20080412

Location =  Gallup NM  
Distance =  89.56
Time =  10:28:51
Ave. Speed =  8.5
Max. Speed =  25.0
Monthly Dist. =    219.84
Yearly Dist. =  1152.20

The "Dawn to Dusk", 12 hour mountain bike race has come and gone, and I am not dead. I actually did better than I thought I would. I set a goal of completing 6 laps, and I completed 7. Those 7 laps total up to about 12,000 feet of climbing. That's almost 3 climbs up to the crest. I'm tired.

The race started at 7:00am, and it was freezing, #$%!@?*, cold. The temperature was in the teens! I could not believe it. You would have thought that it was at the top of the crest, or something. The first lap was torture. The first lap was also special, because it didn't start out on the course. Instead, it started on the dirt road, and then followed another road to the halfway mark of the course. This was a great idea, because it allowed the field to spread itself out, rather than being all jammed up on the trail. I started out slowly, near the back of the pack, and gradually got into the swing of things.

After the first lap, I was warmed up enough to take off my headband, and my full fingered gloves. The sun was starting it's slow climb up into the sky, and I guzzled the first of 4 bottles of Gatorade X-Factor, that I would finish off during the race. Between the Gatorade and the water that I drank, I put more than 300 ounces of liquid through my system. That was reflected in the 20 or so times that I had to stop and pee. At least I didn't get any cramps.

After the second lap I took off my jacket, and I was starting to feel pretty good. My time was substantially faster than I had anticipated, and I was having fun. I had my mp3 player on to keep me company, and I was enjoying the ride. There were parts of the second and third laps where there was nobody around for a long time, and I got the feeling that I had disappeared into some kind of space/time warp. Then reality caught up to me as the top riders began to pass me by. Being passed all day long wasn't as annoying as it might have been. I tried to keep tabs on what was going on behind me, and quickly get out of the way to let the speedsters go on by. Everyone was very polite and appreciative.

After lap 4, it had warmed up enough so that I could take off my leg warmers. I was on a roll, and I kept it going through lap 5. The battery in my mp3 player died only about 2 miles into the fifth lap, and I missed it terribly. I felt like my best friend had quit on me. That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. I was glad to get back to the staging area so I could get a fresh battery. At this point it was obvious that completing 6 laps was easily within my reach. It was easily within my reach, but it still wasn't going to be easy. I had a pretty fast pace for the first 5 laps, but that slowed considerably for lap 6. As I was riding the lap I was trying to guess if I would have enough time to start a seventh lap. The time was important, because it you completed your last lap after 7:00pm, it wouldn't count. I decided that if it was later than 4:45, I would quit the race, and settle for 6 laps. I was secretly hoping that it was going to be 5 o'clock, but I was painfully surprised to find out that it was only 4:20. I knew that that was plenty of time to finish lap number 7, as long as I could avoid any kind of physical or mechanical breakdown. Lap number 7 was by far my slowest lap of the day, but I didn't care, because I was done.

The race took a toll on both my bike, and my body. The trail started out in great condition, due to some rain and snow that happened a few days ago, that hardened up many of the sandy spots. However, after many hundreds of bicycle tires rolled through the dirt, a lot of the sand returned. I had to apply lube to my chain twice during the race, just to keep it from sounding like a kitchen sink disposal. As for my body, I did fall twice, and on one of the falls I reopened a scab on my knee that I got from playing softball, but it only bled a little bit. The real pain was in my back, neck, arms, and hands. I was surprised at how much my arms and hands hurt. The course is very twisty and turny, and you are constantly on the brakes. In fact, I didn't dare take my hands off of the handlebars, even for a second. Very bad things could happen, and I didn't want any of it happening to me.

The most difficult part of the course is the very beginning. The trail climbs up onto a bluff, fairly steeply in places, and there are several sharp switchbacks, and some dangerous drop offs. Early in the race a woman fell off the trail right where it tops out onto the bluff, and she was laying on the rock and crying. After that, they put a "danger" sign there, and also one of their national guard watch dogs, to try and make sure that no one else got hurt at that same spot. The next time I came around to that spot, and saw the sign, I said to the military guy, "Danger, what Danger? I don't see any Danger!", and he just laughed.

The race results have finally been posted, and can be seen at the website for the "Dawn to Dusk" race. Out of all the solo racers, I finished 29th out of 78 riders. I am very happy.



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