This weekend at Chico Racingâ€™s 24 Hours of Summer Solstice we were treated to a slice of what Ontario and greater Canada have to offer in way of great biking trails and singletrack. Albion Hills Conservation Area, just an hour north of downtown Toronto, is 446 hectares (1102 acres) of rolling woods and pine forest converted from uncultivated farmland. We pre-rode the largely singletrack course on Friday with the Princeton Tech team who were on hand through race night to supply support for their light rentals. The course wound itâ€™s way through the park, scaling up to the ridges and dropping back down to the lowlands to several bridged river crossings. It offered up a nice variety of challenges with fast twisting drops and rebounds that were reminiscent of pump tracks and peppered with clean quick straight-aways to open up and make time.
Adam Ruppel and his team of workers and volunteers have done an excellent job of creating a well organized event (the largest 24-hour race in North America) without loosing the spontaneity that allows for giving prizes away for the best bootie shake, a animal show with a barn owl and snake (in separate cages, of course), Chicoâ€™s Pirates of Albion mud pit challenge for riders and Misfit Cycles Dance Party stop on course.
We buckled down to business on Saturday spending the morning spreading the Dirt Rag and handing out Platypus Big Zip bladders, Genuine Innovations Nano CO2 inflators, Jagwire shift and brake cable kits, and Seal Line Urban totes to new and renewing subscribers. Noon start time saw a lull in the business and Justin took the time to snap some pictures of the of the teams en masse on an absolutely beautiful Canadian blue sky dayâ€¦
â€¦that turned a little grey and rainy later. By nightfall the riders were faced with heavy downpours, mud slicks and other night hazards. Luckily the lightening, feared to shut down the course, held off until late Sunday. Instead, lightening and pea sized hail, shut down traffic across all four lanes on the QEW while drivers struggled to cram as many cars as possible under the sheltering overpasses.
On a personal note, I have a renewed sense of respect for all participates in endurance racing. This weekend was a new experience for me and there were moments that will stay with me. Waking in my tent to early predawn mist and fog on Sunday, listening to riders sweep by and downshift as they approached the final small climb to the finish line is lingering moment of sweetness in an epic weekend.
Check out our photo gallery. Words by Amanda Zimmerman.
Photos by Justin Steiner.