My fourth 24 hours of Moab is in the books. Being that it was the first race that I did not ride solo, it was much more comfortable than the previous outings.
Moab is all about bikes, when you drive into town and bikes are spilling out of every crack in the rock you feel pretty good about the future. Since I spent a healthy amount of time in Moab few years back it also has a nice familiar homey feeling that is nice to return to. On our way in Amber and I rode in Fruita, she conquered the Rustlers, Mary's, and one other loop I forget the name of, and we had an absolute riot. Over in Moab the next day I hooked up with my Dad and the team of misfits that he brought along for a obligatory loop of Slickrock Trail. On our way out we ran into a friend of mine who I have known since way back, who now happens to be the assistant mechanic for the Fisher team. He was there to support the mighty Chris Eatough, who very unfortunately became ill and was not able to compete. But Andrew joined us for an extremely fun ride out on the big rock. Friday morning we needed a little fun that was not the race course. Even though the course does have sections that thrill the heck out of you, it is certainly not the place you would go ride if you were coming for a riding trip to Moab. I took a crew of Scott, Craig, and Graham Aldredge (visiting form Flagstaff) out to one of the staples of the area, Soverign Trail. We made the out and back singletrack, and I was pleased to see how well the trail was holding up over the last few years. It was a little wider and a little sandier but still a great time. I would have loved to have some more energy to burn and keep on going into the Baby Steps network of trails, but we were already pushing the envelope with that ride, and we still went out to the course for a pre-ride with Aaron Elwell, when his plane arrived.
Race Day dawned beautiful, I was excited and feeling good as we got around and prepared base camp for the next 24 + hours of pushing it. We crammed onto the start line, and peered across the desert to the stubby bush that marked the turn around for the rabid herd of racers. I ran as hard as I could and very slowly. The powdery sand felt like I was pushing through cement, I thought I was never going to make it to my bike, then I karate kicked someone as I cyclocrossed onto my rig, it was chaos. I started rounding people and was soon with the lead group of about 7. Here in the story I become very embarrassed, this is perhaps the most boneheaded thing I have ever done in a race. We are climbing away and I start to recover from the initial effort, and all of a sudden it dawns on me that we have been climbing for a long time, too long. And right then Josh Tostado says, "this is wrong we have gone to far." I think to myself, "I am not wasting anymore time, turn around immediately and get on course." I U-turn and head back down the road, passed gawking riders coming the other way. I get to the 4 wheeler road that the race has always gone up one the first lap every other time I have done the race, and a volunteer says no not this way, you go around. Heart sick I turned back around and gunned it trying to pass the hordes of people that were now ahead of me. I spent a TON of energy and had a pathetic lap passing people and trying to salvage something. Of course now it I realize fully how dumb this was, but at the time it seemed to make sense. All I can say is Oh well.
Here is the deal, our team rode solid but not phenomenal, which is what it would have took to really be competitive out there. We clawed our way up to 7th overall and finished the race up still going strong. I think everyone had some dark moments out there and we all had some adrenaline spiked bliss. Because I was not feeling particularly sparky climbing, I threw caution to the wind descending, and had more than one out of control plummet down a rock fall that luckily enough always ended up on the rubber side. Good living.
I have one more MTB race planned this year at Coronado's Challenge, November 21st and 22nd in Lindsborg, Kansas. Besides that bit of fun it is just trail building time, riding the fixed gear, some cyclocross, and start thinking about next season.
I have a few announcements to make, but still getting my ducks in a row, so I got to hold off. See you all out there, way out there.