Tuesday, February 19, 2008

VICTORY in the DESERT






Wow, that was a whirlwind weekend. What a great reminder of absolutly how great bicycle racing is. The ups and downs are so intense, nothing else makes me feel more alive.




My dad, Uncle Chris, their teamate Dustin, and I arrived in Tucson on Friday around noon only to be greeted by a freak snowstorm that was pounding the course. My depression hit rock bottom, all I wanted to do was ride, and we could not even drive down the dirt road to get back into the race. We went into Tucson and went bike shop hopping looking for some parts to finish off the 29er singlespeed my Uncle Chris had built for me to race while I am waiting to get my Fisher race bikes for the year. Those bike shops sure made me proud of the ones I work at, what a load of rubish.




It continued to snow/rain into the night, I fixed my mind that it did not matter what the conditions were I was here to race and whining about weather was not going to help my team get the job done. Saturday morning we got an early start so as to beat the traffic onto the sloppy dirt road. We eventually crawled onto the 24 hour town and started making preparations for the race. As the morning progressed it was incrementally becoming better weather. With an hour to go till start my Uncle and I rolled a few miles of the course for me to check the new bike and scope trail conditions. The singletrack was smokin fast, soft on the dirt road sections, but I was certainly pleased.




My teamate Mike, owner of M&M cycles and sponsor of our team, was leading us off. That is him on the far left of the picture below standing beside his daughter Haley, waiting for the gun.



I chatted for a second on the start line with Mike and went back to the bikes to watch the start. Right before the race started the sun broke through the clouds and flooded the desert. I got a surge of adrenaline that friethened the people I was standing beside.


Mike rolled a solid first lap coming in around 15th overall. I got the batton and crushed my 1st lap turning the 2nd fastest lap of the race putting us into the lead and most importantly a gap on the Jack Mormon Militia, our main rival. The Jack Mormons had never been defeated by another singlespeed team and usually took the overall of whatever race they went to. Mark followed me and he fell into a grove of fast consistent laps. Beto, a former Mexican Major league baseball player and a current Mexican Playa, was our anchor. He lived up, he was rock solid and incredibly fast the whole race.


We were riding straight up fast. The course was longer and tougher than in past years and it was taking its toll on everyone. With night descending we had roughly 10 minutes on the militia. I had the first official night lap, here is my Uncles handiwork with my lights getting mounted up.


There is no denying it, the night was tough. It got cold and the enormous number of racers on course made it difficult to get into a grove because you were constantly passing someone while desperetely trying not to hit cactus. But the gap was growing. Not in leaps and bounds but steady :30 seconds, a minute, lap after lap, everyone was putting time into them. It was tough and no one complained once about pulling their groggy body out of the chair and back into lycra to go as hard as they could muster into the night. Mike was hurting badly at one point and went and got a massage and recovered his strength amazingly well. After my last night lap(which was fairly lackluster), that I finished around 4:00 AM, I fell asleep for a bit and woke up to an amazing sunrise, feeling incredibly fresh for only 1:30 of sleep. I turned a solid 1:06 lap and on our final rotation we began to let ourselves think that we were really going to win. We were around 30 minutes ahead, which meant barring any serious mechanicals we were going to pull the upset. I came in at 9:37 to send Mark out, calculating the time at looked like we were going to be right on the bubble for getting out before 11:59.59 for a 21st lap. We had already decided that if we made it I was going to take the last lap. I wanted that last lap bad. I tried not to show Beto how much I wanted it because getting the win was more important. But Beto needs no extra motivation, caution was going to get thrown to the wind, that is the only way to race. Mark stormed a solid lap putting Beto on the course with 1:08 to work with. I was freaking out it is was going to be so close. The countdown was on in the tent only a few hopefulls were left peering up at the rock looking for a teammate. With less than a minute to go Beto stormed into the tent, I got goose bumps up and down my spine, as I checked in and grabbed the batton for on last victory march. I did not need my mind to tell me to push it, I was jacking the pedals for all I had, I wanted everything left in the dessert. The Ergon factory team was one of the 4 teams who made it out on course for a 21st lap. Monique "Pua" took off about 5 minutes ahead of me after Dejay Birch (also a Ergon team member) convinced her to do the final lap. Monique is an amazing racer who won the 24 hour nation championship the same year I did. I caught a glimpse of her as I came off the seven B's and she turned into the singletrack. If I could catch her we would move into third in the overall standings. In the fast singletrack I did not see her, I know she handles a bike and I would have to do all the damage on the climbs. I kept my head down and focused and saw she was coming back to me. I rolled onto her wheel right at the bottom of the last long climb. I sat up and caught a draft while Pua rallied through all the guys stragling up the climb for the last time. I jumped when we hit a group of seven or eight creeping uphill. I pedaled hard to the finish line and was stoked to see a 1:05 last lap and my team waiting to celebrate.

We got to hang out a bit and get on the podium with my team, but we had to get back to Kansas ASAP. So my Dad got everything loaded up and we piled back in the pickup and prepared for another all nighter driving home non stop. Yes that is freaking insane, but we all have jobs, and it just has to be done. Rolling back into KC at about 6:00 PM on Monday I certainly was in a daze but I was so thankfull to see Amber and tell her all the stories over supper. You have got to fight to get what you want, the fight comes in all different forms, but for me it mostly means gritting my teeth putting my head down and jacking on the pedals. Thats lives lived well.

18 comments:

LeLan Dains said...

Well done indeed! I am anxiously awaiting the first race and you're stories of grandeur aren't helping!I can't wait for some warm weather and dry trails!

Josh said...

Good job Cam, glad you're tearing it up again!

Lis Heal said...

I love when you recount the events of a race. It's a gift you have, my friend.

KEV said...

Nice job, I can't wait to start racing. How are the trails looking around KC? Any chance for Landahl and or Clinton?

The trails here are a mess. It's been all gravel roads for us.

Hermes said...

Tom and I checked the results as soon as we settled into our hotel for STU. Wish you coulda made the trip, but a couple podium spots is purdy sweet. Nice work.

Jeff Kerkove said...

Way to kill it out there! Too bad the weather was shit on Friday.

One Eyed z said...

Damn bro.
Sounds like you guys killed it.
Great job! Congrats to you and the team!

MOD said...

Sweet.

Endurosnob said...

Outstanding.

Cameron C. said...

Thanks for all the encouragement guys, it means alot. I am not that optimistic at this point about the trails for March races, but you just never know.
Hope all is well in the Springs Hermes, get back and explain those crazy avid bleed instructions to me. Again putting my bike together I did everything step for step...worthless. Then just what I thought should be done. Works fine.

Squirrel said...

Way to go Cam....say I've been looking through lots of old photos and have a few of you in your single speed bib ghetto kit at Landalh and some from the ski hill....I can't remember the name of that place...purdy awesome looking over these and thinking damn you and Frank Tuesday played a big roll in getting me too try the single:) Once again way to kill you guys. See ya soon mate!

Peace

Shane"CRASH"Jones said...

Nice job ! You really missed out on some mud at Psycho Wyco.

Cornbread said...

Way to go guys! Great write up dude. Look forward to hearing more of these this year.

sdcxr said...

Great job in the race, and great job of recapping the race.....makes me feel like I was there!

The World According to Zeke said...

Cameron,
Great post, loved reading up on how the race unfolded. Congrats to you and the team on a big win.

Palmetto Solo said...

Great post Cam, it's good to see you're riding strong.

The racing in the SE is in full swing. 70* last weekend

EXPO Racing said...

WI loves the write-ups.

we'll keep our eyes on the blog. Keep it up!

MG said...

Great job to you and your team Cam. You all ripped it up. I'm lookin' forward to seeing you soon, brother.

Cheers,
MG