Q&A with Kaitlyn Boyle Women’s Solo Champ at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo
Editor's note: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is one of the world’s largest 24-hour mountain bike races. Located in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, this year marked the 17th running of the event. For riders who love this party in the sand, they got what they waited all year for in spades: 1,850 riders enjoyed temperatures in the ’80s, live music, non-race sub-events, a celebration of Lucha Libre wrestling, ice cold Sierra Nevadas, and raising funds and food for good causes. Salsa rider Kaitlyn Boyle took first place solo female with 16 laps of 16 miles. We couldn’t be happier for her! Here’s how she did it.
Salsa: Going into the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, was there any specific fear or worry that you had?
Kaitlyn: I didn't know how hard of a pace I could maintain. After our recent month-long bikepacking trip in Patagonia, I had complete confidence in my legs to pedal for 24 hours, but I was unsure of how quickly. I tend to ride more conservatively and save energy, but because of that I've never found my limit and don't really know how hard I can ride. But, because of the bikepacking trip, I at least had complete confidence in my legs' ability to ride really far.
photo courtesy of Kurt Refsnider ...
Salsa: Did you have a strategy or a plan for the race? And were you able to stick to it?
Kaitlyn: I planned on being efficient with stops, only to replace food and water every other lap. This started out going pretty well, but as fatigue and various pains set in, I became complacent with my one-hour lead and let myself spend more time stopped than I needed to.
I've also never really pushed my pace in a race that long. I was curious to see what kind of pace I could hold, so I went out a little harder than I thought I should. I ended up paying a bit for it later, but I learned a ton. It also gave me a huge lead quickly, which was really helpful for morale and confidence.
A well-deserved rest—photo courtesy of Kurt Refsnider ...
Salsa: How did you minimize your time in the pits?
Kaitlyn: I recruited Kurt to the pit, and he took care of a lot for me. I arrived, and he had everything planned and ready. I just ate.
photo courtesy of Tina Ooley ...
Salsa: What was the most difficult moment of the race? Why?
Kaitlyn: The late night/wee morning hours when it was still dark were the most difficult. The fatigue had set in, and I was experiencing the consequence of riding a little too hard in the first two laps. My legs would pedal, but not at the pace I wanted. They could have if I had paced myself more diligently.
Late-night fuel—photo courtesy of Kurt Refsnider ...
Salsa: What is your favorite moment from this year’s race?
Kaitlyn: That's hard. So many moments repeat themselves in a lap race, like the really fun descent back into 24-hour Town that I continued to look forward to. By the second half of the race, it felt like the Spearfish knew the lines and did it for me, which I was really grateful for. And with each lap I experienced so much encouragement and cheering that I never expected and found it to be so uplifting. But sunrise is what stands out as a moment that I celebrated for the night being over, turning lights off, soaking in the warmth, riding smoother and faster, and finally feeling the end was within reach.
photo courtesy of Kurt Refsnider ...
Salsa: Now that it is over, what would you do differently next time?
Kaitlyn: Next time I'll ride just a little slower at the beginning, and rather than become complacent with my lead I would try to stay focused on efficiency to maximize laps.
I would also wear clear lenses at night. I don't like the glare of light off the lenses, so I didn't wear glasses in the dark. But it's really dusty out there, and I had blurry vision by the end of the night from all the dust in my eyes.
photo courtesy of Zach Myers ...
Salsa: More importantly, now that it’s over, will there be a next time?
Kaitlyn: Yesterday the answer was "no." Now I'm reflecting and know with shorter stops and better pacing I could have done a 17th lap. But it will depend on next winter. The Patagonia bikepacking trip was absolutely invaluable in my preparation and execution of this race; bikepacking is the best and most fun way to train for something like this.
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.