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!




2 comments:

  1. These photos show that you have enjoyed your times.
    Use Diapers coupon code and enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diapers? What are you talking about?! Everyone knows racer boys use swiftwick hats to poop on the trail. Jesus tits, it's even mentioned in a post from a few weeks ago.

      Delete