Tuesday, April 28, 2009
3-hour hike on Sunday
1-hour road ride Monday
2-hour road ride Tuesday
3.5-hour mountain bike ride Wednesday
This sure beats only being able to ride 40 minutes until the pain sets in! We'll see if this fabulous trend continues...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Chris Plesko and I made the trip down to Tucson a rather relaxing one, driving from Denver to Albuquerque on Wednesday and finishing the drive Thursday, rolling in to Scott’s place mid-afternoon. I hadn’t met Scott previously, but his and Paula’s place eerily reminded me of Lee and Andrea Venteicher’s place in Iowa where I crashed for many race weekends when I was living in Wisconsin. Jefe had already arrived, so we all stood around chatting for a while before getting to work packing up gear and making last-minute decisions about what to bring.
Gear choice is one of the parts of multi-day racing that really fascinates me. Chris brings the absolute minimum, counting grams while making sure each item is as versatile as possible. Jefe had a much heavier setup, but he traded in the sleeping bag for more warm clothes and trusted his emergency bivy to keep him warm while he napped. Fred Wilkinson, an incredibly experienced rider in these sorts of events, took a similar approach to Jefe. I, on the other hand, felt like I was overpacked. But given the dismal weather forecast for Saturday, I didn’t want to take too many chances. I was one of the few guys bringing a little stove, had thousands more calories than I needed to be starting with, and was the only one even considering bringing booties and thick winterish gloves. After futzing with my gear off and on for hours, I decided to forgo the booties, extra long-sleeved top, and some of the food I had planned to bring.
After settling on my gear, I packed it up, put the Epic bags onto my bike, filled up my bottles and bladder, and wandered over to Scott’s computer to check email and the weather forecast. After some improvement in the forecast earlier in the day, the predictions took a turn for the worse. Friday still looked pleasant with warm temperatures and a helpful southerly wind. Rain was then to move in the early morning hours of Saturday, with 4+” of snow and sub-freezing temperatures atop Mt. Lemmon. Then Sunday looked to be beautiful. I was aiming to get to Summerhaven (at the summit of Mt. Lemmon) by 5 on Saturday so I could resupply at the store and then begin the trudge down Oracle Ridge and get to lower elevations and sleep where it would be a bit warmer. This forecast was making that look like a challenge, but if I could make it over Lemmon, I’d be able to dry out and warm up on Sunday morning. So the booties got stuffed into my already-full pack, and I decided to haul the extra weight just in case conditions were really bad.
Fast forward 12 hours, and Scott’s friend Jobie had just dropped us off at the start. Ten other guys were milling about, taking photos of each others’ bikes and joking around nervously. We lined up across the small Arizona Trail parking lot, posed for some photos, and then shoved off at 9:03 am. I’m so used to races where your positioning early in the race makes a huge difference that I had to restrain myself from jumping off the line, so I let Scott take the lead into the singletrack and then down the first of very many rough, loose descents.
By the time we got to the first gate, we couldn’t see anyone behind. Apparently they had taken a wrong turn and started hiking up a hill that used to be on the course but no longer was. Scott and I pushed a very mellow pace through the oak-covered landscape. The Canelo Hills sit at a bit over 5000’, so there were very few cacti, a nice cover of grass, and a surprising number of trees. The topography was also surprisingly rugged, which deep, narrow valleys in between the pointed hills. For 20 slow miles we wound through the hills, over low passes, and down loose streambeds. Most of the riding was on very enjoyable singletrack, although there were many short hike-a-bike sections up steep climbs. Chris and Stefan caught us a few miles in, and we rode together until Scott sliced the sidewall of his front tire when he tried to slip between a couple large rocks in the trail. We reluctantly left him behind, knowing he’d catch us before too long, but hesitant to just leave while his bike was broken. It is a race, but there’s also a strange mentality that, at least for me, encouraged me to stay with other riders. That probably had something to do with it being so early in the race, and also because I knew from riding the Grand Loop last year that 3 days of riding completely alone can send your mind to a strange land.
By mid-afternoon I rolled into Patagonia and stopped at the general store. Stefan arrived a few minutes later, then Chris and Scott. I grabbed a sandwich, a few candy bars, a gallon of water, Gatorade, and a Coke. The Coke went down the hatch immediately, shoved the sandwich in my jersey to eat when I started riding again, and filled up the bladder. A friendly woman asked where we were going, we said Superior, and she responded with a cockeyed look. She cautioned us that the weather forecast sounded bad, and I replied that we were prepared for that. She wished us luck and left. Then a few minutes later she returned and handed me a paper scrap with her address and phone number and told me that if the weather turned bad and we needed a place to stay, to give her a call and she’d put us up for the night. I thanked her, but I don’t think she realized that we’d be 50 miles or more north before midnight. Either way, it’s always encouraging when locals are so friendly.
Chris, Scott, and I rode out of town together and began a long stretch of dirt roads that climbed through the hills northwest of Patagonia. Stefan was somewhere not too far behind. I slowly ate my sandwich as we rode, and after having had great legs all morning, I was beginning to feel a bit of fatigue. We were making great time, a strong tailwind continued, and I tried not to let the legs worry me. It’s normal to feel a little tired after 6 hours of riding, right? Chris slowly rode away from us on the biggest of the climbs, and then I gradually left Scott behind. Eventually I caught Chris as we turned off onto a rough 2-track and began climbing again. We passed old shot-up cars, a Border Patrol truck that seemed completely uninterested in us, more shot-up cars, and eventually topped out on a ridge far above the broad valley to the west. We paused to eat a bit and then began descending.
This was where my race took a turn I was hoping it wouldn’t. I was riding the descent a bit cautiously, trying to weave between the sharp, loose chunks of volcanic rock. I had been successful at this all day, and I knew that there probably wasn’t more than a few more hours of really rocky riding before we ended up leaving these hills behind for a while. Coming around a bend, I missed the line I was trying to ride and ended up farther toward the edge of the trail than I wanted to be. I steered back left, and there was one fist-sized, very square rock in the track ahead, I looked at it, and then I hit it. Oops. Immediately I was being chased by an angry hissing, and I could feel the rear end of the bike getting squirrelly. Upon inspection, the tire had two ragged holes in the tread a centimeter apart, and a small slice just above the bead. Apparently I pinch-flatted, which is something I hadn’t considered being a potential problem with tubeless tires. Chris rolled up, and then Scott and Stefan shortly after. They watched me for a bit and then continued on while I put in a Slime tube in and then two boots to cover the holes. I pumped it up to probably close to 50 psi to avoid another pinch flat, packed my bags back up, and continued on my way. The ride was much rougher with twice as much pressure in the rear tire, but at least I was able to repair the tire.
The next few hours went by quickly. I caught Scott shortly after he detoured a short distance off course to get water, and then slowly rode away from him on the trails below Elephant Head. The course finally ended up on singletrack again descending some steep, rough terrain, and my hands and wrists were aching by the bottom. But the late-evening light was making everything glow with vibrant hues of gold and bronze, and I was pleased as punch to be out and enjoying myself. The legs were tired, but my mind was still feeling fesh. What followed was a seemingly endless section of slow, windy singletrack. Thorny bushes leaned toward you from all directions, and large, rounded rocks covered the trail in areas, making the riding challenging. The sun was setting, and I was hoping to get through this and to Madera Canyon by dark.
Chris came into sight as I turned off the singletrack and onto a dirt road. I caught him just before getting to Madera Canyon, and he was looking tired. I was a bit relieved to see this, because I was feeling pretty worn out myself. We found Stefan up in the parking lot searching for the spigot we had been told was there. Upon locating it, he lifted the lever and heard only silence. No water. We fiddled with the valves in a few underground boxes, but nothing seemed to produce water, so we rode back to the stream, which was fortunately flowing. I cooked up a freeze-dried meal of lasagna as the other guys, including Scott who had since arrived, filtered water. We all did the necessary changes for night riding - changing lenses in the glasses, putting on lights, and an extra layer or two of clothing for the descent that we’d have as soon as we began riding again.
We all left Madera together, flying down the paved road with a weakening tailwind. Half way down, I caught the glint of my light in the eyes of a nervous black bovine that was standing in the road not far ahead of me. It scrambled on its slippery hooves to turn around and get off the road as I barreled toward it. The close call got my adrenaline flowing, and I felt much more awake, which wasn’t a bad thing. We turned onto a dirt road and began climbing again, and Stefan and I slowly put some distance on Scott and Chris. The glow of the nearly-full moon was slipping around the sides of the pass we were climbing toward. Birds were still singing despite it being completely dark, and stars were spread out from horizon to horizon. We continued a steady, slightly uncomfortable pace to the top of the climb and then turned back onto AZT singletrack. After a bit more climbing, we began descending a winding, swoopy, smooth, well-constructed trial. This trail continued. On. And on. And on.
We stopped briefly at a gate to sit down and eat some food. I joked that I was glad that we had gotten over the climb because I wouldn’t have been able to keep up that pace much longer. Stefan replied, “I was only going that hard because I didn’t want to slow you down!” Great. So we were just killing each other on the climb in an effort to stay together.
I finished up grape-nut bar, Stefan his delicious-looking burrito, and we got back to the descending. This was the kind of riding that you got lost in, becoming completely detached from any sense of time and just rhythmically dropping down, gliding left, banking right, pedaling hard for a few seconds over a gentle rise, and diving into another quick turn. A bit of descending on a paved road and short climb interrupted the flow, but then we got right back at it on another section of the AZT that took us out into the wide, desolate valley southeast of Tuscson near the interstate.
I glanced up as we passed through a gate, noticing that clouds were moving in and looking a bit threatening. It was also in this early part of the night that I started feeling some pain in my left knee. A bit of dread crawled out from somewhere in my stomach with the onset of this familiar pain. I took some ibuprofen, stretched, and raised my saddle. The pain stabilized, and I tried to ignore it as we crossed through a culvert under the interstate. We were now around 100 miles into the course, and I was still feeling strong. After another long section of amazing singletrack, weaving between barrel cacti, prickly pear, and other pointy plants, we entered a long sequence of gullies and steep drainages that were covered with big saguaros. I wished it was daylight so I could see what this area really looked like, but we just pushed on.
Rain drops began to fall as a dark cloud passed overhead. The singletrack gradually became more rugged, rockier, and my knee pain increased a bit on the many short, steep climbs. I was looking forward to a short break at the picnic. But had I been riding alone, I probably would have stopped repeated on this section, mentally giving in to fatigue. Having Stefan behind me kept me going, and by 1:30 am we arrived at the picnic area, found the hidden water spigot that’s built into a small boulder, and filled up. Stefan decided to sleep for 2 hours. I was thinking of continuing, but decided with the coming rain, I should probably sleep a bit then rather than waiting until later. Stefan crawled under a picnic table, but I surveyed the sky and decided the rain wasn’t going to arrive in earnest while I slept, so I set my alarm for 90 minutes and crawled into my bivy. 10 minutes later it was raining steadily.
I managed to sleep soundly until I heard Stefan moving around. And Chris was there, too. I packed up and we all continued on shortly before 4 am. My knee was pretty achy, but my legs felt good. Before long we were back to more superb singletrack as we gradually descended toward Tucson. Stefan eventually gave in to sleep and stopped for a quick nap. Apparently he hadn’t been able to sleep at all while he was hiding under the picnic table. The first hints of daylight began to show themselves, and I pushed on weakly toward Tucson. I hadn’t eaten enough in the past few hours, and nothing I had sounded appetizing at that point. Chris and I turned onto pavement just outside of town, and he was immediately spun on in his one gear. Alone, my mind returned to my achy knee and empty stomach. Stefan caught up to me, and we limped up to the grocery store together.
I wandered up and down the aisles putting anything that sounded at all tasty into my basket while eating the best breakfast burrito I could remember ever tasting. It’s amazing how good some things taste in the midst of long rides. Chocolate milk, more Gatorade, granola bars, apples, and another breakfast burrito all went into the basket. I gave Maggie a quick call, repacked the bags, and waited a few minutes for Chris and Stefan to finish up inside. Somehow we spent an entire hour at the store.
When we pedaled off across the parking lot, my legs felt pretty wasted, my back side felt completely raw, and the knee wasn’t too happy. The next 8 hours were the toughest of the race for me - steep climbs, intermittent rain showers, fatigued legs, trouble staying awake, much discomfort when sitting, and just a general lack of motivation. Stefan and Chris kept going, and I think we all were keeping each other going quite a bit faster than we would have alone. We kept looking over toward Mt Lemmon, which was often shrouded in clouds and rain. When the clouds lifted, the snow line was gravely apparent, not that far above where we were. By mid-afternoon, we finally reached the Catalina Highway just as another storm moved in, this one with considerable hail and lightning. We sought shelter underneath the roof of an outhouse and watched cars coming down from Mt Lemmon with 4-6” of snow on top. Things didn’t look good.
A brief glimpse at the lower slopes of Mt Lemmon
We were all damp, and much of our gear was also far from dry. Chris and Stefan both looked uncomfortably cold and began talking about riding down to Tucson. I put on some warmer clothing and decided to head up the mountain. But it took another half hour before I really built up the motivation to head off. I wasn’t sure what I’d do at the top. It looked doubtful I’d be able to make it to Summerhaven by the time the store closed, even on dry roads, and some guys that just came down were talking about police ticketing anyone above mile marker 14 without 4WD or chains. And the course climbed to somewhere around mile 28. But I didn’t feel like sitting around, so I got ready. Waterproof socks, wet shoes, toe warmers, and waterproof booties covered my feet. A few layers on top kept my torso warm, and rain gear covered that. A few minutes later the sun came back out and I was roasting and peeling layers off.
My pace up the paved climb was slow to say the least. The road was dry, temperature around 40, and I my legs were feeling a bit better. I was still having a bit of trouble staying awake, but standing up on the pedals helped that, as well as my knee. Thirty minutes later, things were very different. Heavy snow was accumulating on the road, the temperature had dropped to freezing, and people were offering me rides. One generous soul even offered to go back to the top and wait for me and then drive me back down! I declined politely and pushed on, through 2” of snow, then 3”, and then 4”. Eventually I made it to the top as it was getting dark. Nothing in town was open, so I headed over to the fire station. Three guys inside were cooking up dinner and gave me some water. Apparently the store had closed a few hours early because of the snow, so it wouldn’t have mattered if I had been able to get up a bit sooner. And the bed and breakfast was full, so there was no where for me to spend a few hours to dry out clothing and warm up.
All that was left to do was put on my remaining layer, an insulated jacket, and tackle Oracle Ridge. I admit I was pretty apprehensive about this part of the course in the dark, covered in snow, and alone. I had no idea what to expect, other than that it was bad. But to my surprise, the snow mostly disappeared after 20 minutes of hiking, and the Traverse of Death wasn’t deadly at all. It was just annoyingly steep and overgrown. After steadily but slowly moving forward for a few hours, I made it through what Chris later called the Magic Gate and popped out onto a dirt 2-track. I stopped to eat, drink and rest. While I was sitting on the ground, my rear tire started hissing and quickly went flat to my dismay. I had ridden over a cactus in the dark, and the resulting hole was too big for the slime to fill. So I pulled that tube out, and tried to patch it. I then learned that Park Super Patches don’t have any adhesive qualities at 30 degrees, so I was forced to put in my other spare tube.
After a couple more hours of riding, one close encounter with a barbed wire fence, I reached the Cody Trail and began to make better time. But sleep was starting to sound better and better, and I realized I wouldn’t make it to the ranch house as soon as I had hoped. I crossed the Control Road at 2:30 am and stopped for the night. I hung up all my wet stuff on a fence, cooked up some Ramen with the rest of my water, and then slept for 2 hours.
I awoke to just a bit of daylight, many cheerful birds, and clear skies. I packed up and rode for a thirsty hour to the Kannely Ranch House. There I got water, cooked up some freeze-dried black beans and rice, and got set for the last day of riding. There was 100 miles remaining, my knee was feeling ok, and my legs were feeling surprisingly strong. After wasting an hour in the picnic shelter, I pushed on. I had enough food left to bypass Oracle, so I soon found myself on some rolling singletrack though saguaro-covered hills. The trail was faint but easy to follow, and I was really enjoying myself. This section set the tone for the day. The riding, for the most part, wasn’t fast, but the trails were great and the scenery was tough to beat.
On the gas line road I hit rock as I was trying to hold as much speed as I could from one descent into the subsequent climb, and I pinch-flatted the rear tube. The holes were each as big as a patch, so that tube was irreparable. I was down to one tube, now with one patch, to last the rest of the race. That made me nervous.
I finished up the gas line road as the day was warming up. I was loving all the saguaro cactuses, and pushed hard through a few miles of sandy drainage riding. Then there was more cactus- and cholla-rich singletrack through the hills heading toward Antelope Peak. My pace wasn’t high, but I wasn’t having any trouble staying on the bike. I rested just after antelope peak and ate the rest of my rice and then headed on to the Boulders section. This was another fast, windy singletrack that went on for miles. I was now making good time and it looked like I’d be able to get to the Gila before sunset. I also seemed to be an hour or two ahead of Scott’s record pace from the first year of the race, so I was determined to keep pushing as hard as I could.
Then I flatted. It was a slower leak, but I had to pull out the tube and patch it. The slime wasn’t filling the hole. A few minutes later I was on my way again, and soon found myself on a fast 2-track, and then a smooth dirt road. I was cruising along at 15+ mph, feeling great. And then I flatted again. Same thing. Same repair. Another ten minutes lost. But the evening light was mellowing, and the colors on the cacti around me and the cliffs and low mountains on the other side of the Gila River were stunning. I stopped to take some photos a few different times.
Eventually I made it to the final descent to the Gila, which as something like 1000’ of sandy ATV trails. You could rail the turns, banking on the sandy ruts and holding most of your speed. This went on and on, and I was grinning the whole time, even when sand was spraying in my face.
I made it across the Gila by sunset. As a reward, I stopped for a snack and changed out my lenses and put on the lights. I turned on my cell phone and discovered that I actually had service there, so I gave Maggie a quick call to let her know how I was feeling.
Almost immediately, she asked, “Has Stefan passed you yet?”
I paused. “What?”
“Has Stefan caught you? He was only 20 minutes behind not very long ago. Your SPOT points were almost on top of each other!”
“Umm, no. Huh. I should probably go.”
I packed up, shoved a bar in my mouth, dumped out most of the water I had in my still-full second bladder, and headed off, hoping to stay ahead of Stefan. I thought I had a lead of at least an hour, even with all my flats.
And then, with that though, I noticed my rear tire was feeling soft again. Shit. I stopped and pumped in a some air, hoping I could get away without having to pull out the tube and find the leak. I hopped back on and pushed hard up the beginnings of the climb. Two 1000-1500’ climbs remained, both of which I had been told were pretty steep with a lot of hike-a-bike. Then there was a long single-track descent to the finish. I hammered as the dirt road turned into a rocky jeep trail and entered Box Canyon. Standing, I kept it in the middle chainring and pushed hard. Some guys camping off the road shouted something, but I wasn’t really paying attention. I just stood and stomped on the pedals, getting off just once to climb up a short rock wall. Then back to standing and stomping. And looking back to see if I could see Stefan’s lights chasing me. I was actually surprised when I got to the top of the climb and began descending. Ok, half way there, I told myself. My legs were feeling the strongest they had since the first day, and my knee hardly hurt at all. I was amazed at how good the legs felt. I had felt way worse on days I did the 30-minute time trial in the Lefthand OHV park.
A hard right turn and I started the last climb. The only lights behind me were stars low on the horizon. Again I stood and stomped hard, climbing faster than I had in two days. Then the climb got steeper. And steeper. And I discovered I still had 5 more gears in the back. Click. Click click. Click. Click. I knew that as soon as I dropped to the little ring, I’d be spinning and my pace would drop by half. Stomp stomp stomp, all the way to the base of a cliff-like wall. I hopped off the bike and looked back. Still no lights. I quickly pumped up my rear tire again and then started up the wall, running for ten steps and then walking for ten. As I came over the top, I looked back again and saw Stefan. He looked like he wasn’t more than a few minutes behind.
Back on the saddle, I pushed as hard as I could up the second half of the climb. I took my pulse at one point - 150 bpm. I was expecting 190. It felt like 190. But the heart behaves strangely after so many hours of riding. Finally I crested the climb and turned off onto the final singletrack. And that singletrack went, of all places, up.
I was about to bonk at this point, and I knew it. I had almost nothing to eat or drink for the past 2.5 hours of hard riding, but I didn’t want to stop. Things rapidly began to fall apart. My stomach felt like it was turning inside out as it tried to find something to digest, my eyes would shut to blink and struggle to open again, and I kept thinking that Stefan was about to catch me. He normally descends a bit faster than I do, and on this long descent to the finish, I had a hard time convincing myself that he wouldn’t be able to catch me. After what seemed like hours of challenging descending, with a steep drop on one side, rocks and cacti on the other, and many power climbs, I had to stop to eat. I crammed two granola bars in my mouth and drank 20 ounces of water and then clipped back in. Only a few miles to go. Hopefully all down.
Across the valley, a light rapidly traversing the hillside caught my eye. Stefan? Only I had no idea if I had just been on that side of the valley, and if I had, how long ago it had been. The sense of urgency grew, and I pounded through rocky sections on the way down, at one point losing my bike off the side of the trail as my rear wheel slid over the edge. The rush of adrenaline, probably combined with the food that I had just eaten, awakened me, and suddenly my riding improved. I was back to hitting the lines I wanted, pounding up the climbs, and feeling half decent. One mile to go, according to the GPS. My rear tire was a bit soft again, but I didn’t want to stop and pump it up. I rounded a gully head and shot through a rock garden. And then a whirling hiss came from the front end of my bike as I was sprayed in the face with tire sealant! No! Luckily the sealant worked. For a few seconds. Then I got more sealant in the face. And then it sealed again. Now I had two soft tires, but a few minutes later, I coasted into a parking lot, a couple minutes shy of 11 pm.
The GPS told me this was the finish. I looked around and didn’t see anyone. I slowly pedaled around the lot and found it empty. Then I got all turned around and had to use the GPS to get back to the trail. No sign of Stefan behind me. I found a rock to sit down on and called Maggie. She was amazed that I was done, because my last SPOT point to register was 40 minutes old. I started shivering in my sweaty clothes and changed into whatever dry stuff I had left. I sat around for a bit, trying to figure out what to do. I called my parents, and they were relieved to hear I was finished and in one piece. And then I saw Stefan’s lights, gradually bouncing down the side of the valley. A few minutes later, he rolled into the parking lot, also happy to be done. We both managed to come in under Scott’s record time, so that was a big accomplishment for us.
The next few hours were spent in a daze, as we decided to ride the 5 miles into Superior. We were both pretty much out of food and water, starving, and very sore. The ride in to town was grueling despite being at a snail’s pace, but junk food at the CircleK made it worth it. We failed to get a room at the motel, so we slept in the city park across the street. It was 5 hours of amazing sleep. The bikes of Jefe and Chris appeared at the restaurant across the sleep in the morning, and we joined them for a greasy, delicious meal. Jefe had finished a couple hours after Stefan, and Chris shortly behind. We hung out in town until Stefan’s wife, Cheryl, arrived with little Sebastian to give us a crowded ride back to Tucson.
Ample sleep, plentiful food, and more sleep followed over the next few days. A week later I was still needing extra sleep and more food than normal, but my legs recovered quickly. The knee is another story, having put up with one more ride and then going south after that.
But a few weeks removed from the race, my feelings about it really haven’t changed. When I finished the Grand Loop, I vowed to never ride that course again, even to do it with the few miles of snowy trail I had to skip. But even right after the AZT, I would have considered doing it again in time. The course, while it did have some horrendous sections, a lot of hike-a-bike, and a few too many things that could puncture you or your tires for comfort, was phenomenal. Chris and Stefan both pointed out that just as you were getting completely fed up with a section, you’d crest a climb, round a big corner, or turn onto a new trail and find some of the sweetest desert riding you could imagine that would take you through the next few hours and through some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. I can’t thing of a better way to spend a few days in the saddle. Having some other strong riders to share it with at times added to the enjoyment, and finishing with such strong legs just topped it off. I left with far more confidence in my abilities than I’ve ever had before, and learned many things about both my body and gear choices.
Until next time I get down to the AZT, I’ll have some really fond memories to look back on…
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The summary stats for March:
Hours on the road bike: 20
Hours on the mountain bike: 60
Hours on the 'cross bike: 0
Hours of skiing, hiking, or climbing: 4 (one hike)
Total hours in the saddle: 80
Miles covered: didn't keep track
Total vertical gain: not calculated
Problems with the body: doing well!
Problems with bikes: 5 flats, 2 dead Crank Bros pedals, 1 Nano tire dead with a sidewall slice, 1 pair of worn out cleats
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
After managing to hold onto a very slim lead to the end and still having enough left in the legs to hammer through the final section past the Gila in less than 3.5 hours after only 4 hours of sleep during the entire race, my confidence is much higher for the Tour Divide, which is now less than 2 months away. This race was a great warm-up (or shake-down?) for that, and I very excited to be coming away with such an optimistic outlook. I just have some minor gear issues to resolve and an all-to-familiar knee problem to deal with yet again.
I want to put out a huge thanks to Scott for putting on this event, Scott and Paula for putting up with us crashing at and stinking up their house, Jobie for giving us a lift to the start, and Sheryl for picking us up in Superior and ferrying us and all our gear/bikes back to Tucson. This wouldn't have been possible without all their help. I also want to congratulate all the other guys who finished the race. Whatever pace you go at, this is a damn tough ride.
I'll try to write up a more full report of this in the near future, but I've got too much else going on right now to do that. Hopefully it won't be too long.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
But the field looks like it's going to be stacked with some very experienced ultra racers, and I'm willing to wager that at least one person will threaten Scott's record of 2 days 17 hours, assuming the weather isn't too bad. Follow along as the race progresses at the link below, and also check out the commentary that Mike Curiak will allegedly be providing over at bikepacking.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Boulder Cycle Sport to Host World Bicycle Relief Event
“This is a chance for us to give back a little bit to a great organization,” says Brandon Dwight, owner of the shop, which is located at 4580 Broadway, Unit B. “It’s an opportunity to get the fantastic Boulder active sports community involved in raising awareness about The Power of Bicycles and the impact a bike can have on someone’s life.”
The event kicks off at 7:30 p.m. with a chance to learn more about the program from World Bicycle Relief Grassroots head Katie Bolling. Then Boulder resident Kurt Refsnider will detail his grassroots efforts leading up to and racing in the 2,770-mile, self-supported 2009 Tour Divide this June.
“Hearing Kurt’s inspirational story as he trains for the Divide will be amazing,” said Bolling. “While his event is obviously pretty extreme, it’s just one example of the types of fun things folks can do on behalf of World Bicycle Relief.” Bolling said groups throughout the country are walking, running, riding and taking part in other activities that tell the World Bicycle Relief story.
World Bicycle Relief was founded by SRAM Corporation in 2005 and is supported by many leaders in the bicycle industry. World Bicycle Relief specializes in large-scale, comprehensive bicycle programs by providing supply chain management, technical knowledge and logistics expertise to poverty relief and disaster assistance initiatives. To date, more than 50,000 new bicycles have been provided in support of healthcare, education and economic development opportunities.
I spent this past weekend in Saguache again. It was actually slightly warmer there than in Boulder, and there was no fresh snow on the ground, so I was able to spend more time riding in the Cochetopa Hills. On Saturday I went out for an easy 4-hr ride - two climbs, two descents, and a whole lot of wind. I saw one person a couple miles outside of town and then not a soul for the remainder of the ride. Unfortunately, I was dressed for 45 degrees (temp when I left), prepared for 30, and ended up post-holing through thigh-deep snow up high at 21 degrees. I like the thermometer on my new computer...it helps justify why my fingers are so cold on rides like this.
On Sunday Maggie and I spent quite a few hours repairing/improving her inherited greenhouse. We added a new wall, fixed up some wind damage to the roof, installed rabbit-proof fencing, and made some tomato cages out of the old fencing. Then we got out for an easy ride exploring the Cochetopa Pass section of the Great Divide Route. I am going to be looking forward to that descent in June...