Tuesday, 27 November 2012
So it's a good day to ride and I am finally going to make it out to Hall Ranch. I have heard a lot about the place but never had the impetus to make it out there. I must say I was a bit nervous going to ride there, as I heard it was quite technical and that's not my strong suite yet. I have done some Technical rides with the likes of the 450 club, and I know my limits and even though I enjoy working on some tech, I don't like to ride over my head, so Let's see how this goes.
Yeah, so you are probably wondering what got me out here. Well, if your read my last 40 in the Fort Blog, I was lucky enough to connect with Marie (Zils friend), the woman in the green socks with the amazing down hill skills. I figured I could hold my own on the climbs and with the help of the Yeti 575 would at least not embarrass myself too much. So the plan was set for me to ride with Marie, Clyde and Matt.
I met Marie in Loveland and we carpooled down to meet Clyde and Matt at the Trail head. The drive down was uneventful and it seemed a bit odd to be driving those roads, since most of the time I get down there on bike when doing one of Gale Berhnhardt's Sunday rides. In any case it was good to get to talk to Marie, since I only got to exchange the small words mentioned in the last blog when we passed each other.
At last we are at the trail head and it isn't long before we are joined by Clyde and Matt. Clyde, Marie's boyfriend drove up from Denver and Matt also came from Fort Collins. Probably should have carpooled with Matt, but it just didn't work out that way.. At the Trail head everyone is pretty friendly. Good vibes from the hikers and all, and this is a good start to the adventure.
We are all off and ready and Marie heads up the trail 1st. Oh my, I had forgotten how fast she was and I am putting more effort in getting the 575 to move compared to what my YSL would have required. At this point I am starting to rethink my choice of steeds cause at this rate, I'll be toast in 40 minutes. In any case this only lasts for a minute until Clyde takes over and sets a much more civil pace. Yeah, that's more like it and life is wonderful again! Not that it wasn't anyhow, but my legs aren't going to explode any time soon.
It's after a mile or so the technical stuff begins. I was holding my own more or less, but since it was my 1st time being there, I didn't know any of the lines and with so many rocks etc. my eyes were darting around trying to find something I could handle. after a 1/4 mile or so we come to some Sessionable sections where I watch Marie, Clyde and Matt work the terrain. For some reason I didn't have a ton of confidence in my rear tire which I was planning on replacing and with the dust on some of the rocks I didn't feel like "going for it" and risking injury so early in the ride, so I am content to enjoy the show.
At this point in the ride I am happy with my choice of bikes, but I couldn't help wondering how the YSL would have held up with it's 130mm pushed fork. I am sure it probably would have been OK, but it's bottom bracket is kinda high and descending may have been an issue... but I digress....
As we are climbing we come to a few other sections of trail that are worth some do overs and I watch the Marie/Clyde and Matt show. I was thinking that I should jump in there and do some more sessioning, but for some reason I just wasn't feeling that go-for-it spirit. I could be cause I was a bit hungry but whatever, I was content to observe. There were some really good opportunities to take some sweet pics, but that phone camera wasn't cutting it. Mental note, Next time bring a real(tm) camera...
Finally we are done with the technical stuff and it's time to relax and just ride. I must say, the trails here are really sweet and I am wishing I had taken Barb/Tim/Chad/Darrens suggestions to ride this one before now. In any case I am here now and life is good. As we reach one of the clearings Marie spots a Bobcat!. We hang out and watch them, and once again, my camera is inadequate, but I take some pics anyway in hopes I can crop and zoom my way into something decent.
Once again riding I get a chance to chat more with my new found companions and they are pretty cool. I like a ride where it's not too deep and relaxed, with not too much technical bike talk, just good conversation, which is important to me when riding with folks for the 1st time. While we are talking we run into one of the friendly Hikers (Liza) and she is kind enough to snap a pic of us and email it to me. It's good when hikers and MTBr's can get along so well and it's real.... Anyway Thanks Liza.
So, anyway, we talk and ride and get to the summit where there is a view of Longs Peak and Meeker. I need not say it, but I need to get back to bringing a real camera.... OK time to descend and life is sweet again. Marie and Clyde just about checkout on the descent and I do my best to keep pace and follow their lines. The terrain up here is a bit grainy and that 575 seems to want to "push" a lot. I've gotta figure that out some day, as at times there are lesser riders that I hookup with and even they are able to walk away from me but when following skilled folks it's such a noticeable shortcoming on my part. Maybe it's the front tire, I just don't know. Maybe some day I will Strava some of these sections for comparison between some of my bikes and see if I have that problem on all of them... Anyway, besides that getting dropped feeling I am really happy to be out and riding. Hmm Maybe I can get the Push folks to help me out with some of their fancy gadgets... probably not, but that would be cool...
Now onto the Descending part of the Technical Section! Ok, I drop my saddle and I can handle most of this stuff. I try and see the lines that Marie, Clyde and Matt are taking and that is taking the guess work out of some of it. I am still not really comfortable doing this and I think I would do better if that 130m was at least a 160, but the 130 is more that adequate if one has skills. In any case I felt more and more comfy as time went on and I am sure if I took the time to practice I would be much much better... While I am checking out some lines some riders came by that were "Amazingly" fast. Wow, Ok, so I am so far from the limit of how fast this can be ridden it's ridiculous.
Finally we are back in the parking lot and it's time for Matt to checkout as he has places to be. So Marie, Clyde and I are chatting and we decide to ride over to the Picnic Trail which is a couple of miles down the road. Well, my legs feel good so this sounds like a plan and the way it was described it sounded like some sweet riding. Clyde leads the way to the trail head at a good clip. I am not sure that Clyde knows how strong he really is, and considering that he only rides off-road, it's more impressive. I suppose he's got to be strong to keep up with Marie all the time!
This trail is some of the sweetest Single trak I have ridden in quite a while. It's got some East coast feel with some trees and nice flowing switches. Yeah, baby, this is the life. Clyde's pace is excellent and right in the zone of exactly what I would have set if I was riding point. I gotta love it when I am not being push and I can just enjoy the ride.
The Sun is starting to set, but we are making good time. While we are climbing, I see a familiar face sitting astride a bike, and it's Darren. We stop and exchange greetings. Looked like Darren wanted to join us for the rest of the ascent, but the Sun was setting and it looked like he'd rather not get caught in the darkness. We say our goodbyes and off we go.
At some point a woman had passed us and Marie decided to go chase her down. Clyde and I just let them go and we had a nice chat while enjoying the trail. It's not too long before we are at the top where Marie and the other woman are chatting. She had some sweet Carbon bike and from what Marie learn, she's a racer. We don't chat very long and we are descending.
This is one sweet descent. Marie checked out and I am following Clyde. This part of the trail is hard and the Yeti is lovin it! This was probably the only part of the ride where it was pretty comfortable following Clyde. We are moving pretty well and just flowing the trail. The only thing I could have wished for was a GoPro Camera to capture all of this splendor. That footage would be some good to roll into something to watch if I was ever forced to ride the trainer in the winter or to just watch when I am old and can't ride and can relive the good-old-daz!
After a bit we find Marie resting and it's time to rock and roll again. For this section I find myself behind Marie and we are flying pretty good. The hard pack is good for the Yeti and event though I am riding pretty hard I am not stupid-crazy. As the soil loosens up and gets a bit more Twisty, Marie starts to checkout. I know better than to try and stay with her as "A man's got to know his Limits". It's a bit harder to ride without her lines to follow. I must admit I was enjoying the Marie show, especially when she did those little stylish mini-whips into the corners... Mental note, gotta get a Go-Pro.... So now I back off a bit but am still cruising pretty well and I am not sure why, but my front end washes out and "crap" I can't save this one and down I go! Ouch. I get up check out the bike and body, and with the exception of some dirt-rash I am OK.
Clyde passes me at this point and I get back on the bike and slowly take off. I see that the handle bars are a bit askew, so I stop and fix them. As I ride along I see that Clyde and Marie in the distance and with enough daylight left I don't need to chase to hard. I am still doing self and bike assessments and I am good-to-go and before long am not feeling any of that initial crash impact soreness.
We regroup and take the road back and we are back at the cars before long! Excellent day, except for my crash, but a good time was had by all. Gotta hit Hall again sometime. It's definitely worth the drive!
Monday, 24 September 2012
Finally the day has come to do the forty in the fort MTB race. I had signed up to do this as training earlier in the year for the Laramie Enduro as it would be a good tune up. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately the race was postponed. I must admit that this is the one race I feared that I might not finish as it’s technically challenging and the climbs are brutal.
I arrive at the race, park, see a few folks I knew, get my packed and head down to the Start area. It’s a bit cold on the way down so I have my arm and knee warmers on, but by “go time” it’s clear that I won’t need them. Looks like the waves of racers are pretty small this year, no doubt due the difficulty of this one. The “Pure” roadies and beginner types aren’t present here as this is no place to cut your teeth or snag some easy hardware, but I digress….
By the time it’s my turn to go the race official decides to combine the rest of the starters into my group. I guess this is a good thing. Bang and we are off and running! This is a long event and I watch the jack rabbits take off, thinking that they must be really fast or they are on a fools errand. I find my self falling back in the middle of the wave and I am OK with this. Shauna from Braap comments that she likes my pace as it’s sustainable and I agree as we enter the Timber Climb parking lot.
I find myself at the front of my little group with a 100 yards or so between me and the group ahead of me. I am resisting the urge to reel them in as this would be a waste of energy and I would probably be bottle necked at some point. They are keeping a good pace behind a woman in green socks. Timber is a familiar climb so I just keep a good rhythm. Slowly the others that are behind me are falling away from my wheel. Hmm, I am no where near my AT so I know I am not going too hard, and I am surprised that they are not keeping pace. I guess it could be a matter of strength as this is what I fear could be my undoing later on, cramping to the point of submission. As I near the top of the climb I have made some ground on the group in front of me. I watched as Sara Sheets etc. go by the woman who was pacing them up the climb.
As I reach the Kimmons descent I have just about caught the woman with the green socks. I don’t want to pass her before the descent as I am not the great of a descender. Good thing I didn’t pass her on the descent as she pretty much checked out on that one. I think I saw a few glimpses of her on the way down, but she must be really good to have gotten out of sight that quickly. I am pretty sketchy on some sections on this one and it’s probably a good thing that I was alone at this point so as not to embarrass myself.
With the Kimmons descent finally over it’s on to West Valley and a chance to pedal again. Still trying to keep my speed in check here so I have something for the 2nd lap. I didn’t have my HR monitor or speedo so I am just guessing at effort and had know Idea of speed. Well, I did have my garmin 405, but it was set to “pace” mode and I didn’t feel like doing the math to convert pace to mph. The stroll across West Valley was nice and it was a good warm-up for Towers.
At last I have reached Towers Rd and this will be the real test of how I am going. My right leg seems stiff but I am going OK. I seem to remember this same thing at Laramie, so maybe I need to stretch more or something. So not to far into the climb I catch the Woman with the Green socks. She is Marie(?)Walsh AKA “M” for short. We chat for a bit before I bid her “goodluck”. I am trying to do enough work so I don’t go too hard and cramp and have something the 2nd time around. I find that on some of the grades that this is almost impossible as I forced to pedal pretty hard just to make it up the climb. Hmm, I see some riders walking early on, which can’t be a good sign for them. This climb seems to go on forever until Stout section. There were some guys playing guitars at one of the corners here and it’s nice to see this race developing a culture of it’s own.
On to stout and single trak, Yeah! It’s probably harder than just going up towers but it’s mentally less draining. There are some hike-a-bike sections but it’s pretty much rideable. Half way up or so I catch Liz Boese and we exchange greetings. She is only doing one lap since the 24 hour Nats are in two weeks and needs a tune-up without going too hard or long.
Backout onto Towers again and I am reminded how stinking long this climb is. Seems like I am only a little better than halfway up and there are still two nasty pitches left. The 1st pitch has been labeled “Bacon Hill” and I think to myself “what the @#$”. It soon becomes apparent why. As I crest this pitch there are a group of folks handing out Doughnut Bacon Sandwiches…. Oh OK. Can’t say I ever heard of this before but it’s calories so I took one. Hmm, not bad. Can’t say I would make these at home but not too bad.
Another Towers road pitch and the last aid station is here. A quick stop here and onto more climbing. There is some respite here and then the final push to the top. I didn’t realize that we go to the very top here, since the earlier course didn’t, but had a nasty hike-a-bike section. Ok, I am good with this over hiking. This section always takes a lot of muscle to get up and there were folks resting/walking etc. already at this point.
Hmm, that climb wasn’t too bad, but what about the next lap! Ouch, that’s is what I am expecting, but really I am expecting to be walking this one. In any case I make it under the antennas and follow a couple of riders into the woods. I don’t know this section of trail so I am extremely cautious and the other riders get away from me. The descent is the part that I was most worried about as the Trek Y has older geometry with a super high bottom bracket which could be problematic.
I am still taking it pretty easy on the way down, walking some sections of trail and taking other pretty slowly. In hindsight I should have lowered my saddle, but I didn’t think about that at the time and I am sure that I lost precious time not doing so. Well, I guess my goal is just to finish this thing and so speed isn’t really an issue or at least that’s not where I am focused at the moment.
The descent is pretty much of a blur with me tip toeing pretty much all the way. I do remember walking of of the switch backs when I see 2 riders, a rammin and a thumpin! I am in the switch back and I apologize for holding them up. Well, my presence didn’t seem to slow them at all. Butts dragging on the rear tires almost they didn’t mind me at all! One of the riders was M Walsh and she greeted me with a “Hi Steve” before the three of them checked out. Man, I really gotta learn these trails and work on my descending. It was sweet watching how they worked the trail, like it was in their back yard, which it probably was!
Ok, back on the bike and I see my co-workers 16 son ahead of me. He is descending really well and I finally catch him as he pulls over with some mild leg cramps. I tell him to take some gels and that should take care of them and I bid him good-luck. This was near the bottom of the descent, but I don’t know the name of the trail, and I am too lazy right now to look it up (Carrie Springs). In and case it dumps back out onto Towers road where once again I must ascend it. The good part about this is that Bacon Hill is there and a chance to get some more Donut Bacon Sandwich.
So, I grab some more Bacon and Donut and am good to go to the final climb before descending MillCreek. I see Liz Boese pass me at this point and I guess since she was doing one lap, didn’t need to stop for any fuel. It is here when Ignacio (“Co-workers son”) catches up to me. His cramps are gone and he is looking good and still having fun. I am super impressed with this kid as this is only his 2nd MTB race ever!
Time to descend again and it’s pretty sketchy. I am pretty cautious as before but I am happy to have all of the climbing for this lap pretty much over. The bike is doing well, and I am happy that I haven’t had any issues.
Finally back in Lory onto the West Valley Trail and heading for the Finshline area. The legs feel OK and its good to spin them. They are a bit tired though, and I am wondering how they will fare on the 2nd loop. As I arrive at the aid Station, I see Kate Erickson who is really nice and helps be refuel. Hmm, I can see I didn’t drink as much as I think I should have the 1st lap so I make a mental note to try and drink more this time around as it is much hotter. I ask Kate how Ian (“Husband”) is doing and see says he came by a little while ago. Turns out that was more like an hour ago, but she was being kind, which is probably a good thing as I may have gone harder than I should have to try and catch him! Anyway, Kate gives me a nice push off and I am off an running again.
Ok, 2nd time up Timber and my legs have definitely paid the price on the 1st lap. I fear the climb up towers so I keep a good mellow pace so as not to cramp. I get caught on this climb by Mike, a guy I met at registration. He says he wants to try for a sub 6 time and that he is on pace for a faster 2nd lap. Wow, I am going faster than I had planned. Last time I did this lap with Barb Shultz, we did it in 3:30 and I was thinking that there is no-way I was gonna race it that hard… Anyway I can’t or choose not to keep Mikes pace as he gets way from me after the Kimmons descent. I must say I am getting more used to the bike as I was much better on Kimmons the 2nd time around.
The West Valley Trail was uneventful and I was mentally preparing for Towers again. I can see Mike up the road a piece and I am pretty much alone. I do end up passing a guy who is walking up towers. By the time I get to Stout, I get caught by a skinny kid who professes to be more of a roadie and lets me enter the single trak 1st. Ok, and I keep enough of a pace to keep him happy and keep that lead until we get back on Towers, where he gets a gap on me.
I am doing OK until I get to Bacon Hill where I decide to walk the bike. I think I could have ridden, but I fear the whole cramping thing, and I am sure I wouldn’t be going much faster than a walk, so what’s the point. I get caught by some guys on Single Speeds and a Woman and guy who are walking much faster than I am with apparently less effort. Oh well, I guess I must be tired….
On to Bacon Hill for some more breakfast. This time I spend a bit more time there. The crew there is quite in good spirits. I recognize the young lady there as Stacy of the Overland club. I met her a few years ago during her 1st week here in the Fort a few years back….. We exchange greetings. Her passe has slingshots and marshmallows which they randomly fire at riders going by! Anyway, after my fill of donut-bacon whatever I am off to the last climb and aid station at the top of Mill creek. While I am their I catch Mike who calls it quits along with another rider. I proclaim that Klingon has no work for quit and that they should do the honorable thing and finish, but they are too tired and fear falling on the descent. At this point Ignacio catches me. He asks if I am going to continue and I say yes! He looks pretty good at this point, and I am so impressed with him. If there is a cycling coach reading this they need to find him and sign him to their team…. But I digress. Ian is also here, and about to descend Millcreek! Wow he must be way ahead of me and any thoughts, fleeting as they were of catching him are lost forever in the reality that is I will not.
I remount and make the final push up Towers to the antennas. This time I am walking and I doubt I could have ridden it without a major penalty. I am so glad to be at the top again. This time I take a page from the kid with the Blond dreads that was descending a like a madman. I noticed that he dropped his saddle for the descents so I decide to drop mine a bit. Wow! I had forgotten how good that works and is well worth the time to stop and fix it at the end.
I am now descending much faster than I did the 1st time around and am riding almost everything, except that really nasty rocky switch back that even the blond kid had to stop in the middle of. Hmm, now I am wondering how much time I would have saved if I had just done the seat thing in the 1st place. I wish I could justify one of those dropper seat posts as I am sure minutes would have been saved. Oh well, I just tell myself that the goal here is just to finish and that I am sure I will do!
Back around and up Bacon Hill again for the final time. The kid with the dreads passed me on the descent again, and I see that he is easily able to still ride the climb up to Bacon Hill. I over hear him chatting with the crew there and he said that he was just taking it easy for the most part. I’ll buy that. He seemed to have no interest in time or any such, just the rush of the descent. He is still chatting by the time I leave but I am sure he will catch me again on the Millcreek descent.
So continue on and walk the final climb to the Millcreek aid station. I am pretty weary by now, but I’ve got this one in the bag, so I am pretty happy. I get some more food and then head for the descent, this time with the seatpost dropped. About half way down I hear, “On your right” and it’s the blond kid just flying! He was so smooth, where I was just on my brakes fearing death, where he apparently embraced it. In a few seconds he was out of sight, never to be seen again until the lunch pavillon.
I am descending much better, but not like I know it can be done. I’ll try and ride these trails a bit more so as to sharpen my handing and control my fear….
So nice to finally be back in Lory and the West Valley trail. I can finally spin the pedals a bit. The legs feel fine to spin, but they are not too happy with climbing any steeps at this point. I am so glad that there isn’t another lap to do! I keep a good clip up to the finish line and I am done, done, done done.
Time to get some food and relax a bit. I don’t feel that bad compared to like, Leadville but I guess this was only 7 hours long and Leadville for me was about 12. I am already thinking about how I would train differently for this one….
Sunday, 29 July 2012
2012 and it’s time for another Laramie Enduro. The year of training has gone well and the day is almost here. I figure I will do the Car Camping thing one more time as I don’t really want to spring for a hotel or drive up from Fort Collins.
So, I take ½ day off from work and pack and drive up to Laramie to get may race packet. The drive up was nice except for the wall of rain that I hit on the way up. I was really glad that I decide to put the bike in side truck instead of the rack this time. In any case I arrive at the cam[ ground and grab a spot under a tree.
I want to get the bike ready for the A.M so I pump up the tires, clean and lube the chain, stick the number on the bike, add the Garmin and Polar watches and I think I am good to go. The only issue is that the "Stratos XC pro" shock is having issues and it doesn’t compress smoothly. There is this horrible grinding feeling/sound when it compresses but there is nothing I can do about it except put in some air and hope that it holds up for the race.
Time for sleep and life is much better than last year. This year I’ve got an air mattress and made sure to park on more level ground. I must say that this is almost comfortable! Seems like I woke up in the middle of the night for some reason, maybe the howling winds. Before I knew it, it’s time to ready to race. With the bike already to go, all I need now is to get some fuel into myself. There were some tasty smells coming from some of the other campers, but I had to settle for a leftover Subway Sub, some Pop Tarts, a few crackers and some ice tea. I also figured I should do some Endurolytes and some vitamins (mufti, B, Calcium) so as to help with any potential cramping. Ok, I think that should do it and I am off to races…
I get down to the start and there is a wall of people standing around. I have never seen so many folks at this race before! They were staged all the way back to the parking area. On my way through the crowds I see some folks that I know, Jo, Barb, Yann etc. There are a few folks that recognize me from the previous year and they are all friendly. I make my way to the sign-in page where a nice woman racer compliments me on my hair. I used to remember when it was my bike! Now that I am registered it’s time to wait for my start time.
This year, they are starting folks in smaller waves, which is a good thing since there are a ton of folks here. I am in the Pink Wave with all the 40 and 50+ male sport racers. I think the announcer said that this was the largest class or some such.
Finally I am staged and time to start the computers. To my horror the Gamin drained it’s battery overnight, so now I won’t have any GPS data or speedo! I am bummed at this point, cause I really wanted this data to upload to Strava. Oh well, at least I have the Polar HR monitor and I can use that to gauge my efforts, which is better than nothing.
Bang and we are off and running. I am pretty far back in the wave cause I didn’t want to get caught up in the melee of folks going really hard up that 1st climb. I am working with the HR in the 160’s which is fine at this point and not too hard. I can see a wave of folks in front of me and I am thinking that there are a ton of folks in the class.
Finally in to the single track and I must say that the Y bike is working well with the new fork. I had thoughts of switching the bike from 90 .. 130mm but the bike seems to work so well at 130 that I just left it there. There is a line of folks and the pace is still pretty easy, which is what I wanted to warm-up with. There are a few riders struggling early on and I can hear they are breathing way to hard for an 70+ mile race. I had to go around this one guy who was descending like a 95 year old man since he was letting daylight open up where I would be making up ground and certainly not loosing it!
Soon we open up onto some of the double track/road and I can see the masses in the distance just a ramming and a thumpin. My legs are starting to warm-up and I must resist the urge to go fast by pushing larger gears. It takes some discipline to let folks pass me but it’s too early to be racing anyone and an easy trap to fall into..... So far so good and my right leg seems a bit stiff but nothing to worry about.
Now we are into the fast descending stuff where it was loose and my bike didn’t like it at all last year and was knifing all over the place. This year was different! I don’t know if it was the new fork or front tire choice, but the bike was handling the loose stuff quite well! I was so happy to be able to descent with some confidence in those spots. The real test came in a mile on “Break Neck” hill which was steep and loose. The Y bike had no problem with this year and I could have gone faster if I would have known the bike was going to be handing this well! I was surprised to see Mike, one of my group ride friends volunteering here and I believe he gave me and HP a shout out as I came by.
Miles and miles seem to pass and I am not really passing many riders, but then again, not many riders are passing me. In any case I am looking forward to some climbing as I think that’s where there is ground to be made up. As the climbs do come, the early ones are crowded and I choose to walk one where everyone is stacked up. There are some riders that are impatient trying to ride past as if they have special privilege because they are riding, and maybe they would have if it wasn’t so packed up.
There is some sweet single track into the woods and the bike is working well. I choose to lock out the fork for much of this and it makes a big difference. I am also pleased with my choice of sunglasses, since they are photo sensitive, they allow for good light in the darker wooded sections.
Lots of ups and downs and then onto this dirt road with a headwind. Ouch! I need to find some shelter and there are groups ahead of me and I wished I could be up there, but I don’t want to waste the energy. I could go faster at this point but I fear cramping and so I just keep an eye on my HR and try to spin. I find some riders that made for some good shelter and as faster, but not too faster riders would pass I would grab heir wheel. I sat on this one guy for a long time and I don’t think he liked me back there and after a while just sharply pulled to the left and I was forced to do some work. I would have been happy to work with him, but I don’t think he knew how to draft.
I must say that I am feeling pretty good and am having a pretty good time on the bike. I was looking forward to this rooty East Coast sections where I would loose so much time due to the fork not being up to the task. This year I knew things would be better and indeed they were. I was able to ride it like I wanted to! I was on this section that some riders caught me and I used them to try and pull myself along, figuring that if they could do it I could do it. I knew I could go much faster but there is a balance of Speed and Endurance that I need to balance, which is hard to do if one doesn’t race enough to figure that out.
So I have been trying to do some gels at least once per hour and I think I am doing well keeping in some hydration. I could tell that I was running low on fuel as my HR would drop and I needed to keep in some fuel if was going to keep the pace. So far so good and not an inkling or cramping which means that I have trained well and am well hydrated, or that maybe I am not going hard enough.
With the race ½ over I think I am riding well. I am skipping every other aid station and carrying a full camebak so as to have able liquid. That strategy seemed to work well as I needed a full refill each time. I could never do any of these events on just a water-bottle but it seems to work for a lot of folks.
I get a chance to rip some sweet single track where last years bike was beating me up, this years was running really well and I was feeling so less beat-up. I see some folks along the sides of the course resting as they are cramping or just gone out too hard. Seems like I am getting to aid stations much faster than in previous years.
I am really enjoying the food at the aid stations where the potatoes, watermelons along with some gels are just the ticket. I must say that the Hammer products are pretty good as I was using them after my Cytomax was long gone and I was still feeling good. I may have to buy some of this stuff to try on the shorter rides that I do and see how that works out.
With so many people in this race there’s no way to know what place one is in. In the old days I would always try and run with the leaders, but those races were shorter and I had aspirations which are not the same…. But I digress,
I reach the 2nd to last Aid Station and I am looking and feeling pretty good. I know there is still a bunch of climbing to do but at this point, life is pretty good. I get some fuel but I don’t hang out too long. I think there are good chances that I can make my goal so I press on. That next dirt road with that up and down climb is long and I can’t wait to get into the single track. My butt is starting to hurt and I am happy to stand up when ever I get a chance.
I am so happy to be into the single trak where I catch and pass a few riders whose legs no-longer have the strength to pedal over some of the rocks. My legs are still pretty good and I think I could use some more fuel, but I am getting a bit sick or gels by now. I still force them down as needed but I would rather have some real food…. There are some pretty serious little climbs on the way to that last station and I am doing OK on them. There is only one that I have to walk and my calves are almost on fire doing so. There are quite a few riders with me walking, but all but one of them stop and rest at the summit. Several stopped riders, cheered me on as I cleaned some sections that they walked, which was nice to hear!
There is some guy ahead of me moving pretty well, and I am using him as a carrot. He does get away from me after a time as I refuse to push too hard and cramp. Maybe I fear this cramping thing too much, but I’d rather not have to deal with it now. Last climb of this section seems really long; I kept a good rhythm and caught a few riders so all is good…. At the summit a course volunteer says one more mile to the Aid Station.
OK, final stop and I must say that everyone at all of the stations was so nice and helpful. Of any of the races I have ever done, this is hands down the best supported of all of them. They even had Coke at this one, but I didn’t have any. I downed a few potatoes and some gels and it’s off and running.
Last push of the day and that rocky climb is really nasty and I choose to walk a section or two rather than get sloppy and crash. Maybe if I had a 29’r I might have rolled this but, “If wishes were horses…then beggars would ride”. That final rooty section through the woods seemed rough, but I had dialed up the compression during the ride from using the lockout on/off. In any case it was so much better than the old fork. There was a woman in front of me on 29’r and she was flying though the woods. I was watching how her bike ran over the rocks and I can see why there are so many 29’rs out there racing today… they are just plain-old-fast.
At last I can see the finish road and we are almost there. I am happy that the rear shock held up and that I didn’t have any mechanicals… I check my time on the way down and I see that I am going to beat my goal, of only by a little bit. On that screaming downhill some guy passed and for some reason it seemed important not to loose that spot, So I spooled up the FLT drive and blew by him before the finish! Yes! (Later he found me and was impressed by my finish)
A good time was had by all. My time was 7:27:33 which was faster than my goad of 7:30 which was ½ faster than last year at 7”58:XX. Yes. Results can be found here.
Monday, 29 August 2011
Another Old flowers ride and this one should be fun. The plan is to do the White Pine Loop which is always fun on the Yeti. The plan is to do the ride with Paul and I figured I would post this to the Breakfast club site just for old time sake. As luck would have it Brian checked in so, there would be at least 3 of us. I pick up Brian from his place and then we go and get Paul. We make our way over to the Stove Prairie intersection, but there isn’t any one else there, so it will just be the three of us. That’s OK by me as I do have time constraints and somehow more folks seem to pretty much mean more time.
So Brian is on his SS surly 29r and Paul is on his Carbon Specialized 29r and I am on the old trusty Yeti 575. Hmm, my bike is the heaviest in the bunch and I am the weakest rider and this can’t be good. I must admit I was a bit tired from the previous weeks rides and was not totally recovered, but recovered enough to do the ride at a modest pace.
We take off and my thoughts/fears are realized. Brian is really fast and Paul has no problem keeping up with him. I try and hold their pace, but it’s clear to me that’s not gonna happen today. They pretty much walked away from we at will which means it’s going to be a long day of me following from afar. In any case, that’s OK and I don’t really want to hold anyone back on my account.
Finally we make it to where the climb really begins. The horse flies here are enormous and annoying. Luckily only one bit me but it did smart. I had to stop on this one to wait for some traffic but otherwise I was able to clean it. This was a good test of my legs and it only confirmed that they were a bit weary and that I should not push any more than I needed to.
The next climb is the one that I really always want to clean. Brian and Paul are way up the trail. I know that I must meter my energy, but on this one, it’s all I can do to make it up clean, which made me pretty happy. The perceived effort was pretty high on this on and looking at the grade, I was very surprised that I didn’t have to dab, considering how I was feeling. I know that some folks like to play with words and they say they are tired and then rip your legs off. I however am not like that, and when I say I am tired, I am tired!
I catch up to Paul and Brian and we make the next climb. This one is relatively easy, but I am still the laggard, despite Brian being on the SS and hadn’t been riding in earnest, but rather spending time in the climbing Gym with his family.
Time for the descent to Pingry park and while I am usually up to rip this one, I am really too tired to enjoy the entire thing. I start out having fun, but my arms are tired and I just back it down and take it easy so as not to injure myself. Brian is flying down this one, and I would have liked to have hung with him, I just wasn’t up for it. Paul who was back a tiny bit on this one, catches me and passes me too.
I must say we haven’t taken too many breaks here and are actually moving pretty good. I don’t’ have a speedo or HR monitor or any of that cause I just wanted to enjoy the day without the encumbrance of all that tech.
The climb out of Pingry park really grated on me and I was thinking that I am going to be walking most of White Pine Later. Brian and Paul were once again way up the trail. I am really amazed at how strong Brian is on the SS. Climbing stuff that would have snapped my legs in two. He is a lot stronger than he knows, and he is humble too, but I digress.
At last we are onto the big climb and I am not looking forward to it. I am tired, my bike is heavy and I really want to be done now. As we start it starts to sprinkle lightly! thPaul and Brian are a bit ahead of me when Brian pulls over for some reason. Paul keeps pedaling and I stop to chat with Brian. Seconds later the rain gets harder and then within minutes it’s coming down pretty good. Brian and I are trying to take shelter under some trees but they are pine trees, and they provide almost nothing and before long we are drenched.
We are thinking that Paul will be coming back down soon, but after about 15 minutes it’s pretty clear that he has checked out. Hmmm, there is no way I am going to climb this hill in the rain and risk the slippery rocks on the back side, so it’s decided that we will take the dirt road back tot the car when the rain settles down. Brian was getting really cold and decides that we should go and seek some shelter from the locals.
We head down the road and approach a small cabin. “Hello”, “Hello”, calls Brian. After a few seconds a scruffy old guy comes out and Brian asks if we can take shelter under one of the structures on the property. The guy is agreeable and invites us to enter his place. There are 3 other guys there and they were taking shelter as their Frisbee golf game was interrupted. They seem friendly enough and life is good.
We make some small talk about the wind powered generator the guy has built. The one he has is from otherpower.com 750 watts of clean energy from the wind. He even has some solar stuff and it’s all working really well. He’s got many modern devices, such as microwave, Laptop, Fridge etc. all being powered by the wind Turns out that he as been playing with wind power for over 20 years and spoke of building some of the early generators our of old Automobile Brake Drums and Hand winding the armatures.
As we are chatting, they fellows were smoking something oddly familiar and they offered to partake with us. We of course declined and our excuse was that we were riding, so as not to seem too un-cool! After a few rounds of passing the pipe and light banter, the rain cleared up and the 3 other guys took off since it was too wet to finish their game. Brian was still pretty cold so we ended up putting his jersey in the microwave to heat it up a bit. Brian also fashioned a jersey out of an old trash bag which actually fit quite well.
Now we are good to go more or less and we want to get back to the car before Paul so we bid our host (Tom Hammond) adieu and off we go down the dirt road. Ordinarily that road would have been fun, but it was cold and cloudy and I would get roosted by Brian’s bike every so often,. It seemed like that road lasted for ever and I was so glad to get to the pavement and begin the climb back to the car.
I had forgotten how long that road was up from the Buckhorn, but I was glad to be warming up with some effort. My legs were pretty tired, and I had to stand on the climbs to try and hold Brian’s pace. Mile after mile pass and finally we are back to the car, but Paul is not there yet, so we get changed etc. and figure we will 4x4 it up old flowers to get him.
We didn’t get to far and he went screaming by us but didn’t notice it was us. We followed him down and we could see the look of surprise not to see a car at the bottom. We roll up next to him and he seems plenty glad to see us. We get him all packed in and head for home.
Long hard day, but an epic adventure. I definitely need to get a faster bike to hang with some of these folks. Maybe the 2.4’s are a bit much for the Yeti, but I like them and don’t plan on racing it. In any case a good time was had by all.
Sunday, 07 August 2011
Well, I had entered the Laramie Enduro early in the season but unfortunately didn't get in due to lots of interest and because of such it's a lottery. I was put on the wait list and when I check I was like #175 or so. Ok, Not going to happen this year but that's OK. Fast forward to 4 days before the race I check my email and I see that I can get in if I want. OK, so I didn’t' train and didn't taper etc., but I am feeling pretty fit so I decide to go-for-it anyway.
So I figure that no training is going to help so, the best I can do is just not ride hard for the next 3 days and see how that goes. The only riding I did do was the commute to work and to ride to my daughters daycare program (Yes She rode with me).
I arrive in Laramie, get my registration and all looks good. I see Janet and we exchange greetings and good luck and all of that stuff. Now it's time for me to get some supplies so I stop at the local store and get some subs and chips, water, pop tarts and some ice tea. That should do it and now I am off to the Camp site.
This year I figured that I would just sleep in the Xterra as there is plenty of room in it. I must say that I am not sure taht I got that much sleep, as I parked on a slight grade so i was moving around a lot. Not to mention that I should have packed a mattress pad or something as that truck bed is kinda hard.... In any case I find myself in the A.M rested somewhat and ready for the day. I drink some tea and eat some Pop Tarts.
I see a bunch of people that I know, Tim, Chad, Barb, Tom, Dave etc. before the start and I just find a reasonable place to line up. This year I don’t plan to go out hard, but just take it easy and not waste too much on short lived hard efforts.
Finally the Start is sounded and we are off. I hold my place in line and don’t go too hard on the hill. I can hear others panting hard while they pass me. I know there is going to be a bottle neck at the little gate and if I were going for some easy time while I was fresh I would have gone harder.
On to the single track and Life is Good. Barb is a few riders behind me and is chatting up a storm. The pace is pretty easy on a perceived scale and the trails are a bit crowded so I can’t go any harder anyway. I feel pretty good on the slight grades and the Trek YSL is doing OK despite it’s age. The course so far is pretty smooth and the rocks are roots are not too bad.
We make it to some of the fast flowing double track and life is good until my bike hits some of the loose stuff, Whoa!. I think I put too much tire pressure (40’s) and with the tire profile on the Pythons the bike is knifing all over the place when I hit the loose stuff. Argh! I am loosing tons of time descending and I am rethinking the choice of bikes at this moment. At some point Barb comes blowing by me on that niner through the loose stuff, never to be seen again by me until the finish. I was tempted to try and stay with Barb, but I thought better as I would be pushing it on the descents on a sketchy bike.
I look at my HR and it looks good which confirms that I am not going too hard. The legs feel pretty good and I could go much faster, but I know that this is a long event, so I force myself to stick to the plan. I find a reasonable rhythm and hold to that. I find myself leap-frogging riders, that pass me on the descents and then I get them again on the hills or flats.
25 or so miles into the ride I run into Matt who recognizes me from a ride I did with a mutual friend Bill out in Friso. We are riding at about the same pace so we ride together for a bit and chat. There was this steep short section that we decided to walk and some woman didn’t think we got out of the way quickly enough. Matt had some words with her about that. ( I ran into her later on and she apologized for some of that, She actually was pretty cool and I chatted with her more at the finish) Matt and I rode a few miles more together, but at some point he stopped for a nature call and I would then see him off and on through the event.
This year I was prepared with lots of Endurolytes and remembering the cramps of last year tried to drink as much as possible. Right after one of the aid stations I was eating and Eric came up from behind and explained his woes of ripping a side wall in the 1st mile costing him ~17 minutes. He was riding pretty strong and I choose not to keep his pace, not that I could have finished the race if I had tried anyway.
Seemed like miles and miles passed when we encountered some woodlands single track. Once again the Y-bike was at it’s limits and much of the time that I had gained of folks had been tossed back without a fight. That bikes 80mm fork is awful and I think this could be the last time I ride that bike on this race. I really would like to get a niner, but it’s hard to justify it for just a few times that it would be needed.
At the 50 mile point my right leg felt it’s first cramp. I did some more Endurlytes and liquids and got them to go away, and didn’t have any more issues for the rest of the event.
Even climbing didn’t seem to provoke it and I suspect that some of that Hammer liquid product that I refueled with are good for me in that respect. If I were serious about this racing thing then I would go out and push myself more on training rides in order to get to a level where my legs would cramp. Keep in mind here that I haven’t cramped on any of the rides I have done all year long.
I am still feeling pretty good although I am getting tired of being on the bike for such a long period. I am still sticking to the plan and since I feel pretty good I think it’s time to go a bit harder to the finish. At the second to last aid station, it’s time to go a bit harder. The plan is to up the perceived effort a bit and then after the last aid station go “Weapons Free” and see what I can do”
I see lots of folks at the aid stations that don’t look all that good. Most look pretty good, but there are some that pushed too hard. I must say that these are the best Aid Stations that I have ever seen at any event. The folks working them are wonderful and have so much energy and are willing to help you get whatever you need.
The Last 15 miles of this event are some of the toughest and I am really glad I paced my self. There are some grueling climbs, so short ones I had to walk, but some longer ones that had a lot of folks walking them or riding really slowly. This last 15, some of which are the most technical I am sure gave many pause, and I walked many of them due to fatigue and a lame bike. I am sure that Yann and Jim of the 450 club fame gained a bunch of time on their rivals on these sections.
I am able to push pretty good and ride a good bit of the technical ascending single trak, but not all by any means. I am able to reel in a buch of riders on some of the longer grades which inspired me to keep pushing. In the last 5 miles or so I caught up to Jim of the 450 club. He seemed to get new life after I caught him. I had noticed that my bike was not shifting that well for the last 20 miles, and finally the rear derailleur cable snapped and I was stuck in the 11 cog. Oh well we are almost done and I can deal with it since I have been doing a fair bit of Single Speed Riding. Anyway, I am able to stay with Jim until this last technical section where he rode it easily and I walked it easily.
I must say that the last wooded rooty section is brutal on the Y bike and I think I really need a new bike or fork or something cause I loose so much time when I don’t need to, due to bike characteristics. In any case, I muscle the bike through all of this standing a lot to overcome the gearing and terrain.
Finally I am out of the woods and back onto the road we stared on. There’s a ton of washboard which cost me more time but I am happy to be done. I check my computer and it looks like I will do a Sub 8:00 which was my goal. I cross the line with 7:58 on the computer which was the same official time I got which is sweet! I am so glad to be done! Official Results are Here. Looks like I was 117th out of about 400. Oh my # was 400 in case any one wants to look for my picture here, for their Shrine.
After the event I see a bunch of folks. Yann turned a 6:06 on his Single speed! Damn that’s fast and this is his 1st year racing.
Greetings, and welcome to my Site. This is mostly about my cycling adventures, but occasionally I write about something else.