Tip 5: Eat Real Food
Nutrition bars and Gu—or in Billy's case, beer and cigarettes—might help you on the course but when you are sitting around the campfire, fuel with real food. Pre-made pasta can easily be reheated over the campfire. If you time things right, the riders at camp can cook dinner for the person coming in from the course. That person can cook for the next rider, and so on. Eat right when you finish your lap to allow time for the food to settle.
Tip 6: Don't Be a Hero
Pre-ride the course if you can. There will probably be sections that you won't want to ride or that require you to hike your bike. Get to know where these are on the course so you are not surprised—especially on the night laps. Know your limits and make sure you feel comfortable before taking risks.
Tip 7: Wear the Right Clothes
The night of our race, it rained—not surprising given our luck. The only light-weight waterproof jacket I had was a non-breathable rain shell. I spent the colder night laps zipping and unzipping my jacket. I went from overheating with the jacket zipped to utterly freezing if I let the cold night air hit my chest.
Tip 8: Bring Groupies
Who doesn't love hanging out at bike races without the pressure of racing? We lived in Vail, Colorado so it wasn't hard to convince people to come and hang out. It's great to have a friendly face when you come back to camp, and even better to have someone take care of your bike when you're not riding it.
If you are not friends with people who think sleeping on dirt and not showering for two days is fun beg them, bribe them, or buy them beer. Do what you can to convince them that being your team's personal chef or technician is a great idea.
Tip 9: Remember You Are Part of a Team
On Simone's last loop his chain broke. Instead of fixing it and continuing on, he turned around and walked back to camp. His lap time was still rolling so I had no choice but to hit the course with 45 minutes already on my clock.
I'm not sure whose luck was worse—Simone's, or mine for having to ride after him.
At that point, there was only two hours left in the race. If I came in before noon, someone else would have had to go out. No one wanted to ride again so I drew out my final lap to eat up the clock. I sucked it up, accepted the fact that my final lap time would blow, and just went out and had a good time on the course.
Tip 9.5: Decide How You Will Handle the Final Lap
It's not likely your team will finish right at the designated time. Learn the rules and decide beforehand if someone will ride an extra lap, or if your team will take the penalty for coming in early.
Tip 10: Have Fun (the only tip we actually got right)
Something will always go wrong. Our team was a good example. We were so disorganized that it was hard for anyone to have expectations, so we focused on just enjoying the experience. Aside from Simone's chain, none of our mishaps prevented us from riding, so anytime we hit a glitch, all we could do was laugh and move past it.
It's hard to predict what will happen in 24 hours of racing. If things start to go wrong, take a breath and check your attitude. After all, the best part about a 24-hour mountain bike race is that you get to ride mountain bikes all day long.