Monday, September 28, 2009


Should've race expert.

The wheels are turning in my head about single speeding. I'm thinking about selling my surly commuter and building a single speed cross bike, then doing both the single speed and some of the 'A' bubba races.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Saturday, September 19, 2009


The bike ride with 1000 people was insane and epic. I learned a ton today and despite how amazing the trails are out here, I honestly feel like the race scene in Missouri is fantastic. Just a few summary thoughts of the experience today:

I had a good place on the starting line and was next to the coach of Ft Lewis Mountain bike team (real deal dude who rides with Lance). JHK, Jesse LaLonde (actually, someone told me it wasn't him), Carl Decker, Ned-fucking-Overend, and many others were all nearby. The race began with a neutral start and a cruise down main street before taking a right turn and putting the hammer down.

As I had said in the course description part 1, the course began with a long steady climb leading to a crazy steep section of switch backs with the highest point on the course the first summit. Up until the hike-a-bike section I was feeling really good and was super psyched with where I was riding. I think I was probably in the top 30 or 40 riders and with the competition mentioned previously, I was stoked. Then the hike-a-bike came and I basically hiked like a small child, taking frequent stops to let people pass me who were able to run while I was basically crawling.

The next section was a truly insane ridge. If you've ever ridden lake binder, and know the rocky turtle shell section, imagine those rocks x5 or x6 with a cliff on the side and a ton of people around you who actually know the trail and had ridden it a bunch (or were totally pro). This is the part of the race where I began to feel a bit bummed with my company. As I said, I was riding well, and the people I was with were either good and from Colorado or excellent mountain bikers from wherever. Anyway, there were a ton of sections I didn't ride and kept trying to let people pass, but of the 50-100 or so people that passed I bet 4 or 5 called out "passing" or "on your left". Instead, I heard numerous people bitching about how congested the trail was and how that was screwing up their riding. Really? SSWC....with 1000 riders from all over the place and you're bitching about congestion? Like I said, I was pretty bummed. Of course, I don't mean to make a blanket statement about all the riders, but it was a good example of how a handful of bad attitudes can make it a bit harder to have a good time and stay positive.

At the bottom of Raider Ridge, the course was relentless, up and down with multiple sections of trail that I couldn't ride, but I ended up having a serious blast and riding with some friendly people from Leadville and Boulder (which, made me pretty psyched I could climb with them).

One thing I'm taking away, is how incredibly the majority of the people I was around could descend. If mountain biking was like karate, I'd have a blue or brown belt on descents and most of the people I was around had black. They were amazingly fast.

I have no idea how I finished, but my time was somewhere around 2 hours and 2o minutes. I'll find out tonight how I placed, but honestly I don't really care.

There was 3200ft of climbing on this course and it ended with hand-offs of Oskar blues canned beer as soon as I crossed the line. That, in combination with no flats or mechanicals and I'm one happy (but tired) boy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Part 2 course preview

So my prior description took us to the high point of the course. That long slightly uphill slog prior to the heinous 18% grade does indeed have a bit more single track and technical sections than I previously thought (I rode it today).

From the high point on the course, racers will take a high ridge line descent with a cliff on one side and crazy boulders as the riding surface for many sections. If there is a section that prevents people form riding the course under the allotted time, it seems that the ridgeline will be the culprit. At the bottom, the course is more than half way over. At that point, there's a feed station but I've decided to carry a camel back with 72oz of water and a bottle of perpetuem on my bike.

The last 2 hills are what many of the locals are freaked out about. The hills lie on a loop of single track trail and usually are ridden in the opposite direction, I assume because one of the hills that we'll be going up, is a lot of fun to ride down. I don't really know what to expect from that section of trail, as I didn't get a chance to get over there. Oh well, much like the rest of the riding around this town, it will probably rock some socks, snap some wrists, and all that other stuff.

Next post will be after the race!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Course preview (part 1)

Let me introduce you to the course:

The first shot above is what we encounter after riding up some pavemented roads in down town durango. About 3.5 miles in, we find our first trail: The trail is called powerline, and like it sounds is a double track, gravel trail underneath some powerlines that transverse a ridge. This section is slighlty uphill and quite long.

The powerline gets a git steeper towards the end.

Then, the powerline turns into singletrack and basically continues with similar topography, except that the single track is tight and is a signal that the pain is soon coming. At 7.33miles, the hike-a-bike begins. Keep in mind, that is 7.3 miles of moderate elevation it will be an interesting race to that point. At 7.84 miles the king of the mountain will crest the highpoint of the course, which I believe is about 7900ft.

The remaining pics are randoms from the last few days.

day 3:
durango rocks. you should come. best single track ever. soil=perfect.

Colorado Days 1 and 2

Photos to come...

We arrived Tuesday morning at around 7:30am at Denver Airport and after Cassidy did laps around the rental car facility at full speed for 20 or 30 min, we were off in our sweet Kia mini van. There are 2 things I have learned about myself on this trip so far...well, one I actually already knew but was reminded: 1. I love riding my bike up hills and 2. deep down, I am a mini-van man.

After a quick stop at Regis University, so that I could prove it actually does exist and truly has real classrooms with teachers and black boards in classes besides herbology we were off to green mountain for a quick ride.

Green mountain is a city park of lakewood colorado, 15 minutes from Regis and right across the highway from redrocks. The riding consists of a smooth, fast single track loop and a couple miles of fireroads. I think the loop is about 6 miles or 7 miles. I used to ride that trail 3-6x per week while in college and would always do it in the same direction. 11years later, I was back with my single speed ready to give the first steady climb a try with my 32x17 gearing and 29er tires. I also wanted to shock my legs and body a bit in preparation for the coming days at altitude so I decided to ride 4x 5minutes hard intervals during my loop. I set-off from the parking lot and grinded my way up the 15 minute, non-stop climb to the summit of the foothill. The gear choice definitely was hard in some spots but overall I'm not too worried about it. From the top, you can see all of Denver and north up to Boulder. It felt great to be back there.

The descent takes a fire road down some steep sections of terrain and I have to confess that I never really knew the true power of my 29er bike until that descent. I used to be able to go down with very minimal, if any brake usage. This time, I think my skin would have melted cus I was just going way too fast not to brake.

The last section is fast, flowy single track which takes one back to the parking lot. From there, there's an option to connect green mountain to a sweet ridge or Red Rocks across the highway. Today however, an hour was all I needed.
I ended up with the falling data:
Ride time: 59 min
Avg HR: 147
Ascent: 1700 ft (recall that my total ride time included a huge down hill and relatively flat single track so the majority of the climbing was within about 20 minutes of biking!!!! i love colorado!!!)

Aftewards we went off to 75 beers on tap and lunch at Falling Rock Tap House in downtown Denver then onward to summit county for the evening.

Day 2: long drive from summit county to durango. not much to say except that Ouray is amazing and you should go there. Also, we stopped at silverton for me to ride a bit: about an hour on fire roads, but all were above 10000 feet and I managed about 1500 vertical feet of climbing.

We arrived exhausted to Durango with a baby who was not going to let us put her back in the car in order to attend any of the we ended up ordering pizza (Homeslice, which if you're ever here...check it!) and crashing at about 9pm.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hermann Bearcat cross

Took the trip to Hermann on Sunday for the first cross race of the year. It felt a bit weird and inappropriate that the temps were in the 80s and everything was as dry as can be. Oh well, lots of familiar faces around and people were psyched to get the season started.

My aunt Mary-Jo and Uncle Tom are pure genius and decided to sell fresh brewed, individual cups of coffee (and hot chocloate!) at all of the cross events this fall. Please stop by and enjoy a cup...Maggie had some and she basically only likes coffee from one place (Meshuggah's) and she thought it was awesome coffee. The proceeds go towards a good cause.

As for the race, I did the cat 3 race and as you can see from the photos below, there wasn't a huge turn-out but nonetheless there were some strong people there.

We started and within a half of a lap I found myself off front. There was a steep, but short climb where most of the other racers were running for the first lap, then having to remount on an off-camber section of grass before a bumpy but fast descent down towards a maze of ribbon. Being able to attack that climb without getting off to run is the biggest difference for me between this year and last year. It was soon after that climb where I first pulled away off the front.

After a few laps, I was joined by Alex Gormann (sp?) who I raced against every event last cx season and it was basically just like old times. We worked together and ended up having a great time. Towards the end of the lap, I botched a good opportunity to attack before the last few turns and the barriers, which would have served me well since the technical stuff was more of my strength. Since I didn't attack, we came to the last pavemented straight-away together and laid down our sprints. Yikes. He crushed me. Oh well...riding a single speed all summer did some great things for my climbing and technical skills, but my sprint is definitely lacking compared to my brethren (or perhaps cousins is more appropriate) of the road.

Overall, it was a great start to the course, great people, a nice warm late-summer day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tall Oak Challenge: 6hr solo men

rode a mountain bike in a race for 6 hrs and 16 minutes today.

data:gear- 32x17 (good, but maybe could have gone a bit higher...34x17 or 32x16?)
tires- bontrager 29-3 TLR in back and conti mountain king in front. (perfect)
avg HR: 158 (shit, that's high...too much coffee?)
altitude gained: 4000ft
laps: 10 on a 7-ish mile course
calories taken in while on bike: 1038 (i think i have a high metabolism)

My race was divided into three time frames:1. laps 1-3--> going pretty fast, thought I was the first solo for awhile then got caught by 2 dudes on geared bikes. At first, they were both faster than me on the downhills, we were even on the flat single track, and I had the advantage on the climbs. At this point, I was feeling great: legs were good and I was just trying to take things step by step...focusing on my breathing and not on the number of hours I had left

2. laps 4-8--> Myself and this guy Mike, me holding his wheel for 95% of the lap then me taking off at the last climb, so as to get to the pit before him (he had pit help, handing him bottles, I had to stop). Over time the downhills got more smooth and much faster. Those laps weren't too bad physically (except for standard back and shoulder pain that basically I just tried to shut out of my mind). We were going pretty slowly, my heart rate settled down quite a bit and I continued just focusing on my breathing and trying not to think too much. I began to realize that if I made a mistake or if I took to long at the pit, Mike would attack. This was important for the end of lap 8.
3. Laps 9-10--> At the end of lap 8, I told Mike I was doing what I had been doing...attacking the last climb so that I could stop at the pit (so he wouldn't leave me). Anyway, I grabbed my water then waited at the woods for him...only for my wife to tell me he was walking, so I thought I'd just start riding. After a few minutes, I realized that the pace laps 4-8 really set me up well for the last two. I still had a lot in the tank and started using my single speed to its full advantage (which I hadn't been able to do holding someone's wheel who had gears). I kept my momentum, attacked the hills, ran a few rocky sections (which if I didn't, caused my hamstrings to cramp pretty bad), and generally felt like I was just out for a nice ride.

After 10 laps I came across the line thinking I may have won little did I know there was someone ahead of me who I didn't know about, who had done 11 laps. Oh well, second place in a race that I just wanted to finish is fantastic with me.

Endurance racing seems to be at least 50% mental and 50% divided between nutrition, equipment, fitness, and skill...with nutrition probably compromising the majority of that side of the pie. It was a really cool, almost out-of body experience in this race; an awesome culmination to a year of riding and racing. My story is that I raced when I was 18-20; switched to other things with the intention of picking bike racing up again at some point. Then in my mid-twenties, got diagnosed with thyroid cancer that had spread to my lungs and from ages 25-28 I was too worried about mountain bike racing because of my lungs. Last summer, my doctor told me that my lungs were probably clear so I started racing again about a year ago.

Anyway, cross starts next weekend then there's a trip to durango planned...can't wait for more racing!