Monday, December 13, 2010

Just a little further?

Dan Z and I must have asked ourselves this questions about 15 times during our lunch ride today. "No way will this next section be rideable", we'd tell ourselves. But we decided to keep going till it wasn't fun to ride anymore. Turns out we never reached that point until we finished the entire Dry Canyon loop. With the exception of a few patches of snow, the entire loop is in good condition. The pipe got smoked a few more times today. No way should I be having that much fun on a mountain bike on Dec 13th. I feel like we got away with stealing something.

So how muddy was it out there?... you must be asking. About that muddy:

i.e., not very (muddy).

You have one more , maybe two that you can pull this off. So hurry up.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Goblin Valley and Capitol Reef

Before I start in with this post, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention the fact that I raced on a 4-man 24 Hours of Moab team a couple weekends ago. Rather than go into a whole lot of detail, I'll sum it up by saying it was a whole lot like last year (kick-A team, kick-A time, etc.), with the exception of a couple things: 1) overall, we were 1 lap faster than last year; and 2) we didn't win like we did last year... in fact we just missed the podium, despite our best efforts with regards to item 1. The competition was deep this year.

After abandoning my wife and kids over Moab weekend, I decided it was my turn to take a pull (a rarity for me, as those who have ridden with me know). I loaded up the kids and headed south for a camping trip (and let me just say that my 15-year-ago-self would be extremely disappointed by the amount of crap I now load up for a simple camping trip).

First stop was Goblin Valley. The last time I went to goblin valley was about 18 years ago. When I last went, there was no paved road, no pavilion, and especially no people. Back then, we road our mountain bikes down into the valley and did wall hits on the "goblins." I'm not sure if riding in the valley was against the "rules" at that time, but there certainly wasn't anyone around to bother us about it.

A lot has changed since then, likely because of those idiots who post about their Goblin Valley trips on their Webernet blogs. Oh wait... Um, anyway, during this weekend's visit, instead of a deserted valley, there was a group of BYU students playing a game of ultimate Frisbee in one of the clearings (not clear enough though, as evidenced by the twisted ankle suffered by one of the participants):

There were also sun bathers (I guess the crutches kept her out of the ultimate Frisbee game, so she had to find something else to do, since the landscape is so mundane/non-scenic):

Regardless of the number of people, Goblin Valley remains one of the coolest places on earth. Especially for kids. The perfect spot for a game of hide-and-seek... well, it's perfect until your 3-year old finds a hiding spot that's so good that you start considering enlisting the help of others or calling search and rescue to help find him.

Goblin Valley is a freaky place:

On the recommendations of Jeff and Jason, we hit Little Wild Horse Canyon on day two. Between Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse, the area can best be described as nature's playground for kids.

Little surfer dude riding the stone waves:

After I carried my daughter across the water, I turned around to grab my boy and, well... so much for having dry shoes for the rest of the trip:

And then onto Capitol Reef National Park. Somehow, in all of my trips down south, I had never visited Capitol Reef, other than a quick drive through the Southern section during a trip across the Burr Trail 15 years ago. Unfortunately rain was threatening the entire day, so we had to avoid some of the more remote slot canyons, but we did see some decent scenery:

... and hiked out to a deserted arch/bridge (what's the difference anyway?)

Capitol Reef offers some big views:

Capitol Reef seems like it has a bunch of ignored bits of goodness. A lot of trails and canyons that are off the beaten path. I've been dabbling in running this past month, and seeing all of these unknown (and unrideable) trails on a map motivates me to get to the point where I can head down and bust out a 10-15 mile trail run to see some places that I've never been before, without requiring a pack and sleeping bag to pull it off. The main thing holding me back from getting to that point in my running is that I'm having a tough time kicking this biking habit. Speaking of which, I'll see you at Fall Moab this weekend:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Night Crash

*This isn't me in this photo. You'd think that after all of the crashing I've done, at least one of them would have been caught on camera, but I don't think I have a single picture of me crashing.

The night ride was (almost) perfect last night. Perfect temperatures. Perfect trail conditions. Full Moon. Great group. Great trails. Etc. It was perfect right up until I went down. I went down pretty hard, but somehow managed to escape without any serious injuries (at least I hope to have escaped - my knee has a pretty good bump on it, but I'm pretty sure it's just a bruise and nothing structural. Can't put much weight on it yet).

Anyway, I've gone down hard twice this year that I can remember. First there was the RAWROD TT crash, and now last night's crash. I could be subconsciously blocking a few other hard crashes from my memory in an effort to convince myself to keep mountain biking.

In both of this year's crashes, I crashed in places where I'm not sure exactly how or why I crashed. And I happened to be following Rick both times. I'm pretty sure he's been dropping banana peels when I follow him. Or maybe little land mines. I'd welcome any other theories you have, as long as they do not relate to my ability (or lack thereof) to ride a bike.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

PCP2P 2010

Holy crap that was hard! I remember it being hard last year, but was it that hard? Whether it was the heat, the extra few miles, or the brutal new section on mid-mountain (more on that later), it seemed like this year, the Park City Point 2 Point race sucked a little more life from me than last year.

I sat down to write my Park City Point 2 Point race report about 6 times last over the weekend, but couldn't get myself to write anything down. I guess it's because I've been in conflict about the race ever since it ended, and I'm still having trouble figuring it all out. The race was awesome, but when it comes to racing, I can get a bit greedy. Or delusional is probably a better word. I had a good time. I had a good finish. Overall, I thought I actually felt better this year than last. But I had a goal finish time in mind (8:30, in case you were wondering), and I didn't make it, so I've been trying to justify why that is. Certainly it can't possibly be due to the fact that I'm just not fast enough, right?

I lined up with the 8-9 hour racers after briefly contemplating lining up at the back of the sub 8's. I'm not sure why I entertained the idea of a racing with those guys, since one of my main focuses was to start out slower this year in hopes of having something left at the end. We started around Round Valley, which is filled with fun, flowy, fast trails. I tried slowing down, but the pressure of staying with the group was strong. I'd let the group gap me on the climbs (and let everyone behind me know that they were free to pass me whenever) and catch them on the descents, so I figure I saved a bit of energy there.

Skid row and Lost Prospector were awesome. If only the entire course could have been on Round Valley, Skid Row, and Lost Prospector. It reminded me of a casual lunch ride. Adam, Keith, Jesse, and I rode it in a paceline. I even got to see Bagley dusting himself off after a crash, just like during lunch rides (sorry Bags, I couldn't help myself). All we needed is Sunderlage pushing the pace at the front.

We made it to Deer Crest and Adam formed a gap. I considered going with him, but thought better of it. Jesse and I rode the little micro-loop before Silver Lake 1 aid station, and he says to me "hey Aaron, does this look familiar?" Hahahaha... that one will never get old (turns out I skipped it last year).

I felt pretty good going up the steep climb out of Silver Lake 1 with Lynda...

... good all the way up till I heard the dreaded hissssss of a flat tire. Somehow, while traveling at a max speed of 3 mph up that climb, I slashed my tread. Fortunately, a few days beforehand Keith had added about a half-gallon of Stans to my tire. The weight weenie in me thought "dang, that's going to add 1.56 seconds to my climb out of Silver Lake." Turns out it saved me more like 10 minutes, because I was able to get the tire to seal after a minute or so. As I did so, I dreaded watching my energy go to waste as people I recently passed rode by me. As if it really matters in an 80 mile race.

I caught up to the group on the Flagstaff Loop and made a quick sprint to make sure I was leading the DH. Over the past 2 years, I've ridden it 17 times (mostly during the Perfect 10 race a couple years back), so I was confident I could rip it. And not to toot my own horn, but I did (rip it). Toot toot.

I flew through Silver Lake 2 aid station, thanks to the Mad Doggers being there to help me out (they didn't shun me for wearing a Racer's jersey) and soon found myself completely alone. The nice part about being alone was that I was able to ride T&G and John's completely at my own pace. Oh, the other good part is that nobody heard me cussing about how bad I hate John's trail, and that nobody saw me while I stood on the side of the trail for a pee break.

Speaking of John's trail, I don't think I've ever been on a descent that I wanted to end more badly than John's. And calling John's a "descent" might be a stretch, since I'm still not convinced it actually loses any elevation.

Anyway, I actually felt pretty good all the way up Steps. Good enough that I thought I had a chance to get back on track to come close to an 8:30 finish. And then, just as I started on the Shadow Lake Loop, the cramps came on. I popped a few Endurolytes and drank the rest of my water bottles (queue ominous music now) and resorted to soft pedalling the loop, which I'm pretty sure gets 1/4 mile longer every time I ride it.

The descent was fast, fun and thirsty. Or maybe it was me that was thirsty. Either way, by the time I rode into the PCMR aid station, I was parched, and looked as if I was about to fall off of my bike:

I was so dehydrated, in fact, that I wasn't even able to fight off getting dry-humped by the gilly.

If you can get past the dry-humping, you'll also notice in the previous picture that I'm wearing a pretty warm base layer. I'm wearing this despite the fact that it was hot has hades out there. So why didn't I take it off? (I'm sure you're dying to know). Because it goes against my endurance racing mantra, which is "keep pedaling, dammit!" I may not do a lot of things well on a bike. I don't have bursts of speed up steep hills. I can't do wheelies or do cool tricks. All I got is the ability to continue pedaling when all logic and reason tells me to stop. This can be a good and a bad thing.

There must have been a 20 times on Saturday when I thought to myself: just stop. Just long enough to take off this blasted base layer. Just long enough to take another pee break. Just long enough to sit down for a bit. Just long enough to oil my squeaky chain. But I didn't stop. Because it goes against my mantra. Even if I'd be better off over the long haul stopping for a minute, I continue to pedal. And despite the downsides of pedalling when I'd often be better off stopping, my mantra did get me out of that PCMR aid station. I wanted to stop so bad, but I knew if I did, I might not ever start again. So I hopped on and kept going, albeit slow as snot.

I battled cramps and stomach issues on the Spiro climb. I'm not sure if my stomach issues were due to the water I drank at PCMR, the Electrolytes, or the unsatisfactory consistency of my poop that I reported on last week, but my stomach got bad. And then, my mantra kept me riding on a nearly flat tire for a while, because the slit it my rear tire started leaking again. Once I was riding on my rim, I finally got off and shot it with some air. Joel Z and I rode together for a while, and if a course is tough enough to bring a guy like Joel to his knees, well, you know it's pretty brutal.

I was struggling, but I knew that the mid-mountain trail was fortunately just around the bend, and last year, the mid-mountain trail gave me wings and I hoped for the same this year. But alas, the mid mountain trail isn't what it used to be, and the new rerouted section sucked every last bit of life out of me. The funny thing (or maybe not so funny thing) is that when I pre-rode this section last week, I thought to myself "what is everyone complaining about? This new section is fun!" Turns out, pre-riding != racing (some geeky computer programing notation for you). By the time I started climbing out of mid-mountain, I was toast. But I wasn't the only one. I saw a long line of nearly-dead, hollow riders from mid-mountain to the Canyons.

You probably know the rest. Awesome DH into the Canyons, one last annoying climb, and then I was done. Finally. It was cool to hear the cheers of the crowd as I rode through the finish line. Felt like a big shot for about 10 seconds. And then I came super close to passing out at the finish line at around 8:50. 43rd overall, 7th in category.

In addition to being an awesome course, the P2P is full of treachery, deceit and guile (which are all just synonyms for each other, but worth repeating 3 times). The first 20-25 miles are so relatively easy, and you feel so good that you think you can hammer, so most people do. But what you forget is that the race doesn't even start (for all practical purposes) until after you pass Silver Lake the 2nd time. Looking at the split times is interesting to me - the finishing times are much more closely correlated to the second split than the first.

I find the comparisons from this year to last year both fascinating and frustrating, so I'll bore you with some facts. I rolled into the PCMR aid station at almost the exact same time (6:11) both years. So I figure that I was riding a bit faster this year considering that a) I didn't skip a 3-4 minute section of the course like last year; and b) the climb up Big Bear takes 3-4 minutes longer than last year's route (up Tour de Suds). This year, I climbed Spiro 2 minutes faster than last year, even with the cramping, stomach issues and flat tire (yeah, I bonked hard on Spiro last year). But last year, I covered mid-mountain to the finish more than 10 minutes faster than this year. I figure I lost a couple minutes due to stopping at the aid station for water (which I skipped last year), but the rest came from the new reroute and simply from going slower.

I look at the times of the fastest finishers and am amazed at their ability to maintain speed for such long periods of time. I did all I could to keep something in the tank for the finishing stretch, but came up a bit empty. But still, I'm happy I raced, happy with my finish, and happy to mix it up with so many rad dudes. Yeah that's right, you're totally rad.

Alright, now that I've bored you with the details, a quick thanks again to Dave Dean, Kendra, and Mad Dog crew for taking their entire Saturday to help out at the aid stations, even if us racers are often too self absorbed and delirious to express gratitude during the actual race. Also thanks to the PCPP organizers for putting on a top notch race that other races should aspire to, and for comp'ing my entry fee by giving me a pair of Smith Sunglasses in the raffle.

Till next year? We'll see...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How I'm Preparing for PCP2P

In case you haven't heard from the 30 other blog posts and 15,000 tweets on the topic, the Park City Point 2 Point race is happening this Saturday. 80 miles with 14,000 feet of climbing, 95% of of which is on singletrack, and a lot of that singletrack is of the somewhat technical variety. Like most people, the week before a big race is a bit strange for me. I'm used to spending my free time riding my bike in preparation for the big race, but with the race right around the corner, riding my bike can do much more damage than good.

With the race so close, I feel like I should be busy preparing for it, and the lack of bike riding leaves somewhat of a void. And where there is a void, I will find a way to fill it. Even the things I fill it with are completely meaningless. Here is a list of the N-number of things I have done to fill this void, one or more of which I am convinced will shave significant amounts off of my finishing time for the 2010 PCP2P:

1) The other day, I spent 40 minutes rubbing a thin layer of dried Stans off of the inside of my CrossMark tire. Because the extra 3.763 grams I shaved will make a huge difference in my climbing speed.

2) Resisting the urge to pee. Because by stretching my bladder an extra 2 millimeters over the next 2 days, I'll be able to ride 5 extra minutes on Saturday before stopping for that pee break.

3) Avoiding stairs like the plague. Because if I take one more trip up those stairs than is absolutely necessary, I will have no energy left at all on Saturday. Tonight, I think I may sleep on the couch in order to avoid that one extra trip upstairs.

4) Examining the consistency of my poop. I'm still suffering slightly from a bug I picked up from my daughter, which has caused me to lose 4-5 pounds in the past few days. Right now, I don't like the consistency of my poop one bit.

5) Holding back on the Ambien. Last year, I slept about 3 hours the night before the P2P race. This year I have Ambien as my secret weapon (well, at least it was a secret until I just told everyone about it). I've used it enough to know that it works like a charm. I also know that it worked best the very first time I ever used it. So recently, I've avoided using it at all in hopes that when I pop one on Friday night, my body will be shocked into the deepest slumber of my life, despite the fact that I'll likely be a nervous wreck.

6) Cleaning parts of my bike that don't matter. My cassette was pretty clean already when I started cleaning my bike the other day. But I noticed a bunch of gunk on the inside of my cassette that could only be cleaned by removing my cassette. So I did, and I soaked it in degreaser, and now it's sparkly clean. I'm still not sure why I decided to do this one.

7) Cleaning clothes that I hardly ever clean. I even cleaned my nasty gloves and crusty helmet. Not that they were really even bothering me before, but I'm sure I'll be way faster now that they are clean.

8) Thinking about meaningless weight savings. For example, I will need 2 large waterbottles from PCMR to the finish in the Canyons. There is a support station half-way between PCMR and the Canyons. Stopping to fill a bottle at said support station will take approximately 31.6 seconds. Is this more or less time than will be lost by carrying an extra large water bottle (which weighs approximately 720 grams) up the 1500 ft Spiro climb? Please discuss.

9) Shaving my legs. Kidding, of course. I haven't gone that far off the deep end.

At last year's 2009 P2P race, it seems like I went into it with a lot less anticipation than this year. Last year, I had no idea what to expect. The course was only posted a few weeks prior to the race, and I hadn't pre-ridden any of it so I had no idea what to expect in terms of trail conditions or finishin time. This year, I've pre-ridden the entire course and have a very good idea of my target time. Honestly, I don't know if this will help or not. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
Last year, Adam and Jesse may have been the only people I knew beforehand that were doing the race (once I showed up, I realized a few others I knew were doing the race as well). So we'd psych each other out a little bit, but nothing quite like this year. Nowadays there are more than double the participants, each of whom insist on tweeting non-stop about how nervous they are about the race. A heart-felt thanks to all of you for turning me into a big bundle of nerves as well.
So I have 1.5 more days to find meaningless ways to prepare for the P2P race. If you have not already done the N-number of things I listed above, well you'd better get on it, because you're not even close to being ready.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tour of Utah, the Nebo Stage

After climbing Payson Canyon (the cycling version of "The Never Ending Story"), Adam and I met up with Mark near the top of the Nebo Loop to watch the Tour of Utah riders finish Stage 2. Adam decided that the riders needed a little extra motivation to ride fast. You can't tell me that seeing something like what I'm about to show you below wouldn't motivate you to ride away as fast as possible.

***Viewer Discretion is Advised***

Things started out innocently enough (what, this doesn't seem innocent to you? Well keep reading then...):

First there was the barking:

And then the bearded lady started hitting on the support vehicles:

Finally, local mountain biker Mitch Peterson finds out how it feels to get swatted by a tranny:

Levi went on to thank the Bearded Lady for providing the necessary motivation to win the stage:

Once her (his?) work was done, he/she road off into the mist:

Adam may not be making his wife a proud woman, but he made for an entertaining stage at the Tour of Utah, and that's what really matters.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lunch Rides Cometh

A few months ago after one of the spring lunch rides, I was talking with a co-worker in the company locker room. I didn't know him very well, but he likes riding his mountain bike and he apparently tagged along on one of the lunch rides with the "lunch crew" last year sometime (I wasn't in attendance). He lamented that he was promptly dropped by the group before he even reached the trailhead. He told me that his goal for this year was to lose some weight and get fast enough to be able to keep up with the lunch crew this year. All I could do is sort'a nod and offer some words of encouragement... because I didn't have the heart to tell him that he needed to set more realistic goals.

I know that some of you think I'm a cocky jerk for implying that an average Joe can't keep up with our lunch rides, and perhaps for good reason. But I don't have any delusions about being particularly fast, and nobody from the lunch crew will be quiting their day jobs anytime soon to go ride bikes full-time. However, I think that most of the lunch crew would agree that the pace of the lunch rides has frankly gotten a little ridiculous over the past year. The days of having a casual lunch ride are over. Back in the good ole days, you could usually anticipate that there would be at least one guy show up that would help keep the pace at a reasonable level. That luxury doesn't seem to exist anymore. Nowadays, it seems like everyone in the lunch crew has gotten fast and can put the hurt on you.

These past few mornings, a chill has been in the air, and Fall weather means that lunch rides are about to start up again. Race season is almost over so uptight people (like me) won't be worried about ruining training schedules by throttling themselves everyday at lunch. Mornings and evenings will soon be cold and dark, leaving lunch as the best time of the day to ride.

During the lunch ride "off-season", I've been keeping an eye on the race results of the lunch crew. Gotta keep tabs on the competition, you know. A frequent visitor to the lunch rides just missed breaking 8 hours at Leadville by 5 minutes. Another broke 8.5 hrs on a singlespeed. Yet another took 2nd in his class at Tour DAY Park City. There's also a long list of good results in the Sport, Expert and singlespeed I-Cup races. Although these results are impressive, when taken alone they don't mean a whole lot. Because if you're being honest, the results that really matter are those where your name appears above your buddies' names on the results sheet.

Which is precisely why lunch rides have gotten out of control - it's a daily chance to put the smackdown on all of your closest pals. Each day includes 2-3 mini races, each with an unofficial start and finish line. The guy waiting at the top doesn't gloat... because it's not a "real" race. Instead, he dismisses the accomplishment, turning the focus on how the other guys will smoke him on the downhill. But everyone knows who the unspoken king of the day is.

So if you thought I've been training this summer with hopes of doing well at races like P2P, you thought wrong. No, I'm doing races like P2P and Butte as a lead-up for Fall Lunch Rides. I have a feeling that Sunderlage will be riding angry once he's out of his wheelchair and back on his bike. He'll be looking to make up for lost time by putting the hurt on the rest of the lunch crew. If your season doesn't revolve around peaking for Fall Lunch Rides, you'd better reevaluate your priorities pretty quick, because lunch rides cometh.

Oh, and if someone starts a lunch ride by saying "I'm going to need to take it easy today", you'd better be afraid. Very afraid.

Lunch ride 4-16-10 from atomicmiles on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Canyons I-Cup Race, 2010

The one thing that I've learned about mountain bike racing during the past 4 years of doing it is this: I don't know anything about racing. Seriously, some days I think my preparation is perfect and I end up feeling like crap, and other days I think my preparation is lousy and I'll end up feeling great. Luckily, the Canyons race was more like the latter.

I spent the week prior to the race in Cali for work, and hadn't touched a bike at all. Well, unless you count the 5 minutes I spent on the hotel's recumbant exercise bike. After 5 minutes I decided I could either get off the bike or start repetitively slamming my head in the door. I think I made a good choice to stop riding.

I flew home on Friday afternoon, and then headed to 7-peaks water park with the family, which consisted of lugging a tube to the the top of the slide about 20 times with the youngins. I won't lie. Half of the reason I agreed to go to 7-peaks was to earn points with the misses so she'd let me race the next day. Hey, at least the other half was so that I could spend some time with the family. Because I'm noble like that.

I lined up in the back of the field with somewhat low expectations. I went out pretty slow on the first lap and was literally in last place for a good part of the first climb. I mainly focused on trying to ride efficiently in hopes that I'd pass a couple people on the last two laps.

I was digging the climb - nothing too crazy steep - and I really fell in love with the course as soon as I hit the downhill. Fast and flowy (especially up top), which is my kind of DH. Oh and that reminds me - one of the best things about racing in the Expert class (rather than Sport) is that pretty much everyone knows how to ride fast on the downhill. I mean, there are differences, but they are usually a matters of degrees rather than orders of magnitude. Which means that most downs are fast and fun, regardless of who you're following.

The second lap started and I experienced a rare occurance: I actually felt good. Better than the first lap, even. So I pushed and made some catches. Before too long, I saw my carrot just ahead - the only guy that really mattered to me in this race (but only because he's been putting the smackdown on me for... well pretty much this entire season).

I was able to get by one or two more guys and was hot on the heels of my carrot. Finally caught him on the DH and moved by him on the 3rd lap climb. I eventually caught Derek on the DH. I asked Derek if he'd let me pass or if he was going to make me earn it. He was suffering from an ill-timed blown headset, so he somewhat reluctantly told me that he'd let me take 3rd, which surprised me (not only that he was cool enough to let me go by, but also because I didn't expect to be moving into 3rd place).

Crossed the line, and a few hours later made my first ever visit to the Expert podium (not counting a handful of visits to the poor-man's podium (4th-6th)). I think it was Chad who once said that just about anyone could land themselves on the pro ICup podium if they showed up to enough races. Well, I don't know if that's true for the Pro category, but I've officially proven that it's true for the Expert:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Butte 100 (Butte 50), 2010

Last weekend, the misses and I headed up to Butte so I could participate in some
self flagellation on my bike. Soon after I committed to doing this race, a few things got scheduled at work that meant that the race would be sandwiched between the two busiest weeks of the year for me. The silver lining is that I'd have no choice but to taper before the race (although I think a taper is supposed to be more like a gradual slope rather than falling off a cliff) and recover afterward.

I was going back and forth between doing the 50 and the 100 mile version of Butte... until I took a look at the stats of the 100. 100+ miles with 16k or so climbing. Call me crazy, but when I race my bike, I like to try and go fast and have fun. I had a feeling that the 100 mile version would be neither fast nor fun. So I figured I'd use the 50 as a nice race-pace training ride for Park City Point 2 Point (P2P), and hopefully ride some awesome singletrack in the process.

Since the race happened a week ago, you may have heard some mixed reviews about it. Although you won't hear any complaints from me, some of the complaints may have some merit to them. This was the 4th year of the race, and they keep having the same problems year after year (poor course markings, inadequate aid stations and course information, etc.), so you'd think the organizers would have some of these recurring problems fixed. Shoot, if an official gps track would have been published prior to the race, it would have solved so many problems for so many people. For whatever reason, a gps track was never provided, and instead the racers were assured that the course markings would be so obvious that no gps track would be necessary. Ha.

Anyway, don't interpret the previous paragraph as me complaining. I loved the race. Seriously, every last mile, including the 5 miles I spent off course. All I'm saying is that I can understand some of the gripes. I imagine if I had come into the 50 dead set on winning, or if I had ridden the 100 and got lost 80 miles into it, I'd be pretty ticked too.

The 50 mile version began at 9am, three hours after the 100 mile version started (yet another reason to do the 50). We bombed down the first descent with only minimal carnage (only one crash that I saw) and within 2-3 miles we hit an intersection with a paved road that didn't include any markings. The lead group lollygagged for a while until one of the racers reassured us that we were still heading in the right direction. We surmised that the rumors of locals pulling flags were true and we forged ahead.

The first climb was on some great singletrack and the pace was already high. I pinned it trying to stay with the leaders, and I think I was close to the top 10, with the top 4-5 getting a bit of a gap on the rest of us. Eventually, we reached a T in the trail, and there were no markings anywhere. About 4 of us discussed which way we should go, and one guy said we needed to be heading right to get to the archery range. We started heading down for about 1/4 mile until I thought better of it after the trail conditions started deteriorating and turned around. On my way back up, I ran into about 5 more who had made the same decision. We had a little pow-wow and determined that nobody knew for sure which way we should go.

We headed back up to the intersection, and by then about 15-20 riders had gathered. All had relied on the course markings, and nobody knew which way to go. After much discussion and laughing about being completely lost 7 miles into a 50 mile race, about 1/3 decided to go right, about 1/3 decided to turn around and go back, and about 1/3 decided to follow the main trail which headed left. I chose left. I figured that we'd already past one intersection that didn't have any markings (the paved road above), so we were likely at another, and someone had pulled some flags. I'd follow the main trail to the left since it looked like it had a couple tire tracks on it.

6-7 of us headed down the left fork, which was more amazing 1-track. Unfortunately, we didn't find any flags marking the course. After about 2 miles, we intersected another trail that did have flags... and soon determined that we had circled back on the trail we had just climbed. Good that we had found the trail. Bad that we had lost time.

We started back up the climb, and figured we take a right at the intersection at the top this time. Just before we reached the intersection, I caught a glimpse of some flags out of the corner of my eye. I hit the breaks, turned around and noticed a couple flags half buried in the grass. Next to the flags was some matted down grass, that was apparently a trail. Well that answered why there were no markings at the intersection... because we were off course already. I'm still pissed that I missed the turn the first time, but since 20 or more of us missed it (and I heard that Tinker missed it when he arrived), I guess I can't be too hard on myself.

It felt like I had lost 45 minutes or more on my little detour, but my gps track shows more like 35 minutes. If you've ever been stopped during a race, you know what's going through your head the entire time. Tick tock tick tock. Feels like time is on fast-forward. I knew my chances of a really high placing were shot, but I figured I could still have a fun race and push hard, so that's what I tried to do. It took me a bit before I started catching people who stayed on course, but once I caught back on, it was non-stop passing for a few hours - especially on the endless climb from stations 6 to 7.

About half way between 6 and 7, I had a mechanical that I thought was race-ending. I ran over a branch that got shoved in my derailleur. By the time I stopped, it was wedged between my chain, derailleur, and cogs. I removed it without causing any more damage, but my derailleur looked mangled and was tangled in my spokes. I wasn't sure what to do, but I started yanking on my derailleur and after a few good tugs, it miraculously was sitting in perfect position again. Didn't skip a shift for the rest of the race.

I re-passed the 10 people that passed me during the 5-10 minutes I was working on my bike and I was on my way. I made it to aid station 7 where Wesla was waiting for me. Wesla is the best, and has somehow put up with one more year of this whole racing thing. After station 7 was the inappropriately named "8 Miles of Hell." I may be crazy, but this section should be renamed the 8 Miles of kick-ass singletrack. The climbs were technical and steep, the descents were intense, and it was topped off with a few amazing miles of the Continental Divide trail.

My only complaint about the 8 Miles of Hell is the 5 miles without seeing a course marking (or another racer). I stopped at least 4-5 times with plans to turn around. Unmarked intersections came and went, and my internal voices were reminding me that the last time I didn't see any flags, I should have turned around. Pretty soon, I was doing some serious forensic work on the trail, trying to determine if I could find any tire tracks in front of me. But I forged ahead, mainly because I figured if I was off trail, there would be nothing I could do to salvage my race, so I may as well get a few extra miles in on some great trails. Alas, the 8th aid station finally arrived, much to my relief. Glad I didn't turn around.

The last 16 miles to the finish came and went in a flash. The trail to the finish was without a doubt one of the top 10 trails I've ridden anywhere. And I've only said that about 30-40 trails in my life, so you know I'm not exaggerating. It was a series of fast, flowy trails through thick pine forests, only interrupted by a couple solid climbs and incredible views. I had a second wind at that point and felt pretty good on the climbs, which was nice since I had some pretty bad cramping in both legs during the 8 Miles of Hell section.

I rolled across the line in 8th place overall. Honestly, I can't guess as to whether my result would have been better or worse had I not gotten lost, because so many people did get lost. A lot of people who have heard some of the complaints regarding the organization of the race ask if I'd do it again. Without a doubt I'd do it again. Probably the best trails I've done during a race, although both the American Mountain Classic and P2P probably come close. The thing that puts the trails of Butte above P2P is the fact that you really feel like you're in the middle of nowhere on the Butte trails, which I liked. In P2P, you could be eating a hamburger at a McDonald's in about 20 minutes from just about anywhere on that course. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Great race, great folks, great trails. Oh and super cheap when compared to other enduro events. Everything I love about mountain biking, rolled into one memorable day. When I come back... I'll probably be racing the 50. Because 50 miles in Butte is far enough.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Le Tour

Alright, so here's my annual tour post containing a few random thoughts. While watching Lance get dropped yesterday morning at the bottom of the first significant climb, I got to thinking. Is Lance really that slow? I mean, can it be that the 7-time champ can't even keep up with the leaders, even before they've really start racing? Doubtful. My guess is that he's saving his legs for for a stage win. And why not? He deserves to go out in a blaze of glory, right?

Bull crap.

If he goes for a stage win, I'm pretty pissed if I'm Levi. How many times have Lance's teammates (including Levi) turned themselves inside out for, gotten water for, doped for (hopefully not Levi), etc. for Lance. Lance finally has the chance to return the favor and what does he do? Knowing that he stands no chance of a stage win on a mountain-top finish, he soft-pedals up Port de Pailheres so he can save himself for his 26th career stage win. At least that's what it looked like to me.

Lance has obviously been taking some heat lately. Hating Lance is not even counter-culture anymore - it's mainstream. For me, there's one thing he can do at this point to salvage any shred of dignity he has left. I want to see him lead Levi over every climb. I want to see him get water for Levi. I want to see him give Levi his bike when Levi punctures (alright, so Levi probably couldn't reach the pedals, but you know what I mean). I want to hear Levi thank Lance for getting him on the podium (and considering that Levi can put 2-3 minutes on just about everyone above him in the GC during the TT, I don't see this as being a huge stretch... especially if he can get some help). What I'd really like is to see for Lance to "pull a Jens Voigt" and pedal so hard up the Tourmalet on stage 17 that he tastes blood, and when he finally has to pull off to let Levi go, it's all he can do to not just fall off his Trek, curl up in a ball and cry. I'd especially like to see that.

If he does that, I may actually look back on Lance with some respect.

But more likely, he'll burn all of his matches trying for that stage win and confirm himself as the world's biggest megalomaniac (as if anyone needed confirmation of that). In which case, I can see Levi finally snapping. Doing something crazy like filling some medical bags with dark red Kool-Aid, writing "Mellow Johnny" on them, snapping a few pictures, and sending the evidence to the feds. Like how Milton from Office Space burned down the building after he wasn't allowed to listen to his music at a reasonable level and had his stapler confiscated. Poor Levi. No respect. It would be tough to blame him for burning down the building.

Or who knows, maybe Lance really is that slow. I think we'll find out for sure either tomorrow or Tuesday. In the meantime, we may as well enjoy the best tour I've seen in a while. Can I get an Amen?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two Days in Diamond Fork

I thought our winter dawn patrols were early until I let Brandon set the start time on Saturday morning's ride. I think he has me sold on the early starts though - you can get a lot of riding in before lunch if you start riding by 5:30am.

Diamond Fork was the destination. Each time I head down there, I'm anxious to get back. Here is Brandon, flexing his triceps for the camera:

Miles has a nice little video here, where you can see the proper way to approach 5th water's "hike-a-bike" section.

I headed out for two 2nd Water to 5th Water laps - the first using the pavement, and the second using Strawberry Ridge to connect the two. If you haven't gone up to Strawberry ridge, I highly recommend it so that you can partake of the goodness offered by upper 5th Water (which you'll miss if you use Center trail to connect):
The downside to doing two laps in Diamond Fork on a Saturday morning is that by the time you pass the hot pots for the second time, it's busier than a skin track in Scottie's Bowl on a powder day.
The upside to doing two laps in Diamond Fork is that on your first lap, you can play a game where you predict which hikers you'll see swimming naked in the river during your second lap. On Saturday morning, I went 1 for 1. She was not the least bit concerned that a bunch of 10-13 year old boys were about to see their first real-live lady in her birthday suit. I guess she figures that if you're going to take your kids up to the hot pots, you know the risks. Or at least you should.

On that note, I took my kids up to the hot pots the following evening...
It's a great hike:

With a great destination.

Fortunately, no naked people on Sunday. Two consecutive days in Diamond Fork. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A couple of good rides

Whoa, I just realized that I almost forgot about my obligatory monthly post. I'd hate to disappoint my loyal readers (are the 2 of you still out there after all this time?) These past couple of weekends I hit some great trails. Two weekends ago, I was staying at Panguitch Lake with the family and was able to sneak away to ride Bunker Creek up toward the Sydney Peaks area. On the way up, there were quite a few nice, lonely roads that reminded me of stage 2 of the AMC a couple years ago:

I got to the singletrack and climbed up the right fork of Bunker Creek. The trail is amazing, with only one drawback: I may have been the first person to ride the trail since the snow melted. This left more downfall than I could count, and not the small kind that you can easily jump or ride over. This one required some serious bunny-hopping skills:

I headed up and eventually crossed Sydney Peak Road and started up the Sydney Peak Trail - the same brutal trail that I climbed twice on Stage 4 of the AMC (and once on stage 3). There were some nice views of Brian Head Peak above and the valley far far below:

I was hoping to reach the junction of the Dark Hollow and Lowder Ponds trails so that I I could complete a loop, but eventually got tired of hiking through and around snowbanks, that kept getting bigger as I climbed higher. At around 10,000 feet, I turned around.
The descent down the left fork of Bunker Creek would have been amazing if not for the downfall. These pics give you an idea of its potential:

This past weekend, I read about Brannen's Pole Line Pass loop and decide I needed to get me some of that. I started at the Tibble Fork parking lot and road up North Fork road. I took a right at Baker Fork and road up to Pole Line Pass. I then headed north for an out-and-back on the Ant Knolls trail. I suppose I could have climbed Dry Fork instead of Baker so I could do a loop rather than an out-and-back, but Ant Knolls is worth doing twice. Or four times.
Ant Knolls, I decided, is not only my favorite name for a trail, it's may favoite section of trail anywhere. I'm not sure if I can put a finger on exactly what it is that makes me love it so much. Probably a combination of its remoteness, its perfect mix of pine and aspens, its flow, and its amazing views. At one point along the route, the trail opens up to the west for an unparalleled view of the Wasatch Back. I can't ride by it without stopping. This time, I sat there for a nice long while taking it all in, not wanting to leave. Then I realized that there were other obligations to attend to, besides the view itself. Dinner, family, kids, oh yeah, and my youngest's birthday party. Better get moving, because if I'm late for that, I'm really screwed. But not before snapping 4-5 photos that Autostitch did a nice job of piecing together for me. This one may be worth clicking on for a better view:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Draper I-Cup, etc.

Since the last time I did a race report, I raced the Sundance I-cup, two Wednesday night races, and now the Draper I-cup. The Sundance race can be summed up by the conversation I had with Ricky the following Monday:

Ricky (after looking at the results): What happened to you on Saturday?
Me: Nothing. That's what happened.

Yeah, so the race was kinda like that. I felt like I had a good lead-up to the race, I felt good during warmup, and I thought I had a good start up the pavement. A few people passed me during the race, but I thought we had a big group at the start line, and I figured that at least half of them were behind me. I was able to push pretty hard till lap 3, when I felt a few cramps coming on, which got bad on the last climb up the pavement, but didn't cost me any places. It wasn't until I eventually checked the results that I realized I finished much closer to the back of the pack than the front (of the finishers - I'm still convinced that we had quite a few DNF's, which don't show up on the results sheet). Frustrating because I felt like I raced about as well as I could, but still had a pretty mediocre finish. I had a mechanical with my MRP chain guide, which cost me about 3-4 minutes, but honestly didn't make much of a difference in the results.
*thanks, Karl

Then, I raced at Soldier Hollow and Sundance on Wednesday nights in the Expert B's. Does racing with the B's mean I'm sandbagging? Who knows. Who cares. Last year, I was forced into the Expert A's, and finished DFL a couple times. In my first B race at Soldier Hollow race this year, I finished 3rd behind Dan Z (who recently recorded a fast time on the Dry Loop Time Trial) and Rick. At Sundance the next Wednesday, I finished 2nd behind Dan (Rick didn't show, and World Champ Brandon mechanicalled (yes, that is a word) before he even started). I raced Sundance on my Single Speed, which was my first race ever on my SS. It was fun and painful, and took a bit longer to recover from. For those of you who ride every day on a SS, hats off to you. So anyway, comparing my finishing times to the Expert A class, I'd still be pretty darn close to DFL, so I'm stuck in limbo between the classes. For now, I'd rather battle for a finishing place that has some significance in the B's rather than race alone off the back in the A's.

Today, I raced in the Draper I-cup. If you check the results (Monday's version), you'll see that I had the race of my life - tied for first in Expert 30-39. I've never raced that fast. Seriously, NEVER. And maybe someday, I actually will (race that fast) - without the assistance of a clerical error.

To cut to the chase, I actually finished in 11th, out of 26 finishers (not 1st), with a time of 2:03:50. I felt pretty good today. Started out reasonably enough and slowly worked my way up for most of the day. I really like this race - especially the insane start that quickly funnels down into singletrack. Even with a huge lineup at the start, I felt like our entire group was flying up the singletrack, so I never really felt like I was being held up. Eventually got into a good battle with Chad A. (who lamented about having a bad day... and then outgunned me to the finish). I definitely will need to find the next gear to hang with the podium finishers, but I think I'm making some progress. I had a couple minor mishaps today: once when my rear tire washed out on the long left-hand switchback at the end of the new single-track descent, and another when I smacked my left hand into a tree (the same hand I jacked up in my Rawrod crash). None of them actually knocked me to the ground - just enough to stop me and make me restart.

I'm happy with the result today, but really, it just goes to show that you can't look at your result to meter your success, because your result often just depends on who shows up (more accurately, who happens to finish).

Monday, May 17, 2010


So I rolled into work last Wednesday, and my co-worker came into my office to complain about the weather. Something about another day of rain in May, as if this is the first time it has ever rained in Utah in May. I told him that bad weather is all a matter of perspective...

The crew hiking up Toledo Bowl, Wednesday, May 12th, before work:

Father Cottle and his progeny dropping into Holy Toledo, and looking quite good doing it:
Maybe if I had spent my time this Winter on my trainer rather than doing this, I wouldn't have gotten my teeth kicked in at Sundance on Saturday. Even if that's true (which I doubt), it's been totally worth it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dry Loop Time Trial

The trails are clear, the Dry Loop TT is ready to get ripped, the pipe ready to get smoked.

Last year I wondered whether anyone would break the 40 minute barrier, and 4 people went and did it. This year, is it possible to break 35 minutes?

I was thinking about deleting the routes ridden by each rider, since everyone seems to be going with Betty to Lament to Dry. However, the trail building fairies have added a new option to get to the Alter, and I'm interested to see if anyone uses it.

Last year, we had a few holdouts. I think we may need to organize a lunch meeting soon in order to establish some benchmarks for measuring the remainder of fiscal year 2011. We'll each leave the shooting range at 1 minute intervals and do our best to catch the carrot in front of us. A bit anti-social, maybe, but my lungs are usually burning too much during lunch rides to talk anyway.

So go shred the trails, record your time and submit your result. You'll have to be pretty fast to dislodge Kevin from the top spot for this year. To see some Dry Canyon insanity, check out the last minute of Miles' video:

Spring Lunch Rides from atomicmiles on Vimeo.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Too Many Puppies

If I were one of those avid bloggers who categorizes posts, this post would be filed under the "not at all related" category. Or maybe the "strange coincidence" category. Which brings my to my next point (although I never really had a first point): why do bloggers spend time categorizing posts? Does anyone ever actually click on a category? I, for one, have never clicked on a blog post category. If I ever did click on a category, it would be on Dug's "toilet/bathroom" category. Wait a minute, I just checked and Dug doesn't even have a "toilet/bathroom" category, which reaffirms my belief that blog post categories are useless.

... but I digress (assuming it's possible to digress without ever being on point in the first place)...

Earlier this morning, I read the following piece of Barbie literature with my daughter:
I've always gotten a good chuckle out of the name of this book, for reasons that will become apparent in a moment (unless it is already apparent to you, in which case you are awesome).

Immediately after reading this fine piece of literature with my daughter, I hopped in the car and started listening to one of the local high school radio stations. An utterly forgettable song finished, and the next song began:

Seriously, what are the odds of that happening? This is a song that's probably been played on the radio, what 3 times in history? (it's not exactly radio friendly) I read "Too Many Puppies" with my daughter, and 5 minutes later "Too Many Puppies" is playing on the radio. You know it's going to be a good day when coincidences like that happen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day Gift

With Mother's Day right around the corner, I'm sure I'm not the only person scrambling to find a gift that acts as a down payment for all the races and rides planned for the upcoming summer. Shoot, who am I kidding? For most of us, it's more like a small payment against an insurmountable pile of debt.

Well, I've found the perfect gift for you. As cyclists, most of us suffer from a disorder that plagues us as a consequence for our ability to consume amounts of food that most non-cyclists believe to be humanly impossible. It also doesn't help that burritos act as the main staple of our diets. Yes, I speak of flatulence. The experts will try and tell you that money and infidelity are the main causes of divorce. Let's not kid ourselves. Flatulence is the number one marriage killer.

So give your sweetheart the gift that keeps on giving. It might just save your marraige:

My wife let me in on this little secret. I wish I could say she was joking when she told me about it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I decided on a change of pace this year and opted to "time trial" the White Rim on Friday rather than the traditional RAWROD group ride on Saturday. Sorry, no pics this year. If you're looking for pics, I'm sure there will be 10 other blogs to provide plenty of documentation. If you're looking for a decent story... well, I'm sure you'll find that somewhere else too. But here's what happened to me.

A group of 9 of us (Jesse, Adam, Keith, Carson, Brad, Miles, Brandon, Rick and me) met at the 313/Mineral Bottom Junction at 8:30am. Most of us woke up at 4:30am to make the drive down. After shivering in the parking lot for a half hour, the imaginary gun went off (well, more like Adam DQ'd himself from the entire race with his 10 second false start, and then we all followed him) and we started the ride down Mineral Bottom road. We cruised past the campground at the top of Horsethief together and plummeted into the abyss. As I approached the 5th switchback there was a slight left bend in the road before the left switchback. I was going full speed and tapped my breaks to start slowing down for the turn. No sooner did I tap my breaks did my front tire slide out. Before I even realized I was going down, I was skidding on my left side.

Who crashes on the White Rim? Seriously, anyone? Actually, I seem to remember someone going down in a similar fashion on Shaffer's last year. Was that Walkyourhorse? Well anyway, I'm now one of the few who have crashed on the White Rim.

I came screeching to a stop and my immediate reaction was that I was going to be fine. It only took a couple of seconds to realize that I was not fine. In fact, I was pretty jacked up. Brad rolled up and was looking at me like he thought I was dead. Apparently, it was quite a spectacular slam.

I picked myself up and tried to assess the situation. Cracked helmet, scratched glassed, and pretty much my entire left side had gone through the meat grinder. My main immediate concern was my hand since it was bleeding a bit, and it wasn't long before I could hardly move my fingers. The guys behind me stopped, bandaged me up, and Jesse hooked me up with some ibuprofen. I wasn't sure I could continue, and was reluctantly starting to come to terms with the fact that my day was probably over, so I told the guys to go ahead (they already blew 10 minutes of the TT's on me). After they left, I paced back and forth a bit and decided that ather than risk getting stuck at the bottom of Horsethief, I would start riding back up toward the camp to figure out if I could continue the ride.

I started pedaling and soon realized that my hand was only part of the problem. My left hip and thigh took most of the hit, and I could hardly pedal. I limped my way up to the camp and threw my helmet down in disgust. I was so pissed that I ruined my entire day so early due to a split second's worth of inattentiveness. I'm such a freaking spaz sometimes. I sat down for about 45 minutes in hopes of a miracle of some sort. I finally climbed back on my bike, resigned to wallow in my sorrows on the way back to Miles' truck. At the very least, I may as well go hang out in Moab for the day. The first minute of pedaling confirmed what I already knew - I was done. It was all I could do to not start pedaling 1-legged to save my left side.

About a mile up Mineral Bottom road, I had a nice little surprise. The ibuprofen kicked in and mobility came back to my hand, and while my leg still hurt, I was actually able soft pedal without much problem. I kept thinking about how I'd taken the day off work, taken a day away from the family, had spent so much time getting my crap ready, etc., and it was all being wasted. Then the miracle did happen. Master of Puppets started playing on my iPod (don't lie - you either have it on your iPod or you wish you did) and I suddenly felt like kicking some ass. Or something like that.

Before heading back down Horsethief, I spent a few more minutes trying to straighten my rotor, since it had gotten bent during the crash and my wheel and wasn't spinning too well. While working on my rotor, I did a quick sanity check to make sure I wasn't doing anything too stupid. It was about 10:20am. I figured I had almost 10 more hours of daylight, and even going nice and slow I should be able to make it back before dark. I decided to ride toward Hardscrabble, and if things got bad, I'd turn around and limp back out of Horsethief. Worst-case scenario is that I keep going past Hardscrabble and my leg completely seizes up at mile 50. Well even then, it's not like I was heading into Antarctica. This was the White Rim and there are trucks down there, right? I mean, I may not have 60 RAWROD riders and support vehicles to help me out, but it's not like I'd ever be left for dead down there.

I messed with my brakes until my wheel could spin for a good 5 seconds or so and headed down. I rode past the camp (for the 3rd time), and dropped back into Horsethief (for the second time), and you can bet that I was extra sketched out as I rode past my 20 foot long skid mark at the 5th switchback. I got down to the river in one piece and started riding a nice steady pace toward Hardscrabble.

Things were going well. I couldn't pedal hard, but I figured I didn't need to on a 100 mile day. I just needed to pedal consistent. I missed the left hand turn up Hardscrabble (who put those rocks across the turn up Hardscrabble anyway? I'm putting my money on Adam or Rick - trying to throw the rest of us off. They'd do just about anything to beat Brad), but luckily so did two other guys who set me straight after riding about a third of a mile in the wrong direction.

I took it fairly easy up Hardscrabble, made it to the top and did a quick assessment. I figured that my leg hadn't stopped working after 30 miles, so it would probably keep working for the next 70, so I rolled off the other side of Hardscrabble and into Potato Bottom. I figured this was pretty much the point of no return.

The ride from Hardscrabble to Murphy's Hogback was uneventful. In fact, the main thing I remember about that section was that I got a bit lonely. I don't know that I've ever ridden my bike for more than 3 or 4 hours in complete solitude before now, and I guess it caught up to me. Then I started thinking about why the White Rim is such a special place, and it really comes down to its remoteness. On the White Rim, you can ride for miles and miles without seeing another soul (especially if it's not RAWROD Saturday), and there is no sign of civilization anywhere. After about mile 50, I really started loving the solitude. It may sound cheesy, but the solitude was sorta cleansing, in a way, and I was glad to be riding rather than sitting in some Moab cafe, moping about my wasted weekend.

I kept telling myself that Murphy's was a long way off so that I wouldn't get my hopes up, and then before I knew it I was riding across the top of Murphy's mesa. I stopped and checked my front brake, which ended up being a mistake. It was rubbing pretty bad now, so I tried to fix it. In the process, I stripped one of the ti bolts and made the brake rub even worse. After 2-3 more unsuccessful attempts, the rubbing was at an all time high, and I was grateful for my iPod to block out the screeching sound.

I dropped the other side of Murphy's and could tell that the ibuprofen was wearing off. I popped my last two pills, and within 5 more miles was feeling the best I'd felt all day. I'm sure the gradual descent combined with my ethereal high helped, but I felt like I was on top of the world while flying toward Musselman Arch. I even nearly forgot about the dull pain in my left thigh for a few minutes.

I rode by the Arch without stopping and made it through the last few little climbs before rounding the corner that takes you to the base of Shaffer's. I ran into Miles, which was nice not only for the good company, but also because he was my ride back to camp. I figured that if he had finished before me and found his truck sitting there, he would most likely have though I had spent the whole day down at camp and driven down to find me. That would have left me riding down Mineral Bottom to the camp (again), which would have sucked. So it was great to be able to run into Miles, just before he finished his first dirt century. Nice one, Miles.

Shaffer's is a beast. Not only does it look impossible from the bottom, but you climb and climb for what feels like forever, and then look up and it hardly looks like you've made any progress at all. The higher you get, the higher the cliffs get.

To make along story a bit longer, I finally made it up Shaffer's and eventually rolled into the parking lot at the end of the dreaded pavement. My official time was around 9 hrs 20 min. Injury time at the top of Horsethief took 1:04. Riding time was 8:03. During the last 80 miles, I rode with a guy from Infinite Cycles for about a mile, and I rode with Miles for about the same. The other 78 miles were ridden in complete solitude. I was glad I pushed through and finished. I felt like I did something that I didn't think would be possible 8 hours earlier.

After eating a few of Kenny's famous brats and bread, I headed home with Miles and Brad to cap off a huge day. I woke up Saturday morning and felt like I'd been run over by a freight train. Left knee, thigh, hip, rib, shoulder, and especially wrist are all in pain. I don't think the pain would have been much different had I not ridden the loop, so I'm glad I did. I'm lucky that all my injuries are pretty superficial - in a week, I'll probably forget about them. Seriously, if I were a bit tougher, I would have just continued riding with the group rather than wasted an hour up at camp.

Since I didn't post pictures, I'm posting the ride details instead. If you zoom all the way in, you can see my indecisiveness near the camp/crash site.

P.S. check out Miles' awesome video from the ride.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dusk Patrol

I'm not sure why I didn't figure this out before now, but last night I finally realized that some of the best spring skiing/boarding does not happen during 5am Dawn Patrols. It happens during 5pm Dusk Patrols. With daylight savings, it's possible to get amazing in turns till after 8pm. However, by switching to dusk patrol, you do give up the following benefits that only dawn patrol can offer:
  • Waking up at 4am.
  • Getting addicted to caffeine so that you can stay awake at work.
  • Spending your second (or third or forth) lap worrying about whether you'll miss your morning meeting.
  • -10 degrees.
  • Starting in the dark.
  • Showing up and finding 4 feet of snow in the parking lot, making it impossible to park.
hmmm... dusk patrols are sounding better and better. The only downside is the minor detail of not seeing your kids all night. Unless, of course, you can bring your kid with you. Here are the father and son duo of Daren and Tanner in in action:

Next year Aubrie will be 6. With the way she's tearing up the resorts, I think she'll be ready to help me justify a lot more dusk patrols next year.

Adam and I were able to get an early start, so we headed up to Cardiff for a quick lap. Not sure why, but I always like the up photos as much as or more than the down. Especially when they're taken in daylight, which seldom happens during dawn patrols.

Heading up toward Cardiff's summit:

Superior looking... well... like a bad pun (as if there's such thing as a good one):

Adam ripping the down...

...but runs into some technical difficulties. Equipment failure. Yeah, that's it:

We met up with the Cottles and headed up Toledo Bowl, dropped down Holy Toledo, and then climbed back to Cardiff Peak. Rick, if you're still not convinced that the South side of Cardiff wasn't bulletproof, consider the following additional pieces of evidence:

Thanks to Mark for organizing Dusk Patrol last night. That really sucks about your meeting...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thanks, Mr. Scottie

"I can gather all the news I need on the weather report."

Paul Simon must have been a skier.

With whisperings of 30 inches of snow, we flocked to the backcountry this morning. The north side of LCC was closed for bombing, which made the White Pine trailhead a popular (and noisy) destination.
*Pic stolen from Rick

So was the snow any good up in Scottie's Bowl? I'll let the following pictures of Adam and Ben answer that question:

And no tour with Ben would be complete without at least one cliff drop:

The weather report is looking good for tomorrow too. I'm telling you, April is going to redeem this entire lackluster snow year. No foolin'.