Iowa's 3rd Annual 24 Hr. Mountain Bike Relay

That’s right, after (nearly) unicycling across Iowa, i’m going try and not to let the pain subside before my next challenge.

Last year a team of unicyclists including George Barnes, Mojoe, and myself participated in Iowa’s 2nd Annual 24 Hr. Mountain Bike Relay. That year George had a lap in under one hour (quite the feat) and we tied a bike team and made quite the publicity stunt, but this year…

We are there to WIN!

Alright, maybe not, but we’ll sure be competitive. We hope on having in two teams this year for the absolutely grueling race. Our “A-Team” prospects include the legendary George Barnes, RAGBRAI-seasoned Kai Martin (fresh from his ride across Iowa), myself, and another rider TBA.

If anyone wants to attend the event (maybe even ride in a team) contact me, Ryan Alley, at For details about the Labor-Day Weekend Race see Seven Oaks Rec at

Also, congradulations to Mojoe for making the new flyer for the event!!! His picture is right on the thing! (Strikingly handsome, of course).


after talking with kai i think i’m the rider TBA. i did a lap last year(i’ll be there all this year) an dmy crank fell off a little ways in, rather than turning around and/or quitting, i started running. i got a lap in about 1:15. oh it was also around 4 am so it was really really dark, even with lights.

Here’s an elevation profile of the course:

This year my goal is a lap in under 45 minutes. We’ll see if my training at elevation pays off.

bump. happening tomorrow (saturday) at noon. expect some sweet trip reports from at least george and myself. probably kai and ryan too.

holy cow. i’ve been done for over 24 hours and i’m still sore/tired/confused. We managed to beat 2 or 3 four man teams and a few solos. wooo. Here’s the break down on laps
Kai: 7
George: 4

team total:16

Kai did 5 of his laps in a row in the dead of night. no idea what kept him going or what the hell is wrong with him. The course is a super hilly 6 miles. Now here’s how my laps went.

Background: I got off work at 5:30 am on saturday, packed all my stuff, the crashed for ~3 hours before i had to leave to get to the race. Somwhere in there i forgot to eat very much. Showed up, napped a little, talked to everyone, then around 3:30 started my first lap, 4th team lap. the whole course is singletrack, making bikes passing us slightly tricky at times. anyhoo, here goes…

Lap 1: Started out okay. trail is flat and rough for the first 1/4 mile or so. The muni i borrowed from george feel a little strange but good, the 175s give me tons more leverage than my 150s. I begin the first climb, still feeling okay, i power up some fairly steep stuff and impress a biker who passes me easily. I begin the decent feeling confident but starting to have some stomach pains. I’m amazed at how much more control i have with the longer cranks. legs feel good, stomach hurts more. once at the bottom i’ve got a pretty long/flat section before a climb, i slow my pace a little and figure i’ve been pushing a little too hard, and that’s why my stomach hurts. no such luck. stomach hurst because i haven’t eaten much. somehow i kinda forgot, also i’m kinda sleepy. oops. the climb back out is dusty and steep, i push most the hills. I got tons of positive comments from bikers, everything from “holy crap you guys are awesome” to “you’re such an aminal” etc etc. Once i get to the top, there’s a small downhill section, a slight climb then a few miles of fairly flat “easy” trail. Finally i start feeling better, head starts to clear, stomach eases up on me, but now my legs are out of gas, they start to get sore and bothersome. several smallish bumps cause several UPDs, most of which i run out. Then as i’m 10 minutes from the end i UPD badly and get 2 steps into my runout and my right calf cramps up completely. totally locked up for 10 seconds or more. i rub it and eventually i can move it again. i stretch and get back on. Not 200 yards later i UPD, this time my left calf cramps and locks. not fun. i gimp the last little bit in, riding but taking it very easy. i’m glad to be done. time is around 90 mins. (george and kai’s laps were 1:02 and :50 respecively)

Back at camp i start eating like crazy. bananas, bagels, gatorade, everything.

night falls and i begin lap 2 in the dark.

Lap 2: feeling much better than i did for lap 1 i head out. my headlamp isn’t super ultra bright like a good bike headlight would be. it’s enough light to ride on a sidewalk with or to walk in the woods with, but on a bumpy trail at night, it’s woefully underpowered. i feel better but manage to push more trail. I UPD constantly, only actaully falling over 3 times. Comments from the bikers become even more encouraging. 2/3 of the way through i stop and slam back an energy drink from my camel back. i feel pretty good for the last 1/3, the flatter/faster 1/3. Constantly wishing i had more light, i ride as fast as i think i can without a catastrophic UPD. I curse my poor planning and poor bank account for my lack of light. i finally finish with a lap time of around 1:45 mins.

I vow to not go back out there without a better light system. i eat and hang out, eventually i attempt sleep around 2:30 or 3 am. woken up around 5 am with the sound of rain, just sprinkles, but lots of lightning, might get worse, get up stow all my gear, crash again. woken up around 8:45 my george who has just completed a lap, he informs me that Kai went a little nuts and just rode 5 laps in a row during the night. I wake up and eat some food and start my lap around 9:15, hoping to get back in time for Ryan to do another lap. I attempt to pace myself but i still feel like crap, my legs are totally dead, and with every UPD comes the feeling of not wanting to climb back on. I have no motivation to work hard, just to finish. i figure maybe i’m just a little tired and crack open an energy drink and push the uni and sip on it for literally 25 minutes until i feel better. Still feeling like crap i go as quick as i think i can. My goal is no longer to ride fast, just to stay on and ride what i can, figuring that slow riding is faster than my dead legs trying to push the uni. as the course gets flatter/easier, i go faster and am able to stay on for a surprisingly long time. the bikers are very surprised we’re still out there at all, the comments are incredible. most of them can’t believe we can even do a single lap let alone more. i tell the ones that slow down and talk for a few seconds about kai’s 5 night laps. all are astounded. they tell me that they didn’t even ride 5 laps in the dark. more impressive he ran around an hour for each of those in the dark. most bikers were running 45+ mins. i finally starty feeling a little better about a 1/2 mile from the finish. i push it a little and hope ryan has enough time to make another lap. I come it around 10:45 and ryan’s not feeling quite up to another lap, so we finish collectively at 16 laps.

i know that was really long, hope you enjoyed it. I’ll try to get the other guys to post something.

Sounds like fun :astonished:

I wanted to come down to watch you guys suffer through the race. I haven’t muni’d much this summer.

Instead, I found myself building a porch all weekend.

Did anyone get any photos of the race?



Here’s what the board looked like. Kai’s a monster.

Kai looking determined.


Me waiting to go.

Mark finishing a lap.

My best lap this year was right at 1 hour. They lengthened the course by a 1/4 to a 1/2 mile, hence my slower time than last year. Kai did a couple sub-hour laps, I think his best was :54. His night laps were faster than a lot of biker’s times.

Nice tool belt!

Hey! Congratulations and thanks for the great writeup.
Looking forward to the others’ stories.

Way to go guys - Kai you’re awesome! Would it be possible to use a 29er (or even a Coker) on this course? We generally find that a 29er with 150mm cranks really moves on a course that is too technical for Cokers. Regardless, great effort!


a 29er might be doable for someone with massive legs. you’d be pushing up most the hills and some of the downhills as well, but the flat’s you could really crank on. i had enough problems riding more than 75% of the course on a 24 with 175s, george had a 26 with a brake and 175s and i think he did fine, 29 might be just a bit too big.