National 24 Hour Challenge

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Over the past few days I have caught up on sleep and visited everyone in the family and they are clamoring for an update.   Sorry, all I have is this post about the 24 hour race on the weekend.

Okay, I will back up a bit.  We moved (almost) all of our stuff earlier in the month to our new place which is at Yonge/Wellington.   It is a wee, tiny bit bigger, much higher (31st floor), has a decent view of the lake and is much quieter.

That contrasts with the building still being under construction and elevators being impossible to get; my bike is NOT allowed on the elevator so I have to keep that in a bike locker (more money, yay!) and the kitchen is not nearly as nice or so Jinhee tells me.  I just see one pot and one burner.  Everything else is excessive because I don’t know how to use it.

So we have moved ‘almost’ everything over and I have been consumed with selling items on Kijiji.  That’s going badly.  I have fire-sale prices and literally nothing is moving.   We tried to sell a $150 computer table with a $15 power-bar attached for $20.  One guy offered $10 if we could deliver it 30 minutes away (um, no) and another guy asked if the price was negotiable (really?!).  The wheels could be stripped off and sold for $20.  Or a beautiful 25″ computer monitor for $50 (retail $400), or an old sound bar (retail $179) for $20 (truly not the best sound bar, but it works well) and folks are just not interested.    So unfortunately the remaining bits are heading for landfill over the weekend.  Its simply more expensive to sell them than to throw them away. As you can see this is consuming too much time and brain space.

Jinhee’s projects have taken her to Chile for the week so I do have some time to kill.   Let me back up to just before her departure.

After getting things mostly settled at the new condo, I realized that Father’s Day brings an annual classic bike ride; the National 24 Hour Challenge in quaint, Middleville, Michigan.  I have never ridden this ride before because it’s always on Fathers Day and most years I am hoping for a new Porsche or perhaps a Jag F-Type, but this year, after 22 years of fatherhood, I decided that I should just let that delusion slip away.

(In reality, I am just waiting for one of my kids to land a great job and realize that they should invest in MY happiness, because I won’t squander their investment any more than they have squandered our investment in their happiness!!  Really, I won’t.   There are insufficient keys on the keyboard to represent the laughter associated with this idea, and LOL doesn’t come close).

So say I to Jinhee, “Hey, do you want to drive like a madwoman through the Michigan countryside for eight hours on Saturday while I ride my bike?”.

“Sure”, says that lovely woman.  “I thought it was only six hours away though!”

“Six hours to get there, six hours to get back and then chase me around central Michigan for eight hours!”, says the crazy guy with the bike.  “But don’t worry if your tired, the next 16 hours are just sitting beside the road while I do laps around the course.   You can rest then.”

Now to be clear here, Jinhee is feeling a bit guilty for taking on the extra work through the summer that will curtail our cruising plans, so she didn’t fall over laughing.   She gave an uncertain “sure, I guess” to this plan.   It is clear I caught her in a moment of weakness.

Despite the fact that it was 11pm at night I immediately emailed the race organizer.  A nice guy named Gary and asked if he could bend the rules a bit.   This is Tuesday, and registration had closed five days earlier.   The long and short of all that is that I got a yes from Jinhee and I got a yes from the race organizer and I had 48 hours to plan for the ride.   But we got it done.

Now don’t forget that Jinhee’s projects are taking her to Chile for the week.  Do some math with me.

Jinhee works 9-5, M-F.   Drive to Middleville is six hours (well eight with Friday afternoon traffic as we discovered).  Ride starts at 8am on Saturday.  Ride ends at 8am on Sunday.  Jinhee’s flight for Chile leaves at 8pm on Sunday.  This is going to be tight.  REALLY tight.

On Saturday morning at 8am I was on the starting line for the National 24 hour challenge, a little tired, but ready to go.   The ride is comprised of three loops.  The first loop is 121.9 miles (about 200km) and you ride it once.  This is the loop Jinhee had to drive around to feed me and throw fluids at me.

The second loop (24 miles) you ride after you finish the first loop, as many times as you can until 8pm.  The third loop (7.6 miles) you ride until the clock runs out at 8 am.

————–  Boring Details Start Here ——————–

(Much of this detail is for my memory and planning for next year, so feel free to skip down a bit.)

I rode quite fast at the beginning, but wisely let the fastest group go ahead, there was no way I would stay with them for more than a couple of hours, but I tucked into the second group until the first checkpoint at about 35 miles.   Jinhee was there with food and fluids, but I was stuck behind another rider (whose problems shall not be aired here but he slowed down dozens of riders at the checkpoint by not following simple rules.  Aaaargh) and eating solid food slowed me down and made breathing difficult while trying to catch up to that 2nd group.

Many of us regrouped and decided to NOT chase down that second group so we had a nice bunch riding together.   This group included the best woman (this year), the best woman (last year), a former RAAM finisher and a few guys like me that dream of riding fast someday when we get in good enough shape.   By this point the rain was coming down fast and furious, but it was a really experienced and well behaved group and we rode well together.

N24 - 4
Jessica (in front) and Amy (just behind) should be the focal points in this photo!

At checkpoint 2 (about 72 miles in) I didn’t see Jinhee so I slow rolled through the stop but moved on when the group partly reformed.   I should have waited for a fresh bottle because at about 140 km I decided that I was going to bonk if I kept up the pace.   I broke away despite Cassie offering to slow down.   When you’re riding behind the lady with #1 on her jersey, you simply don’t ask them to slow down.   I slowed to about 28 kph (from about 32) and conserved energy until I met Jinhee at checkpoint 3 (about 150 km).

This time I got off the bike for a few minutes took in lots of food and fluids so I didn’t run into problems later.   The best thing to do is to recover on the bike (so that you are always moving forward) and so I got back on quickly and digested while riding.   A little slower than I would have liked, but still moving.   Things then went well for about 35km until pfffffft; a flat tire.

I have heard stories of people going to my favourite store for bike components, with a pin, and poking holes in the spare tubes that they sell.   I have always hoped that this wasn’t true, but now I am concerned that some knucklehead actually did that.   I can normally change a tire pretty quickly, and in a race against the clock I was quick.  Soaking wet from rain and stifling humidity, I get my new tube in and try to blow it up but nothing.    AAaaaarrrrgh!

Finally I stop another rider (Rick and Trina thank you so much), and ask to borrow a pump.   The pump isn’t blowing things up.   I quickly pull out the tube and try again.   The F*&K^NG NEW tube has a hole in it.   Trina offers me a tube and her pump, but the tube is the wrong size.  I can make it work and they ride on while I patch things together.   In the end I rode the last 18km to Checkpoint 4 with a barely functioning rear wheel and then changed the tube yet again to an appropriate tube.   Jinhee returned the bits to Rick and Trina (did I say thank you Rick and Trina) after I got back on the road.

The tire mess up cost me at least 20 minutes and possibly more, it’s hard to tell, but at least I was back on the bike.   With stupid high humidity, (the humidex was up in the 40C range), Jinhee prepared ice socks for me to wear around my neck on the 2nd and 3rd time around.   This tricks the brain into thinking its cooler than it really is (and actually cools you too), circumventing the mechanism that makes siestas so easy in equatorial regions and allows your brain to deliver energy effectively.  My speed rose back up to a reasonable level, if not fast, on Loop 2.   I completed three loops of Loop 2 before the cutoff.  I could have done four, but I was unsure of the rules and played it safe with just three loops.  I was also off the bike too much during these loops although the food/support made it easy and I was never hungry again after the checkpoint 2 mix-up.

The rain had stopped by this point and I was mostly dry, and rode the Loop 3 laps pretty quickly, but I really never got back into a group for more than a half lap (on either Loop 2 or Loop 3) instead mostly rode at my own pace.   I could have picked up many miles by staying with a group.

Around 4 pm on Loop 2 I got my first bit of drowsiness which was resolved with Coke, and again, by 10 pm I was getting my usually sunset drowsiness and I fought it for a while (coke again), but around midnight I decided sleep was the best course.  I was on track for an easy 500km day, and I would sleep to get some energy back.   I did so until 1:40 am and then was back on the bike sometime before 2 am.

By this time, my crew was asleep, to avoid bothering Jinhee, I stayed on the bike and started banging out the miles and had a great night ride.  The temperature was good, the course was mostly flat except for the 50 foot rise at the end of the loop and when I did catch another rider or group I was able to easily power up to complete a fast lap.

———————- Boring Details are almost over  ———————–

Sometime around dusk I decided that the timing to get Jinhee back to the airport was a little too tight for comfort, particularly given that she had stayed awake for so much of the day and compounded by our traffic delays on the way OUT of the city.   I decided that I would be satisfied with 500 km.  The psychological effect of this is enormous.  There was no pressure to ride in groups where I could have dramatically improved my distance (28 kph by myself is typical, 32-35 kph with a group is typical), and I also didn’t push my body as much as I could have.

By 6 am I had completed 315 miles or 505 km and Jinhee had the car packed.  I turned in my number with two hours left on the clock and we went back to our hotel, grabbed a shower, an hour of sleep and made our way home.

Jinhee made it to her flight and thus Chile on time, I drove Andrew back to RMC and visited my father on Father’s Day.   On Monday I did an 85 km recovery ride from Parham to Maberly, my boyhood home (here’s a picture of what that house looks like now . . . it has been fixed up a LOT).

And the view if you look out the front porch.


So these are the things that are keeping me busy.

Megan is continuing her work for Kinross Gold and has been working at one of their mines in Central Nevada.  She will be home again at the end of next week.

We have decided to get some work done on Home Free while we are ‘stuck’ in Toronto, so I will be going back to Greece to check on that effort once or twice, but much of the summer will be spent in Canada, cycling and enjoying the weather here.   Hopefully things slow down by September so Jinhee can make it to the boat for a few weeks before I bring the boat across in the new year.

This weekend we will get the remaining items out of the old place and finish all of the organizing in our new place.   Then we will find interesting places to ride bikes near here (Jinhee got a new bike for my Birthday  🙂 ).

I will update again sometime next month.


1 thought on “National 24 Hour Challenge

  1. Your first time well done. Its a nice ride with nice people. Been there done that lots of times

Leave a Reply

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close