Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 Edition of the Vapor Trail 125

Wow, another Vapor Trail 125 in the books. Done and done! This was my 4th finish. Some of the usual suspects showed up as well as a bunch of rookies to give a try at this monster.  It’s great to see old and meet new friends at an event like this one. It’s fucking tough. It starts at 10pm and ends when you make it back into town the next afternoon after battling over mountain tops well above 12k. Unless you are crazy fast and you are back in town before noon.  

I felt good going into the race. I tapered and rested my body the best I could. I tuned up with the 24 Hours of Sage in Gunny two weeks prior completing 10 laps before shutting it down. As I get older I don’t know if I get any smarter and I know damn well I’m not getting faster even though I try to convince myself that I am. Ha. My goal was to beat my fastest time at the Vapor; 17:38. The split times were reviewed and I even had them attached to my backup light on my handlebar. I knew where I had to be at each check point. I have finished the Vapor three times and I know the course well. Too well it seems. There are some demons out there to conquer. First and foremost was to finish the course and have a clean race and a fast race. Neither one of those goals exactly happened but it was a finish in the end. Just finish!

The race kicked off at 10pm with the neutral rollout being a nice cruise to warm up and chat with friends. I felt great pedaling up to Blanks Cabin where the route turns onto the Colorado Trail. Then the trail seemed soft and I felt like I was putting a lot of effort to get up the first few climbs. This was going to be a tough night I told myself. I was right. I didnt feel 100% going into the technical areas. I was bouncing everywhere and could not seem to get a good line. I was a bit off. I mucked my way through to the first check point and tried to down a burrito while I road on with a 30 second pit stop. I had filled my one bottle but didn’t top off my bladder in the frame bag which was almost costly as I ran out of water before aid station 3. As I cruised up the long grind to Alpine Tunnel I attempted to eat my burrito but I couldn’t stomach it and I left it for the wildlife to eat. Maybe a critter would enjoy it more than so than me. I saw a few people cruise by me and I didn’t push too hard as I knew what was to come. My stomach was slightly nauseous to boot so pushing hard was not in the cards at the moment. When I made it to the Alpine Tunnel turn I put in my toe warmers in my preparation for the battle in the cold along with my other cold weather items. The skies had cleared and the moon was out to light up the night for us. I made my way up and over the Alpine Tunnel putting us up at over 11k elevation. I have never seen this section of trail in the day light and would like to ride this again where I might enjoy it more so.

Tomichi Pass came and went with lots of hike-a-bike. I made the turn for the hike up Canyon Creek trail that would put us riders at 12,600 feet and an hour descent down to Snowblind in the coldest part of the night. The HAB up Canyon was torture. Big chunky rock and nearly straight up. I started my descent and felt my front brake lever pull all the way to my grip. Uh oh……. I tried to pump it and nothing. I had to walk most of the techy descent at the top and made my way down to aid station 3 taking much longer than I wanted. I came in just before 7.30am a bit off of my split time. Damn that was miserable. It wasn’t that cold and my clothing choice was spot on thus far. Nice!!! I had put on a cycling beanie under my cycling cap, toe warmers with duct tape over my mesh on my cycling shoes (Spez Rimes) Spez Deflector gloves, My Canari thermal knickers and my Freako winter jacket. I was comfy for the most part.

Aid station 2 at Snowblind campground. Pancakes and more!

I came into Snowblind and mentioned to Tom and Shawn my brake was dundo and that I may have to pull the plug once I topped out at Monarch Pass. I ate a pancake and two sausage links with two glasses of orange juice. Gold! I pushed on to go tackle Old Monarch Pass and started feeling great. I leaped frog with a few people during the night and early morning; Liz Sampey and a girl named Margaret Fitch. Tough gals. Did I mention I felt great on the climb to Monarch? I mean really great!  I smashed that climb passing a few people and came into aid station 4 at Monarch Pass at 9.30am. Two minutes off my split time from 2011. Not bad for walking part of the Canyon Creek descent with no front brake. The volunteers at the aid stations had been great thus far and at Monarch they were equally as awesome. Thank you to everybody that was out there helping us poor saps. One of the moto guys looked at my front brake and adjusted the reach adjustment and he was pumping it and it started to work better. I was going on! Nothing was stopping me now. Some brake is better than no brake. I ate a hard boiled egg, bacon, a cup of fruit, and two glasses of Coke along with two Motrin. Time to motor on…….Tracy and I left this aid at about the same time as well. She was riding strong. I had roughly 45-50 miles to go. I navigated the Crest Trail and made my way onto the CT and onward to Marshall Pass where aid station 4 awaited.

Sunday morning view.

I filled up my bottle and bladder, drank a Coke and ate a donut at aid station 4. Jack, another single speeder was there chilling out looking a bit crushed. Darn! LOL!!It was time to confront my good friend Starvation Creek.  I left the aid station with Tracy Thelan; not to see her again until she finished the race but only 10 minutes back. She is one tough rider. I descended into the single track after hiking a bit on the jeep road that would get us to the single track. I made quick work of the single track with my brakes working good. I made the left turn onto the road that takes us up to where we started. It is a five mile climb that sucks. I was consistently off and on the bike. I had cleaned this entire climb once in 2010 and today I wasn't cleaning shit. I made it a point to take in food and drink lots of water. It was hot and I finally took off my arm warmers. I still had on thick socks and toe warmers in my shoes but there was no time to mess with those. Suffer. Push on.  Get out fast. I did make fast work of the climb in roughly  45 minutes (SPOT tracker data) which seemed like hours at the time.  I was back at aid station 4 thanking the volunteers for the incredible assistance and making some comments about Starvation Creek. I downed another Coke, topped off my water and continued on to the CT headed to Silver Creek and the Rainbow trail.

I was alone from Starvation Creek until the finish. I made quick work of the Silver Creek Trail arriving at aid station 5 greeted by some super nice folks. I always wonder why Silver Creek has such a ridiculous finish where it transitions over to the Rainbow Trail. What’s up with being in the creek bed? Whatever. I drank an energy drink, had a rice cake, some peaches than rallied onto the Rainbow Trail, which seems to take forever on those last 9 miles. Up and down with some nasty little climbs to remind you that it is never easy on the Vapor Trail. I dumped out to the highway and coasting down the road spinning my 32x22 gearing as fast as I could go. My goal of beating my fastest time was out of reach but I wouldn’t be that much slower. I finished at 3.53 pm putting me at 17 hours and 53 minutes. Wow, what a night and a day out there. The weather was nearly perfect unlike my bike. Besides the brake issue the Koko bike ran great. I need new rotors and pads and maybe a brake bleed. 

Here is a rundown on my bike/gear setup:
  • ·         Kokopelli Bike Co ti 29er (medium) set up as single speed with Paragon sliders
  • ·         Ti Cycles 30 degree flat bar/ti stem from J&l (China)
  • ·         Koko Bike Co ti seat post
  • ·         Stan's Crest wheel set with 2.4 Ardent's (my first time on the tires…love them)
  • ·         XT Brakes
  • ·         Revelate Frame bag/Gas tank/Jerry Can
  • ·         50 ounce Osprey bladder and a 24 oz bottle on down tube
  • ·         AY Up lights on helmet and handlebars with a Fenix PD 32 UE as a backup.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading. Next up is my Rico 100 race on September 20th. Come out and play in the San Juan’s! 

Thank you Tom Purvis for the rv space!!!

In Gunny with idling Bud Light buses all night pre race on Friday night. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Escalante Days Race 2014

The Escalante Days XC Bike Race in Dolores, Colorado is held every year in conjunction with the celebration of Escalante Days. I had missed the race last year due to racing the Colorado Trail Race. The legs didn't want any business in that fun! True XC racing is hard and this race is long at over 30 miles.

The course is 30 plus miles covering almost all of the Boggy Draw trail system with the crux being the Bean Canyon climb toward the end of the race before riding the gravel road out to the pavement and back to town. The race spread out quickly after the hill climb. Kirby and Terry in my class blasted up the road and I didn't see them until the finish. I passed two Telluride single speeders in the first half mile of single track to never see them again until the finish. I was alone for awhile and had a group of geared riders pass me half way through Boggy Draw single track and I was able to get pass them when they decided to walk the off -camber cattle guard near the Bean Canyon overlook. I yelled to them "this is how a single speeder does it" and I blasted on to not see them until they finished. I didn't see any other riders the remainder of the race. My time this year has been consistent with prior years with my best time at 2:08.

I placed 3rd overall in the single speed class and 1st in my age group with a time of 2:15:20 taking home a crisp $100 bill. Thank you Dolores Rotary Club!

The 29er KBC ti bike once again did it's job and rode flawless. I ran a 32x19 gearing.

Next up is the 24 Hours in the Sage on August 23rd in Gunnison, Colorado where I will be racing solo single speed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

2014 Rico 50/100

It's time to start thinking about this ride!!!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Kokopelli Bike

Since I have two Kokopelli Bike Co rigs in the garage it was about time for Laura to get one of her own. And to boot her sister and  husband have their own as well......so  it was a bit of peer pressure to for her to succumb to getting her a new ride. We sold a few bikes of hers to build this one and I'm positive she will love it.

The new Kokopelli Bike Co is based on the fat bike ti frame platform and we built it up with a 29er plus wheel set to start off with the summer riding. We will have a fat tire wheel set built up in the winter for the snow but for now the 29x3" Knard tires mounted on Velocity Dually hoops are the do everything setup. We even went as far to put a fat bike suspension fork farmed out from Durango Bike Co. 100mm travel!

The ti frame is complimented by ti handlebars, stem and a ti seat post. Only the best for Laura's rig. Kinda looks like mine. It is currently set up as a 2x10 with modest SRAM components. We may change it to a 1x10 down the road. XT brakes with Alligator rotors for stopping power as well. The first test ride will be a 90 miler gravel grinder this weekend.

Let the fun begin!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Durango Dirty Century

The Durango Dirty Century is never an easy ride and this year proved it once again. My goal was to go under 13 hours but it wasn't to be. I knew my legs were tired from all of riding I have been indulging in. When It's a nice blue bird day in the San Juan's you have to get out and enjoy it. I have completed this route before on the single speed and on a true fat bike. I picked my Kokopelli 29 plus bike setup for this ride. I rode smooth and took in the views while suffering at the same time. I ended up riding with Aaron Boatman for most of the ride after leaving Hermosa Creek TH and some dude named Tony from Durango. Solid riders for sure.

The full rigid bike was rough on me especially in the last 20 miles. I ended up puncturing the front tire in the creek bed and fortunately I had my tire plugs with me and it held immediately. This was my first time to use a tire plug and I was happy with the results. And like a knucklehead I couldn't find my C02 cartridges. Cat Morrison rolled up and was kind enough to lend me hers. Thanks Cat!!! I had a hand pump but the C02 is much quicker. The tire held and I took it easy on the remainder of the course to finish at 9.30pm at the Junction Creek TH. I had also lost my two water bottles in the last section of trail. That sucks but I knew I was close to the finish and ate two gel packs to get some liquid. Cat was two minutes in front of me and was at the TH waiting. We rolled into town together just in time to order a burger and a beer and hang with other DDC finishers and laugh at what we just endured. Endurance riders are the best. I was beat.

Total time: 14 hours 22 minutes.

Blackhawk Pass

Aaron Boatman on Blachawk

Up toward Kenebec Pass
The Kokopelli rig took a beating

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June Riding

I haven't posted anything in a few weeks as not much has been going on but riding bikes. I did a photo shoot with Osprey packs recently which was cool. I should be in there 2015 publication.

No racing for me since the 12 Hours of Messy Verde but next on tap is the Durango Dirty Century this next weekend. I'm still on the fence of riding the 100 or 85 mile version. I guess I'll decide once I'm up there and need to make that decision. Just like my decision to ride the single speed or the 29 plus bike. Gears are nice and as of late I'm really liking the 29 plus bike. Otherwise my ride plans are as follows:
  • VR135 on July 13th
  • 24 Hours in the Sage August 23rd
  • Vapor Trail 125 in Salida on September 7th
  • Rico 100 September 20
  • Dolores 100 in October
  • Moab Trail Marathon November 8th

Here are some pics to enjoy from my high country riding this past month. Enjoy!

Osprey packs photo shoot at Ryman Creek.