Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eastfork.Blackhawk.Scotch Creek

Laura crossing one of many creeks of the day on our way to Blackhawk Pass.

Celebration Lake at Bolam Pass.

Yep, we are going up there. Blackhawk!

At 12k elevation. Not a breeze in the air. Perfect peace up high.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer Demise

Alta Lakes.

Somewhat of a winter storm hit the Colorado terrain on the front side of the weekend to make for an interesting ride on Sunday in the Alta Lakes area. Saturday was a wash as the rain didn't subside until late afternoon leaving the local mountain tops with a nice white cap.

Shawn trying to figure out what the pallets are doing in the creek. Where is the line?

Shawn enjoying the snow.

A beautiful Colorado day after the storm blew through.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vapor Trail 125 Mountain Flyer Write-up

Here is a great write-up by Mountain Flyer Magazine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vapor Trail 125 Finish 2011

Another notch added to the Vapor Trail finishing belt. Yep, finished in 17 hours and 38 minutes this year. I shaved an hour and 20 minutes off of last years time. 2nd place single speeder. 18th place overall out of nearly 40 finishers. I'm pretty stoked. The field as a whole was stacked with super talented cyclist. We had a mix of Colorado Trail racers and Great Divide racers in the field of 49 starters. This race is not a joke and only for the serious endurance racers. 125 miles and 20,000 feet of climbing. I ran a 32x22 which was a good call as I almost ran a 21 tooth. (ask Eszter how the 21 felt but than again she is tougher than me.) Single speeders aren't necessarily smart people.

Monarch Pass transition. Change shoes, socks and eat bacon and eggs.

 I wasn't totally sure of how I would perform but one of three goals for me this year was to knock off time from last years finish. Done. And secondly not crack, bonk, cry, climb into the pain cave or whimper during the ride. Done. Thirdly, no mechanical issues. Done.

The 10pm start was exhilarating as we rolled of of downtown Salida with a full police escort lights a blazing and a good size crowd to send us off. We rolled out of town in a neutral roll out for a handful of miles and it was racing time when we all  turned onto the gravel road heading to Blanks Cabin where the Colorado Trail would greet us with techy fun single track. You have to be heads up on this section and ready for the night time riding. Some were not prepared, most were.

I made it to the first aid station and quickly downed some nutrition and more fluids. HEED was my friend through out this race as every aid station was well stocked with it. I filled my water bottles and jumped back onto the bike. Now it was time for a 10 mile grind to Alpine Tunnel where some hiking awaited us. I made it up to the Alpine Tunnel railroad grade where I stopped and changed socks as my feet were sweating in the Spez Defroster winter shoes. I also popped in some toe warmers with the fresh wool socks for the upcoming descent off of Granite Mt where the coldest temperatures would be. But first we had to make the ascent up Tomichi Pass which I walked much of and the dreadful march up the rocky single track to the top of Granite Mountain. The handful of miles to the highest point of the race is rocky, straight up at times and loose. I was definitely struggling to get good footing at times. After the climb up to the high point of 12,900 or so it is a 14 mile descent which takes more than an hour. I rode it safe and actually walked the very top section in the dark. It throws a bit of everything at you; techy scree and rooty single track. Once in the last few miles it gets really fun and you can fly through the trees without much effort. But tt seems to never end at 6am in the morning. I was by myself through out this section and arrived at aid station number two at 7.15am. I was ahead of my schedule from last year by nearly 45 minutes. Awesome. Here at the Snowblind aid station was Dave Weins cooking up breakfast for us riders. I had some sausage and eggs and cozied up to the fire for a break to warm up and eat. The top notch volunteers lubed my chain for me and I filled my bottles and I headed out to conquer Old Monarch Pass where last year I cracked a bit. Not this time my friends. I rode with John Fulton and Craig for most of it and we battled it up to the top and over to Monarch Pass where I was happy to arrive a full hour ahead of lasts year time. My energy level was high and I was re-energized to see my wife Laura there to help me transition for the next half.  The Salida high School mountain bike team was there to help as well. They grabbed my bike; lubed the chain and filled my bottles. I was impressed and grateful. I sat in the chair and was catered to by support staff and Laura. Bacon and eggs were hand delivered to me. I felt like a VIP. I changed my shoes and socks and kept a wind vest and knee/arm warmers for the next section. The rain jacket was still strapped to my handlebars for any inclement weather and sans pack for the entire race. I had a frame bag and feed bag. That's all I needed to carry everything. Shortly after I arrived at Monarch, Eszter rolled in. She was out quickly after receiving the same VIP treatment I was enjoying. I jumped up  and hoped on the bike. Scott Morris was laughing at me knowing all to well what I was doing. I'm not getting chicked. I caught Eszter quickly and was hoping we would ride together a bit but she dropped off  the pace and I was not to see her again until the finish. I was definitely feeling good with the 22 tooth.

I was off to navigate the Monarch Crest Trail, over to Marshall Pass, and my all time lest favorite; Starvation Creek. In my opinion there is no reason to send us down Starvation Creek only to climb the 5 plus miles and 3k of climbing back to where I had just been. Really!!! I was hell bent to do this 12 mile loop in less than two hours. I left Marshall Pass at 11.11 am and was back at 12.50pm. Nicely done as I didn't stop once to eat, drink or piss the entire loop. I cleaned the whole climb back up not stopping once. It hurt like hell. I was with John Fulton once again as we leap frogged the entire race and with a geared rider, Cameron Millard from Leadville. Cameron was putting down some serious wattage to get out of this loop. I think he may have been aggravated he had two single speeders matching his effort. He was breathing pretty hard and he didn't want to talk much. I was cool with that. Let's get the hell out of here. After I arrived back at Marshall Pass to reiterate my hate for that section to the support staff. They jsut laughed.  I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich washing it down with some Coca Cola and headed out to ride Silver Creek and finish on the Rainbow Trail to highway 285 and back to the finish in Salida. The next 20 plus miles took me two hours and 38 minutes. It felt like 5 hours. The Rainbow trail seems to never end and I felt like Bill Murray did in the movie Groundhog Day. F*&$ me!!!! Get me out of here is all I could think about. I knew I was almost finished so I just pedaled and pedaled. The descent to highway 285 was fun and took me 30 minutes to ride the asphalt back into Salida. I arrived at the finish line at 3.38 pm on Sunday after starting at 10pm on Saturday night. I had crushed my previous effort by an hour and twenty minutes. I was very happy. I felt super great at the finish and Laura mentioned to me that I looked like I hadn't even raced and must have hid in the bushes. LOL!!! I was on a high for sure. Sweetness.

Thank you to the incredible volunteers at the aid stations and to Shawn Gillis, Tom Purvis and Heidi Slaymaker for putting together another epic Vapor Trail 125 event.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor Day

I already posted of our bike packing trip but additionally we got out for some high country riding on Sunday and Monday all the while trying to taper for the Vapor Trail 125. It is hard for me to taper down. When the weather is great and you live where I do it is hard to chill out. Laura and I rode up Roaring Fork on Sunday over to the Divide Road and onto the Colorado Trail and down Scotch Creek. A very good ride with both road and single track thrown together. 38 miles and 4k of climbing. I took the Vassago with the full rigid for this ride as the Airborne is ready and primed for the VT125. It was a fun filled weekend with Paul Adams and his wife Kari coming up to the house from Cortez on Sunday evening for some dinner and drinks.

At the top of Roaring Fork.

Hey now!

On the Colorado Trail posing for a pic..

Laura cruising the Colorado Trail.

Additionally I got over to Durango on Thursday of last week to have Chris at 3D Racing install two additional water mounts on my bike. One bottle mount just doesn't cut it on long rides and I rather not carry a pack on rides shorter than 200 miles. Chris at 3D Racing is a super nice guy and we hung out for two hours talking bikes amongst other random topics. I could have hung out all day talking to him. He has been building bikes out of his shop at the same location for 20 years. Awesome. I don't get why Vassago doesn't install at least two mounts on the small frame. I now can get a tall bottle into the seat tube cage. Sweet! And for longer rides I can put on my third bottle cage that is located on the down tube.

2 of my 3 bottle mounts. The 3rd mount is on the down tube near the BB.
 On Monday Shawn Gregory and I rode up Scotch Creek to the Colorado Trail and down salt. 25 miles and 3500 feet of climbing. I need to rest now.

At the intersection of Salt and the Colorado Trail.
 I upgraded to the smaller and lighter SPOT 2 and took it for a test run. Works great.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vapor Trail 125 on Tap

That time of year again. The Vapor Trail 125.

Check out the website for the Vapor Trail 125:

Follow all of the racers on starting at 10pm on Saturday September 10th in Salida, Colorado as we navigate 125 miles/20,000 feet of climbing on some of Colorado's finest single track.

And if you use in any fashion please donate to keep free tracking available for all of us racers and spectators. Click on the "donate" button to contribute. Thank you.

SPOT GPS messengers allow us to be tracked in near real time as the race progresses. If you spend any time at all in the back country a SPOT could save your hide. I just upgraded to the SPOT 2 which is smaller and lighter than my SPOT 1 which happens to be for sale.

SPOT 2 GPS Messenger

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Biikepacking Fun

The bike setup.

Some call it bike packing while others call it bike camping. Nonetheless it is the same concept; load the bike with gear and peddle somewhere and camp. Get up in the morning and peddle some more. Some do it for days, weeks or months. We did it this time for one night. Laura, Paul Adams and I left Rico at 6.30pm on Friday and arrived back in Rico early afternoon on Saturday. We peddled over to the Burrro Bridge campground where we made camp and made some cup-o-soup and drank a bit of alcohol we hauled with us. I packed in two PBR's while Laura and Paul packed in some hard alcohol. I was excited to try out my new alcohol stove made by Westwind that runs on any alcohol including everclear. Recommended is the denatured alcohol which works the best from what I read (less soot). It worked flawlessly. The stove is small and compact with it burning alcohol which isn't as flammable as most stove fuels. Eco friendly. The new Stoic 30 degree sleeping bags were just awesome; lightweight at 1.6 lbs with 800 down fill. Laura and I were both warm with the morning temps at around 35 or so. We used the Medical Adventure Kits lightweight bivvy's that weigh in at 8 ounces with the only drawback that they keep in the moisture. Otherwise a great combo and lightweight for bike packing. It was my first run with the Revelate bike packing bags to boot. The seat pod and handle sling/pocket were very nice. The less weight on your back the better. Overall the ride was great, not too long or not to short. 38 miles and 5k of climbing. This was Laura's first forray into the bike packing realm and she really enjoyed it. Bike packing changes up the rountine biking. Sure, you have to buy more stuff but it is really worth it. I'm really focused on getting my gear dialed in and being ready for the Colorado Trail Race next summer. It is my new obsession I guess we can call it. Also on tap will be a bike packing Kokopelli Trail overnighter. Maybe September 17th or 24th. Anybody in?

Going that way!

Laura on the Dunton road.

The bivvy setup. Laura nice and warm.

Awesome views.

Time for some hike-a-bike on the West Fork.

On the Calico where it meets Horse Creek.

Paul getting after it on the Horse Creek single track.

Paul enjoying the flowers and scenery.

Where the f*&^%$#@ singletrack go??!!!!

Burger and beers at the Enterprise in Rico.