What a race it was folks. I was in it to win it. After driving 1500 miles non-stop from the east coast to Amarillo, TX with a day of rest. I was truly tested on my endurance abilities. It was like doing 2-24hr races with a day in between, psycho endurance is more like it. I limped out of the Palo Duro Canyon with a great sense of accomplishment. The course beat me to the point that I have cancelled my next race due to some nagging injuries that I can’t afford to fester further from another 24 hr race so closely scheduled, which I knew might be a gamble from the beginning. I have a big race in August that requires me once again to be at my best. I did show up in Texas in shape and eager to go. My plan was to tap into my primal and roll it nonstop. That I did to plan, which allowed me to reel out 24 laps in 22hr18min. Along the way I grabbed the single speed record while winning the overall single speed and the overall solo male title (geared riders included). That isn’t bad especially considering my 30 hour drive a day previous. I could have done another lap or two but it wasn’t needed, thank goodness.
I would like to highlight some things that stood out to me about this race. First, this is one of the best organized races I have seen. The crew with the 24 hrs in the Canyon have it dialed in and are some of the nicest people you will meet. Along with putting on an amazing race they are raising money for a cancer survivorship clinic and I believe they raised somewhere around $200,000, very cool indeed. Not only is there a 24 hour mountain bike race going on in the Palo Duro Canyon but at the same time there is a 24 hour road race going down, crazy. These folks pull it off in grand style, amazing. I would also like to note that the crew was very accommodating. After I was finished and pulverized might I add, one of the volunteers graciously drove me back to my campground to get my truck so that I wouldn’t have to ride my bike another mile. I’m very appreciative of that gesture, which was above and beyond. I thank you crew and volunteers, cheers to you. Second, the trails were simply amazing. Some of the best flow I have flown along. The setting inside the canyon was beautiful and I found it to have characteristics of what you would find in the Utah landscape. One moment you will be flying along on a sweeping and pumpy section that will kick you out on a pitchy rock strewn climb that is short but steep. The next moment you find yourself up against the canyon wall with sharp and narrow track while pumping up through a section that requires an all out effort to be rewarded with a column that has a huge boulder precariously balancing atop it. I found it very easy to get distracted with the unique landscape. The course was very fast but it made you work and over the 24 hours it will make you feel the effects one must endure to complete a 24 hour race. I was rewarded every lap with beautiful and sometimes mesmerizing scenery. Lets not forget about the tarantulas and lizards that will chase you around the trails. I liked to call them the trail police while I was out there finding myself wanting to doze. Third, the racers I found to be very nice and supportive. As I was out there pushing myself to the brink, it was very common to hear words of support and encouragement. This I find to be common across the country in the mountain bike race community. It is very much alive in Texas.
If you are looking for a 24 hour race to do, I highly recommend the 24 hours in the Canyon. You will be rewarded with an amazing setting in the Palo Duro Canyon which I understand to be the 2nd largest canyon in the US. You will also be welcomed by a group of amazingly kind and supportive folks. The trails will be something you might not have ever thought would exist in this section of the country and you will leave there going “WOW”!
I find myself in Mexico still recovering a bit from the effects of this race. I have more travels awaiting me and more riding/racing to be done. I look back on this race as one I won’t soon forget. It gave me all I wanted and then some. The heat was tough as I was baked through by the end and the sand did a number on my paws that I will feel for a while. This victory was earned as all of the good ones are by suffering and persevering through to the end. I find this very fitting especially for the 24 hours in the Canyon as it continues to raise awareness and funds for an ever more important battle going on and one that is far more important than any suffering one might endure during a race and that is CANCER. Keep up the good fight. It is a worthy battle to see through to the end. I salute all of you that are doing just that for you are the true warriors.
This win I dedicate to my father (survivor).