24-Hour Race Advice – Mountain Bike Tips

24-hour race advice. Photo by Tyrone Minton.
Wandering Justin takes a lap at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Photo by Tyrone Minton.

I have some 24-hour race advice for you: A few weeks ago, I raced in the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo as part of the duo team Lost Nuts. We finished in the middle of the pack, with having few mechanical problems being our only distinguishing feature. It was my first 24-hour event, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My partner, Harry, had a great question for me after the event. “So, what did you learn?” Here are the answers.

1. Pack meticulously, and don’t overlook food. I failed to bring some essentials that I used throughout my training: V-8 and coconut water, both of which are great for re-hydrating. I also, if you can believe this, forgot my freakin’ helmet. Fortunately, several local bike shops had set up camp there and I was able to score one on the cheap. A second helmet is going to be useful for riding at night more often. Which leads us to #2.

2. Ride at night lots before the race. That way, you won’t be a chicken like me. Night riding freaks me out, and I need to get used to it if I’m going to do this more often. Which I intend to.

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Eight Things to Know about the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Right now, a shantytown/mountain bike refugee camp is forming in the desert northeast of Tucson, Ariz. It’s there for the Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race (be sure to read “A Note on Kona” below). Even one week before the event, RVs were already starting to stake their claim. At that point, it was mostly locals from nearby Tucson, retirees and Trustafarians. If this is the first you’ve heard of such a thing, let me explain a few things.

1. In epic mountain bike racing, we don’t explain things. So if you don’t understand why someone wants to do this, I can’t explain it to you.

2. The race is open to a number of categories based on number of riders, gender, combined age and even whether your bike has more than one gear. And yes, there are solo and co-ed categories!

3. The idea is to do as many laps as possible from noon one day until noon the next. Now, let’s say you’re coming through the finish area at 11:55. You dawdle a bit, and the next team in your class whizzes by and sends a rider for another lap. Well, if you send another rider, you’ll have the same number of laps. Your rank will be determined by who gets back fastest. So pedal faster, or you’ll hear banjos!

4. Yes, some people stay awake the entire time in the solo class. And they’re still obscenely fast. See Tinker Juarez. And Tinker is no spring chicken. Bow before him, and recognize consummate coolness, professionalism and old-timey good mountain biker vibes.

5. The Old Pueblo course is stupendously fast. No epic climbs, and huge sections of largely straight jeep road.

6. There’s also a lot of twisty singletrack, tons of cactuses and some sneakily placed ditches and ruts.

7. There are lots of cool people racing and supporting the racers. I rode with James (a solo class racer) and his pal, Mike. They were both super-awesome and helpful in showing me around the not-quite-marked course.

8. Watch for bovines. That’s cattle, to the layperson.

So what class am I? Well, I signed up with a friend for the Men’s Duo Class, but he’s come down with tonsillitis. So I’m essentially racing solo in the duo class. He’ll probably take a lap or two, but I’ll be pulling some long stretches.

A Note on Kona: If you’re not familiar with Kona, it is a very sweet mid-sized bike manufacturer. It produces solid bikes for a wide range of disciplines. The company tests its products quite a bit in the northeast U.S. and British Columbia, ensuring that its products are all sorts of tough. Kona is unfortunately overshadowed by all the big companies – their bikes are just as good, if not better. Kudos to Kona for sponsoring this race – for Kona, it’s not just about advertising: It’s about being part of the cycling community and making it better and more accessible. I truly dig Kona’s stuff and recommend its products, even though I don’t own one (but Sarah’s first mountain bike was a very capable Kona Cinder Cone hardtail, and I worked at a Kona dealer).

Winter Olympics Sports – My 5 Favorites

Winter Olympics
Jim Craig – a wall of coolness and my first sports hero.

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver are almost here, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I love the Winter Olympics just slightly more than the summer.

That’s because my first sports memory was of the 1980 games in Lake Placid, and Team USA’s "Miracle on Ice" against the Soviet Union. Jim Craig was my hero – yes, I eventually became a goalie, but in the Arizona roller hockey rinks rather than Chicago’s ice rinks. Tony Esposito eventually replaced Craig as my hero, but Craig came first.

Anyway, to celebrate the coming spectacle in Vancouver, here are my five favorite events (I’m equally happy watching men or women in all – also I want to know YOUR 5 favorites!):

Hockey – After that intro, I’m sure you had no doubt it would be my top pick. I understand hockey better than I understand any other sport. I see goals before they happen, and am rarely surprised when a puck goes in. There’s nothing cooler than seeing a goalie make an awesome save, or an old-school defender delivering an open-ice hip check. Sure, I love all the scoring and the "odd tussle" (as Don Cherry might say). But give me a tense, low-scoring game with a pair of brilliant goalies dueling it out.


Winter Olympics
English: American Athlete Tracy Mattes with the Olympic Torch at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Mattes is a former USA star athlete who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. She is currently Director of Global Programs for the World Olympians Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bobsled – I shouldn’t even have to explain why this Winter Olympics sport is cool. Really, skeleton and luge are also awesome. But the bobsled! Bullet-shaped, heavy, fast – there’s nothing like hearing it hurtle down a twisting, banked course. I can see why the Jamaicans wanted to do this so badly (and kind of bad, too). These cats are always on the ragged edge of control. More than any other sport, too, this is the one that I want to try. When I visited Park City, you could take a ride for $200. That’s a bit stiff, but I may cave in one day. It’s just too awesome.

Curling – I know, from two of the fastest sports to one of the slowest. But curling is way more awesome than you realize unless you’re Canadian. Watch the movie Men with Brooms and you will begin to understand the appeal. Bonus points – the Swedish women’s team picked the song "Hearts on Fire" by their countrymen and friendly local power metal band Hammerfall as their theme song in the last winter games. So what did Hammerfall and its likeable lineup do? They shot a cheesy-but-hysterical video with the team, of course! If only all bands were so self-deprecating. For the record, some of the team members were pretty hot. I’m just sayin’, guys --

Giant Slalom – This event rocks. Those skiers are freakishly awesome. If you don’t already know that, try skiing on their courses. They do runs at high speed that scare me at a granny’s pace. They are brave, skilled and super-strong. And it’s just flat-out fun to watch them rip down the course. I have to admit, crashes can be fun, too – but only if they don’t get hurt. There’s also incredible drama and tension with each run. It’s totally unpredictable.

Biathlon – Cross-country skiing + shooting = awesome. If you’ve never strapped on a set of cross-country skis, you may wonder why it’s a big deal. Well, it’s freakin’ hard. And it’s even pretty fun! The downhill sections will make you whoop for joy, but you don’t have the consequences of blazing down a black-diamond run on downhill skies and losing control. And this is a cardiovascular workout. It must be really rough to have your heart hammering and thighs burning while trying to shoot a target. Bring your gun up, take a deep breath to steady your nerves, put your finger on the trigger -- that all gets harder with your heart rate soaring. You’ll soon have a new appreciation for this Winter Olympics sport.

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  • !!!!Curling!!!!!Winter Olympics 2014 Live Stream From Sochi
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