Friday, March 2, 2012

A love affair and a race report....

A couple weeks ago I participated in what I affectionately refer to as bicycle burning man. That may be overstating somewhat, but the 24 hours in the Old Pueblo--held near Tucson, AZ in the beautiful and perfectly weird Sonoran Desert--has been active for 13 years and can be quite an interesting spectacle. It's also the perfect scene if one plans to ride themselves into a pedaling-induced dementia.

While there are plenty of nutty bicycle events, the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo has a special affection for me....and it's mainly b/c it's a bitchin' place to be on a bicycle in February .

This year's event-prep was unusual for me. During the past 12 years, I have lived in Arizona where the weather is far, far from poor in the winter. In fact, it's pretty great. Even in Flagstaff, it's not hard to ride a lot; either you stay local and ride the San Fransisco Peaks (bad snow years) or you skip down to Sedona where it's almost always dry enough to ride many, many hours in the dirt. I also spent considerable time in Tucson, where the race resides and where the single track is ripping "nearly" all year. However, this year I was happily living in Idaho where the skiing is the main pull most of the winter, and so I found it tougher to spend time in the saddle, although not impossible...

Nonetheless, I was feeling pretty good and I knew my regular duo partner was too. Art Keith is bicycling royalty, as far as I'm concerned,....(that's him in the 2009 event poster)....

and he is always in optimal riding form. This year would be no exception I was sure, and I also thought we might even complete the duo podium sweep we've been working on over the last decade (2004=2nd place, 2008=3rd place, 2009=4th place).

Alas, it was not to be as Art was forced to stay home-in a comfortable spot-attempting to pass a month-old kidney stone that was causing him a lot more pain than riding for a couple hundred miles would (Art passed the rock two days after the race!!). This left me to go solo as a duo. Hmmmm, I thought, "No problem. An experiment. I will ride as many miles as I can, but still make time for a nap and a few beers along the way. That sounds quite fun and not too far from my idea of a vacation!".

And so it went and I did--have fun. I finished with ~180 miles (11 laps): Not bad, not great. I really wanted to go beyond 200 miles but I got lazy around 4:00am. The weekend had many familiar highlights, but the best part was hanging out with old friends, especially Ben Proctor, who took most of these pictures, and gorging on Kate Behn's incredible avocado cookies and potato leek (and bacon) soup under the glorious Sonoran sun. Thanks for the help everyone, especially Kate.

Lastly, I want to note the stellar performance of fellow SOULCRAFT team member Keith Marchando whose single speed 4-person team WON their class with 22 laps (that's about 374 miles). Class indeed. Nice work Keith!

No comments: