Friday, July 30, 2010

Singletrack In The Dark?

Yes I do it occasionally.  I ride my bike on winding singletrack, in the mountains, in the dark with a light attached to my helmet.  Some people think this is crazy.  To them I say try it.  It is a load of fun and yes a little crazy at times.

For some reason darkness can bring a whole new excitement to ordinary life.  Remember those neighborhood night games you used to play in the dark as a kid (ok perhaps you had better things to do, I didn't)?  The trees, streets, and side yards provided a whole new exciting experience when coupled with the task of "capture the flag" or "kick the can".  In daylight the backyard was just the backyard.  At night it was a battlefield of night game fun.

Similarly, riding at night can make those trails you've ridden hundreds of times come to life again.  Bumps, rocks, corners, climbs, descents.. they all look very different.  Add a few friends and the experience only gets better.

Last night I partook of some of this madness on the one-track at Indian Creek.  I added this fun riding to the 2+ hours of pain I put in earlier in the evening making a total of 4+ hours on the bike.  I'm in the last few weeks of training in preparation for the Park City Point-to-Point in September so this was some much needed saddle time.

Laurence Sones - Contemplating what he as gotten himself into.

Roger Stones - Ready to light the rocket engines up the shack trail.

Google Earth view of my ride.  A few trails were repeated.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


It's been a long time since I stepped foot in the cubicle I call home 40+ hours a week.  Two weeks in fact.  It's also been a long time since I mowed the lawn.  From the looks of it I need a lawn bailer rather than a lawn mower to get things back under control.

I've been on vacation... and it has been nice.

Plenty of family time to go around.

Amy and I atop Mount Baldy - Uinta National Forrest

Java in Fehr Lake - Uinta National Forrest
Fehr Lake - Uinta National Forrest

Plenty of riding time to go around as well.

Bald Mountain Pass - High Uintas
Wardsworth Trailhead - Hobble Creek Canyon / Mapleton Utah

Aaron Smith and Adam Lisonbee - Near Mount Timpanogos in Adam's playground.

Adam's Huge Stan's Monster

A cool photo Adam took of me that made me look really cool.  Did I mention I think this is a cool photo?

More video of the trails we were riding in that area.  Also check out the Epic Riding post.

Even with all of the family fun, I did manage to get in a race at Sundance with Keith Payne.

It was a long and hot drive back home over the Utah desert.  The Subaru almost gave up the ghost near Grand Junction but we made it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hitting The Redline In Sundance

Tonight I participated in one of the Weekly Race Series races at Sundance Resort which is about 15 min east of Provo, Utah in the shadow of Mount Timpanogos.  This was one of 17 short XC races in the series which bounces between Soldier Hollow and Sundance every Wednesday.  I tagged along with Keith Payne, team manager of the local Mad Dog Race Team here in Utah county.  Keith has been in his role as team manager for over 10 years.  The team had a very strong showing at this evenings race and it was great to meet and race with a few of the members.  For anyone that isn't aware, northern Utah has some AMAZING singletrack.  Sundance is no exception.

The course was pretty straight forward: 3-laps that climb up one side of the resort and descend down the other (clockwise starting at the bottom in the photo shown above) with a short uphill start on paved road.  The whole race was just under 2k elevation gain in10 miles.

The race started as expected: hammer-down up the road to the singletrack (not my forte).

I rode 1/2 of the race with Keith sticking on his back wheel until mid lap 2 where he let me by (apparently had enough of my loud breathing on his wheel).  Keith has a strong engine and a good downhill game.  He had no trouble keeping up with me on my dual-springer on the downhill riding his hard-tail 29" Gary Fisher Superfly.  It was pretty rough in sections and he held the bike to the trail really well.  I rode a little timidly on the descents for the first 2 laps not knowing the trail really well even after a pre-race lap.

By lap 3 I was sitting in 5th place with Keith and another rider a few turns behind.  I settled into a good pace (I'm hard-coded to endurance racing at this point) and maintained my lead on those behind me as we all closed the gap between the 3rd and 4th place riders who were riding together.  A final straightaway at the top and it was all downhill to the finish line.  I knew from lap 2 that the rider with Keith (and Keith himself) had a strong downhill game so I needed to bomb the descent to try and hold them off.

The plan was working until ...

1/4 way down I heard my back tire hiss as I mowed over a rough, rocky section.  Great I thought as I started getting sprays of Stan's on my backside. I rode a little further then stopped and injected some compressed air, then rode a little more and repeated hoping the hole was small enough to seal up.  This process took a few min but did work.  By then Keith and two other riders had passed me.  The good news was that my tire sealed up and I would not have to throw in a tube.  The bad news was that I had slid back to 9th where I remained to the finish.

Good times!

Riding to the race with Keith Payne.  Adam Lisonbee is on the phone.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Did Not Start (DNS)

In the sport of mountain bike racing there can be a multitude of reasons a rider does not cross the finish line.  Scanning race results of any given race you might find two recurring acronyms trailing off the bottom:

DNS - Did Not Start
DNF - Did Not Finish

I logged my first ever DNS for the Breckenridge 100 today.  Sometimes a rider has to pull out of a race for mechanical or health reasons.  My case was neither but rather a "life happens" scenario and I was not up to the task of tackling this kind of challenging race.  The events of today (which I won't go into) further confirm I made the right decision.  This doesn't erase loss felt from the countless hours of riding, planning, and the anticipation of crossing the finish line of arguably the most difficult 100-mile race in the US.

With my race packet untouched, and a "2" still faintly written in sharpie on my left calf, I vow to return next year and cross the finish line.

Before then I have one more 2010 monster to tame:  The Park City Point-to-Point.

Bring it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

2010: Winter Park Valley Point-to-Point

I wasn't planning on racing in Winter Park this weekend.  I haven't done any of the races in the series this year so I had not keept track of the race schedule.  It turned out to be a fun little race and a good follow up to the Breckenridge 100 Loop 2 Recon I did yesterday.  Rather than racing the expert class as I should have been, I decided to sandbag a little and ride with a teammate in the sport class.  I wasn't really sure if I would have legs anyway given yesterday's long ride.  My goal in the race was to rev the engine for 1 to 2 hours and get some more intensive riding in above 9k.

The race started off with a steep 1/4 mile climb on a dirt road from the bottom of Winter Park Resort.  I was immediately dropped by a few guys and settled in 20 yards behind them with legs protesting.  We then hit singletrack and I was back in the lead pack in short order.  The rider in first place had a slight gap on us.  The next 10-12 miles consisted of 3 of us swapping around between places  2, 3, and 4 with some good teamwork on the road sections.  My legs still hadn't responded much yet so I took in another healthy dose from my gel flask and downed the last 3/4 of my first water bottle.  Once that goodness got into my system my legs came around and I started pushing the pace.  I am still sorting out nutrition details for the longer races later this year so this was some good experimentation to see how my body responds.
Before long I had ridden away from the other 2 riders in my group.  A few minutes later I found myself riding past the lead who appeared to be fading.  I offered to pull for a while but he dropped off my wheel 20-30 seconds later.  I was feeling really good by now so I downed the rest of my nutrition and water and held a strong steady pace through the end. 2 or 3 other riders mounted a comeback in the last mile fighting for 2nd and 3rd (I wasn't looking back at all, just riding steady) and regained most of my lead back finishing 15-20 seconds behind me.  I stood in line for most of this time waiting for my number to be scanned.

I was happy to meet my goals for the day and did a little better than I was planning.  I should have been racing the next class up though. Based on the results, I would have been around 13th placing mid pack.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Breckenridge 100 Loop 2 Recon

I spent some time in Breckenridge today riding the second loop of the Breckenridge 100 course.  There was plenty of climbing, loose rocks, and fast singletrack.  It's going to be a tough race next week if all 3 loops are this challenging.

Elevation Gain: 5,274 ft
Min Elevation: 8,740 ft
Max Elevation: 10,580 ft
Distance: 35.49 mi

Google Earth view of my ride.

Elevation Profile:

Some video telling more of the day's story.

This is when I ran over something sharp and squirted a full tire of Stans sealant on the road.  The cut was just small enough to hold a tube in.  I didn't have a spare tire or patch with me.

I was here when the above incident happened.  It would have been a long walk back to Breckenridge.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Breckenridge 100 Preview

This year will be my first time racing the Breckenridge 100, a 100-mile mountain bike race that dances around in the 9,000 to 12,000+ foot elevation range.  After getting the denial from the good folks at the Leadville Trail 100... ahumm ...  for the second year in a row, I decided that I might be better off racing other (possibly more challenging) races.  I was surprised I could just sign up for the Breckenridge 100 at my leisure, no lottery to deal with.  What?  I'm still puzzled why more people aren't flocking to this race.

Looking at the top finishers from years past it is obvious this is a tough race.  Josh Tostado, a current resident of Breckenridge is a legend in endurance mountainbike racing and the 1st place winner for this event every year-to-date (2005-2009).  It will be interesting to see if someone steps up this year to topple the reigning champion.  It certainly won't be me.  I have a rather ambitious goal of finishing the race in one piece.

Yuki Saito of the Topeak Ergon Racing Team and 3rd place finisher in 2009 mentioned to me today that the Breck 100 is probably the best/hardest 100 mile course he has ever ridden.  Yuki consistently finishes in the top 20 racers at XC and endurance events and has a good shot at a podium again this year.

 Jeff Kerkove also of the Topeak Ergon Racing Team describes the Breckenridge 100 course as a "kick in the nuts".  I take Jeff's word on this given his experience and knowledge of endurance racing at the elite level.  Based on many other race reports Jeff's description seems to fit the bill.  To further his credibility in such a bold statement I'll add that Jeff was the B-68 2008 winner. The B-68 is a companion race to the 100 that includes 2 of the 3 loops (shown below).  This race is 32 miles shorter than the 100 but covers much of the same grueling terrain.

Still not convinced? Have a look for yourself.

Loop 1: 29 miles, 3560 Feet Elevation Gain.

Loop 2: 32 miles, 4268 Feet Elevation Gain.

Loop 3: 36 miles, 4321 Feet Elevation Gain.

If that doesn't say "kick in the nuts" I'm not sure what does.  In any case, I'll be there July 17th with my cup on.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On-call Week = Creative Riding

Once every 5 weeks my life moves from a state of control to a state of uncertainty.  This is the time I have to start an on-call rotation for work.  During this week I am the point man for our company to handle calls 24x7 for issues that affect our production systems (the big computers that make the Internet go).

 It is inevitable that I will be called at least once a day but generally more often than that.  Sometimes I will take multiple calls in the middle of the night (why do people need the Internet to work at 2AM???).  Given the need for me to be available I have certain restrictions on what I can do and where I can go.

1. Must be within cellphone range.
2. Must be within 20 min of a computer with an Internet connection.

Fortunately the technology exists these days to still have somewhat of a life outside of this madness.  My tools to provide some degree of freedom are an iPhone, MacBook Pro, and a Verizon 3G card.  Even with these in hand I am still very limited in what I can do on the bike.  Most of the 3G coverage quickly degrades as one gets into the really good riding.

So I am faced with a conundrum: I can simply ride the trainer, which translates to not riding in most cases, or get creative (open to suggestions here).

So far my creativity for this week has included wearing out the first 3 miles of Mount Falcon.  I can almost ride it with my eyes closed at this point. It provides some good climbing and a straight shot back to the car and my technology. Cellphone is in the jersey pocket streaming Pandora, a great way to make sure phone coverage is there while playing some sweet riding tunes.