John F. Russell: Race takes endurance to new level |

John F. Russell: Race takes endurance to new level

Twenty-four hours.

For me, 24 hours is pretty uneventful.

It typically starts and ends with my 2-year-old daughter cheerfully prancing into my bedroom before 7 a.m. and announcing the arrival of a new day, followed by, “Mama, I want juice, pleeeease.”

For me, 24 hours always consists of breakfast, lunch and dinner, at least eight hours of work and, on most days, more than a few mental breakdowns, a few really good laughs and, for my wife, a few annoying periods of snoring. At least, that’s what she tells me.

But for the 200 athletes riding in the first Rio Grande 24 Hours of Steamboat, the span of a single day has been much different.

It is being filled with dust and dirt, hard work and satisfaction. It will be filled with the drive to finish as many laps as possible, or by a single goal — simply to finish.

The only way to explain the athletes taking part in this event is that they must love to mountain bike. They can’t help but be drawn to an epic endurance race such as the 24 Hours of Steamboat. It is just too good of an opportunity to pass up even if it means missing a few hours of sleep.

Personally, I love sleep the way these guys love mountain biking. So I’m out.

For 24 straight hours, beginning at noon Saturday and ending at noon today, riders have been riding up Mount Werner and back down. Sunset and sunrise came and so did all the other mundane things that happen in a single day.

It takes a certain personality to attempt something like the 24 Hours of Steamboat. I’m one of those strange people who will admit that I’ve never had the desire to do anything for 24 hours — especially ride my bike. It just doesn’t seem natural.

It’s like running 100 miles, an NFL team finishing the season with an undefeated record or having more money in my checking account than I really need each month.

But like most people, I am always amazed when athletes accomplish tasks such as riding around the clock or completing a 100-mile run or winning a marathon.

Watching these athletes is enough to make me want to run out and buy a mountain bike that costs more than $1,000 and give it a try. But then I return to my senses knowing that I enjoy sleep, food and the absence of pain more than accomplishing some task that simply amazes people because it’s out of the ordinary.

Then there is the simple fact that the only way I would ever ride in a 24-hour bike race, or spend more than a grand on a bike, is if someplace south of the purgatory suddenly freezes over. I guess I’m just not cut out for that type of adventure.

No, for me, 24 hours could never be about a mountain bike race. But for people who love to ride, this weekend’s event in Steamboat Springs is the perfect way to spend a day — the entire day.

I simply will look on with amazement when it’s all over and wonder how anyone could possibly finish a race like that.

–To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail

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