24 hours of Moab

by Nick Brummer

After leaving Burger King in Moab after a bite to eat, we pulled into tent city after dark. It was crazy!!!! Almost like a city with running water and electricity had sprung up in the middle of the desert. It was truly a sight to behold. Got a campsite (wherever you decide you want to stay), got things set up and headed to bed around 11 to wait for the day ahead. Next day camp starts to buzz with people getting bikes set up and making sure everything is prepped and ready. Breakfast was potatoes with veggies, and lots of water. Pre-race meeting at 10:30 and the excitement was starting to build. Race starts at noon and goes to noon the next day.

1st lap – Lined up for the Le Mans style start with 400 or so other people… It was a crazy feeling, everybody just waiting to explode with energy, the musak was blaring, my heartbeat actually increased while I was waiting. It was really cool. They shot the cannon to start us and it was really freaking loud!!!! I was just pacing myself, I thought I may be toward the back, but once I got down to the turn-around at the bush, I could see that there were a lot of people still behind me.

My plan was to pace myself on the run and the entire first lap…. Like you can really pace yourself when you are riding in a pack 400 large on a dirt road…… Especially as a roadie…. Once I got my bike and got clipped in and took off, I was passing people left and right. I love riding on dirt roads, it plays into my strengths. I probably passed close to 50 people in the first couple miles of dirt road, and then as a mass of people we hit the first singletrack. I was still trying to pace myself, not pushing myself too hard, (lots of time left….. like 23 hours….. 🙂 the first section of singletrack was dusty, sandy, and technical. Feeling fresh yet, I was able to ride up many of the sections that I would later walk, yet when we did have to hike it, was like you were hiking a bike with 30-40 other people. All the while the guys on teams (majority of people) were super competitive and trying to keep on passing. The middle of the course featured a couple mile dirt road section where I was able to open it up to around 25-30 mph and pass a ton of people.


Soon we came up to the NOSE-DIVE, I had seen somebody ride this section on You-Tube, and it didn’t look so bad, but coming up to it, there was no way in hell I would ever even attempt to ride it. Plus at the bottom was super deep sand, so you would still have to get off your bike and hike up the other side. Once over that, a few more technical uphills and gullys with some nice drops. A couple sandy downhills, and the course spit you out onto some more dirt road. On this Jeep road I was able to open it up again to about 25 or so, and was able to catch some nice drafts off of other people. Coming off the dirt road section was a section of slickrock that had a few nice drops, and spit you out into a gully where it was super fast through deep sand down, and back up, no effort required if you got enough speed. Back onto the Jeep road after this for a couple more miles, then a couple more decently steep downhills that were really sandy and tricky if you were afraid of too much speed.

The one thing I quickly figured out is that in the deep sand speed is truly your friend. What goes down must come back up, after the last couple downhills you take a left and get ready to ride back into camp. But first you must climb about a 2.5 mile dirt/sandy climb. My first lap I was able to do this in the middle ring and pretty much hold my position all the way up it. There was a super deep sandy section close to the top that I never made it through, and never saw anyone else make it either. Once over the top of the climb, I was flying back down toward camp. It was an awesome descent complete with several deep sandy sections that as long as you hit them at about 25 mph you could cruise through them with little effort, any slower and you would probably get buried, and have to get off your bike. Right at the bottom of the hill, a little less than a mile from the finish tent was a huge deep section of sand. I didn’t make it through and had to once again get off and walk. 5 minutes later I was back at the tent excited to have lap 1 under my belt with a time of 1:19. One hour down, 23 to go, and I was feeling invincible!!!!

Above is a picture of a rider walking the Nose Dive. What you can’t really tell from the pic is that there is about a 4 foot drop at the bottom of it all. This section was crazy!

Lap 2 – Started off fast, after stopping by camp to fill the Camelbak and stuff my face. While there Torrey and Natalie recommended I wipe all the salt off my face (should have paid this more attention)…. Lap 2 was different from Lap 1 for the first several miles in that it was all rolling singletrack through the desert. Hit the first technical climb and was powering away, just riding up and over everything in my way. The 29″ wheels were destroying the trail in front of me, and just steadily eating up the miles. About 5 miles into the second lap and BAM!!!! my left leg just locks up. (OH Sh**) I say to myself not the cramps already…. just 20 miles in…. Got off my bike and walked a bit until I felt I could get back on and ride. Every climb after that, anytime I put too much pressure on my legs, the one leg would completely lock up. I started chugging water and sucking down the energy gels. TOO LATE!!!! I probably cramped 3 times on that 2nd lap and after each would get off and walk my bike for a bit, super upset that I was cramping already. I thought it would go away if I could just make it back to camp and get some food with some sodium. Little did I know that I was already in a HUGE sodium deficit, and how long it takes to get out of that. Finished lap 2 in about 1:35.

The picture above is basically what all but the last climb consisted of rocky, technical climbing.

Lap 3 – Before I left camp I ate a couple of bananas, and drank a bottle of gatorade, and filled the Camelbak again. On the first climb about 3-4 miles into the 3rd lap, WHAM! both legs are locked up and I almost fell off my bike. Again, every time I put too much force on my legs, or tried to go to fast, my legs would lock up, only now it was both legs, and if I would stretch to get rid of the cramp, my hamstring would lock up. GREAT….. so now I have cramping in both legs, front and back! I have thoughts of Natalie’s brother Patrick flashing through my mind thinking that I may have to forfeit due to cramping…. Somehow I made it back to camp for the end of Lap 3. Lap 3 was about 1:40.

Above is the last climb up a sandy dirt road leading back to the base camp.

Lap 4 – Couple more bananas, ham and mayo sandwich, bottle of gatorade, headlights put on by my race support (Torrey), and a pocket full of energy gels and sport beans as well as electrolytes in my Camelbak and I am fully prepared for my 4th lap. The sun is starting to set and I can tell that soon I will have to turn on the lights and be riding in complete darkness (save for the lights from my NITERIDER lights). By this time I am hoping that I have enough food,sodium and potassium in my system to keep the cramps away. My stomach is so full, and somehow I am supposed to keep pedaling my bike through the night. Once again, on the first hill…. both legs CRAMP!!!! At this point I was so frustrated I just got off and started walking. In fact anytime I got to a hill, I would just get off and start walking, it was so pointless to even try to pedal, because both legs would just instantly lock up the second I put any kind of pressure on them. Then they started cramping just from walking, so I would have to stop and just wait until they were done spasming!!! About halfway through this lap the sun set and everyone turned on their lights. WOW!!! How cool, during the day I hadn’t even realized that you could see most of the course from different points on the course. It doubled back on itself many different times. At night when people had headlights on it was so AWESOME!! At any given time you could see anywhere from 2 lights to around 30 lights. It was one of the coolest sights I have ever seen, and would have even been cooler if I had been able to ride my bike instead of pushing it everywhere. Even though I could see all these lights and knew there were people all over the place, there were times when you would see no one else for up to 5 minutes or so. My issue was that I would completely cramp up, someone would ride past and ask if I was ok?, (everyone was super friendly and helpful), I would reply with ya, just cramping, and then…. silence for up to 5 minutes or so. Kinda freaky when you can’t move because the cramps are so debilitating. Somehow after all the cramping and walking, I made it to the top of the final climb and could see the camp down below. WOW what a wonderful feeling, all downhill to the camp and safety and warmth and food, and a chance to just sit around the fire that Torrey had made. I finished Lap 4 around 2 hours, got an extreme rush riding through camp in the middle of the night. Found our campsight, plopped down in a chair and just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Break Time – I had made it. That was one hellish lap, and I was sure I could do no more if I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the cramps. I sat for a while, eating constantly and drinking lots of gatorade and soda, and talking with Natalie about what to do next. I didn’t want to go back out because even just sitting in the chair I would just randomly cramp up severely. I knew if I went back out it would be the same thing as the previous lap, and I dreaded that. It was finally decided with some good guidance from the wife that the best and safest thing to do was get some rest and try to recover. (Several people had already been taken into town in ambulances because of crashes due to the technical nature of the course, and this was the last thing any of us wanted to happen, because I was too tired or cramped at the wrong time.) At this point Natalie headed off too bed, it was after 10:00pm. Torrey built up the fire a bit and I headed to the showers. It was an amazing feeling to take a shower!! Got back to camp and ate some cookies and had some soda. I also found some salt tablets that I decided to take, and then was feeling pretty good, almost like I could head back out. I cleaned my bike a bit and got it ready, then was unsure if I was done with the cramping or not and decided to sleep for a bit. Went to bed about 11:30 with the plan of waking up at 4:30 to be on the bike by 5:00.

Woke up at 4:30, Torrey went out to get the fire going, and I got up around 4:45, got dressed, made sure the bike was good to go, and stood by the fire with a lot of clothes on!!!! Reheated some potatoes from the previous day and ate those, along with some more gatorade. Everything was prepared by Torrey, who was awesome! I could not have done it without his and Natalie’s support.

Lap 5 – I was back on my bike and feeling amazing (save for about the first mile) at 5:10am. I had the headlights on and helmet light, and had plenty of light. This lap I did a much better job of pacing myself with just a steady effort throughout. No cramping at all. Completely recovered. I rode everything! I still had to walk some of the deep sand and steep rock parts that everyone else also walked, but otherwise, I was picking amazing lines and riding all the rock drops with extreme confidence. Every time around, I would get passed by people (mostly team riders) on the climbs cause I would just be spinning up in my granny gear, and then on the technical downhills and flats I would just fly past people mainly because I could ride everything that many others would get off and walk, and the flats I was just that much faster than everyone else. This lap was probably my 2nd fastest lap of all, I think it was about 1:25. About 3/4 of the way through this lap I turned my lights off, as it was full daybreak. I crested the final hill overlooking the camp and could see the tent city coming to life. As I cruised back in to the check-in, it was one of the coolest feelings. Having people still cheering for you “Thinking you had ridden through the night”…. and made it back to camp for the first lap of the new day. I pulled into camp bursting with confidence.

Toward the end of the race you just came to accept the deep, never ending, power sucking sand, that at the beginning of the race you were cursing because you couldn’t ride through it….

Lap 6 – Shed some layers, and I was starting to heat up. Had 2 egg sandwiches on bread and a couple of pieces of bacon. YUMMY!!! 🙂 Drank a pepsi, refilled the Camelbak and took off for Lap 6. Again a repeat of Lap 5. Felt phenomenal, rode everything, picking sweet lines, riding some sweet drops, some big berms, and powering up some steep sandy climbs. Open it up on the flat jeep road and felt like I was riding my road bike. A team rider latched onto me and let me pull him for about 3-4 miles, we were just talking, and he was amazed at how fast I was riding for being a solo rider. (I told him I took a long nap) He and I had just passed 2 chicks, and had a sweet little roller right in front of us. I am full of newfound confidence and decided to do a little jump of this little roller…… All I can say is that I must have been tired and had no balance, because once my wheels left the ground, they never again touched…. the next thing I knew was that I was sliding on the hard dirt at about 20 mph…… The guy was like you ok? and kept going and the 2 chicks did the same thing….. DANGGIT!!!! Got a little cocky and made a fool of myself and crashed in front of people trying to show off a bit. Scratched my knee and elbow a bit, with a bit of bleeding, ripped my tights in the knee. But got right back up and took off again. Within 5 minutes I had passes the 2 girls back, but never caught back up to the guy I was riding with. Finished lap 6 in about 1:30-1:40.

Lap 7 – Ate a bunch of spaghetti and drank another soda and took off again. Still feeling good. Almost a repeat of Lap 6 minus the crash. Caught up with another solo rider with about 4 miles to go and had a little dialogue with him about whether we were going to try for another lap or not. Course closes at noon, and I was on pace to make it back about 11:45. My goal was 10 laps, I could see that was not going to happen anymore, and 8 laps was a whole lot of pain more, without really putting me at 10 laps. I spent this entire lap trying to figure out whether or not to ride another. This guy said no he wasn’t he had 8 laps and was going to call it quits cause he wife was waiting on him. With that I also decided to call it a day, deciding it wasn’t worth the pain for lap 8. If it was lap 10 I would have gone for it, but not lap 8. Finished this lap in about 1:30-1:40.

This picture I was obviously not feeling so good….. enjoying a little time off the bike seat 🙂

Best Feeling from the Race: (3) 1.Riding over the crest of the final hill and seeing the tent city. 2.Riding through the check-in tent and swiping your card to end one lap and begin another. Having the announcer announce that you were a solo rider and heading out for another lap.(3)Pulling into camp and having Natalie and Torrey waiting on me and getting me what I needed, Natalie getting me food and drink and taking care of me, and Torrey cleaning my bike and taking care of the drivetrain.

Worst Feeling from the Race: Cramping so early on in the afternoon, and feeling like I had let my support team down for coming to the race with me and doing all this work, and then I couldn’t even ride my bike!!!

Race Highlights: Riding all the obstacles and rock drops when others had to get off and walk. Being told almost every lap that I was picking awesome lines, and that it was fun to follow me because I knew what I was doing. Also being told “you must be a roadie” because I was able to go so strong on the flats.

Thoughts: This was an awesome experience. I would do it again, one downside is the costs, and the fact that it is so late in the season. I would def. have to start my season later, or have a longer break in the middle if I wanted to do it again sometime. Not next year for sure, but some other time. yes. I think w/out cramping I could have done 10-11 laps. Would be a blast to do solo with friends, and be able to ride and compete with each other.

Bike setup: NINER E.M.D. NINE. Hardtail…. Bike was perfect! No major issues!

Thanks to Natalie, my beautiful wife for supporting me and my dreams and for going along to care for me even despite the fact that she was pregnant, and would much rather stay in the comforts of home rather than the sandy desert and a sleeping pad.
Thanks to Torrey for working so hard to keep things going around camp, and for waking up at 430 in the morning to get a fire going so I could get motivated to get back out and ride, and for taking care of my bike, and setting up the lights.

Pics Here – I am in the red and blue MACK kit.

– Nick

More from Nick can be found on his blog: nsquaredweinercubed.blogspot.com

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