What can I say, this event is pretty awesome. Hands down, this event has the best vibe of any 24 I have ever been to. The course is fast, and is aimed to be fair to all riders regardless if they are beginner or pro. There isn't much climbing, and the course is stupid fast. How fast? Well, for my 4 laps, I never left the large chain ring. Really, the only thing you have to watch for is cactus. You go off trail....you get a flat. If you don't pay attention to the trail, you might get a flat from a cactus knocked onto course by a passing rider. Either way, you have to stay on the gas while being conservative around the desert growth.
Our team was a 5 Person Coed team consisting of Pua, Ron Sawicki, Dave Wiens, Dejay Birtch, and myself. Our goal was to win our race....and try for the overall most laps. Pua started off with the run....followed by Dejay on his SS Niner.....then Dave Wiens......myself.....and finalizing with Ron. Pua had an excellent start being one of the first riders in.
As for my race, I felt good on the bike. As mentioned earlier I was able to big ring the course and keep the pace high and steady. I was ticking a long a a good clip. My goal was to not get passed by any other riders during the entire race. That goal was pretty much achieved except on the first lap, I was caught by Kona rider, Barry Wicks. He came up behind me and then I latched on. We rode together for about 4 miles until I asked him if he was on a 4 or 5 man team. He replied with..."4 man" After that answer, I let him go, as his pace was getting me into the red-line. Soon after that, I must of rolled over a small cactus, as my front tire started to slowly leak. Since it was slow, I would ride.....then refill it.......then ride.....then refill it. Overall, my lap time was quick, and after I got back to the pit I changed out the tube.
My next 2 laps would be at night. Temps got pretty cool....down to about freezing. My first night lap was a trip. The desert is a treat at night being lit by 2 Topeak Moonshine HID lights. All I had to do was avoid anything green. If I touched any with my body or hit with my bike anything green....there was sure to be pain and misery due to cactus to skin penetration. Lucky for me, I never got up close and personal with these desert dwellers.
My first night lap went well. With all the stop and go passing on the course, my lower back got a bit tight. So, after my lap I hit up the massage tent for a 40 minute $20 rub down. Talk about heaven! After the rub down and some refuel, I headed out on the my last night lap. It was now about 4 AM and the coldest temps had settled on the course. There was frost on everything and even the coyotes were howling. Interesting thing, was that the course was dead. It seemed like everyone was either sleeping, staying warm in a tent, or way behind me. Riding alone was a bit sketchy with no one to lead and light the trail ahead of me. Riding this course, it is easy to mistake any brown dirt/sand for the course. You really needed to stay on your toes.
My final lap came at about 9:30 AM. Temps were pretty warm in the high 50's. Since it was the last lap, I had to throw down. The entire laps went well, but I could tell the legs were getting a bit fried from the other 3 laps at 100%. Only bummer on the last lap was that I wasn't able to ride down the rock face (see 2nd picture) due to a flourish of riders going up and over slowly and cautious. So, I opted for the other fork in the trail and rode around the rock. I managed to get ahead of those riding down the rock....so it was a good call on my part.
Overall, we won our race...and almost won the overall. I can't complain. Right now I am riding well. Probably the best ever for February. So, things are looking on track for the 2008 season.
Dejay and Dave show off their hardware after the awards ceremony.