Know that movie “The Perfect Storm”?
If it had taken place in the desert, Old Pueblo would have been a great place to film it.
Friday was awesome.
Saturday dawned with wind. Lots of it, and strong.
The race started, and the clouds built up fast.
By five, it was pouring rain and the temperature plummeted.
So here’s the all-encompassing race update from D2, the guy that had low expectations and met them for the most part, and the scoop on the good gear and the bad.
ITEM 1: RIDE STRATEGY.
Start off slow and taper off from there.
ITEM 2: WHISKEY.
D2: Hey JB, you want some Scotch?
JB: Is a bear Catholic?
ITEM 3: BREAKFAST.
The clouds rolled in as I cooked up some sausage, hash browns, and eggs.
Gunnar in the foreground, primed and ready to race. Ergon Grips were awesome. Kept my hands and my back where they should be.
ITEM 4: TOILET PAPER.
The rarest animal in the desert this past weekend. A trip to the port-a-potties meant taking your life in your hands…or at least your wipes. My pre-race poo came twice on Saturday. Bright and early, then a mid-afternoon reprisal. I carried it around for a lap. I think that’s worth some extra points.
ITEM 5: LE MANS.
Late to the starting line. I cheered on Dirty as he ran past. He saw me and yelled, “What the hell?” A late start is better than no start at all.
Lots of DC jerseys at the start. I passed a few familiar faces and some not-so-familiar faces, all sporting DC wear. It was great to see…sometimes I forget people actually read this site and are privy to the bullshit I spew.
ITEM 6: CHOLLA.
Straight up nasty. If you don’t know what it is, googlize that shit right now.
Lap one was full of these little nasties, since the wind had kicked up and sprayed sand into every orifice on every body on the course. The cholla would snap off and fall into the trail. I remained unscathed, luckily.
On lap one, a woman fell into a cholla and had it all over the front of her body. She was screaming and obviously panicking pretty badly. By my second lap, they were just loading her into the Search and Rescue truck. An endurance event of a different kind…
ITEM 7: SPANDITOS, GIN RUMMY, AND MY FIFTEEN HOUR LAP.
After lap two, I took a scheduled break for food and new digs. I put on a fresh jersey and knee warmers, changed out the lenses in my glasses, and got my EXPOSURE LIGHTS ready for use.
But all for naught.
Because the sky looked like this.
It doesn’t look so bad on the screen, but a few moments later, the temperature plummeted and the rain started. I sat in the truck with my wife and decided to see where this went.
It went fucking south.
Harder men (and women) went out in the rain and toughed it out. I, who had just gotten over a three week illness and despise pain and discomfort, sat in the truck in my spanditos and waffled back and forth, back and forth, trying to convince myself to get going. My wife said, “If you went out, would you have fun?” I said, “Fuck no.” She said, “Will you be angry at yourself if you don’t go out now?” I said, “Maybe.” She said, “Don’t go out.”
Wise woman, that one.
We played Gin Rummy for about three hours. It stopped raining around 9 or 9:30, by which time the temperature had plummeted pretty low. I decided to get some sleep instead of sacking up and going out in that, which I sort of regret, but in keeping with my “have some fucking fun and forget about everything else” theme, I think I made the right call. I’ll take the fifteen hour lap.
ITEM 8: 4 A.M., MOTIVATION, EXPOSURE, SUNRISE, FEELING GOOD.
Small favors from above. My wife woke me around 4:30 in the a.m. and refused to let me sit it out. I got out of the tent. Froze my nuts off. Pre-lap poo. Banana. EXPOSURE lights on the bike. These things were fucking amazing. I will never use a different light. I sported one on the helmet (the Diablo) and one on the bars (Six Pack). I never even used the highest setting because they were so bright it wasn’t necessary.
Rolled out of camp with stiff joints, frozen fingers and toes, and fun level at an extreme low. Ten minutes later, I was alone in the desert and happy again. Wishing I had done another night lap, because shit, the desert’s so great at night. Cold as balls, but great. Me. Lights. Critters. Cacti. Cold wind and whatever ridiculous thoughts pop in my brain.
The sunrise happened when I was on the backside of the course. Great view. Great start to my day. Lucky for my wife getting me up outta bed.
ITEM 9: THINGS THAT ARE AWESOME, THINGS THAT SUCK, THAT PESKY MOTIVATION AGAIN
Didn’t stay in camp for too long after that lap. Had to dry out my digs, warm up a bit, eat some chicken (clutch move on my part. Drumsticks pre-grilled at home were my saving grace), and take the lights off the bike and helmet. As I was getting ready to go out for another lap, Littlejar popped his head out of the tent and cheered me on. Poor guy froze his sack off that night, but still had good words to say. Things that are awesome.
Things that are awesome: ran into Dirty on this lap. I yelled to him from behind, pulled up alongside. He looked like a shellshocked Iraqi. He didn’t even recognize me at first. Guy was balls out, pushing the pedals, tapping it out. We chatted for a bit, and we both came back to life a little. Made me feel good to be out there, like I wasn’t alone. That’s what’s always messed with my head about 24 hour races: sometimes I’ll be on the course and not see anyone, and I’ll get paranoid, thinking the race had ended, or I was on the wrong trail, or everyone else had been vaporized and only I remained to ride an endless loop for eternity.
Things that suck: lap four, a sharp pain in my left knee told me to sit down when I got back to camp. Motivation drains through the sitting position, apparently, and I felt it necessary to call it a race. Injuries are not what I need right now, as I struggle to get myself back in good health after four years of teaching.
Things that are awesome: Adam came in from his last lap. Dude pulled 12 laps solo, looked a bit worse for the wear, but goddamn. Solid effort. I had proposed another lap for him, and he shook his head like a child saying no to a trip to a doctor for the biggest fucker of a needle he’d ever seen. Sheer dread. I don’t blame him a bit.
Things that suck: I am still cleaning sand from my ears/nose/eyes/throat/unmentionables.
Things that are awesome: the big finish. Rolling down the big rock. People cheering. People loving bikes even after shit weather. Smiles. Unbelievable.
ITEM 10: SUMMATION.
I’m confident I had three more laps in me. I didn’t do it, though, but I count this trip as a success for a few reasons: one, every moment I spent on my bike I had fun. This as opposed to last year, in which every moment was agony. Two, the prep I did for this race got me back in shape, and finishing lap four knowing I could have done more was a good feeling. My legs, my lungs, my back, everything said I had it in me.
Will I do it again? Hard to say. My initial response is no, because it sucks being cold and uncomfortable and tired, but hell, one morning lap with sweet lights, a quiet morning, ice cold toes and fingers…shit, that’s what it’s all about, ain’t it?by