The Shady Pirates from left to right, Tom Linn, Art Gillespie, Mike McKisson and Zach MacDonald.

Big events like El Tour de Tucson and the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo seem to have a way of becoming part of who we are as cyclists.

We tell people we rode 109 miles or rode through the desert at 3 a.m. in the middle of February and they look at us like we are absolutely nuts. Maybe we are, but events like the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo test us mentally and physically.

After the even is over, however, the pain subsides, the mental roadblocks are removed and what is left are the stories.

I hope you’ll share your story from the race in the comment section below. In the meantime, here’s my story.

The Shady Pirates team — which was named for Steve Vihel — was made up of myself, Tom Linn, Art Gillespie and Zach MacDonald. Zach was a late addition when our friend Duncan Benning had to back out. We were also incredibly fortunate to have Mike McCambridge and his fiance Susan Richmond act as our camp managers.

Only Zach had any experience riding in the race, the rest of us were 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo rookies.

Zach is the vice president a former president of the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists so we stayed with the SDMB group, which was a lot of fun.

Two of the members also happen to run Catalina Brewing Company, which made for a very delicious selection of beer constantly available at the camp.

We set up camp Friday afternoon and started enjoying the beer.

Once the sun went down we went on a night ride to see what the course looked like at night. It was my first-ever night ride and I had a blast.

Having a family and work commitments, I was really excited about the prospect of riding at night as a way to get miles in without having to sacrifice time with my family.

We spent the rest of Friday enjoying the company, fire and food.

It had been a while since I had camped and sleeping on the ground did not come as naturally as I remembered.

Saturday rolled around and I was starting to get excited and nervous about the race. I was set for the third lap.

Art started the race for us and did a great job and Tom put in a fast second lap, then it was my turn.

I hit the course and was feeling really good. Before the start I had worried about passing people and being passed. As it turned out it was pretty easy to do both.

I ended up turning in my fastest lap, clocking in at 1:13.

Zach followed it up with a 1:12 lap.

We were ahead of where we thought would be.

Mike McCambridge, in blue, and Susan Richmond, in red, kept our camp running.

I went back to camp and started getting out of my race clothes and immediately started cramping. I was getting pretty concerned about how my second lap would go. I started drinking lots of water and an electrolyte mix, which the swag angel gave me.

I was already thinking my 3 a.m. lap would be in jeopardy and Tom, Art and I started discussing sleeping instead of doing our third lap, but Zach kept telling us to wait and see how we felt.

I went out for my second lap. I took it a little slow because I was concerned about my legs, but then realized I was feeling pretty good. By the end of my second lap I felt fantastic and knew I’d be riding through the night.

I tried to sleep between laps, but double shot espresso Gu packets made it difficult.

My third lap didn’t go quite as well, though. About seven miles in my front tire felt strange. It was rolling over on itself and when I stopped to check, it was going flat.

I pumped a little more air into it and noticed it was leaking from the sidewall and the sealant wasn’t filling the tiny tear. So at 3 a.m. in the pitch black, I took off the tire, added a tube and got sealant all over myself.

Eventually I started rolling again, but the lap time was ruined and I was cold and wet.

I made it back to camp, tried to sleep and dozed off for a few minutes, but woke up after dreaming I was riding my bike off a cliff.

Soon it was time for my fourth and last lap. I thought it was going to be brutal, but aside from a little soreness in my neck, my legs felt good and I turned in a 1:25 lap.

Overall it was a fantastic weekend and less than 24 hours after the race I’m already started thinking about next year. I’ve been thinking more and more that I want to do a duo team to try to push myself even harder.

The only think I would change is getting my family to come join me. I missed them a ton.

I want to thank the Catalina Brewing Company, Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists, my teammates and Mike and Susan for making the weekend truly memorable.

Check out my laps: Lap 1, Lap 2, Lap 3, Lap 4

What about you? What’s your story?

Check out the photos submitted by TucsonVelo readers from the race. You can submit your photos by emailing



7 thoughts on “Stories from the course: Share yours”
  1. Minor correction – Martha Lemen is the current VP of SDMB; Zach most recently held the Prez position and continues to offer his knowledge and expertise to the club.  Pretty sure he’s in it for life . . . 🙂  

    Glad to have you hang out with us!  

  2. Great story and nice job in the race Michael. Any idea where I can find Catalina Brewing Company’s beer? I couldn’t find anything on their site.

  3. Great story, Mike! I’m the designer/webmaster for SDMB and Catalina Brewing Company. The new CBC website is due to launch very, very soon so keep an eye out. In the meantime, their Facebook page is the best place to keep “in the know.”

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