There are so many Charlotte events that I look forward to each year, but 24 Hours of Booty is definitely one of the highlights of my summer. This 24 hour cycling event in the heart of Myers Park is a staple of the Charlotte community and draws together a mix of cancer survivors, families affected by cancer, members of the medical community, elite cyclists, and volunteers for one common cause - beating cancer.
Friday evening, 1200 cyclists gathered to kick off the big event. For the second year in a row, I rode with the Levine Cancer Institute team. Our fearless leader - Dr. Kneisl - leads our team, and together with Dr. Vanderhave, we represented the CMC orthopaedic department.
The build up to the 7pm start is filled with heart-wrenching stories of patients and their families who are currently battling or have lost loved ones in the battle against cancer. After the national anthem and raising our hands to the common cause of "beating cancer," the ride began. The first couple laps (each 2.84 miles) were slow moving with tightly packed group of cyclists, but eventually the riders became more spread out and I knocked out 40 miles before returning to Bootyville for dinner and then riding a couple miles back to the house to sleep for several hours.
I was up bright at early to begin my ride at 5am. Last year someone had recommended riding in the early morning darkness, and it is without a doubt my favorite time to ride. The course is quiet, roads are lit only by some spotlights and blinking bike lights, and the summer air is relatively cool.
By sunrise, I was 28 miles into my ride and took a short break for breakfast. Between scrambled eggs and fruit, pecan swirl bread with peanut butter from Great Harvest, half of a glazed chocolate donut, and iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts, I was energized for more riding.
I rode another 42 miles before making a very quick stop for a bathroom and to refill my water bottles. Bootyville is filled with tents of participants who camp overnight on the football field at Myers Park Traditional school. The benefit of living nearby = no need to sleep on an air mattress.
The final 42 miles grew increasingly busy on the course and required extra effort to maintain speed while remaining safe in the crowds. Sadly, I witness a car pull out and hit one cyclist on the course, and although she appeared not to be too severely injured, I was more cautious the last few miles. With 20 miles to go I was really starting to overheat and grabbed a few sips of ice cold coke hoping for a boost. Just after 6 hours, my odometer hit 115 miles for the day and 155 miles for the event , and that meant my 50+ laps around the Booty Loop had come to a close.
The heat took a toll and I felt a little woozy getting off the bike, but after several minutes in the shade with cold gatorade, I was ready for lunch. The taco bar catered from Moe's satisfied many hungry athletes bellies.
Compared to last year's Saturday long-ride, this year's 115 miles felt dramatically easier. I spent far more time in aero, averaged more than 0.5mph faster pace, and was comfortable on my bike the entire time. Last year I rode 87 miles before my base bar split, causing me to crash, and recall those last 20 miles were pretty painful. Hopefully my improved bike fit and fitness will translate to a faster bike split in Louisville in October!
24 Hours of Booty concluded on Saturday evening and a total of $1.34 million was raising by the event to donate directly to local cancer beneficiaries (Levine Cancer Institute) as well as national cancer outreach programs. Congrats to the 1200+ riders for dedicating their weekend to a phenomenal cause! If you'd still like to donate, here's the link to my fundraising page.