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The weekend before AZT, Jen and I decided to give the 12 Hours of the Wild West a second go ’round.  The inaugural year was pretty fun with a fast course, despite a nasty head wind on the final descent.  We had a babysitter that year with my mom joining us for some help with the C-man.  We took the win in the coed category that year and we were third overall.

This year Jen was pretty motivated to do this race again.  I figured it would be a good, albeit late, tune up for AZT.  With no babysitter and Connor in a pretty new cast on his lower leg, we were a bit nervous as to how this race was going to end up.  When Jen registered us, she mentioned that she wanted to win the whole thing.  I figured it would be possible as long as no 4 person male teams were too stacked and Connor understood that he wasn’t going to get much attention.

We got to the venue near Ft. Stanton, NM and set up in the gravel parking lot right near the timing tent.  Jen got out for a pre-ride and I just chilled with the C-man checking out some of the other rigs at the race.  The weather was perfect with only a slight wind/breeze.  The course was much longer than the first year and we were looking forward to getting in a few miles.family photo 12 hour wild west 2013

Since there was no Lemans start, I went first.  I put it in cruise control and let Paul Pacillas lead things out.  I kept it rolling on the second lap and put in a chase for Paul’s teammate Jay.  I was reeling Jay in when my chain started skipping on my cogs.  Uggh.  That’s what I get for thinking all my wheels/cassettes are worn about the same.

I held my position in the race and handed off to Jen.  Jen came back with a pretty substantial gap on the leading team and I switched over to my Superfly 100 which was set up with a 32×21.  It was a bit easy for the course, but I made it work.  What sucked was that the brakes on that bike have been getting louder and louder.  I cleaned them, lubed them, did a bleed on them, put factory pads in, tried different rotors….no difference.  Howled like a wolf who had just smoked a pack of camels.  Oh well….brakes only slow you down.

jen finish 12 hour wild west 2013

Our lead grew throughout the day and we ended up finishing up in less than 11 hours with the overall win.  Jen put in lap times that were equal to mine….and where much faster than the slowest members of our opposing teams.  The longer laps were definitely beneficial to us with lap times of 1:10 or so.  Some riders took almost 2 hours to get in a lap.  My suggestion to the race promoter was to stick with a slightly shorter lap in order to allow teams to put in more laps.

12 wild west podium

Connor did quite well and stayed occupied with all of his trucks.  He even noticed when one of my tires went flat and immediately let me know.  I had punctured through the rim strip.  Luckily we both brought two bikes each so we were never stressed about bike related issues.  Other than my howling brakes that frightened the bajeezus out of more than one rider, and my skipping gears, no major issues slowed us down.  Notubes….NO FLATS!

Click here to see the official results.

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I pushed the limits of sleep and exposure over the Thanksgiving holiday and worked the entire week afterwards in a pretty bad funk.  I lost my voice Monday afternoon but pushed on all week.  Stupid.  It’s not like I’m feverish, extra tired, or constantly hacking up a lung.  I’m only slightly below that.  I’m probably pushing myself towards mono or something.

So I spent the day finishing up a little handlebar bag that is going to attach to a new harness system that will hold my stuff sack.  It turned out pretty good, but for some reason, I have difficulty totally visualizing everything I want in a bag and just kind of wing it as I go.  This one should be a keeper.  I went ahead and struggled through putting some binding tape around the seams to keep it from fraying out.  I hate putting on binding tape.  It’s harder with a binder feeder than it is by hand.

So I’m spending all day today indoors just chillin’ and working on some small projects.  Going to re do my handlebar harness using the grey 1000d and will make up some bottle holders.  We’ll see how they turn out.

Here are some things I’d like to sell off before the little one comes.

Spot Belt Drive Kit – great condition w/ about 100 off-road miles.  39×24.  Newest setup with guides on both sides of the rear pulley.  $150.

Magura Hugin Rear Shock.  “Short shock” 6.5×1.5 . http://www.magura.com/en/products/older-products/rearshocks-2008/prod/hugin.html  Used on Titus Racer-X 29er for 3 rides.  $150

WTB Rocket-V Race – Ti Rail – White.  Used twice.  $50.

Shimano XT clipless pedals – brand new in box – $75.

Niner SS Cog – 22 t – Brand new. $30

Will possibly trade for the following:  Crank Brother’s Egg Beater SL pedals, WTB Silverado Saddle.

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.

It will be interesting to see who will line up for Puzzler dos.  So far we’ve got two Coloradoans and a couple El Pasoans signed up for the torture fest.  Online registration is up, so we’ll see if that gets people going on it.  We have as much swag and cash as last year.  This year we’ll be awarding some incredibly cool trophies.  This trophy will be worth putting on the mantle.  It will definitely be placed at the front of the stash of award crap.  I only wish I could race for one as I used to dream of a similar trophy when I was a kid.  I missed that opportunity….created a new one….but I can’t participate.  Being a race director kind of sucks.  Oh well.

We finally got some cold rain and snow in El Paso this week.  The mountains were white most of the day yesterday and today.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be putting fenders to use this winter or not.  The new PI rain jacket kicked ass.  Gotta love PI’s stuff as long as it fits correctly.

Sign up for the Puzzler.  It’s going to be a blast.

Despite some grumbling from some late risers, the Puzzler took off just a bit after 9 am with 29 starters.  The pack spread out quickly as is usually the case in technical and long cross country races.  The course was incredibly well marked since we had to resort to using ground paint in the Heinrich Park area due to a sour puss trying to sabotage our course arrows.  Nobody got lost!  That was my number one desire for this event.

The weather was incredible with a light breeze, lots of sunshine, and temps in the mid 60’s!!!  Arm warmers and knee warmers were almost too much, but they came in handy for crossing over Mundy’s Gap.

Just under four and half hours after starting, the first finisher rolled in for an award winning bowl of chili and some energy drinks.  About a half hour later, I rolled in with Jennifer hot on my tail.  The last finishers made it in safely at 5:30 pm.  Every finisher scored a t-shirt, bottles, and some killer swag and gift certificates.  Only 17 riders finished the entire event.  Some were a bit disappointed.  Others were amazed at how long it took to ride the first 36 miles opting to eat chili instead of completing the entire 45 miles.

Big thanks to our sponsors:  Revolution Cyclery, Vinci Bike, Bicycle Co., Richard’s Cycle Sport, Hunt Family Foundation, Rudolph Honda, Sun Harvest, Costco, Planet Bike, WTB, DT Swiss, Salt Stick, Hammer Nutrition, Diamond Back/Avenir, and Raleigh

For some great race pics, check out this link:  http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=379431

Thanks again to everyone who supported this event and came out to give it a go.  It is an amazingly difficult loop and next year promises to be even tougher.

Three of the top five finishers were riding 29er Single Speeds!

Here’s a list of the finishers:

Name                                                               Time                            Category

Bret Bernard, Las Cruces, NM                       4:25                             Geared Male

David Wilson, El Paso, TX                             4:58                             SS Male

Jennifer Tribe-Wilson  , El Paso                      5:01                             SS Female

Mark Challoner, Sierra Vista, AZ                   5:23                             SS Male

Chris Hereford, Albuquerque, NM                 5:32                             Geared Male

Brent Sanders, El Paso                                   5:38                             Geared Male

Pablo Lopez, Las Cruces                               5:39                             SS Male

Ryan Cody, El Paso                                       5:50                             Geared Male

Susan Rasmusen, El Paso                               6:01                             Geared Female

Brian Long, Cloudcroft, NM                          6:15                             Geared Male

“Smokin” Raymundo, Las Cruces                  6:55                             Geared Male

Tyler McLaughlin, Las Cruces                        6:55                             SS Male

Chris Larabel, El Paso                                    7:33                             Geared Male

Don Futch, Las Cruces                                  7:40                             Geared Male  

Erich Anderson, Dallas, TX                            8:20                             Geared Male

Henry Ramirez, El Paso                                  8:30                             Geared Male

Adrian Martinez, El Paso                                8:30                             Geared Male

The way it’s looking lately, I’m gonna say yes. 

I got a comment on the term “hundie” for 100 mile mtb races and was told to call them “dirty centuries”.  Well, I’m not going to call them that either.  I think 1900 to 1999 will become known as the dirty century as we progressed with the industrial revolution to the automobile.  Pollution will sure to be the highest in the 20th century because we are seeing the decline of oil in this century.  A decline in oil and its use will clean this century up for sure.

Back to the magazines…..

Another reason I don’t like the term dirty century is because of Bicycling Magazine…I’m going to call it BM because you can read the whole thing in one sitting.  If you have ever experienced a year of a Rodale Press publication such as BM, you know that a year is all you need.  You second year will be the same as the first.  Same “Hot Tech Tips” and “How to Get Faster” articles year after year.  So after reading Harlan Price’s report on being interviewed by the fine writers at BM, I’m definitely not going to call a 100 MTB ride a dirty century.  You can read Harlan’s report here:

 http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=340912

And have you checked out this month’s Dirt Rag?  Man it’s a lame one.  I usually devour the Rag.  I hope this month is just  a fluke.  My main complaint is the report on the 650b bike and the haphazard review of the Felt FS bike.  A new wheel “standard” is going to really confuse the regular customer.  If the 650b takes off, then I hope to see the end of the 26″ very soon.  First time customers are already confused about the 29er.  I think it would be to a shops advantage to make sure their entry level bikes are 29ers and the only 26″ bikes on their floor should be a couple top end rigs and really small 26″ entry level bikes.  But I again digress.

Blogs today do a good job of allowing us to express ourselves to people that we don’t know.  Much like magazine editors and their writers do from print journalism.  As a fairly new blogger, I hope I can stay focused on my main topic of mountain biking.  I’m sure I’ll stray here and there, but I’ll do my best to stick to writing about trails, big wheels, riding, fitness, traveling to trails to do rides on big wheels to stay fit, and occasionally I’ll pick on those who annoy me.

Most of my friends know me as a “short track” racer.  At 37, the shorter races have begun to take their toll on my heart.  Having a high max HR (I’ve performed over 20 VO2 Max tests and about 7 other types of tests in the past 3 years), and having some “issues” on the race course, I think my short track career is over.  They are fun….especially when I’m on the podium with guys almost half my age.  I love the tactics, but a tactical advantage is only as good as your anaerobic threshold and power to weight ratio.  At 200 lbs, my power to weight ratio really isn’t that great.

So now is the season for big rides.  I’ve done a few races this year that went about 3 hours.  Usually I suck at those.  Hour 2 comes and I hope I don’t cramp, but this year I stayed hydrated and well fueled and was able to finish strong.  Hopefully my “age” induced endurance will help me through the next few weeks.

I’m doing my second road century of my life.  My first was when I was a teenager.  I’ve ridden hundred milers since then, but only on my own or with Jenn…..and I can guarantee you that there have been less than 3 of those.  My longest mountain bike ride was a 70 mile leg of the Crested Butte 100.  I did that on my Moto-Lite.  It actually felt great and I was able to hang with some of the old time fast guys from Colorado. 

 I’ll also be doing my least favorite mountain bike race – the Chupacabras.  Why is it my least favorite?  About 35 miles or so of flat Rio Grande levee.  Ugghh.  All the Mexican roadies pin that section with team tactics and leave everyone in their wake.  No skill required.  The skill sections are brief and require more hiking skills than riding skills.  A free jersey to the top 600 makes it worth while.  They also give away lots of other cool swag.  It is quite an experience and it is worth doing if you ever get the itch for an interesting event in the border city of Juarez, Chih, Mexico.

The next weekend after that I’m doing my first 100 mile off road adventure, the Zuni 100.  I think most people are calling them “hundies”.  That makes me think of some weird sort of diaper or German brief, so I’ll just refer to them as a 100 miler.  The one I’m doing is at moderate elevation and has only modest climbing.  It’s almost all single track, some of which I’ve ridden.  My skills should help me. 

I’m glad I own a dualie 29er.

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. 

medals.jpg

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!

old-t-shirts.jpg

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.

belt-buckles.jpg

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. 

jerseys.jpg

 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?

 trophies-and-plaques.jpg

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.

28-hole-rim.jpg

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?

beer-glasses.jpg

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.