Saturday, February 5, 2011

Good Ole' Days and 24hrs of Canaan

1997 was a turning point for me. I had been riding for about 6 years at this point, but only for fun and had only raced a couple of local races up until then. I didnt train; I just rode. I played tournament softball most of the time, so riding was just something I enjoyed doing apart from that.

A couple of guys that I rode with wanted to do race together, so I agreed. It was just a passing thought. When they said race together, I thought it meant we would race the same race, in the same class. Ha! They really meant a 24 hour race on a team. Now me being 28 at the time, figured sure, why not. I mean how hard could it really be? I am in great shape, I ride...enough. So bring it on! Oh yeah, I aslo was on my beloved Trek 9800 OCLV, too.

If you never had the chance to ride Canaan, all I can say is-to bad. What a beautiful venue for a race. When we got there, I was blown away by the people. It seemed like thousands, probably more like 500 or so, but it was huge! There was music, vendors, food, trials-yeah, remember that? Just massive.

Our team was the Mudslingers and we had a pretty fast group of guys actually. What was funny is that I was the youngest. We stayed at a really nice chateau on the south side of the mountain, so it was a bit of a hike to the start. I don't remember much of
what the others were doing, but I do remember my first lap and the climb in which my rear derailleur pulleys decided they didnt want to be a part of the derailleur any longer. Quick fix and I was on my way. Pretty uneventful until I got to the other side with the VW Bug size rocks. There was 3 or 5 guys behind me, so I was a go at this point. I dont know how fast I was supposed to go, but I guess I did ok. I got the big thumbs up from one as he flew by me. My favorite thing was crossing that bridge at the end. What a relief! I do remember I turned in a pretty quick time, though.

My night lap was amazing. I got up at 1:30 and was off. Riding by the campfires while people cheered was something I hadnt been a part of before and it sure made it that much more enjoyable. The night was a clear as it could be. I came out of the clearing onto the plateau and I had to stop for what seemed like forever, just to take in the view. The moon was full and bright and cast a ghostly white glow on everything around me. Wow! I was hooked. This 24 hour thing is tough, but man you cant beat this.

Anyway, I was my first encounter with team HUGH J ASS, too. Long story short-Very, very fast and all using the same bike shorts for the whole race; all 4 guys! eeeww.
We ended up 50th out of 357 teams, not to shabby. I have raced many 24 hour events since Canaan, but they never lived up to that year.  Something got lost along the way with the 24 hour gigs, and its a shame; It may never get back to that same euphoric atmosphere, but I am glad I was a part of it.