Another year of the Old Pueblo is in the books and what a year it was. Amazing weather with near perfect trail conditions resulted in scary fast lap times and a fun loving, positive vibe through the entire weekend. Friend of DC, Mike Melley, rode his way to first place in the Solo singlespeed category. Doing so, he broke the SS course record with 18 laps which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 293 miles. Insanity.
Last week I asked the DC facebook page what questions you would have for a guy who just sat on his bike for nearly 300 miles without shifting. Mike was kind enough to sit down with me on a Sunday morning over beermosas and answer some of them. This is what we came up with:
DirtyBiker: Some people would say that riding a singlesped with a suspension fork is equivilent to having sex with a condom on. It’s still pretty fun, but just doesn’t feel the same. How do you feel about riding 24 hours with a condom on?
Mike Melley: I’m not embarrassed at all, it just allowed me to hold on longer.
DB: A reader wanted to know at what age did you lose your sanity?
MM: (laughing) I would say about age 16. I was really into swimming and staring at a black line on the bottom of the pool for 20 plus hours a week must have had some affect on me as a kid.
DB: Lets talk about your set up. What were your rolling this year?
MM: It is a Niner One9 frame with Specialized S-works carbon bars, Rock Shock Reba 29 fork, Niner RDO seat post with a WTB Laser V saddle. Your typical XT cranks with a 32 X 17T drivetrain and some old XT hydraulic brakes (not the nice plush new ones). For this race I used Bontrager Race X Lite wheels with Bontrager 29-3 tires front and rear (tubeless). I actually have some I9 wheels that look pretty and have great engagement, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t had a few too many field issues in the short time I have owned ‘em. I am sure you know this from your touring, custom stuff looks nice, but sucks if it doesn’t allow you to fix it at any LBS quickly.
DB: When I was hanging out in your pits drinking all of your beer, I noticed you had a pretty unique helmet set up. Did you really ride all night with a battery on your helmet?
MM: I used 3 different iPod shuffles over 24 hours and had it attached to my helmet with a little velcro. It is an easy way to keep the wires out of your way and the shuffle allows me to adjust volume and skip tracks with gloves on. I was using Ay Up lights and the battery is so light you barely notice it is there. They are super bright and have a 3 hour burn time per battery which allowed me to do two laps without changing it
DB: What music was playing in those shuffles and what are a couple songs that really motivated you when you were digging deep?
MM: I made some big mistakes with my playlists this year. I kept meaning to change them out before the race but never got around to it. I did learn the hard way that Trance is not good for 24 hour racing. But two songs that really stuck out during this race were El Pueblo Unido by the Thievery Corporation and Beastie Boys Funky Donkey
DB: What did you eat for 24 hours in the desert?
MM: I had a few burritos from Seis Cafe, one of the on site food vendors. Carbo Rocket in my bottles and some Powerbar Gel blasts. Hard candy (I love candy), Coke, coffee, cup-o-noodles and these homemade rice cakes that my wife found in Allen Lim’s book. Almost every recipe has bacon in it and there is nothing wrong with that.
DB: Do you ever just reach a point where you want to stop? What do you do to overcome that and push on?
MM: This usually happens to me between 3 and 4am. It’s the coldest part of the night and you are starting to really feel the miles you have ridden. I just stop on the side of the trail, shut all the music and lights off and clear my head. I remind myself that I am out here riding my bike in this desert and it is amazing. I tell myself “just make it to daylight”. Even though there is still 5 hours left to ride after the sun comes up, it is always my goal. Just make it to sun up.
DB: How would you sum up what Old Pueblo means to you?
MM: This is a special event for me. Aside from being the first 24 hour race I ever won (in 2008), Epic Rides events just have the best vibe. The course is top notch and always keeps you alert. The people make this event. From my top notch pit crew to my fellow racers and the terrific volunteers all over the course. When you come in after a lap and everybody is so positive and happy to see you, it just makes you excited to go out and do another one. It is just a great place to ride your bike.
DB: Is there anybody you would like to thank?
*If you guys have any more questions for Mike, go ahead and ask them in the comments and he will be happy to answer them.by