Have you ever competed in a team event? Athletics, academic or job related? One of my biggest fears in life is letting people down. When I know someone is counting on me I tend to be at my best. I focus a little more. I work my hardest. Life does not always work out perfectly and “things” happen but when all goes well and I know I was able to contribute…the feeling of accomplishment is pretty dang nice.
I was able to ride as part of a 4 person relay team this August in a race called 24 Hours of Cumming. The race is anchored by a bar (The Cumming Tap) in Cumming Iowa and promoted by Steve Cannon. The race itself has options of solo 100k, 200k or 400k efforts as well as a 2x200k or 4x100k team option. For two years now I’ve competed with 3 friends in the 4 person relay.
The gravel is amazing. Mostly hard packed, pea sized white gravely goodness. 2016 the gravel was fast and smooth. Rollers as far as the eye can see! Temps were in the 80’s and sun was out in full beauty. Light wind to help keep us cool or help us home depending on our riding direction. The 400k relay course consists of four 60 mile loops. Each 60 mile loop is it’s own unique combination of beauty and endless climbing. Steve puts on the event with passion and a love for the riders. Truly a good time had by all.
The part that stands out to me though is that it’s not just a race, it’s a weekend of being around cycling. We arrive Friday night and set up camp in the city park. Stories get told and retold about past rides…past races. The stories get better every year and at some point legends begin to become established. Dutch oven cobbler is devoured, a few beers are consumed and we all retire to our tents. An 11am race start time ensures a casual night of sleep and slow wake up. Get the coffee rolling, fill up on breakfast burritos and head down for a short riders meeting. Tinker with the bike a little, get Buttr’ed up and be ready to roll at 11.
Here’s the fun part. One person rides and the team waits. Anticipation builds. Will your team mate be 4 hours? 5 hours? Any mechanicals? Anyone heard anything? Is he/she using Live Track? Where are we at? Should I eat now? Should I wait until my leg is over? Get dressed early or risk rushing if he/she is having a fast ride? The solo 100k’s and 200k’s actually rolled out at 8am. Is that a 100k coming in? 200k? is that my rider? If I’m riding at maybe 6 or 7pm…how many beers should I drink now? Should I try to squeeze in a nap? How much time do you think I have left?
I love riding the first leg of a relay. The 400k solo, 400k 4 person and 2 person relays all roll out together. Who are the other relay riders? It’s a 60 mile time trial…how hard do I push? Do I risk blowing myself up? I have three strong team mates ready to roll. Do I risk fast down hills? Do I corner hard or safely? Focus. The team is counting on me to set up the day. Hydrate. Eat. Push. Shit wrong turn. Gotta make up that time. Or do I? Lotta riding left for other teams also. Just finish strong. Beer and fried food is waiting.
For those not riding the day is spent around the waiting members of not only your team but others as well. You watch other teams waiting nervously. Excitedly. Trying to nap. Having a drink. The Tap itself is a local hangout. Here come the locals. Mixing in, drinking it up, grilling it up and partying loud until 2:30am. Good times to be had and if you do need a quiet escape…head back to the camp ground. Solitude.
The day was perfect. The gravel was perfect. Company was perfect. New friends were made. New stories will be told. What more could you ask for?
Thanks Steve for the event. Well done!
Last thing…quick shout out to the Emporia Area riders who made the trip and rode the hills…Jim Cummins, Scott O’Mara, Jeff Young, Shawn O’Mara, Randy Smith, Brad Raper, Lucas Antes, Clifford Allen and Jaffar Agha. Great job all!