The Pettit~Files, Aww yeah he’s back, well….sort of.
Hang the mistletoe tow, and unlock the backdoor, Jonny P’s coming back in the house. The miss-adventures are back at ya, all up in your grill, as grammatically defunct as ever, but truer words haven’t been laid in quite awhile, and either has one of my friends.
Back to racing and back to writing, however on a jalopy laptop, who’s keyboard decided to take a shit, so now I plug in an external board, use the keyboard mouse and generally look like a broke joke typing away, but fuck it, it still gets written. If the inner walls of this contraption could speak, who knows what it would say, it’s been too many places, across the ocean and god only knows how many porn sites, but alas, its near death and at this point its just the final formalities of replacement and proper burial or murder, pre meditated no doubt, but its life is being eked out till chase bank says I may have a new one, behind one of the many wants on that list.
So, I’ve gotten plenty of stories stowed away, many ramblings and rants, and damn near a novel it seems, my apologizes to any of my literate friends for my lack of skill and the absence of the Pettit~files. Back to the bike and my first entry since May of last summer, excluding of course the Divide. Dawn to Dusk, a DCD adventure staple, ushering in winter in the desert and the last endurance event of the year, who knows perhaps the last one ever if the Mayans have their calendar correct.
It took a little finagling to get into the event, at first I was going to ride a duo, but when I went to register it was closed, missed it by a day. So I made a couple calls and Dave Benjes was nice enough to let my tardy ass in, although for my first race back, perhaps I should’ve picked a less attended and or at least a less fast race. The Pemberton Loop out at McDowell isn’t known to be technically hard, its mainly a double track long climb, some rolling fun desert open single track, a little rocky descent, couple washes and loose causeways.
I haven’t done any intensity on the regular since April, and really only in the last month have I put some time on the bike. Rehabbing injuries, personal dilemma’s and coming to grips with my own futility, not to mention the mountain bike was in dire straights component wise, and while I’ll been chasing a couple leads, its still a polished turd, but its mine, I usually rely on the engine, but at this point the horse power might rip the wheels off the nickel and dime ride. But I feel a new bike soon, so I can limp and fake with the best.
Personally whoever I may be in the best scenario of my life. While I miss those close friends in Washington the ones I’ve accumulated here are amazing, and as my own days transpire to years, I learn to lean, talk and share with people. Opening my doors and fears, becoming closer to people, which was never really important to me, now though, with a phone call, I can talk to respected friends and shine light where once I was dark and alone. My relationship with the girl is the bridge that crosses all troubled water, through out our short comings, misunderstanding, personal pride, our own egos and thoughts what this relationship should be, we can talk, work out and try to begin to understand each other’s wants and needs. Harboring dreams, and rounding the edges, its both everything I wanted in a love and need as a person, all rolled into one smoking hot chick, lucky me I know. So I would call the co-habitation a success, a couple rough patches, but overall a win, no doubt.
Shit, this was a race report of some kind right? The draw back of not having your own car is the reliance on others, not my strong suite at all, but I’ve grown patience along with some grays. Running the race solo, and knowing the weather, not to mention some pre-trials to Old Pueblo 24, I wanted to be organized, smooth and rolling through the pits. The affable Clinton Sparks swung by the night before to load up my prized belongings, and enough gear to outfit a small village. Labeled bags, tools, food coolers, drink mixers, don’t forget the PBR custom made hat and a costume.
The next day I rode into Scottsdale, a quick 15 or so miles to the offices of Sparks, snatched his keys and jerked the borrowed Tacoma around town looking for my necessities, filled up with some subway, topped off the huge PowerAde cooler, and whatever what not’s. Next we where off closer towards the venue. The weather turning gnarly, we parusesed the isles of Target looking for a pop up of some kind, a must have. Instead however we where greeted with the cheap, shitty imitations of a suitable structure, you know the kind where in the first serious wind, it becomes a tattered shell, exposing cheaply made coverings and the limbs it once housed. While I lined up the fellas with one during the week to avoid such last minute details, it went un noticed till we needed one, friends, you need em right?
Crises somewhat diverted, we payed the ass hurting fee of 17 dollars to camp overnight, then wait inline to find a place to park, a little inconvenient but appropriate I suppose. We found a spot close to friends of friends and began the shit show of three guys un-packing, under one tent, Chris and Clint running duo, me, the loner. I went off to packet pick up, look for Dave and thank him for getting me in beyond last minute. There I saw good friends I hadn’t seen since they picked me up on the Mexico boarder, fed and housed me in Sierra Vista, Beto and Paula. The best of the best as far as people go. As I began to gaze around, I noticed many fast names and the cars and campers that bring them here, I knew it was going to hurt even more.
Back at the campsite I began to erect my borrowed tent to only find out, the center pole is broken, a momento from friend and fellow cohort Travis McMaster who is currently using some of my bike camping supplies while on a fat bike excursion in Mexico. While a little gorilla tape got me through the night, in all honesty the tent seemed like the Hilton after spending nearly a month in a bivvy for the divide. Dinner was re-heated, plans where hatched, the girls where called and organization was aloof in the cold, wet night. Amber was planning on arriving around 6:30 or so, having to camp a couple miles away due to the packed starting/main area, she pedaled a cruiser to the start, I briefly saw her as I made the chilly ride down the hill.
The rain came in during the night, throwing down enough drops to make the course a tacky dream, however around 4:30 in the morning the monsoons and re-organizing took over, a heavy cold rain dumped from the darken sky, but let up before the start. The sleep was awful and uncomfortable, cars rolling in till well after midnight, people drinking and carrying on, I wanted to thump some heads but instead extracted a little revenge while they where passed out. I unzipped the tent earlier than anticipated, began the jet boil and the makings up instant coffee and oatmeal.
Learning from friend/landlord/and 24 hour extraordinaire Mike Melley, I tried to organize my bags into numbers and things I would need most, followed by cold/rain gear/ night riding bags and then miscellaneous things needed. This being really only my 4th endurance race, excluding the tour divide, I wanted to learn more about what I need to eat, dress and go through the motions, so I made some sandwiches in the morning, mixed drinks and tried to figure out what to wear, the weather was calling for storms from 10-4, as it turned out I was over dressed till the weather hit for a half a lap.
Under the start banner, my first in many months I looked around at the faces and rides of those around me. I laughed a little at the sight of so many 6-10,000 dollar bikes, not that I won’t take one, but really, come on man, good for you though, you probably went to collage or something and have a career, a high fico score and a small unit. I’ll stick with shit I know works, but I would love a lighter ride, right now its not in the cards.
The man counts down the numbers, my mind wonders what the fuck I’m doing here, how fit am I? How fast do I want to go, what do I want to accomplish. I wanted to roll top ten, hoping of course for a top five, pipe dreams would’ve landed me on the podium, however this was more of a test for me, a training ride really. I haven’t stacked myself up against these guys since February, so I was scared and interested to see where I would rank. I also wanted to see if I cured some of those ailments of last year.
A long uphill pavement climb, patches of guys grab wheels, random disk breaks squeal, shifting, miss-fires, chatter and nerves pump through the bunch. The quads and duo’s are on the front, I was in the back of the first group hanging on a wheel listening to Tom Petty’s new album, thinking I’m already overdressed. A right hand turn takes you around the transition area and the finish, then out to some rolling track then the monotonous double track climb. Looking down at my heart rate I knew I should back off, but my legs felt alright, I was riding with guys I knew would win or podium and I wanted to measure myself a little.
I focused on my breathing and brought it back under 170, I looked over my shoulder and no one behind us, I was riding with a friends team mate and Brian Bennett, the eventual 2nd place, he rode an amazing race, each lap a blister pace. Towards the top of the climb I pulled back the reins, eased my rhythm a bit, rushing through the burms and multiple wash boards, I unzipped the wind breaker and cursed the vest I decided to put on. Looking down at the times I knew I would crush my first lap of last year, and I was on a quad team, sure enough I came through the transition, Amber was there with a bottle and off I was. One lap down, just over an hour, the 4:30 last lap cut off was a long way off, lap 2.
Again with the climb, I hung on wheels, unusual for me, but perhaps I’m learning. Still trying to calm my heart and prepare for the day at hand, my skills had diminished a little through the layoff, not nearly as flowy as I use to be. I ate part of a sandwich, thought about what I was doing and questioning why I picked perhaps the fasted 9-10 hour race possible for my first one back.
On the semi rocky decent, the stones cluttered the A line, probably from guys flying by trying to pass. I flicked one up straight into my 36 tooth single chain ring, the whole bike shook, I thought I’d killed my ride. I looked down, at first I didn’t see anything but as I pedaled it became apparent that I had indeed screwed something up. Coming through the pit area I looked for my crew but they weren’t where they were the first lap, I thought WTF. Cruised to the tent looked for a bottle and a new camelback. Clint saw me searching for something and told me where to find them, in my hast they moved to a new easier feed section, new supplies then off again.
On the climb again the ring became increasingly obvious it wasn’t working. Every time I stood to pedal, it sounded and felt like it was going to snap in half, I could see now that some teeth were bent causing the chain to come off. I limped though another lap, not too fast and on the short steep climb I bent two more teeth, so on the fourth, starting the fifth lap I pitted, hollered at some friends to see if they could either take the claw part of a hammer or pliers and make it usable, I certainly didn’t want to stop riding now, I was in the top ten and a big group of guys where right in front of me.
My bud Mike Rice had taken some pliers and broke off a tooth or two trying to straighten it, it worked enough to ride, skipped a little but at least I was moving. On the third lap I felt the twinge of cramps, someone had told me of my lap times, surprised, I knew I was going too fast and would toast myself if I didn’t slow it up, my mind wanted to go, my body however asked the question, “hey, aren’t we just a long slow body now, your killing me man!!” I was actually feeling alright, food was going down, I was a little preoccupied with my bike, but I was still somewhere in the mix.
My right eye was caked over, clouded like I was looking through plastic, in the mess of the tent I couldn’t find my eye drops, so riding mainly one eyed though out the course I tried to remedy the problem, but no dice. We hit a 100 miles fast, well under 7 hours, I thought this was pretty quick for an endurance race, I hope these fuckers slow down soon. If these dudes could roll this pace for 12 and 24 hour events I might as well hang up my cleats now. But my crew where telling me they where slowing down, minus my mechanical I’d be close to fifth but the quality of the riders was too great for where I’m at right now.
After the climb on the fun back sections the dark purple clouds finally unleashed the hell it promised. A thick heavy cold rain covered everything, after the brief climb towards the descent it hailed hard enough to hurt, the smallest dent in the earth quickly became a puddle, mud flung up, I was covered in grim and I was happy. Back at the pit, I asked how much longer it was going to last, no one knew for sure, so without any warm or rain clothes I mozzied off. I knew a couple of my friends where up in front, I was also slowed by the constant urge to pee, like All the time. I got tired of stopping nearly two times a lap, finally in the rain I just let it rip in the bibs, who cares, right?
I came up to good friend LaRoche, having a bit of trouble with a tire, I always carry plenty of co2, pump, tube and tools in all my packs. I said “just reach in there and take out the big air” he replied by “Jonny, could u do it? I’m a little retarted right now” I said of course, it was his valve more than anything, together though we figured it out and got the man up and rolling, crushing the single speed youngsters, P-Roch turns 50 this month!!
The rain had stopped but the damage done, the sun flirted for a minute, my hands where cold and hurt with every bump, breaking was nearly impossible, I was reeling them in now quicker, in the shit, I usually shine. Back at the pit I tried to take off my gloves and put on winter, cross-country ski gloves, Mike ripped them off, the effort was starting to take its toll, Amber asked what I wanted, I didn’t know, something I thought, my crooked fingers and frozen hands couldn’t get inside the safety and warmth of fresh, dry, warm mittens. Fuck it, give me those sock, and put them over my hands, a little something was better than nothing.
I was blind in my right eye, I looked at my watch and new another lap or two, so I motored up the climb, tried to eat and think warm happy thoughts, like whiskey and boobs, it did take the edge off. Now well over 120 miles, I thought what the hell am I doing in my first race back? Really Jon, off the couch and go race a 150 miles, boy you are dumb. My legs didn’t hurt too bad, the cold had taken their feeling, my triceps hurt the most, still rolling, not super competitive but still going. My hands had warmed a bit from the sock, but shifting and slowing where hindered by their shape, so off they went.
One more lap, shivering, gloveless, and a tad hungry I thought 14 or so miles wont kill me, I should’ve gone faster, I’m never really ever happy with myself I guess. I rode with a kid doing a duo, he was glued to my back wheel, I asked how many laps had he done, “four” he said. I told him to give me a pull, what’s the matter with you, your going to make the solo old guy do all the work? Get your ass up here. He did, he put his head down, I got enjoyment watching his shoulders sink in pain and effort trying to tug me up the hill, it didn’t last too long, a mile or so and he pulled to the side, I patted him on the back and thanked him for a job done and rode past, now just a shell of his former self.
I no longer steered past the puddles but just plowed through them, I was passed with maybe a quarter mile to go, he got me on my right, I couldn’t see if his number plate was orange, meaning solo, my right eye now worthless, he ended up being a solo dude, knocking me out of 7th place by 6 or so seconds. I came through satisfied with my effort, not too shabby for a dude just coming back I thought. I was handed a beer and a couple pats on the back, ushered to a camper and shower, I stripped naked, my manhood shrunken in a strangers belongings, Amber guided me to the shower and tried her best to find my belongs in the malay of rain and other peoples stuff, now thrown together to get out of the elements. I sat on a plastic toilet, the scolding hot water mainly on my hands and feet.
I was happy, I raced for the first time in months, rode well, despite mechanicals and food/feed issues, tested myself against some of the best and didn’t come up too short. The rain pelted the top of the camper, the hot water ran out and I was left to dress in the cold air. I bundled up and made my way into the night, my right eye useless and painful, I saw all the bikes muddy and suddenly wanted a 10,000 dollar 20 pound bike, badly.
We stayed and celebrated friends podiums, then hastily packed, headed for food and eventually bed. We stopped and had dinner in Fountain Hills, I was grumpy with tiredness and a shitty eye. On the way home I reclined the seat and felt the heat on exposed body parts. Back at home another shower, then under the covers and off to sleep. I curled next to the girl and was happy the dog pinned the covers close to my still cold body. It had been a long day, but a good one.
In the morning I made concrete pancakes, copious amounts of coffee and actually watched a bit of TV before I was off to work at my part time big box store, guiding the hordes to the proper isles and answering the most mundane and sometime dumbest questions you could hear, but at least it’s a couple bucks, close to home and makes me realize and understand what I want and don’t want.
I was surprised my legs didn’t hurt too bad actually, my back was fine, just my triceps were sore, a good sign I thought. Now its time to clean up the mess, replace or repair broken already mended parts, do some laundry and see if I can get the urine smell out of the shoes, already planning the next chance to toe the line and see friends I don’t get to see often enough