Culture Capture: 24 Hour Challenge with Jessica Krzemien
Posted on August 01 2019
Blog written & photos provided by Jessica Krzemien on her experience at the North East 24 Hour Challenge.
After taking a week to recover, I look back at my first 24 hour challenge with a new admiration for the sport. Since this was my first challenge, I had minimal knowledge of what to expect. The Kenda Northeast 24 Hour Challenge was held at Tall Pines ATV Park in Andover, NY for their 5th year. The pits were full of campers, pick-up trucks and moto vans with license plates from all over. Riders were beginning to prep their pit areas considering they would spend the next 24 hours camped out awaiting their turn in the challenge.
My team, Baby Got Brapp, consisted of six female riders, two of which I’ve never met before. That’s the beauty of motorcycles and events like this, it brings strangers together. On our team, we had two girls who primarily race motocross, three girls who race woods, and one girl who just recently started riding dirt bikes.
We established the team’s race order and set up the transponder. The transponder is a small device that is worn or attached to the bike and used to track riders. The chip inside registers and records your lap times each time you cross the finish line. This tracks the number of laps for each team, as the goal of the challenge is to complete as many laps as possible in 24 hours.
After a riders meeting first thing in the morning, our entire team met at the start to cheer on our first teammate. The magnitude of this event was put into perspective by witnessing over 200 teams at the starting line. I’ve raced two GNCCs and was somewhat familiar with a dead engine start, but I had no idea what was happening when I saw the riders get off their bikes. For the challenge, they used a Le Mans start - where riders stood several yards in front of their bikes. Once the green flag waved, they ran as fast as they could back to the starting line where teammates were holding their bikes. The riders jumped on, started them and took off. Each class was staggered by the minute to help eliminate a mad dash to the first corner.
The loop was just over 11 miles, not knowing how long it would take, rider #2 was ready and on deck. The race began at 10 am but my first lap wasn't until 3pm, so I made sure to stay hydrated and out of the sun. As it got closer to my turn I geared up in my Gaerne motocross boots, Alias pants, jersey, gloves, Leatt chest protector, 6D helmet, 100% goggles and a Camelbak full of water. Once my teammate got back to the pit area, she handed off the transponder. I placed it inside my fanny pack for safe keeping, and I took off into the woods on my 2015 KTM 250 SXF. My bike’s suspension and motor are set up for motocross, not that it’s a huge deal, but it is a bit of difference. If I ever decide to fully step away from motocross, I will consider switching bikes for woods riding, but for now I will keep it a mx set up. Almost immediately, I stalled the bike (audible eye roll), thank goodness for my electric start which proved to be clutch throughout the weekend. The race loop consisted of tight single track, double track, rock gardens, roots, creeks, and a few hill climbs that were challenging.
Fast forward a few hours and the nighttime riding began. I am used to riding in daylight so this is a new experience for me as well. I borrowed a helmet light from a friend and purchased a 12” LED light bar from Task Racing and mounted it on my handle bars. Riding at night was honestly quite a thrill. I rode at 8pm which were prime conditions compared to my next lap at 3am. The dew had started to set in, making the woods slippery and difficult to navigate.
My teammates pushed through the night making sure at least one of us was out on the loop at all times. At 10am Sunday morning I made the final lap. Our kick ass team, Baby Got Brapp, came in 3rd place in the women’s class completing 23 laps! We made the podium - which was a huge accomplishment since this was the first time doing a 24hr challenge for many of our teammates.
The event was an experience I am glad I took part in. After racing motocross for 20 years, I’m slowly transitioning to the woods. I’ve been riding at Majestic ATV park in Rew, PA and have done 2 GNCC races at Unadilla in New Berlin, NY. Woods riding can be intimidating and a great challenge, but also a lot of fun and rewarding. Recently, I just attended my first all women camp out, Over and Out, put on by Kelly McCaughey. We spent the weekend riding in the woods and getting to know a great group of female riders! This is where I met two of my teammates for the 24 hour challenge.
Dirt biking is notorious for being a male dominated sport, but there is a movement to encourage females to get out and ride. Participating in these events, helps to broaden my horizons in the dirt bike world. People of all ages love this sport, and I hope that love never fades away.
I can’t talk about this race or any race for that matter without thanking my biggest sponsors, my parents. They have supported me from day one and I consider myself very lucky to have them both by my side throughout the years. Undoubtedly, if it were not for my boyfriend, I would not be riding in the woods. He is the one who strongly encourages me to step out of my comfort zone, off the track and into the woods. His pep talks and motivation help me get through even some of the toughest terrain and realize the potential I have inside. To my teammates who asked me to join their team, I am grateful. Thank you for encouraging me and thank you for riding your butts off in this event! Great job to all who raced.
For more information on the next 24 hour challenge visit arcadiabarkbusters.com