I think a race that lasts for 24 hours deserves multiple posts and since I am still glowing from my race I am inspired.
Let’s kick it off with some online media coverage. There is a great Mountain Bike Action article on the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo. Who is that dude in the second pic?
LW Coaching had a HUGE event at Old Pueblo with many of Lynda’s athletes landing on the podium. I like to joke that Lynda has helped me squeeze every drop out of my “zero genetic talent body” but there is a lot of truth to it. Lynda professionalism, knowledge, and race experience make her the best endurance mountain biking coach bike out there.
I tried to give off positive energy throughout the race and in turn receive positive energy from others. This included racers around me of all abilities and the folks in the timing tent volunteering at the race. However, the support and encouragement from my friends meant the most. Here are the post-race Blogs from my peeps:
The Food Bag is gone!!! I stayed in Tucson on Wed might and in my rush to pack up and get to the race venue I left a canvas shopping bag full of my race food in my hotel room. After figuring out what I had done, I called the hotel and tracked down housekeeping only to be told that they threw it out. Bull. Shit. That housekeeper scored a HUGE bag of unopened goodies including Starbucks coffee, Pringles, Wheat Thins, Peanut Butter, Pumpkin Spice Cookies, and Lara Bars. JenyJo saved the day and stopped at store for me on her way into the venue. Thanks again JJ!
BooBoo is my Crew Chief
JenyJo’s kitty is named Tonka but also goes by the alias BooBoo. When I learned that Michelle couldn’t make the trip I jokingly asked JJ if BooBoo would be my Crew Chief. Little did I know that JJ would bring a BooBoo replica to the race to actually serve as my Crew Chief. As you can see, BooBoo likes to sit up high and survey the situation at all times.
I love cowbells. Hearing a cowbell during a race makes me smile and makes me go faster. Early in the race I was riding in a pack and we passed a guy cheering racers on and madly ringing a cowbell. As we went by, I yelled “More cowbell!!!” The best part was that the guy riding behind me didn’t miss a beat and immediately quoted the SNL skit with Christopher Walken...”I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.” Greatness.
Stuff that worked:
In order to ride for 24 hours without stopping, a lot of things have to go right. The only time my butt hit a chair the entire race was to change my shoes in the middle of the night and that took about a minute.
Carbo Rocket has become my “go to” race drink because it tastes great and keeps my tummy happy. At 120 calories per 24oz bottle it is a supplement to the main source of calories I am using and the electrolytes it provides are the key. I drank 15 bottles of Carbo Rocket during the race and never got tired of it.
Ergon Grips have been on my bikes for several years now and in that time hand issues have been non-existent. I prefer the heavier GP1 model for its big fat paddle that supports my palm and I gladly sacrifice the weight they add for the long-term comfort. I have to admit that I wish I had bar ends at this race so I may try some GR2s in the near future.
It got cold at night during the race and when you are somewhat dehydrated and under-caloried it always feels colder than it really is. I changed into my Lake MX302s before midnight and wore them until about 7:15am and I am really glad I brought them. Also, it is faster to change shoes than to add/remove neoprene shoe covers.
The Lupine Wilmas rocked. I ran a Wilma on the bars and on the helmet and I had plenty of light for bombing down the Bitches and big ringing the back stretch. During one middle-of-the-night lap, another rider jumped on my wheel because his lights went totally out and he safely rode most of the lap on my wheel using my lights to guide him.
3rd Place Men’s Solo 15 Laps 255 Miles in 24 Hours I even made Cycling News!
Room for improvement? I think so ;)
On Oct 1, 2009 I committed to driving 1000 miles to the land of cacti for 24 hours of glorious suffering. Leading up to that point I was really torn with the decision to head south this year vs. signing up for a snow bike race in AK or MN but when the online registration opened for Old Pueblo it just felt “right”. I have followed this race for years, had heard great things about the race, and wanted to experience a really big 24 hour race. October 26th was the day I started to seriously train for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo and although I missed a few good ski days, I really liked having a goal to focus on over the winter. Personally, the other benefit to doing a 24 hour race in Feb is that I can take my time recovering and not feel as if I am missing out on our super-short cycling season.
My sleeping quarters + our rented circus tent in the background
Pre-Race I felt as if I had raced before it started. Two days of driving to get there, cramming some work time in on the laptop each day, setting up camp & the pit, and the pre-race anxiety had me feeling a little ragged. Sharing camp and a pit with Lynda was a highlight and when she got there late Thursday night it definitely helped my mood to finally have a camp buddy. I had some serious pre-race jitters in the days leading up to this one. However, Friday was good day. French press coffee & a bagel, followed by a fun pre-ride with Lynda, seeing Ed & JJ, getting big hugs from JJ, and then gradually getting my gear organized for race day.
The Scene I knew this was a big race but I had no idea it was a giant camping party with a 24 Hour Race going on in the background! This 24 Town just explodes out of the desert and exists from Thursday (actually earlier ‘cause some folks cheated and got there waaay early) through Sunday. The race sold out every category which meant a total of 1600 racers plus their friends, families, dogs, goldfish, etc. were all there. Rather than the exception, RVs were the rule. Teams would park several RVs in horseshoe formations to form their “compound” and throw out a fire pit, an E-Z UP, a gas grill, and a Lazy Boy on top of that. I thought I had my pit program dialed but those folks in AZ don’t fuck around when it comes to their camping. Yeah, I was a little jealous.
The Plan Well, my plan changed a bit when Michelle couldn’t make the trip to AZ which meant that I was racing solo AND unsupported. Working backwards, I knew that 16 laps was the absolute most I would do so in order to pull that off I needed 16 laps worth of hydration and calories ready to go before I started lap #1. When Lynda saw me pre-mixing 32 bottles Friday night I think she thought I had lost it. I tried to lay everything out so that I could roll into the pit, grab two bottles and a gel, plus any snack I craved, and roll out in a few seconds.
Chillin’ Amongst the Carnage I distinctly remember the sound of heavy, labored breathing all around me during the first and second laps up the Bitches and I cracked a tiny smile as I spun in it out in my small chain ring while taking it all in. Saving energy while moving efficiently was my biggest goal early and I had no interest in the burst-slow-burst routine that many over-zealous riders engage in on the first lap. There were plenty of crashes, bobbles, flats, and broken chains on the first two laps and I just calmly weaved my way through it.
Building Mojo In addition to a conscious effort to stay positive throughout the race, I had positive people around me. JenyJo and Aaron were racing Duo Coed against Lynda and Scott and both teams were on FIRE! On my 5th lap I got to ride with JJ and we took the silliness to a new level. If you were riding around us at the point in the race you were probably wondering what kind of crack we were on. We were laughing and trash talkin’ and just being silly in general and as I have said before, I go faster when I am smiling. Lynda and Scott helped keep the mojo flowing when I would see them briefly in our pit in between laps and their encouragement really helped keep me on track. When Lynda told me that I was in 7th place around midnight I thought she was playing some kind of Jedi mind trick on me.
Monkey Butt It is not a matter of whether you are going to experience discomfort in a 24 Hour Race, it is matter of which body part, how much will it hurt, and are you mentally prepared to deal with it. The only way I can describe my nemesis during OP is Monkey Butt. There is nothing glamorous about it people. I have had plenty of saddle sore issues and had expected to experience them in this race but this was different. This was a burning, painful, stinging welt-like rash covering every inch of my ass that was touching my saddle and the discomfort was building throughout the night and affecting my riding. I had to stand up a lot and shift positions constantly. By dawn I couldn’t take it anymore so I took drastic measures. Instead of taking a planned break for hot tea and a bagel, I dove into my tent, stripped off my layers, pulled down the bib shorts, applied a thick layer of Desitin to my now baboon-like butt, AND slathered a layer of chamois cream onto my chamois. That messy concoction helped me finish out the race and took the edge off. Phew, now let’s get back to racin’.
The Final Laps My early race was a setup for the finale and now it was time to unleash everything I had left. At 7:25am I started to ramp it up and instead of spinning up the Bitches I was standing and mashing my way up them and it felt good. I was big-ringin’ the back stretch too and going fast is fun, which made me smile, which in turn made me go even faster. I was riding on emotional crack at this point but I was also calculating my finish. Lynda told me I was in 4th and then a lap later I was in 3rd…holy crap. Stay on the gas. By 11am the wind had come up and the headwind on the back stretch was soul crushing. Mentally, I was still racing, riding hard, and mentally preparing for Lap 16 but I was physically slowing down. When I rolled into the pit at 11:58am I had time to go out for Lap 16 but mathematically there was no need. Physically, I could have gone out for one more if I absolutely HAD to, but it would have been U-G-L-Y. The energy in the timing tent after 12 noon was awesome and I got a big hug from JJ. And then it hit me. It was like I had been riding on fumes because I was barely able to walk my bike back to the pit and unfold my camp chair to sit down.
Adding to the stoke, my race buddies kicked ass this weekend. Lynda & Scott won the Duo Coed and JenyJo and Aaron took 2nd in Duo Coed. How cool is that?
Huge thanks to Lynda, a Super Coach who leads by example, and to Michelle and all of my friends for their love, support, and encouragement.
Holy shit, did that just happen? To say that I am stoked with 3rd place in the Men’s Solo field would be an understatement. What an experience! Executing my pre-race plan, seeing friends throw down awesome performances, participating in my first really big (I mean friggin’ huge) race, meeting some great people, and riding in the desert after riding on nothing but snow for the past two months was the perfect storm.
I had to stop for some sleep north of Salt Lake on my way home but a full race report is coming. Thanks for all of the positive vibes and well wishes!
Several years ago when I began researching lights for night riding I was impressed by Lupine's commitment to interchangeability. You can use any of their lights with any of their batteries and cables. The ability to upgrade an existing light to the latest LED technology was another huge selling point and I just took advantage of their latest offering. Thanks to the excellent customer service from Bill at Gretna Bikes, the DIY upgrade kit showed up yesterday and the upgrade was complete in 5 minutes.
My old 830 Lumen Wilma light is now 1000 Lumens!
Lupine changes the color of their circuit boards to help keep the versions straight
How can these tiny LEDs be brighter than the larger ones on the older red circuit board?
Once the quick-change was done I headed to the dark basement for a test. My other light is another Wilma that hasn't been upgraded so I have the perfect comparison. The upgraded Wilma is noticeably brighter and has a hotter spot in the middle of the beam which will be perfect for use on the helmet. The upgraded lens is also 15 degrees but actually looks slightly narrower due to the intensity of the spot. I like to aim my helmet light just beyond the beam of my handlebar light so this combo will be killer.