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

24 Hours of Precipitation

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September 3-4, 2005

Flashback if you will to last years 24 Hours of Adrenaline race. In the afterglow of the third place finish in our inaugural event an exhausted racer commented, "That was harder than I thought it would be. Thanks God it didn’t rain. Could you imagine what that would be like?"….

Oscar Wilde once said "be careful what you wish for—you just might get it" Despite not actually wishing for rain, we had clearly tempted fate by even contemplating the possibility of foul weather. Come on, it’s still summer right? We had so much fun at this race in 2004 that SORCE returned to Whistler with two teams this year.

When we arrived there on Friday the few showers overnight on Thursday had dropped the dust and by 1pm the skies were clearing nicely. The advance party set up a primo campsite featuring virgin 24 hour racer Ken Holmes’s "Magic Bus" ( a masterfully converted coach liner bus) flanked by Jonathan’s trailer and Lance Turners camper. Finishing off the site were the two SORCE tents and a huge tarp (dubbed the "Tarp Mahal" by Ernie). For decorative touch, cheesy patio lights adorned the periphery as part of our attempted Woodstock theme (I was there man!) As the afternoon sun warmed the mountain flanks we had forgotten what a mudfest that summer of love music festival turned out to be.

The improved course had set up nice and tacky for our dry run as we preride a lap to scope out the terrain. It’s a great mix of technical Whistler rock gardens, rooty climbs, liberally salted with smooth switchbacks and forgiving graveled singletrack roller coasters. The weather forecast called for "A mix of sun and cloud with a 60% chance of showers" for Saturday and Sunday. Not beach weather but decent racing conditions all the same. With even a passing glance at the title of this piece I am sure you had deduced that the forecast was predictably incorrect. Saturday morning greets us with a torrential deluge and a 200 foot ceiling of slate grey cumulus.

But before I drone on in a meteorological rant, I should introduce our two teams, both competing in the 200+ age category. Our A team, SORCE Team Chain Suck, was once again led by Captain Jonathan "Jean Luc" Stibbs and fleshed out with Frank "Maserati" Amiratti, Ken "Shorty" Bognar, Jeff "One Speed" Hanninen, and Ernie "The King" Van Dyk, aka the "Flying Dutchman". Our more relaxed (that means slower!) B team was headed by Captain Ty "Let’s Go" Tomlinson, and backed by Ken "Rip Van Winkle" Holmes, Zoltan "Dr. Pain" Keresztes, myself Jim Richardson, and Lance "Armstrong" Turner. Note that apart from the team captains, all names appear in alphabetical order and all monikers are the sole domain of the author’s creative license. That’s the very same license that spares me a ridiculous nickname.

And now the rant begins! We huddle dejectedly under the Tarp Mahal and finally figure out our lead riders for the Le Mans style (running) start. Jonathan and Lance head out after the solo competitors into the pounding rain. Despite the wet, the temperature is decent and on our first lap the course holds up well but by the second run the trails are feeling the effects of the 1000 or so tires that have rolled or spun over their surface. Rain slick roots and greasy mud sections expand at every lap. The nice clean lines we enjoyed on the first circuit become a confusing braided mass of gumbo with each passing hour. The saving grace is that much of the course is on hard packed gravel that is holding up incredibly well except for some tooth rattling washboard created by over-zealous braking into some corners.

Unfortunately, our thoroughbred A team racers had some health issues with Jeff coming off a severe chest cold and Ernie seemingly picking up where Jeff left off. Ken Bognar is suffering as well from the effects of recent car crash. The B team however is hale and hearty and begins to wonder whether all that training is really good for you! When night falls Jeff is too ill to crawl out of bed for lap 2. Could this be the end of Chain Sucks podium chances? Faster than you can say "Engage Number One" Captain "Jean Luc" Stibbs pulls a back-to-back 4th and 5th lap night ride to give Jeff a break anticipating a well deserved 8 hour stretch of R and R for himself. Ken puts in a single and then Frank follows suit with a double shot of adrenalinelike Jonathan. Rim brakes, chain breaks and an ensuing cold force Ernie to pack it in after lap 3. To make matters worse, Jonathan not only loses out on his break with 2 sick riders but the change in sequence results in "Shorty" delaying his lap due to his deluxe off site accommodation and Franks shorts his break as well.

When the night gives way to a dawn drizzle, I swap my light set for a bare helmet at 6:20 and head out on the first daylight ride on Sunday. I manage to pass several team riders despite the fact that my granny gear is getting more of a workout than it had in the previous 3 laps. Of course the solo riders are looking pretty glassy eyed as they politely pull off when I overtake them. The solo competitors have a truly amazing stamina and drive but it still feels good to pass someone for a change. These feelings of guilt-tinged schadenfreud give way to pure elation as I crest the last hard climb and hammer in the big ring to the finish line. I pull off my best running dismount of the race through the transition area and lo and behold there is no bleary eyed SORCE member to take the baton.

I pedal back to the camp and find Ken "Rip van Winkle" Holmes fast asleep in the Magic Bus. Unfortunately, no one had roused him from his slumber to prepare for his upcoming lap. Now a more competitive rider may have stewed over this dereliction of duty. Not me! I realized that I had definitely pulled my last lap and with a light step bolted to the showers. Meanwhile, Jeff Hanninen has regained a semblance of health and is suiting up to dole out plenty of singlespeed whuppass, the first of two Sunday laps for Jeff on the greasy course.

 Zolt peels off his last lap for Team B under a peal of thunder we realize that it couldn’t be any worse unless we were hit by lightning. As the race winds down approaching the noon cut off the standings are clear. Team Chain suck in third place with 23 laps (6 for Jonathan and Frank, 5 for Ken and 3 for Jeff and Ernie) and Team Wanna B in fifth with 20 laps (sharing a respectable 4 laps a piece). The World Solo champ Chris Eatough finishes with an amazing 22 laps only 25 minutes ahead of the second place racer. This guy passed me on my second lap then promptly set off ahead arcing a stream of urine off to the side of the trail. At least he didn’t get any on me!

After post race beers we work together to clean up the campsite and head off to the awards ceremony at 1:30 (which was thankfully moved indoors on account of the continual heavy rain) For their efforts, Team Chain Suck picks up some socks and a DVD of last years race. I think gumboots would have been more appropriate! At the awards ceremony the primo door prize, a set of $1200 CrossMax wheels gets scooped by team B Captain Ty Tomlinson. Lucky bugger!

Would we do it again? Well lightning doesn’t strike twice right? See you again at Whistler on Labour Day weekend 2006.

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