I'm not a 24 hour racer but I've provided race support for a lot of them over the years. Most people do these types of races on a team and very few can actually do these solo. Here is a write up from one of my racers and our experience; her quest for "The Gold":
"The 24 hours of Gold had been a race on my bucket list for a number of years, but in the past typically conflicted with other local races. I kept hearing wonderful things about the venue, about the amazing job the Lake Oroville Bicycle Organization (LOBO) doe, and the amazing race course. So in 2012 I was determined to close my 24 hour race season at that venue. I did well, placing 2nd in the women's open/pro category, but knew I could have done better as I barely beat out the third place rider, only winning on time and not laps.
In 2013 I had the opportunity to return to the venue again, only this time I hired Pete Tipshus with Happy Trails Mechanical Support as my race crew. Pete had quite the reputation as crew for some top notch 24 hour soloists and crewed for me at a couple prior races. With him, my pit transition times had already improved significantly. I went into the 24 hours of Gold with a few goals in mind, more time on the bike and of course, you always want the win. With the extra training I put in and having professional race support, I knew this was an achievable goal.
I arrived Friday afternoon and we got the pit set up along with a few of our race friends. I was able to get in a quick pre-ride. The race course conditions were a lot drier this year than last, which made for more technical riding in some sections. Pete and I then spent time reviewing the plan for the next day, course conditions, nutrition, hydration, lights, bike switches, transitions, etc. The morning of, not only was nutrition a key focus, but another review from the night before and discussion to make certain racer and support were "on the same page". This is where racer and support "become one".
My first lap went pretty well but was 1 minute off my first lap last year. We attributed it to the course conditions and as I am very predictable, knew where I'd be in comparison on the upcoming laps. With this in mind, there was an even greater increased focus on transition time improvement. With shorter pit times, nutrition on the bike was key. Pete recorded my calorie, water, and electrolyte intake on every lap to make certain my average calorie goal was met. It was.
Into the night laps the next area for improvement was in bike timing and use of the back up bike. Pete made certain lights were ready on the back up and I would switch bikes as needed, getting in 2 laps per bike at night. This kept me moving and my lap times improving. By the halfway point of the race, I was beating last year's times and was only 1 lap off from the leader (I was already 2 laps off last year). Because my transitions were so fast, I was also not getting too much muscle fatigue and was not getting "sleepy". The head bob usually starts to occur around 3am and by 5am I was still going strong with no need to stop. Pete got me to this point the last couple of races too, but this felt the strongest yet.
The early morning was tough. I was well on my way to achieving 19 laps (the most I'd ever achieved in a 24 hour solo) and the leader, unlike last year, didn't stop. I learned later that she was afraid I was going to pass her, whereas last year she was able to take a break and sleep a bit. She's a tough racer and I gave her a good run.
Coming into lap 18 I was starting to feel like I wasn't that invincible Y any longer. I was fatiguing, my arms were numbing, and I was questioning if I could get that extra lap in. Pete is good at assessing his racers, when to pull them, and when to keep them going. he knows their abilities and their limitations. Pete encouraged me on and before I knew it, he had met me out on a section of the course that was a bit past the midpoint. He let me know my time limits, how I was looking, how strong I was, and how he knew I could push through. I felt a surge that last lap and came in strong.
My placement wound up being the same as last year, second place overall women's open/pro. The difference in how that was achieved and other goals, however, was almost too huge to describe. My lap times, average mph, and number of laps improved significantly over last year. In fact, my average lap time improved by almost 3 minutes less in comparison, which is huge in a 24 solo, and along with improved transition times (averaging 3.33 minutes), gave me 2 extra laps over last year. My transition times and total ride time were the best of any racer that day, both men and women, and gave me the "Most Time in the Saddle" award for the day. In addition to the 2nd place podium finish, it was a remarkable day. The men's pro winner even came up and shook my hand as well and asked "Did you ever stop?".
I was completely cooked at the end. Pete was too, but a good crew continues to take care of his racer. He made sure I was fed, hydrated, rested, and then worked on pit tear down. He even got a great picture of me as I went from being still somewhat alert due to the adrenaline to collapsed in the chair mid sentence. There is no way I could have achieved what I did that day without Pete and his race support. He is the best crew anywhere and knows how to become one with his racer, anticipating every need before you can even think of asking. I can't even imagine competing without his support. Thanks P!