Powderhorn 24 tech-geekery

I’m sure all of my readers (or at least 2 of the 3 of them) are wondering what I rode for the Powderhorn 24 (the Powderhorn 12 for the lame-assed Mark it ZERO team) and how well it worked out.

No? Well, I’m going to write it down anyway so that when we go back next year, I run some chance of not doing the same stupid things again. Granted, a small chance, but a chance all the same.

Bike and related gear

Lesson 1: Take only one bike.

I took two bikes with me to Minneapolis: the Albatross and the Cannondale–so naturally I took both of them to the race. I never rode the Cannondale, other than from the car to the start/finish and back again. It was a hassle and totally unnecessary.

Lesson 2: A fat-tired fixed-gear 29er with fenders is not really the best rig for a 24-hour urban race.

Right now, the Albatross is low-geared, long-cranked, fat-tired and fixed-geared, which is great for commuting and messing about (except for the long cranks, which just suck), but not so good for going fast. This is the sort of riding that’s better suited to a 700c-wheeled single-speed with 28-35mm tires and some kind of fenders. Faster overall, easier on the body after many hours of riding, and so forth. Next year, I’ll take whatever I’ve built up to replace the now-dead Kona. If I’m feeling really paranoid, I’ll take a spare pair of wheels as well–but that’s not really necessary given that one is surrounded by bike people and the start/finish is a full-service shop.

Clothing

Lesson 3: Cotton kills.

Thinking we’d want to look like a team of some sort, we put BG in charge of coming up with something approaching a team kit. In the end, this consisted of home-printed iron-on transfers that we cobbled together from an image he stole from somewhere on the internet and some InDesign flogging. It looked like this:

Over the line, mark it ZERO!

We ironed these on to a variety of gray and white t-shirts, recently purchased at that venerable Minneapolis institution: Target. They looked ok, but the performance was sorely lacking–too baggy, too cottony. The race started on a warm afternoon, continued into a warmish and somewhat humid evening, and into a downright wet night. Cotton t-shirts suck for this sort of thing generally. Next time, I’ll stick with a handful of real cycling jerseys for the fit, the cloth, and the pockets.

Otherwise, it the usual urban cycling stuff: padded liner shorts, Dickies or Rivendell MUSA shorts over that, woolie socks, and SIDIs.  All of that was just fine, except when it got raining and the Dickies got soaked and gained 10 pounds (which is when I swapped them for the MUSA shorts).

Lesson 3a: Clean, dry clothes are nice.

We brought a bunch of extra stuff, but it wasn’t the right extra stuff.  Next time, bring 2-3 spare sets of kit, including socks just in case it gets cold and wet, or hot and humid, or whatever. Arm warmers and rain gear also wouldn’t go amiss. And we’ll make sure that there’s at least a bit of wool in the gear bag; you can never go wrong with wool.

Food and shelter

Lesson 4: Tents are good; a tent plus a canopy is even better.

Unfortunately for us, we had neither and ended up hiding under a bridge with our gear bin, the cooler, a couple of camp chairs, and a cot. Oh, and the canopy that we could get set up because we either didn’t know quite how to do it or because we were missing some vital part. I suspect it was the former, because we’ve only ever used this shelter as a fly strung up between trees–and because we never did test setting it up before we left. Next year, we’ll take our tent, a couple of folding chairs, and perhaps a canopy to keep the sun away. One cannot be too comfy between runs, especially when the weather turns foul.

Lesson 5: You can never have too much beer.

We were originally thinking that we’d not want to drink too much in the wee hours of the morning. To some degree, this was true. But on the other hand, there’s nothing quite like an ice-cold tallboy after an hour of riding flat-out. So, we’ll bring more beer to start with, and make sure we’re well supplied from the nearly liquor store for the off hours. The 60s formula Schlitz in tallboys worked the best.

Lesson 6: More non-carboriffic snacks.

We didn’t give much thought to the whole question of snacks, figuring we’d just live off the land, as it were. The only problem is, for us lowish-carb types, the available forage is very heavy on the carbs. Since I’d like to keep my carbs for beer consumption, pack a few things that aren’t: hard-boiled eggs, jerky, and the usual run of stuff (including the homemade low-carb energy bars that got me through the Almanzo).

We’ll probably also take the Volcano, so that we can grill some flesh to go with the beer and/or keep a dutch oven full of something warm and tasty going through the wee hours of the night.

Lesson 7: Get take-out.

That said, there was some good living off the land to be done. The Freewheel Midtown cafe made some awesome sandwiches and great soup–and I’d definitely go back there again and again for food and coffee. Actually, I’d just like to move in and live there permanently, but that’s another story altogether.

And, there were a whole bunch of places on or near the race-course that we would have certainly patronized had we raced longer, including the one that I really regret missing: the Mexican joint with a full array of the traditional stuff that was open until 4am.

Besides, it’s a neighborhood event–and what way to better get to know the ‘hood than to buy some tacos at 3am at a local joint?

Lesson 8: Harden the fuck up.

That’s right. We wussed out and quit halfway through, and I still feel lame because of it–especially because the weather cleared a couple of hours later.

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