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Moab-The Beatdown, Part I

October 13, 2008

October 13, 2008

I had built this race up for quite some time. I was excited to be returning to 24 hour racing, albeit with a 4 man team this go round. I was confident in my health, my gear, my teammates, and our support crew (including my lovely cupcake). Colleen and I planned on driving up together, doing a little camping along the way to break up the driving, doing the race, and then doing some more camping/sightseeing afterwards since the race site is so close to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dead Horse State Park. The long drawn out beat down realistically started before we even got to the race site. The drive from Austin to Balmorhea State Park in west Texas the first day wasn’t all that bad, and swimming in the springs Thursday morning was quite nice. After a crappy layover in El Paso to correct some issues we were having with Colleen’s little car, we headed west across New Mexico before turning north in Deming to take a scenic route through the mountains that straddle the NM/Arizona state line. It was very pretty, but very slow go, especially as we hit more elevation and twisty passes. Super hungry and tired, we came across this awesome little diner in Alpine, the first town you hit in Arizona driving west along US 180. After a half rack of Mesquite smoked ribs, a baked potato, salad bar, garlic toast, and some rabbit food for Colleen (she’s vegetarian), we were ready to hit the road again. The drive up 191 to the Utah border seemed like it would never end. Mile upon mile of dark, empty, desolate Arizona Indian Reservation wasteland made that drive much longer than it should have been. We hoped optimistically that we would make our Hovensweep National Monument campground in Utah at a decent time, but no such luck. Instead, we found an RV campground right north of Bluff, UT at 3am in the morning. After an exhaustive day of driving, we called it a night and setup camp to catch about 4 hours of sleep before waking up and finishing the remaining 100 miles or so. We arrived at the team area to find very high winds, and no team. I had made a good effort to make it there before noon to pre-ride the course with the team, but here it was not even 11am and those jokers left without me. Oh well. First priority was to raise ‘Ol Glory and the battle flag, then change and pre-ride. I brought with me the rigid steel 29er hardtail with a 2×9 gear setup (30/42) and Big Tex, the fully 29er. I was hoping to ride the hardtail for the early laps and then switch to the squishy for the more fatigued laps. The pre-ride started out promising for the hardtail, but shortly let me know that it wouldn’t be practical for that course. You see, the trail they use for this race is not really mountain bike single track. It’s mostly jeep trail, and moto cross trail. The locals will tell you that no one goes out there to mountain bike, instead they ride ATV’s and dirt bikes. It is one hell of a mountain bike course. When it’s not rocky and technical, it’s deep sand that sucks the life right out of you, not to mention the 30-40 mph winds we were having to deal with. Compared to my home turf, it also had a lot of elevation gain ( 1400 ft, and base elevation is 5,500 ft)

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