|The crazy start. Chaos!|
This was my 10th year at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. I skipped last year after 9 years straight to take a break from this event. It wears on you to train and keep the focus in the winter time.My first time was in 2004 where I was on a 4 person single speed team and came away with the win. I have been riding solo since. My best finish in the solo class is a 2nd place.
The weather was looking super ideal and as the weekend approached the temps were getting higher and higher. Record temps were coming for the area. I arrived in the Arizona desert on Wednesday afternoon to secure a fine spot on the course. I got a spot in the typical area we have camped at in the past. I was flying solo. Laura and the dogs stayed home. Just as well as the heat would have been bad for the dogs.I had a couple days to setup, pre-ride, and hang out with friends. Before you knew it was the morning of race day. With the heat settling in I wasn't sure how I was going to perform. The plan was to set out slow; make it through the heat and get to the night laps where the temps would be cooler. The race started with the typical Leman’s start which requires you to run about a quarter mile or so. It’s sheer madness running down the road and finding your bike. Dan Durland was holding my bike which helped immensely getting on course quickly. I set out on the first lap with a mild tempo holding back and not letting myself get sucked into the pace of the faster team racers. I tend to do this.
I got through the heat and stopped to make some hot food at 5.30 pm. This was a good time to eat some solid food and get my lights on. My go to lights for 24 hour racing our Ay Ups. With the 6 hour batteries on low I get 12 hours out of each battery. No stress of worrying about changing out batteries. I heated up a Lean Pocket and downed it with a Coke. This did the trick and I was out rolling again. I made it to midnight with 8 laps in and at 1.30am. I actually felt a bit lonely coming into my empty camp. On the trail I could chat to the occasional rider which was nice to pass the time away. I had to keep focused on why I was here and the purpose. I stopped to eat some more hot food and heated up a McDonald's egg McMuffin. It doesn't sound healthy but it works. I could have made my own but this was easy. I kept on rolling and when I hit my lap 10 or 11 the sleep monsters were attacking big time. I was so tempted to stop on the side of the trial and take a cat nap. Anywhere look good to me. I Was also pissing four times a lap during the night and I couldn't figure out why. Too much sodium intake I guess. But I fought through and made it back to my pit. That was a rough lap. Dawn was approaching and I was looking forward to seeing the sun but not the heat that came with it. It was a long night. I was fairly joyous at this point that I hadn't cracked and didn't stop to sleep.
I came in off lap 13 just before 9am and I was feeling pretty shattered at this point. I walked over to The Back of the Pack camp and asked if anybody could look up the results. Judd looked it up and said I was in 4th. Damn. He couldn't lie and tell me I was in 20th place or something. I scurried back to my camp and headed back out into what felt like a war coming on. I was just 30 minutes in front of 5th and I had to make a charge to the end. All could think of was a podium spot. I didn't want to disappoint my wife, my sponsor (Kokopelli Bike and Board) or myself. This was going to suck. But you know what; this is what I do and I came to ride 24 hours. I made quick work or lap 14 and came charging back in and found I was still in 4th and it looked like the guy in 5th was slowing slightly. I refueled and went out knowing my 15th lap could be the lst lap and took it fairly easy but not to easy. I did the math in my head and knew that the dude in 5th was 40 minutes behind me and I could hold him off. Well, it turned out he didn't go back out after his 13th lap and I finished with 15 laps. I could have sneaked in a 16th lap but 3rd place was two on me with 17 laps. And the heat was beating me up pretty bad at this point. I came in and had to wait about 15 minutes to check into the tent at noon. Beers were being handed out by DJ, Fuzzy and Jake at the rock. Celebration time it was for the podium spot.
Some side notes: My Kokopelli Bike Company ti 29er took another beating and didn't let me down. I ran a 32x20 with Ikon 2.2’s front and rear. Solid.
My brother Pat had lost his best friend Hurley of 12 years on Friday February 14th. I dedicated my ride for both of them. On every lap I put my fist in the air for Hurley when I would top out at and see Sassy’s cross on the trail. I don’t know the whole story of Sassy but it’s been there since I started racing this venue in 2004. They are both together now. RIP buddy!! I know Pat loved you with all of his heart and gave you a wonderful life.
Thanks for reading. Next beating is the Arizona Trail Race in April.
Enjoy some pics of my 5 days in the desert.