Most people do crazy stuff when they turn 40 - the classic midlife crisis type affair. There's buying a snazzy new car (does a 4WD Merce...

Jul 31, 2010

Off on the CT

Nick's off riding the Colorado Trail again. I dropped him off at the Indian Creek Trailhead this morning, and then rode with them down to the junction with the Colorado Trail. He and Greg decided to ride that instead of starting at Waterton Canyon because it starts with single track right away. Waterton Canyon is a service road for one of the dams on the South Platte and can get pretty busy with runners and riders early in the day. Riding a fun section of single track sounded better to the boys, so that's where we went. Dan, the guy Nick rode with last year (and who was planning on joining the ride until he crashed and hurt his shoulder) met us at the trailhead and rode with us to the junction. It was a pretty good ride - I did wipe out twice and have a nice scrap on my left knee to show for it. Made the obstacle, then ran off the trail into the bushes!

It will be interesting to see how Greg handles the altitude on some of the sections of the trail. He was amazed at how much the elevation was affecting him on the first section of the trail. Just keeping the heart rate down and breathing under control was a challenge for him. I think they will have a good time. They were getting some odd looks from the other people at the junction with the CT because of the gear and bags on their bikes. Take a good look at the bags in the pictures. Greg and his wife made them. They also make all the hats in my race pictures - F3 Designs.
Greg modeling all the different F3 Designs bikepacking bags - seat, frame, handlebar and bento

Jul 30, 2010

Falcon 100 KM

Well, after the Fat Tire 40 in June, I figured that I would take advantage of a local marathon mountain bike - the Falcon 100km. It's 5 laps of the Falcon trail at the Air Force Academy. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now... Not so sure about that! It's going to be a long day on the bike, with no garuntee that I'll even get all five laps done. The race starts at 9:30 - which seems awfully late for a race of that length - and racers will not be able to start another lap after 3:30. It shouldn't be an issue based on the times I've ridden in training, but it's still cutting it pretty close. There will be a lot of athletes who might not get all five laps done. Oh well, not my race. I'm just showing up and riding my bike!

I feel so unprepared for the race. I haven't really done any long rides - at least nothing over three hours. I also haven't planned out eating and drinking at all. I have no clue what I'm going to eat when and what camelbak I'm going to use. I have been eating a little more over the last few days, so maybe I've done enough carbo loading for a race of that length. If not, I'll bring food with me and just take a chill pill if I need to eat. Only a day to go - then it's race time!

Jul 28, 2010

Breaking out the Tri Bike!

I have not forgotten how to ride my tri bike. Since I am doing Silverman in November, I figured that I needed to start getting some time in on my tri bike. I honestly haven't ridden it since, oh, March? I've done road rides, sure, but on my road bike. So I had to pull the trainer tire off and get everything ready to ride. The plan was to head to Fountain and do the Hanover loop. It's a low traffic, moderatly hill loop that takes me about two hours. But as the day gets later, the wind gets stronger. I was taking a chance by leaving later in the day. I had a pretty strong headwind on the east bound road, but was able to settle into aero and make good time. Turning south, I still had a head wind. This time, it slowed me down a little. Luckly, the nasty dog wasn't out today and I didn't need to worry about sprinting to avoid him. Turning west, and I had a tail wind, but the road had been freshly chip sealed. Even on the tri bike, I can't avoid riding on gravel and dirt! But the road really needed to be redone, so I was happy to see the chip sealing. It was a good ride. I enjoyed getting out and just riding, not worrying about traffic. It was also nice to get back into the road groove. There's a big difference between road and mountain - road is constant while the mountain is punchy with frequent accelerations and recovery.

Jul 23, 2010

Exploring the Lost Creek Wilderness

Sunday after the Beaver Creek race, Nick and I loaded up the car and headed for Wellington Lake. (After we watched the tour, ate lunch.... It was a very late start) The plan was to go for a nice, relaxed overnight hike and get away for a bit. Nick also wanted to see what the Colorado Trail through the Lost Creek Wilderness was like. When he did the CTR last year, it was one of the stretches he was not allowed to ride - bikes are not allowed in the wilderness areas.We parked at the Rolling Creek trail head for the Colorado Trail and headed west. The first two miles were outside the wilderness area and were a gentle rolling to steeper climb. Just before the start of the wilderness, the trail turned into an old logging road. It was pretty easy hiking and we were making pretty good time. The idea was to get to the trail head on the west side of the wilderness area, turn around and find a good campsite, make camp, then get up and have a easy hike home. We passed a few other hikers. One group of guys asked if we were thru-hiking, and when they found out that we weren't started making snide comments about the size of our backpacks. Nick was wearing the same one he'd used for the CTR on the bike, so we just laughed and kept going.

At the west trail head, we stopped to look at the map Nick had. There was a really nice campsite back in the wilderness area, but we weren't sure we could make it back before dark. That's when Nick had his brilliant idea. Instead of just doing an out and back, we could do a loop! It would be fun! We'd see different things! It really did sound like a good idea, so off we went to find the new trail. We hiked through the campsites of two familes hanging out, waiting for thru hikers. They offered food and some fire, but we declined and kept going. We'd find our own campsite. Down the trail a little, Nick started smelling something bad. Then we saw a large, brown blob in the woods. Our first thought was "Bear!" Nick got the bear spray out and we started talking really loudly. Turned out to be a dead cow - still not good. We were not going to stop anywhere near that! After getting poured on and walking for another hour, we finally found a nice campsite. Got set up and then tried to start a fire. With the wet wood, it wasn't easy. We did learn the feminine products work really great as kindling!

The next morning, we were on the trail around nine. We followed a creek for the first two hours, then turned up and started climbing. Nick kept looking at the map and was starting to get worried that we'd missed the trail we needed to get back to the car. I asked hime how long we'd been hiking - he was a little off. Crisis solved, we kept going. We kept passing the landmarks on the map at a good pace. When we stopped to eat lunch, Nick was starting to look a little miserable. It was turning into a long weekend. And it was going to get longer. We made the left turn onto Rolling Creek trail and started up. Straight up. And the trail was barely there. I was navigating by cairns and logs. After nearly an hour of climbing, we topped out and started heading down. Almost straight down. There were a few switchbacks, but more as a token appearance. At this point, Nick was beyond miserable. He was starting to look pathetic and was swearing at the trail. In his defence, he doesn't run and doesn't hike. Five hours one day and six hours the next were a little (a whole lot more) then what he was ready for. By the time we got back to the car, we'd hiked nearly 27 miles. I don't think Nick will ever want to go hiking again! Why waste time with hiking, when you have a bike?

Jul 21, 2010

Xterra Mountain Championships - Beaver Creek

The Xterra Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek turned out to be a good day and a good race. The water was brisk, the climb steep and single track fun, and the run challenging. Shonny V defended her title from last year, finishing in 2:31:58. Sara T held off a fast cycling Jenny S for second while Emma claimed fourth and Suzie S finished fifth in her first pro race. I had my best finish of the season in 6th and I really had to work hard to get it. I'm pleased with my performace and my race. It was a good finish for my first year racing the USA tour and I will be heading to the USA Championships in 6th in the series.

Jul 16, 2010

Beaver Creek Pre Race

All I have to say is that I forgot how steep that darn hill was. Uff-dah. Nick and I got to Avon/Beaver Creek for the Xterra Mountain Championships on Thursday and the first goal was to get on the bike course and pre-ride. We parked near Nottingham Lake in Avon and started right at the transition. And the minute we crossed US 6, the course pointed up. And Nick had not had a chance to put gears on his bike - still single speed from the race last weekend. But seriously, this is a brutal hard course, with nothing but climbing for the first half of the race. It's a good mix of single track and narrow double track for the first half of the climb. After the water station, the Championship race points up again, on blacktop and dirt roads to the top of Arrowhead mountain. It's a fast road and single track descent to the Village to Village trail, which connects Arrowhead to the Beaver Creek Mountain. After the rolling and false flat of Village to Village, the course pops out for another dirt road climb. Another brutally steep dirt road climb. At least that was the last major climb in the race. We dropped down a loose, rocky and bumpy trail, crossed a matinence road and got on Allies Way. This single track trail is one of the best parts of the race course, a slightly rolling narrow track traversing Beaver Creek Ski area. There are plenty of small rock gardens and tight turns amid aspens and pines, seperated by wide open trail  traversing the ski runs. Nick rode behind me, evaluating my line down Allies Way and said it looked good. After Allies, it was a short road climb to Corkscrew. Nick had suffered the road climbs and double track so he could drop Corkscrew - a trail that resembles it's name. And we got to the top, only to find red tape stretched across the trail access. Closed for Logging Operations! Nick was not a happy camper. We had to take the matainance road back down to the village.

Today, we drove up to the village so I could run part of the race course. I decided to run the last half of the course because it was not as steep and I would be tired when I got on that section. It was a good idea to check that section out - they had added some new single track that required some fancy footwork to get down quickly. Some of those sections went right by a few of the fancy condos up on the village. It's a good challenge and a fun run course. I'm looking forward to run - I really like this course.

After that, time to for packet pickup and then back to Mike and Mollie's to chill out and watch the tour!

Jul 13, 2010

Blast the Mass!

A success full weekend of racing that the Blast the Mass MSC race weekend. Nick raced in the singlespeed class for both the short track and the cross country. He had an awesome weekend with his one gear, winning both races! First wins in the MSC races for Nick and this was a brutal course for a single speed. My cross country race also went well, winning the 30-39 Cat 1 women's race. The riding was challenging and loads of fun.

Jul 10, 2010

Blast the Mass course preview

Finally in Snowmass for the Blast the Mass cross country event. We pre-rode the long course yesterday and it's a lot of fun. I'm not sure I'll be able to get on the course today to ride the short loop because we criss cross the Super D course and one of the DH races. The climb is long and quite the slog uphill.  It is mostly single track and through some really pretty areas. I was spinning in my granny gear a few times on the pre-ride, but I think I'll avoid that for the race. After the climb, the course traverses the mountain, again mostly on single track. There were plenty of stream crossings, rock gardens and root fields. We did share the trail with the Down Hill races for about a quarter of a mile - and we were descending as fast as some of them!

Finally the long and short loops split off. We took the long loop and continued east on the Goverment trail. Again, plenty of rocks, roots and stream crossings. Then we turned straight down hill. Once again, I was chatting away, reminding myself about postitioning and bike handling. It was a fun descent - not super technical, but sweeping and fast. Another rolling traverse across the face of the mountain and we found ourselves back at the Snowmass Village Base. One lap for the pre ride - racing will be two laps. I'm not looking forward to having to climb up that hill a second time!

Nick is racing the Short Track later today. I'm going to be support. After racing both short track and cross country the weekend before Waco in May, I decided the skip the short track. Cross country only, then get ready for Beaver Creek

Jul 7, 2010

Fat Tire 40

When I found out that the Wild Flower Rush MSC race would be the epic Fat Tire 40, I was a little concerned. I'd never riden my mountain bike for that long under training situations, let alone in a race situation. I had also heard that the course was technical, challenging and had the potential for a long day on the bike. And after riding/racing for over 5 hours on Saturday, I have to say that was the hardest and one of the prettiest rides I have ever done. It was mostly single track or double track, with long sustained climbs, fast technical descents and plenty of fun riding in between. It was a challenge for sure and a good awakening for the world of Marathon Mountain Bike Racing.

Jul 6, 2010

WOMBA at the Firecracker 50

While I was busy rebuilding bikes, several of the Women's Mountain Biking Association of Colorado Springs (WOMBA) were racing in the Firecracker 50 mtb race in Breck. This was the USAC National Marathon Mountain Bike championships and there were a lot of good riders. WOMBA did great, sweeping the Women 30-39 podium in the Championship event. Kennon, Kim, and Tracy turned in outstanding performances on challenging course. Hillary finished second in the Women's SingleSpeed Championship event and several other WOMBA race team members competed in the relay race. It's great to see local riders and friends do so well. It's also great because of the amount of work the WOMBA ladies put into the local riding community. Its all about getting women out on the trails, teaching skills and encouraging new riders. With group rides for riders of all levels and other events WOMBA is a great resource and organization for Colorado Springs women interested in mountain biking.

Jul 5, 2010

Bike Swap

Well, it's done. After the latest series of mechanical issues with my Tomac, I decided that I could not take the risk again. I rode the Era for the Crested Butte Fat Tire 40 (race report coming, I promise) and had a great race. But I also took over a pound weight penalty for choosing that bike. So Nick and I talked it over and decided to strip both bikes down and swap components and wheels. That way, the lighter race quality group would be on the bike I planned on racing the rest of the season. Mid season is never a good time to make such a radical change, but...

So Thursday I stripped everything off the Tomac, from wheels to fork to bottom bracket. I cleaned everything, inspected everything and set it aside. I also pulled the lighter tires off my ZTR race wheels. The plan was to keep the tires off the Era with that bike. Friday, I repeated the process with the Era. Stripped everything off and cleaned it all real well. Scary, having both bikes in peices at the same time! Saturday, Nick and I built the Era back up with the race componetry and fork from the Tomac. Nick did most of the building, but I did as much as I could. We got that bike dialed that night. All the work paid off, we took over 1.5 pounds off the Era.

Long test ride yesterday and everything works great. I was hard on the shifting on purpose to make sure everything work well. The Tomac is still in peices, so we will have to get the bike rebuilt soon. But the Era is now race worthy and feels great! I'm going to miss the pretty blue Crankskins on the crank arms - have the clear on the Noir crankarms. I might have to get another pair of blue for the Era again.

Jul 2, 2010

Speedwork sights

There is a Golden eagle that lives near the track I use for speed workouts. Last week, he was perched on the utility shed, scanning the shrubs for food. I saw him make a few kills while I was running. He would lift off from the roof, float a few moments then hurtle down with talons extended. I don't know what he got, but he always spent a few minutes pulling something apart. He stayed almost my whole workout, at least until a pair of robins decided he was too close to their nest. The robins were maybe an eighth as big as the eagle, but persistant and annoying. Finally, he gave up the hunt and flew off.
He was back yesterday. As I was finishing my warmup lap, he was in the bushed near the north end of the track. As he flew off, I saw the small bird cluched in his talons. Made me think about all the people who are out and about but never see anything. All the gadgets - ipods, phones - isolate us from reality. We miss so much of what happens around us now. And then I had to focus on my workout and stop watching the eagle. Life and death at the track!