12 Hours of Great Glen

This is a long report, but if you think of it as word count per hour of racing, its actually somewhat concise? Maybe?

So rarely has an event that could be called a "comedy of errors" ended so well.

I teamed up with Ian Schon from B2C2 as team "B2GLVC2™" for the men's 12 hour pair event at 24 Hours of Great Glen. There were 10 other pairs registered, an eight and a half mile loop with plenty of climbing that could generously be described as "roadie-friendly", and clear skies. What could go wrong?

We started swimmingly, with Ian doing his best to win the Le Mans style start (half mile run around a lake, saddle up, bike racing time). He came through 47 minutes later bleeding from several places, with an admonishment to "probably take it easier on the descents". I'm up! I proceed to go as fast and stupid as I can, spending almost the whole lap anaerobic and generally riding like a doofus. I finished up in 45 minutes completely exhausted. When I got back to the tent and started bitching about how my back hurt from standing up to sprint, I received blank stares from the B2C2 pro team and advice that "you don't need to stand and hammer on this course". Whoops. Let's try again!

Ian pulled through with another 47, and I went out for team lap #4 with the intention of not blowing up. I rode more conservatively, sat down and spun a lot, and came in at 46 minutes. There's a lesson there somewhere about pacing yourself, if I were capable of learning lessons. Through the next couple laps a pattern emerged. The first and second place teams were blowing us out of the water. The team sitting in 3rd place FROM CANADA had one older rider (Canadian Man) and one college-age rider (Canadian Boy). Man would ride a low 40s lap to take time on Ian, then Boy would go closer to 50 minutes and I would bring us back within 30 seconds of the all-important final podium spot. It should be noted at this early point in the race that Ian was taking Sensei Mike Wissell's advice that "this is a competitive eating contest as well as a competitive biking contest" seriously, and eating a burrito during every one of his 45 minute rest periods. He would eventually finish 8 burritos, or more than 25% of the B2C2 burrito stash.

Laps #7 and #8 could affectionately be called "a goddamn disaster". Ian broke his chain on course and came through at 55 minutes, apologizing (presumably for SRAM's inability to make a chain without suicidal tendencies). That's OK! Its only 10 minutes! I headed out and got to roughly mile 3, where my bike BLEW THE HELL UP. Somehow, in the space of 30 seconds, I lost 2 out of 4 chainring bolts and my MRP guide misaligned so badly that it was pulling the chain up and into non-drivetrain land. When cursing at the bike didn't help, it was time to run. Cutting the course and cancelling the lap wasn't really an option, so it was down to the 5 mile footrace from hell. I could still coast downhill, so in the end we only lost another 15 minutes when I came in with an even 60 minute lap.

We were still considerably far up on the 5th place team, but it looked like we were off the podium with a 25 minute deficit on 3rd. Ian headed out on a double for laps #9 and #10 with his light mounted and my good light as a backup. I used the extra rest to get my bike fixed by neutral support and eat a burrito. Since Ian was carrying my HID lamp, I set up my roommate's NiteRider LEDs on my bars and headed out for my own night double. I quickly discovered that these specific NiteRider lights SUCK. They're held on to the bars by little rubber bands, which means that every time you hit a technical descent (or a speed bump) they move vertically. This becomes a somewhat significant problem when you're trying to pick a line and one light points down at the ground and the other one shines directly in your eye.

About 15 minutes into lap #12, the second of my double, the evil NiteRider battery light went from green to warning red. The responsible thing to do here would be to find a quick way back to camp, because being stuck in the woods without decent (non-flashlight) lighting is dangerous. Instead, red = turn on the proverbial gas and hope to your individual higher power that you can finish your lap before the lights go out. In a feat of amazing luck, they flickered off just as I was exiting the woods onto the finishing quarter mile, where I grabbed a more illuminated rider's wheel and let him take me in. Ian turned in an error-free single lap and handed off to me at around 11PM. I knew this would be my last lap, as I could easily come in before midnight, leaving Ian to take a "glory lap" to pad our stats. I assumed we had been thoroughly Canadian'd into 4th place, but I was thrilled, because A. I was almost done and B. I finally had a good light and could actually see! I headed out, managed not to crash into any local flora or fauna, and turned in a 51 minute lap.

Apparently, Canadian Boy had been posting greater than 60 minute laps after dark, while Canadian Man was roughly keeping pace with the two of us. When I came in just before midnight, Man had left twenty seconds earlier for his second lap of a double. Ian yelled some unintelligible words at me and took off like a bat out of hell to catch him. Presumably this worked, as he crossed the line around 12:40AM with our rivals nowhere to be found. Canadian Man never finished his fifteenth lap. I'm assuming he either missed the time cut of 1:15AM or was eaten by a bear after Ian passed him. In any case, we finished 3rd! PODIUMS FOR EVERYONE. I later won the most important contest of the weekend, which is "Drive 200 shell-shocked miles home by yourself without careening off the highway".

Final stats:
Total Race Time: 12 hours, 37 minutes
Laps Completed: 15
Distance Traveled: 124.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 17,775 feet
Calories of Gu Brew consumed: 1500+