Why enter a 24-hour event? For the camaraderie, for the trails, for the feeling of lasting a day in the saddle, and seven more reasons…
1 The mental journey
Sometimes it’s easy — the sun is setting, you just had the most amazing bacon and egg bap, and your legs feel strong. Then, hours later in the dark, when fatigue is setting in, you spin out on a wet rock and it ruins your flow.
All your team-mates are going through the same as you. You know how hard it is and so do they, so a bond forms. Even if you’ve just met, it’ll soon seem like you’ve been mates for years.
3 A time warp
Something strange happens when you mix a long day with hard effort. Three hours can vanish in a flash, and you feel like the race will be over in no time. Then all of a sudden you can be sat waiting for your turn and time stands still. You’ll genuinely believe your watch is broken.
4 Knowing your bike
Putting in a big effort is hard on your body, and it’s tough on the bike too. You develop an acute awareness of every mechanical issue: you’ll even notice if your right cleat feels a millimetre out of position. By the end of the race your bike feels like an extension of your body.
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5 Knowing yourself
You pass people, and they pass you, but it doesn’t matter. Some riders will be clean and fresh, solo riders will have ridden all day. You learn to not let any change of position faze you — the rider who’s just overtaken you is probably in a different category, and effectively riding a different race.
6 Sensory overload
The first lap in the dark is the best thing ever; the course totally changes, your eyes are on stalks, you stumble from one big moment to the next and you finish the lap absolutely buzzing!
And then the first lap after sunrise becomes the new best thing ever; you seem to have effortless speed on sections that seemed slow at night. The sun gives you extra energy, and all of a sudden you can ride faster and harder.
7 For the shift in senses
At night where you can see less, your senses of smell and hearing are heightened — you catch a whiff of bacon cooking amongst the damp pines, even though you’re a mile from the pits. And the sound of a rider skidding hundreds of metres behind makes you turn around, thinking you’re about to be passed.
A 24-hour race calls for more exertion during a single day than almost anything else you could do. And although it will take its toll on your body, with enough time to recover, you’ll feel stronger than ever in the long run.
9 It’s a day like no other
Any routine of eating and sleeping is thrown out of the window — 4am might as well be 4pm, just a little darker. You get on your bike and you ride regardless of the time, and once you’ve done your turn, any time is eating time.
10 There is plenty of choice
All over the country and throughout the year there are events going on. Try Mountain Mayhem, it’s the longest running 24hr mtb race in the world.