The Velveeta thing is described in the new blog's description, which is:
of 2007, racing mountain bikes has been part of my life for 10 years,
and I have been riding them for 20. As a cross-country racer, I was
never a standout. I have not stood on a race podium since I left the
Beginner Category. But I've done relatively better on longer, more
difficult courses. After doing my 1st 24 Hour race I noted: "I am like
Velveeta--I'm not very good, but if you leave me out all night I don't
get any worse."
This is going to be a big race year for me if I have any say in the matter. Keep an eye on
Sunday came on chilly on the Arkansas River in Salida, CO--down in the
20's overnight. But by mid-morning it was warming up fast. I jumped on
my bike and headed up into the Arkansas Hills north of town.
climbed up County Road 175, locally known as Ute Trail, continuing on
to where CR185 branches off to the West. I peaked out at about 9K
elevation, dropped down a few hundred feet to the quarry at the head of
Railroad Gulch, then climbed back up above 9000 to the high point above
the old mining town of Turret, CO.
view of the Chalk Cliffs at the foot of Mt Princeton, but the whole
southern Sawatch Range is visible along with the northern Sangre de
Cristos to the South.
I usually take my Long Haul Trucker on
this dirt-road ride, but I have it cleaned up for sale so I rode a
mountain bike this time. After clicking a few photos, I turned back to
roll back the way I came, first on CR185 here:
Then on CR175 (Ute Trail):
I went down to around 8600 feet elevation, then turned east off of Ute Trail onto CR181, where I faced the Sangres:
is a little less civilized than the graded gravel roads I'd been on for
the most part so far, but still road bike-able. The last leg of my
journey took me down to Salida on CR173, a Forest Service road that has
some bumpy bits and some significant mud, but remote and beautiful.
Check out this picture of Mt Ouray framed with Piñon Pine:
Beautiful day, and a nice ride to spend it on.
07:22 am March 15th, 2007
Spending a good chunk of every day riding pavement. Lots of time with
people, rolling along chit-chatting. After all my solo bike time in
January and February it's nice to spend some time riding with friends.
But I have not ridden a mountain bike since I left Arizona!
looking forward to getting out to Utah. The Moab Rim Ride is something
I'm doing just for fun, then I'll be with my good friend and
semi-brother-in-law Jim and his daughters in St George.
Being back working with my friends at Absolute Bikes is really nice. And Salida has been warm. Not too bad.
07:05 pm March 4th, 2007
Two good things happened today. Well, at least two.
First, it got to over 50° F without much of any wind. Easily the nicest day since I've been back in CO.
(Saturday) it was clear and sunny, but surprisingly cold for such a
pretty day. And breezy. In my desperation to spend some time on the
bike I took off and rode hard. I knew I wouldn't last much more than an
hour in the cold, and I wanted to make that hour count. But what I
actually did was make my knee hurt--same kind of pain I had at the end
of the 24 Hours. Same knee.
After riding so much in AZ, my
muscles have been tightening up. My theory of the knee pain during the
24 hour race was IT band tightness. Riding hard Saturday made my IT
band tighten up again (or so I was guessing) and I got home with pain.
Made me feel like I was not only losing fitness, but maybe now coming
up lame. Not a happy feeling.
This morning the weather started
warming up and I stretched. I tried to relax and get that IT band to
loosen. And I stretched calves and hamstrings. And butt.
I started riding a bit after noon. It was nice and warm. I started out really slow
and easy. After 20 minutes or so I stopped and stretched against a
fence post. No pain. Not much stiffness. Back on the bike I felt good.
would up riding almost 4 hours, easy. During that time, the 2nd good
thing happened. I decided that I have a plan for my next riding event.
The other day my friend Ed mentioned in an email that he thinks he's doing The Moab Rim Ride (rimridemoab.blogspot.com).
Now, Ed is a badass. The Moab Rim Ride is a pretty tough deal,
something that badasses like Ed will be doing. As I rode, feeling good,
feeling fit, I thought to myself, "I did a solo 24 hour ride two weeks
ago. I'm pretty fit, really. And a little decent weather will afford me
a chance to ride a little more. Maybe I'm a badass!"
on March 24. Perhaps my non-badass bones will bleach on the desert this
summer, or perhaps I will reign supreme. See y'all in Moab.
11:18 am March 2nd, 2007
The Old Pueblo race was a big milestone
in my life. As always with these big events, it's hard to get over the
fact that it is now in the past. It's like finishing a really good
novel. You miss it. Even though you know how it ends, and there isn't
anything more to know about it, you still miss the expectation of the
Now I'm back in Salida. I'm working at Absolute Bikes, seeing old friends, and working on some really exciting projects related to the Salida Mountain Trails effort. Much of that is good. But shivering in the wind, riding rarely, and coming home cold after less than 90 minutes when I do ride--these things suck.
In the near-ish future:
Trips to Utah and Fruita/Grand Junction (Fruitah) to ride later this month for sure
So life goes on. Now it's a little more normal than it was when I was down south. But it goes on. Strikes and gutters, as The Dude says.
05:56 am February 22nd, 2007
Story of my 1st 24 Hour solo
Saturday morning came, and suddenly I felt
unprepared. Hours passed incredibly quickly. I talked on the cell phone
to my friend Scott Campbell who was coming in to race duo with his wife
Kym after flying in and renting a van. I talked to my little sister Meg
who was driving in to support me from San Diego
after working a whole day Friday. I lubed the chain and did final
checks on my race bike. I replaced tires on my backup bike. I found and
set aside warm clothes so I wouldn’t have to search for them when night
fell. I put a final charge on two light systems. I went to the race
meeting, then ran back to my trailer, found Meg, showed her some things
she would need to know, and put on my monkey suit. Then it was time to
go. I stuffed food into my mouth, but I was too nervous to be hungry.
good advice I had gotten was ringing in my head as I waited for the
shotgun blast the signals the race start: Don’t race until after . Walk, do not run the lemans start. My friend Shawn’s advice repeated over and over: Don’t win the warm-up.
knew it was going to be difficult to avoid going fast in the first few
laps. Race fever is contagious. Most of the riders around me would be
on teams, and they would be able to spend hours recovering after each
lap. I needed to establish a conservative pace right off the bat, and
not burn up precious energy early. But it’s really hard to avoid the
temptation to let your fresh legs push you to speed, railing those fun
cactus slalom turns.
I was a good boy on
my first lap. I stayed off the throttle. I followed riders I could have
passed. I chatted with other solos. And what an interesting bunch of
solos I met! We had been given little license plates, and some had made
their own indicators so that people passing might understand that we
were not really loafing. So it was usually easy to tell that a racer
was solo. Many of the folks I met were first-time solos like me. We
talked to each other about our goals and expectations.
was really pleased to see a high number of female competitors, in solo
and all other categories. In general, I can’t remember ever seeing such
a diverse group of racers, in terms of age, gender, and race. It was
impressive and encouraging, a very positive reflection on the 24 Hours
in the Old Pueblo and the cycling culture of Arizona.
my second lap I caught myself doing the wrong thing several times--I
was riding too hard. I scolded myself, but then forgot strategy. I was
listening to my inner good-time Charlie. After a stop at camp to reload
fluids, I checked in and started my third. After stopping to answer
nature’s call, Tinker Juarez passed me. I shouted out “Go Tinker, you
da man!” or something similarly profound. He shouted back something I
couldn’t understand, but he was rolling at speed, smooth as a ghost. I
thought to myself, dang, Tinker just lapped me 5 minutes into my third
lap! Then I laughed out loud and said, “OK, pressure is off now, I can
just take it easy!”
I got four laps in
before needing to mount lights. I was already feeling mortal by the
time the first night-time lap started, even after spending half an hour
off the bike. Thankfully, it never really got cold. I was prepared for
temperature in the low 40’s, maybe even colder. I had seen normal night
temperature around 40 and quite a few below freezing, so it was
remarkable that it never got much colder than the mid-50’s. What a
I got more tired and creaky
with every lap, but never uncomfortably cold. And for most of the
night, the stars were showing in a clear sky. It was the new moon, so
there would be no moonlight. The weather was supposed to be stable
through some time Sunday. But then it was supposed to become overcast,
and eventually rain was expected.
two night laps, I hit my first low point. My food strategy was not
working well, the borrowed light system that I hoped to get 3 laps from
had run dry, and I just felt beat. I spent a while in my pit, drank
lots of water and ate as I mounted my good light system. Back out on
the course around , the
elation that comes with good night racing picked me back up. I had
better light, I was feeling good again, and the dance of fast
singletrack at night got me groovin’. I turned a fast lap, then barely
stopped in the pit before starting number 7.
I finished that lap, half my goal of 14, I hit my next low. I finished
it before the 12 hour mark, which meant that I was still on track to
make my goal, but I wondered about keeping that pace for the second 12
hours. My knees and torso ached. Demon doubt stared me in the face.
Sister Meg was a godsend, fetching me things and rubbing the knots out
of my back.
Getting back on the bike
after spending any amount of time stopped become quite difficult. I
decided that I would keep plugging at those night laps, and try to keep
the pit stops brief to avoid the temptation of laying out. If I was
going to give up on my goal, I decided that it would happen after
daylight came. I stopped in camp after every lap before checking in at
the start/finish tent. But I was hesitant to stay in the pit for long
or sit down. Even five minutes off the bike would cause me to groan
with pain and stiffness when it was time to wind back up and ride
again. It felt like my knees had rusted. But after 5 or 10 minutes of
pedaling I was OK again.
lap 10 I cleared my nose and started a nosebleed. The light on my bar
had been showing me dust in the air since night fell. Now my sinus was
fighting back. I rode with blood falling onto my top tube for 10
minutes or so, then stopped at one of the EMT stations and got a paper
towel to clean my face and plug the offending nostril.
At the end of that lap just before
I hit camp, trying to be brief. Just as I was getting ready to leave,
my nose started dripping blood again. Then it became a gusher. I had no
choice but to sit in a chair with my head back to get it to stop.
Sitting felt so good, but I knew I would pay dearly when it was time to
go. It took almost 20 minutes to get my nose to stop bleeding, but I
knew that I had to get that under control or the whole thing would fall
apart. All told, that pit stop was over half an hour. A big impact to
my goal pace, and I was really stiff when I finally got back to it.
I started that final darkness lap, I was in pretty hard shape. I had a
kleenex plug in my right nostril, and the sinus felt sore and scratchy.
I was racked with doubt, and part of my brain was building a case for
quitting. I have faced emotional difficulty in endurance racing and
riding before, but this was like some kind of multiple personality
disorder. My quitter personality was gathering evidence to support his
case for letting go of the goal. My success-at-all-costs personality
was rigidly defending the goal, and creating a scenario for completing
the 14 laps. This scenario did not imply being done by . That was already clearly impossible. I would be able to complete the 13th lap before , then would start the final lap, probably finishing between 1 and .
About halfway through that 11th
lap I hit the lowest emotional place of my race. It was triggered by
the warning from my light system that my time running the light was
almost up. This came more than half an hour before twilight was due. I
was so beat, and the quitter grabbed the imminent light failure as
evidence that the goal was out of reach. If I needed to spend half an
hour stopped, waiting for enough daylight to continue riding out the
lap, or riding really slowly and hoping not to bump into a cactus in
the dark, how could I get the 13th lap done before ?
Wouldn’t it be better to just let go of the goal, and lay down for a
while back in camp, then do one more lap maybe? Then the low battery
warning indicator would go back to green, and it would look like I
would have plenty of light to make it to dawn. But then moments later
it would go back to red, crying wolf.
messed with my mind. I started silently chanting to myself “fourteen”.
It was like some nut-job mantra. Cactus began to shape shift. Some
looked like people, or bears watching me from the dark. Little orange
flags marking the course were flapping in the wind. Several of them
startled me because I thought they were some kind of night bird
flushing up as I passed. Still I turned the cranks, grinding along.
light began to reveal the now overcast sky. Still too dark to ride
singletrack without light, but twilight was coming. Just as I turned
onto double-track about 2/3 of the way through that lap, my light shut
itself off. Done. The twilight was still very dim, but I could see the
dirt road. I couldn't see it well enough to go really fast, but I
didn't really have that in me anyway. And after so many trips around
this circle, I knew where I was. I looked ahead at the eastern horizon
and saw the first rose color of sunrise.
I got to singletrack again, it was light enough to ride anything, at
almost any speed. I no longer needed my spent light system. I had never
needed to stop or slow down. Quitter had been wrong. But that debate
had taken a mental toll.
As I slowly
wound along on the singletrack, I caught up with a woman who asked me
if I wanted to pass. I sounded like Eeyore when I responded that it
didn’t matter, telling her I was a solo who was shelled.
“Are you racing solo?” I asked.
“No, I’m just slow and out of shape. We’ll ride in to finish this lap together.” Turns out she was also from Colorado,
and she was sharing camp with a 32-year-old solo woman who had suffered
a stroke earlier in the year. I asked how this solo woman was doing,
and she told me she was doing great.
with this companion really helped, along with the daylight. My sanity
seemed to be returning. As I rode I decided I would stop in camp and
make some hot scrambled eggs. It would take some time, but that no
longer seemed to matter. If I was going to keep going, I should eat
what I wanted. And I wanted hot eggs with bacon rolled up in a
tortilla--with plenty of salt. And mayonnaise.
I did it, I stopped in camp and Meg made hot breakfast for me. I was in
camp for nearly 40 minutes. I sat down to eat with no guilt. Then I
left to do one more lap. That would be fine. I creaked and groaned,
staggered through the start/finish, and then wound myself up for one
more lap as the morning light washed over everything.
food went to work on me. I got the most incredible boost, and soon I
was railing singletrack almost as fast as I had been 15 hours earlier.
I looked at my watch and realized that all I needed to do was two laps
in less than 4 hours, then I could still do a final one starting just
before . Fourteen. The
idea excited me, and I rode like I was fresh. I was full of confidence
and pride during that 12th lap. I had ridden through the night, and I
would make my goal.
As I neared the end
of the lap, rather than riding into camp I shouted to Meg, “Hey, I’m
going for it, fourteen. I’m not going to take a pit stop now. Can you
bring some provisions to the start finish in about 90 minutes?”
She said of course she would, and “Go for it!” I rode to the start/finish like a champion, checked in, and then took off to ride number 13.
I made a key mistake right at the beginning of the 13th
lap. When I hit the first hard climb, I didn’t shift down into a low
gear soon enough. I stood and tried to hammer up. My left knee
complained, and sent a shock of pain up into my dazzled and frazzled
brain. I tried to shift down, but wound up getting off and pushing.
After I remounted the pain in that knee became well-established. It
took the excitement out of me, and set me back to the slogging pace
that I’d kept through most of the night.
at the place where my lights had shut off on the previous lap, I ran
into my friend June. “How many do you have?” she asked.
“This is thirteen, but I think I’m going to do one more.”
“Good for you!” she shouted after me.
As I continued, a strong rider came alongside me, standing on his pedals. “Hey, so you’re riding solo?”
I said, “it’s my first time. Have you ever done a solo before?” I
asked, assuming he was a team rider since he was looking so strong.
“Yeah, I’ve done a few.”
“The night is so long when you ride through the whole thing!” I said.
“It really was long, wasn’t it?”
“So you’re solo too? How many laps do you have?”
I’m in second place right now. I can’t sit down anymore.” He was
shooting nervous looks over his shoulder. “The number three guy is
somewhere pretty close behind me right now.”
“Damn! Congratulations! So Tinker is first?”
that guy is unbeatable. He was having some equipment problems during
the middle of the night so I had some hope, but then he got his bike
straightened out and took off. He’s so good…”
“Well good luck to you!” I shouted, “And congratulations!”
said thanks and good luck, shot a glance over his shoulder and rode on.
It was an inspiration to have someone at his level take the time to
ride at my pace to talk with me when clearly he had no time to spare.
Turns out it was probably Michael Schell, who took 3rd Men’s
Solo. Dave Harris must have been the guy he was worried about, and Dave
must have caught him after he chatted with me, because Dave was 2nd.
with that kind of inspiration, the reality of my situation became clear
as I mounted the climb to the course high point in the last few miles
of the lap. Even staying in a low gear, my left knee was shooting pain
with every pedal stroke. I had plenty of time to get to the
start/finish by , it was just a little after ,
but I started worrying about whether I was in danger of permanently
damaging my knee. I’m no spring chicken--but I would like to get at
least a few more decades out of these old knees.
and clarity began to ring in my tired brain. “This is your first 24
hour race. You have learned some good lessons, you know what to expect
if you do another one, and you’ve raced a fine race. You could do a
14th lap and make your goal, but is that worth risking the health of
your knee? Furthermore, if you stop you can eat and drink lots of
things, and you can have some ibuprofren! And perhaps you can actually
witness the awards ceremony rather than riding until mid-afternoon on a
So this is what I did. I stopped riding just before .
I went into my trailer and got some pain relievers, ate some food,
drank some gatoraide, then rolled my race bike down to the start/finish
and clocked out my final, 13th lap just after noon. Then I
walked my bike back to the trailer and ate some more food. Meg brought
me ice for my knees. Then I laid down for just a moment, and slept
through the awards ceremony. I woke up at around 3:15 with ice still
balanced on my knees.
05:37 am February 21st, 2007
Photos from 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo
Here's a collage of proofs of me jumping on the 3rd bitch. Early race exuberance:
It appears that I am unable to jump my bicycle without opening my mouth very wide. Perhaps I'm trying to catch bugs?
Here's a collage of proofs of me JRA (Just Riding Along):
Here's one that my little sister Meg took of me at the end of my 12th lap:
I was feeling good and was convinced that I had two more laps in me. Did not happen. I did one more, then cried Uncle.
02:02 pm February 20th, 2007
Old Pueblo is in the history books
Wow, what a great experience. This event is really cool. Very diverse group of riders, almost universally cool, especially the really talented riders.
I did 13 laps, and officially finished 15th out of 55 finishers in my category. 1st in my category was the famous Tinker Juarez! Tinker lapped me for the first time as I started my 3rd lap!
It would be hard to miss the fact that an event is
going to happen here. My semi-deserted home base for the last month is
starting to get packed. On Wednesday, it was chilly
and rainy. I was going to go into town to get some last-minute things
since the weather was crummy anyway.
as I got my list completed and was preparing to go, two groups showed
up almost simultaneously coveting spots right near mine. Beyond Bread,
which is a sandwich shop in Tucson
that provided the fabulous lunches for the trail workdays I joined had
taped off a fairly large square just uphill from me and then left. The
Bitty Bitty team showed up and wanted that spot as well. I was talking
with them and another neighbor about how truly squatting a spot implied
leaving a vehicle there when Fetish Cycles showed up and started
wandering around just downhill from me. They told me that they were
looking for a camp out of which almost 70 racers would operate.
liked the look of the route I had taped off to enter and exit the race
course. I told them that I was happy to share it with them, and that
they should just be sure to maintain a clear path to it. I also
discussed my actual requirements with them. I had purposely taped off a
bit more real estate than what I really need, so I discussed with them
where they could put stuff without offending me.
far as I was concerned, having them fill in my southern boundary was
not a bad thing. North of me is a rock outcropping that’s a natural
boundary. Bitty bitty and Beyond Bread will duke it out for all the
real estate up there, but they can’t get too close without driving over
a rock outcropping. West of me is the trail. Perhaps there’s room for a
tent between the POD and the trail, but no way to drive to it other
than through one of the other camps. East of me there’s quite a bit of
vegetation between my spot and the road. So if a group fills in the bit
to the south, there’s not much for me to worry about. Furthermore,
Fetish has a dedicated mechanic. Being on their good side could come in
quite handy. The Luna Chix team will be operating out of the Fetish
camp, and their canopy is set up about 30 feet from the POD’s tongue.
should get really nutty, and Friday will be beyond nutty. I’m getting
more neighbors and butterflies in my stomach all the time.
03:55 am February 13th, 2007
Back to my Arizona home
Today I'll be hugging my folks and saying goodbye for now, then rolling
down the highway out of California and back to Arizona to get my head
in the game. It's been nice to do laundry without needing a stack of
quarters, to shower whenever I want, and to eat meals cooked by others.
Of course it's nice to get showered with parental attention, even when
you're old enough to tie your own shoes.
Tour de Palm Springs century ride was good. I took it as easy as I've
ever ridden a century. But a hundred miles is too far to really
loaf, so I was a little tired the day after. I've been eating roughly
my weight in food every day since then, and sleeping whenever and for
as long as I want, so now I feel really recovered. I did not get a
chance to ride with Monty Hall, but I did get to loan my pump to a guy
who's bike was worth more than my truck.
I miss the clear air,
the sounds of owls and coyotes, and even my bovine neighbors with faces
full of cholla back in Falcon Valley. And I miss that fast rollin'
hear from my (human) neighbors back at the 24 Hours venue that there
are lots of RVs showing up already, and yesterday there were hundreds
of riders on the course. So it's starting. I expect that things will be
fairly populated by the time I return this afternoon, and more so every
day until the weekend. Bring it on. The time is coming. I want to be
sure I'm there when it arrives.