Monday, February 24, 2014

Hovenweep Over niter

With the Arizona Trail Race fast approaching I decided I better put some weight on the bike and head out for an over niter in the four corners area. I decided on a route out of Cortez on County Road G that leads out to Sand Canyon and Cannonball Mesa. Great locations to ride and see old ruins. Further out is Hovenweep National Monument. I haven't been out there so I decided to pedal that direction making it a loop suggested by others rather than an out and back. There also has been a lack of snow in the very southwest corner of Colorado making the route doable this time of year.

I left Cortez on Saturday afternoon a bit late after leaving Laura at a girls function outside of Cortez. I was on my 29er Kokopelli bike running a 32x20. The bike was weighing in at 50 pounds. No pack on the back. A 20 tooth cog was a bit spinny but with the prior weekends effort of 245 miles I thought to take it easy on the legs. I pedaled to the bike shop to maybe get a map. I didn't bother with the map and chatted with the guys at the shop before heading out. I made good time on the single speed and had a headwind the entire 40 miles out to the turn to Hovenweep. Traffic out to the Rez wasn't bad and everyone was friendly giving me lots of room. There isn't much of a shoulder on this road. The turn to Hovenweep was traffic......the sun was setting and I had the entire road to myself. I arrived at the Hovenweep campground right after sunset only using my light for a short bit. 53 miles down in about 4 hours. Hovenweep has 31 camp sites and I saw only one other camper who wasn't so friendly it seemed. Bitter people everywhere. They probably don't like bikes. I set up camp and made some dinner. I had snagged some Rolling Rock beer before leaving Cortez and it tasted great with some cheap frozen bean burritos I had packed as well. Heaven. I used my Isbit fuel tablets and titanium stand to heat up my food. The Isbit stuff is light and cheap. Ive used alcohol stoves as well but I find the Isbit fuel tablets easy to use.

Usually when I camp out like this I never get great sleep it seems. Except on the Colorado Trail Race I did because I was so darn tired each nite. On this nite the owls were hooting and some other bird was making chatter all night. It was also a partial moon. Very awesome nite.

I awoke in the morning with lots of ice built up in the tent. I was thinking it was about 20 degrees or warmer. The park ranger said it was down to 15 degrees. WOW! I was warm in my set up with my 30 degree Stoic bag, SOL bivy and a few layers of clothing. My Patagonia Nano Puff jacket is key to sleeping in at these temps. No problems at all.

I got my butt moving with some hot oatmeal and hot coffee. When bike packing hot food goes a long way. Trust me. I got back on the bike and quickly viewed some ruins and pedaled out to highway 491 via County Road 10 and back to Cortez snaking my way over to Phil's World where Laura was riding and that would be my stopping point. I managed to pedal a few miles around Phil's before spotting Laura and her ride mates. I wanted 100 miles and I ended up with 111. What a sweet ride it was. More to come in the upcoming weeks.

50 pounds fully loaded.

Sunset coming.

Sunset on the Colorado/Utah border.

Hovenweep campgrounds are nice.

Dinner of champions!

My bivy setup.

Do I have to get up??? LOL!!!

Awesome morning.


Kind bars are great!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

The crazy start. Chaos!

24 hour town at night.

This was my 10th year at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.  I skipped last year after 9 years straight to take a break from this event. It wears on you to train and keep the focus in the winter time.
My first time was in 2004 where I was on a 4 person single speed team and came away with the win. I have been riding solo since. My best finish in the solo class is a 2nd place.

The weather was looking super ideal and as the weekend approached the temps were getting higher and higher. Record temps were coming for the area. I arrived in the Arizona desert on Wednesday afternoon to secure a fine spot on the course. I got a spot in the typical area we have camped at in the past. I was flying solo. Laura and the dogs stayed home. Just as well as the heat would have been bad for the dogs.I had a couple days to setup, pre-ride, and hang out with friends. Before you knew it was the morning of race day. With the heat settling in I wasn't sure how I was going to perform. The plan was to set out slow; make it through the heat and get to the night laps where the temps would be cooler. The race started with the typical Leman’s start which requires you to run about a quarter mile or so.  It’s sheer madness running down the road and finding your bike.  Dan Durland was holding my bike which helped immensely getting on course quickly. I set out on the first lap with a mild tempo holding back and not letting myself get sucked into the pace of the faster team racers. I tend to do this.

I got through the heat and stopped to make some hot food at 5.30 pm. This was a good time to eat some solid food and get my lights on. My go to lights for 24 hour racing our Ay Ups.  With the 6 hour batteries on low I get 12 hours out of each battery. No stress of worrying about changing out batteries. I heated up a Lean Pocket and downed it with a Coke. This did the trick and I was out rolling again. I made it to midnight with 8 laps in and at 1.30am. I actually felt a bit lonely coming into my empty camp. On the trail I could chat to the occasional rider which was nice to pass the time away. I had to keep focused on why I was here and the purpose. I stopped to eat some more hot food and heated up a McDonald's egg McMuffin. It doesn't sound healthy but it works. I could have made my own but this was easy. I kept on rolling and when I hit my lap 10 or 11 the sleep monsters were attacking big time. I was so tempted to stop on the side of the trial and take a cat nap. Anywhere look good to me. I Was also pissing four times a lap during the night and I couldn't figure out why. Too much sodium intake I guess. But I fought through and made it back to my pit. That was a rough lap. Dawn was approaching and I was looking forward to seeing the sun but not the heat that came with it. It was a long night. I was fairly joyous at this point that I hadn't cracked and didn't stop to sleep.

I came in off lap 13 just before 9am and I was feeling pretty shattered at this point. I walked over to The Back of the Pack camp and asked if anybody could look up the results. Judd looked it up and said I was in 4th. Damn. He couldn't lie and tell me I was in 20th place or something. I scurried back to my camp and headed back out into what felt like a war coming on. I was just 30 minutes in front of 5th and I had to make a charge to the end. All could think of was a podium spot. I didn't want to disappoint my wife, my sponsor (Kokopelli Bike and Board) or myself. This was going to suck. But you know what; this is what I do and I came to ride 24 hours. I made quick work or lap 14 and came charging back in and found I was still in 4th and it looked like the guy in 5th was slowing slightly. I refueled and went out knowing my 15th lap could be the lst lap and took it fairly easy but not to easy. I did the math in my head and knew that the dude in 5th was 40 minutes behind me and I could hold him off. Well, it turned out he didn't go back out after his 13th lap and I finished with 15 laps. I could have sneaked in a 16th lap but 3rd place was two on me with 17 laps. And the heat was beating me up pretty bad at this point. I came in and had to wait about 15 minutes to check into the tent at noon. Beers were being handed out by DJ, Fuzzy and Jake at the rock. Celebration time it was for the podium spot.

Some side notes:  My Kokopelli Bike Company ti 29er took another beating and didn't let me down. I ran a 32x20 with Ikon 2.2’s front and rear. Solid.

My brother Pat had lost his best friend Hurley of 12 years on Friday February 14th. I dedicated my ride for both of them. On every lap I put my fist in the air for Hurley when I would top out at and see Sassy’s cross on the trail. I don’t know the whole story of Sassy but it’s been there since I started racing this venue in 2004. They are both together now. RIP buddy!! I know Pat loved you with all of his heart and gave you a wonderful life. 

Thanks for reading. Next beating is the Arizona Trail Race in April. 

Enjoy some pics of my 5 days in the desert.