Posts Tagged ‘#howihammer’

August 5th 2017

There are only a few races that I really like returning to year after year.  This race, situated on the western side of the Tetons, is definitely one of them.  Great venue, awesome trails, outstanding aid station work, post race fun, and a course that has changed slightly – each time for the better. I really don’t know how the race director, Andy Williams, does it.  In any case, I appreciate the hard work he puts into this fine race. 

I arrived Thursday and and setup camp alongside my friends, Christian, Milissa, Tim, and Barb. 


Pretty sweet base of operations if you ask me. 

All setup, we headed out for a ride up Action Jackson (named for the late AJ Linnell), riding essentially the first half of the 2nd&3rd loop of the race.  No one else would see this trail as they were only doing the one lap affair. The alternative would be the service road, nobody wants to ride service roads when there is single track. 


At one point during the ride we stopped to make some bike adjustments and heard this weird noise nearby. It ended up being a Sage Grouse most likely protecting her nest.  Too cool!


Moving along, we ripped down 38 Special and onto Millcreek trail.  Cow poop trail would be a better name for Millcreek btw. Looking forward to next year’s race without the “Trail of Poop”.  A road ride up to the resort (yep there is ~2.5 miles of pavement)  then a jump onto the singletrack again for a few miles with Barb finishing back at the camp, much to the delight of my dogs. 

A night of beer and conversation, very typical for us.

The next day, after coffee and such, we got an earlier start and rode the 2nd half of the course and the best trails of all.  The gentle climbing of More Cowbell leads to the super fun Perma Grin.  If they could just do laps of this I’d be ok with that. 


It was off to the North Woods and back to the start area.  Tim, Barb and I then rode up the starting road so that they could see the “fun” they would have at the start before heading back down Andy’s trail.

The fun of camping among others, outside of us, was quickly eroded as generators droned on around us that evening.  I had not slept well the prior evening and was hoping to get an early start to bed the night prior to the main event @7am the next morning. Barb, sensing my frustration (and my loud vocalization), decided to have a talk with a few of the offenders.  It was very much appreciated as I was able to get some good sleep.


5:45am alarm rings and my pre race prep commences.  Less than an hour before I’m on the 🚲, I feed the dogs (dogs always first) and prepare engine with 3 Hammer Nutrition Race Caps and 2 Anti-Fatigue Caps, grab my Perpetuem from the fridge and lay back down in bed and do 1.5 X Compex EMS warmup routine on my legs. For what I’m about to do, riding around for 30minutes prior to 100 miles is not on my agenda.  Warmup done I kit up and grab my running shoes for a short jog with the dogs before putting them back in their crates. One last check of my tires and I head to the start.

As I hit the start area with 10 minutes to go, I see Sten and congratulate him on his Tatanka 100 win.  It was a race I had won last year and couldn’t participate this year.  He was a deserving winner.  I expected him to do well at this race as he had finished 2nd the year before.  Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak/Ergon pro rider) would roll to the front just before the start and started to record a video from his GoPro. A multi year winner of the PH100, he would go on to win again.  

Race starts and I’m riding within myself knowing the climb is about 40 minutes.


Being that my birth year was 1966, number plate 66 was pretty cool. 

I rode pretty solidly up the road.  I didn’t push it and when we slotted into the singletrack I found myself a rider behind another 50+ rider,  Jeff Clayton.  He had never ridden here before and I was taking full advantage of relaxing on stretches that I knew not to push the pace on.  By the time we hit the 38 Special descent I was on his wheel and having to brake more than normal. It was after a few switchbacks that I asked him if that dropper post was just for show.  We had a good laugh because he had totally forgot about it.  We quickly rolled up on another rider and we were held up even more on the descent.  At the bottom and clearly at the limit, she pulled aside and let us through.  For all the apprehension on the 38 Special trail Jeff showed, he lit it up on the lower Millcreek section.  Pretty much riding like there was a fire he was trying to outrun.  By the time we hit the road climb he was ~15seconds in front of me and kept on driving.  I settled into my pace, not wanting to blow up early. We haven’t even gone 15 miles yet for pete’s sake. It was about this point when I realized something weird. Where were all the racers?  I looked up the road and behind me, only a couple of us.  Was I really that far behind or did everyone get caught up behind slower riders on 38? This would go on the rest of the race for me.  There’s not much to say about the next half lap other than I remembered where I was when I heard Tim’s 8:45 start cheers.  Completing the 2nd half I headed through the start finish area and was greeted by a familiar face as Milissa was standing on the side of the singletrack with camera in hand cheering me on.


As you can see, I was feeling good with 70 miles to go.

Again, riding within myself, not trying to crush it, I made my way back up to the high points and descended 38 Special. This time there was no one to hold me back and I took full advantage of it.  On about the 15th switchback I saw a huge deer standing in the corner.  I’m not sure what I said but he jumped downhill.  A good thing as I was not stopping for him.  He appeared lower down but thankfully not on the trail.  After 38 I had my near race ending moment as I drifted sideways on some dirt and a root or something caught my front wheel and sent me over the bars. I landed hard on my right side with my elbow and thigh taking the most damage. From that point on I started to entertain thoughts of dropping out due to the pain and general lack of training for an event such as this.  I stopped at my first aid station of the day and filled my Camelbak with race supplied HEED and dumped my Perpetuem in too for the calories and fueling I would soon need.  I had gone 45 miles on my first 70 ounces Perpetuem and had refilled for another 45 or so I thought. Over the next 18 miles I would drain my reservoir to almost nothing. I was still thinking of dropping out at 2 laps.  65 miles, that’s a good effort I thought.  Downhills were painful to my elbow as I would cradle it in between sections that didn’t require 2 hands on the bars. The thought of quitting was real. More real than I have ever experienced. When I finally came through the start/finish area for the 2nd time all my friends were there cheering me on.  Sten had pulled out after 2 laps, he was cheering me when I passed his camp heading out onto the 2nd half of lap 2. He was the first to give me encouragement. Then the wild bunch was dancing and cheering me on as I rode through. Christian was even drinking a beer telling me he’d save one for my finish.  I headed back onto the singletrack and continued to climb.  It was about 1/2 way up the hour climb that I realized I was out of liquid. So focused was I at dropping out that I had forgot to refill my Camelbak. Mouth parched and now feeling the full extent of elevation and sun, I went into major conservation mode. My trip through the high points and down 38 Special were guarded.  38 had eroded spectacularly to the point of no fun.  I winced every 5 or so minutes that my elbow was subject to the brutality of the trail.  At the bottom I was lucky to get water  from the safety guy and a couple of riders that were out for a day ride, I drank deeply draining what they gave me in less than 2 miles.  I eventually rolled into the aid station and took a seat while my chain was lubed and I contemplated continuing on.  I was pretty devastated at this point.  I did not want to ride up the road again.  I had hit my physical limit, or so I thought. 

So, just to prove what I’ve experienced in my life as a Hammer Nutrition athlete, I have not had one cramp during this race.  I’ve maintained an intake of Endurolytes throughout the course of the race.  I’m not sure what others went through but to be offered pickle juice at every aid station because they believed it would help me was kinda funny but annoying.  Just goes to show how few riders really know how to prepare themselves before a race. End rant.

The aid station workers were great.  When I told them I was thinking about quitting they told me how close I was to the finish. Easy for them to say that as they didn’t have another +2 hours to race.  Rested from my 5 minute stop I headed out again up the road.  Each lap up I watched my speed drop.  9-10 mph the first time, 6-7mph the next.  This time I expected 5mph.  I pulled out 7-8.  The short break did me good.  Coming through the midway point of the lap I again came across my friends as I pulled over for the aid station to refill one last time. I really wanted to quit. Elbow pain and 70 miles of racing when I haven’t done more than 56 all summer weighed heavily on my mind. Whatever Tim, Christian, and Barb said to me I was on my bike and enjoying the push off from Tim as he gave me a few last words of encouragement.  The light switch turned on for those last 15 miles.  Thinking it would be 2 hours plus I realized that I still had a chance at a sub 11 hour race.  I pushed my pace knowing how far I really had to go to finish under 11.  Rounding through Snowdrift I pushed it hard knowing there was 2 miles to go and the goal was in sight.  Racing up the final hill I crossed the line in 10:57:04 in 25th place and 3rd 50+ Master.   

There is no way I would have finished this race if it wasn’t for the support of my friends, co-racers, aid station workers, and Hammer Nutrition pushing me on.  This podium finish is a tribute to all those that helped me.  


The bonus was that everyone in our group podiumed


And my spoils of victory were 

Special thanks to Milissa Melle for a bunch of the photos!

It’s been a rough 5 months for me.  The huge win at 24HOP scrambled my brains and turned them into mush.  I took a backseat and rode only for fun, regaining my desire to race before even considering racing in my backyard. With no focused riding this was to be a test of the legs before next weekend’s big 100 mile race. 

2 laps of the new 28 mile long Laramie Enduro course were on my platter as a preparation for next weekends Pierre’s Hole 100. At just over 6000′ of climbing for the 56 miles, it seemed like a good idea to test my legs after a couple of setbacks over the last few months. The camping was excellent. Being local, I arrived well in advance and got myself a choice spot. The evening prior, Jenny and I setup some motivational signs on a steep climb that she would be marshaling. It would be reminiscent of my first Enduro, in which other signs placed along the course helped take my thoughts away from the pain I was feeling with a bit of laughter. They were a hit with everyone btw. Back to race stuff… Hydration prior to the race was accomplished with Hammer Fizz, (electrolytes with flavor – goes with any meal) 😀.  I had a good night sleep and woke at 5:45am for my 7am start. As I had my dogs with me the first item was to feed them. From there I had my solid pre race regime of Hammer Nutrition Race Caps and Anti-Fatigue caps, Compex EMS warm-up routine and sipping on Perpetuem. 20 minutes prior to the start I had 1.5 scoops of Fully Charged to prime the engine before heading out onto my bike and lining up for the 2 lap Epic. One gel before the race started and it was a fun “road style” pack ride for the first 3 miles of dirt road with climbs that would separate everyone before the singletrack. I treated the first lap like a one lap race planning on relaxing a bit on the second lap. Interestingly the eventual 50+ winner and I were riding together the first lap. He was from the low lands of San Antonio Texas but was riding really well. I left him to go on his own on the road section the next lap.

Feeling good

One lap down

 

I was thinking more about not killing myself before next week’s race, and was sticking to the plan of tempo riding the second lap. It was there that I had an “oh $h!!” moment when I realized I had left my Endurolytes, Anti-Fatigue, and Endurance Aminos supplements in my warmup jacket. After a few miles of telling myself the HEED/Perpetuem mix in my hydration bladder were enough, I resumed normalness and proceeded to enjoy my favorite singletrack sections. The temps were dropping fast this 2nd lap as the clouds built up. The forecast was for thunderstorms starting around noon, but I’ve never experienced them that early before. This would be the first as lightning started cracking well before I hit the north side trails of Tie City that were wet an slick with mud. The rain had started in earnest with lightening cracking all around me by then. “No need to be a statistic” was my thoughts as I headed up the last ascent of Haunted Forest. I finally dropped a Single Speed rider that had caught me, and was thinking about how warm and dry it would be when I got back into my trailer when I was caught by another rider, Anthony M, a longtime fellow competitor and also a 50+ rider. As much as I hoped to follow his wheel, the slick trail and roots kept me back. By the time we reached the top of the climb he had 20 seconds on me and I had nothing to respond with. I had hoped to make up any time on the last descent, but with the rocks being slick with rain, I thought it best to finish without a crash. When I finished, I heard the sounds of people calling my name, but all I could think of was getting dry and warm. My hands were a mix of purple and white, and my knees were painful to bend. I think I sat under a dribbling hot shower for at least 5 minutes before feeling better. If Suffering is what makes a man then this year I might have hit the limit and turned back into a baby. As pleased as I was to finish 3rd, I think it was the few individuals that came up to me after the race and thanked me for the fueling recommendations. They had all used what I have been encouraging them to do in all races. No breakfast, a gel prior, and HEED or Perpetuem with a couple of Hammer Gels during the race. They told me they felt great and would continue doing the same in upcoming events. That, was the highlight for me. Seeing others perform well on products I have been using exclusively for the last 4 years. 

Anthony and I, the Texan left already

I hate the ‘in between’ seasons.  Either it’s cold but not cold enough for substantial snow accumulation or it’s starting to warm but hasn’t fully melted away the white stuff to reveal the dirt below.  When I’m in ‘THE’ season, it’s like magic all day (and sometimes the night) long.  It’s the real winter season and my local trails are fully groomed snow covered singletrack fun.  All summer long I look forward to this time of year.  It takes me a few weeks to get into the new routine. Pulling out the winter clothes, regularly charging batteries for all the night rides, fatbike in order, dog collar batteries replaced, etc. By January I’ve gotten it all down and I’m usually cruising 4 days a week. 

There is no doubt that the people who ride or talk with me while I’m on the multipurpose trail system that I am in cloud 9 while out there. The beauty of snow covered trees and headlight lit trails at night light up my soul. I’m so grateful for the addition of the motorized trail maintenance we now have.  Hopefully my snowshoes will never be used again.


The past few years snowbiking has exclusively been my training leading up to 24 Hours in The Old Pueblo.  Training at +8000′ with approximately 150′ gained per mile rode plus the additional resistance that 5″ tires give offer a great advantage.  I can usually gage myself by how many Strava trophies I’m acquiring. But as it is when you age, those  virtual awards  become harder to beat. So constantly getting a 2nd or 3rd best time (along with any riding partner saying that there must be a motor in my bike) is usually a good indicator of fitness. 


One more month before I get some sun in the desert but till then I’m going to soak up as much snow as I can.

PH100
I arrived at Grand Targhee Resort late Thursday morning. The following photos of my ride that afternoon don’t do it justice.

30 miles later I got back to the trailer and Christian and Milissa had recently got in and were setting up camp. Later after eating and a couple of beers, Andy -PH100 event promoter and Christian’s brother stopped in to relax. I found out then that current road cycling World Champion and fresh off his Tour de France Green Jersey winner Peter Sagan would be arriving tomorrow to compete Saturday in the 1 lap 50km race.  He was using it in preparation for his Olympic mountain biking debut in a few weeks.

We all headed out on a short 9 mile loop up Action Jackson and Buffalo Soldier trails a bit later for them to stretch their legs and me just because.


Friday morning I slept in til 8.  Usually C&M are up and finishing their coffee by 8 but because of wind and the worry of their sun shelter blowing away, it appeared they were none too happy when I knocked at their door at 8:30.

We all later headed out on the second half of the course to check out the new additions that Andy had built. Towards the end of the loop last year was a fast singletrack section that brought you down the mountain through the berms and jumps, this year was different. The addition of the new Snowdrift section was twisty and bumpy. The twists continued again after flying down a road dropping you off at the bottom where you had the cruelness of one last uphill to the finish/lap line. Boy this is going to be fun.

I replaced my fixed seatpost with a dropper post to give me more control on the descents and switchbacks that adorned the race course.
Race Day
The alarm woke me at 5:45 for my 7am race start. Outside my window I noticed that rain had soaked everything not under the tent. It was a welcome sight after 2 days of riding on dirt that resembled moon dust from many days without moisture. I pulled up a muscle warmup program on my Compex Wireless EMS to jump-start my legs and had some Hammer Nutrition Race Caps+++ I dragged my cooler containing a full Camelbak and 3 extra bottles up to the trail above my campsite that would act as my resupply point. Dressed and on my bike I did one short uphill spin before heading to the line for the start. The race starts on a dirt access road to break everyone up before entering onto the singletrack I eyed Sten and Gary in front of me and relaxed knowing that it’s a long climb and there was no reason to put myself in the hurt locker this early into a 100 mile race. I made little jumps here and there when others seemed to slow down and when we neared the last steep uphill before the descent of 38 Special (switchback heaven and hell) I jumped pass a group of riders to really narrow the gap. Flying down the trail, I caught Gary first and he let me by after nearly ran him over a couple times. Quickly after that I caught Sten and I knew he wasn’t going to let me get by him. We chatted it up on the descent and flew through the lower singletrack that led to a 3 mile paved road climb. We pretty much were content to ride together and he would let me go first into descents knowing I was faster. He would eventually catch up after each one as I was clearly not trying to drop him that first lap knowing we had 2 more to go. We crossed the line together as we entered the second lap heading onto Action Jackson trail. It’s an hour long climb from the start to the descent and I settled into a comfortable pace keeping an eye on Sten as he rode away. I only needed to keep him in sight as I would probably catch him on the descent of 38 Special. As the trail started to ease off I picked up the pace and started to really hammer when the trail started dropping a bit. On the 2 track section prior to 38Special, I heard the sickening sound of air and tire sealant escaping from my rear tire. Somewhere I clipped a rock and punctured my sidewall. Adding some air from my only CO2 cylinder I attempted to get it to seal as I rotated the puncture down and kept pressure with my finger. It was much to large a hole to seal. A passing singlespeed rider asked if I needed anything and I asked if he could spare a CO2. He obliged by dropping 2 out of his pocket. As I pulled my wheel off to put in a tube, Gary (the eventual Masters winner) passed me by. Aired up with a tubed tire, I headed down 38 Special. This time I would be 4 minutes slower to the road climb as I took it much easier since I was now without a spare tube if something did happen again. In fact everytime I headed downhill now I was much slower than previous due to being overly cautious. Going into the last lap I calculated that in my tired state, giving it what I had left in the tank, I would finish in 10:20 5 minutes outside the time limit to get a finishers buckle. I decided that I would ride strong on the climbs and back off on any tire slashing descents so that I could finish. It was at the top of Action Jackson and Buffalo Soldier trails that I was greeted by Milissa and Christian.

 Christian cheered me on as only he could by stripping off his shirt while Milissa took photos. I told Christian I was in need a spare tube or I might be looking at a DNF if I flatted again. When I came through the intersection again he was waving a tube which I gladly took. I through caution to the wind knowing I had a spare that I could finish on if I needed it. My times reflected the same as the prior lap but I attributed that more to lack of precision handling as I was pretty tired and motor skills to corner smoothly were not quite there.  On that last lap I caught up with the rider that saved my race when he gave me his CO2 cylinders.  I thanked him and continued on my way.  With a half lap to go, it started raining and I decided to hit the Aid station and get some fluids in me. Stopping there was a small mistake that I would pay for later. I jumped on my bike for the last 15 miles. With ~6 miles to go I saw a rider in front of me wearing the team kit of Gary Gardiner. Was I seeing things I thought? Only one way to find out as I pushed my pace through the North Woods trail only to lose sight of him. I sped up the hill towards Snowdrift and caught a glimpse of him again. “is that Gary?”, I asked myself. I was now on a mission to catch the mystery rider. He was also pushing hard and through the closing mile of the race he was right there in front of me. By then time and race course had run out, I finished 23 seconds behind him only to find out he was Gary’s teammate John Lauck, another masters racer. He had passed me while I stood at the Aid station. The probably unnecessary stop had cost me 3rd place. And with a finishing time of 10:17:53 it probably cost me a Finishers Buckle awarded to the riders that finish under 10:15:00

Next time

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The forecasted storm for this past weekend, upwards of 10″ of snow, never materialized at my latitude/longitude. It did snow some, maybe a couple inches, but the constant drizzle of rain and cold temps sucked. Prior to the ‘Storm’ I was up snowshoeing with my dogs, a friend, and his son. Under calm conditions and deep snow it was a treat. 
Of course Lily could only think of how big a stick she could carry.


Then Thursday afternoon came with rain and sleet. Followed by more of the same on Friday. Yuck and double yuck. 

Waking up Saturday and looking outside at snow flying sideways with the wind I made the decision to stay indoors as the temperature never crested freezing. 

Sunday warmed up under sunny skies and I felt confident that the trails would be passable. Lol, who was I kidding, I fully expected to turn around at the first full road mud moat that often happens when the snow melts fast.  To my delight the dirt roads were rideable. I dodged the mud holes to stay as dry/clean as possible. Thoughts came in my head ” do I climb to Buford or ride through Gowdy? Dirt or snow/mud?”  I chose Gowdy singletrack. 

There was rideable trails and snow.


And not so rideable snow


I had fun nonetheless. It was probably about 75-25% ride vs hike on the trails. But beautiful regardless 


The weather looks good for the next week.  I’m going to enjoy it. Next weekend I’m going to the Wyoming state bowling championships in Lander. Maybe I’ll bowl a 300… Over three games.

Thanks for reading. Leave a message if you like or dislike, feedback is important for me.  

Along with the season premier of Game of Thrones last weekend Wyoming was warming up quite nice. A trip to Glendo State Park was planned with expected temps 80s and 70s. I arrived Friday afternoon, setup camp, and headed out for a nice short loop of Buffalo Run-Gigawatt-Rattlesnake-Feather-dam road back to camp just in time to meet up with Tim and Barb who were riding there for the first time. 

My dogs met Hazel (their dog) and all was well.  They set up their popup Aliner camper and we relaxed to beers and the awesome setting where we had camp as I described what to expect. Techy uphill rocky power spurts, flowy sections, with fast blind descents.  


The next day we met up with Mike and it was game on. Or rather, time to ride. Honestly, I was out to ride my legs off so it was a tour where I rode hard and then we regrouped. Typical modus operandi for me. That’s how I roll people, so drop it.   We had an awesome 3 hours of riding, mixed with the repair of Mike’s rear wheel that was on the verge of imploding.  finishing back at camp to check on the pups and drink a beer as we ate some chips and salsa. Yeah, I know, awesome way to recover from all that climbing and descending.  FYI, I downed a Hammer recovery and regular bar also. 


Part 2 was sans Mike as he headed back south to Cheyenne. I promised 10 miles and delivered. We rode out to the northern trails. Less techy but not smooth.  Narrows Bluff-Toadstool-back on Narrows to 2015/17. It was super fun.  ~26 miles ridden.  

Dinner, talk, and dog antics ensued. The next days forecast was not good and Tim’s allergies were in hyper drive.  The overnight rain did not help things. 

The next day as I watched  Liege-Bastonge-Liege live on Eurosport, I saw the approaching storm in the distance from my window.  Tim knocked on the door and said basically what I was thinking.  There would be no riding today. Time to pack and head home. 

The day after I parked my truck -Airstream combo in my new garage, I drove my Mini Cooper home in 2″hail with an expected snowfall that night  of several inches.  As I watched episode 1 of GoT’s current season, I recalled the tag line…”Winter is Coming”. Indeed it is here…again.  May it be gone quickly. 

The forecast for Friday is upwards of 12″ locally.  May God have mercy on the Lannisters.

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2016 12 Hours in the Wild West hosted by Zia Rides

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9 April 2016 Ruidoso, New Mexico

The month leading up to the race I had rode less than 80 cumulative miles.  A flu bug bit me and bit me hard the day after I received an entry into the race representing Hammer Nutrition.  My enthusiasm for racing hard for 12 hours waned significantly due to my perceived lack of training.  So in the interest of making it fun in the case that something didn’t go as planned I brought my dogs and running shoes. Whoa, as planned? Who was I kidding, I was already planning on beers and heckling other riders by noon with my dogs by my side. 

The Thursday prior to the race I started my trek south to Ruidoso with a stop in Albuquerque to pick up my Airstream that had some repairs and upgraded batteries installed that would also serve as my sleep quarters.  I think I won the unofficial “Furthest Drive” award from the promoter Seth Bush and his Wife.  Having never been to Ruidoso I had no idea what to expect.  I certainly did not expect the high elevation forested hills set in a resort community.  It was fabulous. 

I arrived around noon Friday and discovered that all the good “Solo alley” parking was already full to the point that I was not going to even attempt to set up there.  So I parked about as far as one could get from the transition tent and set up camp for the dogs and I.  After having not ridden my bike for a week I figured I’d better get one lap in to plan when I would be cracking a cold one.  The course, 11 miles long that starts with ~5 miles of ascending and what seemed like an equal part descending was killer.  I was grinning ear to ear as I ripped through the downhill sections noting the warning triangles at danger spots.  Maybe tomorrow won’t be so bad after all I thought to myself.  Returning to camp I met my weekend neighbor Trevor and his son.  They were the kind of neighbors you want to have at an event like this, fun and outgoing. 

I prepped all my gear, Hammer Endurance Aminos, Race Caps, Anti-Fatigue Caps, and bottles of HEED and Perpetuem with the thought that all would be fine. I decided to use a hydration pack instead of bottles due to the nature of the course, almost all singletrack. So the bottles would be my refill option every couple of laps. Mistake 1 and 2 discovered.  1: only one bladder and 2: not enough bottles.  As I drifted off to sleep thunder sounded outside and I brought the dogs inside from their kennels. A light rain started soon after. Mistake #3 was not deploying my awning. I was awaken around midnight to a pounding rain outside that made me realize how much I hate riding in mud let alone in rain. If it came to it, I would be a volunteer under the tent instead of a race participant.  5:30am, up and feeding dogs and drying off my wet bike. It’s low 40s outside and wet, I put on every bit of clothing I have brought including my fleece gloves and vapor barrier under the socks to hold off any Reynauds reactions I might have. To say I’m none too delighted by the wet and the temps would be an understatement. I was looking so forward to warm southern New Mexico.  it was not what I expected, FYI, the high was in the low 60s. To be honest it was warmer than the 40s I left behind in Wyoming.  6:15 am racer meeting, we find out amongst other things that the city had voted to change the ordinance that forbid camping in city limits just for this race weekend. THANKS RUIDOSO!

7 am race starts with a shotgun blast and I calmly ride in the mix. No trying to move forward, just pedaling along like it was a big group ride.  Honestly, I can’t recall ever doing this. I usually just hammer it and settle in to an endurance pace later. On the long climb I find myself in the conga line that forms in races like this on trails like this. Everyone was so silent, no talking, no music from somebody’s Bluetooth speaker… No fun.  I commenced to get a conversation going with everyone around me, ringing my bell, and requesting some jokes and where everyone was from. It was not the crowd I thought they would be.  Listen up people, it is 12 hours of solo/duo/team riding, have fun, talk it up, it’s the first lap, you will never be any fresher than now. Oh, and put a freaking bell on your handlebars.  By mile 4 I finally was able to make a break from the doldrums to excitement. I pleasantly, or annoyingly, found myself with a large gap in front of me to ride as fast as I wanted. And I did exactly that. At mile 5 the drop in elevation commenced and the 2 rock gardens endorsed by Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid did nothing to slow me down (till later, but only just a little).

There was one thing that I have neglected to mention, the mud. Remember that rain?  Yeah well it turned that awesome dirt to mud. During the conga line, more than a couple times I was forced to hoof it when a rider fumbled. Shoe cleats, pedals, and drivetrains were coated. Coated in a thick muck.   Back to the race.  The final few miles of trail included some fresh cut trail that were fun. They included a couple banked sections that, try after try, I could never master completely without braking. 

The arrival at the start / finish tent was worth it. Crowds of applause every lap. The announcer proclaiming your name and, for me at least, commenting on my kit and how she hoped Hammer Nutrition knew how well I was looking in it. This was before she ever knew I was a Hammer Ambassador.  One lap down and my bike in the second lap was sounding like a screech owl when I got on the power. There wasn’t a rider around that didn’t know I was coming up their backside that lap. I made it through lap 2, informed the announcer of my Hammer Nutrition affiliation and was rewarded with her announcing to everyone about how she uses Hammer herself. It was pretty cool. She continued to cheer me on every time I came through letting the race venue know. I pitted this lap to fix my obnoxiously loud drive train. Mud crusted over my derailleur pulleys causing issues and my chain was in need of some lube. Oh, and dogs needed to get out. See, still not taking the race seriously. Issues and dogs taken care of, I rode back to the course. Lap 3, sweet jesus, I felt like I was riding in stealth mode as I overtook the other solo riders that didn’t have to ride off course ~.25 miles and walk dogs who had moved in front of me.

finishing up lap 4 I pitted to refuel.  For fun I checked the standings online.  WTF? 7th place?  What the hell am I doing in 7th place overall Solo. Now I need to seriously ride for 12 hours. New Goal: put my personal problems aside and race for 12 hours.

The dirt was getting seriously good but the lack of training and the repeated hammering from the rock sections was taking it’s toll.  It was taking longer up the climb to feel good before I could push it and the descents were killing my wrists and neck. 

I had half jokingly said to myself that I could make 8 laps during the drive down.  The joke was on me as I finished lap 7 and headed out on lap 8.  Seth’s wife was ecstatic as she announced one more for me (which is what she did for everyone) BTW, Seth your wife is an awesome announcer/motivator.  With no one to push me through most of the lap I rode a bit slower than before knowing I would easily finish the lap under the 12 hour limit.  My last mistake was letting 2 riders, who I perceived to be team riders as fast as they were riding,  pass me… one in the final 1/4 mile finished 3 seconds in front of me.  I dropped from 7th to 9th overall in the Solo category, a minor disappointment as I had ridden further than I initially thought, had pushed myself past the point of breaking and owe it a lot to my buddy Tony that had told me “dude, even when you are sick your a better rider than most people”.  I’m not sure if that was meant as a compliment or a way of shaming me but it worked. 

Seth’s wife handed me my finishers award, a doughnut.  I was like “where’s the beer for finishing?”  she kindly handed me a pint glass off the table and directed me towards liquid pain reduction therapy. 

I have to thank the people that believed in me, Hammer Nutrition, Zia Rides, and my 3 patient dogs for an awesome weekend of racing.