Mountain Biking for 24 Hours!

Twenty-four hours is a very long time: 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds! A typical 24-hour period contains: eating 4 meals, putting in a days work, maybe watching TV, hopefully exercising and getting roughly 5-7 hours of sleep. During the 24 Hours of Great Glen, the contents are just about the same, however, much less in quality, if at all. Yes, some racers actually race for the whole 24 hours, without really taking a break. Those are the solos. They are animals. They put hundreds of hours in preparing themselves, physically and mentally. Some enter the race to see what they are capable of and go pretty hard. Same goes for many of the teams: they’re in it to win it. They race hard around the clock. Others riders…well, they take it a bit less seriously. They have fun with it and spend the weekend with their friends and family.

Here’s the breakdown:
24 Hours of Great Glen is a mountain bike festival here on our trail system: August 13 & 14. Five hundred racers and support crews; friends, family, co-workers, strangers, and anyone else I left out, make the field here their home for the weekend. It’s an amazing sight.

If you don’t want to race solo, check out our team categories: 2 Person Team, 4 Person Team, 5 Person Team. If 24 hours seems like a lot of time on your bike (and it is!), consider the 12 hour division. It’s held at the same time and on the same course with just half the suffering! Um…fun!

The weekend is not all about mountain biking. Festival 24 is full of fun and games for the whole family: camping, 24 Minutes of Great Glen, the kids bike race, ducky race, kayaking, movie night and much more. Oh, and don’t miss the Cheese Doodle Toss, the best game of the weekend! Challenge Crew 24 in your doodle tossing! I strongly suggest you actually train for this because we’ve only lost once…ever.

Now, back to the actual racing because it is a bike race, after all. Training for 24 hours of mountain bike racing requires countless hours in the saddle building your muscles, mind and stamina. Once you think you’ve trained pretty well, add night riding to the mix—it’s a whole different game. It’s like your in a tunnel, you only see what your light allows. Most riders ride with two lights; one on their helmet and one on the handlebars, which gives you more trail coverage. During the race it’s required to ride with one and have a backup. Another part of training is teaching your body to eat differently than normal. You need to maintain your hydration and a constant flow of food for energy to sustain the high level of endurance. The form of food for most racers often changes to gels, gummies, energy bars and high energy liquids, which are easier to eat while on the move. Too much solid food consumption will divert blood from working muscles for the digestive process and will make you feel bloated and sometimes nauseous. Depending on your commitment to the race and/or your team, stopping for an hour or so to eat a light meal is a great idea and grabbing a few winks wouldn’t hurt either.

Now the course, it’s pretty tough. It has a mix of singletrack and nice carriage roads to give those legs a little time to recover. We start at 1,500 ft and reach 1,725 two different times on course

Depending on the condition of the trails prior to the race, the course is 8.25 miles long. We start with a “Le Mans” style, running around our pond before mounting. This is when you show off your costume for our costume contest! Then its off, through the tunnel and up Blueberry Hill then up to 1,775 ft. A crowd favorite is the Chute, a very steep section where most riders walk down, especially towards the end of the race. But for those that do ride it, it’s pretty impressive. In the past, sections on the course have become pretty soupy during a rainy weekend. We realize the point is to ride, so last year we made some improvements. We’ve built bridges, added crushed stone to low spots, and built a turnpike on Peacemaker-check it out here. We also had some help from AMC’s Trail Crew with the Chute. It’s now a giant staircase to help combat erosion. This summer we are rerouting sections on Whiplash and Outback. So the course should ride well this August.

Now get off the internet and go ride your bike! Trails are open daily starting June 18 from 8:30am – 5:00pm feel free to check out the course and see what you’ll be up against when you’re all trained and ready to race! -Meg

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