24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. This was my second year at the event, and one of my two or three paid races for the year. I've found that the Epic events are pretty well worth it. They're pretty well thought out and organized - which is something you need at 24HTOP. On state trust land a 3000 person town sprouts up, lives, and dies in about a week, with thousands of miles ridden in between.
My first year I was on a four person team, which spread out the work effectively. I managed 3 laps for about 48 miles total. I felt pretty good about that, but did not feel good about huddling in the tent all night waiting out the blistering cold rain and wind that battered the course for the good part of the night. This year would be a bit different. I was now testing my endurance prowess in a two man team with John and we'd have high-class accommodations. Mom was coming down to support with her camper. Heater. Check. Stove. Check. Recliner. Check. An easy time at the 24HTOP.......well, it might have been about as easy as it gets, which at about 3am can still be pretty tough.
|Our first night in camp left us with this great sunset providing a great silhouette of Picacho Peak over by the I-10.|
|We got camp set up with some time to spare so John and I went and did some recon on Painter Boy. John had been on it when he finished the AES APC ride the month before, of which I had to quit do to an imploded derailler, so he told me of the meandering obscurity and prickly foliage encroaching much of the trail, and I found that it was a bit like that, but still fun. I'm sure after 55 miles, with the sun setting, legs getting on, it's not much fun to lose track of Painter Boy.....Our ride was pretty nice until I broke my chain out towards the Bitches. Sheesh, I just fixed it!|
|We were set up with pro-style lodgings.|
|They pack them in like sardines! First come, first served. It's a mobile town. Seems like some apocalyptic nomadic clan, if you're into Mad Max shit.|
|Some of Mad Max's friends showed up too, I think. The people watching alone could keep you busy.|
|By the end of the first lap I wasn't thinking about the broken chain anymore, but just having fun. My time was around 1:25. Not to bad. I'd keep about that pace for all my laps.|
|These dogs were unimpressed with the action.|
|Mom was rockin' the camper and loving it.|
|We had quite the setup.|
|Yeah, lots of characters to see.|
|What better way to mark a campsite?|
|The town spreads out over the desert.|
|Solo alley sits right on the course.|
|So, as you can tell, I did six laps for 97 miles.|
But early in the morning, with temperatures crashing and the mind getting cloudy, my stomach goes belly up and I can't seem to put much down without wanting to let it come back up. Moving was making me a bit nauseous. So the bad decision to lay down to let it it settle was made, but without the effort to get my alarm clock out. John show's back up, but the night has got me, the cold has tied me down, and my belly digests only my motivation. I don't get up until 6am with a trip to the pot. I wanted 7 laps, I knew I could get one more for six, so I rally the belly a bit, get some solid grub, make a Heed and head out.
John does a lap after I get back and we have about 3.5 hours to each get seven laps. I'm still feeling a bit nauseous and some tire rub on my bike won't quit. I'd been tweaking spokes all race thinking the wheel was a bit out of true, but that never worked long. The hub seemed tight. My mechanial gremlins were in my head, after all the busted chains, deraillers, shifters and cogs I'd been going through the last few months so I called it, with an angry stomach hanging on. I wanted to ensure that John hit his goal of seven laps, and if I went out, I felt that would have been jeopardized, either with my stomach revolting mid lap or my wheel suffering a wicked mechanical. Paranoid excuses I realize, as I now look back.
So we ended up with 13 laps total, not bad considering on the four person team the year before we only did nine. I was pretty pleased with myself......to an extent. Every hour brought remorse that I couldn't capitalize on seven laps. The poor middle-of-the-night rest management did me in. Not setting an alarm for a snooze did me in. Not having some Tums or Rolaids did me in. It would even later show that mechanical oversight dragged my psychology into passive acceptance of Good Enough. That will be explained on the Sedona Big Friggin' Loop.
Next year, which as I write this is but a month away, these mistakes should be corrected. Alarm clock and Tums will be with me and accessible, along with some feet warming protection. It gets damn cold out there. The camper will be back, and the least laps we'll do is 14. I'm keeping my head in the game this year.