It Gets In Your Blood Man

So… I ended up turning my ride in at about 2am. Not what I had intended, but honestly it was for the best… am I upset? A bit. I mean I could sit and kvetch about how much money and time I invested into it, or whatever but I’m preferring to look at it from a trees for the forest kind of view.

Race report first… philosophical yakkety shmakkety later.

We got on site late Thursday night and went out for a pre ride on Friday morning shortly after we got up. I remember the course being a lot harder than it was, but I kept thinking it was the gears that were helping. The last time I rode it it was with a SS and it was hella fun but that 4th lap was something else. The rock drop was a bit crazy this year with no real smooth transition to ground anymore but rather a bit of a huck to flat. Lean back and you were fine… though I always felt like this when I was about to touch down:

IRode it a few times and felt that I had it figured out, then started in on making excuses not to take it over shots of whisky….. cause the best thing to do before a 24h is drink….. don’t judge me.

I passed by the Camelbak tent on the way back and ask if they’re selling since I need a place to hold my battery through the night cause I’m loath to hook it up to my bike. They’re not selling just demos…. so they give me one. To demo. For 24h. Cool beans those guys!

Speaking of which, Arizona and Nevada are now considered no judgement zones, which started in Scott’s kitchen and seemed to expand every time the whisky made an appearance. Eventually things got out of hand.

That evening I was passing by a random camp on my way to the showers and they’re like “YOU LOOK LIKE YOU WANT A BEER”. Of which I reply “I CERTAINLY DO”. I sit down and I realize I’ve walked into the Camelbak guys again. 4 beers later and they’re like “I don’t want that backpack back man, get it dirty as hell so I can’t take it”.


Again man, everyone at Pueblo is just awesome… so far.

I stumble back to camp after drinking what can only be described as the best beer ever.

Down some food and then get settled in on my outdoor cot for some Arizona desert night sleeping… best evar.

Wake up, plates on, eat a bit, center myself and get ready for the race. Drop my bike off and then walk down to the le mans start.

The race starts with a 400m run (walk) to our bikes to thin out the competitive types with the solo’s and “there for giggles” types.. we chose to walk and … well drink. Everyone hands out beer and shots during the run because I swear half of the people there are just there for the alcohol, and it changes the dynamic of the race. It becomes… really fun and crazy enjoyable…. and like the alcohol, it gets in your blood.

Lap 1, Scott, Ashlie and I ride together at a solid pace and get through the course. Rock drop and all. This one doesn’t feel crazy, but really controlled. I felt good about it and decided to take it as much as I could till I got tired. Head into the pit and grab some food and jump back out.

Second lap is much like the first only this time its through the Bitches. I get caught in a bit of traffic, but I’m feeling good. I do need to scale back though as my HR is a bit higher than normal. Scale back a bit and the climb out was easy. Keep trucking along and my lap is over with no issues.

Third lap in and I’m feeling really good…. I head into an swooping turn into an uphill and out of the corner of my eye… florescent green jersey is passing me without a call or anything… on single track.

He takes my bars and I’m headed into the rocks, and over the bars.. Enter Bullet Time…. I’m looking at a rock and I think… well that’s probably not going to be good to land on.. is there another option? Cactus…. hrm, broken arm or cactus. I chose

My name is Cholla, and I like warm hugs.

I dive in arms extended, and it gets stuck in my arms, my back, my ass, my legs. Now.. still in slow motion I recoil from how much this hurts.. and slam my hand on a rock anyway because hey why not. All I hear is hissing from my bike and I see my front tire spitting stans out someone shot it.

This asshole decides to ride on like nothing happens!

Its a 5km hike out with my bike. I manage to borrow a tube from a rider but all I hear is it ripping my tire… or at least I thought it was so I take it out and hand it off to a garbage can on the way through the solo pits. On the hike out, I manage to stick myself in the foot with additional cholla, twice….. I somehow manage to find my way back to camp mentally intact and without hulking out on anything though man alive I wanted to toss cars at this point.

It takes about 45 minutes of Brian and Lou manscaping me with a set of pliers to pull out all the needles from my back and arms. I manage to pull out the ones in my ass by peeling off my bib. During this time Marc manages to houdini my tire back onto the rim and have it seal up. I head back out bloodied but unbowed… with lights. My pit crew of the McMuffins and Canadian Bacon team are top notch.

I come back in after this lap and I feel amazing. I eat well drink well and head back out. But I start to notice my hand is feeling numb, but when I hit something like a rock or a dip, a sharp electric pain goes shooting up my arm. It progressively gets worse as it gets colder and the miles pack on.

7th lap, I head out with Scott who’s managed to lap me after my shenanigans with the crash and because he’s an animal. We ride out a bit but I’m starting to really suffer through my hand. I’m getting angry as my legs are feeling really good but I just can’t seem to stay upright without gritting my teeth.

At 185km I’m no longer holding onto the left side of my bike, but rather palming it to steer… and any time I grab the brake I have to stop palming it, grab it,  then get the shooting pain up my arm.  It feels like I’m wearing a baseball glove, filled with bullet ants every time I hit a rock garden or anything technical.

I ride into the medical tent and they tell me that my fingers are probably sprained, but that my ulnar nerve is agitated as hell causing the issues with the sharp shots of electricity. The combo isn’t good overall but it was my choice to keep going and risk it getting much much worse.

I sit in the tent for a bit and contemplate going on or calling it.

At this point, my legs are still good to go. I’m not tired. I’m well fed. But my hand is… just on fire.

Looking back, the training and time spent on the bike. The constant ignoring of foods I wanted. Sacrifice, whatever else I’ve done is going to end with this decision and I hate that I’m in this position…. but then I realize you know what. This is the longest I’ve ever been on the bike, and while I’m good to go for more…. why jinx it? I got Solstice for redemption, and I can always come back.

So I went back to camp, parked my bike and then fell asleep… with no regrets, and dreams of 4x4s.

Everything that could have went well at the race, did, and I have no regrets about it other than maybe I shoulda been much more aggressive with letting that guy pass me, or just in general. Maybe I should write SOLO on my calves to let people know what I’m doing. But all in all, there was nothing I could really do to prevent what happened… and I’m seriously okay with it.

But, I consider it a 12h solo…. and I am already plotting my return… 41st out of 90 or so riders. Not bad for only riding 12 hours.

I’ll be back to Pueblo no doubt. I honestly can’t put my finger on it. My Vegas MTB family that grew this time around. My love of desert riding, The feeling and vibe that Old Pueblo Town gives off when it comes around. The way they greet every rider every time they come in from a lap like you’re their best friend… “Welcome back 62”.  The people.. I don’t know what the mix is… but man, it gets in your blood… and suddenly you just wanna do Pueblo with as much family and friends as you can so you can share how awesome it is.

These are good people.

… anyway, P2A and Substance Series races coming up… then on to Solstice 24 and the redemption of El Oso.



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