My racing partner, Mario Correa, and I did the 24 Hours of Moab Championship Race. This venue is always full of surprises. Being so late in the year had its effects on me, no doubt, and I remembered the few times I did Moab previously: think beers and s'mores. This year, Mario and I took second place in Mixed Duo Championship, fifth place overall in Duo Pro, with 17 laps total. Read on about how it all went down, and see results here.
Our crew was Landon and Mary Monholland. They run Brown Cycles of Grand Junction. These two were spectacular. Landon kept our bikes working smoothly, and Mary kept us fed and happy.
Weather: finally, Moab had a good one. Not too hot, not too cold.
I rode my Niner Air 9 Hard Tail, 2.4 Racing Ralph in the front and 2.25 in the back. Very happy with the set up, like riding balloons. For my last lap (after our placement was already set) I took out the Specialized ERA just for fun and to see the difference between the 26 and the 29. Checked out some different lines. Have to say, two-nine all the way.
For the ERA I had 2.0 Captain on the front and a Hutchinson Python on the back.Mario rocked his New 29 Orbea the entire race and also ran the 2.4 RR in the front and a Small Block 8 in the back. I considered SMB, but I wanted more confidence in my sidewalls for this course. Mario tried the Hutchinson Python in the back, but thought the SB8 was better on the rocks and better to propel you forward in the sandy sections. We had an octopus mess of tires in the back of the truck. I counted 12 tires.
We pre-rode Wednesday, rode again Thursday morning and night, and again on Friday. Looking back, that wasn’t so smart on my part, but I was really happy that I got to see so much of the course. I need to do my recon well in advance. Didn’t seem to put any chinks in Mario but for me, big dent. We had a clean race, no real mechanicals. We both rode our best that day and paid attention to the other very strong teams we were racing. Congrats to Rebecca and Dax!
If you’ve ever ridden Moab you know the first six miles are the hardest, then the back half is fast and rollie, lots of different lines to take, and lots of sand to get through. With the right set up, that course is a blast! We both rode with camel backs--seemed easier for staying on top of nutrition. I was really happy using the First Endurance Gel Flasks. They come in handy, pre-filled flasks, and the gels aren't as viscous as hammer, so when it gets cold, the gels flow smoothly out of the flask. Plus, I was really happy with their recovery drink, Ultragen. The orange creamsicle tastes great and that's saying alot after a 24 hr race.
I would say one of the hardest parts for me at Moab, or any 24-hour race, is the moving obstacles--other riders. You can get hit from the front, side, back, or really get slowed down. We all encounter this, so it evens out in the end. This race attracts a big crowd, and some competitors could be riding outside their comfort zone and end your race. This happened to me on my second lap and to Neil Adams, though he got taken out from the side, and his race was over. Injured. But Neil did go out again, which was great!
Mario had a fabulous race. I see a marked difference in his riding times since he rocked the big wheels. His past two top podium finishes in XC races say it all.
Mario: I am taking more risks with the big wheels. After I had a big crash in La Ruta some years ago, I pulled back a bit. With these big wheels, I can take more “adventurous lines.”
What went wrong for you?
I fell behind on my nutrition one lap, ran out of water and got really hungry.
What went wrong for me: I was rather flat. Not really a peak event for me. I tried not to focus on that, though. Better to gut it out and make the proper adjustments. Thanks for pulling that double Mario!
I also caught up with Lynda Wallenfels and Dave Harris after Moab. One word for these two: Crushers. You can check out their results here.
Who wore their stars-and-stripes jersey longer?
Lynda: I wore mine longer, all the way back to the hotel and shower.
This seemed like a conservative race for you.
Lynda: This was a tactical race for me. The only goal was to win the jersey. I took few risks and stuck to my plan. It wasn't showy. How do you control the monkey mind and not go out hard if you have the legs? I wanted the National title bad enough to control the crazy side of me. I kept a lid on it.
Seemed like you had an aggressive race right from the start. Was that your plan?
Dave: It honestly didn't seem aggressive. I did slow it down, though, once I learned I was doing 1:15 lap times. My plan was to ride a steady pace that was more or less sustainable for 24 hours. Cracking was the danger--crack on an SS and things get ugly fast.
You two are like clockwork. Were you using check points?
No. Check points are depressing in a 24 because you inevitably get slower.
Your 10th lap seemed the longest, were you having any trouble?
Lynda: I had no trouble taking a 90-minute nap in my down sleeping bag then getting back up for oatmeal, coffee and the sunrise lap. I love the sunrise lap--couldn't miss that.
What gearing did you run?
(Both on 29ers)
Dave: 33 x 20
Lynda: 32 x 21
How much did you pre-ride?
Lynda: One lap the day before and a combined 26 laps over the years.
Dave : I've been "pre-riding" this course for nine years. My 15th lap was actually my 102nd--not much pre-riding needed these days. But I did do one lap the day prior just to make sure the gear was right.
What did you eat at night?
Lynda: Soup, rice chips, peaches.
Dave: A salted mashed potato/egg mix washed down with Red Bull, the blood of a goat.
What tire set up did you run?
Lynda: 2.55 WTB Weirwolf at 19 psi in the front and Specialized Captain at 18 psi in the rear. Super happy with that set up.
Dave: Bonty XOX rear, Jones XR front, 24 psi f/r.
How much of the course did you walk?
Lynda: Very little. Just the short, steep rock ramp early in the course that I never tried during the race, the sand hill, a few steps up nosedive.
Dave: Very little.I took long pits to stay fresh and fueled, then kept my speed up when I was on course. It was part of the fun zone for me to challenge myself to ride most things every lap.
How was Moab on an SS vs Gears?
Lynda: A gazillion times harder in some places, and in other places, frustrating to be spun out and coasting at 15 mph with gearies buzzing past in their big rig at 25 mph. I geared for the climbs.
Dave: SS is easier. The initial climbs are hard as a solo after eight hours, no matter what. They just go by faster on the SS. Being spun out for the second half of the course offered a ton of recovery I'd never see on gears. On the flip side, despite having only two geared riders finish in front of me, I think SS is considerably slower due to the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the course. You gear for the flats or you gear for the climbs.
Pros/cons the same as any other course?
Lynda: At Moab I predicted the gearie winners would be two laps ahead of the SS winners and was correct in both the men and women's fields. On other more SS friendly courses, like 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, SS winners can finish a lap up on the gearie field.
What was key about your setup for the race at this venue?
Lynda: Full suspension! Big fat floaty 29-inch tires. The most awesome mojo furnace of a support crew.
If you had one thing to improve for the race, what would it be?
Lynda: Nothing. I won the National Championship title! Even the best executed 24 has bumps. I had planned to do 12 laps but my fork blew on the ninth lap. I lost all the air in the negative chamber, making it really harsh on laps 10 and 11, and decided not to pound out the 12th--I didn't need to in the end. I had the perfect race. Hard to imagine improving anything. Crew, bike, fitness--all came together for this one. With eight previous races at this venue, I had a lot of experience to draw from.
How's your recovery going? Have you ridden yet?
Lynda: Yes, just low IF buzzing around.
Dave: First ride was Thursday, post-race, and I felt pretty good--legs super, lungs still holding a bit of Moab.