Monday, October 12, 2009

24 HOURS OF MOAB, 2009

This race has become tradition. As many times as I've done this race I tend to take it for granted. But it really is "epic" as Laird Knight the race promoter put it. It has over 4000 bicycle enthusiasts from all over the world and ALL levels of riders collecting in the middle of a red desert to form a MTB oasis. This year the perfect weather gave me a chance to see the beauty in this place and REALIZE it's in my back yard! I must admit this is the first time I've done this race that the weather HAS been good enough to allow for this type of reflection. The first time I did the race in 2002 under team Quadra-sore-ass wrecks it was raining and freezing. Since then I've done 5 more with Mad Dog and endured hail, floods and wind storms.

2009 was looking like it was going to be perfect. I felt relaxed, comfortable and well rested (perhaps too well-rested). As usual I "volunteered" to do the Le-manz style 200 yard run around the poor pinon tree. I got off to a great start and found myself in probably the top 10 runners going around the tree. Not bad for an old fart I was thinking when I looked down and saw a baton on the ground. Instinctively I felt for mine on my right thigh where I carried it under my shorts. I couldn't feel it there! What luck I thought as I stopped to pick up the baton as 50 runners passed me. In the next instant I felt BEHIND my thigh and there was my baton. UHGG! What a stupid move. Anyway, I still ended up toward the front of the hoard of riders and really didn't have too much traffic to contend with as usually happens if you get caught in the middle of the 300+ racers fighting for a line.

I was feeling confident and taking aggressive lines down the rock drops and ledges when I got to the Nose Dive Hill bypass. There was a "helpful" guy there yelling at everybody to be careful since there were some jeepers at the bottom. So what do I do? I look over to see what he was talking about, ended up on the wrong line and drilled the front straight down. Even the larger 29'r wheel up front couldn't save me and I found my self rolling over the handle bars. It's funny the vivid stuff you remember thinking in that split second- only some of which I can repeat here. I remember thinking, "So how bad is this going to hurt? Is the race over right here? I hope the Arantix is going to be OK." Well I landed and had NO pain! I did the usual systems check and all systems were functioning. I jumped up and picked up the Arantix. I had held on to it so that it wouldn't slide and roll too far down. It only required a small straightening of the handle bar. Cool! I survived. The rest of the lap was a blur of relief for my life, anger, frustration at lost time, anger for being frustrated etc. I lost my concentration. Once it was done I had to admit my time of 1:14 was reasonable and I tried to shake it off in anticipation of redeeming myself on the next one. My duo pal Carson was next pulling in a screaming time, followed by Captain Keith who kicked some butt and then Scott (the team cook's main squeeze) finished off our 4 person rotation. And I was up again.

I headed out feeling strong until I started to hit the technical ledges and my chain dropped in between the cassette and spokes. As you all know (your lucky if you don't) that's a #$*ch to get out. I must have bent the derailleur hanger when I wrecked on the last lap. I finally got the chain out but had it happen two more times within a 5 minute period until I realized I just couldn't use the lower gears for the rest of the lap. I was frustrated. I put in a 1:20.

The next lap was going to be a night lap. I had our team wrench, Bryan, straighten the hanger and put the lights on. I've been wanting to take advantage of the hollow nature of the Arantix to "light" the Isotruss up so I got some glow sticks.

Night riding is really fun. I feel like I am in a different very focused world. The challenges are directly in front and nothing else really matters. The third lap in the past has been the toughest mentally and physically. It didn't let me down. This was a rough ride. I couldn't get into a rhythm. I pulled a 1:26 and went to sleep.

I went out for the fourth lap at 4 am. By now I new the lines and I got into a great rhythm. It was a very, clean satisfying lap done at 1:28. By now I had realized that I'd have to do another lap, but it would be in the daylight hours-and warmer.dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd...I'm falling asleep. I'll continue this tomorrow.

Good night Moab.

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