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Tails from the Trails

Steve Shikaze

My 1st 24 Hours of Adrenalin Experience
August 17, 2002 Hardwood Hills

by Steve Shikaze

We got to the site shortly after 9am Saturday morning and the rest of our teammates arrived around the same time. There seemed to be an unspoken nervousness among everyone, as we set up tents and tuned up our bikes. The race started at noon and on my team of five, I raced second. Our lead-off rider had a good Lemans start and a decent first lap. I figured he'd be about an hour and a half, so after watching the start, I headed back to camp to get ready. I went down to the transition tent at about 1pm and the wait made me even more nervous. The transition tent was full of eager riders ready to take the baton, run to their bikes and race off. Many of these riders wore club jerseys that spoke of speed and experience. How could I even think of keeping up with such riders?

Our leadoff rider came in at about 1:40pm and I headed out. Right away I didn't feel very good because of my nervous stomach, so I didn't ride too hard but I tried to keep a decent pace. There were four water stations along the 22km-course and I stopped at each one for a quick break. It was sunny, hot and humid and the course just kept going on and on. I found it very long - too long actually - and it seemed to be constantly going UP hill. I managed to complete the lap in a time of 1 hour 37 minutes. Exhausted and soaked with sweat, I headed back to camp exhausted, soaked and certain that I couldn't do that again.

Fortunately, I had a good long break during which I was able to cool off, eat and rest. My nephew took part in the 24 Minutes of Adrenalin and this provided me with a good distraction from my next lap, which would be at night. Watching the kids race with such enthusiasm and determination on their little faces, I thought that if they could do it, then I could. I managed to get in an hour or two of sleep, and my night lap started at midnight. I have a good helmet light but my helmet was too loose and the light was bobbing around. I felt better at night once I got riding, but before my lap started, I was wondering why I was doing this. As I started out on my night lap, I knew I needed a positive experience during this lap, and I had such an experience during the first half of the lap when there were no riders within sight ahead or behind me. The solitude of night riding and the focus of seeing only the trail ahead made me smile.

Because I found it harder to see at night because of my poor bobbing lights, I was much slower. I stopped at each station again. I stopped to let faster riders get by. And my time was an hour and 55 minutes. I came back, ate, cleaned up, and slept until 6am. Again, I had about an 8-hour break, and my final lap started at 10:20am. The night had passed quickly, and by morning I felt very good and energetic. I told my brothers, who were on a faster team, that I could ride under an hour 30, and I really thought I could. I would be riding the final lap for our team.

I started quickly but I was careful to pace myself. I whizzed right by the first check point without taking water and I passed a few riders along the way. Faster riders still passed me, but instead of stopping to let them by, I'd ride faster until I could slow down a bit to let them by. I tried to do little things like this to save time. Some of the bigger hills I couldn't ride, so on the first two laps, I walked up. On this final lap, I grabbed my bike and ran up these same hills because I felt good. I kept track of my time and I knew I'd be close to an hour 30. I didn't stop at any check point; I only accepted a cup of water as I raced by. I sprinted to the finish and my time was an hour 31 minutes. My fastest lap by far.

Our team completed 12 laps in just under 24 hours. The question I am now faced with is this: would I enter such an event again? If you'd have asked me after the first lap, I'd say no way. After the second lap, I'd say probably not. After the last lap, it's a definite maybe! I think I could handle one of these each year. After such a miserable first lap, I had wondered how I could muster enough will power to do two more. Somewhere, somehow, I found the inner strength, and now, upon reflection, I realize it can only be one thing that could motivate me through the last lap.......adrenalin.

-- Steve Shikaze