For the last month or so, I have been kicking around in my head the idea of doing a long endurance race sometime in August or September. The good news is that there are plenty of options. Each option has its own unique challenges and of course there are pros and cons for each option involving money (entry fees), travel time to venues, ability to involve the wife and kids, missing family commitments, fun factor of events, etc. In no particular order, the options are as follows:
NUE Series 100 Milers – I have some unfinished business after the Mohican 100. Due to geographic constraints, the only two possibilities are the Fools Gold 100 in GA (8/16) and Shenandoah 100 in VA (8/31). Both are backcountry races that involve tons (over 11k feet) of climbing and awesome single track. They typically have a big party after (and before at Shenandoah) the race, which is nice. The negatives are that they each involve 6-8 hours of driving each way and cost over $130 to enter. These 100 milers typically take me take 8-10 hours to finish, so not as much saddle time as a 12 or 24 hour solo race (I think this is good). In 2006, I took the family to Shenandoah and we had a nice time. We stayed at a decent hotel that had a pool to keep kids amused while I was out racing my bike for 9+ hours. Fools Gold is only 2 weeks away on 8/16, so there is not much time to add fitness, while Shenandoah affords a little more time to prepare.
24 Hour Solo Race – There are 12 and 24 Hour Races all over the country just about every weekend. However, with airfare and gas prices soaring, travel is the primary constraint. Given this limitation, the two possibilities are Seven Springs 24 Hour on 8/30 or 24 Hours of Mohican on 9/13. Mohican is closer (1.5 vs 3.0 hours), while Seven Springs gets a bigger turnout of teams and solos. The larger the event in terms of racers and spectators, the more motivation to not quit or sleep during the “bewitching hours” between 2am and 6am. However, Mohican’s entry fee is $95 while Seven Springs is $230 for solos!!
The kids have never seen me do a 24 hour solo race (my daughter did but she was only a year or so old). I think they would be bored after 6 hours and my wife likely would have her hands full camping out at a race venue with a 5 and 8 year old. Seven Springs has plenty of condos available but that adds to the cost of an already expensive weekend. Mohican is semi primitive camping. I have taken the kids camping numerous times, but I will not be around to help watch/entertain the kids as I will be riding my bike for 24 hours. Camping would be easier (and less riskier in the event of rain) if we borrowed my dad's motorhome (a gas guzzler) and drove 2 hours to the venue. Seven Springs is 8/30 which is Labor Day Weekend and Mohican is a few weeks later on 9/13. More time to train and otherwise prepare for Mohican compared to Seven Springs. If my parents joined us in the motorhome, it would be a little crowded in the RV, but it would be a regular friggin party and another set of hands/eyes for the kids. My cousin Marc (my pit dude in previous 12/24 hour races) will be available for Mohican and possibly Seven Springs.
1,000k Brevet in Columbus, OH – I have never done a Brevet and the longest I have ever ridden in a day was 320 miles in 2005 at the Trans-Iowa race (albeit on a mountain bike with knobbies on gravel roads across the state of Iowa in 26 hours). It starts Saturday morning 8/30 at 5am and has a 75 hour cutoff. The entry fee is only $20. The problem is that the event falls on Labor Day Weekend and it will take me somewhere around 35-40 hours (assuming around 15 mph average, including stops and minimal sleep) which would have me finishing late Sunday evening. Family would not be included in this one, so maybe not such a great way to spend a holiday weekend, eh? On the other hand, it is cheap and something new!
I am leaning toward 24 Hours of Mohican. The deadline for the $95 registration is tomorrow.
Or maybe just f**k it and go for a couple long rides.