24 Hours of Great Glen Pre-Race Report

The 24 hours of Great Glen is pretty much the highlight of my mountain bike season. It's not a question of if I'll do it, but how. Last year, Linnea and I pushed our relationship to the limit (by 10pm), and while were reasonably satisfied with the experience, she was smart enough to say "never again" the following morning. So, I started planning a 4-man expert team, last August.

I know a lot of people who race bikes, and since I like 24-hour racing I assumed they all did too. I made a list of candidates in my head (still in last August), but held off on proposing it to anyone for six months. Even I could tell that asking my friends to do a race 11.9 months away would tip them off that I'm crazy about this race, and maybe not in a healthy way.

To make a long story short, it turns out that a lot of my so-called "friends" don't think that staying up all night and racing your bike as hard as you can is a great idea. I found this disappointing and confusing. I know they'd like it, if they only tried it. Here, I have lights! Come try it! The first hit is free! You'll love it!

No one believed me.

Back to the drawing board.

I registered in June, before the price went up. I put Linnea's brothers in as teammates so that no one would know I still had nobody... I figured getting the 2nd guy on the team would be the hardest part. Somewhere around early July I got Kevin to commit, I think I told him he was the 4th guy at that time. Soon after Rob Stine came on board, he was so excited about it he decided to ditch the Wilderness 101 the weekend before so he'd be fresh. Now that's the kind of enthusiasm I can get behind!

I finished off the team by plying Dylan McNicholas, Cat 1 roadie/watt factory, with beverages and tales of the money we could win until he said yes. The team was set. Let's do this thing.

Turns out the problem with getting really fast roadies drunk and making them sign up for 24 hour races is that when they sober up they figure out how bad an idea it is. Dylan has some races coming up against teams like Columbia and Garmin (heard of them?) and realized that the 24 was a bad, bad way to prep for them. Of course, he realized this the Monday before the event.

At this point, I knew that Thom had been looking for a fast guy for the last 3 weeks so replacing Dylan was going to be a challenge. I'd already emailed basically every single person I knew -- it was time to move onto emailing people I didn't know.

Thanks to the miracle of Facebook I had a nice list of people that I "kind of know" all queued up. I grabbed my big list of casual mountain biker acquaintances, sorted them by speed, and got to beggin' emailin'.

I don't even know how Curtis Boivin ended up on my friend list (maybe we got to be friends after I stole his prime last year?) but I knew he did a 2-man team at Great Glen in '08 and turned faster laps than me for the whole event. Now that's a solid candidate, much more solid that I was expecting to find. I should've emailed this guy long ago! Oh wait, I hardly know him.

And sure enough, he said "yes" faster than anyone else who joined the team. Curtis is fast and will agree to doing a 24 on five days notice without batting an eye. He is a cool dude. I asked him if he ran much or if he wanted to do the run. He said yes. Super cool.

So there we were, Saturday morning, facing five expert teams and a pro team for $1600 and a lot of bragging rights. The order was set: Curtis, Kevin, Me, Rob.

The cannon fired and Curtis slayed the run. To the casual observer his 8th place around the pond may not have looked that impressive, but I knew many of the teams had runners who didn't mountain bike much on them, and of course that's the guy you send out on the first lap. Sure enough, after six minutes of racing Curtis was up to 2nd.

He finished lap one in 3rd, just 7 seconds behind Thom. Kevin took the baton, flew out of the tent, and the race was on...
Impending 24 hours of pain? Curtis smiles at the thought.
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