Thursday, September 13, 2012

VAPOR TRAIL 125 2012

Wow, another great adventure at the 2012 Vapor Trail 125. I was hell bent on cutting time off from last year’s effort but it was not to be. I was actually an hour and half slower in the end. 

I felt I was fairly ready for the hard all night effort and felt good at the 10pm start. The neutral start was fast paced and when we hit the dirt it was game on. I didn’t chase anybody and marked two single speeders in front of me just to keep track of where they were. While on the dirt road climb to Blanks Cabin where we would start our first single track shredding I passed Andy (single speeder) pumping up his tire. I knew he was fast and would be back at it hard to catch up.

I continued on in the dark looking forward to first ribbons of single track which happened to be the Colorado Trail. Another plus was that at the first rest stop there would be hot breakfast burritos served. While on my way on the Colorado Trail I encountered a fallen tree which had left a large divot in the trail. There were extra pink ribbons warning of a hazard on the stump. I thought the warning flag was referring to the divot and rolled on through. Well I was wrong as I rolled through and came upon a two to three foot from on the other side. I was committed and went ass over end. Luckily no injuries except that my right brake handle was pushed down.

I brushed myself off and adjusted the brake handle. A few other riders rolled up on me and asked if I was ok. It must have looked worse than it was. Well, it was a bad one but no harm. Let’s roll on.
I was a bit more cautious as I rolled on to our first rest stop. There is some rocky sections on the CT in the first 20 some miles. No reason to get crazy at this point in the ride. I looked down at my split times as I arrived at our first stop from last year that I had taped to my handlebars. I arrived within minutes from last years’ time. I scarfed down a burrito, refueled a bit and headed back into the night.

The next section (I break every ride into sections) was the grind to Alpine Tunnel. On my way to Alpine Tunnel, Brett Foster, a Seattle dude caught me. He is a single speeder as well and has the biggest beard I have ever seen on a cyclist. We chit chatted and pedaled on. We leaped frog a bit off and on while working our way to Tomichi Pass. After negotiating Tomichi Pass the next party was the 45 minute hike a bike up Canyon Creek up to 12,600 plus feet. The cold weather this year wasn’t nearly as bad as it was two years ago. Fairly mild in my book. I had put some toe warmers in earlier on Alpine Tunnel preparing for the cold one hour descent down Canyon Creek at the coldest part of the morning. I had also switched my gloves to my Swix lobster gloves, put on my heavier Kokopelli jacket and a beanie over the noggin. The descent down was uneventful and I surprisingly caught up to Andy which had passed me atop Alpine Tunnel while I was bundling up. He was riding his single speed full rigid and was bouncing about in the rocks. Cya!!! I had lost Brett on the hike a bike on Tomichi Pass as well.

I arrived at the Snow Blind Campground where a hot breakfast was waiting. I had two pancakes and two sausage links. Dave Weins always mans this stop and he doesn’t disappoint. He cleans your chain and whatever else you may need done. Very awesome! I hustled off looking to the old Monarch Pass road climb. This climb is about 9 miles in length and take a bit of effort. Brett had caught up to me and we made good time motoring up the dirt road pushing each other to keep pedaling hard.. We arrived at Monarch Pass around 9.30ish. I dropped some cold weather gear I would not need for the remainder of the ride and refueled/refilled and headed out to tackle the Monarch Crest trail. I was roughly half way through if not a bit more. The Monarch Crest Trail is one of my favorite trails on this course and I had 10 miles to pedal before I would arrive at Marshall Pass. Once at Marshall Pass I saw that I was about a 30 minutes behind my schedule. Whatever I guess keep going. I knew that the Starvation Creek loop was going to be hard. I had cleaned the climb out of Starvation Creek last year but I knew this year it was going to be hard. I just didn’t know how hard yet. Brett and I made our way to the single-track on Starvation and it was fast and fun. Great conditions to boot. I dropped Brett on the descent…I was in a groove on the downhill. I made it out of the single track section and started the climb out. It was getting warm and I knew all too well what was to come. I knew right away that I was not going to clean this section. I was walking early on. This climb is about5 miles long and I must have walked half of it. Damn that was torture. I just kept thinking to myself to get to the top and the rest would be gravy. This 12 mile loop took me 2.5 hours.  I believe last year it only took me 1.75 hours. Oh well not much I could do about it. I refueled at the Marshall Aid station and went to get this thing knocked out. There was some climbing on the next section before the downhill descent on the Silver Creek trail. This trail last a handful of miles and finally dumps you out in a creek bed before starting the Rainbow Trail. At this point you hit the last rest stop and I drank a Coke and a Redbull along with some chips. The time was 3pm and I knew my time from last year was not going to be beaten. The people at the rest stops were amazing and take care of you like a bike king. I chatted for a few moments wondering if Brett was going to come out of the creek bed soon. He didn’t show so I rolled out with 9 miles of single track to conquer before hitting the asphalt to the finish. The Rainbow Trail would be fun with fresh legs and at mile 105 or so it hurts the legs. It has lots of drains that you go into and climb out. No major climbs but enough to sting. I ripped through this section passing lots of weekend warriors. These people were having fun it seemed but so was I off and on. They were taking a full day to ride the Crest trail which was taking me just a fraction of their time.

I hit the asphalt with about 9 miles to go and with the 32x22 it was slow going when I hit the frontage road to the finish at Absolute Bikes.  I finished just after 5pm. Damn that was a long night and day. This was my third  consecutive finish of the Vapor Trail and I'm not sure I will be back next year but this course rocks. Next year I have my vacation time already planned to do the Colorado Trail Race so the Vapor Trail will be open ended whether I do it or not. Depending on recovery.

I want to thank Shawn Gillis, Tom Purvis and especially all of the awesome volunteers that make this such a special event. Hands down the finest event out there in the endurance world. Thanks!!!!

Finishing time 19 hours 6 minutes  126.1 miles.17,100 feet of climbing. 8601 calories burned. I believe I was third single speeder.

Also a big thanks to my sponsor; Kokopelli Bike and Board. My Salsa Selma Ti single speed bike rode great. 

Awesome write up in Mountain Flyer by Eszter Horanyi:

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