Last February, in an effort to ditch the rain and see some friends we made plans to go to Tucson.
At the last minute, we were thrown onto a five-person mountain bike team and all of a sudden we were competing in one of the greatest races in the country:
24-Hours in the Old Pueblo.
My first lap of the race took place at sundown. I was chasing the warmth of the sun and cautiously cranking through the changing light in a forest of cholla cactus.
I came upon the famed Whiskey Tree half way through the 16-mile circuit. I slammed on the brakes and tucked off trail to the cheers of a few spectators. I grabbed a small shot of Beam that was hanging by a string and spilled it onto my lips, landing most in my mouth. Whiskey spilled down my chin and neck where it mixed with sweat and formed a sticky, fragrant cocktail I could smell for the next eight miles. On my next lap, a pre-dawn tour of the desert, I arrived at the tree to find it abandoned and emptied of its cheer. Riders were in survival mode now in the dark, bright lights creeping over rocky trail.
The final lap for me took place mid-morning as the desert began to warm up and people were shifting back into party mode. I high-fived our next rider and rode back to camp where I was greeted at camp with a cold beer. I watched the last of our riders finish their laps and then, suddenly, it was over. The 24 hours had gone by too quickly, I didn’t want it to end.