too hard to chew, and required you to wash it down with something to drink.
Mac and cheese? Perfect.
Subway sandwich? For sure, as long as you drown it in mayo.
Granola bar? No way in hell.
Riding Through The Night
As the night wore on, I lost track of how many laps we had been on. Was it twelve? Or eleven? Maybe thirteen?
It didn’t matter anymore, anyway. With every pedal stroke, The Hammer was increasing her new record for women’s solo singlespeed on this course. The previous record — ten laps — was way behind us now.
“And how am I doing?” I’d ask our crew as I pulled into the pit after each lap.
“Oh, you’re fourth or fifth or so,” they said. By which they meant, I figured, that I was far enough behind that it wasn’t really worth them keeping track.
Fair enough. My stated objective for this race was to simply keep plugging away, and I was doing it. Even better, I was now actually helping The Hammer as she utterly destroyed the women’s solo SS record.
And it was so nice to get to our pit after each lap together. We’d sit at the fire and have something to eat and drink, while our crew treated us like royalty — cleaning out chains, cooking us food, and making us hot chocolate.
And then, after a 10-15 minute break, we’d head back out. Riding and talking together, both of us alternating between saying how nice it was to be doing this thing together, and rolling our eyes at how cheesy we sounded.
The Hammer was riding so strong that I did not need to hold back at all. I was incredibly proud of her strength and toughness.
And then, around four in the morning, the race changed.
Which seems like a good place to pick up tomorrow.