Tuesday, February 18, 2014

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo 2014

Last weekend was our local big mountain bike race, 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. It's put on by Epic Rides and draws about 3000 people to the Willow Springs Ranch off Highway 77 near Oracle, AZ.

I pre-rode the course several times during training, even got my time down to about 1:20 and change, starting from the arch and riding the course by myself, so I thought I was in pretty good shape to go back out there this year and compete.

Went out on Wednesday with one of my teammates ( we had a 5 person Co-Ed Team ), and he setup his popup trailer and I setup my tent, a pile of wood and some water that I dropped off. Back to our campsite on Thursday to occupy the space and stayed until Sunday when the race was over. Campsites are a premium out there, you get real close with your neighbors, and you want to stay out of the dust, be close to the portas but not too close, flat enough for your tent, etc, etc.

The rest of the team ( we had 2 5 person Co-Ed Teams, "Beauty and the Beasts", and "Pass The Wine Buddy" ), showed up on Friday night and Saturday morning.  Cooked up a bunch of eggs and bacon and headed to the team meeting and then really quickly it was race time.  I decided to do the run this year, about a 1/2 mile run to get to your pre-positioned bike and then take off on a 16 mile course. When the gun fired, off we went, and I discovered that my Camelback was flopping around all over the place, so in the picture below, I am holding onto it ( and also am a bit winded ).

Should Have Practiced the Run  ( copyright TucsonVelo.com )
First Lap
The first part was like a road race, just on dirt, until we got to the "bitches".  At the "bitches" lots of people were spinning out in front of me, falling down, total disorder, finally got past that, did a fast run out on the flat space, then into the corral trail through all of the cholla cactus. At this point we had maybe 10 riders in what amounts to a pace line, and it was near impossible to pass, so that group stayed pretty much together until we got to a piece of road again where one could pass.  So it went for the rest of the lap and I finished with a time of 1:25.  I was happy with that time.

Back to camp, cooled down, washed up a bit, got something to eat and was ready for a second lap at sundown. A beautiful sunset as I rode out, should have stopped to take a picture, but decided to hit it hard and got another 1:25 lap.  Got handlebar bumped in the middle of the cholla area, but kept the bike going straight ( hell of a bad place to wipe out if one did ! )  And the full moon rising in the east was pretty impressive !

Night Ride Done !

Now, on to Lap 3, at 3 am.  My teammate in front of me had a tire/tube problem so instead of coming in at 2:30 am, he came in at 3am, and you spend that time standing around in the big white circus tent called the Exchange Tent.  When he came in, I went out to find my bike and start.  Wow, I was SLOW.  I could not believe how SLOW I was, it was like I could barely ride the bike.  Got past the cattle guard and got things spinning a little bit, but was getting passed by everyone on the "bitches.  It was starting to get depressing, with me wondering why I was even out here. But I got past the "bitches" and a rider passed me quickly and then I sped up, got on his tail, and the pedals started to move. On the flat spot the dust was thick, from the rider in front, and that left over from all of the others before him.  I ended up with a time of 1:36 for the lap, better than it looked at the beginning of the lap.

By the time all of our Team got to ride, we ended up with 14 laps and our last rider finished a bit after 12 noon.  We did 3 laps more than last year, and no one fell down or got injured, so we went home after having given it a good try.   I wasn't the only one REALLY tired on Sunday at noon, I think we all were whipped.  Extremely happy to have done the race, but tired.  It's  a fun event, and not to be missed !  Have to figure out next year how to rest better between laps, I think that's the thing that fried us all ( perhaps we need to rent one of those hi-tech super RV's with the big screen TV's that were out there ).

Next big event is the Whiskey Off-Road. I signed up for the 50 mile ride, and then for a gravel grinder type of ride the following week called the Chino Valley Grinder. Lots of work still ahead.