Just got back from crewing for my client and friend, Urs, at the Hoodoo 500. Awesome race and Urs did really well. Just exactly one hour behind first place, Kennith Philbrick.
If was really a blast to help out with Ken and DJ. Ken has crewed for Urs many times, so DJ and I followed instruction from the main man, Ken. Well, if you don't count some direction from Urs.
It pays to have a really organized racer and crew. I learned that from so many years of racing. If you don't have a great crew too many things can go wrong. Organization is where it's at! Well, and of course, a strong rider. A very strong rider.
I flew in on Thursday before the race and met the gang at the Las Vegas airport. From there, Urs rented a van and off we went to St George to check into the hotel. We arrived at the hotel with enough time to get a meal and get some needed sleep. It's always best to get extra sleep two nights before you race because most racers never sleep well the night before the race.
Friday we had a great hotel breakfast and then it was off to shop for supplies needed in order to get a really organized support van and to find last minute food for Urs and the crew.
During the set up I met up with a friend and client, Larry. He lives in Vegas and came over to St. George to help another client, Leslie, race. She was using this race as a way to gain experience and see if she likes ultra riding. She is the current Double Ironman Chanpion. Crazy girl likes ultra running and swimming, too. She did learn a lot and is ready to come back for more.
By mid afternoon all was good with the race support van and we were off to get the car, bikes, and Urs inspected. All good.
By dinner time, 5:30 Utah time, we were able to repeat the dinner from the night before and we were all fueled and ready for the race on Saturday.
Race morning we were up at 5:00 AM and ready to rock and roll. We all met at the entrance to the hotel and start line. All the racers waited for the start call to go off and away they all rode in a neutral 8 mile section of the race course- support cars not allowed. We, the crew made sure we had everything and off we went to meet up at about the 15 mile point to connect with the racers, and our main man, Urs.
At our very first encounter with Urs, he told us he had already changed a flat tire. (Leslie, too, as it turns out, also flatted in the same place). We changed out wheels in order to make sure there would be no other flat issues and later changed that wheel back during one of our quick Indy pit stops. The rest of the day was spent leap frogging Urs and asking him what he'd like to eat or drink. We would occasionally tell him map directions, so that he wouldn't have to look at his own maps.
I was really impressed with Urs' speed on the climbs. I'd not seen Urs ride before this race and although, from his past record setting races, I knew he was fast, I was happy to see him in action. Awesome strength to weight ration is what sets many racers apart in ultra distance racing. All racing for that matter. And he's got it.
Several times throughout the race, the racers had to go above 7,000 feet. I think the highest point just about 10,500. Could be a little higher.
On the first day of the race the temperature was not too bad. I think in the high 80s low 90s. Much better than expected and the temp for Sunday and Monday was 100. Yikes.
As night came we placed lights onto the bike and made sure Urs was warm enough. I was a little surprised that it got as cold as it actually did. I live at 7,000 feet in Colorado and I'm used to cool nights by this time of the year but during this race it got really cold.
By mid morning Urs had moved himself into 2nd place and did so with strength and conviction. I asked him to pull away from another racer, previously in second, knowing I was pushing him a little harder than he may have wanted to go. I wanted to see if the other racer could hold Urs' pace. He didn't and Urs pulled away eventually getting a 21 minute lead. Although a good lead, not a lot in ultra distance racing. That means we didn't allow him much coasting or breaks so as to not have anoy other racers sneak up on us.
By late morning, about 27 hours into the race, we told Urs he still only had the 21 minutes over third place (staying consistently 1 hour and some change behind first place) and we told him to keep kicking it up a notch. As more hills and the temperature kept rising, I'm sure that was easy to do!
With about 15 miles to the finish the racers had to leave their crews and go through a canyon park. The racers were to finish the race on their own without support. We supplied Urs with plenty of fluids and spare tubes and we went onto the finish line and anxiously awaited his arrival.
BY the finish line, we were so excited to see he made up a few more minutes on first place and came in exactly one hour behind first place Kennith Philbrick. Very impressive and way to keep the fire lit until the very end.
I look forward to crewing with this great team (crew and racer) in the future.