Forgive the lateness of this post as we have had some technical issues which have been fixed!!!
This past Friday night, my teammate Tim and I made the drive down to Oracle, AZ to participate in one of the greatest mountain bike races ever!Â I am of course talking about the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.Â Even before getting to 24 Hour Town, we already had one victory under our belts.Â Our team was listed in the race newspaper as having one of the top 15 team names.Â The name of our team was “El Fuego En Mis Pantelones!!!” which translates to “The Fire In My Pants!!!”Â The rest of the team consisted of my dad and good friend Dave Benjes.
Upon our arrival at our campsite, which my dad had been courageously holding down since Thursday morning, at around 10pm we proceeded to unpack my car, get situated, grab some food.Â The next, and most important task at hand was to get some adult beverages and go see what was going on around town.Â To my dismay, not many teams were up “carb loading” for the next day’s race.Â We ended up hanging out at the Kona tent around their fire, listening to obnoxiously loud old school punk rock and David Allen Coe, and enjoying some more beverages.Â I made it back to my sleeping bag in the back of my station wagon at around 2am.
The insanity of the 24hrs in the Old Pueblo starts with the blast of a shotgun at high noon and a 400 yard run in riding shoes down a dirt road to where the bikes are waiting. Being the my team’s captain, I chose to do the run. I am not really a runner (except for cyclocross of course), so by the time I made it to where my bike was parked, I was almost delirious and almost ran past it. Had it not been for the yelling of my teammates, I believe that I would have done this. Anyway, once on the bike, the start was slow because the road was jammed with runners still yet to find their bikes. Once clearing the other runners, it was out onto the trail. It blew my mind that while riding and looking in front of me, all I saw was hundreds of riders, the view to the rear was the same thing.
The first lap is a slightly modified one compared to the ones that would be competed later in the race. It started out with dirt road as opposed to single track for the first couple of miles. This was done because it would be a bit rude to send approximately 500 racers straight onto single track at the start.
The race course starts with a section of trail affectionately known as “The Bitches.” The Bitches are a series of 7 or 8 climbs and descents. You blast down one side at over 30mph and then grind up the other side at what feels like less than 1mph. The 5th or 6th Bitch was also a special one. It has a natural water bar/rise in the middle of the ascent that sends one involuntarily flying through the air. From there the course enters the Corral trail, which is a tight single track blast through a forest of cholla cactus. After the Corral trail, it was onto more twisty, turny, up and down but with less cactus on the His & Hers Trail. Once one crossed the main road into 24hr Town you were onto the Highpoint trail which took you up to the aptly named high point of the course. From there is was a downhill blast along Solo Alley in 24hr Town and then to the fork in the trail. At this fork, you go left and you get to go over in infamous rock face, take the right and you go around the rock face. The right turn at the fork was actually faster than the rock face route, but it was not as much fun. From there it was into the transition tent and hand off of the baton to the next rider.
My team chose not to race too hard and instead chose to experience all that Old Pueblo has to offer. Translationâ€¦we only did one night lap. After Tim returned to camp from the night lap, we got some food and then got loaded up for some more camp hopping. Loading up consisted of me putting about 6 beers and Â¾ of a handle of Sailor Jerry spiced rum into my backpack. From our camp, we proceeded to go out and make some new friends. Many new friends were made around many a camp fire all over 24hr Town. The evening’s activities ended in much the same way as the previous nightsâ€¦with me stumbling back into camp at around 130am.
Once the sun came up on Sunday morning, we decided to get some food and then go do a couple more laps. I went out for the first of our final two laps and was pleased to realize that I had no hangover! I completed my lap at around 1045am, which gave Tim the perfect timing to finish his lap at just after noon, and therefore officially complete the race for the team. In the end, team El Fuego En Mis Pantelones!!! ended up completing 8 laps, with the breakdown being: 3 laps: Tim and I, 1 lap: Dad and Dave. We also managed to not finished last, which is saying a lot because we didn’t really ride at night. We finished in 120th place out of 130 in the 4 Man open division.
All in all great times were had by all! There were no injuries or major mechanical issues for the team.