This is the End

•June 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

You know it’s been a while since you’ve posted a blog update when you’re not quite sure what your username and password are!

Anyway, I figured that I should come back and put a proper ending to this thing.  I only ever started this blog and halfway maintained it because it was something that was expected of me as a “racer”.  Sponsors who gave me support thoroughly enjoy when their athletes provide insightful training tips, stories of adventure, and race recaps sharing how it all “went down”.  For me, I was lucky to generate one semi-coherent race report after an event.  I was never comfortable or good at taking the time to write something up.  I’m simply too busy to sit down and spend time remembering events so that I can type them into cyberspace.

For anyone who ever read anything I wrote, “Thanks” for tuning in.  Thanks for the support and the notes of encouragement along the way.  If I were to identify a goal that I have in my life, it is to hopefully inspire more people to ride bikes more often.  The bicycle is to me a panacea for mankind.  Stress relief, happiness, freedom, exercise, reduced congestion, pollution, etc.  All of these things are addressed by riding a bike.  It is that simple.  However, the infrastructure needed to facilitate riding a bicycle is not something that happens naturally.  It requires a lot of advocacy and behind the scenes efforts on the part of a lot of people.  Complete street standards, bicycle storage racks, bike lanes, Safe Routes to School for kids, and trail systems all require an enormous amount of work before you ever see them “on the ground”.  Personally, that is where my efforts have shifted.  My focus is now to make the place where I live better for all cyclists and pedestrians.  I am thankful for my time as a “racer” because I know that the experiences and relationships that were built have opened doors for me.  I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for my time “racing”.  For that, I am eternally grateful!

So, with that. here it is……..The End.  Now, go ride your bike!

White Clouds

•October 2, 2011 • 2 Comments

Last week I was fortunate enough to do a two day ride through the White Clouds mountains of Idaho.  The White Clouds are located on the east side of the Salmon River Valley, opposite their more famous and “windshield friendly” neighbors, the Sawtooths, on the west. The Sawtooths are a wilderness area and as such, are not open to mountain bikes (don’t get me started on the idiocy of how this came to be).  The White Clouds on the other hand, are home to some of the most incredible backcountry riding opportunities anywhere in the world and are part of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

Our route for Day 1, was to climb Boundary Creek Trail (3,000 vertical in less than 5 miles), descend Marten Creek Trail to Warm Springs meadow and then descend Warm Springs Trail to Robinson Bar on the Salmon River.  All total, the route was around 25 miles long.  However, in typical Idaho backcountry style, the average speed tends to be quite a bit slower than you think.  After climbing/riding over roughly 60 trees down across the lower Warm Springs Trail, we arrived at the car nearly 5 hours later.

From there, we drove up to the 4th of July Creek trailhead where we camped for the night.  We sat around the campfire, shared a flask of whiskey, traded stories of backcountry adventures, and discussed the future of mountain biking here in central Idaho.

Day 2 started off great with the arrival of two more members of the tribe who had come to join us for the day.  We rode out of 4th of July and headed south through a saddle and descended by Washington Lake.  We then headed east and climbed over into Chamberlain basin and the base of Castle Peak.  From there, we climbed over the southeast shoulder of Castle Peak and dropped in on a nearly 5,000 ft. descent down the Little Boulder Creek drainage to our rig.

The ride was one of the highlights of the year for me.  I go to the White Clouds every chance I get and have ridden most of the trails there in various configurations.  To ride most of my favorites in a two day period with good friends just added to my connection with the area.  As a mountain biker, I hope we never lose access to the beauty, challenge, and inspiration that the White Clouds have to offer.

Panorama pic from the ridge above Chamberlain basin

Up close & personal with Castle Peak

What’s up?

•September 20, 2011 • 1 Comment

Just packing to leave tomorrow for a two day trip through the White Cloud mountains of Idaho.  More specifically, we’ll be riding a route through the White Clouds that may be closed to mountain bike access in the future.

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  I’ve ridden a road bike from SLC to Vegas over 6 days, appeared in a segment for Outdoor Idaho on IDPTV, spent 36 hours at the Interbike trade show, helped WRBC host a 3 day IMBA Trail Care Crew seminar, and squeezed in a nice mountain bike ride.  Today was spent preparing for the start of another adventure tomorrow.  A crew of four of us are going to ride a 2 day route through the White Cloud mountains of Idaho.  The White Clouds are home to some of the finest backcountry epic rides anywhere in the world.  We’re going to spend two days riding some of the best the area has to offer for a piece in an upcoming issue of Bike magazine.  This should be fun!

Park City Point 2 Point

•September 5, 2011 • 2 Comments

This past weekend was the Park City Point 2 Point (PCP2P) race down in Utah.  This was the second to last race in the NUE series and also the shortest one coming in at just over 78 miles.  Despite the somewhat shorter distance, the PCP2P offers up over 14K feet of climbing, with most all of that coming in the form of tight single track.

I was really looking forward to sampling more of Park City’s great trail network and getting to finally ride the bike that I’ve been looking forward to all year.  On Thursday, the final pieces showed up and the Elephant’s Perch put it all together for me (thanks Jason!!).  The new bike is another beautiful Black Cat creation, this time built to work with the new Gates Carbon Drive – Center Track drivetrain system.  More on the overall wizardry & geniusness (I might’ve just made up a word there) in a later post…..

The 'Tres'

The race started at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning.  The temps were hovering just above freezing and all I could think about was wanting the sun to hurry up and make an appearance!  The race started out and we were treated to some really fun roller-coaster purpose-built trails that had consistent radius turns and mellow grades.  In short, these trails were built for mountain bikes and were really fun!

About an hour into it, I had to stop briefly to make an adjustment on my bike (something that was my fault) and I lost contact with 3 single speeders that I had been riding with.  I had failed to check my saddle position and had never fully tightened the seatpost and saddle.  From the start of the race, my saddle was moving and the seatpost was slowly slipping.  I was hoping to make it to the first aid station before dealing with it, but couldn’t do it so I had to stop.  Trying to ride with the saddle 2″ too low was not very nice to my legs!  At an hour in, and still shivering cold, my quads were already starting to ‘twitch’, which is a telltale sign of cramps to come.  It’s not unusual for me to flirt with cramping issues somewhere around the 3-4 hour mark of a race.  But, to have that happen less than an hour into a race is very unusual.  I’m not sure whether it was caused by me trying to ride with my saddle too low, or just because I haven’t had a lot of ‘intensity’ this year due to my limited racing.  Either way, I wasn’t too excited to be facing that so early in the morning and knew that this could turn into a long day.

After the first 20 miles or so, the course made it’s way toward the Deer Valley resort and got into more of the more sustained climbs and descents of the day.  Having not ridden any of the course, it was tough to know what was coming next.  The main climb between the first and second aid station was about twice as long as I anticipated, and the major climb after the second aid station was quite a bit shorter than I expected (thankfully!).  My legs continued to try to cramp, but I was mostly able to manage it and only had to walk one particularly steep hill because of it.  The descents on the course ranged from super tight, twisty, treed, single track to high speed open double track.  While I wasn’t exactly enjoying the climbs, I was absolutely having a blast on the descents.  The new bike handles intuitively and was more than capable of handling everything I threw at it.  According to my GPS unit, I even clocked 45 mph on the descent into the second aid station!

In the end, I crossed the finish line to take 5th place in the SS category with a time of @ 8:30.  All things considered, I’m pretty happy with that.  I felt decent and had a blast on the new ride.  This bike is pretty unique and I’ll post some pics and details about it soon.  For now, I need to unpack, go try to look good (or at least not too bad) in a photo shoot, squeeze in some work, then leave Wednesday for a six day ride with Specialized from SLC to Vegas for the Interbike trade show.  I’ll be at the show for two days and then fly back to SLC to pick up the new Rokon trail bike that the Wood River Bicycle Coalition just purchased and then back here to host an IMBA Trail Care Crew visit for 3 days where we’ll have seminars/clinics on topics ranging from trail construction techniques to the community benefits of having a good trail system.

Cheers!

Behind the Scenes of the 2011 USAC XC National Championships

•August 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Some interesting facts from behind the scenes at the USAC XC National Championships in Sun Valley back in July.

“Great job” to Breakaway Promotions, Sun Valley Co., and USA Cycling for putting together a great event!

Outside Online Blog – 180K lbs of rock & 900 hours of labor

gettin’ around the west……

•August 18, 2011 • 2 Comments

I got back to Idaho Monday evening after being on the road for most of the last couple of weeks.  It feels good to be back home for a bit before setting off on another round of adventures in September.

First, let me back up to the Pierre’s Hole 100 a couple of weekends ago at Grand Targhee Resort.  This race is in it’s 3rd year now and has grown quite a bit in popularity, especially since joining the NUE series for 2011.  The race format is a 25 mile loop and riders can choose between the 50 mile (two lap) option or the 100 mile (four lap) option.  I went to this race last year planning on doing the 100, only to come down with some sort of flu-like thingy the night before, forcing me to pull the plug and do the 50 instead.

This year, I signed up for the 100 and was looking forward to a great day of riding some of the super fun trails around Grand Targhee.  I was also looking forward to trying out my new 2×2 Cycles bike rack set-up on the moto and carrying all of my stuff over there with me.  I was able to load up everything that I needed for the weekend on the moto and surprisingly, still got 50 mpg on the way over (I normally get closer to 60 mpg)!

....next stop....South America?

The race started at 6:15 on Saturday morning with beautiful weather and a fairly civilized temperature outside, considering we were at @ 9,000 ft. elevation.  The race started with a fairly short climb followed by a whole lot (@ 2,000 ft.) of descending.  I was feeling pretty good, enjoying the descent, and moving my way forward whenever I had the opportunity.  Once we got to the low point of the course and started climbing back up, I realized pretty quickly that my legs were heavy and “loaded”.  With a moderate effort, my legs felt like they were loading up with lactic acid and did not want to go any harder.  Mid-way up the second climb of the first lap, I decided to reel it in a bit and just focus on riding the 100 miles, enjoying the “hero” dirt that we had thanks to some rain two days before,  and having a decent training day.  Gerry Pflug and Dejay Birch had been off the front from the beginning while Mike Shane and I had been riding together for the first 15 miles or so in 3rd & 4th.  Mike was feeling good and continued on up the climb while I dropped back to find my rhythm for the day and focus on fueling, hydrating, pacing, and trying to get the most out of it.

Somewhere around mid-way through the second lap, I rode up to Dejay who was taking a “nature break” on the side of the trail.  I stopped to chat with him and discovered that he had been riding with Gerry at the front until he took a nasty crash on the main descent and was now unsure as to whether or not he could continue.  Seeing as how I wasn’t really “racing” anymore, I waited for him and we rode together for the next couple of laps.  Having someone to ride with and going at a “pro leisure” pace was quite enjoyable.

Somewhere on the 4th and final lap, the Ibuprofen that Dejay had found at one of the aid stations kicked in and he picked up the pace finishing in 4th place (9:33).  I continued along at my snail’s pace and finished up the race, surprisingly  in 5th place.  In fact, I had just missed the coveted belt buckle (awarded to finishers with a time of 9:45 or less) by something like 20 seconds.  Personally, I didn’t remotely feel like I had earned a belt buckle with that performance and thus did not want to be given one.  In fact, my $.02 is that the cut-off time for the buckle should be lowered to at least 9:30, or even 9:15.

In the end, it was a fun day of riding, even if it didn’t pan out to be the ‘race’ I was hoping for.  It was great seeing all of the participants there from the Wood River Valley.  Some were ‘racing’, and some were attempting their first 100 mile event.  Either way, congrats to all!  Also, in the SS category, congratulations to Gerry Pflug for taking the win (9:01) and to Mike Shane for taking 2nd Place (9:23).

The next day I loaded up the bike and pointed it west toward K-town.  I got home Sunday afternoon and spent the next 36 hours unpacking, repacking, and doing a little work before leaving Tuesday morning.  This whole process was made somewhat more time consuming and frustrating due to the fact that the exterior of our place was being painted.  So……being the gear hounds that we are, what that meant was that all of our gear that is usually stored outside, was pulled into the lower bedroom and there was barely enough room to walk through the house.  It was a good thing that Rebecca was already in Leadville and we weren’t both trying to co-habitate in these disheveled conditions.

Tuesday, I drove down to Salt Lake City and hooked up with the crew from Breakaway Promotions.  Chad Sperry had set me up with a ride in the Bissell team car for Wednesday’s stage of the Tour of Utah.  The stage was a 3 lap circuit race in and around the hills of Ogden.  I’d been in a team car for the Individual Time Trial stage at the Tour of California a few years ago, but had never been in a car in the middle of the peloton.  The stage was an exciting one as a Bissell rider made a break off the front right from the start and stayed out there (joined by 3 other riders) until mid-way through the 3rd lap.  It was really interesting to see the communication between the team cars, the race officials, and the riders as this moving ‘circus’ made it’s way around the course.  There is a lot of communication from the riders through hand signals and from the team cars by using their horns.  Perhaps the scariest (or most exciting, depending on your view) part of the race was the descent.  You have a parade of cars descending at 50-80 mph with the occasional rider making their way up through the line of cars.  As the driver of a car, you have to not only avoid hitting the car in front of you; you also have to be aware of riders who may be working their way up from behind and stay out of their way.  Seeing this melee in action was very impressive.  It also gave me a much greater appreciation for the risks involved with racing road bikes.  Huge thanks to Omer & Randy from Team Bissell for giving me a ride and for answering all of my unenlightened questions about road racing!

oooh.....this is going to be fun!

As soon as the stage was over, I hopped back on the moto and headed toward Leadville, finally arriving somewhere around 2 a.m. on Thursday morning.  On Saturday was the Leadville Trail 1oo mountain bike race and Rebecca was there getting acclimated in an attempt to defend her title (Women’s Champion 2009 & 2010) and bring home a three-peat.  The format for this 100 mile mountain bike race is that it’s a mass start in town that is an out-n-back with the turnaround point being at the Columbine mine somewhere around 12,500 ft.  The race started first thing on Saturday morning as somewhere around 1,800 riders set out to challenge themselves and achieve their personal goals.

The women’s field this year was especially stout, with no less than 6-8 women all perfectly capable of having a good day and taking home the victory.  For the first 20 miles or so, Rebecca was sitting in 5th place.  While I knew this wasn’t something to be too concerned about, I also knew that it meant she wasn’t having the most stellar day like she did last year, where she made it look easy.

When the riders came through the second aid station (Twin Lakes), Rebecca had moved into 3rd place and was just two minutes behind the two leaders who were riding together.  From that aid station, the riders climb nearly 10 miles up to the turnaround point, and then start heading back.  When they came back through the aid station, Rebecca had moved into the lead and I knew it was “game on”.  Whether she was having a good day, a bad day, or somewhere in between; I knew that she would fight tooth & nail to keep the lead.  Her lead coming through that aid station was roughly 2 minutes.  Her lead at the next aid station was roughly 3 minutes.  I was giving her splits as she came through and she could tell by the tone in my voice that this race was going to have to be “full gas” all the way to the red carpet at the finish line.

In the end, she took the win with a gap of right around 3 minutes back to Gretchen Reeves (2007 winner) who took 2nd place. A new course record (7:31) was set, and the top four women all finished within 10 minutes of each other.  In fact,  the top four women all finished under the record time set last year of 7:47.  As you can see, she was pretty happy!

Photo Credit: Linda Guerrette

Now, it’s back home here in Idaho for a few weeks.  Lots of work to do coordinating a “Take a kid mountain biking” day, applying for the WRBC to become and IMBA chapter, hosting an IMBA Trail Crew visit weekend, finalizing some details for a 3 day MTB adventure through a proposed wilderness area, and generally trying to get my fill of riding here before heading out for a couple more races, interbike, and (hopefully) a 6-day road ride from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.

Cheers!

High Cascade 100

•July 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Back in Idaho now after a whirlwind trip over to Oregon for the weekend to participate in the High Cascade 100 just outside Bend, OR.  This was a road trip with the boys and was a much needed break from work for me.  It was also a great opportunity to see what my legs could do after not riding much for the past 6 weeks and having minimal “racing” under my belt heading into the second half of the season.

We watched the TDF Friday morning, made some last minute bike adjustments, and got out for a 2 hour ride on Friday afternoon before heading into town for the pre-race meeting.  After the meeting, it was a quick trip to the grocery store for some final race supplies and then a quick dinner before trying to get to bed early.

The race started at 5:30 a.m. @ 20 minutes outside Bend.  The race organizer had warned us that it would be 35 degrees in the morning.  I dismissed that as hype considering the fact that I live at 6,000 ft. (2,000 ft. higher than the race start) and it hadn’t been that cold in the morning here in Idaho lately.  As soon as I stepped out of the van, I was quickly reminded that one should “always trust a local”.  It wasn’t 35 degrees, it was 34 according to the temp gauge on the van.  Thankfully, I had at least brought arm warmers, but that was it.  Being really cold is not much fun.  I don’t typically get cold.  I’m usually pretty good at keeping moving enough to stay warm, regardless of conditions.  This was a bit different though because we weren’t moving, so I couldn’t warm up.  Instead I tried a different tactic of relaxing as much as possible and trying to ignore the cold.  In some zen-like way, it I think it might’ve worked.  I stopped shivering and didn’t notice the cold as much after a minute or so.  It could have also been the fact that I was now packed into a tight group of 200 riders waiting for the gun to go off!

The race started with a neutral roll out for about a mile and then the racing began.  On the first gradual road climb, I must’ve looked down at my tires at least 6 times and was sure that I had a flat.  Either that, or someone had put glue on my tread and it was trying to do it’s job by keeping rubber and pavement in contact, hence thwarting my efforts at moving forward.  Seriously, my legs felt loaded, I felt sleepy, and now that we were moving, I was re-acquainted with that 34 degree reality that I had been previously trying to ignore.  I tucked in behind the largest person I could find for the remainder of the short climb and tried to ignore just how numb my fingertips were.

Thankfully, the sun stuck to it’s schedule and popped above the eastern horizon shortly after the start and the temps slowly began to climb.  After an hour or so, my fingers had thawed, my legs and body were warm and a huge grin had plastered itself to my grill as I rode along on some of Bend’s infamous twisty single track.  Right now, this was not a race.  This was riding twisty single track as fast as you could.  The faster you went, the more fun it was, period.

As the day moved on, I continued to feel surprisingly good.  I had no issues with cramping and seemed to manage my fueling and hydration well.  Having not even ridden 100 miles on a road bike this year, I fully expected for the ‘wheels to come off’ at some point and for me to implode physically.  Thankfully, that didn’t seem to happen.  After mile 60 or so, I had established confidence in my legs and didn’t hold anything back.  I’d push on the climbs as hard as I could because I knew that the quicker I got to the top, the sooner I would be enjoying another twisty fast single track descent.

This interview with Thom Parsons for Cycling Dirt probably sums it up best:

Cycling Dirt Interview

(I tried unsuccessfully to embed it, but couldn’t make it happen.)

I ended up crossing the finish line with a time of roughly 9:39, which put me around 12th overall and in 2nd place in the SS category.  Congrats to Gerry Pflug for taking the SS win and pretty much wrapping up his SS NUE title for the season.  Next up will be Pierre’s Hole in two weeks.  I’m hoping that the idea of ‘racing myself into shape’ works out so that I can try and give Gerry a run for his money!!!

After the race, we headed into Bend to catch the Criterium stage of the Cascade Classic.  The downtown was packed and the excitement of crit racing was contagious.  Even after having just ridden 100 miles (106 to be exact), I still felt somewhat compelled to shave my legs, kit up, and get out there to partake in the rough & tumble game of crit racing.  These guys race inches away from each other through corners on city streets at speeds of 30-40 mph.  While “short & intense” races are certainly not my strength, there’s something very attractive to me about the intensity and thrill of a crit race.  Maybe I’ll give up the SS for crit racing in my next life….

For now, time to cram in some work for the next 9 days and get ready to head over to Grand Targhee for the Pierre’s Hole race on August 6.  Cheers!

 
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