The 24 hours of Rocky Hill Ranch is an annual 24-hour mountain bike race that takes place near Austin, just outside of Smithville, Texas. Competitors race in teams of 2 through 8 persons on a 9 mile course. Relay teams trade off riders after each lap. For the truly insane there is a solo division, and to be honest I think those people are mentally unstable. I like the fact that the makeup of the teams can be both women and men. Team Austin Canoe and Kayak was an 8-person team made up of 7 men and 1 woman with ages ranging 25 to 51. This race is the real deal but our focus was to have fun.
In my opinion we did admirable for a first time team finishing 14th out of 19 teams in our division. For many of us this was not only the first time racing, the first time riding at night, the first time going without any sleep for an extended period of time and the first time being out in the woods with nobody to help you if you have a problem. Yes, I was one of the first timers but I was very excited. I trained for 3 months leading up to the event.
And here is where it all began. I shot out of the gate for my first lap with my legs pumping as hard as I could, attempting to attack “Chuck’s revenge” — which is pretty much a mile long climb. After a quarter of a mile it felt as if my lungs were about to burst, my legs were becoming as weak as “Jell-O” and I found myself pushing my bike up the hills more than once. I have to admit, the rest of that ride was miserable. It wasn’t because of the physical exhaustion but rather the fact that I crashed hard crossing a series of roots around mile 3, losing my handlebar bike light for the remainder of my lap (my own stupidity for not checking the battery cord). For the remaining 6 miles I cursed the trail, my bike, the night, the timers, the race organizer, my teammates and everyone else I could think of while I gutted out the remainder of the lap with only my headlamp. As I completed my lap and returned to the transition area I found myself upset, tagged my teammate Perry who was eager to get back out on the trail and trudged 50 yards over to our campsite.
I sulked in camp for a few minutes as I dreaded my next turn which would come sometime between 12 and 1 a.m. Th night wore on while my other teammates rode their laps. We talked, we ate, we tried to play some games but mostly we sat around the campsite enjoying each others company. We also tried to sleep at different parts of the night but it was tough with so much activity around us.
When I was tagged in for my next dreaded lap, I rode off with an almost Zen like feeling. Fact is, I don’t consider myself an elite athlete, never been one, why in the world did I think I would show up on this day and ride the greatest lap this place had ever seen? Well, I am a guy that doesn’t give up. What kept me going is that it didn’t matter what my time was, all that mattered that I was going to make the most of it by giving this lap my all and enjoy it the best that I could. I realized there was no sense in sulking or feeling angry and reminded myself that I don’t get that many opportunities to be out in the woods with my friends doing this type of thing.
So onward I went and I rode the hell out of that lap — enjoying every minute of it. So what if I needed to occasionally jump off and push my bike? All this made me think of all the things we miss or don’t do because we are afraid we won’t do well or place near the top and worry that people may think less of us for finishing at the bottom half of the standings. My participation was enough for me and it was something to be proud of. It kind of reminds me of the ACK Fishing Challenge that was occurring that same weekend. I know that many would-be participants don’t compete because they don’t think they will do well. I can think of a lot worse things to be doing than fishing with some new friends, eating some pizza, having a good time and getting some free gear regardless of my finish.
So, back to my own personal challenge. Despite a few hurdles, it was a great success for team ACK plus I now have a cool looking ACK racing jersey. I’d like to thank our sponsors including Thule, Wilderness Systems, Powerbar, GSI, Yakima, Malone and NRS for supporting our team. I also want to extend a big thank you to Steve, Liam, Glen, Josh, Perry, Lara and Tim for a great weekend.
I can’t wait until the next event and you can expect to hear more from team ACK.
P.S. Speaking of racing jerseys, we also sell them! Click here for pricing and details. They are great for triathlons, running events, bike races, canoe and kayak races and even fishing tournaments.