I had the honor of racing this past weekend with great teammates, for a fantastic sponsor, at one of the best organized but laid back events in the country. The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo was fast and fun twistiness for everyone.
Our five-person coed team was Shannon Gibson, Kenny Wehn, David Vaughn, Dave Million, and me, Phil Simpson. Dave and I are continually amazed that Shannon has stuck with us for nine years, and Kenny has joined us for the last four. Dave Million has the distinction of being the only person to have participated in this event all 14 years. David Vaughn was our fast young guy.
I got there at noon on Thursday, just after 24 Hour Town opened up, to set up camp and go for a nice educational pre-ride. I learned that if you don’t have a plastic comb, you can use a forked stick to remove cholla stuck to your hands, and that teeth work ok for getting out the remaining needles. Shannon and Kenny arrived later with the Stan’s NoTubes Sprinter van, and soon we had a very professional setup. A little too professional, because all weekend people tried to buy NoTubes wheels, valves, tape and sealant from us. We did help with lots of advice and luckily Fairwheel Bikes and Arizona Bicycle Experts had booths we could send people to.
Kenny did the run since he has been racing cyclocross at a very high level, including Nationals and Worlds just a few weeks ago, and put us into fifth place or so after the first lap. David kept us there, or maybe moved us up even higher, and the rest of us didn’t lose too much time. Soon we had a few minutes, but we had two teams that stayed close enough to keep the pressure on.
We were fortunate to have superb equipment, and had no mechanicals or crashes, even at night. I have to shamelessly say that Stan’s sealant and tubeless systems have made cactus-filled race courses so much more fun than the old days of changing tubes in the dark with frozen fingers. All of us kept up the pace all night, and by sunrise our lead was up around half an hour.
The worst delay was me not being ready when David came in, twice! The first time he pulled a 1:03 night lap, surprising me and costing a few extra seconds, and the next lap we had a fatigue-induced communication failure, and lost three minutes. But we stayed on top of the 34 teams in the Coed 200+ combined age group, and were fourth overall out of 373 total teams, finishing 22 laps and only 23 minutes behind the winning 4 man Sho-Air / Cannondale team.