My first race this year was 24-Hours of Old Pueblo that I raced as a duo with ScottM. We were sharing a circus tent with DaveB, who on the sliding scale of OCD-ness of 24-hour racers is pretty high on the having his stuff together. I, on the other hand, showed up with four wheels, some with tires on and some not, some with disc rotors, some not, my hardtail that had been tossed in the garage after Camp Lynda and not brought out until then, and the dually had been put together after coming back from Oz the previous fall but none of the bolts tightened. To sum up, it was the standard Eszter-Junk-Show. I think Dave was pretty impressed when he left me in a state of complete disarray and returned the next morning to find me with two (mostly) functional bikes.
I like to maintain the illusion that the Eszter-Junk-Show is an early season phenomenon, so I had to kick myself when I got off the phone with LW, who was running support for Dave, to tell the rest of the RV that they'd scoped out a perfect pit spot where we could all set up pits together. I looked at my four wheels, some with tires on, some without, some with disc rotors, some without, and sighed. I wasn't fooling anyone. At least this time around I only had one frame, which had left Rock N Roll the day before with the grave diagnosis of 'Eszter, your bike needs a lot of work. When are you leaving?'
My master plan had been to nurse the bike through the rest of the summer after finishing CTR, riding the SS whenever I had a major breakdown, and to deal with worn out parts in the spring. Then Jonathan emailed: Frog Hollow Duo? I already cleared it with LW.
Needing a sharp kick in the rear to approach my 'You're going to be in winter lockdown any day now, lets get some outdoor intervals done while we can' road riding in the fall, and figuring any excuse to ride in the desert was a good enough excuse for me, I agreed with great gusto. Desert! Sun! Warmth!
It was only fitting that the weather forecast grew more and more dire with snow forecasted as the event neared. But we had an RV complements of the Davis clan and I think that from here on out, I'm never going to a 24-hour race without one. What luxury. I think I'm also going to insist on KathyD coming along to keep the steady flow of chicken soup on the burner, sweet potato fries in the oven, and constant encouragement. Having Chris there was also super-duper as all it took was a hug and a 'Hey Honey, my shifting has gone from sub-par to non-existent, do you think you could get it back to sub-par for me?' and the next lap, my bike was shifting almost as well as it was going into the CTR, which was the last time it got new cables and housing.
The whole setup was superb. I've avoided 24-hour races this year because my last solo one in Oz was quite possibly the most painful experience I've ever had on my bike (and I've done lots of stupid things on my bike) but after OP, I held the possibility open for a duo or team. Both JD and I were under strict instructions to not take our first couple laps out hard. Normally, I take instructions as 'good suggestions' but I knew that LW was going to show up to pit for Dave 8 hours in, so if I did blow myself up, I'd have to face coach in person instead of being able to hide behind the wall of the internets. Plus, JD was uber excited and wanted to beat all the boys. I told him that I was 15 lbs overweight and that I didn't race boys. Right. But enthusiasm is contagious and when you have a fast duo partner, you'd better be riding fast yourself.
The defining momement of the race was after coming in off of my second set of double laps in the morning. I had gotten the sunrise lap as my second lap, but I was tired. I thought that we could stop after I finished and win the co-ed duo category, so I nursed myself to the finish thinking that I was going to announce that I was done. Those dreams were dashed when I watched JD take off for his first morning lap. It was a harsh blow to reality when I got back to the pits, and there's smiling LW, announcing that I should go under an hour for my next lap. I put on my pouty face and went into the RV. An hour? Is she kidding? I've been pulling 1:09 laps for my doubles. I'm tired. I'm fat. I'm out of shape.
Kathy came into the RV. 'Jonathan's going to put in a fast lap, just so you know.'
'How fast?' I asked, thinking maybe 0:57. He has to be as tired as I am.
I nearly spit out my food. Jigga-what?
'You were 1-minute ahead of the lead duo-male team when you went out on your second lap.'
No one had passed me my second lap. Gah, I was expecting to be able to cruise my last lap. When did I get signed up to race against boys?
I looked at my stash of Red Bull which I'd been avoiding because they tend not to be super-nice to my stomach. Extreme expectations call for extreme measures. I popped the top.
JD came in at under 51 minutes. I'd rolled over to the tent early (because I'm a paranoid duo partner) and still barely made it in time as I saw the distinctive white knee warmers turn onto the road and head for the timing tent.
I rolled the last lap in 1:00:20. It actually didn't hurt. I'd gone out with gusto, intent on proving that I was tired and if I tried to go fast, I'd blow up. I didn't. In fact, I made it to the top of the climb a full minute faster than any of my previous laps. Go figure.
I made it back in time for JD to have to go out for his 13th lap. It was perfect payback for his silly 'beat all the boys' goal.
The whole race, aside from my sunrise lap, was a blast. I finally got to meet Jill Homer, which has been on my to-do list for years. I got to watch Tim Lutz battle back from a broken deraillieur that Chris rigged up to be functional in the middle of the night to finish 3rd, and I got to watch Tanner, at 11 years old, ride 100 miles, including a lap in the dark. I passed him on my last lap and his enthusiastic cheer was definitely a spirit lifter.
I got to rally around in the desert for three days with good friends and good people. I really couldn't have asked for more, except maybe warmer weather. And getting to beat all the boys is always a good time.