Race Review: 2013 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest (AKA 24 Hour National Championships)

Dear Reader: Our adventure at the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest was substantial.  In an effort to maintain short internet-browsing attention spans, I will begin our race review with a tale of the most exciting part of the race, the "mud lap" which was the source of much anguish, despair, and broken bikes. And since it's a bad idea to take your camera out in a muddy rain mess, I will litter this post with random photos from the race, unrelated to the story at hand.  I hope you enjoy...

(Camp Bikeworks, pre-race, preparing for amazingness)

So there I was, 10:00PM-ish rolling up on the Bikeworks Bacon Station in the pouring rain. It had been raining since about mile five, Bacon Station was located about mile 12, the course was nearly 20 miles long. I had completed the last few miles chatting with a PRO Gal racing for Chamois Buttr and Answer Products.  Lightening was coming down all around us, the rain was falling ever harder, and the temperature was dropping rapidly.  We maintained a friendly banter while pedaling a healthy pace, all in an attempt to distract ourselves from the potentially serious situation of being 10 miles from camp in a lightening storm.

(Standard pre-race ritual: don the stretchy pants and pose like idiots)

Chamois Buttr PRO Gal decides to stop for a bacon snack, but I am anxious about the weather and want to get back to camp ASAP.  She thanks me for my company, and I decide it was good I didn't stop because she would have fallen in love with me had I given her the opportunity to gaze upon my face whilst eating the bacon which I had provided.  I slow and look back expecting to see Dr. Dave on PRO gal's wheel, but it's somebody else. I stop and realize that Dr. Dave has dropped back out of sight at some point.  I make a life and death decision that Dr. Dave can fend for himself, and push forward on my own.  This is no small decision, mind you, as Dr. Dave plays a major role in Bikeworks actually being a profitable business.

(This guy is allowed by law to cut you open and drill metal bars into your bones, just sayin)

Immediately following the bacon station was the "Burma Trail", a fast and flowy descent littered with water bars, the type that will throw you twice as far into the air than you want to go. The trail is a striking red color due to the clay in the soil.  It is interesting because just these few miles of the 20 mile long course have this red clay dirt.  Unfortunately, this soil composition becomes completely impossible to ride in when muddy.  The clay just sticks to your tires, and continues to build up until your bike is a giant mud ball, weighs 80 lbs, and can no longer roll forward.

(Our view from camp, we put ourselves in the middle of everything with the excuse of providing a "neutral charging station")
Having been stuck in this mud before, I was aware of this type of clay dirt, and I had been fearing these conditions when it started raining.  As I began descending Burma trail I was able to stay within a tiny stream of water that was running down the middle of the trail.  The trail quickly turned to insanely sticky mud, and soon I was running the gauntlet down a super slippery trail lined with stuck racers on either side.  I must have passed by 20 or more people on the side of the trail who were trying to de-clog their bikes just to get their wheels rolling again.  One fellow racer later said she felt like she was a dinosaur stuck in the tar pits.  I wanted to stop and help my fellow racers, but there really wasn't much that could be done, and I was sure that if I stopped I wouldn't be able to get rolling again.


(Alex enjoying a glorious bowl of cold ravioli)

At this point I believe I was just incredibly lucky with my timing, as I hit the trail right when it was wet enough that I could stay within running water and keep my wheels from clogging up with mud. People 5 minutes ahead of me were hopelessly stuck.  People 5 minutes behind me were hopelessly stuck.  But between my timing and my being on a singlespeed with great mud clearance made all the difference, and a slipped sideways down the trail.  I'll credit my good fortune to the MTB Gods recognizing that if I had been forced to hike my 80lb bike through the mud for miles in the cold rain (like everybody else), I surely would have died, and for one reason or another the MTB Gods want me alive.

(Dr.Dave's bike on Sunday morning)
After the Burma Trail descent was an aid station, and an easy way to hop onto pavement and skip the miserable last 3+ miles of muddy climbing that completed the course.  Understandably, a fair number of riders decided to hop onto the pavement and cruise back to the finish line after hiking their muddy bikes downhill for the past hour or two.  Many riders, however, decided to finish out the sufferfest on course to make sure that their effort was counted in the results.  I managed to finish the entire course without getting bogged down, and came across the line at 10:45 soaking wet and completely covered in mud from head to toe.

(My bike after mud lap, after the subsequent power washing it may never be the same again)
I crossed the line and began to tell the USAC officials how bad it was out on course. I knew that most of those people I had ridden past were still hopelessly stuck in the mud, getting more cold and wet by the minute.  At about 11PM they announced that the race was on hold for the time being, and not to go back out.  Shortly thereafter they were calling for anybody with a truck to go out and shuttle stuck racers in from the aid stations.  I listened to the updated over the loudspeaker crouched naked in my tent and attempted to clean myself using baby wipes while eating cold ravioli and drinking a bomber of Marble Double IPA (thanks Marble!)  I was very cold, and very dirty, but I was in my tent with a big bowl of pasta and a really big strong beer, and life was perfect at that moment.

(Charlie has made it in alive from the epic mud lap. Rich has made it out of his tent alive after an epic nap and potentially fatal tent-fart. We all celebrate)

About 45 minutes later Dr. Dave came rolling into camp.  He had been one of the unlucky ones who became completely stuck in the mud and ended up hiking for miles.  I was amazed because he must have been just 5 or 10 minutes behind me when he reached Burma Trail, but somehow it was rideable for me but not for him.  Then, around midnight or so Charlie, Wes, and Paul all came straggling into camp. I had assumed that those guys were all in their tents, because they were just relaxing when I had headed out around 9PM.  All 3 of them had the misery lap of slogging through the mud.  At the end of the night, though, all our guys were safely back into camp, and everybody had toughed it out through the entire course, making sure that their miserable lap would count in the results.

(Paul made it in alive, and promptly was double fisting with a beer and tequila. Well played Paul, well played)
So you can imagine everybody's displeasure when it was announced that the official USAC decision was to not count any laps completed after 10:30 PM.   But that is a story for another post.

(An embarrasing photo of Swinton, for good measure)
So the race resumed at 6:30am after much confusion and delay.  The course was eventually re-routed around the muddy Burma section.  Good times started up again, and in general, people were on their bikes and happy.  Tinker Juarez eventually won the mens Solo category.  He was pitted right next to us for the race, and it was awesome to watch him haul ass lap after lap with a smile on his face.
(Tinker: Certified Badass and all around Nice Guy)
And last but not least, long time friend and Albuquerque local Nina Baum won the Women's Solo category.  It was cool to watch her come across the finish line for such a big win.  Well done Nina.
We have more friends with good results, and more tales from the weekend, but that is all I have for now. Thanks for reading!

Closed For Enchanted Forest

We will be closed Friday 6/14 through Monday 6/17 while attending 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest race.

We will return for normal hours Tuesday 6/18 at 10am.

If you have a repair in the shop currently, please contact us so we can make sure to work out any special accommodations  needed to get you your bike back before we close for the weekend.

We apologize for the inconvenience, but sometimes the guys in the bike shop just have to get out and ride bikes too.


BMC coming to Bikeworks Albuquerque!

Big news at Bikeworks this week. We are now the Albuquerque dealer for BMC Bicycles.  This is something we are very excited about.  Our first BMC models will arrive this week, starting with the Granfondo GF01 Ultegra.

To give you more information about BMC, I would like to introduce you to Marc Basiliere, our guest blogger for the day.  He is a local badass, contributor on bikerumor.com, and BMC owner/enthusiast.  Without further ado....

Well hello there, Bikeworks readers!  I hadn't seen you hiding behind your screens- I hope that we haven't kept you waiting.

Let me introduce myself: my name is Marc and I'm a contributor at the world's most blue-and-orange bicycle gear news site, Bikerumor.com.  More importantly, I'm also a long-time Bikeworks customer, having known Dan, Dan, and Mike from our time together at The Shop Which Shall Not Be Named.  Even more importantly than that, I also like to ride my bike and other peoples' bikes, both here in Albuquerque and in places where other people ask me to ride their bikes.  Recently, a Dan asked me if I'd like to write something for the shop's site.  Given the mesmerizing combination of desperation and menace in his eyes, how could I refuse?

In the same conversation, he mentioned that the shop had just agreed to pick up Swiss bike brand BMC.  Now BMC (Bicycle Manufacturing Company sounds way, way cooler in Swiss) is largely known as a road brand here in the States.  But what few people know is that they started out as a mountain bike company.  When one of their owners, who owned the team formerly known as Phonak told them that they needed to produce a Tour-caliber frame for his racers in twelve months' time, their response was [apply Swiss-accented but grammatically perfect accent now] "But of course" [End accent] and well-engineered, race-winning, and well-received road bikes simply appeared.

In the meantime, the Swiss engineers had been hard at work developing their Advanced Pivot System full suspension mountain bikes.  Switzerland is known for its long climbs, steep descents, chocolate, and narrow-gage singletrack, so it's no surprise that BMC wanted a design that was not only efficient going up but plush and composed going down, handled nimble-ly, and wouldn't steal your chocolate.  As Friend Of The Shop Charlie can attest, some of the early designs were tall and responsive in a way that seems to excite Germans but frighten everyone else.  With his experience in mind, I was surprised (and a bit nervous) when invited to ride the new carbon fiber Fourstroke FS01 29er at an Alpine resort last summer.  I needn't have been.

With 100mm of travel front and rear (or 120/100mm in the lovely blue Trailcrew edition), the Fourstroke 29er is one of the best 29ers I've ridden- if not the best.  The design is not dissimilar from Giant's Anthem:  it provides a platform that is active on small bumps while remaining largely indifferent to all but the most spastic rider inputs.  Better still, BMC have incorporated just enough anti-squat to keep things feeling lively and keep from bogging down on the kind of steps found in the Sandias. 

 Pointed downhill, the Fourstroke manages to somehow be planted, composed, and playful- so much so that their Enduro team regularly chooses 120mm-fork'd Fourstrokes over the 150mm Trailfox for Enduro events.  Knowing that the key to getting anywhere is pedaling, they've kept their bottom brackets on the high side- perfect for cranking though uphill or downhill rocky sections.  Throw in routing for Stealth dropper post cabling and an integrated chainstay chainguide mount and you can see that the Fourstroke is a bit more mischevious than its travel, full-carbon frame, and 22lb weight might suggest.

Back in Albuquerque, I've been spending a lot of time on my very own 26in/150mm Trailfox.  Built up with light-but-sensible wheels, a SRAM XX1 group, a dropper post, 2.4s, and my usual 1.5lb of pedals/computer/bell/sealant, the complete bike hits the scale under 26lb and is ready for anything from epic singletrack days to lift-serviced descending.  One bike to rule them all?  If your riding is more rad than racy, this could be your rig.  For everything from Faulty to the Black Canyon Trail, Rambo (yes, that's still what it's called) to Durango, it has been mine.

Nearly a year after my first Fourstroke experience, I recently had the opportunity to fill in for another racer at the 7-day Trans Sylvania Epic stage race.  Seeing as BMC was an event sponsor, I thought it only right to to wrangle a Fourstroke for my short-notice attempt.  

With tubeless-ready Conti ProTection tires and a pair of pedals fitted, the FourStroke was the perfect match for a course that combined technical East Coast singletrack with long gravel road sections and raucous descents.  The active suspension saved  my butt on 40+mi days in the saddle while its efficiency made the climbs seem easier and the days seem shorter than they otherwise should have.  Oh, and while we weren't exactly contenders in the men's duo competition, the 100mm Fourstroke took your writer to a class victory in the Enduro competition- not bad for an XC race 29er.  

So there you go.  I hope that you're as excited as I am about the boys' picking up BMC.  The bikes are fantastic and I hear that their demo truck is stocked with wine and cheese.  Seriously.  Next time, we'll talk about something else that's awesome.  Until next time...