Beer for butter, unprotected support and other insights from the Burn 24

I haven’t counted how many racers from the Triangle were in this past weekend’s Burn 24 Hour Challenge mountain bike race at Dark Mountain near Wilkesboro, but I couldn’t walk from our pit to the start/finish without running into someone from hereabouts. These are a few of the stories I picked up along the way.

Chapel Hill’s Steve Rogers may be the most sought-after teammate in the Triangle. He’s a solid rider, his race resume including TORC’s local 6-hour endurance series, it’s cross-country race series, assorted 24-hour races, the Pisgah Mountain Bike Adventure Race and the Shenandoah 100, to name a few. But the real reason to have Steve on your team: Risotto with shrimp in a light garlic sauce.

"I slave all day over a hot a stove and you complain because we're out of parm!?" Steve Rogers, left, behind hot stove, Kip Porterfield, lounging.

“When we first had kids,” Steve explained while slaving over a pot of pasta between laps for the Sofa Kings (34th out of 50, Male Team category), “the deal was, whoever got home first cooked dinner.” For the ensuing 18 years, Steve managed to get home first, and in the process became a pretty good cook. Still, you can’t always please the masses.
“We’re out of parmesan,” Steve announced shortly before dinner.

Teammate Kip Porterfield sighed. “Why do we even bring you?”

* * *
James Haskins is an animal on his single speed, but his true talent may lie in bartering. Steve Rogers’ aforementioned risotto was in jeopardy when he discovered he was short on butter. Off went teammate Haskins to score a stick in the tent city of roughly 1,000 (400 riders and at least twice that many support crew) that had sprung up on the infield for the weekend race.

When he wasn't searching for butter, James Haskins was sprucing up his all-white single speed.

“I found one at the second tent I went to,” said Haskins, who seemed more proud of that feat than of the laps he turned. What did he give up in return for the butter?
The ultimate currency among mountain bikers: A beer.

* * *

Late Saturday night (or was it early Sunday morning?) I awoke from a stupor to find the Triangle’s Wise Man of Wrenching sitting in the camp chair opposite. I’d heard a report that Team Cycle Surgeon had a team in the Coed category, and that the team was captained by the surgeon himself, Cary’s Matt Lodder. Still, it seemed like a dream that I now had direct access to one of the sharpest cycling minds of our time.
“I’m thinking about upgrading my road bike,” I said.
“How so?” Matt asked.
“A carbon fork, for one.”

John Holloway, left, and my knee listen as Matt Lodder dispenses his wisdom.

Matt thought for a moment, running my 1998 LeMond Buenos Aires through his databank. “Is the headset threaded or headless? And do you know if it’s one inch or an inch and one-eighth? Is your current fork steel or aluminum? Because if it’s aluminum, you may not notice much difference with a carbon upgrade.” On it went, until finally he issued his verdict: “By the time you get done upgrading your bike, it might be cheaper to just get a new one.”
We talked a while longer, then as quickly as he had appeared he was gone. Or had he really been there in the first place? Had I’d been dreaming? Had I conjured this Sermon on the (Bike) Mount?
Best not to take chances, I reasoned. The search for a new road bike begins this week.

* * *

Tent for people who fear laying down.

Chris White thought he was ahead of the game when he registered to ride the Burn last October. Then he got his pit crew pregnant. Chris, a member of the local IMBA mountain bike patrol, was planning on his wife being his support. But life happens, as the saying sorta goes, and Chris not only lost his support, he found what a lot of us already know: parenthood can put a crimp in training. In the last month, for example, he’d ridden a total of … not at all. Yet, he managed to turn 9 laps and finish 26th out of 31 riders in the Men’s Solo division.

* * *

Best team name: “Are You Faster Than a Fifth Grader?” manned by four 10-year-olds: Tyler Spears, Jarred Blevins and John Hamby of Wilkes County, and Nathan St. Clair of Gastonia. They logged 10 laps in the Male Team category, and by all appearances may have had the best time of anyone.

* * *

Flaming Marshmellow Pierce Holloway oatmeals up for his last lap in the wee hours.

Had the Triangle-based Flaming Marshmallows been named “Are You Faster Than a Ninth Grader, the answer for 15 of the 21 teams competing against them in the Coed Team category would have been “no.” The FMs — consisting of Luke Vrouwenvelder, Pierce Holloway and Ben Rice, all of the Triangle, and Sophie Clyburn of the Bethlehem, N.C., racing Clyburn family — logged 31 laps to come in 6th in their otherwise adult category. Nice job, little dudes & dudette.

* * *

The family that bikes together … Officially, their team name was Whitfield Family/Johnson Lexus. But ask anyone in the Triangle biking community and their name should have been Team Nicest People Ever. Congrats to the racing — and very nice — Whitfield family: Dad John, Mom Jill and daughters Elizabeth and Emily, who collectively turned 23 laps to place 16th in the Coed Team division. Now, about those 23 laps, Dad. The rules state that members of the minority sex on a coed team must ride at least two laps — did Team Nicest People Ever adhere to the rulebook?
“I think I’m good,” John said Sunday morning.

* * *

For most, an epic such as the Burn 24 is a goal. For Brian Martin it was a training ride. “He’s training for the Leadville 100,” support crew/wife Sarah said while standing with hubby after he’d turned a lap. What prompted that insanity? I wondered. “What made you decide to do that?” I asked. Brian shrugged and grinned. “The movie.”

* * *

Awaiting a teammate, sometime in the middle of the night.

The one person I wanted to talk to but didn’t get a chance: Lee Walker. That’s because Lee was busy pedaling 27 laps to win the Men’s Solo Division. That’s 27 laps on the hilly 7.4-mile course in 24 hours. His fastest lap: 41 minutes, 53 seconds, on lap 2. His average speed: 10.025 miles per hour — averaged, btw, over the entire 24 hours, assuming Lee never stopped. (I know he stopped once; his pit was across from ours.) Nice job, Lee.