By my maths, this is the 4th running of this event, and the 3rd time I have been there to play along. The inaugural event was in 2011, when I participated as part of a 4 man team with Alex, Paul, and Charlie. In 2012 I went again and raced solo, casually, and I didn't win. In 2013 I went solo again, bringing a fat bike and food poisoning. We skipped 2014, I think because 2013 was so much "fun" we had to take a year off. But this year I've been banging out the 12 Hour races, so I signed up once again and headed out.
There were some last minute changes this year, due to trail conditions it was decided that the course would be ran in reverse (clockwise) direction from all years prior. This excited me a bit, since it would be different than before, and hopefully that would keep things interesting.
This year I brought my beautiful Wife and kids along, and we used our new-to-us pop up camper for the first time.
Here is Oliver (my 4 year old), Dr. Dave (the Doctor), and Scott (the dog) showing off the new trailer and our custom Bikeworks flag made from a XXXL jersey that we couldn't sell. It was really fun having our own little camper setup, and definitely made it more enjoyable to hang out all day for the rest of the family while I was racing.
Speaking of kids, Zia Rides did an amazing job keeping the little ones occupied this year during the race. During packet pickup Friday, they had a local story teller come in, a fire pit with s'mores provided, and they even showed an outdoor kids movie around the fire with a projector. My kiddos were thrilled.
(Julian, my 7 year old, being totally stoked on campfire and s'mores)
Then there was a kids race during the middle of the day Saturday. Unfortunately I missed the kids race, but both my boys participated. The coolest thing was that all the kids who race were given belt buckle trophies, the same ones that the adults were competing for, during the awards ceremony.
I was really appreciative of all the effort put into keeping it fun for the family.
Speaking of podiums, I managed to get 2nd place this year in the Solo Singlespeed category. Having raced solo singlespeed 12 hours at El Paso in February, and in Silver City in March, I was starting to feel like I knew I was capable of, and actually set some goals for the first time this race. I managed to keep my pit times down to what felt like a bare minimum, and I rode until I ran out of time. That ended up meaning 8 laps (at 14 miles each) in about 11 1/2 hours.
My personal race ended up being a pretty competitive battle with Rich Maines, where I led the race for the first 4 laps, then he passed me in the pits and I chased about 5 minutes behind for laps 5 and 6. But I totally blew myself up trying to close down those minutes and fell apart on lap 6. Fortunately my pit crew (my Mom, Dad, and Wife) were there to save me. I came straggling in and sat down to rest for the first time during the race. My Mom had just made a big pile of mac and cheese for the kiddos, and I ate what I presume to be all of it. My Dad fed me some ibuprofen because my neck was killing me, and my Wife gave me a shoulder massage.
Somehow I got back onto my feet, expecting a stomach ache and planning on just doing one more lap. Luckily, a few miles in, the mac n cheese was settled nicely, the pain killers were doing there job, and I felt better than I had in hours. Lap 7 cruised on by somehow, and I knew that I'd be able to crank out an 8th, hoping that would solidly put me into 2nd place.
Lap 8 was uneventful except that Swedish Diesel Daniel Appelo saw me rolling out for my lap and decided that I could use some company. So he caught up to me and we rode together and talked the entire time. I felt like we were taking it easy, and he had to wait for me repeatedly, but it ended up being one of my faster laps and the time went by very easily. Thanks Daniel!
I didn't manage to get a very good podium pic of my own....
(Thats me on the podium, mostly blocked by the guy in the beanie)
(Julian was still so amped on his belt buckle that he made a second trip up to the podium to accompany me)
After the race we headed to the Valley of Fires state park with my parents, which is just past Carrizozo and only about 30 minutes from the race venue. It's a really neat campground in the lava flow that I had only just cruised right through every year before.
Lava!!!! (and the sun came out for like 5 minutes!)
It's a very developed park, nice for RV's and trailers, but there are some very nice tent camping spots tucked away quietly at the back of the park away from the road noise. There is a little 3/4 mile paved "hike" around in the lava flow with informative signage along the way. It was perfect for the little ones, and the adults found it fun too.
We really lucked out on the nice weather for the race, because all day Sunday and Monday it was overcast, rainy, and howling winds. So that made exploring the lava flow a little less fun, but it did give us a good excuse to hang out in our new trailer, drink booze, play cards, and generally be happy that we weren't in a tent at the moment.
(it's just a little trailer, but we're a pretty small family)
It was another awesome weekend of racing. Thanks so much to Lindsay and Seth from Zia Rides for putting on another amazing event! I can't wait for the next one.