Added: A preview of the video shot during the race:
What would you think of riding the rough potholed streets of downtown, fighting traffic, avoiding red lights, weaving through pedestrians heading to concerts and events, jumping curves, weaving through cars, and screaming at cabbies? Some people do that everyday while heading to work. Bike messengers do that for a workday. Would you be willing to do it 24 hours straight? At the Faster Mustache 24 Hour Urban Bike Relay 201 people, on teams and solo, did. Hell, I did it two weeks after finishing an Ironman- Ironman Louisville in Kentucky. It seemed like a nice way to start relaxing in the off season.
Me, shot by "asynchronous" on Picasa, after about 270 miles.
The set up: I rode over 300 miles under the conditions mentioned above, competing in the solo division- or most laps. The punch line: I only got second. Who would figure 300 miles would not win the damn thing?
These young people from Faster Mustache put on one hell of a race, and for only $15 a competitor! It was a checkpoint race using RFD cards and homemade readers, which magically connected to the internet to allow live tracking. Johnny’s Pizza on Highlands was the start and home base of the race. From there the racers scanned their cards at Lenny’s Bar on Decatur Street, Octane Coffee on Marietta Street, Skate Escape on Piedmont at Piedmont Park, No Brakes Track Bike Boutique on Rogers Street off Arizona Avenue, and then headed back to Johnny’s, for laps of just under 15 miles unless you screwed up. They suggested the route, but part of urban bike skills is knowing which intersections to avoid, what shortcuts are quicker and how to avoid hills. We were all over the place.
Starting the race was 201 riders making up 59 teams and over a dozen solo riders. Teams tended to be 4 to 6 people. There were all male teams, mixed teams and all female teams. I think most of the solo riders were male. There were geared bikes, commuter bikes, cycle cross bikes, mountain bikes and fixed gear bikes. Helmets were encouraged, but not universal. Blinky lights were mandatory at night, and lots of people had LED lights mounted for better vision. Folks were riding in spandex, camos, jean cutoffs and just about any other outfit you can imagine.
The first lap was insane. Some Mad Panda guy just led us out way too fast, and in doing so he took the fast lap competition. Nasty Nate was second on that lap after a bad detour through the GA Tech campus. I ended up fourth on that lap and placed fourth in the fast lap competition, which was a dumb thing to do in a 24 hour race. In the top 7 riders of that first lap, four of us were solo riders. Stupid solo riders, except the Panda who got some cool prizes for that lap.
The course was brutal. 300 miles would be bad enough on nice roads. This was stopping and starting, track standing until you could safely sprint through a red light, hoping curbs and pot holes, weaving through yuppies headed to the Dave Mathews Band concert, weaving through yuppies leaving the Dave Mathews Band concert, avoiding idiot cab drivers, and making our way through people headed to and from the GA Tech game and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Lynyrd Skynyrd induction show. My bike was at, or close to, a stand still over a dozen times each lap including the scanning. I could not even begin to guess how many red lights I ran, how many curbs and potholes I jumped, or how many times my teeth were rattled bouncing along over unsafe, patched and long neglected pavement. The outside of my right hand and pinky are still numb.
After about 8 hours in the saddle I was in first place in the solo division. I took a long break for dinner at the Mexican restaurant Across the Street, which was oddly just next door. That is when Mouhamed first passed me. (Now if you are a hard core Republican who hates people with funny names, you may want to quit reading now. You won’t like the finish.) I passed him back when he took a break, and ended up a lap and a half over him. At 3:30 in the morning I just had stop for a few hours sleep, as I could not even operate my shift levers anymore. I had about 200 miles in at that point. When I came back he had almost a lap and a half on me. I got one of the laps back, and got within 10 minutes of him on the 21st lap. He headed out for the 22nd lap 10 minutes ahead of me with 1 hour of racing left. Realizing that I was shot and was not going to catch him, I bagged it. I was 3 laps up on third place and had second in the bag. Mouhamed just had executed a better race and beat me. The dude is an animal! I heard later that after the race he went to the crit in Midtown and was chasing down an Atlanta Velo Exchange teammate on foot to help him with mechanical.
I spent the two hours before the awards ceremony trying not to pass out. I was wasted. I was at the Flying Biscuit for an hour and it was all I could do not to lay down in their floor. I have never been that fried before. I was completely done. (The next day I actually felt very good. I still had some numbness in my right hand and foot, my quads are wasted, and there is some soreness on my rear end. Nothing major is bothering me.)
The Atlanta Velo Exchange Team, Squid No Lock Ring, won the team competition again. This year they did it on fixed geared bikes with 32 laps in 12 hours. TNT (Tuesday Nights at the Track) was the first women’s team with 27 laps. There was also an Omnium put on by the No Brakes Track Bike Boutique, which included special skills and challenges for folks on track bikes with no brakes.
The prizes were great- and again, this at a race for $15. I got a very cool NPC messenger bag, dinner for two including drinks, and other swag for my second place. In what triathlon would you expect that? First solo got a bigger bag, a freaking large and sturdy Kryptonite chain lock, and other goodies. The first team got an incredible amount of bags from Transit Bags and lots of goodies. The Male and Female Fast Laps got some new hubs and stuff. Lots of swag was distributed. Hell the guy who was given the spirit award got a fixed gear bike!
My NASCAR Speech: I have to say my K2 bike with SRAM components performed exceptionally today. The Vredestein tires never let me down. I was superbly powered by Gatorade, Balance Bars and Carnation Instant Breakfast. The trunk of my Ford Mustang never once failed to open during a pit stop.
The folks at Faster Mustache, ambassadors of cycling to Atlanta, are a great bunch of people. The atmosphere was one of the most positive ones I have ever experienced at a race. They ran a very professional race on a shoe string budget. They were never anything less than positive, upbeat and friendly the whole time. They system they built and coded to monitor the race, and broadcast it live over the internet, worked flawlessly. If you ever want to try something different, I highly recommend this race. Perhaps as a team rather than a solo, however.
Live Tracker with current results.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Added: A preview of the video shot during the race: