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24 Hours in the Old Pueblo 2005

By Mario Correa

PRERACE: I got to the venue on Friday around 1pm and met my buddy Scott. I setup the canopy, unloaded the truck, then Scott and I rode the course. It started to rain when we were 2/3rds of the way around the course, a foreshadowing of what was in store. My legs didn't feel 100%, tired from the new training routine I'd been doing, but it didn't worry me much.

RACE: I started out fine and eased into a good rhythm. I had my bike computer mounted until the night so I could get a gauge of effort/lap time relations for the night when I wouldn't be able to use it.

Minutes to start I had a flat one lap maybe the 5th or 6th, but I was too close to my pit to stop and I didn't want to fix a flat in the dark so I just road it out slowly, there was still plenty of time to race. I was having a great time, but maybe a little too much fun as I almost knocked myself out of the race!

Come 10 pm-ish I was having my Kobinator (Lou Kobin) recommended dinner and I was ready to hit the night laps. Well, that lap started out really fun but turned into the lap from hell. I had just switched from my helmet light to a bar light and I was thinking "wow I feel great", that helmet light must weigh a ton. Then I reach for a sip of my bladder and oops I forgot to take it. I can't turn around so I figure let's see how this turns out and make the most of it. So I'm riding the 7 B's and on one of the downhills I come up on a water bottle. Slam on the breaks, hop off the bike, and run back up the hill to get it. SCORE! it's 2/3 rds full of water. So I'm happy that I found some water and since I'm not really carrying much I'm flying. It's raining, mud is flying everywhere, and I'm passing some women riders when I crash at speed and slide a ways in the mud. I hop up immediately, "Everything is cool, proceed with your racing ladies. I'm just testing out some new gear....I'm a solo racer...we're like that." I'm a little further on and I reach for my Perpetuem flask but no flask. It fell out when I ate it. Ok no big deal. I finally get to the singletrack. A down pour just finished (it was off and on in the night) and the trail, being the gradient in many places, was flowing with water and some of the stream crossings that used to be dry were bottom bracket high with water. I'm zipping along really fast with water splashing everywhere. I hadn't had so much fun riding in the rain since I was a kid. (We used to see who could ride across the longest puddle of water we could find without losing momentum. My cousins and I would get home and my Grandma and Mom would be mad, like take off your close before you come in the house mad. =) Anyway, I start thinking that all the splashing might not be good for my light since it started to flicker a little. I had just come up on a rider and was waiting for a spot to pass then I realized that my light indicated it was on but I had no light. Crap. Break out the little AA battery powered emergency light from my jacket Pit boss, Maui pocket and try to fiddle with the cables, maybe one is loose. It's not working too well so I put it in my mouth so I can use both hands. Bad idea. It falls out and as soon as it hits the ground it goes out. Doesn't come back on. Cool!! I've got no lights. I wait for the next rider so I can tag along but that doesn't last long. So I slow it down and ride on what I think is the trail. Of course I'm running over cholla and after a little while I can feel the front tire is low. Ahh no big deal I'll just keep riding. Finally some guy who is going super slow catches me and is willing to let me tag along to the next emergency station/car since he's got no brakes.

So I get to this 4x4 where I ask the guy inside if he has a rag so I can dry off my lights. The fellow I've been riding with asks about canceling his lap and how to get back to the camp. I borrow his pump (because my CO2 doesn't work...the air chuck is jammed with mud), take out the cholla needle, and put in a new tube. The whole time I'm shaking like a leaf..I can't stop. The guy is just about to call in that I'm going to cancel my lap (it wouldn't have been so bad because at that point I wasn't too far from camp and I could pickup a new light and head out again in 30 minutes or so.) but I tell him to hold up so I can test my lights. Only the emergency light works but that's good enough for me. So I head out on the course again trying to follow riders as close as I can since this light is pretty weak for night MTB riding. Get to more single track and the front starts to feel squishy again. Dang. Another flat. I keep riding until I remember that these are my new rims. No pump, no tubes, and quite a distance from camp so I'm walking. At first I'm just walking in silence while riders pass, thinking about my options. Walking, walking, walking...someone asks if I have any gel because he is bonking hard. "Sorry." Then I start asking if anyone passing has a tube and if so a pump. Finally, some guy who says he's having bad back spasms stops to help me out. There's no needle so I must have pinched it when I put it in before. Again I'm shaking from the cold as we're fixing the flat. He doesn't mind riding slow and letting me follow. We're almost back to camp I hit a dip and the emergency light comes off the handlebar mount. I'm feeling around on the ground trying to find it without success. Fortunately, another rider comes up shortly afterwards, he shines his light around the area, and I'm good to go again. I finally get back to my pit after was seemed like hours.

Shaun after lap 7 After eating, changing my light for a backup helmet light, and getting into something dry for the first time since the start, I'm out on the course again. I'm back at my pit in 1:40 which up to that time (not including the lap from hell) was my slowest lap from pit back to pit according to our time. My bike is slowly starting to wear from all the mud. I only had a few gears and to shift I needed to slow down and use a death grip with my left hand (my right was already extremely fatigued) and shift. My break pads were virtually gone. I forgot to put on the pads I use down in Costa Rica that are virtually indestructible. As luck would have it my buddy Shaun, who was racing solo for the first time comes back to the pit, and I tell him that I need his help badly...he used to be a bike mechanic back in the day. So while he's running around to see if anyone has extra break pads I'm eating again and resting.

At some point during the previous three laps I did something to aggravate my shin... the one I jacked in the Transrockies race. It hurt enough that I had to tape it up. As I was doing that it starts to rain really hard and the wind picks up. So much so that three of us have to hold on to the canopy. I'm eating again while Shaun is spraying WD40 all over my cables/shifter to try to make it easier to shift (all this inside the canopy) and all I can think about is damn I bet we're going to blow ourselves up. We had propane stoves, lanterns, and heaters going. My shin is starting to hurt more now but I figure I should try another lap to see if it gets worse or not. I'm waiting for the rain to die down while in the tent of another friend, Scott, that is in the pit next door. They have a HUGE propane heater and it feels really good to sit right in front of it.

Scott and Shaun I'm warmed up and ready to do another lap. It's FREEZING! The shifting still sucks but it's a little better. The sky has cleared up and the stars look cool but the temps keep dropping. I have on a long sleeve base layer, a long sleeve light fleece jersey and my jacket and I can still feel the cold. So I'm riding through the cholla and I hit something with my right foot... Ouch, Shit, *&#$, F*$K!!! After a few minutes the pain goes away because of the cold. (I found out later that I hit a Cholla and a needle went straight through my shoe right into the front of my little toe. Crap that hurts.) On the saddle near the camp it's really windy...burrr. I'm glad I got some new lobster gloves before the race. I get back to camp and there are only a few lights on and a lot of bikes that have seen better days lying about the camp. I only saw about 20 riders that lap if that.

Shaun and our pit guy, Maui, are asleep when I get back. Josh has been asleep for a few hours now. Lucky bastards! I'm cold and my shin is worse than before so I decide to change again and sit in my truck while I decide if I should continue on or call it a day and not risk loosing alot of training time. I startup my truck, turn on the heater (at this point you should be up out of your chair saying, "Don't do it. Don't do it. What the hell are you thinking?") and pull out the MP3 player so I can think about what I'm going to do next. Unfortunately, I accidentally fall asleep!!

The commotion of Maui helping Shaun and Josh getting ready to ride again wakes me up. DAMN! What time is it? The sun is up! I'm out of my truck seeing who else is up and a relative of Scott's asks me, "What are you doing?"
"What are you doing? You're in 6th place!"
"6th place" (What I didn't know at the time was that I was really in 8th place but when the guy saw the screen last I was in 6th) Well shit, if some guys want to move up they're going to have to work for it. Screw the freaking shin.

I changed quickly and at 7:45 I'm heading out back on course. I squeezed in 4 more laps before I was done and that moved me into 5th and onto the podium. (Sorry team no photos.)

The conditions were pretty tough on my bike; my rear D pulleys are gone. They usually have teeth but mine are pretty much round! My bike is going to need a complete overhaul this weekend.

I'm happy with how things turned out. I had a lot of fun. It was a "B" race for me so I didn't want to go out and kill myself. My goal was top 5 and I wanted to start off the year on a positive note so I opted to risk jacking up my shin as my big races aren't till later in the year so I could afford some loss of training in the worse case. The only thing I would do over is decide beforehand what I'd do in certain situations. I should have decided what I'd do in case my shin was giving me problems so I didn't have to waste time and accidentally fall asleep.

Next up, the Vision Quest. We'll see how much I can recover in two weeks.


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