Pinkham Notch, NH – Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center welcomed back the 12 & 24 Hours of Great Glen for its 19th season on August 9th and 10th. The unique mountain bike race is wrapped into a weekend-long mountain bike festival enticing intermediate and hardcore racers to tackle the single-track and carriage roads of Great Glen Trails at the base of Mt. Washington.
A cannon fired precisely at noon marked the start of the 19th annual 12 and 24 Hours of Great Glen. The race that began as one of the many off the wall events at Great Glen Trails, has matured over the years into a world-class cycling event which draws riders from all over the United States and Canada.
This year saw 132 teams take the start in either the 12 hour or the 24 hour version of the bike race on a 9.1 mile course that snakes around the base of the northeast’s highest peak, Mount Washington. Riders completed 2065 laps which totaled 18,790 miles and approximately 2,447,000 ft or 463 miles in elevation gain.
“We’ve been running this race for years and it never ceases to amaze me the energy and excitement that converges on our quiet spot here in the White Mountains every year in early August,” said Howie Wemyss, General Manager for Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center and the Mount Washington Auto Road. “This race sees riders of all ability levels and fitness levels racing together in a format that encourages mutual support and supreme competitiveness at the same time.” Wemyss continued. “With the added family games and entertainment for the kids, it makes for a great weekend outing for the family”
This year the race was won by Team BikeReg.com from Easthampton, MA with a total of 32 laps completed and 291 miles travelled. Team captain Ross Krause, from Easthampton, MA was joined by teammates Jay Gump from Conway, MA, Evan Huff from Southampton, MA and Colin Reuter from Leeds, MA.
Team BikeReg.com won by just 28 minutes over second place Team Pure Adrenaline from Haverhill, MA. who also completed 32 laps. Team Bikeman.com, from Bryant Pond, ME placed third with 31 laps.
In the solo category the top honors went to Kenneth Wiley from Claremont, NH who won with a total of 23 laps. In the solo women’s category, Elizabeeth Bove from Woodstock, CT took top honors with 16 laps. In the men’s solo single speed division Chris Bryant from Glastonbury, CT took the win with 16 laps completed.
On a weekend that saw near-perfect weather, competitors enjoyed dry trail conditions and a full moon to help with lighting during the night hours. “Riding at night is something everyone should do at least once in their life.” Said Sven Cole, from North Bridgton, ME, who was enjoying his 18th year of racing in the 19 year-old event. “You zero in on the trail and you feel like you are literally flying through the woods.”
Cole, who has has logged in over 100 laps around the 9-mile course over the years has seen it all. “I’ve raced on teams that have included my wife, my Mom, Dad, and hopefully next year my daughter, for a total of three generations. The crazy part is that my daughter was still a few years away from being born the first years I raced in this event.”
For the second year, riders were given the option of maneuvering over a narrow floating bridge crossing Glen Pond to save time on each lap. This year a twist, literally, was added in the form of an S-turn to the bridge. Although a few riders took the plunge off the bridge into chilly, spring-fed waters during practice, all competitors were successful at crossing to the other side during the actual race.
Mother Nature held off any major weather event until competition was completed Sunday afternoon “We were expecting great weather for the weekend and we lucked out with dry conditions during the race followed by a dramatic thunderstorm to end the day on Sunday,” said Wemyss.
The 24 Hours of Great Glen is actually many races in one, with both a 12 hour and 24 hour format running at the same time. With so many teams all competing in so many different categories racing all at once, it can be hectic knowing who is in the lead at any time. “In the past we did this all by hand, with scorers keeping laps counts by hand, meaning that the information teams had could be up to an hour or so old.” Explained Wemyss. “However a few years ago we partnered with Granny Gear Productions, who pioneered the 24 hour racing format, and now we use their timing system that uses radio frequency chips to track all the riders in real time. All the results are posted on computer terminals under the festival tent, and they even push that information out to the web in real time. Conceivably a rider could check in on their competition while out on course from their smartphone! It’s pretty incredible how far this has all come,” Wemyss stated.
In the 12 hour race, which also started at Noon on Saturday but ended at midnight, Team 3rd Times a Charm, with riders Andrew Mumford, from Grantham, NH and Austin Davis from Newport, NH took the top step of the podium with a total of 14 laps. Mark Vojtko from Grantham, NH took the win in the 12 hour solo category with a ride of 12 laps. For the women the 12 hour contest was won by Tracy Gustafson from Dayville, CT riding 5 laps total.
A race of this nature requires a large crew, and volunteers poured into Pinkham Notch to help out. The event drew on the well-known cadre of local volunteers who kept the event flowing smoothly throughout the 24 hours. Volunteers helped at the timing table where riders check in and out, worked out on course as course marshals, and in general provided support to the competitors.
In addition to the competition out on course the event now has a sizable festival component with many side events and competitions for other family members. This year over 90 kids participated in the “24 Minutes of Great Glen”, a junior version which features laps around a mini course just outside the festival tent. “Who’s a Fuzzy Bunny?”, a marshmallow-stuffing contest, a kid’s movie with popcorn under the tent and the always entertaining “Cheese Doodle Toss” helped to round out the weekend and kept families entertained during race times.
This year’s sponsors included Red Jersey Cyclery, The Bike Shop, Hammer Nutrition, Lucy Hardware, Light & Motion Bike Lights, Dasani, White Mountain Cupcakery, Exposure Lights USA, Clif Bar, The Conway Daily Sun, Coca-Cola, MonkeyLectric, Danforth Bay Camping & RV Resort, Porky Gulch Bike Shop, Androscoggin Valley Country Club, RootBalance, Byer of Maine, AMC, Adventure Medical Kits, Pearl Izumi, Michelin, Udi’s, Tri-City Bicycles, Gore Bike Wear, Stan and Dan Sports, Mountain Hard Wear and Down East Bicycle.
Complete results, photography and information on the 20th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Great Glen can be found online at www.24hoursofgreatglen.com or by calling (603) 466-2333.
Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, in Pinkham Notch, New Hampshire, is found at the base of Mt. Washington. Offering an abundance of outdoor activities for people at all skill levels, the Center has programs and resources for adventure in every season in the White Mountains. For more information, visit www.GreatGlenTrails.com.