The 24 Hours of Glen Helen is always a tough event, not one for the weak willed or the faint hearted. It takes an admirable level of commitment to wake from a dead sleep at 3am to put your cold sweaty gear back on your sore and beaten body, to then climb aboard a twisted and bent bike that's been through 15 hours of hell, only to go ride one of the roughest tracks you've ever been on. But for some reason, I always come back.
Every year I ask myself, "what were you thinking when you committed to do this??!" The answer, I have the finish line in sight, even before the race has started. After participating in this race more than 5 times now, I know how much it is going to suck, but that's small in comparison to the achievement you feel at the finish. If you make it.
This year I had the honor of being asked to ride on the Purvines Racing/Beta team alongside Factory Beta riders Nick Burson, Ryan Abbatoye, Justin Morrow, and endurocross ace Max Gerston on a Beta 300. Considering we support 90% of Purvines team riders, being the athlete manager for a brand like Fasst Company, as well as being an accomplished racer in my own right really has its benefits, and I was proud to have the opportunity to race this particular race on such a professional and well ran team, because it can make all the difference.
For me, the race started on Tuesday when I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed and started the healing process with high hopes of being in more manageable pain by the weekend, hopefully none. When the green flag waved at 10am Saturday morning, it was Ryan Abbatoye who put the Beta 300 out front almost immediately, setting the tone for the rest of our race. I was the last rider in the rotation to get on the bike, so our race was well underway before I had even been on the track. By this point we had built up over a 10 minute lead in our class and sat 3rd overall, so my plan was just to ride fast and efficient to get the bike back to Ryan without any mishaps or a drastic loss of time. My first time on the bike was pretty uneventful, as I spent a majority of the hour just familiarizing myself with a bike I had never ridden. I was a bit rusty at first but I began to feel at home on the bike after a few laps and was able to start riding a little faster here and a little faster there, slowly picking up my pace. After handing the bike off to Ryan and watching him ride off into the sunset with a healthy bike and a lead of almost 15 minutes, we began to mentally prepare for the real race, which starts as soon as the sun goes down.
If you've ever done an endurance race like this, you know that the race really starts when the sun goes down. What happens in the first twelve hours of the race can be completely irrelevant when night racing begins, it can be like starting all over. We kept a fast, yet cautious and steady pace through rotation of riders. I got on the bike with more than a 30 minute lead in our class and kept to the plan, have fun, keep it on 2 wheels, and maintain a lengthy lead. I did just that, with another uneventful string of decent laps before handing the bike off to Ryan again. After getting off the bike I was facing the reality that due to my missing wisdom teeth I was not able to eat much, if anything. I wasn't able to replenish the nutrients that my body was losing quickly. Ice cream and mashed potatoes were no longer doing the trick. My stomach was cramping and I knew that putting valuable nutrients back in my body was key, whether I could eat them or not. I drank a bunch of crap, ate some Hammer gel, took some supplements, ate a banana and headed for the hotel to do some homework and take a short nap.
The next time I got on the bike was about 3am. We had a huge lead, the stress was off and we were basically riding our own race waiting for the clock to strike 10am. My first lap was a good one, I was feeling okay and the bike was still running strong. Nearing the middle of my 2nd lap the bike had a slight hiccup, not sure what it was or if the bike was slowly beginning to fail, I was forced to retreat back to the pits to grab the spare bike from the "impound", and watch the Purvines Racing pit crew do an exceptionally quick pit stop, where the lights were switched, and a new air filter was put in. Back out on the course I headed, losing only a few short minutes. With the worst of our problems behind us, I handed the bike off to Ryan as he rode off into the night extending our lead once again. With the end of the race drawing near we started to back it off, as we were all tired and losing enthusiasm quickly. My lack of nutrition began to take its toll on my body more and more, with my mouth being so sore I could hardly intake soft food or water, and my body cramping up worse than I've ever dealt with, I opted to sit out my last rotation leading up to the finish to avoid a slip up on my end and lose valuable time for the team, because at this point we had the race in the bag as long as we kept circulating.
A few short hours later we took the checkered flag, and the class win by nearly 45 minutes over 2nd place in class, which was the DirtBike Magazine team who kept us honest all day and night. The results are still unofficial but they have our team in 3rd overall as well as the class win, which is a bit of an accomplishment for all of us to make it on the podium overall on a 300cc 2 stroke. I'd like to thank everyone who made this experience such a memorable one for myself and I'm sure for everyone else involved. First and foremost, Ron Purvines for putting back into the sport in so many ways, Nick, Ryan, Max and Justin for being awesome team mates and a blast to hang around with, the Purvines Racing pit crew of the racers fathers and mechanics, all the team sponsors who provided us with products fit enough to last 24 hours of high paced endurance racing, and of course all of my own family and sponsors who make it possible for me to enjoy racing, free of stress and full of enjoyment. Thanks again to everyone who was involved and helped make it a success for all of us.
Now, whose ready for next year??
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