Chupacabras/Urban Dirt Tri hell weekend.- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Chupacabras/Urban Dirt Tri hell weekend.

    So I decided to do something crazy and signed up for the Chupacabras 100 race in Juarez Mexico and the Urban Dirt Triathlon the day after.

    Friday morning I followed Art Macfarland east on the I-10 to El Paso. With a few refuel and bathroom stops we made it there in about 6.5 hours. We parked at Chamizal National Memorial, unloaded our bikes, grabbed our passports and pedaled across the border to the field just east of the Benito Juarez Stadium less than a mile away. The shwag bags alone were worth the $30 entry and check in went smoothly. The venue was huge with massive white tents, giant inflated Tecate beer cans and a starting area big enough to accommodate a Formula 1 race. We cruised back across to El Paso and planned to meet back at the park at 6:30 am. The race didn't start till 8 am but Art told me that the start line would fill up fast and that we might be able to talk our way to the front but better get there early to be sure.

    I headed over to My friend Tom's place (cactuscorn to you mtbr folks) to get settled in. After a very warm welcome we got my bike all dialed, talked about the old racing days, had a great dinner and got to bed.

    My alarm went off at 4:45 AM. Time to eat oatmeal, drink coconut water, get the water bottles ready, fill the gu flask, load the car, make my shake, use the bathroom, check tire pressure, put on my number plate, lube my chain, and be out the door by 6. I met Art at the rendezvous point right at 6:30 and somehow managed to remember everything including my passport and car keys, and cell phone which would be riding along in my middle jersey pocket the entire race.

    We arrived at the venue and with over an hour to go the staging area was filling up fast. Art (whose Spanish kicks my Spanish's a s s) explained to one of the officials that I was the Arizona state marathon champion and that he has had top finishes there in years past. This got us on the front row which was awesome. Even being two rows back would have meant fighting tooth and nail to reach the front group. As time passed more and more people lined up. There had to be at least 2,000 people lined up! Before I knew it it was 10 seconds till start. Diez, nueve, ocho......BAM! we were off! TOTAL CHAOS! A drag race to the exit of the field on a 30 foot wide road with a big steel pole right in the middle then left out of the park. I didn't get the best start but I hammered my way up to the front end as we exited the park. we went left and then tore across a median and up on to the bank of an empty canal that separates the US from MX and we headed east. The pace settled down at the front. Everyone was riding close together like it was a road race. rocks were bouncing up and off of bikes like pin balls. One flew up and landed in a guy's jersey pocket. We made our way several miles east on the bank at a steady pace with a few guys going of the front here and there. Groups of spectators were screaming and cheering, cars on the highway next to us were slowing down to cheer. The whole damned city was there to support us like it was the Tour De France. We eventually made a left turn down into the canal to head back the way we came and the pace went to 10. I struggled to hold a wheel and fight through the patches of soft dirt and bumps. Now we were racing. I looked up at the bank where we rode out. we were 5 miles in and riders were still heading out!

    We climbed out of the wash and continued west along the border. In one of the spectator groups near the park I saw Art standing there with his bike. His race was over in the first mile with a broken rear derailleur. by now we were a group of 12 chasing the lead group of about 7 guys. We eventually started to head south up a storm drain/ street through a neighborhood. We were back on the dirt and out of town before long. We passed by either a house or a junk yard, I'm not sure. Either way we were out of town and passing through a sand and gravel operation on dirt access roads. By now our chase group was 4. We hit a few short steep climbs and with at least 45 miles to go I had to back off and let these guys go. They rode away from me as I slowed my pace a bit. I looked behind and there were two guys several hundred yards back an no one else. At this point I was in 9th place and was hoping to hold on to it.

    I was feeling a bit wrecked after the first few miles and the next guy was gaining on me on the gradual climbs and descents on the open dirt roads. As I motored on one of the racers that was ahead came spinning past me in the opposite direction. Now I was in 8th. I eventually turned off the road we went up a rocky wash and onto some singletrack. As I rolled through the first checkpoint the guy who was gaining on me was close on my tail. I managed to put some distance between him and I in the technical single track but there was no sign of anyone ahead of me. A few more miles, checkpoints and flowy singletracks later I approached a steady climb where I spotted two riders ahead a good half a mile up. I didn't know if I was gaining on them or if I just had a good line of sight but I pressed on, feeling better than earlier. As I reached the top I didn't see any sign of the two riders ahead but knew they had to have put considerable distance on me while descending. Another mile of great single track and they were in sight only this time a bit closer. I was reeling them in slowly. another downhill, another gradual climb then a steeper section to the next aid station. I grabbed a bag of water (they give you bags of water in mexico) ripped it open with my teeth, sucked it down and started a technical climb. By now the first of the two riders was wasn't too far ahead. He was pushing his bike up the hill and I knew the longer I stayed on the bike the better my chances were of catching him so I scooted up on the saddle and climbed up the steep, rocky, off camber trail with everything I had. Success. Once I got behind him I realized that I would have to get off the bike and push no matter what. he was moving slower than me but I stayed behind him to recover a bit. We got to the top and I followed him down the single track descent. We reached a spot where the trail got steep, technical but it widened up significantly so I seized the moment and passed.The other guy was a bit farther ahead but I caught him and followed him through a wash that you had to hike a bike due to all the massive rocks. His chain fell off at some point during the hike a bike so when it was time to remount I snuck around him and pushed with everything I had.

    I rode as close to the limit as I dared on the descents and pedaled with every watt I could muster (which wasn't much at times) on the flats and climbs and sucked down a water bag at every aid station I passed. After a fast descent I was back on the outskirts of town again in the sand and gravel operation and my computer read about 52 miles. Only 10 miles left. I had to fight my way up a few more short, steep climbs but two aid stations later I was headed back the way we went out, descending the stormdrain/street as fast as I could. I missed the right turn to ride up on to the canal and had to dismount and scramble up the side of the drain and I scolded myself for not paying attention. I didn't want to loose my 6th place over something stupid. From here on out it was a flat straight ride east for what felt like FOREVER along the canal and road. There was no one in front of me and from what I could tell no one behind me. I wasn't taking any chances so I got down into a TT position and squeezed out the last bit of wattage my tired legs could muster. After an eternity of pedaling, I turned off the canal for the home stretch. Down the road and back into the park.

    At the finish they interviewed me over the PA system like I was a celebrity and it turns out that I got 5th place since one of the racers ahead got lost (which I found amazing because the course was so well marked) After collecting my medal and jersey I found Art who was hanging out with the second place finisher and former Mexican national champ, Jose Salas. I was so spent but I couldn't believe I managed a top 5 at such a huge race. What was more amazing was the amount of support and spectators. There must have been aid stations every 5 miles and people cheering out in the middle of nowhere. We didn't stick around too long as they don't have any kind of awards ceremony plus I was in a hurry to start driving back to Phoenix so I could get ready for the Urban Dirt Triathlon the following day so I packed up, said goodbye to Art, caught a shower at Tom's place and hit the road.

    to be continued.....
    Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.

    96 Huffy Dr. Shock
    01 Magna girls hybrid

  2. #2
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    here's a picture from the start
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Chupacabras/Urban Dirt Tri hell weekend.-chupacabras.jpg  

    Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.

    96 Huffy Dr. Shock
    01 Magna girls hybrid

  3. #3
    parenting for gnarness
    Reputation: chollaball's Avatar
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    well done!

    [insert running from Border Patrol joke here]
    YES to Scottsdale Prop 420
    Our Preserve, Our Taxes, Our Vote

  4. #4
    Eroding into the trail
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    Congrats!
    You even made it out alive with no bullet holes courtesy of the cartels!

  5. #5
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    Awesome!!!!

  6. #6
    PMP,TAN,LAUNDRY
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    Tecate!!
    Bender to AZDog: I'm not the best person to give advice on not riding!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the renewed inspiration. great report
    RAM speed: UP, UP, and away....!

  8. #8
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    Dusty, I was amazed at how safe and secure it was. I still wouldn't want to wander the streets there at night but when I go back next year I won't have any hesitations about bringing the family over to hang out at the race venue. The locals were so friendly and supportive.
    Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.

    96 Huffy Dr. Shock
    01 Magna girls hybrid

  9. #9
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    Hey 'racer, what bike did you ride for the event? and are you happy with it? thanx
    RAM speed: UP, UP, and away....!

  10. #10
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    Congrats. Nice job as usual. Good race report.

    Guess that's why you weren't at the DCB race!

  11. #11
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    I have a Hard tail 29er with 2X10 gearing. Its crazy because 29ers haven't caught on yet down in Mexico, they were very few and far between. In fact, Art was telling me about a national race down there they wouldn't let him sign up for because 29ers weren't even legal to race on! Anyways, like I said it was one hell of an experience and I hope to do more racing south of the border next year.

    I'll post up my Sunday adventure tonight.
    Racing is life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.

    96 Huffy Dr. Shock
    01 Magna girls hybrid

  12. #12
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    Very cool - Thanks for sharing

    And a Big Congratulations!

  13. #13
    Fragile - must be Italian
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    Congratulations on the outstanding finish! I read something about that race in one of the bike rags...and it sounds like a pretty crazy event.

    Thx...Doug

  14. #14
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    Dang J, so well described i could smell the race. We missed ya at the dust devil race ... Congrats

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