Jan 12, 2013. The first race in the New Year. Twelve hours of Papago is a fun event held in an odd location under an over pass in downtown Tempe, AZ. It looked like the kind of place you would dump a body or score some drugs. But on this day it was filled with hundreds of mountain bikers getting ready for a 12 hour endurance race.
On this fine morning, Kaolin and I were up at 4:00 am to get to the venue. He was racing on a coed quad team for Nationwide and I, of course, was their mechanic. I couldn't believe how cold it was when we got there. Twenty-four degrees. If you're not from southern Arizona, you're probably laughing right now. But 24 degrees is frigid by Arizona standards.
While we were setting up for the race, a rider who was warming up rode by our tent when his freehub locked up. This wasn't someone that was on our team and we actually had never even met him before. But Kaolin and I dropped what we were doing and rebuilt his freehub on the spot. We also decided to remove a spacer that was improperly installed in his cassette and re tune the bike. This one of my favorite things about endurance racing. Everyone helps one another, even if the person you help might end up beating you.
As the day went on, it was your typical AZ 12 hour race, except for the cold weather. The day consisted of many dirty chains and a few minor tweaks. We were lucky enough to have our pit right at the finish line. It was so much fun listening to music and watching the racers run through the timing tent.
I have been to thousands of mountain bike races in my life and seen some spectacular finishes, but nothing compared to the last lap of the Open Quad. Nationwide and Bicycle Haus had been battling it out all day and it came down to the final lap. Haus was in the lead buy just a few minutes and everyone was watching in the change out area when they both came in at almost the same time. Rick Bucker from Haus made the handover first with Matt Barolt right on his heels. The entire croud was watching as they sprinted by us and back onto the course. Rick is a Cat 3 road racer and a monster at the crits while Matt is an ex-desert moto cross racer who is one of the best technical riders I have ever seen. No one knew who would prevail; the big motor or the skilled handler. Everyone was gathered around the finish line staring into the darkness looking for a hint of one of their lights, when all of a sudden a single light appeared. It was Matt and Nationwide had taken the lead from Bike Haus!
I tried to take pictures to share with you, but nothing turned out. Here is how we did.
Nationwide Duo One - Duo 12 Hour - 3rd Place
Nationwide/Veloworx LABBW - Duo 12 Hour - 6th Place
Nationwide SHNT - Quad 12 Hour - 1st
Nationwide/Veloworx Do-Nut-Count Us Out - Quad 12 Hour - 13th
Leah McCabe - Solo Womens - 1st
Nationwide - Quad CoEd 12 Hour - 2nd