24 Hours in the Old Pueblo 2011 February 26, 2011Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Events, Mountain Biking.
Tags: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, Endurance Mountain Biking, Epic Rides, Event, Four and a Half Men, Mountain Biking, mtb
We left Prescott as five individuals who were going to ride in the 5 person co-ed 200+ division at the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race.
We arrived back to Prescott as an Endurance Mountain Biking Team. Old and slow, but still a team called “Four and a Half Men”
By late Friday, we had all made it safely to the desert north of Tucson where the 24 HITOP is held. Some of us had been there a day already and had pre-ridden the course a couple of times. It seemed pretty tame compared to what we ride in the Prescott area on any given weekend.
Friday we sat around our campfire, visiting and contemplating what the next day would bring. None of us had ever been to the 24 HITOP before, and we really didn’t know what to expect.
People ran for their cameras and stood on their cars, trailers and motorhomes to try and get the perfect sunset photo. I picked up my bike and held it up while Steve snapped this photo. As the sun continued to dip, the sky turned the color of a blacksmith’s forge. Then Scott held his Yeti skyward for one of the coolest photos I have seen.
What an awesome way to start our weekend adventure.
Saturday morning we were treated to Omelets prepared by Karen who had come down to just hang out with us and take some photos. She is also an amazing camp cook!
We went down to the expo area and visited with other Prescott riders that were there throughout the morning. After the pre-race meeting, Robert prepared for taking the first lap for our team. This race begins with a quarter-mile LeMans style start where the first lap riders run that 4oo meters, then mount their bike and ride the first lap. It is literally a stampede of 800+ bikers trying to find their bike and somehow weave through the chute filled with other biker attempting to do the same thing.
After the wild start, the rest of us went down to the spot on a trail called His ‘n Hers where the race course comes closest to the 24 Hour Town. Here we cheered on the first riders to arrive, counting them as they went past until at number 146 we saw Robert coming around the corner. We yelled like crazy for the 2 or 3 seconds that it took him to approach us, go by, and then disappear around another corner.
I forgot to mention that at the start of the race, the wind was blowing at 25-30 mph, with gusts to 40+ (crazy!).
I hurried back to get ready to take lap number 2 for out team. I felt good, and was riding well, when shortly after the turn onto Rattlesnake Trail, riders were being flagged down and asked to walk our bikes past a rider being worked on by EMS. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I did see what was left of a large cholla cactus scattered about as if it had been blown up. Note to self: stay on the trail! It felt like the wind was picking up, and as I rode across the dam of a cattle tank, I saw a girl get blown off her bike, then as she tried to walk the bike, it was being blown into her and she could hardly hold onto it. The guy in front of my looked like he and his bike were leaning at a 45 degree angle just to hold a straight line! About 12 miles into that first lap, I realized that I was riding really hard, and I thought back to standing there in the on deck area of the exchange tent telling myself it was going to be a long 24 hours and to just take it easy. That plan was out the window, and I knew I would suffer on later laps because of it. Dang.
When I came into the exchange tent, there was Steve, ready to go. One thing I thought we did really well throughout the entire event, was we just kept moving forward. There weren’t any missed exchanges where the next rider was sleeping, and none of us had any mechanical issues or flat tires.
While Steve was out on his lap, we felt the air temperature suddenly drop about 15 degrees, and the forecast said that rain was on the way within the hour. So when Jeanette geared up for our 4th team lap, she was ready for whatever might be coming. She ended up being out there for the beginning of the coming rain. Evidently it rained lightly on her toward the end of her lap, and as she passed the baton to Michael at about 6:20pm, the rain was falling. Michael’s lap had it all. He rode in 20mph winds with rain falling sideways and about 15 minutes into his lap, the sun was gone. While we were huddled in tents and trailers for the next hour and a half, Michael pushed on. He returned from his lap in amazingly good spirits, with stories of how fantastic the cacti looked in his lights with each drop of water on every little needle reflecting the light. We were feeling good as a team as Michael finished his lap and Robert began his second lap. The rain appeared to be almost over, and we had all successfully completed our first lap of the 16.1 mile race course.
The rain DID stop, and we continued to ride through the night without any problems. There were lots of riders out there changing tires and patching tubes, but thankfully, we were not among those with mechanical issues. During Jeanette’s second lap, somewhere around midnight, I took this photo of riders lights coming along His ‘n Hers Trail. Look at the glow of the lights of Tucson on the low clouds in the background.
One thing we all noticed and were really appreciative of, was how courteous and friendly 99.9% of the riders were. Around 6am as I was coaxing my bike up the climb of the High Point Trail, a very fast girl wearing a KHS Cycles jersey went by me like I was standing still, but as she did, she took the time to offer words of encouragement, “Keep going, you are almost done!”, she said as she disappeared into the gray of the early morning.
Micheal had the last lap for our team as noon approached on Sunday, and the rest of us walked over to the spot where the trail comes back down toward the transition tent to meet him. As he came around the corner toward us, he spotted Jeanette waving to him, and tired as he was, he gave a big satisfied smile.
We had completed 15 laps, 3 each to finish 13th of 46 teams in our division that started on Saturday.
At any of various points throughout the race, we had all been the Half that our team name mentions. The other 4 were always there to offer a smile, a joke, and words of encouragement. This was a bonding experience for us. We became a team at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.