10/14/06

Location =  Moab UT  
Distance =  45.61
Time =  6:07:37
Ave. Speed =  7.4
Max. Speed =  24.5
Monthly Dist. =    233.65
Yearly Dist. =  2922.58

This was the day of the big race. I woke up early to gray skies, cool temperatures, and light rain. Why couldn't it be a day like yesterday? I checked out of the motel, and headed for the course. The pre-race meeting took place at the start/finish line, with most of the people standing under the exhibition tent, because it continued to rain lightly. It probably wasn't raining hard enough to turn the trails to mud, but it was plenty to make the rocks slippery, and dangerous. I wore suitable rain gear, and prepared for the start.

The race began with a le mans start, which meant that we all had to run around a bush, and then get our bikes, and start out on to the course. I let all of jack rabbits go, and then headed out with the tortoises. My strategy was to complete two laps, stop at the campsite for some trail mix, gatorade, and water, and then head out for lap three. The first two laps went smoothly, with intermittent rain, but nothing major. A young woman passed me on lap two, and said "are you singing?" I was busted. I tried not to do it when anyone was around, but she snuck up on me. I bought an mp3 player for this adventure, in order to help keep me distracted from my pain and suffering, and it worked, beautifully. I had 230 of my favorite songs, all playing at random. Excellent!

As I headed out for lap three, the situation rapidly deteriorated. I climbed up out of the campground, and entered the course, with thick fog was descending upon everything. It started to rain harder, and the dirt was quickly turning to mud. I began to get very wet, and very cold, and I knew that I would have to go back to the tent and warm up, in order to continue. There was a long climb that had to be ascended, in order to get back to the campground, and as I climbed, rivers of mud began to form, and flow downhill. It was very strange. Towards the end of the course, there were a couple of arroyos that were becoming flooded in a hurry, and they would soon be very dangerous. One of them was quite deep, almost up to the hubs on my wheels, and water was rushing down the mountain. Having been by there a couple of times already, I knew how deep it was, and what it would take to cross it. I hit it hard, and blasted through to the other side, but I had to feel sorry for the team riders, who would be seeing it for the first time, and who would slow down to try and make it across. I ended the lap by scanning my card, and I told the lady at the table that it was getting very dangerous out on the course, and that someone was going to get hurt.

I went back to my tent, fired up my little propane heater, stripped off my clothes, ate trail mix, and tried to warm up. My hands were so wet, for so long, that they went way beyond prune flesh. When I took my gloves off, all of my skin fell off, as well, like powder. After that, my hands were as soft and smooth, as a babies butt. After about an hour, I was good to go. The rain had stopped, I put on dry clothes, and left the tent to head back out on the course. I went to the next door neighbors, to ask them where I was supposed to take my batteries for my headlight, to have them charged, and they told me that the race had been called. Apparently, riders were dropping like flies, out on the course, and they were running out of ambulances, and emts. It wasn't so bad for me, because I knew that I would be out on the course for a long time, so I had on my raingear, and waterproof socks, but the team riders only expected to be out for one lap, and a lot of them only had on shorts, and a windbreaker. Hypothermia was taking it's toll, as well as the mud and rocks.

I had a real mixture of emotions at finding out that the race was halted, because on the one hand, I was psyched, and ready to hit the trails, and on the other hand, I was thrilled that I wouldn't have to ride around in the middle of the night. I was also glad that I hadn't yet taken any caffeine pills that I had bought for the race, because now I could go to sleep. Not being a coffee drinker, I needed something to try and keep me going. My plan was going to be to hit the caffeine, before I started my fifth lap. That would no longer be necessary. I went down to the start/finish, to see what was going on, and nobody seemed to know, and there was much discussion, about how to continue. There were still riders out on the course, and the bad news for them was that their laps were going to cancelled. This wasn't so bad for the team riders, because they had other members of their team who could pick up the slack, but it was devastating for the soloists, who were out there, suffering big time.

I went back to the campsite, where my neighbors offered me some hot food, and a spot by their heater. Awesome! Thank you so much!

The race promoters stayed up all night, cancelling the last laps of all of the riders, and then there was a big meeting in the morning about what to do next. It was decided that the teams would be restarted, in the order of their finishes, but for the soloists, it was decided to just call the race off, with last night's finishing times. They said that we could ride around on the course, and have fun, but I didn't want to get in the way of people who were actually racing, and since I wouldn't be scanning my times in and out, I decided to pack it in and head for home. Also, I knew that trail conditions would be terribly muddy, so I had enough. Here is a picture that I took of my bike, after I came in from my second lap. It was bad. Lots of riders had problems with chain suck, and their gears getting clogged with mud.

All in all, I had a good time at the race, but I don't know if I will try it again. I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to challenge myself over the whole 24 hours, but I'm also glad that I wasn't able to challenge myself over the whole 24 hours. How very bizarre.



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