24 Hours of Elephant Rock – courtesy of Ray RoskeOctober 6, 2009
One of the best race reports ever. Enjoy.
4:55 am, arrive – pitch black, spilling 4 steamy 20oz cups of coffee and a pint of dulce-le-leche creamer only to find a wild-eyed and rabid cyclist, pacing the Pactimo tent trackside talking to himself. I can see his breath. As I approach, he sees my Pactimo jacket and unleashes a string of profanity laced encouragement. I offer him a cup. But he is foaming at the mouth to get on his bike.
“@#%)*(&_&_**#&-A man we’re (*^&^*%*(^ing CRUSHING THEM. (*(**&_(&ing A is that COFFEE? You *(^^&^&^)ing ROCK man. Who are you? Do you work for Pactimo? I’d love that (*^)^)&^)&^ing coffee but I don’t want to mess with my system before going out. I’m up next. Hold it for me willya?. Karl should be in, in about 30 seconds!” Oh man, I’d love that coffee. &%^% That’s him I think”
I see a line of 3 or 4 halogen lights bumping on in the blackness. I thought they were planes coming in to DIA.
Karl is on the 3:30 to 5am shift. They’ve been at it for 11 hours. Shawn is trying to get some shuteye in the coldest part of the night. She is dreaming of deer. More likely venison, as she has nearly center punched a big muley at speed on her last shift.
Pactimo has secured a spot next to the start finish officials tent. Literally. They have tied their tent to the start finish line tent straps to keep from blowing away and no one challenges them. Totally Prime!
30 seconds on the mark, Karl skids to a halt, swipes his card and the rabid rider shouts “34!@(^%(%!, you’re CRUSHING THEM” and is gone. I fumble with the coffee and try to find Kark without shin-boning myself on a tent peg.
Karl is his usual incredibly grateful self and fixes himself a cup and huddles under a blanket for a moment before changing out of his sweaty. He gives me the run down on Thane, who, at the Lemans GP style start of the 24 hours of E-Rock, sprints to the line and disappears in a cloud of dust. He has told Shawn he would “set her up” 31 or so minutes later he reappears over the last hill minus the other 68 or so teams chasing him. They would not show up for another 2 minutes. 8 miles, 800’ of climbing and he’s got em by 2 minutes Karl tells me. This man was born to race and everyone knows it. As the Pactimo bubble jersey completes lap 1, Shawn takes off and Thane gives chase, pacing her, passing her. This continues and he returns after a mile of this. Shawn continues with the whole field chasing her.
This is my first exposure to 24 hr mtn. bike race. But I have raced the Paul Revere 24 hr Daytona on a Yamaha RZ500, ridden a 4 man Boston-DC RAAM qualifier on a borrowed Cannondale with Rob Kish and driven non-stop from Denver to Washington DC so I feel I am qualified to at least bring coffee at this sort of thing. My graying peloton is happy with a 30-40 mile loop around Chatfield and the occasional Deer Creek/High Grade. Once a year I summit Mt Evans from Bergan Park to see if it will kill me. But this!
The sun is starting to light up the sky and the temperature is starting to drop. I am planning on staying one hour and hitting Cheesman Canyon to fly fish. Thane burns by setting a 33 minute lap in the barely dawn I know this will not likely happen. The only thing I miss is the smell of 2-stroke oil.
6:30 – As Thane wraps up his 3 laps and Shawn begins to stir in her cocoon. 6:45 she is dressed, has downed a Dulce coffee and is ready for action. You would think I rescued her dog from a burning house she is so thankful for the coffee. Pactimo has put 3 full laps on second place in class. 24 miles. They are in a 5 way tie for 4th place overall having completed 18 laps. Three other teams of 8 have completed 19 laps.
7:00 – I wonder who this thoughtful, quiet well spoken, intelligent guy is, when suddenly I realize it’s Thane without the delirum of caffeinated competition! Thane convinces the guy who traded us 2 Pabst Blue Ribbon beers for a few scoops of Daz Bog for some boiling water to make a fresh press. I realize they really didn’t NEED the coffee.
8:00 am The music come back on. Everything gets better.
8:10 The wind starts to blow. 30mph steady, 50 mph gusts in the back section. I tell the Shawn and Thane my Wyoming wind joke, but they don’t get it. The one where when the wind stops, the whole town falls down? They are talking about the deer again. I am not sure if the things the team is eating are dried figs or Peyote buttons. I try some to see.
10:00 Karl is napping in the tent, I tell Shawn that in just 24 hrs she will be on a road bike doing Elephant Rock. Karl awakens screaming and thrashing and energes from the blowing tent holding a ham and cheese sandwich in his mouth. I believe he slept with it there.
11:00 – I try to pretend I am a mechanic and help them unload, I clean the bikes after each session. They sparkle and I try to convince them that they will ride faster on a clean bike. They seem to agree, but probably only to make me happy. At one point, we add a link to Thane’s chain and adjust the cable for a bit of drag on the middle ring. We manage to not make it worse! It actually works better than it did when we started! The wind is so bad, we take the tent down. It takes a looooong time. We spill things and mash our fingers. We sit in the wind like non English speaking Bedouins in a foreign country.
11:15 I realize I have had to pee since 6:15 am. and 40 oz of super high test joe. I buy a slamming breakfast burrito from the Mexican guy and his 2 boys. They make it to my liking fresh for 5 bucks. The cilantro / onion/ jalepeno mix and home-made salsa is outrageous. Shawn gives me e-Rock socks. They are always giving me stuff.
Noon – Pactimo is up by 4 laps. They can neither add, subtract, reason or carry a conversation topic for more than three sentences. But they can still ride burning consistent laps. Thane offers me a beer. It is after noon and I accept. He hands me a bag of pretzels. “Gluten free” he notes. I will mechanic for this guy anytime, anywhere…the beer is a Dales Pale Ale.
1pm – I am fed, burped, I have dumped and ready to ride a lap. I can probably talk them into it. They need sunscreen instead. The wind howls and the sun blisters my lips. Karl and I watch the riders and note the ones that have that look of panic in their eyes. The ones that can still do math.
2:15 – ONLY 4 HOURS!WooHoo! I tell them. 4 HOURS???! they cry. I do the math. You can each just do one, 1 hr lap. And then one more. They eye one another like cannibals to see who will get voted off the island and have to do the extra lap. They still continue to burn off sub 40 minute laps.
3:30 The lead is 4 laps, Shawn cuts 5 min, Karl cuts 5 min and Thane cuts 10 minutes off the second place team. They are 10 min away from lapping them again now. Ed calls, Thane tells him not to come, it’s too windy. He shows up w/pizza and beer.
4:00 I can no longer do math, I need tubes and to prep and pack for tomorrows ride, the cars are packed, the W is in the bag. Karl is out for the last shift.
4:05 The country-western version of the Ramones “I want to be sedated” blasts over out heads. No one seems to notice or care how bizarre this is.
4:06 NOTE to self – Must do this next year.