Back in November a teammate, Stew, and myself decided to sign up for 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, duo category. Weather is usually the biggest issue in mid February in the desert, mainly because you never know what you are going to get. Some years it’s been snowy, and others scorching hot. The 15th Annual 24 HOP was the latter, reaching 80 degrees on Saturday and only dipping down to the low 50s that night.
This is a very unique race in the fact that it is in the middle of winter, which is off-season for most people. Stew and I figured it would be a perfect way to start the 2014 season, with 80 degree weather, cacti, friends, and fun. It truly was a perfect weekend, below is what I learned…
Get their early: We arrived on Thursday, the day they said gates opened…Wrong, It was packed and it had been for a few days. Lucky for us we found a perfect spot on “solo row” for our solo cyclist Jari Kirkland.
Learn how to car camp in luxury: My camping background consists of an ultra light minimalist approach. I actually pride myself on that a bit, keeping things simple and impacts low. However, in recent years I have been taking more and more biking trips where chairs, tables, Colman stoves, lanterns, coolers, Ez-ups, Kitchen Sinks, shoot even where RVs are the way to go. Keeping things neat organized and functional truly helps making for a smooth race.
Don’t worry about the race: Most people are there for fun whether racing or not, costumes, booze and drum circles are abundant. It’s a good excuse for a vacation first and a bike race second. Thursday night I drank plenty of beer and chatted with friends, new and old.
Ask Questions: Our group consisted of 7 people, 5 Racers and two awesome support friends, one of which is my girlfriend. 4 of us had previously raced the course and knew how the event was run. Like I said before I had never taken part in a race like this. I probably annoyed those 4 so much with my questions. But questions need to be asked, partially because curiosity, but mainly because I didn’t want to mess anything up. I’m glad I asked.
The whole shot is key: I’ve been apart of a Le Mans starts before, but not one a half of a mile long. I’m not a great runner but not bad either. I made sure to get up front preventing getting stuck in congested bottle neck.
Compete or not to compete: This is not a question for me at this point in my life. I always compete even when I’m not in cycling shape. Stew and I had a goal of getting on the podium, it may have been a stretch, but that’s what we set out to do. Because of this I pushed it pretty hard the first lap, not crazy hard but hard enough to not get passed by many.
Duo is very hard: I’m not taking anything away from solo riders or even 4 person teams. I realized that I was going to have to nearly give it may all every lap, with only roughly 50 minutes of rest per lap. Stew and I wanted to average an hour and 10 minute laps. The breaks were nice, the first few laps I was energetic and chatty, then night moved in, and I got tired during my breaks. I tried to sleep but overall got 20 minutes of actually sleep. About 1 hour and 20 minutes of shut eye.
The course is fast, day or night: This was a very, very fast course. It was non- technical and relatively smooth. The problem I found was I was outrunning my lights. I was running Ay-Ups on my bars and helmet. After my first night lap I decided to go to the Night Rider booth for a rental… SOLD OUT. Then I when to the Light and Motion Booth, for $40 I rented a Seca 2000 for the remainder of the night. IT. WAS. AWESOME. 2,000 lumens of wide light did the trick; I felt confident and was very happy. If I had more lumens on my bars it would have been that much better.
Technology: Yep we did a lot of scoreboard watching, but for us I think it pushed us. I remember jumping back and forth from 5th to 3rd place for the first half of the race. From looking at the live results, I knew the numbers that we were closely competing with. This helped at one point when we reached 3rd place and 4th place was on our tails, I made sure team #281 would not pass us, after that lap that little motivation got us a little bit of breathing room.
Keep riding your race: Although it was the last lap when Stew said “race your race and be safe,” I did that through the duration of the race, making sure to slow down when needed, speed up when needed, pass with caution when needed, and pull off when needed. I raced my race, I had fun doing it, and it showed in the consistency of my lap times.
Goal – To finish, to podium, to have fun: We successfully reached our goal nearly to perfection. We finished at 12:20pm on Sunday in 3rd place in the duo men’s category. We were very happy with our results, and even cracked a top 20 finish with 19th overall. As I reflect on this race, I suffered a bit, dealt with heat, my ass hurt, my back hurt (I need a fitting), and my lungs were filled with dust, but holy hell did I have so much FUN!!!
I can’t thank my team and sponsors enough. Griggs Orthopedics – GO is one of the best teams in Colorado and it showed this past weekend. Beth Shaner and Sean Riley competed in the duo co-ed category and placed 4th with 18 laps in a highly competitive category. Jari Kirkland, the queen of 24 hour races, crushed the women’s solo category finishing 1st overall with 16 laps. Big thanks to Jefe and Lindsay for pulling the support duties, this would not have been at all possible without you.