Pinkham Notch, NH – For the seventeenth year in a row a cannon fired at precisely noon at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center to mark the start of the 24 Hours of Great Glen presented by EMS, a mountain bike race that sees riders take on not only tough trails but also an unrelenting clock. The race that began as one of the many off the wall events at Great Glen Trails, has matured over the years into a world class cycling event that draws riders from all over the East Coast, and as far away as Wyoming.
This year saw 159 teams take the start in either the 12 hour or the 24 hour version of this annual bike race and riders completed a total of 1947 laps, that tallied a total of 16,160 miles all on a course that snakes around the base of the Northeast’s highest peak, Mount Washington.
“We’ve been running this race for years and it never ceases to amaze me the energy and excitement that converges on our quiet spot here in the White Mountains every year in early August,” said Howie Wemyss, General Manager for Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center and the Mount Washington Auto Road. “This race sees riders of all ability levels and fitness levels racing together in a format that encourages mutual support and supreme competitiveness at the same time,” Wemyss continued.
This year the race was won by Raya’s Almost Single Speed Landshark team out of Bethlehem, NH supported by Littleton Bike & Fitness, with a total of 27 laps. This was a last minute entry as one of their riders, Ben Mirkin had thought he had other plans for the weekend as his wife was due on the 12th, but fate intervened and the baby was born two weeks earlier giving Ben the chance to race. His team won by just 19 minutes over second place team Felt/SRAM from Agawam, MA. For the women, the top team was Pete and Gerry’s Organic Chicks, also supported by Littleton Bike & Fitness, clocking in 21 laps.
In the solo category the top honors went to Ezra Mullen racing as DG Cycle Sports out of Nottingham, NH who won with a total of 21 laps. In the solo women’s category Christen Tipert took top honors with 12 laps. In the men’s solo single speed division Marc Stannard of Essex Junction, VT took the win with 19 laps completed.
In the week leading up to the race, what had been a very dry summer gave way to several heavy rain storms, giving many concern that the course would be significantly muddy. One racer who was taking his 16th start in the event said after his second lap on course, “I’d swapped out tires to be ready for the mud, but the course was fairly dry
in most places, and where it was really muddy your tire choice had little impact on your success!”
The race did see some rain over the 24 hour period, but Mother Nature held off any major weather event for the weekend. “We lucked out as there were a number of weather reports that looked like we had a chance of seeing a good deal of rain all weekend, but being at the base of Mount Washington we’ve learned to just wait and roll with the punches as the weather can change in an instant up here,” said Wemyss.
The 24 Hours of Great Glen is actually many races in one, with both a 12 hour and 24 hour format running at the same time. With so many teams all competing in so many different categories racing at once it can be hectic knowing who is in the lead at any time. “In the past we did this all by hand, with scorers keeping laps counts by hand, meaning that the information teams had could be up to an hour or so old. However a few years ago we partnered with Granny Gear Productions, who pioneered the 24 hour racing format, and now we use their timing system that uses radio frequency chips to track all the riders in real time. All the results are posted on computer terminals under the festival tent, and they even push that information out to the web in real time. Conceivably a rider could check in on their competition while out on course from their smartphone! It’s pretty incredible how far this has all come,” Wemyss stated.
In the 12 hour race that also started at Noon on Saturday but ended at midnight, team B2c2/Boloco took the top step of the podium with a total of 15 laps. The team was a two person male team comprised of Michael Wissell of Allston, MA and Kevin Sweeney of Medford, MA. Ken Wiley of Claremont, NH took the win in the 12 hour solo category with a ride of 12 laps. For the women the 12 hour contest was won by Mason Racing, made up of Sarah Foulkes of Grantham, NH and Janet Proctor of Enfield Center, NH- the pair rode 10 laps.
A race of this nature requires a large crew, and volunteers pour into Pinkham Notch to help out. Working at the timing table where riders come in and out, working out on course as course marshals, and in general just being out there supporting the competitors. One racer who brought a team of younger riders to the event stated on the events online forum, “Everyone was so supportive and made the kids feel like rockstars. They are hooked, and already planning for next year. Keep up the great vibe!”
In addition to the competition out on course the event now has a sizable festival component with many side events and competitions for other family members. This year over 50 kids participated in the “24 Minutes of Great Glen”, a junior version which features laps around a mini course just outside the festival tent. A quacky duck race in the Peabody River to benefit the Mt Washington Valley Children’s Museum, “Who’s a Fuzzy Bunny?”, marshmallow stuffing contest, a kid’s movie with popcorn under the tent and the always entertaining Cheese Doodle Toss helps round out the weekend and keep families entertained while Mom or Dad is out racing.
The events draw on the well known cadre of local volunteers who keep things flowing smoothly throughout the 24 hours. Eastern Mountain Sports has taken on the role of presenting sponsor, and with that they join: NiteRider, The Bike Shop, Hammer Nutrition, VDO, SRAM, Felt Bicycles. Red Jersey Cyclery, Lights and Motion and Exposure Lights, CocaCola, Dasani, Powerade in supporting this great event.
Complete results can be seen at www.24hoursofgreatglen.com.