FEBRUARY 11, 2014 - LE MANS IN THE DESERT
Darren Law will draw on his extensive experience in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 At Daytona as he competes in his first 24-hour mountain-bike race. The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, set for Feb. 15 and 16 in Tucson, Ariz., is one of the biggest 24-hour riding events in the world, with more than 3500 participants, volunteers and spectators. It will be run on a 17-mile Sonoran Desert course designed for 24-hour racing.
Law will ride for Athlete Octane Racing, alternating stints with two fellow Phoenix riders, Andy Gracyalny and Ron Stevens, and with Jon Fogarty of Bend, Ore., one of Law's GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing co-drivers in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
"Jon Fogarty is very involved in mountain-biking," Law noted. "He and I always talk about it on race weekends. Unfortunately, we didn't get to race at Daytona [when the car went out of the race early], so we will get another chance to race together here in Arizona. Jon has shipped out his bike and equipment already, and we are really looking forward to this event."
The race will have a Le Mans-style start, as the riders run 400 yards to pick up their bikes before entering the race course. Other elements are also similar to auto racing, from equipment preparation to driver hydration.
"This has a lot of similarities to a Le Mans or Daytona 24-hour car race," Law said. "The stints are about an hour, we're going all through the night and into the next day, and we're trading off between teammates. We're bringing a motorhome down so we can rest between stints and get proper nutrition. Just like in the car, we need to stay properly hydrated and eat right if we want to perform well.
"These bikes are full suspension. They have front and rear shocks that are fully adjustable, both in compression and rebound. We have a GPS that records data like we use in the race car. The GPS will monitor cadence or pedal speed, heart rate, miles per hour, elevation and temperatures. So when we get back to the motorhome after a stint, we can download info and even post our ride online."
It's a lot like auto racing, with one notable exception: the riders are also the crew.
"We are the support crew. If something breaks, we have to fix it. If something happens on the trail, we've got to repair the bike and find our way back," Law explained. "We'll bring some tools and spare tires. Hopefully, we won’t have to do tire changes – as long as we don't have a blowout, the tires will make the 24 hours.
"Tires are a critical part of the equation. We need a good level of grip and also durability, especially in the desert terrain we are going to be racing, so I am excited to have support from Continental Tire. They produce a great race tire for us in the IMSA United SportsCar Series and they are also well-known for their mountain-bike tires."
Continental Bicycle Tires will provide Conti MTB treads with proprietary Black Chili Compound and Revolution Tubeless-Ready casings. Law will have hydration mixes from Osmo Nutrition and Gracyalny's company, Athlete Octane, will provide nutritional drinks and supplements to fuel the riders.
Law has trained day and night on similar terrain near his home in Phoenix. He wants to finish the race, but if the rookie team finds it too daunting, he's philosophical about an early retirement:
"If we're all too tired, we'll just sit down and drink beer in the motorhome and enjoy the great weather!"
Darren Law competes in selected sports-car endurance races in both prototype and GT cars. The versatile Phoenix driver is also the chief operating officer of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. He is supported by OMPRacing, Osmo Nutrition, Athlete Octane and Continental Bicycle Tires.