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Saturday I completed my longest mtb ride yet.  Though my wife keeps telling me the 10 hour ride we took way back when on the Wasatch Crest was the longest, I still don’t think it had the distance as we spent about a third of that day hike-a-biking. 

So the Zuni 100…then 86er…finally decided to be 83 miles.  That distance is according to my bike computer (which was calibrated with my gps and the Chupacabras) and Troy M’s gps.  Ride time 8:02, total time 8:31.  My goal was 8:30.  So I’m pleased.  I flatted once, stopped to add some air once, stopped to chat to lots of riders who were doing the 43er….or whatever distance it was…, stopped to chat to guys on the 83er who missed one of the side loops, and ate a decent pile of pasta soaked in soy sauce while back at camp at the half-way point.

Total singletrack was about 76 miles.  When I say singletrack, I mean SINGLETRACK.  Not old doubletrack now converted or grown into single track, but pure singletrack.  The course was ridden in both directions.  The trails in McGaffey are what I call “fat man” trails.  They don’t have a lot of sustained climbing and most of the climbing consists of middle ring spins out of washes and mellow switchbacks up stuff that should just go straight up.  Granny gear not required.  Very single speed friendly. 

If my SS was more comfortable, I would have given it a go.  But the comfort and second nature feeling of my Racer-X made my choice easy.  It’s my “go to” bike, so I felt it deserved the a good hard ride through lots of singletrack.

If you’ve never ridden the Piedmont of the Carolinas in late fall or winter, and you live out west and don’t see the need to go east, then ride the trails at McGaffey outside of Gallup, NM.  You’ll get the same feeling with less humidity and higher altitude.  There’s lots of packed sand and pine needles just like the piedmont except the species of pines are different.

Despite a serious lack of organization, lots of people showed up to support Gallup Trails 2010 (though I didn’t know it was a gathering to benefit 2010 until later), listen to several bands, camp in a beautiful little canyon, hang out with a couple of America’s top mountain bikers, drink some good beer, and ride lots of trails.  My dog was happy, Jen was happy, I was happy.  I didn’t see any sad faces until we left. 

Here’s the homebrew contest.  I actually got some suckers to drink my 2 year old porter.  My camera sucks…especially at night.

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This is me post ride trying to explain to Dara why I’m such a salty sweater.  Not like the sweater you wear, but sweat.  Just look at the picture, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

after the ride

I lost count of the number of barbed wire fences I climbed over and crawled under, and I lost the trail about a dozen times. No one got lost, just off track.  My cue card system worked well.  When I finished, some guys asked if they could take a picture of the cockpit of my bike with the cue card taped to it.  They thought it was super cool.  I didn’t even look at it on the way back, but the first lap’s card had mileage and it was referenced a few times.

If you are a fast rider, my suggestion is to buy the Gallup Waypoints trail book and ride on your own.  There are a few fast guys in town…..Jack, Pete, and some others.  But the average Gallupiun will only get through about a 1/4 of the trails out there in a day and they like to stop a lot.  Jen and Dara rode almost half the trails in a loop fashion that incorporated Hwy 400 in less than 3 hours.  They are fast, but they were being girls and having fun that day.  I’m glad they didn’t do the big ride as they probably would have schooled me.

For the last year, I’ve been dropping hints to race promoters everywhere that something has to be done about the crappy prizes and nik naks that are handed out at races.  I know I’m not the only one.  This past spring BIKE Magazine had an article about how mountain biking lacks “the prize”….like the Stanley Cup.   Any of you who have stood on the podium or browsed the prize table while struggling to remain standing after a race…..this blog posting is for you.  For your entertainment, I have gathered some of my stash.  Half of it is buried somewhere in a closet.  Others have made it to the landfill.

Medals – I have boxes of medals.  Many of them are made out of plastic.  Some I have no idea where they came from or what place they were.  Others are well labeled and look really cool.  Looking through my stash, I get some great memories.  The guys at Team Big Bear are the worst.  They used plastic medals for years.   Woop d doo…I got a medal.  Stash that one in the box.  And don’t even get me started on ribbons. 

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Big checks – While big checks are cool, there really isn’t that much money to go around to make big checks that interesting.  Jenn and I both won big checks down in Mexico.  They were for 1500 pesos….$150.  Let me go buy that new car!  If you’re gonna give out the big check, make sure the money in the bank is worth it.  Nothing gets good racers to your race more than cold cash.  A lot of it.  Not just $150 for the overall winner…especially when you have over 200 participants.

T-shirts – T-shirts seem to be mandatory for all entrants.  That’s cool, but remember Mr. Promoter, that shirt ends up in the rag bin or the Goodwill dumpster about a year or two down the road.  I can get 8 high quality bicycle rags out of a medium t-shirt.  And that ugly ass color you used since the t-shirt company said they’d give you a great deal on it….sucks.  Why the f^@* do I want another black shirt with pink letters.  Or the purple one with the ugly sasquatch on it…what was up with that Bump and Grind promoters?  Instarag!

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Belt buckles – Unless it’s for the Leadville 100….I see no need to try to copy.  Although this silver from the women’s Iron Horse road race is a nice one.  It just never gets worn.  I’m not into boots and plum smuggler wranglers.  Wearing these is not an option.

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Jerseys – Now were starting to get somewhere.  Of course, road races make this a mandatory thing.  Leaders get a sweet jersey for the wall.  Overall winners too.  Jenn has a bunch of those things stashed away somewhere.  They’ll go on a bike shop wall one day.  The Chupacabras 100K (or 120 K or however long it is now) gives a jersey to the first 600 finishers.  Nice.  And if you win one of the many national championship categories, you get a good ‘ole stars and stripes.  2 for this household!  The downside to wearing these is they’ll wear out.  It’s sad to do that. 

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 Trophies and plaques – Ugg.  So BMX.  I mean look at them.  I’m not going to cover my wall or let dust build on all this crap, so what do I do with them.  And what in the hell is that thing on the right?  Can you get any more lame for a prize?

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Bike Swag – Thanks local sponsoring shop or big manufacturer who is friends with the promoter.  I love you.  You’re gonna pony up an assload of tires for the winners!  Just what I need.  A set of 26″ mud tires for me to ride on my 29er down here in the desert.  Or those ugly ass gloves that sat on your shelf for over 2 years.  Or the 2 year old helmet.  Sometimes it’s good stuff, but finisher beware…..make sure you count the spoke holes on those sweet lookin’ rims.  You may never use them and they’ll get all bent up on your way home.  I must admit that I am currently using quite a few products that were picked up off the winner’s swag table.  Other times, I’ve found myself so weary and fried after sitting around for 3 hours waiting on awards, that I just grabbed the wrong thing.  Really wrong.

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THE ULTIMATE PRIZE……

The drinking vessel!!! – A quality drinking vessel is the best prize you can give a cyclist.  Sheeez.  All we do is drink…and eat and train occasionally.  Fluids are key to our survival and sanity!  Why not give us something to remember our suffering.  I fill that pint with a cold Sam Adams and remember putting the wood to those guys out in Vermont.  Fill that mug up with OJ in the morning and remember Yuri H.’s first of many crashes (King of the Hill DH at Deer Valley…thanks for cheering Yuri).  Jenn even has a stainless steel martini glass!  How cool is that?

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So listen up all you promoters.  Order the beer glasses for your winners.  Stuff some cash into them for the experts and pros.  Put gift certificates to the local sponsoring restaurant or shop into them for the sports and beginners.  Fill one up with Sports Legs or packs of Cytomax for the last finisher.  Give the extras away to your volunteers.