Wednesday, March 13, 2013

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo... Yeah, it was fun.

Sunset on the Tucson desert. Photo: Sean Buckman
The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is a race I've always wanted to do, but is also one I honestly never thought I'd do. The necessary 24 hour drive to Tucson for the event is undoubtedly a tough one. This year however, a guest spot opened up on the Colorado-based Oskar Blues/Dale's Pale Ale 4-person singlespeed team, and my readiness to escape the cold for a bit to rip some singletrack gave me motivation to do the drive. Game on!
Lucky for us, the wind blew from the south, as I was 'camped' in the green Subaru at the bottom of the image. Photo: Sean Buckman

After making the long drive down, the Thursday before the (Saturday) race, I pulled into the camp my Colorado-based friends had chosen (conveniently located near a bank of Port-a-Potties). My teammate, Jordan Carr (tech editor for Mountain Flyer magazine), had already arrived with co-pilot and pro solo racer, Jari Kirkland. The balance of the crew was made up of Lyons, CO locals, Doug Mers, Keith Johnson and the always entertaining, Sean Buckman. Mers, Johnson and Buckman were riding on a 4-person team and were trying to figure out who would anchor their team.

Carr and I wouldn't see our singlespeed teammates, Chad Melis (marketing guy for Oskar Blues Brewery and REEB Cycles), and Jeremy Rudolf (brewery manager at Oskar Blues Brewery), until late Friday evening. That's all I'm going to say about that... I'll let them tell whatever stories they want about their adventures getting to the event. Heh heh heh...
Pre-race hangin' in camp. Photo: Sean Buckman

But Jordan, Jari and I had a great time checking the course out Friday morning. I could tell the 2-to-1 gearing I was running (34x17t), while a bit tall in the headwind, was just right when the wind was at my back. I rode my drop-barred Singular Gryphon on this lap, but later in the day decided I'd race my flat bar Singular Swift hardtail for its slightly more forgiving ride (mostly due to the suspension).
Chad (in the Dale's Pale Ale jersey) and Tinker Juarez run together at the front during the start.

On race day, Chad led us off, Jordan went second, Jeremy was third while I rode the anchor leg. It was one of the first times I'd not been the first rider when riding a team 24-hour event, so it was a decidedly different feeling not having to even begin getting ready to ride for more than three hours after the start of the race. In fact, I got just one daytime lap on Saturday before having to put the headlights on for my second lap, at around 8:45pm.

I didn't mind this at all, as I love night riding, and was also rewarded for my effort with the sunrise lap, so I can't complain at all. It was an absolutely awesome experience, as our team, while not the absolute fastest singlespeed team, was at least competitive, and we alternated between second and third place during the night. Ultimately, some interesting team strategy on the part of the other team gave them the upper hand late in the event, and they ended up taking second place by one lap. Apparently they came in about six minutes ahead of us and since that was six minutes before noon, they were allowed to go out for another lap.

I finished our team's 20th lap at noon, right on the nose (which was the plan for us). I'd actually ridden the longer "skip the bitches" route, so it added a few minutes to my last lap time, as insurance I wouldn't come in ahead of noon. Chad didn't want to go out for another lap... We were content with third and had a lot of beer to drink.
Dropping in at the end of my final lap, headed for a 12:00 noon, third-place finish. Photo: Sean Buckman

Overall, the experience of the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo was fantastic. I got the opportunity to ride for the first time of the year in shorts and short sleeves, and with a bunch of friends I haven't ridden with in a long time (or ever, in some cases). Even with the super-long drive, it was still totally worth it. I won't do a lot of crazy drives like that each season, but for an event like that, every once and a while, it's worth the effort... and the trip really isn't that bad.

Thanks to my awesome teammates: Chad Melis, Jordan Carr and Jeremy Rudolf, and to Oskar Blues/Dale's Pale Ale for sponsoring our shenanigans at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Thanks also to Marty Larson, The Prairie Peddler, and to Sam Alison at Singular Cycles for the fantastic bikes I am blessed with riding this season. Edit: Thanks also to everyone involved in our 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo effort this year, including our camp-mates, the FILFy Bastards (who finished 19th place out of 151 teams in the 4-man open class -- stellar!!).


No comments: