2010 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

It took a while to get up, but here is the full race report from the 2010 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. (http://www.epicrides.com/twofour/24.htm) It was a solid race for Nick and I this year. There was also some stiff competition and some very fast teams racing in the Co-Ed Duo this year. It was a close race between the top three teams for most of the race. In the end, 2-Epic with Scott Morris and Lynda Wallenfels won, completing 20 laps at 1:14:21. They broke the previous lap record for Co-Ed Duo of 18 laps. Second place went to Fast + Sassy with Aaron Gulley and Jeny Meinerz. They completed 19 laps at 1:03:25. Nick and I, competing as the Road Turtles (named after our slow but steady, ancient camper) finished third with 18 laps at 12:10:20. We are both really happy with that result. Most importantly, we both stayed mostly upright and cacti free for the whole 24 hours.
I have photos from the race and our adventures in Arizona posted here
http://picasaweb.google.com/TracyThelen.triathlete/24HoursOfOldPueblo2010TripPhotos#
http://picasaweb.google.com/TracyThelen.triathlete/24HoursOfOldPueblo2010RacePhotos#

Keep reading for all the gory details. It’s a little long, but a lot can happen in a day!

Race day dawned bright, sunny and windy. There was a stiff breeze snapping the pirate flag of our neighbor’s camp. Nick has a lot of things to get done before noon, the captain’s meeting, getting the baton and generally getting ready to run. I made coffee – Christopher Bean’s Kenyan AA – one of Nick’s favorite roasts (http://www.christopherbean.com/) and egg and potato tortillas. Having the stove in the camper was so nice – being able to cook real food. Nothing like a nice warm breakfast with a cup of coffee for a pre-race meal when 24 hours of race looms. We reviewed strategy and timing while we ate.

Nick started for us. He got the run and I got the enviable position of having to hold his bike. Talk about a mad house! After the gun went off, the first 100 yards of road was just a zoo – people and bikes scattered everywhere. I picked a spot a little further down the road then planned, because of the insanity. But the hand off was smooth and he was off into melee of the first lap. I had about two hours to get ready for my first taste of the trail

Right on schedule, Nick rolled in after his first two laps. I took the baton and headed off into the desert. For my first two laps, the goal was to ride smart, ride comfortably and stay out of the cacti. Always hard, that last one. The perfect weather was also bringing out fast times and more racers, making staying out of the cacti a bigger challenge. I had no major issues with that on my first two laps. I handled the Bitches with ease this year, even catching some air on the fourth one both times. This year, I also took the Option for all my daylight laps. I was also able to climb the backsides easier, thanks to the power work I’ve been doing with CTS. In all of the sections of the trail that required quick acceleration and power, I was able to step on the gas, make my move, then recover easily. I knew the workouts Coach Adam was giving me were going to improve my power and strength – this was the first real test and it was a more then I could have hoped for this quickly.

I did notice some bad passing on the first few laps. It seemed like there was more then last year, and when I talked to other racers later, they agreed. I know that I made a few questionable passes – there were a few times I apologized over my shoulder. But there was only one pass that really annoyed me. Some dude in baggy shorts and a t-shirt, on one of the 6+ member teams nearly collided with another women at the bottom of one of the Bitches. Now, I know that we don’t carry the speed up hill as well as the guys, but running a solo woman off the trail because you can’t take the harder line is just not cool. I gave him a little scolding at the top of the next bitch.

Nick and I handed off again. He was out for two more laps – one daylight and then the first night lap. We had a new moon for the race this year and once it got dark, it got dark fast. I knew Nick would be fine – he loves night riding. I was hoping that I’d done enough with the few night rides I’d managed with the WOMBA of COS ladies. First things first – get the Tomac ready for a night ride. My primary light – as always the Amoeba (http://www.ameobalights.blogspot.com/). Then I retreated to the camper to change and eat.

Time came and I headed over to the exchange tent. Nick handed me the baton and I was off into the darkness. And it was dark. I was truly unprepared for how dark it was. I got a little squirelly on the first single track segment, gave myself a stern lecture and settled down. Long way to go still – take your time and stay upright. Unfortunately, not everyone felt like that. Just before the first Bitch, some guy made a bad pass and forced me onto the dummy trail through the wash. I had too much speed to correct and landed hard on my right side. Quick check of the bike – everything seemed okay – and I was off again, fuming at my unknown assailant. Then I shifted to get up the bitch. Chain Suck!! I was lucky. Some gentleman rider stopped and provided the brute force needed to unwedge my chain. Thank you whoever you are – It would have been a long walk back without your help. The derailleur hanger had bent in the crash. I made a quick adjustment and was back up and riding. All I could think of was the lost time and how close the race was at that point.
Riding at night without any moon light was a challenge. My rides with the girls had helped enormously, but they were all under moonlight condition. I was still on edge riding through the cacti. The cholla looked like ghosts in the darkness and the ribbon of trail vanished. Once I got used to riding, it was a blast. The lights moving around the course gave the impression of stars circling the night sky. It was a perfect night – no wind and quiet. There were a lot more riders willing to take to the trail because of the weather. My two laps went by quickly and I relinquished the baton to Nick.

Got back to the camper and turned the furnace on full blast. Ahh – nice and warm while changing into a new kit. Because of the crash and the bent derailleur hanger, I had to swap bikes. I moved everything to the Era, feeling very lucky that I had two bikes to ride this year. Then it was back to the camper for some food and warm cup of coffee to keep me going. I set an alarm and laid down to close my eyes for a little. Not to sleep, but just to relax. My alarm went off too soon. Time to head back to the exchange tent.

One thing 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo does very well is the exchange tent and the volunteers in the exchange tent. It’s set up so that the riders dismount before the tent and walk in. They give their names to the timers while an announcer reads off the team number. The next rider for the team checks in with the book-keepers at the tables on each side of the tent. The finishing rider hands the book-keeper the baton, the volunteer records the time, and hands the baton to the next rider. It works pretty smoothly most of the time. And any time lost is worth knowing that there are two methods of tracking laps and finish time. It works well to ensure a clean race. Not all volunteers take the baton – most are happy to just see it change hands between riders. Nick and I always tapped the table to make sure we were legit. What was really funny was watching riders wiping out trying to run in cycling shoes to the tables. I saw more crashed in the exchange tent then on course! And that was with the announcer extolling the virtues of walking!

My next two laps were quiet. The racers on course at the time were the serious riders, so the passing was much easier. It was also a little colder out, but still no wind. All the EMT/radio help on the course had retreated to the warmth of their cars and tents, watching the stream of lights go by, hoping they would have a quiet night. All except Golf. The boys at Golf were literally up all night, cheering for all the riders making the turn from Rattlesnake Trail to His and Hers Trail. The Golf gang was awesome – it was great popping out of the cacti to hear them say “welcome back – have safe ride.” One of the riders I was with for a while even carried a six-pack of beer for half the lap to give to the guys at Golf to thank them for their help. “Keeping the volunteers happy is always worth the effort.” The only thing I noticed was a little tightness in my right knee and IT Band while climbing Highpoint trail on the last lap. I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time.

Nick set out for another two laps – the last full night laps of the race. I would have the sunrise lap. It was also the final set of two laps. We would drop to one lap each after that. At that point, we were ahead of estimated finish schedule. It was looking like we might be able to get 19 laps if we kept the pressure on. Our original goal was 18 laps, so we were pretty pleased with how things were going. Nick had had a small bonk lap – ate some Jelly Bellies and felt better. I’d had some issues getting food down as well, but managed to settle my stomach this time around. I was tired but still ready to ride.

It was still dark when I left for my seventh lap so I was running the Amoeba on my helmet. There was light on the horizon and the cloak of darkness was starting to lift. I flew down the Bitches with the help of the Amoeba. By now, I was very comfortable on the screaming descents, hardly even touching my brakes. I was feeling good on the flat road section and just kept turning the pedals. As we hit the single track, the sun made it’s appearance and I turned off the Amoeba. But the lights are so small that I never even noticed it after that. The sunrise lap was harder then I thought. I started out at night, with clear lenses. Then the sun came up and bathed the course in bright light. The shadows from the cacti were long across the trail and played with the lines. I was wishing I had darker glassed to wear by the end of the lap.

One thing that I did notice was my right knee. That mild tightness and ache was back. And getting worse. I was fine sitting and maintaining a higher cadence, but trying to stand was not good. All of the power, flowy technical sections were really bad as I struggled to work around the pain. I made it to the high point, dropped the Option and handed over to Nick. Despite the difficulty with my knee, I’d still finished with a good time. Our chances for 19 laps were looking good. I needed to take care of my knee so I would be able to ride hard on the next lap. I spent 20 minutes icing, rolling and massaging my knee and IT band. After eating some oatmeal, I was feeling better. All I wanted to do was hammer one more lap, then have enough for the possible 19th lap at the end.

Nick was doing great. He’d worked through some cramps in the first half, but was now knocking off the laps with consistent times. He was doing the lion’s share of the riding and was going have at least two more laps then I would. That meant that if we were going to try for 19, I would need to be ready. He would not be able to go out again

Hoping the work on my knee would see me through, I head to the exchange tent. My plan was to fly down the bitches and soft pedal to the tops to avoid stressing my knee. That way I would still have good power and be able to stand up when I needed. I knew my knee would start hurting. The questions were how soon into the lap and how badly? I got the answers to both questions pretty quick. Real soon and real bad. Halfway through the first long section of single track – Corral Trail – I couldn’t stand and pedal any more. Sitting and spinning was okay, but I was giving away time because of that. By the halfway point, spinning was starting to hurt. At the start of the major climb – High Point trail, I was no longer using my right leg to pedal. Topping out on the climb and I was near tears – both from the pain and because I felt like I was letting Nick down. There was no way I would physically be able to ride another lap – even if we finished in time. We would be finished with 18 laps. I cleaned the descent, dropped the Option for the final time and handed the baton to Nick. “Finish after 12:00”
Then I went back to the camper to feel sorry for myself. That didn’t last long. After all, things like this happen in endurance racing. Rather then mope, I needed to take care of myself and be proud of what Nick and I had done. Two more laps then last year - tieing the lap record of 18 – running very consistent times. We’d improved one place from last year against very talented riders, including the 2009 Women’s 24 Hour Solo Single Speed National Champion, Lynda Wallenfels. We’d worked hard, worked well together, and put down a solid race. So I cleaned up and limped over to take pictures of riders on the Option. Nick cruised through, following my instructions to finish after noon, and we clocked out with 18 laps at 12:10.

Comments

Popular Posts