24HR Burn Challenge in Wilkesboro, NC 2009
Another 24HR Burn Challenge in Wilkesboro, NC has come and gone. We (mostly Mike) put together a team consisting of me, Mike Levine, Ashley Drum, Jasen Taylor and Shannon St. Claire (Brushy Mountain Bicycles). John from Cool Breeze Cyclery was our mechanic. Mike rented a sweet RV fifth wheel for us to set up camp – or really so that he could have A/C and a shower. (Which Ashley made the most use of all weekend). Mike went up on Friday night to reserve our spot and set up camp. We definitely had the best spot as we were overlooking the lake and trees on the opposite side of the lake – and got to watch every racer finish his/her lap. Fortunately he was in the RV when the big storm hit on Friday night that would have an effect on the rest of the weekend.
Jasen and I rode up on Saturday morning. We arrived about 10AM for a 12PM start. I took the first lap after a Lemans start. Fortunately Mike ran the lap around the campground for the team – as running is no longer my forte’ and no one else volunteered. I started off near the front of the pack and had a strong lap first lap. We had to do the first climb twice as I guess someone didn’t get to the top of the climb fast enough to move the tape letting us get directly on the race course.
The trail was in good condition after the rain so big props to the race organizer and trail workers for getting the trail in good condition. That being said…there were some slick corners and the roots were merciless. It seems nature has figured out a way to put roots at a 45 degree angle at the apex of every corner. I made it through the first lap without any major mishaps while dodging several crashes. It always amazes me that people can figure out a way to go over the bars while CLIMBING….
Ashley took the second lap, Mike was third and Jasen ran the fourth lap. Jasen was riding a new bike (he only has a single speed) and had never seen the trail. Not the best recipe for success. When he came through after his first lap, I asked how it was and he said fine, “except for the part about tackling a tree with my head.” I would learn later that Jasen went down 3 or 4 times on his first lap. Hearing Jasen tell the story is quite funny, like missing 3 of the 5 switchbacks as he found a quicker way down…straight down the hill on his back. Of course he lost more time than he made up trying to find his water bottle that was conveniently at the top of the hill.
We continued rotating and taking our laps. The trail got better and better as the day wore on. As the night laps started, the trail was fine, but our second night laps got tougher as the moisture from the lake, rain and humidity made the trail slippery, especially those dang roots. Shannon was providing neutral support for the race and promoting his new shop, Brushy Mountain Bicycles during the day and started taking laps at night. It was awesome having Shannon running laps. He took a double run after I returned and I was able to get a nice rest. I pumped up the old air mattress and put it under the tent.
About this time I ran into someone I had met in San Diego. Danelle was running the race solo and was taking a break checking out the campground and walked by our set up…which of course garnered plenty of attention. I wasn’t sure, but I recognized Danelle and asked if she had lived in San Diego. Turns out we had some mutual friend and had met a couple times. Super small world. On top of that, she went to grad school with a friend that I played lacrosse with while at GMU! Nuts. AND she helped Mike last year get through one of his night laps.
I managed to get some sleep and was awakened by our fearless mechanic changing tires on Mike’s bike. He was having trouble with the mud caking up on his stock tires…thanks Mike…
As the morning wore on, we all finished our laps, laughed a lot and had a great time. John stayed up all night and finally conked out after several beers and the sun came up. Jasen made all of his laps and got better and better as the race wore on. Ashley was quietly turning super fast laps all weekend and somehow his hair stayed perfect. Mike was in a great mood all night and excited to get back on his bike – a stark contrast to last year! Shannon turned some super laps, not sure how he did it because I know he hardly slept. He turned 2 doubles and made it easy on us. Jasen rose to the occasion and overcame some concerns and is already talking about next year. I had a great time as usual and am looking forward to the next adventure.
We finished 20th out of 50 teams. Mike is talking about running a duo team…I think he’s crazy!!!!