Over Memorial Day weekend, a team of 4 from our corporate HQ (in Chapel Hill, NC) set out for the Dark Mountain trails (in Wilkesboro, NC) for the 2011 Burn 24 Hour Challenge mountain bike race. If you’ve never raced in a 24 hour mountain bike race before, it’s a pretty simple proposition: ride as many laps as you can in 24 hours, all through the day and night, either by yourself or as part of a 2-person or 3-5 person team. As you might imagine, it’s part endurance, part speed, part madness, and completely fun (well, maybe not for the solo riders)! The organizers and volunteers of the Burn 24 Hour Challenge really work hard to put on a first-class event, so all you have to do is get on your bike and pedal, and pedal, and pedal….
Here’s our crew at the start of the race (that’s Chris, Greg, Tom and David from left to right), posing in our intimidating all black Performance Ultra II jersey and short race kits while standing next to our equally intimidating Access Stealth 1.0 29er mountain bike. While we were at the race, Tyler from Bikerumor.com dropped by our tent to take a look at the new Stealth 1.0, and you can check out his post about our sub-21 pound trail rocket here.
To get a sense of what the race was like, we asked both of our 24-hour race rookies to write up a few words about their experiences – first up is Greg, our freeriding, dirt-jumping expert:
The race was a blast. I always love riding new trail, even if Dark Mountain offered way more climbing than I was used to. But the atmosphere was what really sold the whole experience. The folks at Burn put on one heck of a race. Sure, there were a few people out there with their eyes on the podium, but there were plenty of racers just content with alternating decent laps with some chill time sitting in the pits cooking dinner and cheering on the constant stream of riders.
I’d have to say my favorite part was the final descent. As you dove down the ridge, you’d start to hear the cheering and cowbells. The pace picked up quickly, and the trail would start throwing in massive berms and a few doubles just to keep things interesting.
24-hour racing is a blast. As a newbie I was concerned I wouldn’t get enough riding in sharing the load with 3 strong riders…but I got all I could handle. This was the most fun I’ve ever had suffering. It was hot and hilly and great company for all. I was a bit disappointed to see the compression sock phenomenon spilling over though! Thought I got away from that when I left triathlon.
It was a great atmosphere, and a fantastic way to spend the weekend. Highlights… guilt-free Nathan’s hotdogs, night riding, and the amazing scenery.
Our team may not have been turning the fastest lap times, but we definitely had a great time and made a bunch of new friends, as folks dropped by our tent to check out the Stealth 1.0 or snag some free samples of PowerBar Gel Blasts and PowerGels (the green apple flavor gel was a crowd favorite).
We also took the opportunity to test out a slew of cycling headlights in real racing conditions, from tried-and-true favorites to some brand new options. We’ll share some of our light testing results here on the blog in the coming weeks, for those looking for a new setup to hit the trails at night. Even if you don’t try out 24-hour racing, you should definitely give night riding a try – it makes riding trails that you know like the back of your hand a whole new, and exhilarating, experience!
To see more photos from this year’s Burn 24, head on over to the Performance Facebook page and check out our Burn 24 Hour Challenge 2011 photo gallery – be sure to log in and let us know what pics you like!