Five years. That's how along we've been doing 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. And in those five years, it's always been the same. I hold Nick's bike and watch the chaos running by for the start lap. And chaos it is - a herd of riders sprinting down a narrow road. Grabbing bikes and then vanishing into an ever growing cloud of dust. Beyond that - the next glimpse I have is of the riders flying into the transition tent. Then it's my turn to face the cacti. Nick has told me stories about the start lap, about the crazy passes, about the speed and pure power needed to hold position. Yikes. It scares me, the stories I've heard. It's something I've only wanted to experience if I was racing Solo. To try and do the start lap against the men of other coed duos? Seems like we'd be giving up time for no reason. I know I can't match Nick on the start lap - I don't have the power, the speed or the aggressiveness needed for some of the passes. And I'm generally slower then Nick, which means he'd have more people to pass on his first lap. So it's more then just tradition - it's smart racing.

So.... Why do we have a plan that has Nick holding my bike, sending me off with the noon chaos? A few reasons, including an untimely calf injury that has limited his ability to run over the past few weeks. We overdid our fun in the snow at the beginning of the year and Nick irritated a muscle in his ankle. He didn't ride for a week and a half and still hasn't tried running. So he is very concerned about the start lap and the chance of irritating that muscle again during the Le Mans run. We need him to be able to ride hard for at least nine laps and if he irritates his ankle in the start, we might not get all his laps. I've also been running a lot more this year then prior years, and am just coming off a fast half marathon. So I've got the running fitness that won't send me anaerobic with an 800m sprint, but will happen when I get on the bike? Will I get swallowed by the mass of riders that Nick usually leaves in the dust? Or will I be able to hold my own and turn a respectable first lap time? Maybe Nick will be able to start - but if he can't.... We will find out.


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