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All day. All night.

Epic Rides: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

I’ve done a lot of 24 hour racing in many different formats.  Gordon Wadsworth (@quadsworth) and I signed up for what may be the hardest way to do a 24 hour race – coed duo.  If you’re thinking, “Gordon… Gordon… that name sounds familiar…”  He’s been SS National Champ multiple times, NUE champ many times and he and I have raced as a team at races like Brasil Ride and The Pioneer NZ.

Duo is difficult because you pretty much trade off every lap (relay style).  That means you are trading off every 60-70 minutes and going from stopped to full gas.  Our strategy was to push the throttle harder and get a good lead for the first part of the race.  If we were ahead enough, we would do double laps after midnight.  Our plan worked.  We had ridden so strong that we had lapped the field so Gordon did a double, I did a double, and Gordon did one more.  The morning was about maintaining pace and enjoying the final 25% of the race.

The last time I did 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo was 10 years ago as part of a 5 person team.  The event has grown substantially since then.  With a lap format race, you get to see tons of people (as well as pass and get passed!).  The biggest danger are the many species of cactus.  Most people walked away with at least a few cactus needles embedded in their skin as souvenirs. I accidentally punched a cactus..twice… at night while passing. Peripheral vision isn’t strong at night!

The biggest challenge of the race was the cold.  At night, temps dipped down to -6C or 20F.  We planned this race with a bare bones set up with no RV (in hindsight, this was a big mistake).  In between laps, even during daylight hours, you would shiver violently. Your core temperature would increase while racing to the point of sweating.  I tried to change kits every lap or two to preserve nether regions and stay as warm as I could while I waited.  I’d crawl into the back of the car and shiver uncontrollably in my sleeping bag with soaking wet hair.  I wore down pants, sweater, down jacket, and a beanie in between laps tucked in my 0F sleeping bag.

I tried to focus on that moment of relief when you stopped shivering and your body relaxed.  It was a good thing to focus on!  I set my alarm for a 30 minute nap during Gordon’s double lap that started at 4:30 AM.  With race napping, you either want to get a full REM cycle (90 minutes) or a nap (20-30 minutes).  Anything in between and you’ll feel groggy when you wake up.  There was no time for a full REM cycle, so my sleep for the entire race was the 20-30 minute nap.

I also made nutrition mistakes for the first time ever at a 24 hour race.  Typically, I have a dedicated support person to help cook food, charge my batteries, and be 100% committed to making the pit stops much easier. We did have support for part of the race which helped a lot!  Elliot Baring was helping out while he could that made some of the pits easier.  Kenny from NoTubes also helped if we needed mechanic work and we charged batteries at their booth. (I admit my front brake was rubbing for the first 2 laps I did… I was in too much of a rush to double check after I unpacked my bike).  Duncan from Maxxis was there in case we needed to switch up any tires.  Those guys having our back was helpful!  However, on the food side of things, there was no time to cook, so foods like cooked plain pasta, white rice, having soup in between every lap, etc did not work out. I ended up eating way too much sugar (a big no-no in for solo and duo 24s).  My stomach shut down and I couldn’t eat all night, couldn’t take in any caffeine, and also- it was so cold that my water bottles froze during my double lap so I had no water either!  Hindsight: I should have arrived in Tucson a day earlier, and pre-planned/pre-cooked all my food for the race.  So no excuses!!

It wasn’t as bad as it sounds.  Basically, when things start going south, you need to go into survival mode.  I knew what pace was a fat-burning effort/FFA to minimize the need for calories.  I did bonk, so I tried to just pace to get through and minimize damage.  We were still gaining on the competition which was the goal!  I was surprised to see so many co-ed duo teams – 17 total.

The last couple of laps went much better as my stomach came back online. I was able to get an oatmeal and miso soup from Elliot (THANK YOU!), and eventually have some coffee in the later hours of the morning.

Gordon smashed his laps and turned in the 2nd fastest lap on course out of everyone.

We took the win the co-ed duo category (and we even beat all the duo men) with 20 laps. I did 9 and Gordon did 11. I ended up racing 235km / 146 miles.  We also were 22nd overall (out of all 4 person, 5 person, duo, etc) teams. There were 420 finishing teams.

My Bike Set-Up

Celebratory wine at home: Michael David Winery Freakshow Cab!

Thanks for all the cheers out on course and comments on social media!

Next Race? CAPE EPIC

Yes!!  First time racing Cape Epic. My teammate (Catherine Williamson UK)  and I got a late entry about a week ago.  I definitely wish I had more time to prep specifically for this event, but we are going to go and  make the most of what we have! 95% of my training will have been on the the trainer and I’m currently following a heat training protocol that we’ll be covering on my podcast in a 2 part series.  Make sure to follow my instagram for the adventure!

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