Thursday, March 3, 2016

24HOP Pre-Ride Crash

Day 2, Pre-Ride...

Friday morning, after heading over to the University of Arizona campus where I picked up my bike from FairWheel Bikes, Sandrine and I drove out to the Willow Springs course to wait for the rest of the team. We were anxious to ride! Dozens of RVs and trucks were lined up along the access road waiting to get in, and 24 Hour Town was hopping. (A far cry from the day before.) RVs and tents were crammed in to every little spot available as we made our way up to our campsite, grateful to team captain Michelle for staking our claim earlier in the week. Camp Kitty had a perfect location on the course.

Ahhh... the Arizona desert was so amaaaaazing. Ohmigosh, 86 degrees and sunshine... I was in heaven.

Addie, Dan, and Shelby - Pre-Ride
Addie and Dan arrived from Arkansas late in the afternoon with enough time to join Sandrine, Shelby, Jennifer and I for a pre-ride of the race course. Shelby and Jennifer live in Florence, Arizona, and were familiar with the course so they led the way!

The pre-ride had some challenges. The course starts out with rolling singletrack until it hits a wide gasline jeep road that includes a series of seven steep climbs and descents called "The Bitches". I was warned about this section -- though it was tougher than I'd anticipated. After struggling on three of the climbs, Dan and Shelby lowered my tire pressure and adjusted my shocks, which helped tremendously -- my wheels were no longer slipping and sliding through the sand without any traction, and I was able to climb the second-to-last of The Bitches without any problems.

Feeling more confident about tackling the last climb, I increased my speed on the descent to give myself momentum for the climb ahead -- and hit a little kicker at the bottom of the hill that sent me flying. (I later learned it was the same spot Noah wiped out on the week before**. (Note my asterisks here.) The jump was unexpected, (I saw it too late), and I couldn't control the landing after my front wheel hit the wall of the next climb. I knew I was headed for a crash and landed off course against a boulder, rocks, and low-growing cactus. (Thankfully, no snakes). I closed my eyes to brace for the impact -- and afterwards opened them to find myself staring straight ahead at a large cactus, inches from my face. Woah. Close call.

Addie, Shelby & Jennifer (pic by Dan)
Addie, Jennifer, me, Shelby & Sandrine (pic by Dan)
I'd slammed my backside and hip pretty hard on the wipeout, and got nailed with some cactus needles, but nothing was broken and I was feeling grateful that I missed the head-on collision with the cactus and could get up and keep going. (And, again, feeling lucky there were no snakes... because the heat during the day definitely brought out the rattlers.) I was hurting for sure, but shook it off as best I could while we continued our pre-ride, making a stop at the Whiskey Tree to share a slug of burning whiskey with several other riders as the sun was starting to set.

This was a big flask of whiskey.
Heading towards 24 Hour Town before sunset (pic by Dan)
We arrived back at camp just after sunset, and found Camp Kitty well underway. The rest of the team -- Michelle, Eric, Shannon and Wil, along with crew Ami and Colin -- arrived while we were out on our pre-ride and it was time to celebrate! Dan made a fire while we pulled camp together, (although Ami and Colin get mega kudos for doing the majority of the camp build), and everyone settled in. I was feeling pretty battered and bruised at that point, and the pain increased as the night wore one, but there really wasn't much I could do about it. My teammates took good care of me, (love them), and eventually we all called it a night and headed off to bed -- Soooo excited for race day.

The sun goes down in the Arizona desert