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The race team reflects on the Pow Wow

When the temperature gauge on Erik's truck was flashing between the number 30, and the word "ice" as we pulled into Blackstar, I knew it would be a true vision quest for me. As we all discovered, the weather was flawless despite the downpour on Friday and the chilly start line. The high points include the amazing sunrise, the ss Niner scoffing at the muddy sections, speeding down the Motorway and the Holy Jims, and seeing the volunteers at each station. Low points include hoofing it out to horsethief, then hoofing some more up horsethief, smashing the elbow, a cramp here and there, and the jarring spin out the HJ road. The best part? Erik shaving off two and half hours!

-Leslie Williams

My 3rd VQ attempt held the same emotion and fear that my 1st did, perhaps more. All ignorance gone, I was left with my bike and my motor, me.

Having switched to an entirely different mode of preparation for this years event, I was excited and fearful that the new system would "work."

Lots of time in the saddle and lots of disciplined preparation helped me gear up for the day of reckoning.

The mud seemed just as difficult as the previous year, but my fitness allowed my mind to stay positive. I reached aid #1 in a rather slow time, but pressed on w/out stopping regardless. Watching 1-5th place pass me on my ascent to the peak gave me pause to examine my own fitness gains in light of these top athletes prowess, wow. As I descended HJ, I knew my time was much faster than previous years, much. And I knew that I had the juice to keep it going.

Reaching West Horse Thief was no easier this years, except for knowing Calvin's positive attitude would greet me, and it did. I pressed on up the horrid grade. It wasn't easier this time, just the same, one step at a time. 52 minutes later I reached the top, passed the still raw burger and pressed on for Trabuco. Now I knew my time was in another league from previous years...but descending Trabuco was not the place to make up still more time. Instead, I just enjoyed the ride. This years VQ meant a much faster time than before, but the potency of the experience was similar. I pushed myself to my limit...my new limit. I had a fabulous experience doing so and watching others do the same.

-Erik Williams

I was up all night waiting for the time to come. I got out of bed, went over to Blackstar and rode through the bitter cold darkness to the start. The mud on Blackstar sucked I was trying to keep the same pace as usual but the mud was tireing me out too early in the race so I slowed down. I got to Beeks and cruised on over towards the motorway, I went through a mud puddle and heard ssssssss, I had flatted. I suck at fixing flats so it took me a while to fix it and I was on my way again. I went down the motorway and clipped a rock with my rear wheel - I had flatted again! I got to aid station one at 8:30. I refueled and was on my way again. I was feeling good having a great time most of the way to the peaks, but the thought of the next cut-off coming up fast was starting to worry me. I got upper Holy Jim, the new reroute is awesome! I descended lower Holy Jim faster than ever I cleaned most of the switchbacks, I thought to myself don't go too fast another pinch flat could stop me from making the cut off. My pedals were full of mud and when someone if front of me stopped I fell over and banged against the rocks twice, but kept going. I got to the first stream and I got the worst cramp of my life, it was bad all I cold do is hop until it finally went away. I made the second cut off with 25 extra minutes. West Horse thief was longer and harder than ever, the burger at the top kept me going. Just put one foot in front of the other. My asthma was starting to get to me and I could only take short breaths but I made it. Then I cruised on over to Trabuco and eventually to the finish, I finished in 10 hours and 30 minutes. I was s o happy, I've never had so much fun; I was smiling the entire time. It was a Vision Quest I will never forget.

-Matthew Nourmohamadian

I'll be racing an 8-day race in July and each stage is not too different from the VQ as far as distance and amount of climbing per day so my goal was to maintain a pace that I could comfortably keep if I had to do it back-to-back for 8 straight days.  I think I'm pretty close to getting it down; just need some fine-tuning.  Anyway, everything was fun until I crashed at full speed while chasing down 4th place on the way to the finish line.  I forgot to "keep right" when crossing water—my bad.  I asked a guy who was watching the race and saw me crash if I could borrow his front wheel to get to the finish. He scoffed and said, "Maybe if this was a world cup race but this is just the Vision Quest."  Just the VQ. How do you explain it to someone who has perhaps never pushed himself before? To all those who were out there challenging themselves in one way or another this weekend, NICE JOB!

-Mario Correa

Mario's complete report

The 2006 Vision Quest was a really awesome and new experience for me. My girlfriend, Carol Ann, flew out from Tennessee for the event and arrived in town on Thursday night. We quickly got her bike in order and settled into prepping for the ride. I had told her early on that I intended to ride with her for the whole event. If she quit, I'd quit. If she stopped for food, I'd stop.

I knew it would be a challenge for both of us. For her, the ride itself was a challenge. For me, it was a challenge to see the ride from an out-of-towners eye…which means recognizing it for how hard it is. Riding these trails everyday has diminished the mental difficulty of the VQ for me….I know every climb, every mile, every turn. I know exactly how hard I can go….I know when to walk…..I know how much to eat. Don't get me wrong, the VQ is still a bear for me…but it's a whole pack of bears for someone from out of state who doesn't know the terrain.

Making a long story short….we finished. We stuck together for the duration of the ride, never more than 40 or 50 feet apart. At times we talked, at times we rode along silently. We had some serious conversations about life and our relationship. We also had some hilarious conversations about everyday stuff. Mostly we just spent the day riding together and talking. It was awesome. It was my most memorable VQ yet.

A few years back I raced the VQ on my singlespeed. I finished a few minutes over 7 hours and was really pleased with myself. This year we finished the VQ in somewhere around 10 hours and I couldn't be more excited about it. The feeling of accomplishing something great and meaningful is no different.

Congrats on all of you accomplishments, I hope your VQ was monumental.

-Brian Blair

So this was my first time not doing the VQ in what seems a decade. Not being a racer/rider I got to see things from a different perspective. We all know there is a lot of hard work put into the event, but I never realized the logistics truly involved. Simple things like making sure the proper people have the appropriate keys for opening the gates to the fire-roads. Making sure all the volunteers have everything they need for the racers at each of the check points. Seeing how calm Chris truly is for basically being the sole person running the ENTIRE event. Kudos to EVERYONE that helped.

Aside from the logistics the most interesting aspect of the event was the way everyone treated each other. The racers, the riders, the volunteers and the people that came to watch. I watched racers like Brian B stay back with his girlfriend and support her throughout the entire VQ. I watched (and I would like to think help) Maxwell support his daughter Lacey at the bottom of Motorway. I know he was there the whole way for her. I watched volunteers give better support than I could ever imagine; lubing chains, filling camelbacks, helping racers/riders change out of wet clothes and everything else under the sun. A spectator Tim Z from VeloSport even gave up his front wheel to help out racer Nat, who ended up finishing 8th overall (I think.)

What I got to see was people who cared. People that were there, not only for themselves but for everyone else. There is no question that athletes like Cameron and Pua are in phenomenal shape and can destroy most everyone that dares challenge them. What genuinely amazes me is the blood, sweat, love and tears that come from the athletes that are not in the top 10. This event is about finding a part of you, you never knew existed. Something that allows you to push yourself beyond your normal limits. The spirit of the event was evident throughout the whole day. I have a new appreciation for everyone out there. Thanks one and all.

-Andy "Fast on Slow Horse" Lightle

Supplements to sustain training and racing in the Vision Quest: $150
Inner tubes to survive 1,400 training miles in the Santa Ana Mountains: $175
Doctor bills to repair permanently damaged illiotibial band: $10,000
Feeling strong and finishing well at Vision Quest: Priceless

Pre-race strategy this year was to focus on better nutrition, consistent pacing and staying healthy before the event. All went well. The Cliffs notes version of race day follows:

Blackstar Canyon: Fight the urge to pin it through the mud. Pace, pace, pace.
Main Divide 1: Pedal steadily through frozen tundra with gorgeous views. Pace, pace, pace...
Motorway: Ride fast but conservative through the embedded rock sections. Don't flat.
Maple Springs: Turn it up slowly. Reel in those who went too hard initially.
Main Divide 2: Leverage the big tires' ability to roll through the rough stuff. Climb at maximum exertion.
Upper Holy Jim: Know where to walk.
Lower Holy Jim: Ride fast enough to not get caught but slow enough to not be disqualified.
Trabuco/West Horsethief: Maintain consistent forward motion. Ride wherever possible.
Main Divide 3: Spend whatever is left.
Trabuco to finish: Don't flat, don't crash, don't get caught.

- Josh Jacquot

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