THE LONGEST ONE DAY RACE

No, literally. It is, in fact the longest one day race possible out of the year, as Gro Races opts to put on a race on the day we fall back for the time change, therefor gaining an hour, making it a 25 hour day. The 25 Hours of Frog Hollow in Virgin, Utah. And a few of us Troupers went out there to cap our 2016 MTB racing season off with an epic one.

You truly couldn’t ask for a more picturesque place to race a bike for 25 hours; with red cliffs and mesas surrounding us, terrain filled with rocks, drops, vistas, and some awesome flow, it was easy to get lost in the moment and forget you were racing.

I took on the Solo Female Singlespeed category, and the Troupe men took on the most popular category out there, the 4-Man relay, a category that was 19 teams deep. We also had Trouper Travis, and Crew Master Greg out there for support, tech work, the ever-so-important meal/coffee prep, drum-playing, and general awesomeness. I must pause here and really ring home just how awesome it was having these guys out there. Being able to see Tim, Erik, Charlie, and JJ throughout the day made it so much more fun and uplifting, especially in the cold, wee hours of the night. And having Travis and Greg there for support, food, and company made every hour enjoyable in some way, shape, or form.

We went out and pre-rode Friday, and instantly I was second-guessing everything. I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew, and my confidence plummeted. This was a tough course that required a fair amount of concentration, (something one may struggle for fifteen hours or so in). I spent some time that evening trying to get the negative out of my head, and work on wrapping my head (and my emotions) around the fact that this would be a really tough day.

The race itself went fairly smoothly for me. It was tough, but manageable. My gearing choice of 32:19 turned out to be the right one, as it afforded me the luxury of pedaling on some of the flowy downhill, and putting a bit of a gap on my competition. I was able to take longer meal breaks during the night, and lay laps down at my own pace when I was really tired.

Finishing Lap 9 found me asking a question that, to the rest of the world would probably seem like a bizarre one: “Wait, is it the first 2:48am or the second 2:48am?”

By the time morning came, I was ready for it to be 10am. My body was hurting, I couldn’t make my stomach stop growling despite eating tons of food, and every bump and rock felt excruciating. But shockingly, my brain was still fairly pleasant, and I still felt like I was racing vs “surviving”.

By 10:21am, I had finished 11 laps, 145 miles, over 12K elevation gain, for a 1st Place finish in Solo Female SS. But more importantly I had learned a few invaluable lessons…

Lesson 1. Don’t let negativity get the best of you. The worst part of this race for me was Friday’s pre-ride. I led myself to believe that I couldn’t do this race. I didn’t think I was capable, and I had zero confidence. I learned that taking the time to get those thoughts to “quiet down” was worth it, and that we’re all capable of achieving our goals, no matter how daunting they seem.

Lesson 2. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I thought of this quote often during the race. Anytime Tim, Charlie, Erik, or JJ passed me, and I realized that we were all going far, sharing an epic experience together, it pushed me to go harder, and do so with a smile. Anytime I rounded the final corner and heard Greg playing drums for the racers, or having Travis talk my ear off about Lord of the Rings during one of my most painful hours that day, I thought of that quote. Racing alone is cool. Racing with these guys is truly, adventurously EPIC!

And Lesson 3. Stop over-analyzing it and have fun. Bikes are fun. Racing is fun. I tried to pick out one awesome part of the course that made me smile each and every lap (which wasn’t very hard to do out on that course). It reminds me of just how much I cherish the feeling of being on two wheels and it keeps me grateful that I get to be a part of such an amazing sport.

Tim VanGilder

mission viejo