October 12, 2010

Moab – the more complete story

I think the biggest story of our race at the 24 hours of Moab is how miraculous our luck was. Consider, if you will:

Neither Macky nor I had ever done a race at night in our lives. Macky, in fact, had never *ridden* at night with lights until his first night lap, and I had done a grand total of 3 night rides (none longer than 90 minutes) at Marshall Mesa in the 3 weeks before the race. Yet somehow we were better at night (my laps were only a few minutes slower) than during the day, while other far more experienced teams faded badly.

We had no significant mechanicals, though Macky had his handlebar light fall off on one lap (he finished strong with just his headlamp) and I bent my derailleur hanger jumping over a fallen rider (trust me, that’s the best option when someone yardsales in front of you when you’re going 25 mph) and couldn’t really shift for the last half of my final lap. Oh, and I dropped my chain a few times on the first lap. But all told, no flats, no major mechanicals, no crashes, no injuries. Crazy, especially on that course.

Our support was nigh-nonexistent. Macky’s dad Bob helped keep us laughing and our lights charged, but we basically sat in the dark in camping chairs under our EZ-up eating pretzels and babbling incoherently. Most of the other “pro” teams had RVs and mechanics and all manner of junk. Yet somehow all our bikes kept working and we all made it to the start in time for our laps.

We didn’t even preride the course – I needed to work on Friday, as did Cameron, and Macky didn’t have any way to get to Moab earlier. So my first race lap was my first time ever seeing the trail – it was actually hilarious, because I’d crank around a lapped rider, then have to stop and get off to walk because I’d taken the exact wrong line, meaning that the poor person would pass me back, get passed again, and then have to watch me do the same stupid thing 100 feet later… I’m glad everyone was friendly and helpful about letting me by. I tried to give words of encouragement (or at least a friendly ring of the bell) to everyone I saw. I would never think that 1200-some people could share a racecourse that easily. Great stuff.

So really, the race went as well as it possibly could have. I am betting I could have taken 3 or 4 minutes a lap off my times if I’d been riding and racing all summer as I normally do, but given that I spent a grand total of about 6 weeks actually preparing in any way, I think it was a smashing success.

The course was about as fun as anything that isn’t singletrack could be, I’d say. Plenty of rock ledges (both up and down) to challenge your technical skill, plenty of super fast sections to test your nerves, and best of all, the course got faster and easier as you covered the loop – the most physically and mentally difficult sections were all in the first 1/3. That was really nice on the later laps when everything hurt.

Here’s a shot of us on the podium with the Trek/Honey Stinger and Hammer Nutrition guys. I was really bummed not to win this race – but I’m not going to whine about losing to a group of really nice guys (who I’ve known for years and used to race against every weekend) who get paid a salary to ride their bike. Honestly, I think I was the only person on the podium who doesn’t get free bikes at the very least. Maybe I need to enter the “guys who built their own bike” category next year…