Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dawn to Dusk, then Back to Dawn

Long Ride Productions would have been proud of the efforts by nearly 2,000 gnarly mountain bikers in the heart of the Sonoran Desert last weekend.  The journey started long before the race actually did, with a nice13 hour car ride down from P ville to Tucson.  Once the feet had landed on desert soil, anticipation began to grow and no time was lost.  With the 'crew' assembled, we began our trek out to the two four course to begin the set up of our 3 day race camp.  With tents up reserving space, and gear as organized as could be, there was some time to sneak a couple hot laps in to pre ride the course   Of which, a hot time of 1:04 (over 16.2 miles) was thrown down by yours truly   Tires were swapped to accommodate the especially dry conditions, and I was able to knock off another min during the next pre ride (1:03:23 - almost 16mph average).  200 exceptional racers ended the day with dreams of crushing the solo category.

24 Hour Town woke up race day to tents baffling in 20 mile per hour wind, with gusts over 35.  I got kitted up in a dust storm, chowed down as much gritty food as possible, dawned the helmet and zip tied the race number on the Soukri.  11:00am sees 800 riders getting checked in, bikes being lined up, and a very anxious crowd starts making it's way to the start line.

When I get to the start line, ol Tinker lines up in front of me.  Looks like she's gonna be tough race with a heavy stack of pro riders in the Solo category.  A shot gun gets hoisted to the air, the count down gets rattled off.  Then BANG!!!

The next thing I see is the person in front of me belly flopping down on the ground.  Hundreds of riders are behind, pushing, and I roll my ankle on the fallen racer.  And just like that, in the very first second of 24 hours, my ankle is toast.  Hobbling down the road gets me to my old steel friend and I start pedaling the Voodoo.  Two laps in, I assess that with abundant amounts of pain killers and Tiger Balm, a push is still possible and a race strategy is enacted.  With night settling in, things were looking good around the midnight hour as I hovered in 11th spot.

Then disaster struck with a string of mechanical mishaps.   On lap 8 I double flatted.  Somehow karma was on my side for that with many a helping riders stopping to assist.  In fact, with the added trail side support, we were able to preserve the tubeless set ups with CO2 and extra Stans.  A race miracle if you will.  But the lap was not finished, and during the last climb back up to 24 town my drive train decided it had enough.  I humped the bike up to the high point, then coasted back into town.  Back at camp, the bike was worked on by a team of people, and with a new quick link and some love the bike was back in order, but not without a major sacrifice of time.  The next lap proved just as much of a pain in the ass when the front hub had some pre load issues.  Not wanting to kill the hub, I eased through the lap back to camp. Without a mechanic there to assist, it was left to me to get the hub fixed.  It was now lap 9 and a little after 4am.  The sun soon came up, and with the extra light I was able to get the hub fixed and back on the steed.  I threw down another lap, still wanting top 10, but realized after doing some arithmetic in the saddle that it was just not possible.  Too much time had been lost in the previous two laps.  With that realization I decided that there was no point in furthering the ankle injury and backed off the pace.  I finished with 11 laps, 178 miles, and in 23/98.  Not too shabby considering.

Overall, a huge success.  Many thanks to everyone that helped, to the FT3 crew for the company and long distance cheering, and to Epic Rides for hosting the 'burning man' of 24 hour races.

First Tracks

All day we watched the snow fall, flutter, accumulate. After leaving work, I churned up the EDT and shouted greetings to the immobile cars on Highway 50. All was white; me, my bike, the trees bent low over the trail. The snow stuck to my front wheel and curled off the fork like waves into a prow, except backwards.

The exceptional conditions required FT3's most experienced snow driver. And our small crew was well shy of the Element's eight passengers with bikes limit.

We didn't make it out of the K Lot before brakes froze, derailers wouldn't shift and tire pressure needed correction. Timidly, I lead the crew down the boat launch road and, when the bikes seemed trust worthy, broke onto trail. Tires gripped snow and we climbed. Up to MET and the horse camp, down XXX, around to Fleming, following the lower entrance road until it ended in unknown trails, back tracked to the steep drop to Bristol, and up the first road back to MET.

The whole loop was rideable. Rideable. Even Peter could have ridden it, but he was busy painting RG's toenails. 

Pressing a track into the virgin snow was as satisfying as drawing a finger through the thick frosting of a wedding cake. We struggled to maintain momentum. The penalty for dabbing was a shoe clumped in snow that wouldn't clip into the pedal.

Dashing through the snow, laughing all the way.

Mother Rye greeted us as we rolled back into the Lott. The transition was quick, as no one wanted to step in the cold. Though we were early, the place was empty, we sat at the bar. Mother Rye shared her secret for keeping taco shells limber: the taco bitches fluff them. Ms. Chickenbake proposed the handle Taco Fluffer to replace B. The Hi-Fi was rocking and when Loverboy - Turn Me Loose came on Councilman sang the whole thing, even going for the high notes. It was awesome.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hungry Tuesday

The storm surge of Carnival has receded. Now, we enter the spartan period of Lent. During this time FT3ers must make sacrifices in order to tap their full Long Riding potential. We must abstain from perversions, like jogging. And when Peter calls, on a cold and wet Tuesday, with an invitation to watch old Tom Cruise movies, we must say no. The training period is upon us.


These Gen 2 members are out training...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fat Tires Fat Tacos Fat Tuesday

Hurricane Mary made landfall just as we were kitting up. Nothing short of pandemonium ensued.
 We dropped straight to the Lake and everyone had a chance to check their riding responsiveness as we cut cross country. Cappy had a tough job RideLeading, as the crowd was nothing short of sassy. Especially, NoHandle.

We dropped the horse trail from the horse camp and then reversed the usual route and rode back to B's chin   and the guard station. We made an uncommon route selection at that point that led to riding through dried mullein stalks,
and getting spotted by a pack of young'uns.

We waited, but Bambi never showed up.
After a lake loop we started beating a fast pace back to the Knott,

And sure enough the Mother was quite upset with our late arrival. While she threatened to not serve us any tacos, we apologized, explained the FTFT3 High Holiday, and placed our orders. 

The night didn't end until we had been asked to leave every establishment in Pville.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Never neglect your nappies!!

Whether on your top or bottom, it's rare that any serious cyclist would venture out without their trusty chamois. These marvels of padded perfection offer many benefits, the least of which is the prevention of chafing when long-riding. Historically, these chamois were the product of lambskin ('chamois' actually refers to the prepared skin of any goat-like animal), and were prized for their softness, absorption and wicking properties. Their modern cousins are typically synthetic in nature, with multi-panel construction, and more refined fit and performance. All this means one thing: your nethers are protected from the elements, including blundt force trauma resulting from sudden contact with the saddle. 

Which brings us to the moral of this particularly painful story. You see, yesterday I took my youngest for a training ride on the EDT. I live by, and strongly enforce, the helmet rule at home. For almost any ride more than a few miles in length, I will also don a pair of old bike shorts, as well as my cleated shoes. This would not be the case on that fateful day, and it would prove most unfortunate. 

Not long after we were rolling the section East of Walmart, I veered off trail to follow Jakob. My tennis-shoe clad feet slipped off the pedals just as I was making a crucial change of hand position on the bars. This unique set of circumstances led me to fall, not forward, straddling the top tube as is usually the case, but instead to drop from a standing position and land squarely on the top of my saddle. Once the stars cleared, and I reintroduced oxygen into my lungs, Jakob had come back to inquire as to my delay. Between gasps, I managed to utter something about needing a moment to gather myself. It would be some time before I could sit down again, and even longer before I recovered from the gut wrenching waves of nausea that followed. 

What does this mean to you? Nothing more than a reminder to properly suit up before EVERY ride. Whether 1 mile or 100 miles, you never know when tragedy will strike. It's somewhat comical to ponder, had I failed to have "the surgery" after Jake was born, this might have done the job, and at no cost. Oh well, at least I had a number of bags of frozen peas on hand :)

As for tomorrow night, the weather is, well, perplexing. While the academic folk are predicting cold, clear and a chance of light winds, it is, after all, FAT TUESDAY FAT TIRE TACO TUESDAY (FTFT3). This will no doubt bring a storm surge to the forecast. I plan to come prepared for all conditions, including donning my most festive nappy. Beads optional, padded protection mandatory! 


Chance of Rain:
ENE at 3 mph
UV Index:
0 - Low
0 in
5:37 pm
8:41 pm

Waxing Crescent
Clear skies. Low 32F. Winds light and variable

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lounge Ride

The chit chat started early. From the injured reserve roster, UL showed up at the M Lot for a send-off. He is reported to be comfortably ambulating and out of his shell. Unfortunately, blog dodgers RG and LX (XT was downgraded) no longer find it fashionable to stop at the M Lot and so did not receive the pre-ride blessing. Only C’n was on hand to pilot the fun bus, carpooling slackers B and nc to the K Lot.

The PreBR flag had been hoisted on the back of NH’s tailgate, so the conversational pace was maintained while we sheathed ourselves in lycra, wool and leather. NH was quick to claim the duty of RL and made for the Qualifier. His leadership was called into question when he remembered his truck was left unlocked. As he turned back into the Lot, C’n, abhorring a leadership vacuum, prepared to mount a coup. However, LX intervened by pulling a trials move onto the lighted EID sign and blowing out a tire on a rebar spike. We all returned to the Lot, so we could relax in our warming jackets while the repair was completed.

By 7:30 we finally were on our bikes and climbing hard up the qualifier. C’n and Ba sang snips of blues and punk and general idle chatter was a constant up to the radio tower above Park Creek rd. NH was on a quest for the last patches of snow. Too zealously aiming North, he dropped us towards the reservoir, but collective wisdom lead us back to the Chopping Block. Pools of mud marred the flume road, but the climb was free of snow. Back on Park Creek it was announced that our ride was approaching its bedtime. B and I commiserated that the ride was just warming up. But the hour was late so we raced the power line to a qualifier finish.

After accusing us of short riding, Mother Rye produced a bounty of goodness. Spinach dip with bread, chickenbake, and guacamole with chips all arrived before tacos. New sauces were savored and surplus tacos lingered as all were stuffed on the extras.