So Much Beauty in Dirt: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo


3rd will do!

After getting about 3 feet of snow last week, I wasn’t even sure I’d get off the mountain. It’s been a crazy Fall and Spring so far and this weekend was no different. I dug the Karmann Ghia out of a big berm, loaded up Wednesday night and left first thing Thursday morning for the Old Pueblo.


Always gotta have a driving self-portrait, boredom from the long trip

My backup Spider, RaceFace Cranks, new NoTubes race wheels and Rocky Mount trays got here just in time to throw it all on and in the car and get out of the snow. I got on I-10 around 6am, with the intention of buying a bungee chord at my first gas station to keep the wheels on the rack from spinning and cooking the hubs. I didn’t realize that the spinning wouldn’t only be bad for the hub, but it would make the wheel shimmy and walk out of the wheelholder going 65mph down the interstate!! I had only been on the 10 for about 5 minutes before I found myself doing loops around Palm Desert searching for my ultralight race wheel (now known as my fastest and sturdiest wheel ever.) I didn’t find it, and decided to just head out and ask my friend to go by my house and pick up one of my older wheels for me.

The Ghia did awesome, all loaded up (awesome for a 50 horsepower billboard, that is) and I got to the venue early in the afternoon Thursday. I met up my friend Jason, who was letting me borrow an ezup, and got my pit figured out. Then I got ahold of Brad Majors and Sean Palmer from Chicago who had flown in to race and pit. Brad normally races, but was here to help out this time and it was Sean’s first 24 ever. We had a great dinner at a pasta/pizza place on Oracle Rd. where Brad and I tried not to overwhelm Sean with too much info on what to do and not to do – it’s hard to hold back with all the excitement! I also got the amazing news that a friend of a friend had found my wheel on the interstate!!! What are the chances (Facebook status updates + wonderful friends + Karma = WHOAH!) Great dinner company and a great evening.

I then went on to the lovely casa de mis amigos – Matt and Katie, in Tucson for a great night’s sleep. Friday, I headed over to Arizona Cyclist to use their space and build my backup bike – why not build it the day before a race – it’s a backup!! 🙂 I rocked out most of the day and got it built. This was the mixed wheel Spider and Intense and RaceFace and NoTubes got me styled out for it! It came together nicely and the only crazy part was robbing a hydraulic line off a brake in the shop – thanks to Nate at AC for the help with that! This was the first time I’d actually had to completely build my own bike and I was pretty darn proud.


Bonnie (of my new Bonnie and Clyde duo) all built up

After a few grocery and last minute errands, I then went back to la casa de Matt and Katie for a great kale taco dinner and wonderful company. I got the ghia all loaded up again and went to bed early – I’d made it through Friday the 13th, with no incident.

I left Tucson around 7am Saturday for the venue. It takes about an hour to get there and I went to work putting the pit together for the crew. My mechanic, Steve, and his daughter, Miranda, arrived from Phoenix and we met up with Todd, Bonnie, Finneas, Brad and Sean and got everything pretty settled and ready for this pending cold/windy night.

I started towards the front of the pack for the run. For some reason, this was a more agressive run than in years past, for me. There seemed to be elbows everywhere and I even got tripped. Some guy stepped on my heels and I was worried that I was about to get trampled – fortunately, it’s a good crowd and as fast as I was on the ground, I had been scooped back up and was off and running again. Once we got on the bikes, I got to pass back up a lot of the people who were better runners – biking is definitely more my strong point than running, to say the least.

For the first couple laps I was in the lead. I didn’t know it and didn’t exactly feel like I was. But, on lap 3, Sarah K. caught me towards the end. She was on fire and started gaining some time on me over the next few laps. As night started to fall, I put my new AyUp bar mount light on, but didn’t want to put on a helmet light quite yet – big mistake. I realized after the first full night lap that it was hindering me greatly in the twisty stuff and my eyes were straining. I added my helmet light at the next lap, but it was a little late; as it started getting cold, my vision started getting worse. I could feel my eyes straining and around 3am, I couldn’t see any detail, more than two feet past my face – just a white cloud. I had to stop at an aid station and make the call to take a break for a bit. Race staff picked me up in a truck and took me to the medical tent, where they flushed my eyes and advised me to go to the hospital. Fortunately, I’d heard of this happening to riders before and even talked to another rider/sponsor who said that he had to just sit out for a few hours and his eyes went back to normal. I could see halos around all the lights in camp and couldn’t see the road to walk back to my pit! I guess, it was a good call to take a break.

When I stopped, I was an hour and twenty minutes up on 3rd, but I had no choice. It was only getting worse. I took a break for about 3 hours and kept opening my eyes, waiting for it to get better. As the sun started coming up, I felt that I could see well enough, to go back out. I think it also helped that my eyes had warmed up. They weren’t back to normal, but were close enough and I’d missed enough time, that I had to go back in.

I was determined to chase Terri all morning, no matter what the result. She was going to have to work to keep this lead. She’d made up the time I had on her and had also gained a lap on me, when I was out. I ran into her after my first lap back in and told her that it was time to rock. She knew what I was up to and totally had her game on to keep it from happening. It was a fun morning chase and she had to go back out for a 13th lap, or I would have. I came in from my 12th lap with 12 minutes to spare, but there was no way I was going to pass her – she went out over an hour before. Her last two laps were her fastest since way early in the race – she knew I was chasing! Great morning game Terri! 🙂

I kept 3rd, by several laps, but ended up one lap back from Terri. My crew was amazing and Sean (the friend who did his first 24) ended up getting in 8 laps and my old teammate/racing brother Todd ended up 5th in the men’s field against some stellar competition. Wonderful job everyone.


Todd and Finn – my valentine!

After the event, I headed to Tucson for some Thai food and beer with friends and an early night. I drove back through torrential rains last night and am now back in the snow. What a change from the weekend to now. Thanks everyone for all the good wishes and good gear from sponsors – it truly paid off in many ways. 🙂


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary,
    You rock! Although you probably didn’t know it, I’d been thinking of coming down for the race. Work and lingering sickness nixed that idea, but huge congratulations to you and Todd for your performances. I’m deeply jealous, although I’d never admit that in person.
    I can, however, offer you a place to stay/food/photography to placate sponsors/whatever support is legal if you come up to do the Sedona race…

    Good luck with the snow and IAA,


  2. Lynda says:

    I raced all night in goggles… OP is notorious for doing that to eyeballs.

    Great work hanging in there. You are the most positive and persistent gal I know.


  3. Bruce G says:

    Congrats on the entire weekend. Good karma the return of the lost wheel.


  4. Brendan says:

    Good seeing you out there this weekend Mary.
    Great racing- along the lines of Lynda’s comment; you’re friggin tough.


  5. marymetcalf says:

    Thanks guys. Maybe stubborn is the right word! 😉 ‘Twas a suuuper fun event and all those quirks make for a better story to tell – regardless of placement. There’s always more adventure on the horizon.


  6. Danielle says:

    Congrats again Mary!!! I second and third what everyone else said. You are ultra tough.

    PS. Glad that your wheel was found!!!!


  7. Matt says:

    Good showing Mary. You are riding really strong this year – looks like a good season coming up for you.


  8. Ian says:

    Only 12 laps? Come on. Could have done that on a Huffy. 😉 LOL j/k!

    Really, Mary, great job. Good to see you and all the others out there living the good life. Next year, I’ll race it. I’ll try not to lap you too many times… ha!

    Always more adventure on the horizon… yep, that’s a nice feeling…


  9. wunnspeed says:

    Awesome work! Congrats. How’s the new bike treating you?


  10. marymetcalf says:

    Wunnspeed – I’ve got a full 29er and a mixed wheel. I’m sooo used to riding a mixed wheel (the last 3 years) that I prefer that one, but they are both awesome. It’s a different world going back to 3inches of travel in the rear… but it’s a good world!

    However… Ian – I could have done that on any number of bikes, you’re right – it was all me! 🙂


  11. ojulius says:

    Mary, nice come back with the eyes! You’re one tough girl!!


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