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.