The story of our team in the 1999 24 Hours of Moab Mountain Bike Race as seen through the eyes of Greg Hand.

My first experience climbing at Indian Creek:
We arrived at about 1pm on Sunday Oct 10th(1999). Richard was already up on the cliff getting the rope up. Our team consisted of myself, Bob D'Antonio, Richard Aschert, and Andria (Richard's girl friend). Having never climbed at Indian Creek and being woefully out of shape, especially for cracks, I knew this would be a memorable experience. When my turn came to toprope AM (5.10b) I was having trouble finding climbing shoes to wear. My feet were in agony from biking (see later) and sport shoes were not going to work well here. I finally settled on a pair of Bob's shoes. Fully taped (but not fully enough) I started up into a solar oven. The pitch is 140 feet with perhaps 2 rests (3 if you count the hang halfway up). I would have rated it easily 5.11c. The next encounter was with the Incredible Handcrack 5.10c. The name is very appropriate, but then the same name could apply to countless routes at Indian Creek. This climb actually seemed easier, and with lots of training and a dozen #2.5 & #3 Friends, I could actually see leading it. It had several rests, and the crack size seemed to fit my hands better.
Monday morning arrived, and we tried to coax life into our bodies, but Bob was willing to pay $100 for a cup of coffee and by 10am we were on the road to Moab and eventually back to Boulder.

Now for the excuses:
The original reason for going to Moab this weekend was Bob had a team entered in the 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race. The team consisted of Bob, Jeremy (his oldest son), Richard, and Chris (a friend of Richard's). Meeting at Denny's at 7:30 am on Saturday, all Chris could do is whine about the conditions. He had arrived a day early, and checked out the course. He deemed it hot, sandy, dusty, and too many people. All were understatements, but his constant whining finially got the best of Bob (who has a low tolerance for anything). That made me (who jokingly came as the alternate planning on having a pleasant day biking with Andria and Adam, Bob's other son) a member of the team. I suggested I bat cleanup (4th), so as to eventually encounter the least amount of laps. Be it known that I was in a woeful un-aerobic shape just recovering from a back problem a month earlier where all I could do was sit in a recliner. Bob had recently hurt his heel and the subsequent stride alteration had caused other leg problems so his gait was a noticable hobble. As it turned out, our "Ace" Jeremy was sicker than the rest of us, and the grueling course took its toll.

The course was a 15 mile loop on dirt/jeep roads. Extremely dusty/sandy/technical in nature. I would be very impressed to watch a jeep maneuver some of the technical sections. The weather conditions were at times the saving grace, but also our worst enemy. Not a cloud could be seen and the daytime temperature was in the mid 80's. Night was probably the low 40's.

Our team was called Team Falcon Press. As our entry fee was paid for by Falcon Press. Bob has written several guide books (climbing & biking) for Falcon Press. Their web page designer, Dave, drove down from Montana to record our efforts and put the experience on a web page. This can be seen at Dave also supplied us with food as we were totally unprepared.

The race began at noon on Saturday in a LeMans style start. The bikes are all placed in racks, and the first riders run about 100 yards out around a bush and back to the bikes. Being that there were about 350 teams (4-person, 5-person, dual, solo) it was quite the spectacle. The amount of dust in the air gave it the look of a buffalo stampede. Bob, with his inability to run, was near the back of the pack by the time he mounted his bike. This was perhaps the worst lap to ride because of the incredible dust and heat. The last rider to mount his steed was the One Legged Guy (OLG), Brett Wolfe. Watching him ride and negotiate the physical and technical terrain of this course was one of the greatest physical displays I have ever seen. He was also entered in the solo division! To give you an idea of his skills, Bob's first lap was 1:48. Of those of you who know or have ridden with Bob, he is a very talented and (I think) fast rider. OLG's time was 1:37! How he negotiated the hike-a-bike sections I will never know. You can view some instructional video clips of him. More about my personal encounter with OLG later. Richard took the second lap and produced a very respectable 1:35. The fastest time being posted was about 1:07. Jeremy went 3rd, and we were expecting a fast time, but he came in exhausted at about 1:40, passing the baton to me with the phrase "I suck!". In a surge of adrenaline, I grab the baton and run to my bike (last time that happened). The course was so sandy, I nearly fell several times before even exiting the staging area. The first 7 km is a constant physically challenging uphill grind. Always dusty, always sandy, with some, but not major technical sections. Then the course turns more difficult and dangerous. The course was well marked, and the dangerous sections had signs with "XXX" on them. That is where I generally got off the bike and ran/walked down and trudged up the next hill. Some hills were so steep, I would have to stop and rest while pushing the bike. On my first lap, what really stuck in my mind was that I had not been passed by more people than since I had taught my daughters how to drive on the Boulder-Denver Turnpike. About the only group I remember passing was a group of 5 helping a woman who had dislocated her kneecap while pushing her bike up one of the steep hills. The only endo I took was about 2/3 of the way through the course when a fast downhill ended in a sand trap. Fortunately, the sand was quite soft, and only my pride (of which little was left at this point) was hurt. Shortly after this point, while pushing my bike up a hill too steep and technical for me to ride, the OLG came by me on my left. Shortly I managed to pass him in another sand trap, as it was difficult for him to negotiate those kinds of obstacles. But on the very next hill, he sailed by me again and was quickly out of sight. I finally finished my lap in 1:54, which I thought was quite a respectable time. Upon later examination, I noticed the OLG's time on that lap was 2:10, but then I realized that he was riding solo, and he probably had to stop and eat. The lap times were always recorded from when the last person finished to until you finished. After 4 laps, the OLG was 2 minutes ahead of our 4-person team.

I finished at about sunset, so now we each had ridden a lap in the daylight. Now came a more interesting time of the race. Everyone would don their headlamps and ride in the dark. My only previous night riding experience had been several years ago with Bob on a trail north of Boulder that has only two very short technical sections. Then this summer I rode 20 miles on the Glenwood Springs Canyon paved bicycle path. This course was quite a step up in difficulty. But it is really amazing how well you can see the course with these high-tech lighting systems. Our only problem is that we were under powered. We only had 5 batteries. Each battery lasts about 2 hours, and a rider should have 2 (a handlebar and a head mount) for safety and redundancy. You could generally run with only one on during the less technical sections of the course, then turn on the other for the difficult sections. There was provided a re-charging station to re-charge the batteries, but it takes about an hour once it is plugged in, and because of the huge numbers of batteries being used, your battery was not always fully charged. Beginning your night lap not knowing if you had enough light for the lap was quite the concern. I got the baton from Jeremy at about 12:30am. By the time I picked up the batteries and found the handlebar mount not functioning, and I was able to get a demo model from the Niterider company to use, it was about 1am. Because of the dust in the air, night riding was very much like having high beams on in the fog. You could see very little. The advantage of this was that you could not see very far ahead and be depressed by how long the hills were! What I found very interesting was when a large number of riders were strung out on some of the difficult sections. It became a surreal sight, almost like something out of an Indian Jones movie. Dozens of lights bouncing like torches strung out for hundreds of yards down the hill and up the next hill until they disappeared. Upon occasion (seldom for me) you would pass some poor rider repairing a flat or a broken chain (something I can barely do in the comfort of my house). I rode much more carefully on this lap and my actual riding time was about 2:30, but because of my delayed start, it was really about 3 hours. So, at 3:20am, there was Bob, waiting for the baton.

It is amazing how much you can eat after exerting on a course like that. I would look for any food in camp that was not tied down and shove it in my mouth. At one time, I think I had 15 dried apricots in my mouth. Potato chips and Goldfish were also a tasty snack. I knew after that lap, I was not going for a third. The uphill pushes were causing me some back pain. Because of my recent bout with back problems, I was not going out there again. Little did I realize, we were all feeling the same. Bob did well, and actually enjoyed riding in the dark better than the daylight, because the daylight was way too hot. Richard put in another stellar lap and we had to wake up Jeremy at about 6:30am for his next go. He started out at 7am, and when he came back in, feeling terribly sick, that was it for the team. I was now in the midst of exercise induced gastro-intestional problems, and there was no way I was going to sit on a bike seat, and Bob could barely walk. Richard had just finished his lap and was experiencing back spasms for the first time in his life. Thus, we sort of ended the race with a fizzle. But it was quite the experience, and we all vowed to be in better shape next year.

Thus, you can see that by the time we arriver at Indian Creek, we were not in the best of shape.