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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Coyote Classic Race Report ~ DFL is better than DNF

Despite what you may think - it's NOT fun racing/riding with fork oil soaking into flesh wounds - and that's just part of my story at the Coyote Classic race, in El Paso TX. No photo's ~ sorry.

I had been planning on this race since last fall, coming out and riding strong in my debut Expert race and the first in the NMORS (New Mexico Off-Road Series) of my second season. It favored my kind of riding style, requiring technical skills to climb & descend the gnarly, rocky - off camber at times - terrain. It also required strength & endurance, as the total mileage for the expert loops (one long and one 'short' - the short being 8-9 miles of hard riding!) made for 28-30 miles of racing; pretty rough given the low average speeds and the intense amount of effort needed to climb the steep loose trails. I was ready. Fresh off of the NOVA NORBA race 2 weeks ago, I knew I could hang with the fellas in my group, provided I rode smart, ate and drank accordingly and kept an eye on the stronger guys. It would be hot 2.5 ~ 3 hours of racing, as the forecast was for mostly clear skies and temps in the 70's. Feels hot after all the sub-freezing 'training' lately. Especially in the sun. Felt damn good in fact!

I lined up with the 30-39 pro/expert group, maybe 20 of us all told, and we waited for the go ahead. The start was rather anti-climatic at first as we had a neutral road section down the park entrance road, to a turn-around, then rode straight back up towards the start of the singletrack. Once we hit the turn around, we still sort of cruised, waiting for someone to "break" and string things out a bit. All of a sudden the few pros and semi-pros went off! I stayed relatively close to the front but just before the singletrack, 1-2 guys snuck by. A gap started opening too quickly, so I got by them and stayed in contact with the lead 5-6 guys. The race was on! This first stretch of singletrack was mostly descending, technical at times, and FAST. It was punctuated by a few nice, hard, steep, loose climbs out of drainages. After about 10 minutes we popped out off the trail, across the park entrance road and onto the beginning of the main loop(s). Fast and flowy, still generally descending behind a series of hills that separated the start/finish area from the rest of the frontside of the course - the trail bed was typical southwestern DG (decomposed granite) so at times was a little loose and always demanded attention - as a mistake would net an encounter with the prickly flora that bracketed the trails.

So far so good. Riding fast, hard, and efficient. I lucked out descending the scary drainages efficiently, which helped propel me up the opposite sides and keep close contact with the main group. 2-3 guys, the fastest of the Pro/Semi-Pro's, were opening a bit of a gap, but were always in sight. On a scale of 1-10 I felt maybe a 7, so not optimum, but pretty good. It had been a fitful night of sleep and a tense start, but I was now settling into a good race rhythm. I'd have a little ground to gain on the 1 guy I was keeping an eye on in my group, but knew it was a long race and if ridden smartly, would catch him by the end, no problem.

Near the end of this first part of the course, comprising 1/2 of the "shorter loop" there's a hell of a series of climbs that bring you up to a saddle, then drops you down to the main/backside part of the course. Still feeling good as I cruised down the fun descending trails, taking a clean hard left at he first of 3 water stations (!) onto a rocky wash. From here, it's a long 10-12 miles that takes racers out to the furthest extent on the course and then wraps back to start the big climb back into the start/finish area. At this point, me and two other guys are working within contact of each other, but the terrain was rolling and undulating enough to not have much of a "line of sight" ahead, so at some point we loose sight of the lead few guys. No biggie, as we're riding well. Then I notice my fork is rattling a little bit. Loose headset? Noooo..., headset is OK. Hmpf. Oh well, deal with it later. We drop off the trail into another, slightly climbing rocky wash and I have no idea where the course is all of a sudden - then I see where I must have overshot a left turn*. I stop, see the other two guys climbing off to my left, so I head back and up the rocky jeep road/trail they are ascending. Must be the beginning of the long, hard, loose climb up out of this sort of valley we were down in. We're heading in the right direction generally (so I thought), so it?s time to concentrate on climbing efficiently. Somewhere along here, I really start to feel good, and catch one of the guys I'd been with. The other is motoring ahead, setting a good pace, so it continues. 20 minutes later, the guy I'm with asks if we're on course - I say, "I think so, as long as we keep heading (I point up, to the right) that way". Well, 5 minutes later the guy leading up ahead turns around and comes back to us. We'd hit a dead end!!! Fahking hell.... My heart sank. 30+ minutes of climbing, off course, way out in the middle of nowhere. We descend back down into said wash* we had initially hit, see other older sport level folks heading up the wash further, then exiting out to the RIGHT side! There was our mistake. The course really should have been marked a little better, as it was confusing despite the fact I'd been here before.... Later I heard locals saying they knew of the spot and have made the mistake occasionally! Such is life sometimes...

Totally deflated, I notice that my Fox Float 100RLC has a problem. The red damper adjuster knob and shaft are sticking up out of the fork about half an inch. I push and twist it. It goes down. I hit a bump - it pops up an inch! Repeat a few times, as the dampening system in the right leg appears to lose it's "return" circuit, so the fork is compressing and staying down - more and more. Shoot, that's not good, I still have 20+ miles of "racing" left! Not for the win, place or show, but for the finish. God help me, if I can, I'll finish this dang race. The only DNF I've ever gotten was due to, um, unexpected unconsciousness and a ride in an ambulance to the ER. I ride on, noting how rocky the course really is, now that I can feel every square-edged boulder, slam through the dips and drainage crossings, and feel like my kidneys are being punched. Oh joy. Not much further along, I hit another bump and the fork temporarily springs back up - cool! No dampening, but at least I have some shock absorption... One bump later ~ plooosshhhh!!!! The damper adjuster and the rod it had been bolted to fly over my shoulder, propelled by a geyser of shock oil, re-compressing the fork fully, and spraying me, my bike, my cuts, and my water bottle. This is not fun. I stop, retrieve the broken shaft and knob assembly, Velcro it onto my seatpost with the CO2 cartridge and ride on ~ now completely defeated feeling. Amazingly I'm not having the WORST day, as one of the guys I had been riding with on our off-course bonus journey has now had 3 or 4 flats, and may have called it quits.

Finally I start the last major climb up to the start/finish area, picking my way up the techy loose steep climb. The smell of BBQ is really messing me up and I contemplate quitting here - but no, I crest the hill and begin the "shorter" second lap - 10 more miles of rocky, abusive hell, all over again! All I remember later on in this lap is getting to the Tee intersection I thought I'd turn right at, and close the last loop, but I was WAY off. We were to turn left here and right at the NEXT one. Ow. These rocks are really starting to thrash my wrists, shoulders, kidneys, head, eyeballs, and so on. The stinky oily slime all over my bike and me had a lovely effect on my disk brakes too ~ making them very sluggish as the pads were now totally contaminated by the repeated mini-geysers of oil shooting out the top of my right fork leg. About 30 minutes to late, I get the brilliant idea to Velcro my glove over the hole in the top of the fork - so I stop, rig it up, and press on. It works! Better late than never. I did have the clarity to keep the glove on the hand that I had punched two deep gashes into the night before, while putting my bike on the rack - I was tensioning the rubber strap when it slipped, and my hand whacked my big chainring - right in the meat of my right palm! Joy, deeply embedded oil in puncture wounds, on a critical load bearing part of my hand...

The last lap took about 45-50 minutes, making for a hell of 3 hour, 30 minute "ride". Thankfully there were still marshals on the course, and bottles of water - so I grabbed one before the last big climb (again) and rinsed myself down - getting a pleasantly refreshing boost to boot. Crawl up the last climb and call it a day. Done. Finito. Over and out.

Crawl to the car, pile in, head for the Flying-J truck stop, take the hottest, best shower I've ever had and we hit the road for the 5 hour drive back to Santa Fe....

Next time it'll be better!

Next stop: NMORS #2; Cloudcroft, NM ~ home of the "cloud climbing railroad"
 

· i worship Mr T
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bummer glen. sorry to hear about the mis-turns & fork malfork-tions ;-) but i apologize, i had to giggle at your description of the damper adjuster & rod flying over your shoulder and the subsequent fork oil geiser (had that happen once when overhauling my SID.....not funny at the time but worth a giggle later on).

nice job finishing up despite it all. the next one will definitely be better.

rt
 

· Linoleum Knife
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glenzx said:
Coyote Classic Race Report ~ DFL is better than DNF

Despite what you may think � it's NOT fun racing/riding with fork oil soaking into flesh wounds�
Ouch. Do you at least get points for finishing?

That's even worse than my blown-shock-race story.

At least when you start the series off this way, there is a whole lotta room for improvement ;) Of course there is a ways farther to go down too... (re. Ambulance / unconscious / etc.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
*rt* said:
bummer glen. sorry to hear about the mis-turns & fork malfork-tions ;-) but i apologize, i had to giggle at your description of the damper adjuster & rod flying over your shoulder and the subsequent fork oil geiser (had that happen once when overhauling my SID.....not funny at the time but worth a giggle later on). nice job finishing up despite it all.
Well, you've earned the right to laugh then! :) No worries, sh1t happens and all that. If ya can finish, I believe you should....

*rt* said:
the next one will definitely be better.

rt
If it's WORSE, I'll retire early! :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
forkboy said:
Ouch. Do you at least get points for finishing?
Yes - in fact, there may have been few enough folks that finished in my group (30-39 expert) that I should get a few points. Not the 25 I was hoping for though!

forkboy said:
That's even worse than my blown-shock-race story.

At least when you start the series off this way, there is a whole lotta room for improvement ;) Of course there is a ways farther to go down too... (re. Ambulance / unconscious / etc.)
It was pretty bad - and indeed, nowhere to go but up! The crash at Snowmass last year was really the low point from which to measure all disasters against....

Thanks though! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
free-agent said:
Nice job finishing-consider that a victory.
You'll get em next time.
Thanks F.A. - good outlook to boot! I'll seek my revenge at the next race...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
santa_cruzer said:
Glen. Sorry to hear that the race did not go as planned. I have to admire your drive to finish the race with such a set of "unexpected" circumstances that would have shaken most of us. As always, another killer write up.

-R
Thanks 'cruzer - So it goes sometimes - maybe it's good to start off poorly and build into a good season. Yeaaahhhhh, that's it! I was there, so I had to finish - as embarassing as it was! Next time...
 

· the cool nerd
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wow

Glen, as a recipient of malforktions (thanks rt) and other sundry mechanicals in the past, i can truly empathize with you! Huge kudos for finishing, and resisting the allure of bbq.

So, is there a NORBA race in your immediate future so that you can have your fox rebuilt again ;)

btw, if you start the race on a rigid fork, you expect the beating that you described and it doesn't detract from the experience

see you tonight? you should be loading your other bike about now

scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
sportsman said:
wow

Glen, as a recipient of malforktions (thanks rt) and other sundry mechanicals in the past, i can truly empathize with you! Huge kudos for finishing, and resisting the allure of bbq.

So, is there a NORBA race in your immediate future so that you can have your fox rebuilt again ;)

btw, if you start the race on a rigid fork, you expect the beating that you described and it doesn't detract from the experience
Thanks Scott - I know you've been there!

re: Fox Fork: have to give 'em a call - should be no problemo, since they rebuilt it 6 months ago.... we'll see!

sportsman said:
see you tonight? you should be loading your other bike about now

scott
Bad news: Can't make it tonight - entertaining family. Good news: We're going to the Banff Mtn. Film Festival at the Lensic! *sigh*

You doing that d - to - d race this weekend in gallup?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
forkboy said:
LOL

I was going to say something to that effect, but he seemed kinda distressed and I don't know him well enough to push that button quite yet..
LOL, s'ok.... the only part they didn't replace was that stinkin' shaft - it appears to have sheared off at the bottom, no less.
 

· the cool nerd
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forkboy said:
LOL

I was going to say something to that effect, but he seemed kinda distressed and I don't know him well enough to push that button quite yet..
i wouldn't have made that reference sunday after the race, but after a few days he's had some time to decompress. Besides, Glen is an affable guy with a great sense of humor, and he can take a little ribbing about it. I do feel sorry for the expert field in NMORS (myself included) for the rest of the races, as i think Glen has some making up to do in the standings and will set blistering paces

scott
 

· Hey, wait up!
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Adventure racing

I also almost missed that right turn on the far side of the loop - and I've ridden the FMSPark many many times. Good spot there to post a course marshall. Once, on a fun ride, I even chased down a couple of riders who were heading up that road to tell them they missed the turn - they was fureners.

There is a nice section of singletrack spurring west off of that road up to the Anthony Gap road (Hwy 404?) and the NM State line. But you probably weren't much interested in checking that out.

Wasn't that wash (after your missed turn) miserable going - even with fully functioning equipment? I've never had so much effort pushing through the gravel.

Cloudcroft !!!

.d.

edit: that is if I'm talking about the same confusing turn you're talking about.
 

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Hey Glen,
Much kudos to you. Closest I came to a finish like that was last year at Angel Fire. Taco'd a wheel, and cracked my helmet with 2 miles to go. Banged the tire relatively straight and wobbled to the finish, but yours is a true testament of persevearance. I saw a bumper sticker at the Road Race over the weekend that summed it to the tee.
"DFL is better than DNF, which is better than DNS"

Awesome job, at least you got it out of your system early this year. Looks like the Yeti Nathrop Pre Season race this weekend will be 40 degrees with 40% chance of snow. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

Catch ya later.
Ocky
 

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damn glen. sorry to hear about your troubles, but it makes for an instresting read. thatnks for sharing. The fortitude that some racers have really inspires me.

Where was this race? I thought I read it was in El Paso/las Cruses some place. but the only trials I've ridden down there were littered with razor rock not the "safe" DCG of say normaly NM desert trails.

Kick some butt in the next race, you've earned it. Speaking of....are you still planing to hit a NE race this year? The snow is gone here, and the water should run off in a few weeks. But we are back out riding!
 

· Basura Blanca
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Need a loaner? Glen, I've got a 105mm X-vert Air hanging on my garage wall that you're welcome to borrow as long as you need. Looks rough, but it worked fine when I took it off last May (when Donna got me the Vanilla for our 20th).
- Joe
 
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