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5 years after our first Old Pueblo, Jen and I headed back to Oracle for another go.  This time we had a full 5 person team, a nice RV, a bit of sponsorship to cover entry fees, and teammates that we’ve been friends with for a while.  The crazy Scot Martin Coll, co-owner of M and M Cycles in Sierra Vista, AZ….44 years old, borrowed this rig to stay warm and rest well during our intemittent sleep and continuous hot laps around the desert.

Jayco Popup
Jayco Popup

Check out the cooler/fridge.  Genius.  I’m also digging the spring attached garbage can.  Quite a nice rig for one person.

We loaded up EVERYTHING for this event.  I even brought the BIG air compressor.
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I was pretty proud of that packing job.  We ended up using only half the water we brought and we never used the air compressor.  The generator worked really well burning only 1/3 of a tank in about 3 hours of use.
I got to do the run….again.  This time I wasn’t nearly as fast as I was during round one five years ago.  I was in the army then and I ran all the time.   I was in the top 10 back then and came through in 6th or something.  This year I started a little further back….probably like 60th or so.  But I got a good hand-up on the bike and lived up to the promise I made to my teammates that I’d finish in the top 15.  I think I was 14th. 
The first two rotations went as follows:  Me, Beto, Martin, Jen, Mark….
Then Mark, who had a double disk repair in his back last summer, needed a bit longer break.  The third rotation was Me, Beto, Martin, Jen, Me.  After that, I’d have to refer to the results to be completely accurate, but we stayed pretty regular despite Mark’s pain and Jen’s severe heart burn which left me to jump ahead of her in the final rotation.  One of my rotations of sleep was interrupted by someone opening my camper door and saying, “Dude….you got a grinder?”  Turns out that our buddy Gabe’s duo partner had broken off his Crank Bros pedal leaving the spindle.  The allen hole got stripped out in their haste to remove it.  I busted out my trusty battery powered dremel and ground two flat sides on the spindle for my giant crescent wrench to grab hold.  With the crescent and the allen tool, we were able to get it off.  I don’t remember them putting another pedal on.  I just put my tools away and went back to sleep.
I was super stoked as nothing major happened on the trail.  On Beto’s first night lap, his bar light went out.  We swapped over one of our Ay Up’s for his next night lap even though he thought he’d be ok without a bar light.  Good thing as his helmet light went out on that next lap.  He still turned over some insanely fast night laps….which are hard to do without a helmet light cause the OP is freakin’ twisty.
We knew we probably wouldn’t be able to beat the Ergon team unless something bad happened to them.  Yuki and Jeff are young bucks and they’ve been training hard.  Weins is tough as nails and kind of a golden god of aerobic activities.  Sonya was super motivated even though she had a bit of a head cold.  Her 3 laps were pretty quick, but not suprising as she was a pretty good short tracker when she first got going into the national scene.
I was pleased that none of us had heart attacks, we had no flats or crashes, and we left stoked to have partaken in such a cool event.
And it was cool…if not cold.  I wore my 20 year old durawool tights for all my laps after my second one.
We have quite a few layers on in this pic.p2140021
At least it didn’t rain again.  That would have really sucked, but we would have been ready as we had our SS’s…which Beto and Martin rode exclusively.  We had a good arsenal of bikes.  No worries there.
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I rode my SS on my second lap with a 32×16.  It was a bit stiff at the end on the climb.  I continued on the Racer-X since it’s like a glove and I could go rippin’ fast on the wide open stuff.  Jen stuck with her geared bike as well due to a bad brake on her SS.  But if it had rained….I think things would have been a much different story as the SSers tend to really kill it at Pueblo when it gets nasty….and I really like to ride in crappy conditions.   And with Martin being a Scot, we would have had that extra rain advantage.
The dog was in heaven celebrating her 5th year of racing.  The OP was her first bike race with us on her first weekend with us.  She only weighed 7 pounds.  Jen carried her to the start back then.  She was extra cute.  What happened?
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Here’s the naked guy…I didn’t get a full pic as he kind of caught me off guard. 
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Here’s Jen on the way home.  Some help she was….and she took Monday off.
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Just kidding.  I came home from work monday and all the bikes were clean and in the rack.  The camper was clean and ready for our next trip.  The truck was even vacuumed.  All the laundry was done and she even ran the camper dishes through our dishwasher.  What an awesome chica! 

My blog has been getting plenty of hits this week.  I’m guessing it’s because people are wanting to see what happened with the puzzler.  It was a huge success for us.  More than twice as many people than last year, longer, better weather, more food, better prizes, and a real bike race vibe.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered.  Races never happen without volunteers.  Sometimes you get a good spot to watch some action.  Other times you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and riders come by huffing and puffing every 5 minutes.  So thanks a bunch to all of you who put up with broken up cell calls and complaints and confusion from riders.

For the full story, check out the write up on Cyclingnews.com.  I spent a few hours compiling that thing.  Here it is:  http://cyclingnews.com/mtb.php?id=mtb/2009/feb09/elpasopuzzler09

We are getting flurries today and it’s really cold.  I’m so glad we had the weather we did for the Puzzler.   Next week is Old Pueblo.  It should be interesting.

For those of you in El Paso, please check out the BMBA blog.  We’ve got some work to do.

I think that today had to be one of the craziest days in my life.  It started at about 3:30 when I could no longer take the tasks in my head anymore.  I had to get out of bed and get to work.  So I got on the computer, finished writing my final assignment for my teacher certification, then went to work making stupid little signs for the Puzzler…like “Sign in at feedzone before going to start line” and Station 1 – License Check.  After Jen woke up at 6, I immediately started printing the signs.  I also printed 20 blank # plates on cardstock.

Then I loaded my backpack full of stakes and arrows to mark the course into the Benzo.  Loaded my other pack for school with a change of clothes and lunch.  Ate breakfast, walked my dog, took care of hygiene, then finally headed out at 7:25.  I had a meeting at 8 am.  My dad called me on my ride in….which I did on my frankencrosser…so I called him back to make sure nothing was wrong.  I cut him off as I had to be at my meeting.  After signing in, I found out where the meeting was and headed down.  School started at 8:45, so that spared me from anymore mumbo jumbo from worthless central office employees.

First period class, got observed…as expected…by central office employees at the end of class.  2nd period common planning with my team.  Ran around like a chicken with no head for about 20 minutes trying to get lab book from team coach.  Made copies, distributed them, heated can of soup on laboratory hot plate.  Packed up physics lab materials, ate lunch, headed to lunch duty, then went to class….outside at stadium.  Back inside for the rest of class.  Then my 4th period hell class, which went fairly well except a bunch of snooty girls did their nails and shit and got totally ripped on the polish fumes.  Jen walked in at 3:30 to lots of fanfare from my students. 

Oh shit!  We’ve got to mark the heinrich area trails….and I didn’t ride my mountain bike to school.  So I Phelan’d it with a 30 pound pack and pounded stakes all over the heinrich trails.  We taped a bunch of signs onto big rocks.  Freakin’ hilarious.  Rallied Tomac style back to car just before dark.  Got home, took in big boxes of cheap ass water bottles for Puzzler (they look great, but they are hard to squeeze), made delicious salad, microwaved some veggie lasagna, ate and finished up my portfolio for teacher cert. 

Proofed through the portfolio with Jen, printed that beeaawtch, and organized.  Interview is Thursday night.

A little blog time and I’ll be ready for bed.  Next week I should be a fully certified teacher.  Maybe I’ll finish my masters and so I can earn that extra $1000 a year.