Three weeks prior to the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo I looked on the race facebook page and saw someone looking to give up a solo spot. I took it and started riding the trainer with a few February Gunnison road rides mixed in. I showed up in Arizona only to see if I could finish a 24 hour MTB race without stopping. Turns out I ended up racing and surprising myself....
I hit up Joe from Primus Mootry the week before the race to pick up the new frame... Beautiful by the way. Then stopped by Wheels Manufacturing on my way home to borrow some lights from Ed and talk shop with Dave (Wheel's big Dog) to see what new stuff they have coming out. That place was impressive. Only a few days later and I was on the road thursday 5am. I found a camping spot no more than 5 feet from the race course. It was amazing how crowded the place was by thursday late afternoon for a saturday noon start time. If you are coming down with an RV you better get there early for a good spot. With a small tent you can basically find a spot anywhere at any time. I wanted room for a large standing room tent and my Element. It's close quarters, and I camped between a very helpfull guy from Arizona and a group of great local guys. Yes, I already forgot everybody's name. I spent friday working on my laptop all day at a local Diner, then pre-rode the course friday afternoon. Pre-ride was the first time on the new wheels. Definitely something off (Just my stupidity... I'll get to this). And man it was stiff compared to last years Epic Evo.
I got up saturday morning and started preparing all of my stuff.
Here's what I prepared that was useful....
-Honda Element backed up to the race course as my pit
-10 water bottles filled and ready to go (I would have done more if I had more)
-Aleve (I took 5 throughout the race)
-chain lube and rag (3/4 the way through I switched from oil to wax based, wax based lasted 3-4 times as long)
-food. 1 Cooler of cold food, 1 cooler of non-cold, 1 bag of bars (bananas, PB&Js, Potato chips, yogurt, tortellini, coke, anything easily shoved into my mouth)
-Water, 3 gallons (2 water bottles/lap during daylight, 1.5/lap during night. And drinking at the car each lap)
-clear lens glasses for night
-tool box (I grabbed my chain tool and a link when I realized the lube sucked)
-lights (helmet with Dinoette light mounted, L&M 300 dual with 3 sets of batteries each. I ran each on medium all night, 12 hours.)
-Clothes for cold. Tights (very thin), long sleeve (lightly insulated), my PI wind breaker, and wool socks
-Spare bike (2011 Epic)
Here's what I prepared that was not useful....
-extra bibs, jerseys, and socks (I raced in 2 pair of socks only because I wanted warmer socks for night)
-baby wipes (I thought for SURE I would need to keep things clean down there, but no baby wipes used and no issues)
-cygolight and night rider lights (thanks Ed, but I never needed them)
-food to heat up
-5 hour energy, monster, & redbull (I did drink some Monster and 5 hour energy for the last lap, it was pointless)
Here's what I wish I had...
-Ergon handlebar grips (I have grip shifters and Ergon grips, but they don't work together)
-more coke (I only had 1 can)
-headphones (I didn't listen to music, but at 2am I sure wish I could have. We even had 3G coverage, I could listened to Pandora or a 2am pep talk on the phone with the right headphones)
-more bars. (I went through 1-2 bars/lap)
The course is 16.1 miles, fast, no sustained climbs, twisty, rocky (but not technical), and covered with cactus. You have 2 options, one bypasses 'The Bitches' with a single track, but it is 0.2 miles longer. The other option is a dangerous but not super difficult 10-15' very steep rocky descent that saves you about 15 seconds. 90% of the time I took the faster options. Basically it was a very fun course, I liked it. Here was my goal going into the race.... Cruise for 12 hours. At midnight if I feel good then pick it up. Do not stop. Finish. That's it.The race is a Lemans start. I crowded into the middle somewhere and we took off at a jog. If you want to run fast you MUST start in front. I ran slightly faster than the middle of the pack. The first lap is slightly changed so we start on a very hilly power line road appropriately named 'The Bitches'. I started the race on my Epic. As you can imagine the first lap is crowded but not horrible. The road really spreads you out. I was in just the right spot to where I was cruising at a moderate pace and passed only a handful of people that first lap. It was fun riding at this comfortable pace. No stress, no worries about passing (there was a lot of passing), no close calls, just cruising. By the third lap things were spread out completely and I was feeling really comfortable. I also decided to give the Primus Mootry a go for one lap. Turns out I just needed to turn in the handlebars, I didn't hop off of it untill the finish. By the fifth lap things were spread out completely and I started passing a lot of people. Passing on this course was easy. My pit stops at the Element were almost every lap for about 1 minute. Basically I would grab new water and food, apply shamy cream, and wipe and lube my chain every few laps. You get 6 hours of daylight which go by very fast compared to the next 12 hours of darkness. Once midnight came and I was still feeling good I decided to start pushing the flats, but I kept taking all hills at a moderate to easy pace. Pushing it down those twisty trails at night was a blast. Sometime around midnight the guys camped next to me checked my number against the race results and told me I was in 8th. I was surprised. Of course now I want to move up a couple of places. So now I'm taking the flats and downhills fast. By 5am I am vocally asking the sun to rise. About this time both of my lights would not come out of low. I think the Dinoette bulb can only go 10 hours on medium, then it's stuck on low. Low is worthless. The second L&M battery went quicker than expected, so it was stuck on low too, but that's no such a big deal. You really need a bright helmet light so you can scan the trail ahead and prepare to corner. 6am Finally LIGHT!! From midnight until now I kept telling myself that if I feel good when the sun comes up I will just start gunning it and see what happens. Well I felt great at 6am. When I came in to pit the neighbor guys were up and they told me I moved up to 6th. So now I've got 6 hours of race left, I feel great, and I moved up two spots from midnight. Now I'm racing. I started gunning everything, then die at the end of the lap. Then do it again with a new boost of adrenaline for each lap. Sometime around 9-10 am the guys told me I moved up to 4th. What sucks is I had no idea who I was racing. By this time everybody in a kit was 3rd place. I felt amazing for laps 16 and 17. I was trying to make the noon cuttoff to get in one more lap, thinking maybe 3rd would be right in front of me. I made it by 20 minutes. What I did not know is that I passed him somewhere in lap 16/17 and he wouldn't finish until after noon, which means I was good. Lap 18 was hell. Seriously. I was beyond exhausted, everything hurt. I made it 23 1/2 hours feeling great, then my body just fell apart. I crawled across the finish sometime after 1.
Looking back I think I would do it just the same. Friends, wife, support, etc.. would have been much more fun over the weekend as a whole. Starting slow I think was good to keep my motivation up through the entire race. If I attempt another I will start faster, but I will definitely take all hills easy untill at least the halfway point. I was surprised at how long you can keep up a mod/hard pace. I thought for certain I would have a hard time staying awake, but that was definitely not a problem. I was in ok shape, but not riding much didn't seem to make that much of a difference. That all said... I would like to race another one.