Last Saturday four of us were racing the 12 hours of Cumberland.
It’s a cool format; you just ride around a 7 km loop of really fun single track for 12 hours (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and the team with the most laps at the end wins.
Some teams compete to win, others take a more casual approach and a few teams start drinking beer just after noon. All in all it’s just a really fun day on mountain bikes with a bit of racing thrown in.
Our team was pushing all day, but at the same time just looked at it as a day of riding with buddies. We decided that 24 laps was a respectable finish and we could do that without too much suffering.
As we approached the final two hours of the day we realized that our last lap wasn’t going to be completed until around 12 hours 15 minutes and therefore would not count. Who cares, right? It’s just a fun day of riding. Well apparently we did, because we were quickly rearranging our team’s riding order to get the fastest laps possible. The new schedule had me riding the last lap and timing was going to be really tight.
Considering the last lap would probably not count anyway, I decided I would rather have a beer than blow my legs up one more time. We would just have to settle for 23 laps this year. Then my wife and kids showed up and my daughter Rhyley wanted to cheer me on. All of sudden I thought about the example it would set to quit before the clock stopped, or give up while there is still a small chance of succeeding, or worse, let down my teammates. I’ve failed at lots of stuff over the years, but it’s never been due to a lack of effort.
So after 11 hours and 31 minutes, my partner crossed the finish line for our 23rd time and we had to squeeze in one more lap before the clock hit 12 hours. It is baffling what some guys will do for a cute redhead. I started up the short hill and out onto the course.
It was an amazing day with great trails, fast riding and lots of good friends, but the best part by far was coming around the last corner, not knowing if I’d made it in time for the lap to count, and seeing my five-year-old little redhead cheering “Go Daddy Go!” She motivated me to start the last lap, she motivated me to pedal harder on the climbs and she cheered me across the finish line…at 11:59:30. The last attempt counted and the four of us finished 24 laps, by the skin of our teeth.
We didn’t win, or even podium for that matter, but all four of us pushed just a little harder those last two hours to hit our goal and, I hope, set a good example for an excited little five year old.
I am really looking forward to the day when I am at the finish line cheering “Go Rhyley Go!” I hope I can be as motivational for her as she is for me.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’