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.

4 comments:

Laura Kyriakakis said...

Nice write up. Sounds painful just reading about it!!

Judd said...

What an awesome race. Your post (and Matt T's) psyche me up for this race. Doubt I could do it in a 24 hour period - maybe my calling is to hang with the dudes cooking up bacon and eggs. But you never know. Sweet job!

Anonymous said...

stellar man...that is HUGE ride....well done! mm

Ray said...

Jeff,
Awesome job dude...inspiring!
Ray (from Quad bypass 2011)