Tuesday, October 09, 2007

24 Hours of Landahl Report FINALLY!

I don't why I haven't been able to write this up but it's been two weeks and it's time. 24hrs of Moab is this weekend which will decide the winner of the national points series. If the Athens Wrecking Crew win the Expert class out there, they take the title. If they get second, we'll tie with them for the title. Anything less than second gives us the win.

24hrs of Landahl. Where to start. I met MattyD, JoFo and Darren at the shop the week before the race to pack and ship the bikes. Darren's bike was in bad shape. He needed a bunch of work and I had to pitch in to get him taken care of. I think I left the shop around 12:30am. Only 4.5hrs of work to pack two bikes. That's no good. MattyD and JoFo got the bikes in the boxes and split. lucky SOBs. I put a few things on order for Darren and moved through the week NOT riding before the weekend.

Darren and I left BWI around noon on Friday the day before the race. The flight was un-eventful and we landed in Kansas City a few minutes early. When we got to the Fox rental car place, things got interesting. F'in Darren...

I made the mistake of checking my voicemail when we were in line at the rental car place. As soon as I started listening to a message from Susan about something with Emma, this guy told us to come around the people standing in front of us to get us taken care of. I apologized for being on the phone, letting him know that I was listening to a voicemail from my wife about my daughter and he smiled and waved it off with his hand, mouthing 'driver's license' to me, which I handed him. I handed him my credit card as well and he was typing away. I got off the phone, again, apologizing for being on the phone and told him that I had to call my wife about my daughter and he said 'no problem, I understand.' He rolled outside leaving me on the phone with Darren standing about 10 feet away from me.

Rental Car Dude popped his head back in the door, said something to Darren and then rolled back outside. I got off the phone about 20 seconds later and asked Darren what was going on.

Darren says 'he asked if we wanted the short wheelbase van or long wheelbase van so I just told him that the long wheelbase one was fine 'cuz we need the room, right?'

I said, 'No. It's only us and the bikes. We're fine. How much more is it?'

Darren says 'Only 10 bucks.'

I said 'A day...'

He says 'I don't know, whatever. Don't we want that?'

And I says 'No. We don't. You just got upsold.'

Rental Car Dude rolls back in and I tell him that we want the van that I reserved online and that I don't want the 'long wheelbase van' (whatever the hell that is).

So, RCD flips out on me telling me that I was rude for being on the phone, that 'my buddy' said that it was OK, that I would either take the more $$ van or take my business elsewhere.

I was lost. I tried to explain that I just wanted the van that I reserved online. I told him that 'my buddy' wasn't the one driving the vehicle, paying for the vehicle or making any decisions about the vehicle. I again apologized for being on the phone.

He kinda went nuts on me so I asked for the manager. He says 'I'm the OWNER of this place and there's nobody to talk to. Get your stuff and get out of here, you are done!'

This was in public, at the rental car desk. Other people are looking around and the employees are visibly uncomfortable. Poor Darren is sitting bolt upright, just apologizing.

This goes on for a few minutes and finally one of the women behind the counters pulls this guy into the office. He comes back out and says 'You better apologize to me RIGHT NOW!'

I was SO lost. I looked at him and said 'I'm not sure what I'm apologizing for. I'm not sure what is going on. I just want to get in a van that I want to pay for and get on my way. I'm very confused.'

So RCD walks away and the woman says, out of RCD's earshot 'I'm SO sorry about this.'

She gets us on our way with a key and a contract. Darren and I walk up to the front of the place to get our bags and RCD is like 'Thanks guys! It was GREAT sparring with you! Thanks SO much for your business! Have a GREAT weekend!'

I shook his hand and said 'Thanks a lot!'

We walked outside towards the car and the woman (the manager of the place) IMMEDIATELY starts apologizing to me. 'That guy is NEVER here and he's SUCH an A$$HOLE!'

Darren and I start laughing. She hands us off to a guy to show us the car and he says 'You shoulda punched that MF in the face! He's SUCH a D!CK!'

We thanked them all and reassured them that they had no reason to apologize. The manager said that she would comp us the bigger van upgrade and give us a free day but that she put that on the bill at the end of the contract so RCD didn't see it.

Darren felt pretty bad. No worries. It was an adventure. We laughed.

Is this long enough? We haven't even gotten to the friggen race yet!

Darren and I picked up the bikes from Epic Bike and Sport, just south of the airport. We rocked some Wendy's at the drive-through window and headed to the venue. Of course I didn't have actual directions but we got there with only a small delay.

Darren was sick and on meds. He didn't let me forget it.

We hooked up with some local boys at the race venue and got what little stuff we had all set up. These boys took care of us with tools, spare parts and beer. It was rad. The Athens boys rolled up around dinner time. They got set up, Darren and I went shopping. We got some beers and headed back to the campsite and partied until JoFo and MattyD showed up around 10:30pm. I was largely useless when they showed up but I sure was happy!

We awoke early on Saturday and started planning. We were pretty sure that the Athens boys would beat us, it was just a question of when. Dr Bill, Jeremy, Big Country and Young Buck did a pre-ride and they were jazzed and nervous about the course. Lotsa rocks and much mechanical potential. No climbing but no resting either.

We knew that the end of the first rotation would mean a lot. For us, MattyD ran and put us in last in Expert. Whoa. That was scary. MattyD is fast and that scared me, at least. He handed off to me, said 'It's tough!' and I ROCKED out of the start/finish. Susan told me to come home tired and I ATTACKED that course. I was riding as fast as I could, riding this lap like it was my only lap. The course battled back and kept me in check. I LOVED it and pulled off a 1:01. Our fastest lap. I passed a few dudes and came in 3rd Expert. Still not good.

JoFo went out after I yelled at him (encouragingly) to 'GET IT!' He got passed and put us back in fourth. Mr Sleepy, the 'Anti-Biotic Man' Darren went out and put in another 1:01 for our team, scraping us into second Expert.

One rotation down. Now for the scoop.

Athens sent out their Young Buck on his hardtail with veebrakes and 1.8" tires. Darren passed him walking his bike about 3m in. Turns out that YB crashed twice HARD within 10 feet on the rocky-ass course and messed his shoulder up pretty bad. I was sitting in the transition area with Jeremy and the medics called in to let him know what was up. It was an hour into the lap and Darren was about to come in. Jeremy went out to finish YB's lap an hour later. This pushed the Athens boys back an hour and into fourth Expert. That sucked. One rotation and they were down to three riders.

They started pulling time back (of course, they are FAST!) and we thought they would pull us back in around 2 am. JoFo had a stomach issue or something causing him to miss a lap around midnight. I was feeling good and we all just shrugged it off and JoFo got some rest. I enjoyed the extra night lap. The course got easier the less you could see. No kidding.

I broke a chain around 2am and only lost a few minutes. I hadn't ridden with a chain tool ALL YEAR! I just grabbed it for this race and put it in my jersey pocket every lap. I didn't know why. I got the chain back on and pulled a 1:09. Great time, I thought.

Around dawn, I saw Big Country from Athens not looking so good. Apparently, he got back from a lap, walked into their campsite and fell over, puking. Oops. An hour later, he was hooked up to an IV drip in the medical tent, still looking pretty bad.

Athens was down to Jeremy and Dr Bill. They battled, rode HARD (look at the lap times) but they just got tired. Those two guys looked way worse than they were riding. Two guys for the rest of the race.

We managed to get JoFo back into the rotation (and riding FAST). We stayed out in front of the the Athens boys for the finish. I was tired. We came in second Expert. We beat the Athens boys, which we never thought we would do. It was hard-fought on both sides. That's the thing about 24hr racing. Those guys are faster than us, but we won. That's how it goes. We have a lot of respect for those guys and we checked up on them every chance we got.

We packed up after the race, got our prizes (thanks SRAM!) and headed towards the bike shop to drop off the bikes for UPS. Dude at the bike shop said that I could crash at his house (which was empty) that night as I was on a budget. We hit the Outback for some dinner and said 'goodbye.' MattyD, JoFo and Darren were on a flight out Sunday night. I left Monday morning and returned to a happy, loving family.

I was tired. There you go Susan. This weekend will determine if we hold on to the lead or not. If we lose to the Athens boys, I'll be happy about it. The racing, the fun, the difficulty, the traveling, the friends... I already won!

Good luck to the Athens Wrecking Crew! Kick some a$$ in Moab!


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