Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 Edition of the Vapor Trail 125

Wow, another Vapor Trail 125 in the books. Done and done! This was my 4th finish. Some of the usual suspects showed up as well as a bunch of rookies to give a try at this monster.  It’s great to see old and meet new friends at an event like this one. It’s fucking tough. It starts at 10pm and ends when you make it back into town the next afternoon after battling over mountain tops well above 12k. Unless you are crazy fast and you are back in town before noon.  

I felt good going into the race. I tapered and rested my body the best I could. I tuned up with the 24 Hours of Sage in Gunny two weeks prior completing 10 laps before shutting it down. As I get older I don’t know if I get any smarter and I know damn well I’m not getting faster even though I try to convince myself that I am. Ha. My goal was to beat my fastest time at the Vapor; 17:38. The split times were reviewed and I even had them attached to my backup light on my handlebar. I knew where I had to be at each check point. I have finished the Vapor three times and I know the course well. Too well it seems. There are some demons out there to conquer. First and foremost was to finish the course and have a clean race and a fast race. Neither one of those goals exactly happened but it was a finish in the end. Just finish!

The race kicked off at 10pm with the neutral rollout being a nice cruise to warm up and chat with friends. I felt great pedaling up to Blanks Cabin where the route turns onto the Colorado Trail. Then the trail seemed soft and I felt like I was putting a lot of effort to get up the first few climbs. This was going to be a tough night I told myself. I was right. I didnt feel 100% going into the technical areas. I was bouncing everywhere and could not seem to get a good line. I was a bit off. I mucked my way through to the first check point and tried to down a burrito while I road on with a 30 second pit stop. I had filled my one bottle but didn’t top off my bladder in the frame bag which was almost costly as I ran out of water before aid station 3. As I cruised up the long grind to Alpine Tunnel I attempted to eat my burrito but I couldn’t stomach it and I left it for the wildlife to eat. Maybe a critter would enjoy it more than so than me. I saw a few people cruise by me and I didn’t push too hard as I knew what was to come. My stomach was slightly nauseous to boot so pushing hard was not in the cards at the moment. When I made it to the Alpine Tunnel turn I put in my toe warmers in my preparation for the battle in the cold along with my other cold weather items. The skies had cleared and the moon was out to light up the night for us. I made my way up and over the Alpine Tunnel putting us up at over 11k elevation. I have never seen this section of trail in the day light and would like to ride this again where I might enjoy it more so.

Tomichi Pass came and went with lots of hike-a-bike. I made the turn for the hike up Canyon Creek trail that would put us riders at 12,600 feet and an hour descent down to Snowblind in the coldest part of the night. The HAB up Canyon was torture. Big chunky rock and nearly straight up. I started my descent and felt my front brake lever pull all the way to my grip. Uh oh……. I tried to pump it and nothing. I had to walk most of the techy descent at the top and made my way down to aid station 3 taking much longer than I wanted. I came in just before 7.30am a bit off of my split time. Damn that was miserable. It wasn’t that cold and my clothing choice was spot on thus far. Nice!!! I had put on a cycling beanie under my cycling cap, toe warmers with duct tape over my mesh on my cycling shoes (Spez Rimes) Spez Deflector gloves, My Canari thermal knickers and my Freako winter jacket. I was comfy for the most part.

Aid station 2 at Snowblind campground. Pancakes and more!

I came into Snowblind and mentioned to Tom and Shawn my brake was dundo and that I may have to pull the plug once I topped out at Monarch Pass. I ate a pancake and two sausage links with two glasses of orange juice. Gold! I pushed on to go tackle Old Monarch Pass and started feeling great. I leaped frog with a few people during the night and early morning; Liz Sampey and a girl named Margaret Fitch. Tough gals. Did I mention I felt great on the climb to Monarch? I mean really great!  I smashed that climb passing a few people and came into aid station 4 at Monarch Pass at 9.30am. Two minutes off my split time from 2011. Not bad for walking part of the Canyon Creek descent with no front brake. The volunteers at the aid stations had been great thus far and at Monarch they were equally as awesome. Thank you to everybody that was out there helping us poor saps. One of the moto guys looked at my front brake and adjusted the reach adjustment and he was pumping it and it started to work better. I was going on! Nothing was stopping me now. Some brake is better than no brake. I ate a hard boiled egg, bacon, a cup of fruit, and two glasses of Coke along with two Motrin. Time to motor on…….Tracy and I left this aid at about the same time as well. She was riding strong. I had roughly 45-50 miles to go. I navigated the Crest Trail and made my way onto the CT and onward to Marshall Pass where aid station 4 awaited.

Sunday morning view.

I filled up my bottle and bladder, drank a Coke and ate a donut at aid station 4. Jack, another single speeder was there chilling out looking a bit crushed. Darn! LOL!!It was time to confront my good friend Starvation Creek.  I left the aid station with Tracy Thelan; not to see her again until she finished the race but only 10 minutes back. She is one tough rider. I descended into the single track after hiking a bit on the jeep road that would get us to the single track. I made quick work of the single track with my brakes working good. I made the left turn onto the road that takes us up to where we started. It is a five mile climb that sucks. I was consistently off and on the bike. I had cleaned this entire climb once in 2010 and today I wasn't cleaning shit. I made it a point to take in food and drink lots of water. It was hot and I finally took off my arm warmers. I still had on thick socks and toe warmers in my shoes but there was no time to mess with those. Suffer. Push on.  Get out fast. I did make fast work of the climb in roughly  45 minutes (SPOT tracker data) which seemed like hours at the time.  I was back at aid station 4 thanking the volunteers for the incredible assistance and making some comments about Starvation Creek. I downed another Coke, topped off my water and continued on to the CT headed to Silver Creek and the Rainbow trail.

I was alone from Starvation Creek until the finish. I made quick work of the Silver Creek Trail arriving at aid station 5 greeted by some super nice folks. I always wonder why Silver Creek has such a ridiculous finish where it transitions over to the Rainbow Trail. What’s up with being in the creek bed? Whatever. I drank an energy drink, had a rice cake, some peaches than rallied onto the Rainbow Trail, which seems to take forever on those last 9 miles. Up and down with some nasty little climbs to remind you that it is never easy on the Vapor Trail. I dumped out to the highway and coasting down the road spinning my 32x22 gearing as fast as I could go. My goal of beating my fastest time was out of reach but I wouldn’t be that much slower. I finished at 3.53 pm putting me at 17 hours and 53 minutes. Wow, what a night and a day out there. The weather was nearly perfect unlike my bike. Besides the brake issue the Koko bike ran great. I need new rotors and pads and maybe a brake bleed. 

Here is a rundown on my bike/gear setup:
  • ·         Kokopelli Bike Co ti 29er (medium) set up as single speed with Paragon sliders
  • ·         Ti Cycles 30 degree flat bar/ti stem from J&l (China)
  • ·         Koko Bike Co ti seat post
  • ·         Stan's Crest wheel set with 2.4 Ardent's (my first time on the tires…love them)
  • ·         XT Brakes
  • ·         Revelate Frame bag/Gas tank/Jerry Can
  • ·         50 ounce Osprey bladder and a 24 oz bottle on down tube
  • ·         AY Up lights on helmet and handlebars with a Fenix PD 32 UE as a backup.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading. Next up is my Rico 100 race on September 20th. Come out and play in the San Juan’s! 

Thank you Tom Purvis for the rv space!!!

In Gunny with idling Bud Light buses all night pre race on Friday night. 


Tom Purvis said...

Yo Freako,

The deal with Silver Creek is basically that it's an easement through private land there. Next time you come down Silver, just where all the rubble scree starts the final pitch down to the bridge there's a gate. Kind of. Fence and an opening that used to be a gate. From there pretty much to where you leave the creek is private land. I've tramped around a little and also have found that there isn't an easy and obvious re-route. But even if there was, it would have to go through a whole process of establishing easement.

And besides, it's a great way to clean any pesky lubricant off your chain. Nice and clean for the Rainbow!

Anonymous said...

baseaball been berry berry good to me

Anonymous said...

so, enough about me, what do you think about me?