24, I mean 22 Hours of Summer Solstice

A couple of weekends ago the Ottawa crew headed down the 401 to take part in the 24 Hours of Summer Solstice mountain bike race, taking place at the Albion Hills Conservation Area, just north of Toronto.

This was the first time any of the team (made up of John, Naomi, Mike, Simone, and Evan and Remi as our support crew) had participated in a 24 hour relay — so we opted for the “no night” option.  For those unfamiliar with 24-hour races, the basic idea is this — riders complete laps over the course of a 24-hour period.  Most people do it as a team relay – they do a lap, and then hand-off to one of 5 or so teammates so that they can get a few hours of rest before they do it again.  Some masochists (I have never met Stefan, but based on his posts to this blog, I think he fits the mold) do it solo… facing for 24 hours straight.  The team/nut bar to do the most laps wins.  In the “no night” option, the team only races during daylight and is suspended overnight – meaning you race for a total of about 15 hours instead of 24.

Anyway, we arrived Friday, the day before the race after a long drive down the 401 (Gord Downie was right, “you don’t fuck with the 401“). And while we sat in the rain under a tarp the next morning… wondering if and when the race was actually going to start… apparently some dudes were smashing up downtown Toronto (this was the same weekend as the G20 — the fact of which we were periodically reminded of whenever pairs of CF-18s flew overhead).

But I digress… back the race…

The start was delayed by a couple of hours as organizers assessed the condition of the course and pondered the weather radar.  Waiting turned out to be a good strategy, as the rain gave way to drizzle around 2 o’clock, and then generally stopped for the rest of the weekend.  And, the course ended up being pretty solid all things considered.  There were nice long stretches of single track, made treacherous by super slippery roots polished smooth by hundreds of bike tires.  But after the first lap, the mud basically stayed on the trail, taking on the consistency of silly putty.

The Fiera Race Team put in some respectable lap times before retiring from the course just before 7 o’clock (we had been told the rules for the “no night” category was that laps finished after 7:15 wouldn’t count – something that turned out to be false… meaning we got jipped-off).

The next morning we took off again at 6:00 am in the fog, and generally the team got faster the next day.  I was quite pleased with my last lap, when I managed to bring the team home with a lap time under 1 hour.  Our steady improvement over the course of the race can probably be attributed to the bag of various recovery drinks and other medicinal supplements that Mike and Simone brought along.  Sure beats the handful of potato chips and swig of beer that I probably would have had in their absence.

John's last lap

At the end of the 22 hours, we ended up 6th in the category… but really, we should have ended up for sure 5th, and maybe even 4th since some of the teams ahead of us (including the “yummy mummies”??? Are you serious???) got credit for laps finished after the supposed 7:15 cut-off.  Oh well, good thing none of us are competitive or anything (in the now immortal words of Naomi: “I’m not competitive, I just don’t like to lose”).

Pictures courtesy of Mike and Simone to follow.

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