Old Pueblo 2011
It was one of those races where I had to
seriously question my sanity. Freezing rain, 40 to 50 mph winds and darkness,
and I wasn’t even in the UK. Yep,
The Kona 24 hours in the Old Pueblo 2011 will go down as the year it was cold,
rainy & windy … or perhaps something catchier. I was over to defend my solo victory from 2010. I talked myself into it, although it
was going to blow quite a hole in my training for the important early summer
races. It’s an ace event though I couldn’t
resist , and it did give me an excuse to get over to the Southwest USA, one of
the most beautiful parts of the world.
2011 was probably the biggest Old Pueblo yet
with 1850 riders. The start had
the usual comedy run. I took it
relatively easy, protecting my dodgy ankle on the loose dirt. From the previous year I knew the wind
would be a major drag, so I had dressed in quite tight compression gear (like a
time trialist). I felt this working in my favour on the first lap as I made up
time lost on the run.
The first few laps were uneventful. It was announced that Cory Wallace was
to be racing. He’s a seriously
fast Canadian who was 2nd at the 2010 24 hour "World Champs” in
Australia … so I assumed I was chasing him. Going out for
lap 4 I was told he wasn’t racing & I was in the lead. I liked that news. On this lap I was working well with a
team rider. We respectively nailed it through the singletrack. I had set my tyres up with pretty low
pressure … just above squirm level, but still wasn’t happy with the front pattern
as it was still sliding out in the dirt. And so it proved. Just as I was thinking
it was worth asking what tyres the rider was using I washed out in the "brain”
section of the lap. As I dusted
myself off, untangled my bars I felt a numb pain in my little finger. It brought back memories of waking up
after falling off a bar stool in Leeds in my 20s, Tequila induced. Yep it felt
like I had broken it, it wasn’t too painful though & I rather gingerly
On lap 6 it got dark. The ominous looking cloud in the
distance seemed to have changed direction and was rolling toward the
event. The storm that was causing
major snowfalls in the Southwest over the President’s day weekend wasn’t going
to miss Tucson after all. Bugger.
The wind picked up & the desert seemed to transform into Scottish moorland
scene, in winter, ouch. I never
had side winds bend my wheel so much that the discs rubbed. That was until now. When I got back to the pits the Easy-Up
was in a bad way, the sides were down, the top ripped & most contents
wet. The spirits were also
seriously dampened in pits as well, my trusty Pit Princess Steph was not a
happy buuny. From previous
experience I knew I had to keep energy & morale up by keeping warm. I had just about enough warm clothes in
a reserve bag, and added them over the next few laps. I was told I was about 15 minutes up in the early part of
the night & it seemed I was gaining 2-3 minutes per lap.
The weather abated in the early hours. Every cloud has a silver lining and after
the brake-pad-grinding puddles soaked back into the ground it became super
fast. This combined with less
people on the course and a can of full-fat coke saw me rip around in 1.16 minutes
in the early hours. My 1800 lumen Exposure 6 pack with remote switch &
Diablo light also helped!
The sun comes up late at Old Pueblo, about
7am, so once you get to this point you have really cracked it. I was hoping that the sun would warm
things up, but the biting wind saw it didn’t. On lap 16 I felt quite exuberant, the homeward run … a whole
lap of brightness … yay! I set off
fast, this didn’t last as I my pedal smashed a rock in the first rocky section
after leaving the timing tent. My
3rd summersault of the event ensued … this time I had folded over
the rear hanger. I wasn’t quite
sure what to do? Go back and get my spare bike or nurse things around, for 15
miles? I decided on the later,
folding the hanger back straight & used a small range of gears for that
lap. I was annoyed that I didn’t have an emergency/spare hanger on me. I jumped yet again on my rickety spare
bike for the final 2 laps. Steph joined me on my final lap, which was nice.
So another Old Pueblo done … 18 laps, about 290
miles. I think 20 laps
is almost doable in the right conditions, but I must stop thinking like that J.
Congratulations to the rest of the solo
podiumists, particularly Jonathon Davies & Kip Biese who finished 2nd
and third. And the solo women of
course, particularly the winner Lindy Lee, our pit neighbour.
Thanks to Todd Saddow, the organiser, for
another great event with a great vibe and my key sponsors Exposure Lights &
Mt. Zoom lightweight racing components.
And to Steph for putting up with the weather and me being a bit grumpy.
Note to self … stop crashing.