1st at 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest

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24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest (photo credit: Gillen Photography)

Whoa!!! What a vacation: 42oo mile road trip, pristine camping in Cloudcroft, sunset in the White Sands, 1st at the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest on the ONE SPEED, lots of green and red chile burritos, a fabulous trek at Tent Rocks and an amazing time bouncing all around New Mexico from one side to another with my super lady Jess Moore!

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Christmas Time

Zia Rides has a formula and it has vibe. I have gotten to know Seth, race director, and he knows how to put on a competitive event filled with fun that satisfies everyone with entertainment, food, drink and hospitality. I have done two of his events now and I’m super stoked every time I line up at a  Zia Rides event. I highly recommend trying one of his multiple mountain bike endurance events and you will be better for it, trust me.

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Church Rock-Gallup, NM

Located just outside of Gallup, NM at the USFS McGaffey Campground the course was a beauty set at 8000 feet above sea level in the beautiful Zuni Mountains among beautiful pine and aspen trees. A lap consisted of 13.5 miles and just over 900 feet of elevation gain. The lap started off with a flowy section that climbs up in the middle and ends with a flowy descent back to the start. I chose a rigid setup and again I overestimated my ability to absorb punishment over a 24 period. The middle of the course was rocky in sections and a rocky descent near the end that over time punished me like an old school teacher slapping your hand with a ruler back in the day when you spoke out of turn. That being said, a lot of the other riders that I talked to said it beat them down over time as well even with suspension. Dust was a huge issue being in such a dry climate and I rode a lot of the day laps with a bandana wrapped around my face to filter it out looking like I was about to rob a train. I recommend wearing one in settings such as these especially at the beginning when the line of riders is like a herd of cattle being rustled into a corral. The dust even with glasses on made its way into my eyes and they stayed irritated and red for several days after the race. In the end a 24 hour race is a beat down and you should expect no less if you are going at it solo. That is what makes a solo a SOLO! The course was a beauty as it wrapped around and slid through the Zuni high desert landscape.

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The field of single speeders was a solid one and the winner from last year was present so I knew that I would have to stay focused and drive steady. With Jess in my corner I knew I could do just that. The temperatures were a beast out there ranging from a high of 100 during the day and dropping to 40 in the wee hours of the morning. My body was going through spasms at times due to the extreme changes out there on course throughout the day and night. Jess kept me massaged and kept me hydrated and nourished throughout the race. I truly couldn’t have done it without her caring and prompt attention. As the race commenced, I held a steady pace with quick pits and eventually built up a lead of 2 laps on the second place single speeder. I also was in the overall lead out of all solo riders, geared, by one lap. After 20 hours of beating my body on the rigid single speed I decided that my lead was strong enough to call it and enjoy some libations. An amazing race in a spectacular setting. One of the strongest performances in my racing career. The racers were truly top-notch and very mannerful. I met some solid racers out on course and I look forward to riding  with them again. Seth runs a top notch organization and it shows out there on the course and the racers adopt that sensibility. I can’t wait to get out to New Mexico again and race another Zia Rides event.

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A few highlights on the course: dodging of cows at all hours, bacon at the Bacon Station, a beautiful setting in the Zuni Mountains, 200 miles in 20 hours on rip-roaring single track, my light going out on me during the middle of the course at 3 a.m., flowy trails like Y2K that make you grin from ear to ear, friendly and respectful racers at all times out on the course, a great race organization that thought of everything that made everyone’s weekend one to remember, and having Jess in my corner always smiling!

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Whites Sands

This was a big win for many reasons. One, it is always a huge satisfaction when you can drive across the country and take a win in a setting that you are not familiar with in regards to temperatures, climate and elevation. Second, the 24 hours in the Enchanted Forest is the first race in a 3 part series to crown the 24 National Champion in Geared and Single Speed Solo formats. Since USAC disbanded the 24 Hour crown, Seth and a group of other race directors decided to put together a new championship to honor those that are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones to endure 24 hours of punishment. Being that I won the first race in the series, I now lead the charge towards the crown for the single speed national championship. The next race is in Oregon which is followed by the final race in Utah. I’m considering the chase as I feel like these opportunities don’t come around often. We shall see so stay tuned!

Thanks again to all of my sponsors for equipping me with the best. When you are a solo rider in an endurance format it makes a really big difference knowing that you can depend on your equipment for 24 hours without a hiccup. Zia Rides for going above and beyond to put on a stellar event. Most of all I want to thank Jess for traipsing around the country and being in my corner. Without her I would be a ragged mess and wouldn’t be able to reach my full potential.

A great vacation it was and one that will go down in the memory book of awesomeness!

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Tent Rocks

Cheers New Mexico!

 

1st Overall at 24 Hours of DINO

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Versailles State Park in Indiana is where it all went down. This park is beautiful and I really have to commend Indiana on a job well done. The terrain was an up and down affair on a course consisting of 13 mile laps with a 1000 feet of elevation gain per lap. I was impressed with the course, which consisted of a good mix of everything a mountain biker craves from ruggedness to flat-out ripping berms. I chose to race single speed [rigid]…note to self, “Idiot”! The course had a lot more rock and technical terrain then what I was anticipating and I felt it in the end. It is very difficult to complete a 24 hour race without support in the pits. Jess ran the pits for me and did an exceptional job keeping me on the go for 24 hours. The DINO crew put on a stellar event and I recommend their races. The 24 hours of DINO had a 6 hour and 12 hour option if you didn’t have 24 hours of abuse to spare.

The race started with a short run with either your saddle or a wheel around the pool to your bike. Once my front wheel was attached I began my 24 hours of nonstop boogie woogie. I settled into a steady pace with an emphasis on pace control. 24 hours is a long time and pacing is key. The key is to always move no matter how slow you get. Once you stop it becomes very difficult to get going again. This was even more true as the low reached down to 45 degrees that night. I was able to adhere to my plan and with Jess and the Grave Yard Shift Sergeant running the pits my pit stops were always smooth and quick. DSC_4567

This allowed me to always be on the move. My goal was to get 200 miles. The course was a lot of fun but it beats you up after 24 hours and because I’m so smart and ran a rigid fork the beating was compounded. As I type this report my hands are still numb. I don’t recommend a rigid fork on this course for 24 hours. What was I to do though as I couldn’t ride wheelies for 200 miles, so I adopted my new favorite mantra of “Suck it up, Cupcake!”. About 12 hours in to the race I was told that I had the overall lead. The DINO crew thought that I was a 12 hour racer and was confused as to why I went back out for another lap at midnight. Come to find out had I done the 12 hour race I would have won the overall solo.DSC_4563

My pace was solid throughout the race and I was pleased with my fitness. In August I raced short and fast races successfully with little emphasis on endurance. My endurance seemed to be right on as I went through the night without issue. My nutrition was good and no gut distress was experienced. I think I have honed that process down to what works for me in these types of races. The issue I dealt with that caused the greatest struggle was the impact of plowing down the rocky and rooty sections on the course. The rigid fork beat me and it really became a struggle to hang on at times. Due to the exposure on some parts of the trail and the bone rattling my body was feeling, I had some moments where I thought I was going to have to eject due to loss of control. In the end, I was able to hang on and this cupcake did suck it up. I won the single speed and overall male title. I completed 208 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing on a strong course in 21.5 hours. I could have done 2 more laps but there was no need as my pacing and steady movement afforded me that luxury and my rigor mortis stricken body was thankful to unsaddle from the bike.

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I’m always impressed with the mountain bike endurance community in regards to how the racers are generous and positive out there on the trail. This held true at the 24 hours of DINO. I ran into a buddy of mine, Matt Curry, and it was great catching up with him as he took 2nd place in the Solo Male Division. Nothing but good vibes from me to the DINO race scene. I had a great time and it is always special to have Jess in my corner. I have had an exceptional year racing and I want to thank all of my sponsors for their support.

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I have been running the Loaded X-lite Ultra Carbon 29 Wheelset this year. They have been remarkable. I have won more than a few races on them this year from XC to 24 Hours. Here is the process in which Loaded creates and describes one of their master pieces…“Ultra light weight, ultra durable. Utilizing the state of the art manufacturing processes and cutting edge technology, Loaded Precision has produced quite possibly the strongest and lightest tubeless carbon fiber mountain bike rims available today. They use a Carbon Knitting Technique (CKT), securing the carbon layers together through a refined knitting and bonding process. All X-lite Ultra Rims feature True Bead Technology- Loaded’s very own Tubeless System that provides an efficient interface between the tire and rim for easy installation and inflation”. The way they hook up and respond is amazing. The lateral stiffness is impressive when railing through turns and berms. I have to admit I have never had a wheelset that responds and holds like these babies. They seem to track exceptionally well no matter what you throw at them. The trueness of the wheel seems to never get thwarted. Durable they are as I have pounded them all year-long on a rigid fork setup. They are light and incredibly strong as you should expect. Mounting tubeless tires up is easy and I recommend Trucker Co tire sealant, the best cream tire sealant in the universe.

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Suck it up, Cupcake!

1st at 24 Hrs in the Canyon

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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.

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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. image 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. imageOne 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. imageThe 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”! image

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.

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This win I dedicate to my father (survivor).