The final race of the 24 hour season is fast approaching - 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, held over the end of Daylight saving every year. This year, it also marks the finale of the N24 - the National 24 Hour Mountain Bike Solo series. It's a new series this year, with three races joining forces to host solo riders and award the championship to the most consistant soloists. With Frog Hollow only days away, now comes the time for all races to make sure they are ready - double checking all gear and the plan. Most of these tasks should have been completed before leaving home, but it's always a good reminder.
Lights - at this point, you have done a few night rides, ensuring that you know how to use your lights and that the position on both helmet and bars is correct. You should also know long the batteries last - nothing worse then getting halfway on a lap and having lights fail. Note on your master plan how long each light lasts and how many laps you'll be ably to get out of it. You can manage lights well on this course - conserving on the climb and then full power for the descent.
Bike - no last minute maintenance here. All you want to do is make sure position is correct and you've got the spare parts you might need. Brakes, chain, tires - all should have been addressed prior to leaving. A good once over before the race is all you need to do at this point - bump tight everything - and then make any needed adjustments after the preride in terms of tire pressure. Check tire pressures regularly through the night as part of the between laps cleaning and matainance. The course is dusty this year, so cleaning will be important between laps. If you have a spare bike and a solid pit crew, you can alternate bikes and have a cleanish bike every lap.
Clothes and gear - despite what the weather forecast says, it will be cold at night. I've woken up with frost on the ground at this race before and there have been some nasty rain storms. Make sure you have layers and enough clothes to last 25 hours. If weather does move in, having rain gear, spare gloves, knee warmers and a warm jersey will not be overkill. Not sure what to bring? Pack the closet. Remember, that the first half of the lap is climbing, followed by some fast descending and finally the punchy efforts of hurricane rim. Don't be afraid to bring a jacket with you and put it on at the top of the climb to prevent getting chilled. It's also a good idea to bring a warmer pair of gloves and a dry hat in case of a mechanical that forces you to stop.
Food - Plenty of water and other liquids. It's hot and dusty during the day and you will need the water for more then just drinking. As far as food, the usual selection of race food, as well as some real food. Rating gels for 25 hours straight doesn't do well on the stomach. Salty, sweet and simple - the best for long racing. Food is the biggest area of personal preference in racing - what works well for one person may not for another. And there will be cravings for the strangest things at 2:00.
The course is a fun one - and fast, with the fastest men taking about 45 minutes. The first half is a steady double track climb, with a few steep pitches and a couple of short descents. Pace yourself here and don't go too hard on the first climb. Then you turn onto the JEM trail and it's all downhill for a few miles. There's the infamous JEM drop, a series of tight switchbacks carved into cliff to reach the wash below. It's loose this year, with lots of dust. After JEM, there's a long fast swooping descent that is nothing but fun. A wake up call of a rock garden series after you cross the road - ledgy moves both up and down. The descent on this section harder then JEM - line selection has to be smooth to abide flatting. A brief respite of double track and then the Hurricane Rim trail - the hardest section in the race. Slabby rocks, tight moves - all next to a bit of a cliff. That's why you want to be a little more conservative in the first half! Save some energy for the last three miles. Once off the Rim, it's a half a mile of double track climbing back to the transition tent. Sound easy enough? Then keep repeating until the bitter end and good luck! The 2:00 AM demons will be lurking - twice at this race!