By Dale Skulsky
This past weekend, thousands of mountain bike racers converged on the Canmore Nordic Center to compete in a annual bike race. The race required guts, stamina and "24 Hours of Adrenalin."
The race consisted of both solo and team competitors of varying abilities. All the riders must push themselves around a grueling 16km technical course involving vicious climbs, treacherous downhills and single track sections with rock and root hazards. Solo cyclists compete as individuals, riding for 24 hours straight. Teams consist of one to 10 members and require that each member complete at least one lap. Holding races all across North America, the 24 Hours of Adrenalin Team is a traveling circuit culminating in Idyllwild, California, at the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships.
The race started at noon on Saturday with a traditional Le Mans start, where each rider is required to complete a 600m run before grabbing his or her bike for the first lap. Conditions started out warm and sunny, but quickly turned to less than favourable. Unfortunately for riders and support crews, it rained throughout Saturday evening and into the night, turning the course in a sloppy, muddy mess. Competitors rode throughout the night, with added lighting systems to increase visibility. At one point during the night, one team rider returned to his crew area with a piece of advice for his teammates, "Watch out for the roots, they’re like Teflon," he warned.
In the prestigious solo categories both the male and female champions were repeat offenders. Ryan Draper of Canmore won the solo male event with 16 laps in 23:30:56, while Monica Nelson of Kelowna won her second consecutive female solo title with 13 laps in 23:46:54. Both riders will be heading to the solo championships in September.
As extreme sports and adventure racing continue to grow in popularity, the "24 Hours of Adrenalin" races grow as well. As one rider described it, "These races occur on many levels; you race against yourself, the course, the weather and finally, the other riders."