Thursday, March 31, 2011


Lefty PBR Carbon
I know... it looks a little funny but it most definitely does NOT ride funny.  I won't be putting a Fox back on this bike anytime soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Grit 50 Mile Epic (True Grit)

Course map and elevation profile

I took part in the inaugural True Grit race in St. George, Utah over the weekend and it did indeed dish out plenty of grit (see photos below). It was an awesome and technically challenging course (see video below) and I will be there again next year if there is a repeat for this event.  I only say *if* because of the way this one went down.  In short only around 12 participants actually crossed the finish line while the rest of us were told, in my case a few miles before the finish, the race was cut short due to bad weather and deteriorating trail conditions.

A quote from Dave Harris sums it up:

"I was on the sidelines as a volunteer for this one and saw it all evolve. At about 9:15 the radar I saw told the story of what was coming. Intel was fast from BLM that Bear Claw was a no-go, beyond that it was safety concerns AFAIK that drove decision making. Hindsight is always 20-20, but I can say that the cove wash descent back to the ranch had nightmare all over it. Once it had a lot of riders through it would have deteriorated into a 90 lb bike drag contest. It's a bitter pill to have ridden 90% no doubt, but that last 10% would have become an epic evac operation."

I had a great race despite the conditions. This was a long 50-miler in my opinion due to the rough terrain of which there was plenty.  I had a blast on the technical sections particularly in the Zen Loop which served up some Moab-like slick rock and plenty of big drops.  It definitely helps to know the Zen trail.  This was my first time seeing it so I made plenty of mistakes. If I had any doubts about 29" wheels in a race situation before this they are gone.  I felt like an agile monster truck hammering over the rough terrain. In short the new ride passed the first test with flying colors.  

If I had to pick a low point in the race, it had to be the Barrel Rolls section.  Under normal conditions this would be a fun section of singletrack.  This was the last section of the race before the drop back into town and the finish line.  By this time, I had been riding around 4 hours, 3 of which in some steady cold rain and at least 1.5 hours pretty much by myself in no man's land.  I had fallen (guessing 30-40 min) off the lead pack of riders, as expected, and from what I could tell, in the top 5 in the 35+ class (again, without having any result it is hard to know exactly although my Garmin info shows me finishing the 2nd lap at around 4:25:41 ).  I had just finished miles of muddy rolling jeep road on the Stucki Springs trail and started in on 2 laps of semi-technical singletrack.  My main problem here wasn't gogo power, but rather a complete loss of dexterity in my hands.  I was unable to feel my brakes or shifters and found it difficult to do either effectively.  Although I couldn't feel it, every time I had to brake with my right hand I could hear my thumb shifting my rear derailleur down a few gears.  I had to laugh a few times as there was pretty much nothing I could do about it.  What I didn't realize at the time is that I was starting into early stages of Hypothermia and I wasn't the only one that fell victim to the cold it turns out.  

After the 2nd lap on Barrel Rolls I was amped again and ready to hit it hard down Cove Wash to the finish.  Like many others, I was told at the last aide station that they were not allowing riders to continue on the course and we would have to either take a shuttle back or ride down on the road.  I made a quick swipe of every kind of Honey Stinger bar I could see, stuffed a few of them into my jersey, the rest in my mouth, and headed back down the road to the park.  About 5 min into what turned out to be a 20-min ride, I started to shake uncontrollably.  I couldn't hold my bars straight so I sat up and rode with my arms folded up trying to keep myself warm.  I was soaked from head to toe and was pretty much out of it when I pulled up to the team trailer.  I put my bike up on the stand and sat down apparently not responding well.  Brian Sells and other teammates helped me take off my wet stuff and then threw me into the truck with the heater running (thanks Brian).  He had some good cookies in there and I ate about 10 of them.

Alex Grant's Video.

Some photos (most of which are from Dave Harris).

Race lineup with teammate Chris Baddick

Race Start I'm there in the middle #123 (Photo via Dave Byers )

Bryan and Chris leading off the front.  I was tucked away behind Chris.  Jonathan Davis (left of Chris) rode a good race to capture 4th place.

pretty much sums up what it looked like out there.

Somewhere on the Barrel Rolls section.

Snow off and on out and back.

Fancy bikes get the team trailer for the ride home. Not sure how Davis' bike made it in there over mine...

My bike, post-race out in the cold.

Brian Sells' Niner post-race

Not a lick of chain lube left.

Brake pads long gone.

Visible wear on a 2-month-old SRAM X0.
Only 3 of us had the joy of cleaning out the trailer.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Another Thursday Night

I don't have a lot to write about this one so I'll let the photos do most of the talking. Long story short, we started out in good weather, rode some good singletrack, and had to cut it short due to near blizzard conditions. Luckily we made it back down from Mt Falcon before the white stuff came in.  Thanks to Ben and Tim for joining me.

The route

Some good climbing and milage.  The Ken Caryl section has a really good road climb. I'll have to return again for that one soon.  The second climb is Mt Falcon.

Goathead... I was riding with tubes in the tires still and probably brought this on by stating that fact when we were starting out on the ride. I can't get set up tubess on my fancy  Stans wheels  until my fancy  Lefty PBR shows up.
Taken the day after by Ben.  Apparently these little buggers are all over the trail.

South-facing shot near Roxborough.  Sweet little section of trail here.

After 5.5 hours 1.5 of which in the snow.  My fork is black normally. I had dreams of a hot shower which were soon realized.  Ben's wife was nice enough to fill our bellies with banana bread upon our return.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Rabbit Hole To Structured Training

2009 Tipperary Creek Point to Point (me, Bill Petry)

Anyone that has followed my ramblings here for any length of time has probably figured out that I am in many respects pretty new to the world of MTB racing.  This is not to say I am new to riding knobby tires on dirt or even a little friendly competition.  I started doing this in the early 1990s but took a very long break for school, family, etc.  I took up the sport of mountainbiking again recreationally in 2006 after meeting my good friend Bill Petry by chance at White Ranch after work.  It was my first time on a bike in years but I had just raced the Bolder Boulder the week before so I thought I was in pretty good shape.  Bill proved me wrong after the 13-mile loop and 3-4k of climbing.  He gave me a good whoopin' that day but it was exactly what I needed.  I started riding consistently from that day forward.  What follow was a string of casual testosterone-induced hammerfests that have somehow led me to where I am today.

My first official race was the last Winter Park race of 2009.  I had my baggy biking shorts on and an old jersey.  I don't think I had any gloves and my shoes were the Specialized Comp shoes I bought with my 1998 Rockhopper Comp (it was a sweet bike at the time).  I did ok considering the 2-weeks I spent training.  I think I had some water bottles (full of water) and a gel shot handed to me by my friend Mike Mequi before the race.  He said to duct tape it to my stem and suck it down when I got tired.  Seemed like a good idea to me so I went with it.  After some internal debate and a good pep talk, I decided to race in the Sport class rather than Beginner.  I remember sucking wind big time up the first major climb but managed to hang with the same group of guys which boosted confidence a little.  Every 2 or 3 min my baggy shorts would catch on my seat-post clamp and drop my seat out from under me which deflated confidence a little.  On the first downhill section someone tried to pass me around an outside corner, burning out in the loose stuff.   I remember thinking he was nuts for trying that but it was my first race and for all I knew he could pull it off.  After all he was riding a sweet bike and had an official looking race kit on. He didn't recover and ended up laying it down right in front of me.  It was one of those slow-motion moments where the mind seemed to have ample time to assess the situation and the mouth, plenty of time to emit some verbal expressions. I pulled up just enough to ride over his back wheel, off the trail, and into the branches of a pinion juniper tree still rubber-side down.  I looked over and saw him sitting up dazed on the side of the trail.  I didn't know if I was supposed to stop and help him out or just head off.  After a quick "are you ok?" he motioned me to ride on.  The rest of the race seemed to drag on forever (all 28 miles) but at last the finish line and my first real race in the books.  I was hooked.

That brings me back to what I was thinking this morning.  I was doing some intervals on my road bike. How did I go from some friendly recreational / social competition to early morning intervals in the garage with Techno music blasting on my iPod? The only answer I can come up to that question was that first race.  I don't think I have really looked back since.  I have been trying to find the end of the rabbit hole - It's been a great journey but no end in sight!  Up until last year I really didn't know much about training and I am still just learning many of the fundamentals.  With only one year behind me, I am still exploring what works for me training-wise.  The thought of hiring a coach has crossed my mind many times.  Doing so would cost some $$ and with the right coach I would most likely meet my potential much faster.  I think this might also come across as getting "too serious".  After all, I am not going Pro anytime soon.  Another downside of a coach in my mind is missing out on the excitement / frustration of exploring various training techniques for myself - kind of like some crazy lab experiment.  In the short term, I know there will be more flops (stuff exploding in beakers, small fires, implosions, etc) but long-term I think I will be better off (Note: If you want to get really fast, really quick, hire a coach!).  I am in no big hurry to solve the training puzzle having family, work, and life to balance along with this small obsession, and I think learning on my own keeps me motivated.  Yes, learning is good (LIG).  I will have a little help in the form of some books and a static training plan from LW Coaching this year but I'll be flying solo for the most part.

Here are some of the latest structured interval "experiments" from the past few weeks.  I have done both of these a few times on the trainer and have never had a more productive 60+ min riding indoors.

Pyramid Intervals (1 set): Info found HERE. This one hurts.

1x2 Intervals (4 sets): Info HERE.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Golden Loop

I put in a good 89 miles of paved road, dirt road, bike path, and singletrack last night with Ben, Brandon, and Eric one of Ben's friends.  In short it was a lot of good sustained effort endurance training pushing a steady pace for 5-6 hours.  It went something like this:

Myself, Ben, Brando

Bike paths. Better than anticipated.

Found some rippin' singletrack down south.

Gatoraide != Endurance fuel.
I threw all 8 rods the last hour with stomach cramps from drinking something I hope to never see again. I was in a pinch for time and had to grab this stuff from the roadside store after work. I soft-pedaled for the last 5 miles into Golden completely blown, and on empty, dreaming of everything from Redvines and Snickers, to burgers and fries.  In short my nutrition plan (or complete lack of one) was absurdly inadequate for this adventure. I have only blown this bad once before that I can remember.  It was last year while riding the Breckenridge 100 loops (pre-ride) and like last night, I was having fantastic dreams of junk food.  In stark contrast, Brandon was drinking CarboRocket 333 and rode my legs off the last hour.  Ben was drinking jet fuel or something and rode my legs off the last 6 hours. 

* Brando is credited for the photos, except for the first one.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Long Ride

Yesterday was the first time this year where I have ventured beyond the 3-hour mark in any ride.  I've had a few two-a-days that have pushed me into that range but nothing all at once.  Yesterday was a good test of where my fitness is and for this time of year I am satisfied enough.  I start my official LW Coaching 100-miler training plan March 21st with a target date in June for The Bailey Hundo, I've pretty much been winging the training up to this point.  I will have a few shorter  50 and 60 mile races between now and then that I plan to train through and measure progress.  As for yesterday's ride, It all started Friday evening around 9:45pm with a txt from Ben (a.k.a "The Midwest Wonder" ) that went something like this:

Ben drove up at 4:30am and bummed a bottle of CarboRocket off me before we got under way, lights a blazin'.  He also brought along a shiny new Trek Top Fuel 9.8 and proceeded to pound me into the dirt with it over the course of the next few hours.  All said and done, we put in a good 3.5 hours and then some.  Although there aren't a lot of large hills in my backyard we managed to hammer out 3600ft in elevation gain over 41 miles.  Looking back at the stats my HR averaged out in zone 4 which means pretty much race-pace for the duration.  Like I said, I'm happy with the ride and where my fitness is.  It was a little depressing to watch my riding partner hammer up climbs, and bunny hop over stuff the last 30 min when I was just hanging on to get home.  We had a discussion on 29" v.s.  26" on our ride a few days before and I think he was trying to prove a point.

I'll be back again for more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Addicted To Darkness

Radical Lights RADXL, 985 Lumens

I rode off into the dark early again this morning just like I have a few times already this week but this time I had company.  Ben Welnak, another member of the team joined me dark and early.  The 4:30am start didn't seem to phase Ben so it sounds like I found someone as messed up as I am when it comes to early mornings and exercise.  The following sent from Ben via Twitter, apparently already in route, describes the looming 2 hours and 45 min of riding in the dark "fun".  He was right, I had a blast and fun did hurt just a little, but that is kind of the point isn't it?

We rode for just under 30 miles and just shy of 3k climbing all before 7:30am.  On the last climb, Ben motioned to stop to check out some funkiness going on with his bike.  And funky it was.  I found out later this was the 5th frame to suffer the same fate.

Take home message: don't loan Ben your bike because he will send it home in a pine box.