Thursday, August 24

Record time?

Well I'm about ready to head for bed in sort of record time. Tomorrow evening David and I are headed on a little overnight adventure on the Colorado Trail. No real plan, just ride as much as we can and if we get tired stop and sleep a bit. I've got around the first 140 miles worth of notes along with me, 2 spare sets of batteries and I've got to be back at the house by about 4pm Saturday.

As usual I have to make sure all my gear is ready plus experiment some. I figured out why my 2:1 gear make the freehub stiff. The cassette lockring touches my tugnutt. Oooops. At least I finally figured it out and I'll machine the tugnutt later. I didn't feel like messing with it tonight though so I swapped my 20t cog back on because I know that doesn't rub (it sits closer to the bottom bracket). I also put on a new chain (PC-58) and threw the extra links and powerlink in my saddle bag. I don't really want to break a chain in the middle of the night with no extra links. After swapping the cog, tensioning the chain and re-adjusting the rear brake all seems to be running smoothly. Sweet. Now I guess I'll see how the 1.8:1 gear feels after running 2:1. I was curious how the harder gear would feel tomorrow but I will have to wait for another ride.
Pictured above is my pack for the trip. That's pretty much fully loaded except filling up my bladder inside it and closing it up. Without water it weighs a little under 6 lbs including sleeping gear, a stove, extra riding clothes, food, first aid, etc. I'll try to post a full gear list when I'm back since I'm going to run out of time now. This is the lightest I've ever traveled overnight so we'll see if I'm prepared and warm enough. I'm not carrying anything else along except that pack, my standard bike clothes and bike tools/spare parts in a saddle bag. Plus I stuffed my minipump in the pack too. Amazingly enough I can go lighter and warmer with a few changes but that will have to come later as I didn't have time to buy/make them yet.

Off to sleep! Report when I return.

Wednesday, August 23

Wednesday Ride, Apex

We had a fun little ride tonight at Apex with Scott, Dan, Erik, Bill, Craig and me in attendence. At first we were missing a couple regulars but then we found Bill and Erik arrived just after we left the parking lot and caught us before too long. We started up Apex but it was crowded so we headed up Pick and Sledge instead. Here is Erik catching us partway up Pick.
We connected Pick and Sledge up to Grubsteak except for Dan who lost his brakes(!) and headed down a shorter connection to make sure he could go slow. Lots of fun descending through the trees on Grubsteak.
Scott caught me first and told me Erik lost rear shock pressure so he was airing it up. Craig, Bill and Erik weren't far behind. Here they are catching up. Whee!
After Grubsteak we worked our way back down Sluice Box and had a lot of fun. Erik stopped quick for a switchback and Craig, Scott and I all piled up behind him but amazingly no one touched or went down. Hmmm maybe I should try looking ahead. The cloud of emergency brake dust was entertaining though. Our alternate routes on the trail worked out well and for the most part we didn't have to pass too many people. Scott pinched on our way down but we fixed that quickly too and were back at the Apex trail intersection before long. Here is Craig blowing by me down Apex.
Bill and I played follow the leader teh rest of they way down. It was fun trying to blindly follow his line. In fact I did that okay and only crashed when leading. Luckily it was just a bit of bent brake lever and contortionism trying to get unclipped while on the ground. The Monocog and I survived another wreck mostly unscathed.
We got back to the parking lot just before dark which is coming earlier now, right around 8pm. Dan was waiting and had made it down safely. Scott, Erik, Bill and I messed around with a few sprint sessions in the wide open parking lot and then all headed over to Woody's for salad and pizza. Yum. It has been fun riding the singlespeed again all week. The 2:1 gearing is taking some getting used to. It was definitely a grunt today on the loose uphills. I think I'll get stronger over time though and since my next race is on a geared bike I'll probably leave it alone for a while. Okay time for bed. More fun planned soon so I better get some sleep.

Sunday, August 20

Who would've known?

This weekend was the final race of the Winter Park series, aka King of the Rockies. A "short" (haha) 26 mile course with around 4k of climbing. The bad thing about these short XC races? I don't really plan or prepare for them. Case in point #1. My bike had sat since Leadville while I rode my nice clean singlespeed instead and now I was left to clean a sandy, muddy, rusty mess so I could race it the next day.
Ewwwww dirty saddle bag. Look at all that gritty mud.

Thanks Scott for the name stickers. I saved a couple from last year's LT100 to pimp out the Fuel.
Bet my new crank loves all the dirt and sand. I'm pretty sure there is still some sort of vegetation stuck in there.
Eventually I got my bike cleaned. Then I tried to fix my slashed Klimax lite rear tire. That was easy. Then I tried to reseal it with Stans. That turned out to be a PITA as I was too dumb to do it the easy way that involves more steps (using a tube to seat one bead). I called Bill and tried to figure out if I should even run these tires. Eventually laziness won out and I got them both sealed and aired up. Who knows. It might rain and Bill said the course wasn't too rocky. I couldn't remember as it'd been 4 or 5 years since I'd previously ridden it.

After making a late night of all the bike work, I went to bed. Then I got up and Marni was nice enough to drop me off at Scott's far too early in the morning. After a delicous egg and sausage bagel we drove to Winter Park. As we rolled into the parking lot, we both simultainously realized we were idiots and forgot our series numbers. See I told you I don't take these seriously enough. Luckily the event staff hooked us up with new numbers and directions too the start. I now had 35 minutes to ride 7 miles to the starting line. Hmmm this is not good. Somehow I made it without riding too hard thanks to my crafty drafting of two old guys headed to the same place. The pros were queueing up as I arrived leaving me no time for a bathroom break so I headed to the start anyway. Off our huge group went as the 25-29 year olds were with us too even though I didn't know that. The group split relatively soon and I pulled the 2nd group back up to the first, not wanting to be gapped before the first climb. After 3 miles of pack riding on gravel we hit the first climb and the rubber band broke. The group strung out all over the climb and amazingly I had okay legs and started passing people. Figuring I was somewhere mid pack the rest of the race was a blur. I wheelied for the course workers, nicely heckled the other riders (don't let a leadville rider catch you...) and generally had a wonderful ride. I know it was supposed to be a race but I thought I was mid pack and my legs had moments of brillance and moments of fatigue so I just rolled with the punches. Before I knew it the last climb showed up, somehow ended and I got to rock the sweet Long Trail descent to the finish. Despite a bunch of flats out on course I had no problems for once. I wheelied across the finish in 2:15 and headed over for some snacks. Snacks in hand I cheered on the various friends who crossed the finish line. Eventually Erik, Bill, Scott and Dan all made it across the line. We headed to the car to change out of our wet clothes (there was a big creek crossing and some light rain) and then back for the final awards ceremony and raffle of the year. Scott getting changed.
Everyone loves nekid bikers.
At the awards some big nosed guy got third in Expert 19-24. Holy crap that was me. Apparently I rode fast enough to beat a few other people. Who knew?
Another 3rd place medal. Not that I'm not greatful, it seems to be the theme on the year.
Then Erik got called up for his 2nd place finish in Beginner 25-29.
Not to outdo himself he proceded to get called up for his 1st place overall series award in his catagory. Nice job Erik!
Finally the announced the Expert series results and they didn't call my name for 3rd which I thought I had won. I was hoping my forgotten number didn't screw things up. Much to my surprise they called me up for 2nd place! Apparently I beat 2nd place by 3 places at King of the Rockies and took the lead by one point, 236 to 235 for the series. Holy cow. Well I gladly accepted my award and posed for pictures with the other guys in my class. Who would have known I could take 2nd place in Expert?
After the awards we all headed out to the delicious Dairy King in Empire. Everyone had a great race and great season. Bill kicked butt and finished tied for 4th in Clyde! Scott and Dan rode solid races too.

The XC season is now pretty much over for me. All that's left is Moab and maybe the EnduroSnob Epic racingwise. I do have some Kokopelli, White Rim and Colorado Trail rides planned as well as a Rollin's pass run before the snow begins to fall. And that's scary because the kids are getting back to school and fall really feels like it's in the air.

Thursday, August 17

Do a little more

Well I'm two runs into training for a yet-to-be-determined marathon. Between not running for a year and recovering from Leadville, I am sore. I am recovering I swear. Those 40 singlespeed miles this week have been real easy. Okay as easy as you can go in a 2:1. Why do I lust after a 16t cog to run 36x16? Something is seriously wrong with me. Anyway running is fun and other than the soreness I'm remembering how much I loved it. Only 3.5 weeks until I actually start to feel like a runner again.

In other news, Boris is awesome and puts on an amazing endurance mountain bike race series. I did the E100 12 hour earlier this year and had an amazing time in Park City! While I'm not able to make the E100 coming up on August 26th, Adam will be there kicking butt. So if you're looking for a great 100 mile mountain bike race, all singletrack(!) and 18,xxx vertical feet of climbing, check out the E100. And make sure you put the whole E100 series of events on your calendar for 2007!

Tuesday, August 15

Leadville MTB 2006: 100 Emotional Miles

I'm warning you now, this is probably going to be long. For starters I just uploaded about 30 pictures which comprises only the ones from Marni's camera. Those of you who were along on this adventure, feel free to send along any cool shots you got too. I'd love to have them. Ah yes, onto the story.

If you're reading this blog you likely know that I've been a maniac on the bike for about a year now. At least this time around. All that craziness started 2 years ago when my good "friend" Scott talked me into doing the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. Our entries were accepted and I neglected to get a bike that fit me or actually ride at all in preparation. I instead attempted to will my mind and body 100 miles on Marni's hand me down mountain bike. And not just any 100 miles, but 100 difficult, high altitude, climbing 12,000 vertical feet miles. Let's just say my mind is strong but I got my ass kicked regardless. 365 days prior to this year's Leadville 100, I dropped out at mile 74 nine hours and fifty nine minutes into the race with a cold, broken and speech sluring body. Naturally I did what any normal person would do following such a defeat. I signed up for this punishment again and rode over 6000 miles.

At first it started out as revenge. Revenging one of the few things in my life I started but couldn't finish. Along the way though it became more than that. I remembered how I loved riding my bike. I bought myself a mountain bike. I fixed up my road bike. I bought a single speed and put my time trial bike back together. I rode day in and day out, often not having a day off for weeks at a time just because I love to ride. I rode when it was so cold out Scott's beard froze into an icicle. I rode in the snow and darkness until my suspension fork froze solid and my deraillers would no longer shift. I rode my singlespeed up and down every mountain bike trail near my house just because I was so happy that I could. I rode my road bike where ever I wanted, even to towns I'd never visited over 150 miles away. My bike and I went in the heat and the cold, the snow and rain, day in and day out. Every day passed and it was rare I wasn't on my bike. I even got on the podium again, something I hadn't done since I was in high school racing triathlons. And a few times I was licked by my body or a difficult course or both and I stopped to rest. Days, weeks and months all passed until last Thursday when I nervously packed up my bike and Marni, Steven and I drove the Element back to Leadville.

We pulled into our rental house in Leadville at sunset on Thurday, bellies full of Beau Jo's pizza and mine full of butterflies. I'd been here before, just one year ago. The same house. The same race. We woke up early and got checked in at the gymnasium in town before having some breakfast at a local diner. The same as last year. I ordered the same thing. After breakfast we sat through the prerace meeting. Everyone was excited and we cheered for those going for their 10th finish, the Leadmen and Leadwomen and those who had never failed to finish a race for 13 years. We were told that we were better than we thought we were and reminded how quiting would haunt us. It certainly would. I had thought about this race in some form every day for a year. It was hard not to tear up already and it wasn't even race day.

The rest of the day was mostly a blur. We bought food for dinner and breakfast and then the victims, I mean racers, went for a ride. Steven, Erik and Ryan rolled out of our rental house.I still took self portraits.
Ryan and Steven at the base of the first climb, St.Keivens.Erik at the same place.MooCow and I at the same place.12 miles flew by and the girls were waiting for us at the house. I felt strong.Marni and I mugged for more pictures. Smiling on the outside but both of us had nerves within.That afternoon I cleaned my bike the final time before the race and put my numbers on. I love racing with numbers and my bike looked ready.We ate dinner and finished our race plans, prepared our crew and worked on our bikes more. Some of us were not so lucky as Steven's tire blew off the rim creating an interesting few hours as we decided what to do. In the end we trued the rim well enough and Steven was ready to roll. Luckily I slept well Thursday night because I tossed and turned for hours on Friday. I watched lightning illuminate the dark sky shortly before I finally fell asleep.

I awoke to damp ground and rain dotted cars. The group ate breakfast and rolled out to the race start early. We were lucky to start in a reasonly up front position again and then began the nervous hour wait until starting time. Erik and Michelle posing during our wait.Ryan and Tricia doing the same.Marni and I in our new jackets. Warm and remarking that it wasn't nearly as cold as last year.Ryan, Erik and I pretending we're ready to do this again.Scott was along to crew and help us get ready.Me among 802 other starters, all hoping to finish the next 100 miles.The cannon went off at 6:30 and the race started without at hitch. At least no one crashed in the first 50 feet this year. The yo-yo was in full effect down the hill though and I was happy to make it onto dirt without incident. I rode fast but easily, my breathing not labored at all. By the base of St.Kieven's I was warmed up and ready to race. The next hour and a half was some of the best racing I have ever done. I passed people effortlessly one after another anywhere I could, riding from the middle of the group up among those who sported double digit race numbers indicating their top 100 finish from the previous year. The first climb was over and I was descending the rode in under 55 minutes. The next climb came quickly and fueled by my first Ensure I summited that around 1:30 into the race. I was flying high until an all too familiar hiss from my rear tire down the Powerline descent. A flat deflated my enthusiasm. I quickly rallied my brain and fixed the flat. The sidewall slice took a big chunk of time out of my early efforts but even with slow and careful descending I chased my sub 9 hour splits as hard as I could. By mile 26 I was 8 minutes down. At mile 40, after chasing even harder over the road I was only down 5 minutes from my goal pace. I rolled into mile 40 to my waiting crew.Marni, now a crew vetern after this season, got right to work putting my new bag on my back and getting me another spare tube. I left quickly and flew up the road towards Columbine mine. I still had dreams of sub 9 hours in my head and I knew that in order to achieve that I had to be coming back down this mountain before me at 11:15am, 4:45 into the race. The early switchbacks went well and I climbed in my middle ring. I reeled in more people than passed me but as I began to get close to tree line my energy was fading. Just about then the Fat Cyclist, Eldon Nelson, came upon me for the second time this race. We rode together over Columbine Mine's rocky and steep sections before he slowly began to pull away from me. I wasn't alone though and I rode and pushed my bike up the seemingly never ending climb to the turn around tent. Columbine Mine tests you as much as it can, taunting you with seeing the turn around easily a couple miles from reaching it. Step by step and pedal by pedal I reached the summit of the climb at 5 hours into the race. My goal of 9 hours was now likely gone but I was so proud to have climbed to this point in the race over 2 hours and 20 minutes faster than last year. Without stopping I headed back down as fast as I dared Marni and my crew at the Twin Lakes aid station. I showed Marni I was happy with a wheelie into the aid station and my crew once again got me a new pack, stuffed my jersey pockets and cleaned my glasses. I told them that my sub 9 hour time was now probably gone but I was feeling good and couldn't wait to see them at the finish line. Rolling out of that aid station had tears in my eyes again. Last year I was broken at this point. Barely able to follow Scott's slow pace, weaving back and forth in my easist gear. This year I was strong, climbing the road quickly in my middle chainring, a theme on the day in all but the hardest, steepest parts of the course. Eager to still finish in a good time and see Marni I powered on. I caught Eldon again on the two steep climbs between the aid stations. We talked more and cheered on a fellow racer who bucked the walking trend and rode up the steep, loose climbs. Eldon and I had a great time riding together and I am amazed at his ride earning him the 1000 mile buckle. However just before the pipeline aid station a second time our paces became too different and I pulled away. Sometime around 6:45 elapsed time I passed through the aid station where I dropped out last year. My only pause was a quick wheelie for the crowd as I powered through. I didn't want to stop here for anything.

Twenty six miles stood between me and the finish line and while there was time to spare, the ride was far from easy. My energy waned further as the storms blew in. I did my best to refuel over the paved section and prepare for the powerline climb to come. Before I was ready it stood before me. The hardest climb in the race, 7 hours and change after begining the day. Powerline was long. I rode and I walked. I talked with fellow racers and I was silent. Halfway up the skys opened up and I stopped briefly to put on my jacket. I rode and I walked further. After seemingly an eternity of riding in crashing thunder and rain the trail pointed down and I began a slow descent of Sugerloaf. Definitely the worst descent of the race for me due to the fact that I was freezing cold and couldn't see a thing. I kept two wheels down and shivered my way through the trail, onto the dirt road and finally past the cheering section and onto the road. My shoes and gloves were soaked so despite my jacket and hood I was freezing cold. I knew my best chance to get warm was to climb as hard as I could so when the road turned up, out of the saddle I stood. My sore and stiff legs hated me but I told them to shut up and climb. Essentially the last difficult climb of the race, I knew the sooner I got to the top the sooner I could see Marni. I passed person after person standing and climbing. I began to warm up and for a little while the sun even came out. Out of nowhere the road turned left onto the dirt and the final aid station appeared. I hadn't planned on stopping but with sub 9 no longer a worry I enjoyed some hot soup. It was heavenly along with a few fun size dark chocolates and I thanked the volunteers as I left my last aid station.

The road continued to roll up and down a few more times but it wasn't long before I found myself turning right onto the wide dirt road with another rider. Jason was his name and he had similar if not worse bad luck flatting than me. He had flatted his UST tires twice but we were both over our bad luck and focused on getting to the finish under the 10 hour mark. I felt amazing and pulled us as hard as I could all the way until the boulevard, the race's final climb. Jason was thankful for the pull and rode away from me as we hit the babyhead studded climb due to my wonderful mud caked deraillers no longer working. Up ahead my friend Steven was probably finishing and I was eager to join him.After getting off the bike quickly and manually shifting my bike I climbed the boulevard with everything I had left. It seemed long at the time with the clock counting towards 10 hours quickly but then the paved road appeared ahead of the riders scattered around me. Looking at the clock I knew I had it made and I got ready to ride across the line. I climbed the last hill and flew down towards the finish line. No one was behind me and I had the finish all to myself, enjoying a wheelie and raising my arms up across the line. I rode straight to Marni and we both couldn't believe it.The face you see is one of relief, happiness, pride, amazement and 1000 other emotions. 365 days ago this course had broken me down and spit me out. This year despite the rain, cold and mechanical issues I had finished before I had even dropped out last year with 26 miles to go. 9:53:36 after I rolled across the starting line I had finished the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and avenged my DNF.
My lips were blue when I crossed the line so Marni quickly got me changed into waiting warm dry clothes and I ate some more hot soup and oranges. Scott made sure I stayed under the umbrella as we waited for Doug and Erik to finish. Both of them looked strong as I passed them on Columbine mine and Doug finished in 10:40 to take 3rd place in the male 60-69 age group. Erik came across the line in 10:58 to take almost an hour off of his finishing time from last year. Ryan has to drop out at mile 60 due to his knee meltdown and stomach issues but he still did a great job despite his lack of training time this year.

The next morning was all smiles for Marni and I at the awards ceremony. I earned my belt buckle and more importantly to both of us, my sweatshirt with my name and time screened on. Marni has been coveting that for 2 years now. More pictures were taken, congratulations and goodbyes were said and the group headed back to real life one by one.I said before the race that if I finished I wouldn't be back. I have other races and challenges I want to accomplish. But there is a strong pull to return too. The race experience is too much fun from hanging out and training with my friends to riding with first timers and 1000 mile finishers alike. I do have unfinished business in Leadville including a sub 9 hour finish, a singlespeed finish and completing the Leadman which is all the races (marathon, 50 mile bike, 100 mile bike, 10k and 100 mile run). Will I return to Leadville next year? I guess I don't know yet. But I will definitely be back someday soon.

For now I will enjoy my accomplishment and set my sights on two new pursuits. First up is completing a 24 hour solo mountain bike race, mostly likely the 24 hours of Moab in October. Second up is beginning to run again and finish a marathon which I have already started training for yesterday. There are now less than 365 days until Leadville next year but each day won't haunt me this time around. Instead Leadville will be part of that wonderful memory bank which inspires me to challenge myself and provides me inner strength during my many other adventures to come.

Last but not least, thank you to all my friends and family for your support over this past year. Marni without you I never could have done so much this year. To my riding buddies: Scott, Erik, Jim, Doug, Bill, Craig, Stephan, Dave, Ryan, Walt, Dan, Derrick and *everyone* else, thank you so much for training with me and putting up with my insanity. To my Mom, Dad, Patty, Jessica and Nick, thank you for putting up with my lack of phone calls and talking mostly about bikes when we did talk. To all my blogger friends, thanks for all the support and wonderfully kind comments. I may have ridden the 100 miles alone but I've ridden every mile with all of you in my head and heart.

Wednesday, August 9

Wednesday Ride, Mt. Falcon again

Quick post tonight. 4 of us stuck it out for the Wednesday ride despite the rapidly approching race day. Bill, who somehow escaped the camera this week, Marni, Ryan and I did the easy Mt.Falcon (from the top) tonight. Got in some fun tech riding and a good solid last shake down of the bikes before we drive to Leadville tomorrow night. Then of course we ate dinner. The trio aside from me all had the same ravioli dish while I had the boring but easy to please alfredo with chicken. Yum. I'll try to get one more post in before I leave and maybe an audio blog while I'm gone. If all my efforts fail I'll report back Sunday night!