Victory at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

From the dust storm on race morning, to the evening rain that turned the course into a drivetrain-scouring sandblaster, not to mention the fierce arctic headwind on all the uphills, the conditions were somewhat daunting for this typically sunny and mild southern Arizona 24-hour race. Throw in a well-meaning support crew member, self-elected team coach, who lied about our lead to make us think we were an accomplished group of pro women only capable of putting a paltry 2-minute dent into our strong but amateur competitors, and you’d think our morale might take a slight hit.

Not so! The great thing about doing a 24-hour race with a new team is that it is a quick way to find out what everyone is made of. And on this team, we are apparently made of VERY good stuff. In spite of daunting race conditions and even more daunting day-before-the-race issues, everyone put up with every adversity with a smile on her face and a willingness to keep going out for one more lap. Kathy’s laps got faster as it got more miserable out. Kaila didn’t slap Nina when she showed up late to the exchange tent at 3am. Zephanie kept giggling as she put on yet another layer of clothing to face the elements on a cold and windy desert night. Nobody got grumpy as the night wore on, which is highly unusual in my experience at 24-hour races.

It helped to have a five-person support crew that was willing to do whatever it took to keep us going: Chuck with 40-minute warnings and fierce burrito skills, Jack with extraordinary bike-holding, mechanic-entertaining, and staying-awake abilities, Alex with tireless willingness to fix everything that could go wrong with 11 bikes riding multiple laps through wet sand, and Pete with unquestioning support of whatever a crazed singlespeed soloist might want to have done to her bike. The silent partner through it all was the MVBT of the event, Jack’s Box Truck, whose capacity for bodies, bikes, bike stand, mechanic, and kitchen was duly impressive. It’s safe to say not much would have happened without the big Box. Yes, Jack, it just may be the best investment you’ve ever made.

I would have liked to have a video of all the exchange tent interactions. I’m not sure what went on for other exchanges, but it was always fun to hand the baton to Kathy, who would invariably ask in measured tones, “So, how was it out there?”, as though we’d just sat down for a cup of coffee. Taking the baton from Kaila, on the other hand, was a completely different affair. She’d come in looking like a wild animal on a buffalo hunt. No time to answer the question. Her attitude just screamed NO TIME FOR YOUR SILLY QUESTIONS, NINA! NOW GO RIDE YOUR BUTT OFF! NOW! Kaila did such an awesome job on her very first race as a pro. She was born to be a bike racer.

All in all, a great weekend. I can’t wait to hang out with my awesome teammates again soon.

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