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12 Hours of Bootleg

by Mario Correa

The course at Bootleg Canyon was rocky and shredded many tires over the course of the day, but fun nevertheless. The temperature hit triple digits but that didn't discourage the solo riders that showed up to ride the great course that Tom, the race promoter, laid out. Next year I'm definitely taking a full suspension bike but this year I didn't have any choice but to ride a hardtail.

Like most of my other races this year I had to deal with bike issues before the race and mechanicals during the race. Dealing with crap seems to be the theme for this year-- makes everything a little more interesting. :-) One week before the race the guys from The Path told me that my backup bike, the 2002 S-works FSR that I had to bring out of retirement (after the Racer-X was stolen), had two cracks in it. The only other bike I could conceivably race was an old '96 full rigid Kona Cinder Cone that I used to use as a commuter. I swapped out the rigid fork, cantilever brakes, stem, handlebars, and wheels but I left on the 8-speed shifters and cassette. I borrowed parts from the S-works as Dr Frankenstein and Frankensteina well as my 30+ pound trainer. I put on a new saddle, new tires that I got specifically for the course, installed the fork I got from my teammate Mike and used the wheels I got from La Ruta Lou. After a short while in the lab... errr garage, I was ready to test out my new creation—Frankensteina. With the exception of a much-needed middle chainring and cassette, it was better than I thought it would be.

I passed up taking a spin around the course on Friday to swing by Interbike with Mark from Solo Tequila. On the way to Boulder City I stopped by his place and thanks to Cristina I ate the best pre-race dinner I've ever had. By 8pm I'm pulling into the hotel parking lot and pass by a police car that had just pulled someone over at the lot entrance. It's not more than a couple of minutes later, as I'm standing in line to check-in that a hail of gunfire interrupts my train of thought. Whoa!!!

From the sound of it both sides unloaded everything they had. I think the entire Boulder City police force arrived on scene within a few minutes and cordoned off the area, including the entrance, with tape. "Is there another way out?" 'Unfortunately sir, no.' "You think that tape will be gone by 5am?" 'Oh yes.' "This isn't normal is it?" 'Noooooo.' Seems like a decent hotel along the main street through town--it's not a 4 star but it's not one of those pay by the hour places either. There's already a crowd on both sides of the street but I unload my ice before morbid curiosity gets the better of me. Some fellow tried to fight the law but the law won.

The next morning, I meet my coach, Lynda, in person for the first time (she'll race duo with her friend and fellow coach Dave Harris). I'm lined up at the start just before 8am with the other racers and I like that there's no Lemans start. Lap one goes by without a hitch. I bust a spoke near the start of lap two and by the end of the lap I have three broken spokes and a badly warped wheel. Fortunately, I took an extra rear wheel. Terry and Mark of Tequila Solo put that on as I grab my camelback for the next lap. Unfortunately, I wasn't running tubeless on my backup wheel and I double flatted on lap three. I didn't have tubes or C02. The first was about 2 miles in and Briana stopped to give me a tube. A few minutes later Nando stopped to let me use his CO2. The second flat occurred about half a mile from the start/finish so I ran with the bike until I was to a point where I could just run to my pit grab what I needed and ran back to my bike. Thanks to Danny Kam (gave me a tube), Mark and Don I was back to riding. On my penultimate lap my rear-D got caught up in the spokes and I thought my race was over. As I'm bending it back into place Cristina Begy stops and gives me a good suggestion that gets me riding again. I only have the four smaller cogs but it's better than nothing. A few miles later I rip the sidewall on the rear tire. I cover the rip with the patches from my patch kit and a small rectangular piece of plastic. It's good enough to get me back to the pit. Karl, from team Tequila Solo donates one of his teammate's (Mike Hileman) tires. It seemed like a long stop but, Terry & Don had Frankensteina back in working order quickly. I squeezed in one more lap before the sunset and was relieved to learn that I didn't have to ride another lap—the guy in second wasn't going out again.

I definitely couldn't have raced without the help of so many people:

Mike Caffery - from the Warrior Society race team who helped me strip down the S-works and partially build up Frankensteina.
Mark and Cristina Howard from Tequila Solo
Don and Heather from GO FAST - my support crew for the latter half of the race.
Cristina Begy - great suggestions.
Team Tequila Solo - Terry, Karl, Mike, and Danny.
Fellow solos Nando and Briana.
Of course, Lynda - She & Dave were second overall, less than 3 minutes behind team Tequila Solo.


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