Halfway

Halfway through the year and halfway through the Transcendence Series . Back in February when I was getting organized for Stories, this poin...

Aug 30, 2011

Return to Lory - 2011 Xterra Lory Race Report

On August 27th, athletes from all across Colorado and the surrounding states gathered at Lory State Park outside Fort Collins for the second annual Xterra Lory. This was one of the last races before the national championships and it brought out talent throughout the age groups. Tribe members were racing for points and for fun at one of the most beginner friendly events on the circuit. We got to enjoy the crisp, clear waters of Horsetooth Reservoir in one of the most protected swim venues I've been in. The swim was followed by a fast and dusty ride along the single track trails in the valley of Lory State park and the race finished with a hellacious climb towards the sun run up and down the mountains behind the park. The weather and the racing was hot this year. Sara T posted the women's win in 1:45:57, I took second in 1:47:49 and Louisa B finished third in 1:51:19. Xterra Lory lived up to it's reputation as a good event for beginning Xterra athletes and a fun time for seasoned off road racers. The Without Limits team did a fantastic job with organization and making adjustments to the race based on athlete feedback. I had a great time last year, an awesome time this year and look forward to next year.

Aug 28, 2011

Photos from Monarch Pass

We took plenty of photos while on Monarch Pass - both of the race and the spectators. Here are some of the best shots


KOM banner on top of Monarch Pass - this was on my second trip to the summit


Nick watching down the road for the riders
Garmin and HTC leading the peloton over Monarch Pass
The peloton approaching en mass
I have the rest of the photos posted on my Picassa Page https://picasaweb.google.com/TracyThelen.triathlete/USAProCyclingChallenge#

USA Pro Cycling Challenge - the view from Monarch Pass

Our experience watching the USA Pro Cycling Challenge was interesting. The timing was perfect - leave Gunnison after 24 Hours in the Sage, camp overnight on the Pass, then watch the race roll through. We arrived at Monarch about mid afternoon on Monday and found a nice pull out to park the turtle in. There was only one other camper in the lot when we arrived, but we had hopes it would get busier. Soon after we got set up and were enjoying some munchies, Larry G - a fellow 24 HitS racer (4th, solo townie class) showed up. We invited him over for food and stories and to watch other fans trickling in to the lot. Our group became four after Jack with Wedgees.Com (a really simple and oddly smart device to keep glasses from slipping down your nose). It was a great night of making new friends and swapping tales while listening to the rain and watching stars - sometimes at the same time!

Tuesday dawned beautiful and sunny. There were more groups of people and a few more campers in the lot then last night, but still seemed pretty quiet. I ran up to the summit to check things out - really quiet. Not much parking space along the road, but people were just starting stir. They didn't even have a KOM banner up yet! So I ran back down to the camper. As the morning progressed, the balance of traffic shifted - the number of cars started dwindling to a trickle, while the number of cyclist was building. And most of the cars were now race related - staff, management, team cars, VIP cars. I decided to head back up to the summit - and was amazed by how quickly the insanity had developed. There was no more room along the road and the KOM banner now stretched across the road - to the confusion of the poor semi driver who had made it before the road closure. It was also cool - a federal highway that is usually filled with cars and trucks quiet except for pedestrians and cyclists.

Then we all settled in to wait for the race. And wait. And wait some more. We knew the race had started down in Salida, but no one had enough service to watch the race online. So we just waited and continued to watch the recreational cyclists steaming up the hill. Then the team buses started roaring by - pedal to the medal, just hauling ass up the pass. The drivers were all waving and honking and the assembled spectators got to practice our cheers and noise making. People were starting to get bored - every car, from the state patrol to the VIPs got a loud cheer as it went by. We could hear the summit from our perch at the 1km to go sign. Then the Training Peaks lead car drove by, announcing what was happening with the race - and we still had minutes to wait! They were a mile in front of the race! Then cop cars, motor bikes, more race cars and finally....

The first riders - a group of three with a fourth rider dangling off the back. They rode by at a decent clip, obviously suffering from the elevation. We listened to the progressive cheering up the mountain and settled in to wait for the rest of group. It was easy to tell where they were from the noise coming from below us. Then the parade of motor bikes and cars surrounding the riders appears. The peloton was big, with HTC and Garmin on the front. I took some photos and snagged a water bottle tossed from the center of the group. It didn't take that long for the riders to pass, but they didn't seem to be struggling at the steady tempo. It actually took longer for the caravan of cars and support vehicles to pass by! Then another long break as the stragglers made their way up the pass. The end of the caravan was clearly marked by the "broom wagon" and a car labeled "end of caravan." In all, it only took about 10 minutes for the riders we had been waiting for all day to pass by

I think the waiting for the race was the best part of the experience - we got to meet some new people and hear some different stories. There was great people watching to be had as the fans assembled on the mountain. And finally, I understand why the fans in France are usually inebriated by the time the race rolls through. It's hot, at elevation and you need to stay hydrated. Add in being social with the new friends and the results are obvious....

Aug 19, 2011

Troubles on the Road

With all the issues we've been working out in the Turtle, we were hoping that this would be an easy jaunt down to Gunnison for the 24 Hours in the Sage. Nick had spent two days working on the engine - cleaning, tuning and generally doing things I don't understand with the hopes of getting all the fuel issues fixed. Things worked great on our little test drive - we even had decent acceleration up the hills! And of course, Nick has to say "Now that I've got this better, we're gonna have be careful on the hills - could be easy to overwork the poor thing." Little did we know what was coming.

Unlike last year, we decided to go through Canon City and take the "less hilly" route to Gunnison. We were clipping right along, keeping up with traffic, making good time. Stopped to get something to eat in Salida, then started the long slog up Monarch Pass. Nick was watching the temp gauge, but we were cruising - doing about 30 instead of the normal 25 up the hill. And we were both busy scouting out places to watch the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday. Got through one of the passing lane sections and were back onto the two lane, curvy section about 2 miles from the summit of the pass. And then...

With much chugging and putting - and plenty of four letter words as he pressed the gas pedal to the floor, the Turtle gave up the ghost. Dead - stopped - not going anywhere. Yep, right in the middle of the road and we were stuck. Nick rolled back as far as he could to get off the road, but... We were "those people" blocking traffic in a really bad spot. But there was nothing we could do but sit and wait - the engine and gas lines completely overheated. About 30 minutes later, after watching lines of cars and trucks streaming past - with a few close calls between up hill and down hill traffic, we tried to get started. Got about 50 feet and it died again - now more in the way! We waited another hour, watching more traffic go by. Nick pulled the engine cover off to help it cool and this time we got going. And kept going - all the way to the top! I was watching the engine smoking as Nick "sweet talked" the turtle the whole time. But success - we rolled down into Gunnison with no more issues - just a very warm interior for the drive.

Thank you to the dude in the white Ford pickup with the dirt bike, mountain bike and case of Corona in the back. He turned around and came down to offer us a tow to the top of the pass. Nick appreciated the offer and was wishing he'd accepted a few times as we were steaming to the top!

Aug 17, 2011

Wednesday Night Time Trial Series

Thanks to Jayson and Colorado Endurance Sports, July 27, August 3 and August 10 have been filled with exiting time trial action here in Colorado Spring. July 27 and August 10th raced up 26th Street and August 3rd took us up Cheyenne Canyon. About 30 racers showed up each day, competing in varying classes and age groups. Some riders even tackled the hills on their mountain bikes! After the last race, the awards were handed out at Bristol Brewery, with athletes enjoying a free pint of the local brew. Congratulations to the winners of all the classes and to all the racers. The series also served as preparation for the big show - the Cheyenne Canyon Time Trial held in conjunction with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. If you are looking for a hard race on Sunday August 21- check out http://www.coloradoendurancesports.com/ for more info on the Time Trial.

Aug 16, 2011

2011 Blast the Mass

Over the first weekend in August, Nick and I made the trip over Independence Pass for another fun weekend of racing on the steep slopes of Snowmass. With the cross country on Saturday and the short track on Sunday, it was a full weekend of racing. The women's pro field had some fast riders show up for both days, with Judy Freeman winning the XC and Erin Huck and Kelli Emmitt rounding out the podium. I held on for a solid 6th place in the cross country. In the short track, Kelli held off Sage W and Teal for the win. I again took 6th, with Kelli lapping me on final climb on her final lap. For Nick, he was the only rider to challenge the unrelenting grind up Snowmass Mountain in the Single Speed division and held his own among the Cat 1 Men. I will get some photos from the short track up soon.

Aug 4, 2011

Summer in the Rockies

I love the afternoon thunderstorms we get in Colorado. The clouds cool everything down and the rain is relaxing to listen to. At least when I'm inside! But trying to work and getting in my training has meant that the relaxing rain has been soaking me rather frequently. On every after work ride this week I've gotten drenched. Tuesday, I even watched the news before Nick and I headed out, just to make sure we'd be safe. Nothing on the rader, so off we went! As we rode up Cheyenne Blvd toward the canyon, there were just a few clouds hanging over the mountains. Those clouds gradually dropped lower and lower as we rode up Columbine (I needed a punchy ride and Columbine on the SS fit the bill.) It started raining about halfway up, getting darker and threatening as we made our way through the switchbacks. Then, at the drop in from Gold Camp Road it really started coming down. Accompanying the heavy rain was lightening - lots of lightening and very, very close. And it kept getting closer as we dropped down Columbine! Scary close at times - so close that I wasn't very happy that we were even on Columbine. Add in the fact that I couldn't see anything between the rain and mud - without my glasses on, and I was really slow on the descent. Then things got even worse when we got on the roads to get home. Not just standing water, but rivers running right down the middle of the road and then flooding on the edges. And the darn cars didn't even seem to care as they drove by at full speed, splashing through the puddles and soaking us more then we were already soaked. But we got home without getting struck by lightening or washed away. I love the rain - I just wish it would wait until after my ride!

Aug 3, 2011

Noodle people vs swimmers...

Or adventures in the water at the local pool! I usually try to get up and go my swim workouts with the CSST Maters group. It's a fun group and the workouts are good. But this week I have to yet make it down to CC. Monday I was doing a specific workout and Wednesday I needed the sleep due to unforeseen guests in the yard. So I went to 24 Hour fitness both days to swim, hoping the noodle people would not be too bad. We all know who they are and curse the days we have to deal with them. But that got me thinking. Maybe we serious swimmers, just trying to get the yards - do our intervals and swim as fast as we can,  in are really the ones who are in the way of the Noodle People! After all I don't swim at 24 Hour Fitness all the time and when I take half a lane it is a big dent in the amount of space available for the other pool users. But since I flit in and out of the pool - coming in when I want, a different time every day, it makes it hard for the normal pool users to anticipate when they might lose a lane. The noodle people need their own lane for their calisthenics, or things get crazy. And I don't like being interrupted while swimming, so I tend to completely ignore the rest of the pool. Put me in a lane with a pace clock and I'll play ping pong ball for a while - which doesn't go over well with the noodle people. So dodging the noodle people will become accepted practice at 24 Hour Fitness. As long as they stay out of my way, I will stay out of their way! It's good open water swim practice!