The 24 Hours of Light Mountain Bike Festival is an event more suited to the tortoise than the hare.
As Whitehorse’s Sean McCarron, the solo men’s winner, points out, “You can’t go fast, you have to go slow and steady.”
McCarron won his division in the 11th annual event, completing 19 laps of the roughly 14-kilometre course between noon Saturday and noon Sunday at the Copperbelt Mine Museum.
In front at the end, McCarron was at the back at the start, breaking his bike chain on his very first pedal stroke of the race.
“That set me back 15 minutes fixing it,” said McCarron. “In a race like this, I had every intention of staying up all night, riding as much of the 24 hours as I can, so it didn’t make too much of a difference.
“The biggest thing was fueling, hydrating, making sure every 20 minutes to a half-hour I’m eating, and then maintaining my bike – it gets pretty dusty out there.
“Managing the pain helps as well.”
Calgary’s Robyn Parker won the solo women’s division, completing 13 laps over the 24-hour period.
“I didn’t think I had that many, but they were counting them,” said Parker. “I got a little loopy in the middle of the night.”
Loopy is a good way to put, with exhaustion causing her to see, “trolls and magic animals in the woods – it was a little freaky,” she said. “There was some hallucinating going on, but I guess I did 13 laps.
“This was my first 24-hour race, and my first solo one, so I had no strategy,” she added. “But some of the other solo riders gave me some pointers at the start, like pacing. And I followed all the tips I got along the way.
“Walk the hills – that helped. I walked every big climb.
“Pacing – making it your own race. That’s hard because I’m usually competitive when I ride with people. Holding back and letting people pass me was hard. But a lot of the other riders are on teams, so you can’t think that way.”
Pushing through the exhaustion for the two-person title was “Fig Rolls Racing,” featuring Andrew Dye and Lina Augaitis.
The winning four-person team was a real powerhouse, completing 32 laps. Called “Strictly Recreational,” the team included Tamara Goeppel and Thomas Tetz, who were members of the winning four-person mixed division at the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay, and former Team Yukon riders Dave Gonda and Daniel Sessford.
The eight-person division was a tight one. “Sockeye Cycles” tied “The Hard Eight” with 27 laps, but took the prize, completing the last lap three minutes up from the Hard Eight. The fishy crew featured Kyle Smith, Ashley Smith, Andrew Conrad, Taylor Bracher, Kevin Hall, Ross McIntyre, Darton Devin and Dustin Craney.
About 150 cyclists took part in the event, put on by the Contagious Mountain Bike Club.
“We had no pitfalls, the weather was amazing, the music was amazing and non-stop, and people were trucking through the laps like nobody’s business,” said organizer Jessica Thiessen. “It was pretty awesome.”
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