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.