Jun 29, 2009
Jun 26, 2009
We decided to stay at the Gunnison KOA for the weekend instead of CB. There are really nice "Kamping Kabins" at the KOA and we know the area well. Things are also quite a bit cheaper in Gunnison then up in CB. Nick also wanted to ride at Hartman Rocks a few times while we were there. The KOA is the most convenient place to stay for that - they host the 24 Hours in the Sage race every year.
The weather was perfect every day - except race day. It was cold and wet race day, with clouds draped over the mountains. Rain looked very likely. Nick and I both opted to stuff jackets into our jersey pockets just in case. The course was nice - a long steady climb on mostly single track. Not super technical, but steep enough to make it hard. The descent was on freshly cut single track with a few fire road sections. I think that the ski resort was hoping that the race would burn the trail into good shape. I got into a good position at the start and rode the hill at my own pace. With three laps, there was no need to sprint up the first climb. The descent was fast and bumpy, keeping me on my toes. Everything was going well, but the clouds were starting to build. At the top of the second climb, I was afraid that we might only get two laps done before a major storm hit. We were lucky - the rain held off until the third climb, and then just a light drizzle. The light drizzle turned into a steady soaking, drenching all the riders and the trail. Coming down on the last lap was a little tricky. Everything was slick and muddy and tire pressure that was perfect for dry trails suddenly was just all wrong. I managed to get around the leaders on that last descent and held them off - my first win in the Cross Country. It was really close and I really had to work for it.
Sunday was riding at Hartman Rocks. We rode a little of the Sage course, but mainly did some exploring. There are lots of trails in that area, each one unique. I had a great time chasing Nick around. It was perfect day for riding and there were many other groups out enjoying the day and the ride.
Monday was another exploring day. Nick rode a new piece of the Colorado Trail west of Highway 50. I wasn't feeling up to riding, so I went for a nice run instead. Afterwards, we stopped at the Twisted Cork in Salida for lunch and wine tasting.
Jun 23, 2009
After getting her settled, Nick and I headed out to Crested Butte for the fourth MSC race - the Wildflower Rush Cross Country. I'll get a little more information about that race up soon, but it was nice to get away for a while.
Jun 15, 2009
Jun 12, 2009
The course was a fast, seven-mile loop that shared part of the Xterra course from the day before. The first third of the course was along sandy double track, rolling hills and short punchy climbs. The second third was fast, sweeping single track through thin stands of trees. The final third was the same as the Xterra course – narrow, twisty and rooty single track through thick trees. The laps were running about 30-40 minutes for the men and 35-50 minutes for the women, meaning that in eight hours, there was the potential for plenty of miles. I never got tired of the course, but it was nice that the laps were short. It was also fun watching the shadows change as the hours passed.
Between the eight-hour and four hour racers, there were plenty of people on the starting line. We did an on-bike start in one of the large parking lots instead of the standard LeMans start. When the races get bigger, I think that good Le Mans would be the way to go. The race director fired his “North Idaho Starter’s Pistol” (a 12 gauge shotgun) and we were off. I was quickly swallowed up by the rest of field and found myself in the back of the pack. That was just fine. I had no plans of riding fast – I just wanted to survive the eight hours.
As is the case with endurance races, everyone quickly settled into their rhythm and the field spread out along the course. I noticed right away that my legs were trashed from the race the day before. Climbs that I was able to stand and power over in the big ring during the Xterra I had to sit and spin through. The good news was I was able to do more sight seeing! There were things that I missed during the Xterra, such as a deer-proof garden along the course. The trails were also starting to get a little wash-boarded in places from riders cramming on the brakes.
My plan was to just ride my own pace and maintain consistent lap times. I had everything I thought I would need staged at the pit area – fresh clothes, new camelback, some food and some GU Chomps. There was also water, Gatorade and GU at the pit area courtesy of the race. One of the local bike shops had also set up a tent for neutral mechanic support, complete with a small demo fleet of bikes. That was impressive – most races don’t have that kind of support. Most of the eight hour racers had coolers with drinks and ice sitting on the sidelines, but everyone was taking advantage of the cold water available.
For the first five laps, I was fine. My legs were tired, but I was still riding smart and riding safely. My lap times were right about where I wanted, including a stop to change clothes. Things were about to change in a hurry. At the start of my sixth lap, I was dragging. I changed camelbacks, thinking that the bladder was empty and headed back out. Even a packet of Chomps and a bottle of ensure didn’t revive the flagging spirits. By halfway on the seventh lap, I didn’t even want to ride anymore. It was five hours into the race and at that moment, I wanted to make that eight lap take three hours to finish.
So I took a break. I got a hamburger from the Bayview Community Association and sat down in the shade to watch the race go by. I was really planning on taking three hours for one lap. After inhaling the hamburger, I changed clothes again and laid down for a few minutes. By now, I was starting to get antsy. My legs were still achy and twitchy, but I was feeling stronger. I had two hours left on the clock and decided it was time to head out again.
It must have been a magic hamburger. I started riding and all of a sudden, everything felt fine again. I wasn’t struggling up the punchy hills and felt like I was flying through the tree. I came thorough in about 40 minutes for the lap and decided that I had time, energy and desire to ride three more. I was focused again and the riding was fun again. I’m sure everyone thought I was nuts – going from not wanted to ride anymore to just hammering the course. I squeezed out for my 11th lap with five minutes to spare then promptly slowed down and enjoyed the last 40 minutes of the ride. I finished second of the solo women, down about 38 minutes on the winner. I also had a hamburger inspired fastest lap.
This was a fun eight-hour race. Long enough to be challenging but short enough to be a good entry point into endurance mountain bike racing. The course was fun, even after 11 laps. The race venue was also outstanding. The organization for the race was top-notch, from the quality of the course markings to the volunteers flagging traffic on the main highway. I think in a few years this will be a very popular race and I will be happy that I was able to compete in the inaugural event.
If you were waiting until after the event to make a donation or if you know someone who was, please either mail in the donation forms or visit http://teamorsilverman09.kintera.org/tracythelen
Thank you to everyone who has already supported me and this worthwhile cause.
Jun 10, 2009
This was one of the best venues for an Xterra that I’ve been to. There was the option to camp right in the state park. Given how far the park was from Coeur D’Alene, I opted to camp. Nick and I have all the gear from the 24 hour races, so it wasn’t like I would be missing something like a comfortable bed. Nothing like two thermarests for a great night’s sleep. Besides, I had a friend doing the Gauntlet short course tri, which started three hours before the Xterra. Camping meant that I could sleep in and take my time getting ready while my friend was racing.
Race morning dawned slightly overcast and really windy. The sun did come out just before the start of the Xterra. I made pancakes on the stove for my friend and myself, much to the envy of the other athletes in the campground. After breakfast, I got her bike on the car and wished her luck. The plan was to have her drive to the start and I would ride down later. I wanted to see the Gauntlet athletes struggling up the hill through the campground. I brought my cowbell for just that reason – every person received a warm, loud racket as a welcome to the top of the hill.
Then it was my turn to head down to the race start. I took the trail so I could double check the tire pressure and suspension on my bike. Everything worked and felt good. I got my transition area set up, squeezed into my wetsuit and trekked down to the swim start. This was truly a trek – about a eighth of a mile on rough gravel and up steep railroad tie steps. I did bring a pair of shoes for after the swim – just in case. The race director had even set up a small area for athletes to leave shoes.
The water was cold and choppy. The wind hadn’t died down and was whipping up small white caps out at the far buoys. It would be a fun swim. I personally like the rough water swims - but I’m also a strong swimmer. There were a few athletes warming up. I stuck a toe in and decided to wait. Jumping into cold water to warm up seemed a little backwards. This was a beach start – my first ever. I got a little swamped by the guys right after the gun fired, but soon settled into a good rhythm. I found myself right next to Mel McQuaid at the first buoy. I don’t usually pay much attention to where I am in the swim, but it wad cool to see that I was in the lead pack for the women. I managed to stay right behind her through the two laps on the swim. This was better swim for me then at Vegas – I was able to settle into a good pace and swim my own race.
Not so much for the transitions. I still need a lot of practice there – especially with the swim to bike.
This was one of the most enjoyable and scenic courses I’ve done for an Xterra. Two loops around the state park on fast and at times technical trails. It was a good mix of single and double track – a big ring hammer course that kept you on your toes. I was happy I did my sightseeing the pre-ride! The first section of the course was down along the lake on a narrow single track, then up through a slight hike-a-bike section before the huge hill going through campground. The next section was through the woods on another narrow trail with plenty of roots and rocks to keep things interesting. This was followed by a high-speed double track section leading into the final single track through the north end of the park. I felt a lot stronger and a lot more confident on the bike then in Vegas, even on the flat power sections. I was standing up more – though not as much as I need to be.
The run was just as much fun as the bike. It was actual, technical trail running along the shore of the lake before heading up hill and back around to the finish. I think that sections along the lake were just the most fun – you had to be paying attention and on your toes. I actually felt like I was able to run off the bike this time – I guess doing the brick workouts helped. I did not manage to catch anyone on the run, but I did close the gap on 6th a minute. I finished in seventh and I’m really happy with that. I still have some work to do (a lot of work) in transitions and on the bike.
Overall, this was just an outstanding event. The race director did a fabulous job, listening to the athletes regarding the course and timing, then making the changes as he needed. I can’t say enough about the venue and how pretty it was. There are also plenty of other events – not just the triathlon, so there’s something for everyone to do. I can see this race becoming a fixture on the Xterra circuit.
Here are some photos from the trip, race and the mountain bike race - http://picasaweb.google.com/TracyThelen.triathlete/XterraNorthwestCup#
Jun 9, 2009
Jun 2, 2009
Jun 1, 2009
Everything was so green out east. We've had a lot of rain in the last few weeks and the fields were full of flowers. It won't last - in a few weeks, the grass will be brown and the flowers gone. Speaking of rain, I was far enough away from the mountains to watch the afternoon thunderstorms attempting to develop. The anvil would start forming, reaching far into the sky, then collapsing. Finally one got together and the storms started. Luckly I was already finished, home and showered.
Sunday was packing and chores. Nick was out riding in the morning and then did trail work with Medicine Wheel in the afternoon. I had the house to myself. Cranked up the music and just settled down to vacuum, do dishes and get packed up for Idaho. I'm almost ready to go - just have to figure out the tent situation.
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