Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

3rd place Singlespeed solo category at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (24hitop), 2012, 280 miles

Finished 3rd in the Singlespeed solo category at the 2012, 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.  It took almost exactly 25 hours without resting to get 280 miles (17 laps) and around 20,000 feet of elevation gain.  Ouch!  I was hoping to repeat my win from 2011 but the competition tough this year!  At one point in the morning 1st place through 5th place appeared to be within a lap of each other.  The weather was relatively nice compared to last year which led to some record breaking efforts.  This is a great event held just outside Tucson Arizona by Oracle.  Around 3,500 participants this year in a variety of different categories.

Race results   

I ran 32x19 gearing which was the same as the last two years.  For this course I chose to run Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires (snakeskin version) on the front and rear with the “new and improved” tread pattern.  They stuck to the trail like glue and performed flawlessly.  What I really noticed after the race was how well they wore during the race compared to the previous version.  They have lots of miles left in them!

The race started out with the usual carnage that comes with stuffing 700+ racers onto a small rough trail.  There was a multi bike pile up that I somehow avoided on the first decent.  Just a short distance after that the two riders next to me had a collision, ran into my leg, and they both crashed while somehow I stayed upright. 

During the first few laps the top solo singlespeed riders were all frequently within sight of each other.  I went back and forth with Mike Melley (Eventual race winner) several times over the first couple laps and we discussed the possibility that we all may be going to hard initially for a 24 hour effort and if that was a good idea.  Obviously Mike thought it was because he suddenly put down the hammer and in a few minutes I couldn’t even see him anymore.  (A tactic??? LOL)  There were two other guys who seemed to be working together drafting off each other every time I saw them.  Not sure how they ended up placing.  I also went back and forth with Neil Becwar (Eventual 2nd place finisher) throughout the night.  After the race he admitted followed me a good portion of a lap talking to me and sizing me up then snuck by when I pitted.  I remembered it but must have never turned around to see who was behind me.

In the middle of the night I had a Bobcat run directly in front of me and stop up on some rocks on my right to check me out.  Very cool!!!!  During the night I also had a guy taco his rim on a rock right in front of me (He was okay).  It sounded like a gunshot!  Also, somewhere out on the trail someone shot off fireworks right over my head.  That woke me up!

Sometime during the night a “Red Solo Cup” appeared on the trail and was there until the end of the race.  For the rest of the race I couldn’t get that song by Toby Keith out of my head and I really don’t like it.  Just an additional level of torture during the race!!

I slowed during the early morning laps but when the sun came out I consistently kept improving my lap times until I had a 1:18 time on the last lap.  The wind definitely kicked up during the morning which kept it cool and required more effort.  

It was great to have friends on the course giving me encouragement throughout the race!  I was very happy to be done when I crossed the finish line at 1:00!!!!

Thanks to my wonderful wife and Daughter (who was my biggest fan, super cool!!) for help during the race and teammate Tr Larson for staying up all night helping in the pit!

Mike Melley really crushed it and ended up with a record setting 18 laps (He also set the last record at 17 laps),  Neil Becwar ended up 2nd with 17 laps, I ended up 3rd with 17 laps, Eddie Urcadez finished 4th with 16 laps and Simon Zmyslinski ended up on the podium with 16 laps.  16 laps would have won in some previous years.  Great job everyone!!!
The podium

A couple laps in the race, Photo by Shawn Bolduc
The pre-race setup, Jeff Hemperley's pit is to the right