Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where you been?

It's been a while since I wandered around here. Turns out I came home from Breck, got sick, had to travel, stayed sick, and spend 3 weeks off the bike. That zapped some enthusiasm.

Feeling better now.

But then I see stuff like this:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Breck Day 5 -- Wheeler Trail

Today wasn't our day. I also learned that the race organizer is a sadist. I generally don't mind hike-a-bike sections, but after 45 minutes of walking, I'd had enough. At one point, I looked at my computer, which reads to the tenth of an MPH, and it was showing 0.0. I swear I was moving, but maybe not.

And then after finishing the final hike-a-bike, and having the 50mph wind almost blow me back down the mountain, I managed to ride for about 10 seconds before going over the bars and smashing the hell out of my head and lower legs. My right shin now looks like it has a golf ball stuck between the skin and bone. That didn't really set me up well for the next 2,500 feet of descending. There was a silver lining: the guy with the helmet cam was behind me and thinks he got my crash.

But the day wasn't all bad. I think I managed to have fun a few times. I rode with Allison Dunlap for a while and asked her what it was like to stay with the Reddingtons. She was too nice to be honest I think. And my legs felt surprisingly good at the end of the race on the final singletrack, which was pretty fun. And most importantly, I got yelled at by a lady on the bike path for not calling out "on your left." I wanted to stop and tell her that at more than double her speed into a headwind, she wouldn't have heard me anyway, and besides, I was 8 feet away from her. But I didn't.

Our start and finish photos. You might notice we look a bit happier at the start. You can also see some of the blood on my leg from my short flight.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Breck Day 4 -- Around Mt. Guyot

It's a bit hard to describe today's stage. First things first though, I suppose: we won! We finally broke the 2nd place trend, and in the correct direction. We gained almost 7 minutes and now sit 2:19 back in the overall.

The stage started by climbing some of yesterday's final descent. It wasn't consistent climbing, but it still hurt. Lots of short, steep, rocky climbs until we finally hit the top of the first obstacle. But that was nothing compared to what was waiting for us. After some fast contouring on very narrow single track, we hit an extremely fast, extremely rocky descent. At the bottom we saw the race leaders at the side fixing another flat. A quick stop in the aid station, and we started up.

I don't know why, but I absolutely loved this climb. It started out gradually, but then got increasingly steeper as we passed through the forest and broke out above tree line. As we looked up, we could see a steep pitch with about 10 guys walking. We walked for about 5 minutes before we saw the real top of the climb. I was able to ride for a bit, but then it was off and walking again. I don't know how long we walked, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, but it was actually enjoyable, at least relatively so. It was just so crazy beautiful up there. I got to the top a bit before Ryan and was able to look around a bit. The view from 12,000 feet is impressive. I couldn't see our race leaders down the mountain, so I figured we had at least 5 minutes on them.

Ryan got to the top and we headed down. Well, we did eventually. First we had to cross a snow field. The guy in front of me tried to ride it, and ended up sliding on his stomach for about 50 meters before stopping just before the bottom. I ran down it before sliding the last 20 meters on both feet realizing that I either had to pull off my best 'cross remount ever, or I'd be bouncing around the rocks for a while. I don't remember what I did, but I rolled out of it.

Then we had 20 minutes of the some of the best riding I've ever done. Save for one moment when I was way over the back of my seat staring at a 3 foot drop with nothing to do (but roll it and pray), it was super fast, ripping single track. And then we climbed a bit and guess what? 30 minutes of more absolutely incredible single track. It went from blazingly fast to crazy rocky, but was an absolute blast.

I love this race!

And then we hit the final climb and I absolutely hate this race. We survived, barely, and were faced with 8 more miles of rolling and rocky forest road and some single track.

That's when Ryan said he heard a leak in his front tire. With a few miles of crazy fast rocky descending, a low front tire wasn't really going to help us much. We tried my CO2, but it wasn't working. We tried Ryan's, and it worked, but the tire didn't seal. We rode it for a while, stopped to fill it again, then kept going. We could hear the finish, but didn't know how long we had. Finally we crossed a road and the marshals said we had 2 minutes left. Ryan cruised it on 10psi and we finally crossed the finish in 4 hours, 14 minutes and 33 seconds.

Then we just had to wait. We needed 9 minutes, 2 seconds to take over the lead. We didn't get there, but it was still a blast.

Tomorrow takes us up to 12,400, so it'll be another sufferfest.

Breck Day 3 -- Pennsylvania Gulch

Today went both better and worse. After a "neutral" roll out up a steep road climb that shattered the field, we dropped down some single track for about 10 minutes before beginning the day's biggest climb. Just a minute or so into the single track we passed the Kappius boys at the side of the trail fixing a flat, so we were finally leading the race. We were both feeling pretty good, and managed to pick up quite a few spots up both of the first two climbs. We looked back in an open field at the bottom of the second climb and could see them about 30 seconds back, but we held that gap over the top. We had an unfortunately slow stop at the aid station, but were still doing ok.

But with about 8 miles to go, I lost a contact in my right eye. This is getting to be really annoying. We stopped for a moment to see if we could find it but had no luck. By the time we got rolling again and into the single track, they were 10 seconds behind us. I was riding well, but at the bottom of the single track were we hit a road section, there was a fence across the trail that hadn't been there when we road up this section of trail during the prologue. My depth perception was a bit messed up, and I slid into it pretty hard with my right side. I didn't think much of it at the time, and we took off down the road toward the final climb.

The Kappius boys caught us on the road and we sucked wheel until the aid station, they stopped, but we kept going and got a gap as we started the climb. That's when I found out that I had smashed my derailleur and could only use the bottom 4 or 5 cogs. On the steeper sections of the climb, I was pushing about 20 rpm and my legs finally blew up. They came by and Ryan rode the climb with them, but I had to walk. They ended up finishing 1:09 ahead of us.

I'm afraid this was our best shot at a win, and it's pretty annoying to blow it like that.

Today (Wednesday) is the 'queen' stage. 43 miles with 4 big climbs. French pass is over 12,000 feet, and Georgia pass is just shy of 12. Depending on how everyone feels, that 1:09 might not be a big deal.

(Rolling into the final aid station with Russ and Brady)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Breck Day 2 -- Colorado Trail

I sucked today. Couldn't breathe and couldn't climb. I think I had to tell Ryan to slow down about 50 times. Luckily I can still descend and managed to make up for some of my suckiness.

I think we finished second in our group, not sure how far back. I hope it was just a bad day.

Oh yeah, Ryan almost died today. It was crazy. We were stuck behind some guys on a rocky mining road descent. I yelled at him that we needed to go faster, and he took off like a freaking rocket. It was insane. We must have been doing 40mph down this steep rocky road. I have no idea what the guys thought when we blew by them.

But there was a hard right turn at the bottom, with nothing but air below. Ryan blew the turn a bit and was out in the bushes, just a few feet from the drop. I thought he was going for a little flight, but he pulled it back together.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I forgot...

A huge thanks to a bunch of people:

Mark Meier, the Godfather of the Baraboo Sharks, who rolled up with the family from Wisco to help us out (and thanks to Kristy, Erik and Tori who tagged along for the ride);

My brother Paul, who came up today from Golden, and with Mark drove to the top of the hill climb to make sure we had warm clothes and food (which were absolutely necessary since it started raining as we finished);

and most of all,

To Jess, Kieran and Kelton, who keep me rolling, happy, and are always there to help out. It was awesome to see them as we rolled out and then waiting for us when we got back to the bottom.