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24 Hr Race Report (very long)

I have just returned home from Tucson where I competed in The 24 Hrs in the Old Pueblo Race. This is a race that has been getting bigger every year as I have ridden solo in it the last four years. I place in the top 10 or around there, except this year I have earned my first DNF there. No disappointment though, this was the most fun I have ever had on a bike.

I knew it was going to be a good weekend when I pre-ran the course in my big chain-ring and never once stressed my body. I have been working with Josh Powers, a CTS coach for almost the last year. With him, I have shed twenty lbs of body weight, increased my power output substantially, plus able to sustain high wattage outputs for longer periods of time. This was a test for my fitness as this course was one that I had ridden many times before in the past and I knew how I had ridden it before.

I came up to DurtGurl (Kathleen) on this loop. I said something stupid, like “I recognize those legs,” I say stupid because I do not know what you ladies would think about somebody coming up behind you and saying that. How about a little feed-back here? I reintroduced myself as I had not seen her since McDowell last April. Anyway, we chatted for a second, but as there were many riders out and we were riding side by side clogging up the trail, I went on.

Saturday morning we returned to the race track. What a difference, there was a wreck on Willow Springs Road, motor homes and long trailers trying to get in while people were trying to get out. Place had turned into a circus. We had set up camp on Friday, so we had a place to go to. Shortly later, Josh, my CTS coach who I had never met personally drove in. All our communication has been by e-mail or phone. It was nice to finally have a person to go with the voice.

The Race:
My strategy for the race was to go hard till dark, then stick it in the middle ring and leave it there to relax and ride through the night. Another strategy developed as I walked to the starting line. As I had checked in early, there were not many people at the start line, so I planted myself 3 or 4 rows back. My idea was twofold: 1st, by starting at the front, I would not fall all the way to the back or the rear. 2nd, the mass of people behind me would keep me trying so I wouldn’t get run over.

It must have worked as I got to my bike about the middle of the pack. The mass start on the bike was not too bad as there was plenty of room to pass. Soon I was on Cameron Chambers wheel as he was dragging me forward. I saw Josh up ahead, so I went ahead of Cameron and closed the gap to Josh.

We rode in this tight group till the 1st section of single-track (I do not count any single track between the tent and *****es in this story. What I call the 1st section of single track is after the *****es for people who know the course). Nothing eventful happened on the road there except I almost took out Cameron when the rider to my left made an unexpected move and I had to react. I do not know where the leaders were at when we entered the single-track. The 1st section of track, we were stacked up. All you could do was fall in line. No gaps were opening so there was no place to go. Cameron and Josh were in front of me, the pace wasn’t hard, so I formulated a plan. There was a small section of road between the 1st and 2nd single-track sections, but it was too short to do anything on. But after the 2nd section of single-track, there was quite a long section of road. There I decided I would go real hard till the start of the 3rd section of single-track.

When we reached that small reservoir that signaled the end of the single-track and the start of the road, I moved to the right and accelerated. I put the hammer down, going into the wind and up a slight rise. A small voice in my head kept repeating “ dummy move, dummy move”, I knew I was probably dragging half the pack forward, but also knew we were passing many riders and that I would have a chance to recover on the 3rd section of single-track. I was definitely redlined at this point.

At the start of the 3rd section of single-track, I pull to the side, expecting Josh to be there to lead the way. The only rider was Cameron, so I fall behind him. Again I have no idea where the leaders are.

The end of the 3rd section of single track, you make a turn onto the road and climb a very short but steep hill. You can leave it in the big ring because it is short and just power up it. When we made the turn, Cameron accelerated hard, obviously pushing towards the front. I did not react quickly enough and a gap grew. I did not want to use a short hard burst since I had not fully recovered from my earlier effort, but just try to reel him in slowly. I kept my eye on the Gary Fisher/Subaru jersey and maintained the gap all the way till the new section of single track.

There were about seven riders between Cameron and myself. As he wasn’t going anywhere, I just relaxed and stayed where I was. After the road crossing there is a long, gradual single track climb. By this time Cameron was at the front and I was at the back with the same seven riders between us. The gaps opened so slowly on the climb; all of a sudden Cameron was out of reach. It would of taken way too much energy to expend to get to him at this point during a 24 hour race. Josh came back to me about half way up this climb and said “you are not supposed to make your coach work so hard.” I laughed at this and told him it was payback for all the suffering you have put me through. We talked as we climbed and watched Cameron riding away from us, but the finish was not too far away so we wouldn’t be too far behind.

At the top of this climb are a few sections with rocks, a rider right in front of me had problems and stalled the whole group. All of a sudden some jerks behind us start whining about coming to a stop. “I yelled back, if you don’t like it, learn to run faster”. To me it was just an ordinary MTB race where everybody is riding way too close, contact with other riders, having to hop over people who fell over, just normal stuff. That 1st lap was so much fun.

The next five laps were pretty much uneventful, I kept a hard pace. The 6th lap was my 1st night loop. I stuck to my strategy and down shifted, riding everything in my middle ring. After my pit, I would ride the *****es and the 1st section of single track pretty easy to let my stomach settle, then pick up the pace.

On my 7th loop, still in the early evening it was. I was riding right after the start of the 1st section of single track when a rider came up and I let him pass. This rider was Tinker. Funny thing about Tinker and the races I do is, I never even know he is there till he laps me. Last year he lapped me on my 5th loop, this year it was my 7th. As I am congratulating myself on my new fitness, holding Tinker off a couple more laps proved it, I notice he is not pulling away from me as fast. Typically when Tinker would pass me in the past, a few seconds later he was gone.

As I had been riding easy to settle my stomach, I decided to kick it up a bit and see how long I could hang. I was in awe as I watched him maneuver his bike, how he turned, used his brakes, when he would stand. This went on for about half the 1st section of single track when he suddenly pulls over and asks if I want by. I stammer “uh…no…I’m… ok….just happy to be… here”, so he continues on. In my mind that blew me away, Tinker pulling over for me!

I continued to follow him, till the short road before the 2nd section of single track he moved quickly aside and before I could say anything, said “you go, now”. I am almost embarrassed at this point because I think that within the next minute he is going to want back around me. So what am I supposed to do?

I have always said that I cycle for the challenges; well I have just been presented with one. I decide to see how long I can hold Tinker off. I shift to the large ring and set a hard tempo. Not so hard that it would stress my body, but hard. This 2nd section of single track is pretty fast till you make a 90* turn, then it is a gradual climb. I just knew he would get tired of my pace there. I no longer thought of Tinker letting me by or patting myself on the back, it was time to work.

I kept the hard tempo going, standing and powering the short stuff. I was amazed at how fast we were going. I lucked out many times on that climb, by catching slower riders, which would then give me just a second to recover while setting up the pass.

I was still in front and he was sitting on my wheel when we reached the section of road that I had attacked on the 1st lap. I knew for sure it would be all over here, since it was a slight incline. I went ahead and kept that hard tempo going, staying as comfortable as I could under the situation. Neither of us had said a word to each other since I had been leading.

He stayed on my wheel all the way. As we entered the 3rd section of single track, I knew without a doubt that as soon as we hit the road and that steep incline, my bubble would be popped. I decided all I could do was try. I stood and accelerated as we made the turn and started up the climb. At the top, I could see a light coming up along side me. I went ahead and accelerated a little, hoping to hang as long as I could. I gave it an honest effort, but the time had come. “Good job soloist” was what he said as he went by, but much to my surprise, it wasn’t Tinker. As the team racer rode away, I could see a light slowly creeping up to my wheel again, OK, Tinker’s back. But in the back of my mind came a thought, “did I just drop Tinker?” I quickly got rid of any thoughts like that because now my mind was working on trying to stay in front of him all the way to the finish and this road section had a pretty good incline to it.

I went ahead and upped the tempo a bit more knowing that if I can top over the slight incline still in front, I should have no problem maintaining the lead all the way through the new single track section till the road crossing.

I entered the new section in front. It was here that I ran into littleb (Beth). She was in the back, in the company of a couple others. I actually recognized her voice as I came up behind her. I have only met Beth last year in Sedona, but I knew who she was instantly. I did not need to see her name on the solo plate she had on the back of her bike. Things were so surreal at this point in time anyway. What was happening shouldn’t have been happening anyway. Could it have been from my heightened senses?

She asked if I wanted by, I said “whenever there is room Beth”. I knew I had to recover to be able to hold off Tinker on the final climb after the road crossing so I was not in any hurry. Beth organized the pass with her partners and they let me by. Thing I forgot to mention earlier, was as I would pass I would hear Tinker say “one more”. When people would recognize him, they would all say encouraging, polite things. I know the group Beth was with said quite a bit. Thing was, Tinker usually responded back. It was amazing to listen to and I had a front row seat. Neither one of us had said anything to each other though. He just sat there on my wheel, howling disc brake and all.

The final climb after the road crossing is long for desert standards. It climbs consistently till the power tower, and then it is just in sections that can be taken one at a time. After crossing the road, I upped the tempo even more to discourage any pass till I reached that tower. I knew if I could get to the tower there was a chance I could finish this out.

I not only reached the tower, but all the climbs. We topped out and I knew I had done it. I had led Tinker for ¾ of a lap to the finish. I checked in at the tent and headed for my pit where I told my wife and friend what had happened. I told them this was the high light of my cycling.

I went out and did my 8th, 9th and 10th lap. They were uneventful; I was on a pretty good high from my 7th lap still. I should not use the term uneventful, one thing happened out in the cold dark night. I was riding alone around midnight when I came upon a female rider. We were all out by ourselves, nobody around. I do not even know if I said anything to her as I passed. When I pulled back in front of her, she said in the most pleasant voice “Happy Valentines Day”, which made me, sit up and reply back, ‘Thank you, and the same to you”. What a pleasant experience for that frame of time. Thank you for being so nice, whoever you were.

Upon completion of my 10th lap about 3:00 AM, my wife informed me that I had moved to 6th out of 95 riders. I said “that’s good, but I am done”. Not done physically, I still was feeling good and strong. I was tired of the cold, tired of doing the same lap over, just tired mentally. I no longer was having fun. There is a line I have crossed many times in the past doing these races. When I cross it, I pay for it. I have physical problems that have lasted up to 3 weeks. I felt I was up against this line and had no desire to go beyond it.

I am not sure what my cycling future will be if I cannot do 24 hr races. Maybe I will head into a direction of rides like Leadville 100, the Soul Ride. I will have to see.

For the present though, I had the most fun I ever had riding a bike this past weekend.

See you all at the AZ Fling.

Carter Taylor

Had to make corrections. I was told Nat Ross by a friends pit support when it was actually Cameron Chambers. Also I finished at 3:00 AM instead of 2:00. My wife said 2:00, but she was on California time.
 

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Thanks for the read. Now I have to rush to try and make my kids' school bus!
Excellent passion hit!
 

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Thanks Carter...

I look forward to more on the season!
 

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"Ride Lots" - Eddie Mercx
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Excellent Job

Good job on the race Carter.

I was unable to attend this year and am really bummed about it (well, not about the cold temperatures and the head wind during the night anyway).

Somehow after reading your recaps, I always manage to feel so inadequate about the 4 or 5 laps I manage to struggle through though!

Michael
 

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Another Broken Spoke
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Awesome story Carter

Carter-

That was an awesome story. I too would be ecstatic to ride with Tinker during a night lap of a 24 hr race.

This year I rode as part of a 4-man team. We finished around 12th place, with 18 laps completed. At 6 am (the last time I saw the standings) I looked and saw your name listed. And again, I wished that somehow we could meet and shake hands. I too rode with LittleB a short ways. Just before the first *****, during my 2nd lap at around 6pm. She was in great spirits and riding strong.

Anyway, hopefully we can finally meet in person at AZSF.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Look forward to it

I am planning on riding Friday and Saturday for sure. Thursday and Sunday possibly, have to see what is planned. Do look forward to meeting you.
Carter Taylor
 

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Kathleen in AZ
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Carter Taylor said:
I came up to DurtGurl (Kathleen) on this loop. I said something stupid, like “I recognize those legs,” I say stupid because I do not know what you ladies would think about somebody coming up behind you and saying that. How about a little feed-back here? I reintroduced myself as I had not seen her since McDowell last April. Anyway, we chatted for a second, but as there were many riders out and we were riding side by side clogging up the trail, I went on.
[/I]

Carter!

Great write-up.. thanks for sharing.

As for feedback from this lady - go ahead and say all the stupid things you can dream up! I'd rather you say something silly than say nothing at all.

See you at AZSF,
Kathleen
 

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WOW - Damn, what a ride. You should be so proud of yourself. that lap with Tinker would be a highlight to anyone - I say screw anything that happens after such a high like that. I can totally hear you, when you accomplish more than you set out to do places and finishes mean nothing in comparison. You are a true cyclist - its refreshing to see.

Thank you for sharing.
 

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Great write-up!

Carter,

Thanks for the excellent summary. Good ride! Wish I could have been there.

How cold <I>did</I> it get during the night?

GO SOLO!
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Discussion Starter #14
low 30's.

low 30's I believe. I would freeze in certain areas and fry in others on a lap. I know it was in the 20's the night before. I just do not do well in those kind of temps.
 
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