Sunday, 1 March 2015

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo 2015

This race is always a challenging one to get ready for in the mist of a Canadian winter. However, this winter had been far from epic so I decided to go on the wait list the end of December. I was on pins and needles as didn't get in until two weeks before! But I was ready and excited to race on some dirt.

Ryan Gardiner and Andrew Bovard, two 24 hour hammers were already registered so I had some one else to suffer with. I met the boys at the 3C Ranch in Oracle a few days before the race. It was good to catch up and get settled in and enjoy some warm temperatures before the race.

We all headed to the race site Friday to get the tent set up and head out for a pre race lap. It was awesome to be on dirt again and the Fate felt really good on the course. Love the Roval Control SL wheels!

Back to the place to finish getting ready for the race and have a few laughs before the event. We were unsupported so it would just be the three of us slogging it out in the desert maybe catching a glimpse of each other in the pit or on course. We are all on Infinit Nutrition so it was just a matter of grabbing a bottle each lap, mounting lights and putting on some layers. Oh yeah and racing for 24 hours ;-)!

Getting ready for a 24 hour is a science ;-).

Race day came and it was a nice morning but there was a strong wind. After finishing setting up the pit we headed to the start line. This is a huge event with normally around 1,800 participants so the start is a bit of a gong show. We started a little further back to avoid the chaos. The gun went off and we were on our way. I tried to settle in fighting the head wind, which pretty much stayed until lights went one. Lap #2 was smoother and #3 lost about 10 minutes due to an injury on the Bitches. Unfortunately someone hurt themselves and waited at the top for the ambulance to clear. Hopefully he or she was ok. There seems to be a lot of injuries on this section of the course.

My pace was fairly steady after that until lights went on. I had a few incidents with "teamers" wanting to pass and ending up with some cactus in the fingers and leg. I didn't really want to stop to pull the cactus out but you can imagine the needles digging in just a little deeper with each pedal stroke. So I was sensible and stopped to pull out what I could. The most annoying thing was getting wheeled four times during the race. The majority of riders were inexperienced but one should have know better. I called out "You need to settle down". I was getting a little crusty!

Ok I will get off my soap box. I had no other real issues besides trying to find somewhere to pee in the middle of the desert ;-). Just kept grabbing my bottle of Infinit at the pit and rolling on through. My Exposure Diablo was already mounted on my spare helmet. Got my Reflex on the bars and away I went. It was still fairly warm so no real need for more clothes yet.

I did grab a few layers later on just to make sure didn't get a chill on the back end of the course. Fairly early in the morning was starting to get in the hurt locker. I couldn't seem to turn any fast laps. I kept telling myself a slow lap is better than no lap. It was around that time saw Andrew on course. There was not a lot of chatting. I guess he knew I was suffering and continued hammering up the Bitches. I managed to push on and found some new energy later in the morning. The sun was coming up and it was great to take the lights and layers off. It was already warm.

I had no idea how I was doing in the race or really who all the players were. I asked the volunteers in the timing tent how many laps had completed and if they knew my position. At that point had completed 12 laps and no idea of my position. So just kept pushing on doing the best I could. I started to see some more ladies near the end of the race not sure if they were soloists or teamers. I also ran into Ryan. He came ripping behind me all fired up and yelling out John Wick. We were flying down His & Her trail and let him pass to continue his chasing. That was fun!

I was hoping to get 16 laps in but could tell later in the morning it would only be 15. The wind definitely played a factor. I continued to push the pace the best I could with lots of time to complete my final lap. It was great to finish but a little deflating with no familiar faces at the finish line. The boys were still out there hammering away. I made my way back to the pit sitting there in a bit of a daze waiting for them to finish. Andrew came in looking strong with a 4th place finish and Ryan shortly behind taking 7th. It wasn't until Andrew checked the results found out I was 2nd. I was pleased knowing had put my best effort forward.

Off to the awards and the Sierra Nevada beer tent for $1 pints! I am not really a beer person but anything tasted good after 24:23:24 hours, 18,000 ft of climbing and 389 kilometers!

We enjoyed some Mexican in Oracle and had some fun in Phoenix before heading back to Canada. All in all a good race. I was pleased with my ability to stay focused and push on with no support or idea how I was doing in the race. It was mentally and physically challenging for sure! I was able to dig a little deeper and improve my lap times later in the morning. I love caffeine ;-)!

Thank you to Specialized Canada for your support. Also to Infinit Nutrition Canada, Darcy you really get behind your athletes. Also to Coach Shaun of Forward Momentum Coaching for your countless hours spent trying to perfect the Vegan diet, not to mention all the physical and mental preparation.

It is nice to come back to some dry single track this time of year. After some rest it feels good to get back out on the bike and enjoy a bit of down time before the next adventure.


  1. Hi Julie: Came across your blog after checking out some results from Old Pueblo. Excellent reading. I'm a 50 year old male in AZ and I'll be doing Old Pueblo solo again this year. My goal is 15 laps (I've done 14). I notice you and your Spec teammates go with hardtails. I was planning on riding my 2013 Carbon Expert Epic 29, but I just bought a HT Stumpy Carbon WC and am wondering if maybe it might be the better choice or perhaps maybe ride it for the day laps. Just curious about you and your teammates choice of the HT vs. the Epic (or Camber in your case). Seems like it has worked well for you guys. Thoughts? Thanks and good luck out there this year at OP if you are giving it a go. Best, paul

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for reading. I have done OP 2 years on my Fate hardtail and personally I think the terrain is perfect for a hardtail. I won't be there this year. All the best for your race.

    2. Hi Julie: Thanks so much for your response. You have an awesome blog and I'll definitely keep reading. Best of luck in whatever your next venture is! paul