There are a lot of things you can do in 24 hours. I decided to sit on my bike and ride for said 24 hours (ish). The National 24 Hour Challenge is a test of your endurance to stay on the bike and push yourself to keep going as much as you can and as fast as you can. I woke up around 6am ready to fulfill my extremely modest goal of at least doing every loop once (3 different length loops at 122/24/7).
Starting out on a 122 mile loop with 247 other riders is an amazing experience. You know as you are just getting started that you better group up. I snuggled in with 2 wonderful women from Canada. This was a challenging loop. Basically take Barry Roubaix (this race takes place in the same county as Barry and actually circles Hastings) minus the gravel but the same hills for 122 miles. The key was to keep eating.
Because I didn't have a crew, I had pb&j sandwiches in all of my jersey pockets. Through hills and head wind and one missed turn we made it back to the school in 9 hours flat. The next loop, a mild 24 miles, had to be done at least once before 8pm. I shoveled one more pb&j sandwich in and hopped back out there alone before my butt got sassy. This loop was pretty hilly and followed part of the first loop around Gun Lake.
Coming back in on this loop I had the option to get back out and do one more or wait 7 minutes for the small 7.6 mile mostly flat loop. I decided to eat more food and go for the small loop. I put in my first lap before 8 putting me at 153 miles (my goal) in just under 12 hours. Well crap, I've got 12 more hours. I put in another 7 laps on this loop to finally crest the 200 mile mark at 1:30 am (17.5 hours in). At this point I'm starting to drag. A really awesome extremely tall guy pulled me for a bit. I only went off the road once.
At this point I decided I need more food and a nap. I get in a 2 hour nap and head back out at 4 am. I want to do 6 more laps. Keep in mind it is pitch black out, no street lights except at the turns. There is however a beautiful parade of flashing and non flashing red and white lights all around you. (Side note: my headlight died mid lap 2, thank god for my camping head lamp). Around my 3rd lap the sky starts to lighten, by lap 5 the sun is fully up. My final lap is slow but still fun. As I approach the school with 20 minutes left in the 24 hours I have done 252.3 miles.
Everyone applauds you as you come in and people start trading war stories. With my 252 miles I had managed to place 2nd, tied with another woman out of 4 in my age group. This was my first time doing this race. The people are amazing and so supportive. Most of the time you have no clue how your competition is doing so it really is about pushing yourself and seeing what you have in you. I never would have thought that I could have ridden 252 miles with only 2 hours of sleep. The top male mileage was 493.9 miles and the top female was 424.3 miles.
Sometimes if you push yourself in small increments you can achieve crazy goals.