Monday, August 1, 2011

Sneffels Beating

The Sneffel's endurance ride went off at 6.30am on Saturday morning in Ouray with 9 brave souls. 4 single speeders and 5 geared doods. We started promptly at 6.30am. I was left to organize the sign in/out list as Matt Turgeon bailed. I think he made a wise decision. LOL!!

I was on my single speed 29er Ti Airborne with a 32x22. I had completed this race the prior year and it's funny how quick the memory of the pain and route diminishes in that one year gap. Pain is temporary I'm told. Instantly on the beginning climbs out of Ouray I was fullly in tune of the pain and route as we grinded up to Imogene Pass. It was all Colorado boys up front; Doug Byerly (Durango), myself (Rico), TR Larsen (Montrose), Thomas Ray (Aspen) and Paul Adams (Cortez) leading the pack. Myself, TR and Paul ride for the newly formed Kokopelli Bike and Board Racing team.

Toward the top of the pass Doug made his move with his spinny gears and charged ahead not to be seen again until we finished at the Ouray brew pub. We summited at the pass and ate some food and took a few minutes for pictures. The 4 of us charged down Tomboy into Telluride where we watered at the courthouse water spicket. Fast and furious we left Telluride and made our way up Jud Weibe and onto Deep Creek. The single track here is steep. Lots of hiking on the Deep Creek section. At mile 20 we had already amassed 6500 feet of climbing. Oh yeah...I remember this from last year. The 4 of us were spread out a bit with TR and I staying together for the most part. He seemed to have the better legs of the day and I was pushing hard to stay with him when we where actually pedaling. The hiking was no problem for me and we pushed hard on every hike-a-bike. TR and I hit the Last Dollar Road section at about 1pm which would put us at CR 9 around 2.30pm and hopefully before the rain came down. We made good time on the climbing on Last Dollar Road. We stopped in the Grey Head area to eat and hydrate before the bigger climbing began. I knew there would be some hiking on the 2nd to last switch back on the ascent to the summit of Last Dollar Road. My plan of carrying only 3 water bottles on the bike and no water bladder on my back was working great as I could water up at T-Ride and water up at a stash of water and food I had at County Road 9. TR and I hit CR 9 at 2.30pm and soon came Paul and Thomas. All together again just like a party. We ate and filled up with the water that I had stashed the night before. The Gatorade and Coke were most enjoyable at this juncture. We had a brutal 25 miles ahead of us and nearly 6k of climbing. The pain was staring me straight in the face. I was not looking forward to either the mud or the long hike-a-bike switchbacks that were to come. I wasn't exactly feeling great at this point. TR was feeling good and Paul was in survival mode and ready to pull the plug and bail down the highway but he seemed eager to continue and finish the route. Paul wouldn't be very happy later on. Thomas was in cruise mode and was looking forward to the adventure still awaiting us in the Dallas Divide trail system. We where at mile 50 with 10k in the legs and 8 hours logged. The clouds were forming and I knew it would be 50/50 with the rain. Optimism is key when diving head first into what you know may be a miserable handful of hours clawing to get through the terrain that lay up ahead. I went through this in the prior year riding solo for nearly 6 hours; miserable in the rain and mud. This time I would have company. We all 4 started the 7 mile climb to the Dallas Divide trail head. It was warm and muggy and I had to keep taking my endurolytes so I wouldn't cramp. I was losing mass amounts of electrolytes in the hot humid air. We made it up to the trail head where we turned left and we waited a bit to see if Paul was coming up. We made a visual and kept pushing on. We definitely stopped much more than I would have if I was flying solo. It happens at times like this. It's not always who is the fastest and I already knew I wouldn't beat my previous time. We were in 2nd place standing still with Doug up front. I was fine with that. It seemed all up hill from the start of the single track with some short downhill sections. We climbed toward Blaine Basin and onto the nasty 1.3 mile switchback ascent to the summit of Wilson Creek. This is a poorly designed trail and obviously not designed for a bike to be ridden in either direction. The rain had started while climbing into the Blaine Basin section but just a drizzle to make it feel nice and cool out. This was going to get ugly. We made our way over the summit of Wilson and down hill to the Moonshine Park section. The clay was beyond rideable yet alone hiking condition. We had to walk most of the way to the summit of Moonshine Park and slipping backwards at times in the clay to make the last 50 feet of Moonshine Park summit. STUPID! The descent was equally as fucked. I couldn't even roll my wheels while walking the bike. The clay and grass were enemy #1. I was pulling hunks of the clay from my front wheel and fork crown. We slid and crawled on down for a bit and we eventually hit some alpine type soils and we could ride most of the single track. We saw Paul up at the top and watched as he went down in the clay. DUH! I did go down once on a hidden root in the wet grass. Lots of hidden obstacles to watch for. I didn't need to get hurt at the end of a long day. The switchbacks down to the frontage road were precarious at times and I had to walk some of them. Paul had caught back on at the beginning of the 3 mile descent. Once at the frontage road it was a nice 3 mile cruise into Ouray and finish up at the brewery. Us three tied for 2nd overall with TR and I tied for 1st single speeders. The beer, bison burger and fries hit the spot. Thomas came in shortly behind us for a 3rd place finish and 5 rider in. three after some navigation issues. 3 other riders came in after midnight. These endurance rides can be super adventurous. You need to be prepared for a long day or night out in the extreme elements. Congrats to all.

TR and Thomas atop Imogene Pass. 2.5 hours into the ride.

Paul Adams and I atop Imogene.

TR and I posing for pics.

Thomas taking a nature break.

The Kokopelli Bike and Board race team members enjoying the after affects of finishing a monster epic ride.

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