Boggs Mountain 24-Hr Race 2010

July 17-18, 2010

"We choose to race 24 hours. We choose to race 24 hours in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."
--John F. Kennedy (mostly), 1962 speech at Rice University

pitIf the Cool 24-Hr was a "mechanical-free" race, Boggs made up for it. Well, sort of - I am exaggerating a little. In total: I had one flat tire, one set of worn out brake pads, a sinking seat, and three light failures. My bar light was basically non-functional, it ran for 15 or 20 minutes on a "fresh" battery each time.

The biggest difference between Cool & Boggs is, Boggs was 95% single track, winding, twisty, lots of close trees and rocks & roots at high speed - much, MUCH more technical than Cool. So running with only a 115 lumen headlight was, well, let's call it "sporty". I only crashed a couple of times due to the lighting situation, none major. It's hard to say how much time I lost, I know I was forced to ride a little slower, but lap times were not all that bad even with a battery change mid-lap.

pitFriday was baking hot - 95+ degrees and everyone was dreading the heat. Luckily, it didnít get quite that hot on Saturday, but it was still very warm and hydration was a big challenge.

Once again we had my travel trailer and a nice camp spot close to the start/finish. Mark's wife came to crew chief which was super. I got several cell phone calls from home so I could hear my 3-month old son's voice and get encouragement and support from Dale. Thanks Honey - that was huge.

Friday we pre-rode the course slowly, taking note of the features and checkpoints along the way. A couple of turns in the beginning were mis-marked, so after learning that we headed back out to look at the sections we missed that were on the course.

course mapThe course was 8.5 miles of mostly pure single track fun. When we pre-rode the course on Friday, I kept thinking "THIS is what mountain biking is all about". I will definitely go there in the future just to ride - the race course barely scratched the surface of what is available at Boggs. The trails are very nice, well constructed, and offer a little bit of everything.

The course had lots of short, quick bursts with steep ups and high speed descents, and while there were a couple of fire road descents and one major fire road climb, the rest was single track.

Each lap had 1135 feet of climbing, with the last two miles mostly downhill, very fast and challenging.

Mark on course at BoggsMark started for our team, and due to the tightness of the trails which started about a quarter mile from the start / finish line, the 200 or so racers were lined up on fire road about a half mile from the actual start line. This helped reduce bottleneck a great deal, as the super fast guys sprinted away and the pack spread out well before the first bit of single track.

Our initial lap times were in the 55 minute to 1-hour range, with the night laps only about 5 to 10 minutes slower. We both did one night double lap to allow the other team member to sleep. Yeah right. Not for me! As the timing and lap-swap worked out in this race, I got both the sunset and sunrise laps. I have never been so happy to see the sun! (see handlebar light failure description above)

Cris on course at BoggsThere were five teams in the 2-person 24 hour, and the rankings set themselves pretty quickly - the first place team was obviously comprised of pros and they were turning 50 minute laps and quickly pulled a lap ahead of the second place team.

Mark and I settled in to third, where we ultimately finished, but not without a fight. The second place team had 42 minutes lead on us at one point, by the morning we had cut that to EIGHT minutes, but in the end it was closer to 20. It turns out we had beat this team at Cool, and they knew who we were and were watching us very carefully.

What do you mean I have to do another lap??With about 4 1/2 hours remaining, we did some math (correctly this time) on what kind of times we needed for another 4 laps. As it turned out Mark finished his last lap around 9:40am, which gave me plenty of time to do my last lap before the 11am race end time. That lap was basically meaningless, as we had no chance of catching the second place team, and the fourth place team stopped after 16 laps (we did 22). But, we had the time, and the desire to finish the race, so off I went. I was in no particular hurry, as I had burned my next-to-last lap at 1:01, but I did want to leave a little slop time in case of mechanical.

The lap went fine, I got around in 1:08, and we collected our medals on the 3rd place podium.

This was race #2 for our team - we learned a little more this time:

* Nutritionally, more variety is good - we ate everything from cold tomato soup, to PB&J, pasta salad, fruit, hot chicken noodle soup, Gu's and gels, even chocolate covered raisins! I did feel like I fell into a little bit of a calorie deficit toward the end, but I think that is inevitable - you simply can't take in the number of calories that you expend (Garmin reported 12,000 calories burned for me), and still have your stomach function. Same with hydration when it is very hot.

* Having a plan, even if you aren't able to stick to it 100%, helps. We had our lap plan very well laid out, and aside from beating all the original estimated lap times, we tracked right with the plan.

* Plan for contingencies: have backups - tires, tubes, brake pads, and in my case, backup lights! I am reasonably happy with how I fought through my light problems, but it could have been much worse.

* Go hard until the end. Yes, we could have skipped that last lap, and it is debatable whether or not it was wise to do it, but we came to race 24 hours, not 23. If nothing else, we sent a message to the other 2-person teams out there that we *will* ride to the end, and take nothing for granted.

* Having help in the pit is tremendous. If nothing else, just having someone to talk to for hours on end while you are waiting keeps your mind off your troubles. I can't thank Grace enough...

night transitionDuring the waning hours of the night and early morning, I kept thinking to myself how I donít think I want to do 24-hr race again - it's just too hard.

However, Monday morning, after getting a full night's sleep and some real food, the first thing I did was start looking at the Kirkwood 24-Hr course for August 28. I'll see you there.

podiumFinal team stats: 3rd place, 22 laps, 188.6 miles, 23 hours 38 minutes, 25,000 feet of climbing. We both did 11 laps.

Cris's Garmin profile
Mark's Garmin profile

It was nice to bring home some hardware this time, even if it was only 3rd place. Next up - Kirkwood 24-Hour August 28.