24 Hours of Big Bear

June 18-19, 2005

Big Bear Lake, West Virginia

 

For the last 15 years, Granny Gear Productions has put on a 24 hour race near their home of Davis, West Virginia. Laird Knight, founder and owner of Granny Gear, has a reputation for making some really gnarly race courses. I've got great stories of the races I used to do many years ago on courses designed by Laird. After last year's fiasco in Snowshoe, he decided to make the course a bit more fun and a bit less challenging.

24 hour races have developed since that first one about 15 years ago. The most popular category in which to race is the 4-person team relay. The race starts with a Le Mans start. The first riders for each team gather in one place about 1/4 mile away from their bikes. The gun goes off and everyone runs to get to their bike. They grab their bike and head out onto the course. No-one enjoys this, but it makes for an interesting start.

Once that rider finishes his/her lap, they hand off a small batton to the scoring marshal and scan their ID card on a sensor to mark their time. The timing marshall then hands the batton to the next rider on the team, signs in their name on the ledger, and the next person on the team scans their ID card on the sensor, thus signifying that the next lap has begun. The first rider can then go back to camp, eat, clean up and sleep. This process is repeated for 24 hours.

At the end, if your team crosses the line before noon, the next rider gets to go out for a lap, even though they will finish after noon. Lots of people don't want to go out for that last lap, so they wait to scan in until after 12pm.

The Team (Listed in the order that we raced):

David

David is the ironman of the group. He puts everything he's got into every ride and is always willing to ride another lap.

 

Chris

As you can tell from this photo, Chris is the bike handler. His techical skills are amazing. It was truly tough for me to pick a great photo of Chris riding his bike. There were too many to choose from.

Jason

Jason defies description. He's fast. He has great endurance. He's got the determination and drive that it takes to be successful at endurance racing.

 

Me

My special gift to this group is my ability to grow strange and interesting facial hair. But seriously... I guess I bring the "slow and steady wins the race" attitude to the team. I'm not the fastest, toughest or best bike handler, but I've got a little of all three and that manages to get me around the course.

Our Sponsors:

Many thanks to Bike Doctor on Kent Island, Maryland. Cory and Paul run a fantastic bike shop and are getting ready to open another. They hooked us up with a lot of things that we needed for this race to go off smoothly. Not the least of which is the swanky looking jersey that I modeled in some of the photos below. I almost look like I belong racing bicycles on that thing. Thanks guys!

The Course:

Here's what the trail looked like from space (Click on the map for a large view of the map).

As I described above, I loved this course. It was physically challenging and technically challenging while still being ridable for 24 hours. It also was a great course for those of us who ride single speed bikes. It was advertised as about 12.6 miles long, but I measured it out at closer to 13.2 miles. That doesn't seem like a big difference, but it adds up after a while.

The first half of the course was rolling and fast. There were some good climbs, some good descents and a lot of fun singletrack. The section through the evergreen forrest was possibly the funnest. It was a relatively flat section that had banked turns that wove through equally spaced pine trees. It was beautiful and fast.

There was one nasty, rutted, rocky descent. I was amazed at how fast people were flying down that!!!! I took it nice and easy since I don't ride a bike with suspension on it. Lots of people made up big time there. I was passed by a few people and had to work hard to pass them back on the following climb. There were plenty of wrecks on this area.

Later in the lap, there was a climb that went up the same hill almost parallel to the big descent that I described above. That was a hike for many people... myself included. I was definitely in admiration of the folks that rode up that.

In between the big climb and the big descent was a big pile of rocks. This rock garden was nicely ridable when we pre-road the course 4 days before the race. On race day it was muddy and slick. It had rained and this became a hike for almost all of us.

The last part of the course to note is the bridge. Laird always has this big steel bridge that he puts up at the start finish to go over the entry road. It is fun as heck to ride over, but proved a little tough for some people when they were tired. I saw at least 6 or 7 crashes on the bridge. None were serious... mostly just people tipping over.

Here's a 3D rendering of the trail. (Click on the map for a large view of the map).

Our Individual Experience:

David:

Chris:

Jason: "It was fun having that many people to hang out with not to mention it was way cool being setup close enough to Dad that we could hang out together, being fathers day weekend and all it was nice to get some extra time in with Dad. Since Dad and I both went third in our teams rotations it was an added perk having him to head up to the start/finish area with when it came time for our laps. I figure not to many sons get the privelage of spending fathers day doing a mountain bike race with their pops." Click HERE for the rest of Jason's race report.

Pete: "My friend JoeP hit the nail on the head when he said that the best thing about this race was the vibe. People ask my why I'm starting back racing after 13 years off. It is because the people involved in these races are just fantastic. If you ever want to see the best side of someone, go to a 24 hour mountain bike race with them. I was camping with 2 folks that had never raced before. They both commented that the event was great because EVERYONE was really cool." Click HERE for my full report.

Photos:


Pete Climbing

Night Bridge

Night Bridge 2

My Glamour shot.

Jason's Glamour Shot

     

 

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