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  1. #1
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    Tinker 2nd at Furnace Creek 508

    At Interbike someone asked if I really post here. Yup. Sometimes. Especially when I have something exciting to say.

    My focus for 2006 is to do the Race Across America. It’s already big news that I’m going to race RAAM. Their website had an announcement about me doing it a long time ago, before I’d even qualified. That’s right, not just anyone can do RAAM, you have to qualify. People tell me that the RAAM organizers would probably let me in on my 24-hour mountain bike racing record, but I wanted to qualify on my own. So I raced the Furnace Creek 508 and surprised myself with second place, and learned a lot along the way.

    I’ve done a lot of races, but nothing like this. Right off the bat it was different. All of the solo riders rolled out of Valencia together and had to stay together for the first seven miles. Even after the seven miles no one really did anything, we pretty much stayed together and kept about the same pace. It’s a long race, you’re not gonna win it in the first hour. Forty miles into it when support vehicles were allowed to get in, some of the riders got a little antsy and the pace picked up a little. But it was still a cruise. About a hundred miles into it got windy and that’s when the race really began.

    I hadn’t really come in to this with plans of winning. It was more about qualifying and about testing to see if I’m physically and mentally ready for RAAM. Once the pace kicked in it really kicked in. The race was fast and the guys ahead of me went away, but it wasn’t my plan to race them. My game was to hang at a pace I knew would get me to the finish and see where I was at Baker with 150 miles to go. I was surprised at the speed. It was a pretty good pace. We were going over twenty miles an hour most of the time and were going hard even on the climbs. Compared to the pace we do in a twenty-four hour mountain bike race, this took a harder sustained effort to be competitive. And in a twenty-four you know when you’re gonna be done. That’s not the case at the 508, you get to the end of 508 miles, whether it’s 24 or 34 hours.

    The wind was something else! The headwinds were really hard. I had to tuck in behind the bars a lot. A few times the winds were going sideways—this one guy was freaking out, his carbon wheel was squirrelly in the wind. He’d stopped and was all stressed. He wasn’t the only one getting stressed. Some of the descents scared the heck out of me. A few times I was going almost sixty! That was the fastest I’ve ever gone. At least it was in the daytime.

    Anyway by keeping my own pace I was able to stay within striking distance of the leaders. I felt good, was drinking plenty of Cytomax and water and Cytomax Gulp & Go. When night came I was able to start picking them off one by one. At night it’s mandatory that each rider have a support vehicle driving behind. I could see when riders were ahead by the flashing lights of their support vehicles. It gave me motivation to keep my pace going. Sometimes it was 30 minutes or more of watching the lights before I’d get to the rider. A few times I stayed behind a rider and realized that the lights were starting to play games with me. They were flashing back and forth. I was starting to feel sleepy. I’d never felt sleepy in a 24-hour mountain bike race. But at the 508 I was getting mesmerized by the lights, kind of like the hypnotist telling you “keep your eyes on the shiny watch.” Once I realized what was happening I shook it off and the sleepiness passed and I felt fine. Another weird thing about the night was having car lights shining from behind. I wasn’t used to that. With the support vehicle lights shining there was no need for a helmet light. Looking back at the van was hard though, the van lights would blind me.

    I almost blew it in the night. The rule is you have to keep your distance—like a hundred yards unless you’re going to pass. About the time that the lights were playing their little games with my head the officials warned me that I’d been pacing off the rider ahead. I hadn’t meant to. After they warned me about it I hung back. Good thing ‘cause they can stick you with 15-minute penalty for pacing within a hundred yards of another rider.

    Another issue that came up after sunset was that we didn’t have a night bike set up. We should have had the second bike set-up with the lights and tail-lights all set to go, but the week leading up was so busy it just didn’t happen. Having to stop and install the lights cost a few minutes. But even with those little glitches I still enjoyed the night portion. The weather was nice and there was absolutely no traffic. It felt like the roads were there just for us.

    I got to Baker in third place. Everyone stops there to gas up the support vehicles. The second place rider was there filling up. To make it fair I waited until he left then I put on a jacket and arm warmers and then headed out and caught up to him at two or three in the morning. Then he stopped, told me “good luck” as I passed and I never saw him again. I just had to keep going the best I could and ride a smart second place.

    Near Twenty Nine Palms when the wind really kicked up and the road got really bad. I had to really keep focus with all the broken up pavement and potholes, no smooth surface at all anywhere. I was lucky to not have a flat the entire race, if I was going to get one that was the place it was going to happen, thank you Maxxis for making some tough tires! I kept it as smooth as I could and it worked out. We’d heard about this section and brought a mountain bike with 700c wheels to switch over, but I stayed with the road bike and it all worked out.

    That was about the time that my attitude changed a bit and I wasn’t such a friendly guy any more. I was feeling bonked and wasn’t thinking about winning. It wasn’t until after the race that I found out that even when I felt like I was fading I was still closing in and was only ten minutes from the leader. If I had gone into this wanting to win I never would have let him get away in the beginning. I think I had more in the tank than him at the end. If I’d had an idea of how close I was I might have been able to close the gap.

    To get second in my first big road endurance event makes me proud. I knew I would do well, but second, that’s great, especially when the winner was triathlete Kenny Souza. I remember him back when I was starting my career when he was on the cover of Competitor Magazine as one of the top triathlon guys. He was kicking butt then, and still is now. But so am I. The course record for the 508 had stood for nine years at twenty-eight hours and nine minutes. Souza did it in 27:15:21, I did 27:24:07 and 3rd and 4th were both under the old record too. The race organizers were thrilled that we’d knocked down the record, especially since conditions were far from ideal. It came down to better riders, more competition and that everyone just went faster. We were all going to go hard no matter what the conditions. We took it serious and didn’t take many breaks and kept it going. To have beaten a record, that not even the best RAAM riders have been able to beat proved to me that I have a chance to do well at RAAM.

    I have to thank the organizers for a great job. I can’t even imagine all the work that goes into this race. The permits and paperwork and insurance for the highways, the police, the highway patrol, it’s huge, it’s mind-boggling. It takes so much time and effort to put this together. I have to compliment them for putting together an awesome course. The ride was beautiful; it’s amazing the stuff that you see out there. Even though I’ve lived in Southern California all my life I’d never been in Death Valley. I’d seen the signs a jillion times on the way to Mammoth or Vegas. The desert out there is so beautiful and so desolate and it was so weird to be riding for so long and never seeing a car other than racers’ support crews. I was pretty spun at the end and much of that day is a blur. But I’ll always remember all of the people who were so pumped to have me there and who made me feel welcome. They treated me with a lot respect and thanked me for coming.

    After getting some real food and doing the awards I climbed into the support vehicle for the ride home. One of my crew mentioned that the seat in his van reclines back. I remember pulling the lever and lying back, and the next thing I know I’m home in my driveway! Yeah, I was a bit spent.

    Now that it’s a few days later and I’ve had time to recover and think about it all, I’m still pumped about the whole experience. I’m happy about it, but I also realize that I have things to sort out before RAAM The 508 was all about learning. Like I know that I’m going to need to use aero-bars. I’d gotten some before the 508 and had experimented with them, but wasn’t confident that I’d found the right position yet so I raced without them. I know that once I have them set and am used to them I could go a little faster, save a lot of energy and not get so sore in the neck. I’m confident that my support crew will be top-notch. Two of the people who’ll be on my crew for RAAM were at the 508 and they worked out really well, they have good heads on their shoulders.

    I’m really happy with how my body performed. Keep that kind of effort for eight days? Yeah, I’ll be able to do that. My body recovers after just a little rest, then it’s “okay, let’s go again.” It was so good to do an event that’s so brutal. It was all a good test. This was a good thing to prove to Cannondale and all of the sponsors that doing RAAM isn’t just talk; I’ve proven that I’m serious.

    thanks for reading.
    Tinker
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  2. #2
    dirty hippy mountainbiker
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    Good one bro. You should do fine in RAAM. It's only a little bit longer.

    I'd like to do some endurnace MTB next year. Maybe something in NorCal. So far my longest ride is a metric century on the road at Tour de Nez.

    -M
    Mike Henderson, Dirty Hippy Mountain Biker and part owner of Jet Lites.

  3. #3
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    congrats!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us...that's a long way on the hoods!

    Goodluck at RAAM!

  4. #4
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    Nice writeup, thanks for sharing!

    Good luck at RAAM.

    Next time you pass me at a 24 hour event I'll try and grab your wheel, and see if I can hold it for more than a few seconds!
    Friends don't let friends give their money to NORBA.
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  5. #5
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    Kenny Souza

    I remember him from a Nishiki ad back in the day. He was wearing Oakley Pilots and neon triathlete bikini bottoms. Oh yeah, he was sporting a huge mullet.
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    I get paid 3 every time I post on MTBR.

  6. #6
    Pain-meister!
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    Great ride! I am a bit older than you, and have been inspired by you since meeting you at Norba Natz in the mid 90's. I think as we get older, some of us find that these endurance events are just the ticket to stay interested and motivated. It also keeps "setting the bar" higher for personal challenge and growth.

    Best wishes for RAAM next year!
    Last edited by MTBDOC; 10-14-2005 at 05:01 PM.

  7. #7
    Occidental Tourist
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    Helluva good job - and to think I'm stressing about my 1st 100 in the dirt next weekend....
    This is just need to know information: Am i supposed to enjoy the irony or pity the sincerity?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTJEnterprises
    At Interbike someone asked if I really post here. Yup. Sometimes. Especially when I have something exciting to say.

    My focus for 2006 is to do the Race Across America. It’s already big news that I’m going to race RAAM. Their website had an announcement about me doing it a long time ago, before I’d even qualified. That’s right, not just anyone can do RAAM, you have to qualify. People tell me that the RAAM organizers would probably let me in on my 24-hour mountain bike racing record, but I wanted to qualify on my own. So I raced the Furnace Creek 508 and surprised myself with second place, and learned a lot along the way.

    I’ve done a lot of races, but nothing like this. Right off the bat it was different. All of the solo riders rolled out of Valencia together and had to stay together for the first seven miles. Even after the seven miles no one really did anything, we pretty much stayed together and kept about the same pace. It’s a long race, you’re not gonna win it in the first hour. Forty miles into it when support vehicles were allowed to get in, some of the riders got a little antsy and the pace picked up a little. But it was still a cruise. About a hundred miles into it got windy and that’s when the race really began.

    I hadn’t really come in to this with plans of winning. It was more about qualifying and about testing to see if I’m physically and mentally ready for RAAM. Once the pace kicked in it really kicked in. The race was fast and the guys ahead of me went away, but it wasn’t my plan to race them. My game was to hang at a pace I knew would get me to the finish and see where I was at Baker with 150 miles to go. I was surprised at the speed. It was a pretty good pace. We were going over twenty miles an hour most of the time and were going hard even on the climbs. Compared to the pace we do in a twenty-four hour mountain bike race, this took a harder sustained effort to be competitive. And in a twenty-four you know when you’re gonna be done. That’s not the case at the 508, you get to the end of 508 miles, whether it’s 24 or 34 hours.

    The wind was something else! The headwinds were really hard. I had to tuck in behind the bars a lot. A few times the winds were going sideways—this one guy was freaking out, his carbon wheel was squirrelly in the wind. He’d stopped and was all stressed. He wasn’t the only one getting stressed. Some of the descents scared the heck out of me. A few times I was going almost sixty! That was the fastest I’ve ever gone. At least it was in the daytime.

    Anyway by keeping my own pace I was able to stay within striking distance of the leaders. I felt good, was drinking plenty of Cytomax and water and Cytomax Gulp & Go. When night came I was able to start picking them off one by one. At night it’s mandatory that each rider have a support vehicle driving behind. I could see when riders were ahead by the flashing lights of their support vehicles. It gave me motivation to keep my pace going. Sometimes it was 30 minutes or more of watching the lights before I’d get to the rider. A few times I stayed behind a rider and realized that the lights were starting to play games with me. They were flashing back and forth. I was starting to feel sleepy. I’d never felt sleepy in a 24-hour mountain bike race. But at the 508 I was getting mesmerized by the lights, kind of like the hypnotist telling you “keep your eyes on the shiny watch.” Once I realized what was happening I shook it off and the sleepiness passed and I felt fine. Another weird thing about the night was having car lights shining from behind. I wasn’t used to that. With the support vehicle lights shining there was no need for a helmet light. Looking back at the van was hard though, the van lights would blind me.

    I almost blew it in the night. The rule is you have to keep your distance—like a hundred yards unless you’re going to pass. About the time that the lights were playing their little games with my head the officials warned me that I’d been pacing off the rider ahead. I hadn’t meant to. After they warned me about it I hung back. Good thing ‘cause they can stick you with 15-minute penalty for pacing within a hundred yards of another rider.

    Another issue that came up after sunset was that we didn’t have a night bike set up. We should have had the second bike set-up with the lights and tail-lights all set to go, but the week leading up was so busy it just didn’t happen. Having to stop and install the lights cost a few minutes. But even with those little glitches I still enjoyed the night portion. The weather was nice and there was absolutely no traffic. It felt like the roads were there just for us.

    I got to Baker in third place. Everyone stops there to gas up the support vehicles. The second place rider was there filling up. To make it fair I waited until he left then I put on a jacket and arm warmers and then headed out and caught up to him at two or three in the morning. Then he stopped, told me “good luck” as I passed and I never saw him again. I just had to keep going the best I could and ride a smart second place.

    Near Twenty Nine Palms when the wind really kicked up and the road got really bad. I had to really keep focus with all the broken up pavement and potholes, no smooth surface at all anywhere. I was lucky to not have a flat the entire race, if I was going to get one that was the place it was going to happen, thank you Maxxis for making some tough tires! I kept it as smooth as I could and it worked out. We’d heard about this section and brought a mountain bike with 700c wheels to switch over, but I stayed with the road bike and it all worked out.

    That was about the time that my attitude changed a bit and I wasn’t such a friendly guy any more. I was feeling bonked and wasn’t thinking about winning. It wasn’t until after the race that I found out that even when I felt like I was fading I was still closing in and was only ten minutes from the leader. If I had gone into this wanting to win I never would have let him get away in the beginning. I think I had more in the tank than him at the end. If I’d had an idea of how close I was I might have been able to close the gap.

    To get second in my first big road endurance event makes me proud. I knew I would do well, but second, that’s great, especially when the winner was triathlete Kenny Souza. I remember him back when I was starting my career when he was on the cover of Competitor Magazine as one of the top triathlon guys. He was kicking butt then, and still is now. But so am I. The course record for the 508 had stood for nine years at twenty-eight hours and nine minutes. Souza did it in 27:15:21, I did 27:24:07 and 3rd and 4th were both under the old record too. The race organizers were thrilled that we’d knocked down the record, especially since conditions were far from ideal. It came down to better riders, more competition and that everyone just went faster. We were all going to go hard no matter what the conditions. We took it serious and didn’t take many breaks and kept it going. To have beaten a record, that not even the best RAAM riders have been able to beat proved to me that I have a chance to do well at RAAM.

    I have to thank the organizers for a great job. I can’t even imagine all the work that goes into this race. The permits and paperwork and insurance for the highways, the police, the highway patrol, it’s huge, it’s mind-boggling. It takes so much time and effort to put this together. I have to compliment them for putting together an awesome course. The ride was beautiful; it’s amazing the stuff that you see out there. Even though I’ve lived in Southern California all my life I’d never been in Death Valley. I’d seen the signs a jillion times on the way to Mammoth or Vegas. The desert out there is so beautiful and so desolate and it was so weird to be riding for so long and never seeing a car other than racers’ support crews. I was pretty spun at the end and much of that day is a blur. But I’ll always remember all of the people who were so pumped to have me there and who made me feel welcome. They treated me with a lot respect and thanked me for coming.

    After getting some real food and doing the awards I climbed into the support vehicle for the ride home. One of my crew mentioned that the seat in his van reclines back. I remember pulling the lever and lying back, and the next thing I know I’m home in my driveway! Yeah, I was a bit spent.

    Now that it’s a few days later and I’ve had time to recover and think about it all, I’m still pumped about the whole experience. I’m happy about it, but I also realize that I have things to sort out before RAAM The 508 was all about learning. Like I know that I’m going to need to use aero-bars. I’d gotten some before the 508 and had experimented with them, but wasn’t confident that I’d found the right position yet so I raced without them. I know that once I have them set and am used to them I could go a little faster, save a lot of energy and not get so sore in the neck. I’m confident that my support crew will be top-notch. Two of the people who’ll be on my crew for RAAM were at the 508 and they worked out really well, they have good heads on their shoulders.

    I’m really happy with how my body performed. Keep that kind of effort for eight days? Yeah, I’ll be able to do that. My body recovers after just a little rest, then it’s “okay, let’s go again.” It was so good to do an event that’s so brutal. It was all a good test. This was a good thing to prove to Cannondale and all of the sponsors that doing RAAM isn’t just talk; I’ve proven that I’m serious.

    thanks for reading.
    Tinker
    Great job Tinker. I had the privilige of doing that race about 3 years ago as a duo, and it was by far the most difficult thing I've done on a bike. To do it solo, and in under 28 hours is amazing.

  9. #9
    Tree Hugger
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    No Aero bars!!

    Tinker I think that if you had aero bars you would have won easily. Did you see Souza's crazy aero set-up? He gained a huge advantage over you with his aero set-up in all those windy conditions.

    A friend raced the 508 this year as well (Jaguar Shark). He had knee problems and dropped out just after 200 miles. But, the point here is that he said he got passed a lot on the climbs, but once he was on the flats on his TT bike he reeled these guys in and left them behind. The aero advantage is significant.

    Awesome job for a first try!

    ~Reed

  10. #10
    LFJ
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    Thanks for the post

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading the write up. I will be rooting for you next year for RAAM.

  11. #11
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    thanks for the report!

    great report and awesome job out there!

    it's really helpful to get the perspective of others in these events, especially those who do well. have you read souza's report (actually, his crew chief wrote it)? he was fading big time near the end. not surprising, really, since he had no experience at that sort of thing either.

    his bike set-up was insane (and really really expensive). they weren't his bikes. his buddy pete scored them the week of the race (on loan) and he set them up the night before. the were carbon kuotas, one for climbing and one for TT. when i saw his TT set-up it didn't look ideal for such a long race. it was very aggressive, with a full disc on the back. i guess he rode this most of the race, which sounds painful.

    i think RAAM types raise their aero position a bit, losing some aero efficiencly but gaining comfort. i reckon these little adjustments are huge when spending 7 days or more on your bike.

    certainly, you would have won with even a minimal aero set-up. the advantage, especially in head winds, is huge. i'm the injured guy reed was talking about. i actually started injured. hurt my knee two weeks prior at the everest challenge--which i was able to finish okay--and figured that since i'd paid already i might as well see what i could do. i was kind of hoping that a) my knee would heal if i didn't ride for a week or b) i could soft pedal the entire 500 miles.

    this proved to be ridiculously optomistic. i should have made asked if i could have changed to a relay.

    my knee hurt on the first climb, so i soft pedaled, and even this didn't work so well. i was okay on the flats, however, and using an aero bike would catch loads of people before having to soft pedal the next climb. as an example of how much an aero set-up matters. i was about an hour behind you guys at time check one (70-ish miles). during the next section i was able to spend much more time in the aero position and only lost 15 minutes at time check two. it seems to me that with a better set-up, you might have saved well over an hour.

    i agree about the cross winds being scary. on my TT set-up i was riding 4"rims and, at times, it was almost terrifying if there was much traffic. these rims help with quit a bit with speed, even in cross winds. but they work like sails, so when the wind hits you wrong it will try and pull the bike out from under you. a brought a full disc but never put it on. i wonder what souza thought of this? it didn't seem to slow him down but i was thinking about it whenever i had to battle crosswinds.

    i also hit a condition i'd never encounted on a bike. on one descent my wheel started shuttering and i thought i'd had a puncture. as i slowly braked the shuddering became super pronounced, as if my headset had come loose. it then suddenly stopped. my bike seemed fine. tires, headset, etc, and i finished the descent without incident. a bit later on a more flat section with a slight tailwind, i saw a bunch of small rocks fly across the road in front of me. just as i was thinking wtf, and bunch of sand and rocks hit me in the back and my bike began shuddering just like on the descent. i guess these were dust devils. that was my last incident with them, thankfully.

    my knee didn't exactly get better throughout the race and by towne's pass i called it quits. it just didn't seem worth spending the entire winter in rehab. shame, though, since i thought the conditions were quite good compared to reports i'd read about other years (like 2004 with the jet streamed touched ground in death valley with such force one competitor could not pedal against it and had to get in his van).

    if anyone's going to attempt this--or similar--events, i recommend chatting with steve born of hammer nutrition. he sent me his nutritional strategy from his DOUBLE 508 from a few years prior. i followed it and felt fantastic the entire day.

    good luck in the RAAM!
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  12. #12
    XCdude
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    Awesome work

    Quote Originally Posted by DTJEnterprises
    At Interbike someone asked if I really post here. Yup. Sometimes. Especially when I have something exciting to say.

    My focus for 2006 is to do the Race Across America. It’s already big news that I’m going to race RAAM. Their website had an announcement about me doing it a long time ago, before I’d even qualified. That’s right, not just anyone can do RAAM, you have to qualify. People tell me that the RAAM organizers would probably let me in on my 24-hour mountain bike racing record, but I wanted to qualify on my own. So I raced the Furnace Creek 508 and surprised myself with second place, and learned a lot along the way.

    I’ve done a lot of races, but nothing like this. Right off the bat it was different. All of the solo riders rolled out of Valencia together and had to stay together for the first seven miles. Even after the seven miles no one really did anything, we pretty much stayed together and kept about the same pace. It’s a long race, you’re not gonna win it in the first hour. Forty miles into it when support vehicles were allowed to get in, some of the riders got a little antsy and the pace picked up a little. But it was still a cruise. About a hundred miles into it got windy and that’s when the race really began.

    I hadn’t really come in to this with plans of winning. It was more about qualifying and about testing to see if I’m physically and mentally ready for RAAM. Once the pace kicked in it really kicked in. The race was fast and the guys ahead of me went away, but it wasn’t my plan to race them. My game was to hang at a pace I knew would get me to the finish and see where I was at Baker with 150 miles to go. I was surprised at the speed. It was a pretty good pace. We were going over twenty miles an hour most of the time and were going hard even on the climbs. Compared to the pace we do in a twenty-four hour mountain bike race, this took a harder sustained effort to be competitive. And in a twenty-four you know when you’re gonna be done. That’s not the case at the 508, you get to the end of 508 miles, whether it’s 24 or 34 hours.

    The wind was something else! The headwinds were really hard. I had to tuck in behind the bars a lot. A few times the winds were going sideways—this one guy was freaking out, his carbon wheel was squirrelly in the wind. He’d stopped and was all stressed. He wasn’t the only one getting stressed. Some of the descents scared the heck out of me. A few times I was going almost sixty! That was the fastest I’ve ever gone. At least it was in the daytime.

    Anyway by keeping my own pace I was able to stay within striking distance of the leaders. I felt good, was drinking plenty of Cytomax and water and Cytomax Gulp & Go. When night came I was able to start picking them off one by one. At night it’s mandatory that each rider have a support vehicle driving behind. I could see when riders were ahead by the flashing lights of their support vehicles. It gave me motivation to keep my pace going. Sometimes it was 30 minutes or more of watching the lights before I’d get to the rider. A few times I stayed behind a rider and realized that the lights were starting to play games with me. They were flashing back and forth. I was starting to feel sleepy. I’d never felt sleepy in a 24-hour mountain bike race. But at the 508 I was getting mesmerized by the lights, kind of like the hypnotist telling you “keep your eyes on the shiny watch.” Once I realized what was happening I shook it off and the sleepiness passed and I felt fine. Another weird thing about the night was having car lights shining from behind. I wasn’t used to that. With the support vehicle lights shining there was no need for a helmet light. Looking back at the van was hard though, the van lights would blind me.

    I almost blew it in the night. The rule is you have to keep your distance—like a hundred yards unless you’re going to pass. About the time that the lights were playing their little games with my head the officials warned me that I’d been pacing off the rider ahead. I hadn’t meant to. After they warned me about it I hung back. Good thing ‘cause they can stick you with 15-minute penalty for pacing within a hundred yards of another rider.

    Another issue that came up after sunset was that we didn’t have a night bike set up. We should have had the second bike set-up with the lights and tail-lights all set to go, but the week leading up was so busy it just didn’t happen. Having to stop and install the lights cost a few minutes. But even with those little glitches I still enjoyed the night portion. The weather was nice and there was absolutely no traffic. It felt like the roads were there just for us.

    I got to Baker in third place. Everyone stops there to gas up the support vehicles. The second place rider was there filling up. To make it fair I waited until he left then I put on a jacket and arm warmers and then headed out and caught up to him at two or three in the morning. Then he stopped, told me “good luck” as I passed and I never saw him again. I just had to keep going the best I could and ride a smart second place.

    Near Twenty Nine Palms when the wind really kicked up and the road got really bad. I had to really keep focus with all the broken up pavement and potholes, no smooth surface at all anywhere. I was lucky to not have a flat the entire race, if I was going to get one that was the place it was going to happen, thank you Maxxis for making some tough tires! I kept it as smooth as I could and it worked out. We’d heard about this section and brought a mountain bike with 700c wheels to switch over, but I stayed with the road bike and it all worked out.

    That was about the time that my attitude changed a bit and I wasn’t such a friendly guy any more. I was feeling bonked and wasn’t thinking about winning. It wasn’t until after the race that I found out that even when I felt like I was fading I was still closing in and was only ten minutes from the leader. If I had gone into this wanting to win I never would have let him get away in the beginning. I think I had more in the tank than him at the end. If I’d had an idea of how close I was I might have been able to close the gap.

    To get second in my first big road endurance event makes me proud. I knew I would do well, but second, that’s great, especially when the winner was triathlete Kenny Souza. I remember him back when I was starting my career when he was on the cover of Competitor Magazine as one of the top triathlon guys. He was kicking butt then, and still is now. But so am I. The course record for the 508 had stood for nine years at twenty-eight hours and nine minutes. Souza did it in 27:15:21, I did 27:24:07 and 3rd and 4th were both under the old record too. The race organizers were thrilled that we’d knocked down the record, especially since conditions were far from ideal. It came down to better riders, more competition and that everyone just went faster. We were all going to go hard no matter what the conditions. We took it serious and didn’t take many breaks and kept it going. To have beaten a record, that not even the best RAAM riders have been able to beat proved to me that I have a chance to do well at RAAM.

    I have to thank the organizers for a great job. I can’t even imagine all the work that goes into this race. The permits and paperwork and insurance for the highways, the police, the highway patrol, it’s huge, it’s mind-boggling. It takes so much time and effort to put this together. I have to compliment them for putting together an awesome course. The ride was beautiful; it’s amazing the stuff that you see out there. Even though I’ve lived in Southern California all my life I’d never been in Death Valley. I’d seen the signs a jillion times on the way to Mammoth or Vegas. The desert out there is so beautiful and so desolate and it was so weird to be riding for so long and never seeing a car other than racers’ support crews. I was pretty spun at the end and much of that day is a blur. But I’ll always remember all of the people who were so pumped to have me there and who made me feel welcome. They treated me with a lot respect and thanked me for coming.

    After getting some real food and doing the awards I climbed into the support vehicle for the ride home. One of my crew mentioned that the seat in his van reclines back. I remember pulling the lever and lying back, and the next thing I know I’m home in my driveway! Yeah, I was a bit spent.

    Now that it’s a few days later and I’ve had time to recover and think about it all, I’m still pumped about the whole experience. I’m happy about it, but I also realize that I have things to sort out before RAAM The 508 was all about learning. Like I know that I’m going to need to use aero-bars. I’d gotten some before the 508 and had experimented with them, but wasn’t confident that I’d found the right position yet so I raced without them. I know that once I have them set and am used to them I could go a little faster, save a lot of energy and not get so sore in the neck. I’m confident that my support crew will be top-notch. Two of the people who’ll be on my crew for RAAM were at the 508 and they worked out really well, they have good heads on their shoulders.

    I’m really happy with how my body performed. Keep that kind of effort for eight days? Yeah, I’ll be able to do that. My body recovers after just a little rest, then it’s “okay, let’s go again.” It was so good to do an event that’s so brutal. It was all a good test. This was a good thing to prove to Cannondale and all of the sponsors that doing RAAM isn’t just talk; I’ve proven that I’m serious.

    thanks for reading.
    Tinker
    Since I just met you back im march, in our baja race I´m still at aw about the kind of shape you are in, all the guys that raced the same day still talk about you going right by them up a hill running a big chainring, they can´t believe the your times were running, which were almost 10 minutes per lap faster and you were racing the solo class. I hope we can get you to come down next year, my son is working to do it solo again.
    cya
    Rey

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