Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cowboy Country

The desert is as beautiful as it is intimidating.

Yesterday I did my own version of the dirty double with the Hedgehog Hustle Marathon MTB race in the morning and the Old Pueblo Grand Prix in the evening.

I can't type much because I think my thumb is broken, which I'm going to check out after this update:

The marathon race was in the middle of the desert, hot and slippery as hell. Marathon format is 3.5 hours + finish the lap you're on. This was a 9.4 mile loop that averaged 42-44 minutes each loop... So the fastest guys ended up doing 5 loops, 47 miles in about 3:45. 

I crashed on the first lap's mountain descent after a small jump sent me straight into a boulder laying me and my bike out on a bed of rocks ripping up my knee, elbow, shin, and jamming my thumb hard. Pretty bummed I haven't got my Full Suspension carbon MTB yet, but really fortunate I've been able to put my metal hardtail to the test, and it has passed always looking better off than myself at the finish line. 

I would have known about this danger had I seen it while pre-riding the course during twilight the day before. But, I got lost in the desert after I sliced my rear tire on a rock and had to hike 6 miles in the dark going off course to try and make it back to camp before I got bit by a rattlesnake or ate by a bobcat or mountain lion. 

Rule number 1: Don't ever leave the trail. 
Rule number 2: Don't ride alone in the dark. Especially without lights. If it can get dark, it probably will.
Rule number 3: always pack enough gear to fix a disaster if you ignore rule Number 2. 


I didn't give up but lost considerable time to that crash but really struggled to shift for the remainder because my thumb likely has a fracture with it being twice as big as the other opposable this morning. I put in a hot lap on the final lap sitting in 4th place when everyone else was starting to fade (which I only saw after the race on the lap splits) and managed to get in striking distance of 3rd place at the top of the fire road climb only a mile from the finish. I recorded my fastest descent back into the valley fueled mostly by the desert delirium of riding in 4th place alone for 3 hours almost crashing multiple times to stay within a few meters of 3rd and entering the final sprint shute way too fast.

The final sprint comes in gated with 50 meters straightaway into a hard 100 degree washy turn into a 50 meter sprint. I almost crashed in this segment using the full degree of the turn hitting the legs of the fencing every lap prior. I had higher pressure tires than normal to try and avoid flatting in the desert and this put me at a disadvantage. But as we hit the apex of the turn to set up the sprint the 3rd place rider washed out in front of me as I coasted on his inside in for 3rd place in a very exciting close margin finish for a podium spot in my first Marathon MTB race!

Only 1st gets to put up both hands!

Now the short story, hopefully... 

After waiting 2 hours in the desert for the awards ceremony Dan and I hightailed it from Phoenix to Tucson for the Old Pueblo Grand Prix. This was a 75 minute Pro/1 criterium race on the road bike. I'm a stubborn dude wanting to prove I could handle the tall task of the dirty double arriving to the race 20 minutes until staging bandaged up and nursing my thumb. 

I got in a solid hour of "motor-pacing" and sprint backs in the race as I could not corner well enough to consider moving up in the field risking myself and others with limited handling of my bike and yo-yo'd myself from the field until I pulled the plug with 15 minutes remaining. It was a hard workout, but I'm glad I got to take some parade laps and have people cheer for "Mustache(-io)" when they didn't know my real name. 

The mustache can be a burden when people root for you just for the distinguishing characteristic of a hairy upper lip, in an otherwise undistinguishable flash of color and spandex, when you know you can't give them a show. I promise to not take the line without the ability to take a flyer or finish ever again! 

It was still worth it to me as I got a lot of love from fellow racers and others that knew what I had went through that day. Hell, I woke up in a Wal-Mart parking lot earlier that morning with only McDonald's as a breakfast option, Chick-fil-a as a post MTB race food option, and a ton of other things working against me from the night before (Waffle House) and the day of. But it was a pretty amazing day and although I might be sidelined for a week or two from racing with a splint, I'll still get to train and keep working towards my big goals in California at the end of the month.

Wheel bag privacy for cowboy camping at Wal-Mart.

It's been a wild ride so far and I'm really happy with where I'm at right now.

Enjoy the ride and ride safe,

No comments:

Post a Comment