Monday, December 13, 2010
Just a little further?
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
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
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
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
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
***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
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
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
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
Monday, July 12, 2010
Two Days in Diamond Fork
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):
On that note, I took my kids up to the hot pots the following evening...
With a great destination.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
A couple of good rides
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:
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.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Draper I-Cup, etc.
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.
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
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
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?
Spring Lunch Rides from atomicmiles on Vimeo.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Too Many Puppies
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Mother's Day Gift
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
RAWROD TT, 2010
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.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
- 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.