from organizing to participating….

•July 21, 2011 • 2 Comments

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic preparing for the USAC XC National Championships here in town.  This preparation culminated with an 8 day binge of working non-stop from roughly 6 a.m. to nearly 11 p.m. every day. Fortunately, I was working with a rockstar crew from Breakaway Promotions who collectively all had the mentality of “yup, we’re working 17 hours a day and we’re getting it done.”  I’ve never seen a group of people work so hard, under that much stress, for that long, and get along so well.  It was pretty special.

I had spent the previous week working on final course construction with SVCO and building the “rock drop” finale to the various courses at the River Run base area of the mountain.  The first races started on Thursday morning and pretty much ran all day, every day through Sunday afternoon.  Being so involved behind the scenes, I really missed a lot of the happenings that were going on.  Thanks to Team i4 for putting together these great video recaps from each day:

And, one final video:

Personally, my two favorite moments were watching Rebecca take the Women’s Single Speed National title, and seeing Georgia Gould defend the Women’s Pro XC National Title.  Congrats to both of these hard working women who do so much for the sport of mountain biking and for getting more women into the sport!

Rebecca making the rock drop look easy on her way to a dominating SS Championship title!

It made me smile watching Georgia Gould defend her Women's Pro XC title on the trails where she started riding.

After it was all over, there were ‘high fives’ all around from those involved with the events.  The turnout and participation rates were significantly higher than expected and town seemed to have a tangible buzz of excitement about all things ‘mountain bike’.  To put it simply, the event was a success!  Immediately, talk began about how to make the event bigger and better for 2012.  I know my ‘wheels are turning’ and I’m hopeful that we can succeed in making some significant improvements that will make 2012 the “hands down” best national championship ever held!

A few days of trying to catch up on sleep, take care of ‘life’ that had been neglected for the previous couple of weeks, and now it’s on the road to Bend, OR for the High Cascade 100 this weekend.  I have no idea what sort of fitness I’ll have in the bag.  What I do know is that I’m looking forward to spending a full day of ripping some fine Oregonian single track with a huge grin on my face!

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Punchline

•June 30, 2011 • 2 Comments

Here’s a quick vid clip that I put together (pardon the non-infringing soundtrack) of Randy Spangler riding the new Punchline trail in the  Croy Creek trail system.  John Kurtz & I flagged this trail out last fall and to see it built and become a reality has been extremely satisfying!  Randy Spangler was part of the IMBA Trail Solutions crew in charge of the build and was largely responsible for designing the super sweet features on the trail.

Forbidden Fruit

•June 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Huge “Thanks” to JP and Plum TV for doing a piece on this swanky new flow trail that’s coming soon to the Wood River Valley!

Forbidden Fruit on Plum TV

Sheeptown Drag Nationals

•June 21, 2011 • 2 Comments

The 5th annual Sheeptown Fat Tire Rally once again took over the valley last weekend starting Thursday night with the Flaming Log Drag Nationals.  This is some serious idaho fun!  Thanks Josh for documenting the goods and putting together this video.  Huge “thanks” to Chopper, Billy O, and anyone else who put it all together!

And……it’s back.  Thanks Dave!

TSE 2011 – finally!

•June 10, 2011 • 2 Comments

Last week was the second edition of the Tran-Sylvania Epic MTB Stage Race near State College, PA.  Having attended this event last year and thoroughly enjoying the format, variety, hospitality, and overall ‘vibe’ of it, I was stoked to be going back to catch v2.0.

Backing up a bit, my ‘work’ has been incredibly hectic lately.  Through my job as the WRTC, I’ve been working on a couple of significant projects that are coming to fruition almost simultaneously.  The first project is a trail called “Punchline” that was just built in the Croy Trail systems west of Hailey over the last few weeks.  John Kurtz and I did the final flagging on this trail last fall and made some pretty substantial changes to it’s original alignment that we hoped would make the trail a bit easier to build and more fun to ride.  It’s a multi-use trail, but is most definitely designed for mountain bikes and intended to be ridden in one direction.  The trail has three distinct personalities in it’s 1.5 mile length consisting of a gradual traversing climb, a short technical rocky section that weaves through some beautiful natural rock features, and a long winding descent filled with features such as berms, rollers, tabletops, and step-ups.

Construction on this trail began the week before I left and my understanding is that the trail is nearly ready to be opened at this point.  Seeing this trail become a reality has been a very exciting and rewarding effort for me.  The IMBA trail solutions crew that did the actual construction of the trail were absolutely phenomenal in their expertise, efficiency, and enthusiasm about the project.  You can read an IMBA blog entry about the trail here.

The second project that I’ve been working on is the creation of a trails & pathways web portal for the Wood River Valley and beyond.  This is a project that I had originally envisioned being done through the Wood River Bicycle Coalition but, in the end, was better able to get funding and support for it through my job at the Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD).  We secured some grant funding for the project through a local USFS grant program and through the support of the USFS, BLM, and Blaine County; have been working hard on getting a ‘beta’ version of the website rolled out asap.  The idea behind the website is to provide a one-stop location for current trail and pathway information for south central Idaho.  Currently, you’d have to look in at least 4 different locations to find trail information for the various land agencies throughout the area and the information is usually outdated and incomplete.  Our goal is to provide accurate, current, pertinent information to all trail users in a format that is easy to use and understand.  With the final touches on the website complete, we were able to roll out the ‘beta’ version this week.  This is another project that I’ve dreamt of for many years for this valley and am super excited to be able to work on a solution that will hopefully be a great benefit to our communities and the area.  Check it out here:  trails.bcrd.org

So, with all of these exciting things going on, my ‘training’ has taken a bit of a backseat and has been replaced by ‘riding when I have a chance’.  I’ve gotten out a fair amount, but haven’t been getting in the structured workouts that I’d need to even feel fast, let alone be fast.

Anyway, the race started on Sunday with a prologue and then followed up on Monday with arguably the hardest stage of the week.  The temperatures were in the mid-90’s, with humidities in the same range and virtually no air movement.  Not exactly what I’ve been dealing with this spring in Idaho!  The prologue went OK, with me coming in somewhere around 5th and only losing a little time.  Monday however, was a different story.  In a roughly 4 hour stage, I consumed nearly 200 oz. of fluids and still managed to simultaneously cramp in my feet, quads, hamstrings, forearms, and triceps.  In fact, I cramped so bad throughout my body that I’m pretty sure my face also cramped up from the severe wincing that I was doing on the side of the trail while trying to get myself detached from my bike.  In the end, I managed to get a muscle or two to ‘release’ so that I could continue on my no-so-merry way to the finish line where I’d managed to lose 20+ minutes to Rich Straub, who now held quite a substantial lead over my somewhat pathetic performance.

Tuesday morning, we rolled out on what we were calling the ‘road’ stage, as there were a significant amount of gravel roads on the stage.  I really enjoyed this stage last year and was looking forward to it again.  Instead of racing, I was just enjoying the ride and at the halfway point, found myself riding with Rich Straub and Dicky, who were in first and second respectively.  During the second half of the stage, the heat once again took it’s toll on me and I ended up slipping back to 4th by the end of the day.

Wednesday was a 40 mile stage of man-made rollercoaster trails at Raystown State Park.  Again, I didn’t feel like I was ‘racing’ but, instead, was just trying to focus on riding smoothly, railing the turns, and having fun.  And again, at the midway point, I found myself riding with Rich Straub and Morgan Miller, who were in 1st & 2nd.  On the second half of the stage, I slipped back a little bit but still managed to hang on for a 4th place finish.  On top of it all, I had also clawed my way up to 3rd in the GC standings for the race.  Suddenly, somehow, I was slipping my way back into this race after a rather dismal start.

Thursday’s stage consisted of a series of timed mini-XC stages spread through another state forest (that I’ve forgotten the name of).  I knew from last year that it wasn’t possible to win the race on this stage, but it was certainly possible to lose it by pushing too hard in the uber-technical boulder gardens that were strewn throughout the four stages.  I rode pretty conservatively and managed to finish 3rd on the day, holding on to 3rd in the GC and finding myself on the podium for the first time in the race.

Friday was another ‘monster’ stage of central Pennsylvania’s finest technical trails and single track.  I went into the stage having dealt with a bit of an unhappy stomach the night before, but hoping for the best.  There was some sort of flu-thing going around that had caused more than a handful of other racers to drop out at various times throughout the week.  20 minutes into the stage, I knew that I was going to join their ranks.  I rode the first 26 miles, just trying to enjoy it and then dropped out as I rolled into an aid station.  I was bummed to drop out so late in the game, but happy that I did so and did not keep pushing and digging myself into a hole of sickness.  I did score some good karma points though as there was another rider there who had a major mechanical and was unable to continue on their bike.  I offered up my SS, and they accepted.  We switched their pedals over to my bike and they kept on going.  All in all, it was a great day.

Saturday’s stage was longer than last year’s finale, but many of us still rode it as a “parade” of sorts.  The top 3 single speeders were still racing, but most of the rest of us hung back and enjoyed a nice social ride to cap off the week.

We partied hard on Saturday night, packed up and flew home on Sunday, and I’ve spent the week buried with work.  In fact, my bike is still in the box it flew home in!

Thanks for tuning in.

Cheers!

Apriluary powder on Abe’s

•April 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Trying to figure out what to do this weekend……..bike……ski……..bike…….ski?????   The weather was good for both.  However, when I looked back through my notes  (yes, I am anal enough to keep a log of my ski days – at least backcountry ones – throughout the season) and realized that I hadn’t skied since March 7, I figured that I needed to embrace this cold wet spring, and it’s resulting deep wintery snowpack, and get out there and, well, get some!  So we did.

About every other year, we have this blast of late winter powder that shows up in April.  When that happens and you have a little luck on your side, you get to ski the main chute down Abe’s Chair….in cold smoke powder….on a blue bird day.  So, that’s exactly what we did.

It was a beautiful blue bird day.  We were in no hurry.  It was perfectly calm.

It was so nice in fact, that we sat right on the exposed summit and had lunch!  Then, we sent it!

It was good.  Really good!  I was really happy to remember how to ski too!

Now the only question is……what to do tomorrow?

True Grit 50….or less

•March 29, 2011 • 4 Comments

This past weekend was the True Grit 50 down in St. George, UT.  I flew out of Roanoke, VA Friday at 6 a.m. and met Mike H. and the Club Ride van in Salt Lake City somewhere around noon.  It was snowing in Salt Lake and continued to do so for the next 100 miles to the south. Finally, as we dropped down in elevation south of Cedar City, the snow tapered off and the clouds broke up.  There were ‘high-fives’ all around as racers were speculating on just how good the dirt was going to be the next day for the race.

Thanks to Dave Harris for this "dry & clean" pic from the Starting line

Saturday morning the skies were cloudy and we were dry as we rolled out for the 9 a.m. start.  That lasted for about a half an hour.  After that, it rained, and rained some more, and some more.  Soon, there was water flowing down the trails, muddy clay coating every inch of your bike and riding was difficult in some spots and super fun in others.  For me, I was cold.  I wasn’t carrying any extra layers and I was soaked from head to toe in what felt like a 42 degree, windy, rainstorm.  I was cold.  I tried to ride harder, but still could not warm up.  I knew I had only one option, keep riding as hard as I could.  I was still cold.  Then, as if through some ‘spit in your face’ twisted sense of humor sort of way, my brake pads shed the last of their ‘pad’ and the retaining clips sucked into the rotors.  I’d had this happen before (ironically enough in another windy rainstorm at the 24 Hrs of Targhee) and was fairly certain that I knew what I had just heard happen.  My brakes were essentially non-functioning, but somehow were dragging quite noticeably on the rotors.  Great!  Now I have brakes that drag on the climbs, but don’t offer much assistance on the descents.  I kept riding.  I was still cold. The riding was still fun!

Thanks to Bryce for documenting the misery. I believe there's "spittle" hanging from my chin.

Somewhere in the darkest & most miserable moments out there, I decided that I was going to finish this race, no matter what.  If I had to carry my bike, so be it.  I had to pick a single goal and focus entirely on it, and ‘finishing’ was it.  It was the only way to block out the misery and discomfort that I was physically experiencing.  Besides, I was pretty sure I was the 2nd place SS, the riding was still quite fun, and I kind of wanted that result!  While my fitness and speed are surely lacking right now, I do know that I can be tough and can be as stubborn as I need to be, and I figured that either would get me through.

Thanks to Dave Harris for this photo of the desert mud!

After finishing my second lap on Barrel Roll, I was psyched to ride the last 8 miles generally back toward the finish line.  When I rolled through the Aid Station, they told me that the race was ‘canceled’ and that everyone was being pulled from the course.  To that, I replied “So, if I keep riding and do the last 8 miles, it won’t count?”  The answer was “Nope.”  I was a little peaved, but didn’t have time to dwell on it because every second I stood there, I was shaking more and more.  I hopped on my bike, dropped down to the highway and began pedaling.  The 6 miles or so back to the Finish area gave me a chance to reflect on what had transpired.

...headed to the Perch for some TLC.

The race was canceled because of deteriorating trail conditions and dangerously wet & cold conditions for the riders.  I agree with the first one, but personally, I disagree with the second one.  I can only speak for myself, but I was fully aware of what I was doing out there.  I knew that I was flirting with the edge of what I could tolerate.  I knew that keeping moving was my only option and, even that, was barely enough to keep me from becoming hypothermic.  I was aware of it, and I embraced it.  I decided to accept the risks of riding with numb hands knowing that, if I had a mechanical, I wouldn’t be able to fix it and would just have to push or carry my bike.  I simply don’t like someone telling me when something is too bad for me to handle.  That’s my decision to make.  However, I also understand that, as a Race Director, you can’t have that mentality and that there has to be a higher level of safety there.  The other thing that the organization had the foresight to realize was that they and their EMS staffing could’ve quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the number of racers needing attention/evacuation if the race had been allowed to continue. They absolutely made the right call.

The second, and much more compelling reason, for canceling the race was due to the increasing level of potential trail damage that was occurring.  This one, I definitely get.  If you want to keep your event ‘alive’ and happening year after year, you’d best not destroy the public trails on which your given permission to race!  It’s simple, really.  There is already the misperception by many land managers that mountain bikes cause significant trail impact.  The last thing we need to do is showcase just how much damage we can do to a trail when racing in wet conditions in the desert.  As I later discovered, there was a BLM employee on the course who made the call of when to cancel the race.  I was glad to hear that the call was made by the land management agency themselves.

In the end, I wish there had been a way to abbreviate the race and still give everyone the opportunity to ‘finish’.  This would have at least provided a finishing ‘order’ and given racers some sort of closure or vision on how their race went.  In hindsight, it’s probably easy to pick a few things that could’ve been done differently.  However, in the moment, you don’t have the luxury of hindsight and decisions must be made quickly based on a dynamic situation.  The folks at GroPromotions made the right decisions and did a fantastic job in putting together a great event.  The permitting for this event would have been enough to scare off many race promoters.  Instead, GroPromotions creatively found solutions to every hurdle they faced and were able to put together an incredible 50 mile course consisting of some of the best and most technical trail I’ve ever seen on a race course.  It’s full of steep punchy climbs, high speed descending, and copious amounts of technical challenges.  There’s no doubt, I’ll be back in 2012!