Well, at least on a short-term basis.
After arriving in CO Springs Thursday night and a wonderful German dinner with race director Tim Scott I spent Friday familiarizing myself with the venue in Palmer Park and helping out at registration, at the very trendy Ascent Cycling, a truly cool bike shop. Palmer Park—like Central Park in NYC or Cameron Park in Waco—is one of those rare legacies of a visionary who realized a hundred years ago that people need more than just their homes to be able to live. I'm not sure of the exact size of this gem, but our race track covered 13 miles and apparently only scratched the surface of the existing trail system. There are gorgeous vistas of Colorado's second-largest city, and Pike's Peak and Red Rocks seem to be within grasp's reach.
|Palmer Park, in the middle of Colorado Springs—wow!|
|... and before ...|
|... and 48 hours later|
A 24-hour race such as this is completely different from the other types of events that I officiate. Somehow, everything seems to be in slow-motion since the end is so far away. Maybe that's just my perception (and maybe erroneously so), but things appear less urgent, less pressing. Still, the start came at the exact appointed hour, at noon on Saturday with a shot fired from Dean's starter pistol that sent the racers running 200 meters to their bikes in a beautifully executed LeMans start. It doesn't get much better for the spectators.
|The 24 Hours of COS open with a LeMans start|
|Racers on the first lap in Palmer Park|
At 6 p.m., racers who enter a new lap are required to go out with lights on their bikes. Now, if you have not seen those fancy $400+ lighting systems that are either helmet- or handlebar-mounted, you wouldn't believe the light output. One company is aptly called "Nightsun." Some of the racers don vests and arm warmers, others head out into the quickly arriving night still in their salt-encrusted short-sleeved jerseys. Tinted sunglasses give way to clear lenses. In the transition area a certain routine has settled in, and the exuberance has calmed somewhat. We still don't have any accurate results updates, and we will continue to work through the night trying to sort out the progress of the race together with the lone woman who is working the chip timing. We still have 16 hours to go.
|A racer enters another lap around 3 a.m.|
|Rogene and Dean trying to keep the night gremlins away|
Daylight finally arrives, and at 8 a.m. (still four hours to go, twice the time of a "normal" race!) the quiet hours are over and our announcer returns. Music starts to blare again, and some life returns. We have finally posted a reliable set of running standings, and we now update them every hour. I make the round-trip between commissaires' stand and chip-timing every 10 minutes to work out yet another kink. When we post the final preliminaries at 11 a.m., ten minutes before riders may enter the course one last time, we are accurate.
|The spoils are waiting for the new national champs|
Finally, at noon on Sunday, it's all done. Eyes are bloodshot, some of the riders are a bit delirious, and everybody is craving sleep. But there are first the stars-and-stripes jerseys and the medals for the winners, and then the tear-down of the venue starts. Rogene and Dean leave, I debrief with the race organizer, and his visually worn-out wife finally drops me off at my hotel around 4:30 p.m. I tell you, it should have been called the 40 Hours of Colorado Springs!
And now it's Monday morning, I have slept well, and my plane is leaving at 10:40 a.m. The beginning of a week of R&R in Cancun is just 48 hours away, and we know how fast that time goes by.