24 Hours of Adrenaline

August 2, 2010

Last weekend we headed up to Canmore for what was now our third 24 Hours of Adrenaline, the day long mountain bike race.  This year we had the best weather ever, no rain, and good hot conditions.  After such a cold spring, and early summer, I am still busy soaking up the sun and heat, after all, its only going to be around for another month.  Now that we have done the race a few times, and have gotten the routine down pat, we can really sink in and enjoy the best parts of the two days in the mountains.  The best part is the incredible views from every direction during the day, especially on a great weekend where there wasn’t really a cloud in the sky.  Friday night is all about seeing friends that we haven’t seen, some of them, since last year.  Everyone catches up, has some beers, chats, visits.  Our excellent team captain starts the job of making everyone eat constantly.  There are new neighbours next door to meet, to chat with, to encourage in their endeavour of turning their trailer into a giant hot tub.  Saturday morning dawns nice and early, the morning light is the best for taking photos of the camp.  There is a buzz in the air as all the racers start to get excited, work on their bikes and start to get pumped up for the noon start.  There is an argument back and forth about who is doing the running LeMans start, and the dreaded first lap.  The first lap is the hardest as the competitors are bunched up on the trail, later on everyone is more evenly spaced and there isn’t so much passing and being passed.  The team and supporters head up to the start to watch the run, and cheer on the racers.  This year I could really notice that the first hour or two of the race everyone is so excited, and things are a bit chaotic as the racers get the routine down pat.  But after that everyone settles into a routine that becomes regular and comforting as the afternoon and night goes on.  The racer goes out, someone watches for them at the half way point, then the next racer starts to get ready, and heads to the start line about 20 minutes before they are due in.  Teammates wait at the top of the last hill to cheer their friend on, and boost them towards the finish line.  The finished racer is brought back to camp, they get fed immediately, and then cleaned up to wait for the next lap.  I find the routine soothing through the night.  As it gets dark and the racers put on their headlamps I head up to get a good view of the hill above camp, to see the lights twisting and turning through the woods.  Each year I savour the sight.  The noise from the camps dies down around midnight, but the racers keep going through the night.  In the morning I like to get up early and start quietly cheering people up the last hill, especially the soloists who have been riding through the night.  Many of them appear to be in a trance, but most look over and smile, especially if the encouragement is gentle in tune with the morning peace.  Towards noon there is another burst of excitement as teams try and get their last riders in by the time cut-off, to make the last laps count.  I’m always a bit sad when the race ends, the routine is over, and the clean-up begins. 

Our team did really well this year, without any 2+hour laps, unlike last year.  There were two mechanical problems, a broken chain and dead lamps which meant two laps were scratched which was unfortunate.  One of the teammates had a really unfortunate flip-over at a check point station as she tried to drink, steer, and slow down at the same time, with painful results.  She had about 10 guys come to pick her up however, and finished her lap.  On other racers we saw plenty of dripping blood, bandages, and broken bikes over the course of 24 hours.  There was a number of bear sightings, but everyone managed to get along, especially as one of the bears was a mother and cub grizzly in one of the nearby meadows.  Mr. J finished two laps, and could have done more, he had the fastest time on the team, and no injuries which made me happy.  He sure looked like he was taking it easy as he came into the finish! 

And once again, I can’t wait until next year.

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