24 Hours, Top Speed, One Gear
by Matt Russ
24 hour mountain bike racing is the ultimate test of endurance. Teams of 1-8 athletes compete to see which team can complete the most laps around the course in 24 hours. This means little sleep (if any) as you ride through the night and any weather condition that may arise.
Womens team Independent Fabrication was comprised of 5 women pulled together from across the
This course is daunting for any mountain biker. Teams carefully select the right gearing for the course to fully utilize all 27 speeds of their drive trains. But this was not challenging enough for team Independent Fabrication. They decided to do the race with just ONE speed.
Single speed mountain biking is not for the meek or the weak. It requires a huge amount of strength and technique. Your first bike was probably not geared and you may be able to remember standing on those pedals trying to grind up even a small hill. Obviously this would create a huge disadvantage in a race scenario.
The race was a tight one from the beginning and team IF swapped positions from second to fifth, and back to fourth in the first 15 hours. The night riding was very challenging as there was thick dust on the dry course and fog that made visibility no more than a few feet in sections. Martha's husband Jared
worked tirelessly to keep the bikes maintained and clean as their pit chief. By 6am on Sunday morning the IF team was still feeling strong. They passed most of the other riders on the long, four mile climb; a testament to their strength. Pulling their slowest rider, three team members attacked the course in the final hours and managed a podium finish of third place. They road 23 laps in 23 hours and 57 minutes for a total of 230 miles, each getting no more than an hours sleep. A loud cheer went up when it was announced the team was competing against geared bikes. Team member Martha Handford was gratified to be congratulated by mountain biking legends Al
lison Dunlap and Marla
No doubt these woman are tough and it will be interesting to see what they tackle next. Martha is on to the cycle cross season. She has an
Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally. He currently holds expert licenses from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full time. He is a free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines and websites. Visit www.thesportfactory.com for more information or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org