This year’s installment of Old Pueblo was by far the hardest one I have ever completed. It was filled with wind, rain, dust, mud, ups and downs. In short, it was some good old fashioned mountain biking. The wind crushed my soul from the start, it was demoralizing. The dry air sandblasted my face and left me with no vision in my left eye by the second lap. This is something that usually happens to me while 24 hour racing in the desert, but not until sometime in the middle of the night. It really wasn’t much of a problem because about an hour later it started to rain. Which left me with perfect vision for the suffering ahead.
Music seems to be in every aspect of my life from work to play, I always have my tunes. Oddly enough, I never listen to my headphones while riding the mountain bike. I would rather hear the nature around me, the dirt under my tires, coyotes howling, and my lungs wheezing as struggle up a hill. I really could have used some headphones for this race. Instead, I found myself humming and sometimes singing out loud whatever song came into my head.
At the start, the wind was vicious. It leveled EZ-ups and tents with ease and filled the air with an impressive amount of dust. So the playlist started with the first song that came to mind, Dust In The Wind. Rose quickly jumped in to save me from myself by saying “What did I tell you about that corny bullshit?! It needs to stop.” Thanks Rose. The gun went off and all I could think of was the song BRINGIN’ IT DOWN as we all ran down the dirt road in our tap shoes and spandex. The first lap of any 24 hour race is always a total cluster. You just hope to hook up with some people that are going a comfortable pace, strike up some conversation and just be patient. It will all be better next lap. Unfortunately not everybody thinks that way. As I experienced the first of many dangerous (i.e. cactus) passes by a guy with an Ironman tattoo on his leg, I politely recommended that he should just chill. Mr. Tri-dork responded to me “you know this is a race right?”. Guess he just couldn’t wait one minute more. Half way through the first lap I caught up with S. Jesus and hopped on his wheel. Robert Dunn snapped this great picture of us:
When you see a woman dressed like an angel on a bike there is really no other song to sing. Cue up Send Me An Angel!
I got stuck out in the rain on my third lap with no jacket. By the time I got back to camp my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. I got out of my wet gear, grabbed a thermos full of coffee and proceeded to sulk in my truck. I knew I screwed up and I wasn’t sure that I could rebound from getting that frozen. Lar joined me and we drank coffee and listened to tunes for a solid hour. She passed me a bottle of Advil and said “you need some of this”. I opened the bottle only to find a note that said “H.T.F.U.” on it. I had been called out. Time to go ride some bikes in the rain.
The night hurt me. I went into an autopilot zombie mode of just turning the pedals, one over the other. What few people were left on course seemed to be crawling along just like me. It wasn’t pretty. All Hail The Dead. I find it quite fitting that the last song I heard before leaving the warmth of that truck was Walkin’ The Floor Over You. I proceeded to sing it to myself through the coldest and most difficult parts of the night.
There was a moment when the wind was completely still, somewhere around 4am, and I was cresting that last hill for another lap and all I could think about was the song High On A Mountain Top. Spirits were starting to pick up. The sun was coming up soon and that will change everything. As the miles slowly kept going by I started obsessing about ice cold Sierra Nevadas and California Burritos. I saw D2 out there around this time and his conversation was a life saver.
At the finish, for the first time all race, I didn’t have a single song in my head. I guess I was just happy to be done. Party Over.
The drunkcyclist 4 woman team killed it out there all weekend and we couldn’t be more proud of you ladies. They had a rider on course at all times even during the worst of the weather ending up with a top ten finish in their class. File that under straight baller. Rose sent me this little note about the experience:
…Big props to the rest of my team, who really stepped up to what was dealt. We had miserable weather, bike malfunctions, light malfunctions, and yet we all came away with huge smiles. Part of me is sort of glad we had to do it in less than ideal conditions. It certainly makes for some good stories and even better memories!
I want to throw out a couple thank yous to everybody that made this possible. First and foremost, Todd and his crew at Epic Rides. Pure class and it all wouldn’t exist without you. A special thanks to the volunteers, from the guys standing in the road all night getting hammered by mother nature to the people in the timing tent pulling 6+ hr shifts. Thanks! A big thanks to the boys at Voodoo for getting me my rockin new frame before the race. I suffered in style. Lastly, thanks to South Mountain Cycles in Phoenix for letting me get under foot and use their shop to build my bike, and to Craig for building up my new wheels on short notice. These guys are the real deal, look ‘em up.
Anybody want to go ride bikes? Keep it dirty…by