by: Patti Danzig
Views From a Spectator
It used to be rare that I went to a race without competing. But the fear of the technical sections of an MTB race and my newness to the sport had me take a back seat and go support my boyfriend, Kelly Feagans and his best friend Bill Wheeler in the men’s duo category at the 12 Hours of Albuquerque MTB Festival this past weekend. We drove in from Boulder on Friday and did one loop of the course to check it out. I’m used to open vistas and not many trees around me so I was in for a delightful surprise when I discovered the course was mostly single track and tall trees all around. There were a few technical sections but also some incredible long descents of packed dirt that swooped back and forth and made you feel like a kid out for a joyride. Some of the climbs literally took my breath away and left me gasping for oxygen.
A 9AM race start meant a more luxurious morning without the typical rushing around of a 7AM one. There was a pre-race meeting in which the race director reminded everyone to “be nice” and “not be an ass”, and if you were reported being a jerk you’d be pulled from the race and banned. Soon Kelly and Bill were off alternating one lap after the other of an 11.8 mile loop, maintaining their lap times to about an hour and change. Both would get about 15-20 minutes of rest before they needed to start preparing for the next lap which wasn’t much rest at all. I was really proud that they hung on to 5th place throughout the day and then were able to pass their competitors and finish in 4th place after the final lap, by a mere 20 seconds! 10 laps in all, with a total time of 10 hours, 53 minutes, 15 seconds. I thought to myself how I struggled with my one lap … I cannot imagine 5 on that course!
It appeared that the majority of racers were locals (to ABQ), which made camping both nights quite peaceful and not crowded at all. The temperatures for the weekend were perfect; a bit chilly in the morning (awesome for sleeping) warming up – but not hot – by mid day. I have to admit I was jealous on race day when I saw that there were plenty of people of my ability out there giving it their all. Next chance I get, I’ll jump in there and not worry if I have to walk sections of it. It was nice being a spectator; however once a racer, always a racer, right?