Surrey Off Road Cycling Enthusiasts - ride, build, learn, preserve.

24 Hours of Excedrine

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SORCE Team Chain Suck’s catchy, yet ironic, moniker was the brainchild of Team Captain, Jonathan "Jonny J" Stibbs. Len’s version was perhaps a bit too 18A for general consumption. Little did we know when we planned to take part in the Whistler version of the 24 hours of Adrenalin that our team of middle aged average guys would take third place in our division.

Last spring the idea was sprung to enlist a couple or three teams from SORCE Bike Club for this epic event. At the time we figured it would a great party - a last hurrah to the dog days of summer. As the event drew nearer our dreams of a three teams dropped to two and we finally stuck upon a single 5 man team. The team consisted of our afore mentioned Captain, Frank "the Italian Stallion" Ammirati, Todd "Wally aka It’s All Doable" Anderson, Mark "Stealth" Pace-Floridia, and yours truly, Jim "Stumpy" Richardson. The story of our podium finish provides a certain narcissistic inspiration to us and hopefully to other paunchy balding average Joe or Jane riders.

"C’mon guys, it’ll be a party" I promise to the skeptical group of Wednesday night riders over post-ride beers at the Legion. Again there were no more bites and it looks like we are down to one team. Giving up Labour Day weekend to a race is clearly a hard sell between the family pressure and the general desire to have one last brewski in the hammock before the kids head back to school

Jonathan had stepped to bat for us and reserved a spot for our team with his hard earned shekels setting our figurative wheels in motion and in the process set himself up for the Captaincy. No turning back now. The summer had been such a cooker that we anticipated hot and dry conditions but as the day approached we suffered through the grey and wet of typical PNE weather. Jonathan and Frank prepositioned SORCE HQ on Friday the day before the race picking a primo spot to park Jonny J’s retro camper. After a quick preride they figured we would be doing about 80 minutes per lap.

It’s Saturday morning, a light drizzle is falling and we are all prepping our bikes to get ready for the 12 noon start. Fortunately the rain stops and we see some glimpses of blue sky as the day unfolds. Mark is our first rider being the youngest and hopefully fastest among us. We draw straws for the remaining positions (highly scientific!) and I take second followed by Jonathan, Todd and Frank pulling up the rear. After a frantic last minute dash for the baton the noon gun goes off and with a Lemans (running) start the race begins around the perimeter of Blackcomb Base II. When the riders finally return on their bikes we see no sign of Mark. Was he so fast none of us saw him pass by? Ten minutes later, just as we are leaving for the campsite we see him sprinting around the

corner cursing about a broken chain—already we are in last place after 15 minutes of racing. Chain suck is right!

After this less-than-stellar start and counting on an 80 minute lap I show up at the transition area about 1:10 pm. At about 1:15 they announce "Team 490, get on course your rider is DNF" Huh? The rules of the race allow for riders to check in at one of three check points along the course. If they cannot finish their lap for any reason the course marshal will radio in and the next racer can start. Unfortunately, you get no benefit for any portion of the incomplete lap. So now with our team solidly in last place I manage to get myself together and pedal out of the transition area batonless and with no idea what has happened to our first rider.

The course itself winds around the singletrack and double track near Blackcomb base II, Lost Lake and out towards Green Lake. It is an excellent mix of tight and technical and lots of open and flowing riding. There are plenty of rooty descents and climbs and some rocky sections as well to challenge the racers. On one such rocky scramble I snap my chain. What’s that about? In 8 years of riding I think I have only broken my chain two or three times so it comes as quite a shock. The racers are very supportive asking if I have everything I need for the repair as they stream by. I fiddle around with my chain tool mumbling to them incoherently and eventually I am back in the saddle again having lightened my chain by a couple of links.

The only serious climbing is in the last quarter of the course where you ascend a sustained double track hill. About halfway up the second section my chain snaps another time. Chain suck strikes again! I guess in my hurry to get going I had done a poor repair the first time. Now I have bent links at both ends of the break and am looking at losing another 4 links. I need to be a little creative so I cannibalize part of one end and limit my losses to two links be disassembling the waste piece for the small link and trading it for the bent piece. Basically it’s like repairing four chains by the time I get things back together. On the up side I’m getting much faster at it now! Finally, I get things going and once I crest the hill it’s a big ring rip down to the transition and we finish lap number one. We now hold the record for slowest lap with a time of 2 hours and 20 minutes with half of that the time for me to do the circuit. Well there is nowhere to go but up as I give Jonathan a high five in lieu of a baton pass.

I wander up to SORCE HQ and run into Mark. It turns out he snapped his chain three times in the first lap and that forced him to pull out at the first checkpoint. Hopefully we have spent our bad karma and things will start improving. We now know we have 7 teams in our category and we are clearly in the basement. However, by the time we all run our first lap we are loving the course. Frank pulls off our first sub-hour lap on his first pass with 57 minutes. Mark matches Frank’s lap and passes me the baton for my last daylight ride and I am feeling good. No more mechanicals and now that I know the course I am able to stay off

of the brakes a lot more and return to the transition in a respectable 62 minutes. We have moved up from last place just as dusk settles!

When the night riding starts we lose very little time and slowly but surely we scratch our way up the ranks. There is something perverse about crawling out of a warm sleeping bag in the wee hours to pull on a damp smelly jersey and rip the course one more time. We all do it and resume our trance like state once we quaff the obligatory post lap beer. But the real heroes are those Solo competitors who have been out there grinding for 14+ hours straight. Eventually daylight returns, and I finish my fourth and last lap at about eight o’clock and am looking forward to a cup of coffee in lieu of the beer. Mark greets me at the transition with the old saw "Well I’ve got some good news and some bad news". We have moved into third place but he has injured his knee and can’t pull the anchor lap we will need to stay in third spot. Since I follow him in the sequence it looks like I will need to pull off another lap. I am not looking forward to another circuit since I was starting to cramp up a bit on the last one. Thankfully, our team Captain rises to the occasion (besides, he never cramps up) and takes the extra lap. We pull our last lap in at about 12: 05 and the race for us is over. There are still many racers on the course and we kick back and sip on our Sleeman’s (it’s past noon so it’s OK) and watch the solo riders come in. Chris Eatough beats out Tinker Juarez with 21 laps and former Olympian Leslie Tomlinson takes it for the women. Simply amazing endurance athletes every one of them.

We stick around for the medal presentation and in a humourous moment Todd’s cell phone rings while we are on the podium. The MC grabs the phone and in front of hundreds of onlookers encourages Todd’s wife Sue to give him a little extra special treatment when he gets home. The crowd goes wild. We leave with our swag and medals and break camp in anticipation of a good nights sleep. I try to stay awake until 10:00 pm but find myself comatose by 9:30 not to awake until 11 hours later. The sleep was absolutely delicious and I woke refreshed and ready to tour the course with the family. When we got ready to ride away I noticed I couldn’t down shift from the big ring. I look at my drive train and find to my horror that two link pins have worked their way out of the chain. It was hanging together by a thread. If I had run that last lap it would have blown and we would no doubt have dropped to fourth place. Thanks Jonathan for picking up the slack!! I guess it was karma.

Would we do it again? You bet! We’ll be back next year with shiny new drivetrains and more jerseys!

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