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This past weekend I chose to skip our local 12 hour race to join the freaks in AZ for Dejay Birtch’s birthday party ride, AKA SSAZ.  This was my third and by far the best one yet.  Dejay surprised us all with a shuttle partway up Mt. Lemon so we could ride Bug Springs.  After instructions, a hundred or so riders took off up the road for a couple of miles before linking up with the trailhead.  I hung out in the top 5 or so and then we hit dirt….which went up…which meant everyone was walking…..or running in the case of some little guy with a 99% carbon full rigid rig with really narrow bars.  AZT honch Dr. Kurt Refsnider was hot on his heals and I sat back in 10th or so, waiting to warm up.  Bugs was awesome and I only dabbed in a couple of spots.  Not bad for never having been on that little beast.

After Bugs we crossed the Catalina Hwy to hit the AZT down to Prison Camp.  That section was fun and still had plenty of gnar.  When I reached the parking area at Prison Camp, I shed some clothes and tried to eat something.  Crossing the highway again we headed up to Molino Basin.  As soon as the trail got a bit techy, I saw a dropped Luna bar…nuts over chocolate…opened up but not bitten into with no dirt or ants on it.  Score!  Turns out it belonged to my buddy Mark who I eventually caught on the climb.  Thanks buddy.  It was delicious.  The decent down Molino was tougher than I remember and Mark got around me there and proceeded to school everyone in the vicinity.  After that, there was a bit of climbing mixed with techy mixed with 2-track.  I stomped a couple of climbs and found myself around 3 or 4 other riders.  I grabbed a cookie in the comfort station and headed up Bolletello Rd. to hook up with Reddington Rd.  While climbing the Bolletello, the flyweight on the 99% carbon bike came around me.  He must have gotten lost somewhere.  Eventually I made it to Reddington Rd and headed down to Chivas.  I didn’t see many tracks and doubted my route finding, but I got to Chivas without being run over or shot.

Chivas was hammered with recent rains and of course anyone with a lift kit and 4×4 thrashes the hell out of that section.  I caught flyweight again who claimed he was fixing a flat and then he passed me when I stopped for a bottle that flew out of my King Ti Cage.  The route eventually took us to the secret stash and I soon found myself looping through the woods with Robin from Grand Junction.  Headed up the sandy wash, I only saw two or three tracks in front of me.  Seriously?  Dudes must have dropped or taken wrong turns…..or stopped for bowls in the woods somewhere.

Back on the AZT, I eventually crossed Reddington again with Robin not far behind.  I was far enough ahead of him that I did solo gate duty as I didn’t see him after I got them opened.  Eventually he caught me on some descending and we rolled into the comfort station again where I made myself a nice mixer with Hornitos and 7Up.  It warmed me nicely.  I had to walk/jog about 50 yards down the wash to my bike where it had been transported by a helpful party goer.  Apparently there were only two riders ahead of us…Kurt and the flyweight.  Pleased as punch to be kind of at the front, I made my way into La Milagrosa….where my slight buzz from the tequila did not help my flow at all.  I walked more than the other two times I had been down it.  I tried to take in some of the views and not think about how tired my arms were.  At just over 4.5 hours and 42 miles, I rolled into the party/finish as the fourth finisher, signed in, and grabbed pizza.

The rest of the evening consisted of  catching up with friends, watching finishers try to find the sign in sheet, eating lots of pizza, checking out the grounds of the host’s estate, playing with the kiddo and the dog, eating more pizza, checking out some seriously amazing bikes, enviously staring at a titanium bong whose owner had a huge canister of medicinal marijuana, and trying to find something in the prize stash that would fit me.

Once again Dejay hosted an amazing ride with the raddest crew of riders around…..some who finished well after sunset.  This course had the most gnarly descending of any event I’ve ever done in the least amount of mileage.  I’d almost say it was too much gnar per mile, but then that might make me seem like a pussy….which I kind of categorized myself as since I ran a 32×21 and was kicking myself for not running at least a 21….or as the Back of the Pack Racing crew says…32xFU or 32xYM….or something like that.  I carried too much food and water and wished I had run a full sus rig like I did the last time I rode this thing.

Sorry for no pics.  If you want to see pics, go to Facebook.  I didn’t take any and I don’t feel like stealing pics and trying to credit the correct folks.

If you are wondering why I chose this over the 12 Hours of Old El Paso, I have several reasons.  1.  I’ve won the overall solo (on a SS) twice and took 2nd the first time I did it when Adam Hoppe beat me on a geared bike.  2.  The 12 Hour was never officially announced until several months after Dejay announced SSAZ.  3.  I just couldn’t bring myself to ride laps around Lazy Cow and Mad Cow when I knew a record 13 or 14 laps on that stuff wouldn’t come close to providing the amount of gnar the SSAZ course dished out in less than 45 miles.  4.  It’s SSAZ.  I got another patch and a few lessons on how to ride the gnar! ….and there were stacks of really good pizza.

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This post is a response to JHK’s article in singletrack.com. 

As a long time racer (first Norba sanctioned XC event in 1989), I’ve seen our race scene change quite a bit.  While I’ve never been a “world cupper”, I have been the overall winner at many races over the years.  I stay as a fit as I feel like staying in order to remain competitive and not make a fool of myself.  Prior to the mountain bike, I raced ABA bmx.  Over the past 10 years I’ve taken racing much more seriously competing in short tracks, xc’s, marathons, 100 milers, and even a stage race.  I still do road races about once a year.  I participated in the Mercury Tour and Team Big Bear’s King of the Hill way back in the 90’s, so I think I’m a pretty good judge of what our racing scene in America is and was all about.

Two years ago a buddy of mine and I decided to put on an endurance event, the El Paso Puzzler.  We had 28 competitors in v.1, v.2 had 68.  This year is v.3 and we are expecting around 125.  Not bad for the middle of winter in a dirt town like El Paso, TX. 

As a race promoter/director/organizer, my goals are simple:  make sure everyone has a great racing experience (however difficult our event may be), raise awareness of the trails in El Paso, and raise some money for our bike club, the BMBA.  While I strive to get better riders to our event, the last thing on my mind is helping world cuppers get UCI points. 

The UCI charges an enormous amount of fees and requires that the promoter subsidize drug testing costs at any event that has UCI points.  No thanks.  Toke a blunt on the course and shoot up some amphetamines at our race if you want.  We don’t really care about that stuff.  If you can afford that stuff, you definitely shouldn’t be whining about prize money or UCI points.

American mountain bikers, at least the ones who have been in it for over 20 years, are looking for something more challenging than the 1.5 hour lapper at a ski resort or broken bottle riddled city park.  They want adventure.  They want to push themselves to a new level.  They want to go beyond the bonk, sit down on course and eat 1000 calories, run out of water, crawl to a feed zone, finish refueling, and ride another 20 miles to the finish with a knog led lighting the way.  They want cool venues where they can camp and gather around a bonfire while their teammates slog out more laps during a 24 hour race.  They want to use the same bike in a multi-event race where pads and full face are worn one day and two camelbak bladders are packed the next.  The demand for diversity is out there.  However damaging this diversity may be to UCI point seekers, that demand far outweighs the benefit of hosting a UCI event.  I’m sure the Angel Fire promoters will agree with me on that one.

American mountain bike racing has become incredibly diverse and promoters of these diverse events are not complaining.  In fact, many of them are capping the number of participants.  Entry fees range from nothing to thousands of dollars and people show up from all over to try out whatever new fangled adventure awaits over the next pass.

Big money competitive mountain biking in America has been dead for longer than most care to admit.  Even the Chevy Truck days were weak compared to European world cups today.  American world cuppers need to do just like the roadies did….nut up and spend A LOT of time in Europe.  If you really want that front row start, prove that you deserve it with the best XC racers in the world.  The list of American road racers that have done this is too long for me to publish on my pissant blog.  They are doing it for a reason.  Racing in Europe is a spectator sport.  People pay to sit in grand stands and enter parks where the events take place.  Do that in the US and you’ll be lucky if half the stands fill up.  Try it at a city park mountain bike venue and the neighbors will be pissed that they won’t be able to walk their dog that day.

Keep the UCI out of American racing.  American promoters should keep pushing the limits of the support with challenging events.  Dare to be different.  Make that feedzone just far enough into the race where a camelbak AND bottles have to be carried.  Provide bacon and burgers in the feedzones.  Serve beer and margaritas for free at the awards ceremony.  Charge camping fees to raise money for a youth cycling program, not prize money or promoter profit.  Utilize paydirt programs to get more trails. 

American mountain biking has soul.  That soul is getting better with age.  The UCI has done little to promote the soul of mountain biking in the US.  Let’s keep it that way.

Sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog.  Things have been super busy with the scene here in El Paso.  This past weekend’s 12 hour race confirmed that we have an awesome scene and it also helped further solidify my reasons for racing.  It’s all about helping to put our scene on the national radar.  Winning the Breck Epic was to legitimize the trails in El Paso as it was for my own personal goals.  The fans at both the Epic and this 12 hour were awesome and I got huge cheers during awards and throughout the event.  Mike, myself, and Brent have been putting in some serious time to make the mtb scene here in El Paso better for everyone.  I just wish more people would get involved with the grunt work or volunteering with trail building or race marshalling. 

I knew this weekend’s 12 hour race would be harder than most people thought it might be.  Yes, it’s in my backyard and I know the trails quite well.  I ran a 21 t on both bikes.  I was hoping everything would go well,  but damn…where that wind come from? 

The 12 hours of old el paso was a hit!  It’s gonna get big in couple more years.  It’s gonna be big next year.  This year’s event only cost $40 a person.  They had food, music, beer, and fireworks.  Lots of my buddies were out marshalling the course and the state park guys were making some laps to check everything out. 

Here’s how it went down for me.  Not wearing a costume…like Brent, I had settle for a longer run to the bike. 

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The run wasn’t bad, but I definitely need to run more if I plan on doing more LeMann’s starts.  I started out on the FS with the YESS tensioner, 32×21, nanoraptors front and rear.  The first lap was a bit faster due to a bypass of the first section of single track.  I was sitting in about 5th or 6th and moved up to about 3rd or 4th at the end of the lap.  I rode the first 2 and half laps with eventual solo winner Adam Hoppe.  He was geared and had much more fun on the climbs than I did.  First lap was 38 minutes.  Second lap was just as fast considering the additional single track….42 minutes.  On the third lap, I switched to the hard tail so Jen could let some air out of my tires.   I pitted so fast she didn’t hear what I said and ended up adding air.   

The hardtail was a bit slower feeling with a 2.55 Weirwolf up front and a 2.3 Exiwolf in the back.  3/4 way through the third lap on the hardtail, I stopped to pee and started to feel some cramping.  4th lap I was back on the FS.  I was drinking 2 full bottles every lap.  About half way into the 4th lap, my legs cramped so bad I had to get off the bike, which made it worse.  I pitted a bit longer the next couple of times through and ate some solid food and took some more salt tabs and sportlegs.  Eventually I was taking one or two of either salt tabs, sportlegs, or ibuprofin from lap 5 and on.  My pits were still pretty quick with my longest at probably 5 minutes.  My lap times stayed around 50 -55 minutes. 

On my first “night” lap, I grabbed the hardtail with lights and a helmet with lights.  I didn’t want to sit around putting on lights when Jen could do it for me.  I ended up not needing the lights as I was able to finish it before it got too dark.  Back on the FS I was lit up and rollin’.  I love night riding and the laps seemed much faster though my fastest night lap was only 52 minutes.  I kept rolling laps as hard as possible and finally stopped cramping on the climbs at about lap 10.  Sometime in there I saw that Lenny, my challenger in the SS category, was done and hadn’t left his pit in a couple of laps.  I decided to go for 13 laps and finished at 9:30. 

My lap count was good for 2nd place solo overall.  I won the SS by 3 laps, 2 if you count Karen Rishel who rode well after the 10 pm ending to complete 11 laps.  She ran a huge gear on a sweet new Superfly.  Props to the solo field.  The sign in posters looked to have about 30 spots on them for all of us nutbags.

I had no flats and only came close to crashing once.  That was on lap 5 or 6 when I was feeling absolutely stupid with my legs cramping on the descents.  My pit spot was probably the best in the race and my pit bitch did a great job even though I rushed through way too many and could have slowed down just a little in order to think things through a bit more and communicate better.

After awards, I crawled back to the camper with my cool trophy and a check for $100.  Hopefully this thing won’t rot away anytime soon.

ss trophy

The Catholic School girls (they’re really MILF’s in disquise) brought back memories of high school.

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My pit area….you can barely see the trail between my 10×10 and the tent in the background.

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I didn’t look nearly this good at 10 pm.

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My dog had a field day checking out lots of new smells and being in her natural “race” environment.

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Today was the BMBA Poker ride and Jen and I rode over the mountain to meet up with everyone.  It was cloudy and cool enough for arm warmers.

"The Elephant" from Smuggler's Canyon

"The Elephant" from Smuggler's Canyon

Then we railed down from Blue Rock….so fast that I caught a huge rock that put two sweet puncture wounds in my shin.  Yep…it left a mark.

two holes with one stone

two holes with one stone

Not actually hurting as bad as some others I've had.

Not actually hurting as bad as some others I've had.

The new BMBA socks came in this week.  I think we are selling them for $13 a pair.  They turned out really nice.

P5170208  P5170210

The Poker Ride was a blast…other than the fact that you had to clean a bunch of sections to get a chip.   Ryan Cody won it with a full house.  There were 4 straights to take the other prizes.

Ryan Cody taking top honors.

Ryan Cody taking top honors.

My meager pair didn’t stand a chance.  I knew something was up when Ryan put back an Ace and a Jack.

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Adrian G. took home a sweet bottle of Boone’s Farm schnapps for his worst hand.  Why do I get the feeling that it might actually get consumed?

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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.

Pray that no creature ever chews through the main wiring harness of your vehicle.  Especially if it’s a newer vehicle.  Yes….I’m still waiting on our truck to get fixed.  As you can see from the pic below, there were quite a few wires in that harness.  I probably could have reconnected them all myself, but it’s 100+ outside.  I was also hoping that my dealer would be willing to find a harness from a salvage yard, but they wouldn’t go for that.  So instead of paying $1900 for a new harness and waiting for about a month to get it, I let them repair it.

Turns out that when everything was chewed up, a bunch of fuses blew.  Then, when I tried to start it, I blew more fuses and reprogrammed the main computer as well as burned out the neutral safety switch.  Not good.  So we are still waiting.  Friday.  Still waiting.

I guess that’s the downside to electronics.  While they help our lives in so many ways, they can leave you in a pickle when they get messed up.  As a former electronics guy in the military, I learned enough to do quite a bit with electronic hardware stuff.  If I had an airconditioned garage, I would have been able to fix the wiring harness.  I would not have been able to reprogram the computer or find out what other funky codes may been showing up on a diagnostic system. 

Speaking of electronics….seems I’ve put some people up in arms about my comments regarding power meter screenshots.  I really wanted to focus more on people’s subtle cries for help that they post on their blogs.  If you aren’t racing well, and you are having dietery problems, or you are overtraining, or you are trying to mix up too much intensity when you are focusing on endurance events, or you think you are overtrained but you are really undertrained…..and you have a coach, it’s probably in your best interest to keep it on the downlow.  It’s definitely not going to help your coach any by telling people you are dead tired and can’t turn the pedals over. 

These cries for help are not entertaining.  Jen tells me to never comment.  “Let them flounder,” she says.  Hell.  We did our share of floundering that’s for sure.  But we never paid anyone to tell us what to do either.

I guess it takes time to find yourself, your limits, your favorite foods, your favorite bike position, and whatever else makes you fast.  Hopefully you will do your best to have fun.  Losing is not fun.  Not achieving your goals is not fun. 

I’m not sorry if I insulted anyone.  I do hope that my comments help you realize just how petty competition is.  Our world is changing quite rapidly now.  Racing will soon be only for the really wealthy or the ones that know the really wealthy.  Those days of loading up the VW bus with a couple friends, a bag of weed, enough energy bars for the weekend, and just enough money to cover gas and race entry are long gone.  The lowest payout isn’t going to get you back home.  The highest may only get you halfway home or to the next race.  Free underground racing will take over, but there will not be any $$$ involved.

Soon (and I mean in a few years) we will ALL be commuting regularly by bicycle.  It’s going to be tough.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for all of us.

 

Sorry if I made you check back here a dozen times trying to see if I updated my Gila report.  I was waiting on a card reader so I could download pics from my phone to my laptop.  My phone’s pics are pretty low quality, but I’m not too disappointed in the way they turned out.

I loaded up the mutt into the 25 year old Benzo….no A/C, no stereo, no cruise…and tried to keep it between 75 and 80 – preferably in the draft of a semi.  I got to Silver City in about 2 1/2 hours.  Not bad.  Jen had the rig parked at some doctors house where her friends were crashing for the week.  It was a nice place for sure.

Here’s a little llama farm near the doc’s house.

Jen had called me the night before day 1 to let me know she was blowing ass with a seriouso case of the runs.  Nothing I could do for her.  She avoided the major crashes to finish with the pack way down in 34th.  She was kind of pissed.  First off because she’s always done well on Mogollon and second off because her teammate Kathy Sherwin broke her thumb in one of the crashes.  Kathy took off to Phoenix to have a doctor set her thumb in a cast.

Jen’s second day was pretty good at building her confidence since she got in the main break that got away on the descent.  They got swallowed up later, but no major happenings.  Day 3 brought the TT and Jen threw on a 54t, aero bars, and a disc wheel to finish 18th.  That moved her up to 24th overall.  She was stoked.

I arrived the evening after the TT and she was pretty excited.  She didn’t race until 2 on Saturday, so that left me to some ride time on the Continental Divide.  Afer breakfast and reconverting her bike back to a real road bike, I took off towards the mountains.  No map….just a good sense of direction and about 5 hours to play.

I hooked up with the CDT off of Gomez Peak and headed north towards Signal Peak.  I’ve heard stories about the difficulty of the Gila and I’ve ridden the portion of CDT north of Signal Peak, so I wasn’t suprised to find a bunch of crappy trail that hadn’t been used much.  When I got to the pavement of the little road that goes from Pinos Altos to the Gila Cliff dwellings, I decided take the pave to the road that goes to the top of Signal Peak.  On the way I got passed by two of the Tecos boys but was able to use their draft for about 15 minutes.  That kind of smoked me, but it saved me some time. 

I climbed the road to just below signal peak and hopped back on the CDT to ride a pretty sick descent back to the pave in Pinos Altos.  The first 3.5 miles were off camber with about 3 inches of new pine needles on top.  Luckily I was rolling the Stout up front so I didn’t slide around much.  The last 3.5 miles sucked as it was rock garden after rock garden.  My arms were starting to feel hot and I remembered that I hadn’t put on any sunscreen.   Whoops.

I ended up making it into town about 2 laps into Jen’s crit.  I scored me a fat burrito from some hippie grocery store and put myself in spectator mode.  I ended up getting a couple of good pics.

Jen finished with the pack and on the final day finished 11th to move up to 15th overall in GC.  I think she was the most improved over the week and was able to walk home with 4 times as much money as she did when she finished 9th five years ago.  I was able to do another ride on the CDT (Pinos Altos to Gomez Peak and back into town to fetch the Benzo) and make it back right after Jen finished.  It was definitely a good weekend.

Enjoy the pics from my mediocre camera phone.  I’m hoping for a real digi-cam for my birthday!

Here’s a view from the CDT looking northwest.

Here’s the stamp of approval.

Why does my beater bike always want to take breaks against trees?

The beater bike taking a break next to a tree.

Gord Frasier and Henk Vogels before the final stage.  Henk says he has to sleep on his back.  He’s a true hardman!

There’s Jen hanging at the back.

Those are some nice rear ends!

 

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

Yesterday’s Chupacabras 100km in Juarez, Mexico was one of my best.  After making it through a bunch of absolutely retarded crashes and trying to figure out why all the tiny Mexicans half my size wanted to be in front of me or beside me, I made it to the turn around without harm.  I couldn’t believe some of the shenanigans on the way out. 

Right after we started heading back west, a group of about 15 or 20 rolled off the front and I was sitting back in about 50th.  I roll up next to Scott Romero and asked him how many were in the lead group.  He told me and I asked him WhyTheF did they get away and WhoTheF let them get away.  Sheez. 

Well,  after making it through a few miles of high speed double track, we popped back out on the levee and I tried to get a double paceline together.  Turns out all the roadies are doing the Tour of Chihuahua, so teaching 10 mexicans how to double paceline was my mission of the day.  I kept yelling, “Dos lineas!  Trabaje!”  Well, we got two lines, but the line that was supposed to be pulling off would never stay close enough to the pulling through line and it was all f’d up.  After about 20 minutes of that crap, we rolled up on the lead group.  They were sitting up!

Cool, I was the second rider across the railroad tracks….freakin’ nightmare if you are in a group….and got into an awesome group with the two Italians (eventual 1st and 2nd), Tinker, McCalla, dude name Scott from Trek grassroots (top 5 last year), the Turbo boys, and some other Mexicans.  We made it off the levee unscathed and headed up a wash/road/neighborhood.  Trippy seeing cars parked in a wash.  The Italians and the Turbo boys said seeya and dropped the piss out of the rest of us.

I was climbing great with Tinker, Scott, and McCalla, but I got caught up between some fence posts and a gap formed that I didn’t want to close.  Seeya guys….been nice riding with you.  So I was by myself up to the Christo and ended up getting back with a Mexican guy after the Christo.  We worked together pretty well until he flatted. 

So it’s mile 30 and I’m already starting to cramp. Freakin’ hamstrings.  I went halfway through my food and water and I took a bunch of water from the support crews before the Christo.  Cramping should not have been happening that early.  I was in the top 10 before the first hike-a-bike.  I felt much better pushing my bike.  Santiago and I put a gap on the rest of the local expertos and I pinned it over the top and down the first long descent.  I put a good gap on Santi, but lost it as I stared at a huge pool of water below the chapel.  It was like one of those mud pits they use in the tractor pulls you see on ESPN or Spike TV.  Did I have to ride through that thing?  Some old lady waved me around the side of it.  Whew.  That looked disgusting.  I was cramping again so I took a banana and more water and Santi and I headed up the long single track to the Asphyxia climb (flankerdog has some great pics here).  We were working really well together.  I was riding way more stuff than he was and I felt good despite hamstrings that felt like they were going to pop.  We were almost halfway up the asphyxia, I’m still riding, and my tire got cut. 

I lost three places while putting in the tube.  I caught one guy on the way down the big descent and I never saw him again until the finish.  I managed to make it through the slum without breaking down like I usually do…..something about having kids in a slum cheer for you and knowing that the bike you are riding is more than their family will earn all year….and hit the levee with plenty of strength.

I was able to climb the rock wall with no issues, got lots of cheers, grabbed some more water, and rolled into the finish in 12th place.  Awesome!  My second best finish ever and the race is easily twice as large as it was when I finished 10th in 2003.  Someone told me 3800 pre-registered but that includes the kid’s race, the spinnathon, and an archery event.  So maybe about 2800 real Chupa participants.

Half an hour later, Jen rolled in.  First female!  She was stoked.  38th overall.

We grabbed our loot…..another sweet jersey and full-zip to boot….and rolled back across the Rio. 

McCalla got 5th, Tinker 6th or 7th, and Santiago 11th.  Scott from Trek and one of his buddies were also in the top 10.   Not a bad day for the Americanos.  If Damian or Jens had shown up, we may have had the first gringo winner since Sager.

I drank 100oz from my camelbak, 7 bottles of water/cyto, and drank from at least 5 other bottles handed up to me.  I ate one banana, 4 gels, 3 Clif Z bars, and 5 salt tabs.  It’s never enough.

I started my GPS about 6 or 7 miles down the road from the start…bonehead move….but check it out here….

http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4214999