or the past year and a half I have been pedaling my mountain bike (MTB) pretty regularly at about 20 miles of dirt per week. Of course I really miss racing so it seemed like a great idea to enter a pedal bike race. Back when I started racing quads I had been riding a quad for about a year so the timeline is similar. We entered the Dawn to Dusk 12 hour race at the McDowell Mountains near Fountain Hills. It is a really simple 16.5 mile loop with about 1000 foot of elevation gain and we did the 4 man team class. We had enough guys for 2 teams which made it a lot of fun hanging out in the pits.
I figured everyone on the team would get 2 laps which would be more miles than I have ever done in a day. Up until this point the most I had done was 27 miles in one ride with plenty of stops for chit chat. Our two teams were neck and neck all day although we were sitting close to last in our class at about 36th out of 39 teams. In total there were over 700 riders registered.
Lap 1 went ok, I was not happy with my time but I had a blast and the traffic was not nearly as bad as I expected. Active Body Worx had a free massage tent which really helped loosen up my back. Then I had an enormous Philly Cheesesteak from the east coast cheesesteaks food truck that was so tasty. Everyone said I would regret it but I proved those suckers wrong. Lap 2 felt a lot better and I set a good time 7 minutes better than lap 1 but my calves did start cramping. One of the guys on the team did not want to do his second lap so I begrudgingly went out and did a 3rd lap making a total of 50 miles on the day. The last lap was pretty rough, I did not cramp up but it felt like I was missing about half my power. I managed a respectable time compared to my other 2 laps so I am very happy. Having a professional massage during an awful race like the Cinders would have been awesome!
My best lap was 1 hour and 14 minutes and of the 450ish people who recorded laps on Strava that day my lap was about 225th so I am exactly mediocre! It does suck knowing you will never be as good at this new thing as your old thing but it beats sitting on the couch.
Here’s my random thoughts comparing this to 10 years of off road racing.
· MTB racers are WAY more courteous than motorized racers, you come up behind someone, say “on your left” and 95% of the time they say “ok go ahead” and you zoom by. The other 5% don’t say anything probably because they are too tired but they still move over, NOBODY blocks you.
· When faster people catch you they go by without any drama, if anything I heard nice encouraging statements from the super-fast guys.
· Passing people and chatting with them or hearing words of encouragement is cool.
· The course was marked better than some off road race courses.
· You can fit WAYYYYY more MTB racers in a parking lot than off road nerds. J
· I definitely miss the Casey Folks no dog rule. I stepped in multiple piles of dog doo in the staging area.
· Most of the bikes there cost as much or more than a Quad and I saw zero “jalopies”. At a typical off road race you see several machines that are pretty questionable as to whether they will finish or not, that was not the case here. Everyone had fancy bikes.
· The race course does not really “evolve” throughout the day. 722 racers doing god knows how many laps has about as much effect on the dirt as 3 motorized racers.
· These people are perverts J, some memorable team names: Taint Nothin, 9 inch Males, he cranks til I finish, Chub Scouts, Flyin naked apes, Suck our Cogs, Pedalphiles
· I am hardly sore at all, after a hard quad race I would be walking like a weirdo for a few days but I feel fine today (2 days later) I am not sure if that is due to the massages or just dumb luck.
· Suffering in near silence on the bike at a piddly 10-15mph is different than suffering on the quad. The quad requires so much attention that it does distract from the pain and the throttle can save you in a lot of situations. On the bike if you push too hard you might cramp
up and end up having to walk so you do end up holding back some.
· Not coughing up dust for a few days has been nice!
· The racing is cheaper, but still not as cheap as you would hope. The entry fees are roughly the same as a local off road race and the bike maintenance like suspension service, tires, chains etc does add up. I am getting about 400 miles out of a rear tire at $70ish a pop.
· It’s still impossible to look cool in a bike helmet.