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The Twelve Hours of Glen Helen

You know those spare tires, the donut type ones? You know, they take up space when you don’t need them, they work when you’re in a pinch, and they just get you by when you use them? That’s how I feel about being in ‘The 12 Hours of Glen Helen’ race that’s coming up. Mark Cline was kind enough to invite me. Maybe he doesn’t know my history.
In 2005, my son Tim, Bobby O and I raced the Six Hours of Glen Helen. I started for the team, and got off to a great start. The race was looking really good, until five hours, fifty-nine minutes and thirty seconds to go, when I crashed and broke my left ankle, and jacked the right. Pretty short race for me. Actually, I managed to kick start the bike (with a broken ankle- ouch!) and finish the first lap, so the team could soldier on.
This race is different, as it is night, 6 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday. Night changes things. Dust becomes harder to see through. Shadows mask-what? Deep ruts? Rocks? An illegal immigrant family living in the shadows? Who knows?
Lighting is really important. That’s why I have helmet lights and handlebar lights in addition to the stock light. However, looking at the sad array of components that I neglected to check for the last, oh, two years, way too many things are missing. Like batteries, lights, chargers. Enough of each component for each light that not one light is in working condition. We’ll just do our best.
The team is important. Jimmy Marchant is racing with us. He’s fast, and the energizer bunny. He’s bringing his toy hauler, too, always a bonus. And he keeps the bike on two wheels (ahem). Bobby Gardner’s no slouch, either. To be honest, he’s most likely to wad up the bike, but let’s not think about that. Mark Cline heads up the team, and is providing much of the necessary hardware. Like the bike. And last, the donut spare.
Mark and I tested lights (what little we had) Tuesday night. The other thing that night changes is that speeds decrease dramatically. Bad for the donut spare. Night is so weird, too. We got off course in a section we have probably ridden a hundred times. Fortunately, the race course is marked with reflective ribbon, excellent for seeing course markings. Joshua trees are weird, too. They always look like someone is waving at you.
So, we’ll see what happens. We will probably be a great team to help the other teams feel better about themselves. However, night races are a lot of fun. And team races are especially fun. A bunch of guys comparing notes on their race and sharing a common goal with one another, makes for a fun race. We’ll suck, but so what? We’ll have fun.
I just hope my part of the race is more than thirty seconds.
Post race wrap up Monday

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