Thursday, February 24, 2011

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo...3rd Place in my 3rd race

Thursday, February 17, 2011.
Bikes loaded.
Gear packed and ready.
Wheels in her normal co-pilot position.
Tucson, here we come.

A long, 14 hours later, we arrived in Tucson ready to ride in the desert as part of the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.
Tucson sunset from the city

This was my third official race ever and my first crack at a 24 hour duo. The course was located just north of Tucson and was approximately 16 miles long. After meeting up with Erick, his wife, Jen, and their friend, Kevin, we constructed what was to be our “home” for the next couple days in the desert.

Erick and Jen


Soon after the palace was complete, Erick and I set out on a pre-ride to discover the kind of riding that was in store for us for the next 24 hours. Arizona riding is so different from riding here in Colorado. Flat, fast, hardpacked, and “flowy” trails greeted our tires. We cruised up, over and down the “bitches” (Five aptly named, very short, but steep hills in the middle of a wide double track) and then hit fast, cacti lined singletrack for the next 10 miles. The last 2.5 miles contained a gradual and sustained climb to a saddle just above TentTown. From this saddle, it was all downhill splendor to the exchange tent. Ahhhh, this section was the sweet, sugary icing—no quads required—just rail like you are 10 years old again!

Rockin' the rock..

Cruisin' the cholla

Jen fed us pasta for dinner and after a good breakfast the next morning, we were ready to play bike racer for a day. I racked my bike along with the bazillion other runners and lined up to run in the LeMans style start.

Haha! Look closely and find my bike :)

Carl (296) in ready mode

We had approximately ¼ mile to run, locate our bike, hop on and begin the first lap. I had absolutely no desire to be stuck behind a million scrambling bike jerseys, so I strategically worked my way as close to the front of the pack as possible. High noon came, the cannon erupted and the fury was unleashed. STAMPEDE! I knew the sooner I got to my bike, the less chaos there would be getting going on the trail. I ran pretty quickly because it was such a short distance. Apparently, I was the first woman through the run, although I didn’t find this out until yesterday. I saw a Superfly on my left and reached for it…UGH! Wrong bike. Glad I didn’t hop on! I looked about 4 feet ahead and Erick already had my bike out and ready to go. Perfect. Thanks, Erick!

Where IS she???

Rollin out for Lap 1

I looked down and was encouraged by my mantra added by my teammate...

My first lap was pretty fast. I knew it would be. I also knew that I had many miles in front of me. My goal coming into the race was to turn in consistent splits within 4 or 5 minutes of each other. I used the times from last year to set a pace I honestly thought I could maintain, but in the end I could not. My times slowed to the 1:30’s throughout the night. I can attribute a bit of that to the brutal wind on some of the laps, but I would rather not use the weather as an excuse. I should have stayed in the low to mid 1:20’s.
In all my slower laps, my legs felt heavy right at the beginning for a couple minutes. I pushed through and got back on pace, grinding up the “bitches” and then picking it back up on the flowy singletrack. I held the pace I wanted until the last climb to the saddle. I lost time here on each lap. Frustrating.
On my third lap the rain was coming sideways and the wind straight on. Enough rain had come down to make a few of the corners slick and I crashed on one of them. Tore up my tights and scraped up my right knee pretty good, but nothing to worry about. I picked up my bike and was going again in about a minute. My sixth lap saw me eat it bigtime about 200 feet from the exchange tent. I was tearing through the last part of the course and somehow lost it on some loose sand in the bottom of a small wash. I landed directly on top of my right handlebar that was sticking straight up from the dirt. The impact left a circular cut precisely in the shape of the bar end in my right groin. Intensely painful, I paused for 30 seconds trying to move my leg. Not happening. I lifted my right leg up with both hands to  get on my bike and pedaled in to finish the lap. Grimacing in pain, but trying to hide it and be tough I limped back to camp, telling myself I had about an hour to get well. I rolled out on the foam roller, stretched and ate. I couldn’t put much weight on my right leg to walk, but oddly enough I was able to pedal without much pain. I was good to go.

Here are some pictures of life in camp between sundown and sunrise:

Happy faces....

Brrrrr...Arizona is supposed to be warm, I thought... Ha, silly me..

My horse...

Who signed me up for this?
Keeping warm and checking splits as they posted with Jen...

Jen informed me we had moved into 3rd. Erick had battled through the frustration of two flats and had turned it on. He posted some wicked-fast early morning laps and left everything out there. Awesome job, Erick! Mad respect for a great rider and friend!

On the hunt for a fast lap!
AZ sky looms...

We were safely in third and for my 9th, and final lap, I momentarily considered skipping the “bitches” and riding the new bypass trail that was a bit longer. Ummm, yah, that thought stayed in my head for all of about 2 seconds. I was definitely going to slap those old bags in the face one last time until next year.
My last two laps were a bit quicker, but I still was slower than I wanted to be overall. I am really happy to have placed third for my third race ever. The entire event was a blast and I stood on the podium with a great teammate. A huge, heartfelt thanks goes to Jen who had wonderful food and support ready at all times. She truly is the rockstar. Also thank you, Kevin, for keeping my bike clean and maintained after every lap. And finally, to Brandon for all your help with everything!

3rd Place


This race taught me a lot. It was a good checkpoint that provided encouragement and also pointed out my weak points. I met some great people and experienced a new type of riding. I earned the nickname "Miss Flowy" and "Hammer" (ha, again) from some pretty cool guys I seemed to always be riding with on my laps.

Most importantly. I had fun. My love for the sport grew as I just....simply...turned the crank. Over and over. Mile after mile. I was just happy to be on a bike and so thankful that I have the chance to do what I love amongst great people.

I watched some truly impressive racers blow by me on the "bitches"and, then, I also saw this guy:

Chick magnet!

A friend emailed me a simple spreadsheet comparing my times with the Coed Duo 1st and 2nd place women. My average lap time was 1 minute slower than the 2nd place woman and 10 minutes slower than the 1st place woman.
Hmmmmm....time to continue working on my bike's motor to get faster. J

Coming tomorrow: AZ Trail Pre-ride stories and pictures...

Until then:

Team Las Chupacabras!


  1. Great job! Hope your exploratory trip to test your CTR gear went as well as the race.

  2. Thanks! The test run went pretty well. Out for more soon :) Thanks for reading!

  3. Did you wear running shoes out of the gate? Or did you get new MTB shoes?

  4. Great race and report, I really enjoyed reading it. Co-ed duo is fun, huh?

    Very cool to see the AZT recon you did after, too. That first section is a little rough around the edges.

    See you in April!

    Scott Morris

  5. Yes, Co-ed Duo was a great time. Congrats to you on the win!

    Excited for April and more AZ riding. Thanks for reading :)