Scumbags invade the Desert! A RR-
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    Jan 2004

    Scumbags invade the Desert! A RR

    Well, as some of you may know, I took a bad tumble on New Year's Day, so I really hadn't been riding much. Still, I had six weeks for my broken hand (right hand) and sprained wrist (left wrist) to heal before the 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo on Valentine's weekend. I thought I should be fine.
    So I'd lost a fair amount of fitness during those six weeks. A few really easy road rides and a couple of sessions of spinning at my gym failed to bring me up to race level, but I'm OK with that. My big concern was actually my sprained wrist.
    My wrist is taking its sweet, leisurely time to return to full functionality. Now that it has been two months, it is still quite effed up. Anyhow, to prepare for the race, I bought myself some 661 brand Wrist Wraps. These are similar to the wrist protectors that skaters wear, or maybe people who have carpal tunnel syndrome. The difference is that these are designed for cyclists, so they offer a little bit of movement, but not much. I hoped that with these, and sports tape, I should be OK.
    Bill P ( a last minute substitution on our team) met me at my house at 5:30 am friday morning. We loaded up my truck, and headed east into the dawn. Erik The Red had driven out the night before, but made a stop in Yuma to snooze for a few hours. Still, he got to the race site first, so he scored us a nice camping spot.
    Those that have not attended the 24HitOP before, please check their web site at and look around for the course description and photos. The map doesn't really convey very well how close to BFE the course actually is. It is near Oracle, AZ, which is a town of maybe 5,000 people northwest of Tucson. To get to the race venue, though, you turn off the two lane road and drive on dirt roads for ten miles through the desert. Anyhow, it is remote.
    Bill and I got there at around two in the afternoon. It was windy, but warm enough in the Sun. We set up camp, and Erik, Bill and I went out for a leisurely preride.
    On another forum somebody had asked if they should run Slime tubes for the race, and I'd pooh-poohed the idea. Sure, it's the desert, but as long as you stay on the trail, you'll be OK, I'd said. Two days before the race, though, I'd headed down to my LBS, the Mountain Bike *****house, and bought a pair of Slime tubes. Hey, I thought, why tempt fate?
    So, to get back to the story, the three of us stop to talk to some acquaintances at the start/finish area. I go to jump on my bike, and what happens? A rear flat. On my Slime tube. I attempt to spin the nut off the valve, and the valve stem spins freely. It had come completely adrift from the tube. POS tube. I knew I should've stuck with my tried-and-true Vittoria tubes. Anyhow, I use my spare tube and off we go. For a little while. A quarter mile later, I had another rear flat. My spare tube had blown a seam where it had been folded up. I so rarely get flats that the tube had simply gone bad in my water pack. So I borrow Erik's spare tube, and off we go. We get past the Seven *****es (why does every race course have a section called the *****es? Can't anybody come up with something a little more clever?) and I spring another rear flat. I bum Bill's spare tube, noticing that I had torn yet another stem out of a tube, and this time resort to CO2. I'm tired of pumping, and it is getting late and COLD.
    Anyhow, we ride through the Cactus Garden, and I get another flat. Unfortunately, Bill and Erik had gone ahead (and I'd used all our tubes, anyway). Figuring that this is some kind of Karmic punishment, I start walking. The course makes a sort of figure 8 shape, with the narrow part near the start/finish area. As I walk back to camp (at least a couple of miles) several groups of riders pass and offer tubes, but I'll have none of it. I gotta pay my dues. Anyhow, happily enough my route had me pass by the New Belgium Brewery team area, and they loaded a 1554 and a Trippel on my, so I arrived back at my camp with no real further need for beer.
    Turns out, the last tube was a torn valve stem, too. None of these were cut, my rim strip was perfectly fine. They were simply defective tubes. Four of them.
    So on to the race. Historically, I've done the run and first lap on 24 hour races, but this time Erik took it for the team. He turned in quite a good lap, and then Bill went out and worked the course pretty well. Eric H (who had arrived that morning) went out next. He ran out of the transition tent to start his lap, only to find he had a rear flat. He quickly changed it, and still turned in a respectable lap. Checking his tube later, he could find no leaks. Maybe we were sabotaged? Eric's bike is SUPER recognizable, so I would not be too surprised to find that a prank was played...
    So it came around to my turn. I knew from the preride that every little wash crossing was going to work my wrist over big time, so I had to slow way down for the g-outs, then work hard to get lost speed back. With the wrap setup I had on my left wrist, I could hardly move my hand back and forth from the bar to the bar-end. Still, I did OK, but the slab at the end of the lap hurt a little worse than I'd expected.
    Erik, Eric and I each had issues to deal with during the night. My second lap I bonked hard, cramped by the 1/3 point, and since I was a little dazed, I was riding very poorly and hit all the bumps wrong. My wrist (and at this point, my right hand, too) were so hammered by the last downhill that I almost came off the bars on the last couple of fast g-outs. I opted for the slab bypass, too. Discretion is the better part of valor, after all. Going to bed, I wasn't sure I'd be able to do another lap.
    Erik bonked so hard on his third lap that he was seeing double, and his light seemed to be strobing. His tall gearing came back to bite him, too. He wound up doing his fourth lap on my bike. His comment? "Even if that bike had had nine honking inches of travel that seat still wouldn't have been comfortable." Hey, I love my Flites, though, and I find it a happy place to sit.
    Eric's difficulty came in his light conking out a quarter of the way out into his lap. He'd brought along one of those LED Petzl headband mounted lights. but discovered that it was pretty damned close to useless. He wound up having to tailgate other riders when they came along, until they'd drop him in a tricky spot. At one point he blew a turn and plowed straight into a big fat barrel cactus, flatting his front tire instantly. He made it back, though, and his misadventures really only cost about 35 minutes or so. Remarkable, really.
    Anyway, I did manage to talk myself into a third lap, and I made a point of riding mellow and sucking down huge quantities of sports drink. I felt better at the end of the lap than I had at the start. My fourth lap was uneventful.
    After I rolled in, Bill took off for his fifth lap. If he turned in a stellar lap and finished before noon, we could send Eric out for our team's 18th lap. Unfortunately, Bill came back in 43 seconds too late.
    As it turns out, we couldn't have moved up a spot anyway, even if Eric had managed another lap. Still, we finished fourth out of twelve teams. I'd say that's damned good considering all the strikes we had against us.
    It was time to pack up and head home. Our EZ Up had been destroyed by the wind on friday night, so we put it back together as best we could, piled our stuff in the truck, and beat feet back to California. Tired, sore, and happy with how we did.


    Here is Bill's Race Report :
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