Transcendence

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...

Feb 28, 2012

2012 schedule confirmed

This time it is official. I've gotten the 2012 schedule updated on the schedule page. As I indicated prior, I'm moving on from the Xterra series. While I still plan on doing a few local Xterras, I will not be traveling across the country with the tribe. It's been a fun few years with lots of learning and growth as an athlete. I've also gotten to meet some really cool people and enjoyed the hospitality of the local communities. It's been a great was to get to know some new trails and some new areas of the country. I still love the swim bike run and the lifestyle of the Xterra Tribe, but it's time for something different. So it's only three Xterras this year, all points races and no championship events. Looking for the fun factor with those races, not the stress of travel and focus on performance.
   Xterra Curt Gowdy - June 24
   Xterra Lory - August 28
   Xterra Pueblo - September 9

More 24 hour races - working on improving my last six hours of racing. I've had fairly signifigant implosions during the last two races, loosing some huge chunks of time. That's going to be the biggest issue for my coach and I too work on before the end of September. And the only way to improve is to race more.
   24 Hours in the Old Pueblo - Feb 18/19
   24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest - June 16/17
   24 Hours in the Sage - August 18/19
   24 Hours of Colorado Springs - Sept 28/29

And the other big change for this year will be racing the endurance mountain bike scene here in Colorado. Trying to recover from the travel and windshield time over the last three years, so while there are plenty of races that sound like fun, I'm staying local this year. The Rocky Mountain Endurance Series will be my primary focus for the season. With four 60+ mile races and the Breck 100, it's gonna be a long few days in the saddle. Looking forward to the races and this new challenge for sure. A little intimidated by the thought of racing 100 miles on the MTB, but it's gonna be a lot of fun!
   Voodoo Fire - April 21
   Ridgeline Rampage - May 5
   Battle the Bear - May 19
   Breck 100 - July 14
  PV Cycle Derby - August 5

I'm sure there will be other races added to schedule as the season progress, so keep checking back for updates, race reports and photos.!

Feb 25, 2012

Tucson Mountain Park on two wheels

Well, only a third of Tucson Mountain Park (TMP) - but the fun third. Camping at the Gilbert Ray campground inside the park is really convinent for riding since there are quite a few trails that start nearby or even inside the campground. Last year, we'd managed to get completly lost on some of the trails to the south east of the campground. This year, armed with a better map and some intel from the Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists website (http://www.sdmb.org/), we knew where we were going and what trails we wanted to ride. We were hoping for about 4 hours total and knew there were plenty of trails avalible. It would just depend on how our legs felt.

First up on the agenda was Brown Mountain - a fairly short loop just to the west of the campground. But short does not always mean quick - this trail had a reputation for being fun and really challenging. We took the recommened counter clockwise route around the trail and I am happy we did. The first half of the trail meandered along the north base of the mountain, with some small rock gardens and some winding climbs. We saw a pair of coyotes resting in the shade as we pedaled along, hiding among the saguaros and prickly pairs. Then the trail turned up, a steep, switchbacked up with tight turns, loose terrain and rock gardens. I didn't make all the switchbacks, and had to re-do one set, but we finally got to the top. A nice, expansive view of the park and cities to the south was the treat as the trail traversed the top of the mountain. It was rolling, with some fast downhills broken up with tight switchbacks and steep climbs. The mountain dropped away from the trail, with a long fall only prevented by the cacti lining the trail. Finally, after a few ups and downs - the rocks turned pink and the trailed turned downhill. I'd seen hikers on those switchbacks when we started the ride. It was steep as it looked - I walked about a third of the switchbacks because of the steepness and the loose gravel. But the trail was fun - it took us about an hour to do the loop and I could have ridden it a few more times!
At the start of the climb on Brown Mountain Trail - TMP

After Brown Mountain, time for some easy trails. We headed north on Cougar trail, then north so more on Orcutt until it entered the National Park. Being good mountain bikers, we stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the view and admire the cacti. Then back on the bikes for the rest of ti ride. A few more out and backs on Cougar and Orcutt, then up Gates pass trail. My goal was to ride to the top of Gates Pass - since we wouldn't be taking that road in the Turtle. We got just to the base of the really steep section of trail, about a 1/4 mile from the top, and I was done. The trail was really loose, my legs were tired and I was running out of water. Time to beat a retreat back to the camper. We took the easy and fun trails down by Tucson Studios, managing to aviod the herds of horses, and meandered bak to the campground. Once again, TMP's secrets elluded us - there it plenty more single track to be explored - just finding the best route over there from the campground will be the issue. Just gives us an excuse to come back!

Feb 23, 2012

A not so sour Lemmon Drop

After a much needed rest day and a really easy ride around Fantasy Island with my mother, it was time to find some more fun singletrack. Nick and I met up with fellow Coloradoans Jamie and Sam B (Jamie had also raced at 24 HOP in the Woman's duo class and Sam had run support for her and her partner) and staked a claim in the Molino Basin campground. With wheels turning by 1:00, we pointed the bikes up the hill. The goal? About half the "Lemmon Drop" from the top of Green Mountain, down to Bug Springs, then back down into camp to hang out and tell tales. The sun was shining and no evidence of the snow from last week lingered on the lower slopes.

After a brief but tricky climb from Molino up the AZT to Prison Camp, it was onto the road. And up for the long haul. Nick and Sam took off, climbing at their pace. JAmie and I just shook our heads and said "they can wait." Gears dialed for an easy spin, we proceeded up mountain. There wasn't much traffic out at that time of day and only a few road bikes. We started the road climb about mile six on the highway - and kept climbing. Past the Bug Springs trail head, with the road looming ever higher on the rock walls above us. The boys were waiting at an overlook, but then took off again. And we continued climbing. The views were awesome, Mountains and canyons and desert just streching off into the distance. Finally, after a solid two hours of climbing, we reached the upper Green Mountain trailhead. Time for a snack and for the fun to begin. We took some time to study a map and headed off into the woods from some single track fun.

Another short little climb, then a snowcovered trail for the start of the descent - the storm last week had left plenty of snow that high on the mountain. I tried riding, but made the mistake of looking at a rock with a very long drop-off on the other side and slid into the cold stuff. Off the bike and walking for a while. A few really tight switchbacks that the boys tried to ride, then a long traverse across the snow covered mountain face. It was a tight trail with big consequences and I was more then happy to walk my bike through most of that section. The parts we were riding were fun, rocky and techy. Finally, after another long hike-a-bike section and some more snow, we were onto the main descent. The boys were gone in a flash and Jamie and I took our time through the steep descents and narrow trails. My legs were getting sliced to bits by the friendly vegitation. A few tight corners, then onto the waterbar filled switchbacks. I was in rare form, holding a nice conversation with myself as I descended. I made most of the switchbacks, had a few emergancy dismounts and some inelegant saves from close encounters with rocks. But just another awesome trail with some real fun sections and some real scary sections.

After Green Mountain, it was a short blast down the road to Bug Springs. Without the snow, the hike a bike in the beginning was pretty easy. Still tireing, but much easier then the slipping and sliding we'd done last week. At the top, with dry trails, it was super fun. Down a few steep sections that I actually rode this time, a few more climbs, then the flowy, fast and sweet section along the creek bed. Jamie and I didn't see the guys once - they were way out in front, probably just having a blast. I know I was! One more short push section and time for serious descending and serious fun. The trail was a little looser then our last trip, but just as much fun. With the setting sun in our eyes, we blasted down the single track, through the Prison Camp, and back to the campers. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear with enthusiasm and trail giddiness. Then time for dinner and chilling around the lanter, watching for shooting stars.

Feb 21, 2012

Kamp KOA at 24 Hr Town

I have to admit - I did not do a great job of taking photos this weekend at all. I just was not motivated to get the camera out and wander around 24 Hr Town this year. I don't even have any new sunset or sunrise photos! (Didn't help that the only pretty sunset and sunrise happened during the race - I was lucky enough to get both those laps) But we did have a great site and a great crew to hang with while in 24 Hr Town. KOA Dave, host of the 24 Hours in the Sage in Gunnison made the trip down to Tucson to help out a few teams and partake in the atmosphere of the 24 hour race. He scored an awesome site in town, just minutes away from the transition tent and with plenty of room for everybody. And by everybody - it was a small village of racers associated with The Griz and Camp KOA. There were four RVs, one pickup camper, one VW bus. four tents, five cars, a "party tent" with food all night long (the chicken soup that KOA Dave served up was just fabulous at 5:00 am) and a fully stocked mechanic's tent. If anyone needed anything, Dave was more then willing to help out or find someone to help out. The teams - one 5 person coed team, one 4 man team, two duo mens teams, two duo womens teams, two duo coed teams and two woman's soloists! That's 21 racers alone! Plus all the support crew and there was no body sleeping come 2:00 am in that area. And the hard work paid off - there were five podiums among the teams!

This was the first time we'd had some help in a 24 hour race. Normally, it's just us two, doing everything that keeps a duo team rolling down the single track. One of our friends from COS came down to help out two other teams and was awesome enough to help us when he had time. And it doesn't sound like much, but that cleaning the bike and getting batteries swapped out provided a few extra minutes of rest every lap. Thanks Jeremy! The other huge bonus this year was the power. We plugged the Turtle into KOA Dave's camper (the Griz) several times throughout the weekend to charge batteries, chill the fridge, make sure the furnace was working... And we weren't the only ones - I think everyone in Camp KOA was using the power from the Griz for something or chilling in the Griz between laps.

We did spend some time up at the Back of the Pack Racing pit before and after the race - which was entertaining as always. Beer tree was going strong Thursday night, the disco ball was lighting up the night sky and the lava lamp was trying to set the mood for racing. A cool living room set up with three couches and warm fire invited plenty of other racers to hang out for a few minutes or a few drinks...

Feb 20, 2012

2012 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo - short story

The fabulous weather brought some fast teams to the desert for the Kona 24 hours in the Old Pueblo. Nick and I showed up with an ambitious goal of 19 laps, one more the our prior best performance on the fast single track. We were also hoping to take the top step on the podium after getting closer every year. But racing against the King and Queen of Pain - Nat Ross and Rebecca Rusch - was a challenge we had not anticipated! We hung tough, but were in second right from the gun. And the gap kept getting pried wider, with Nat finally lapping me on our 14th lap. In the end, it was the King and Queen of Pain reigning supreme, finishing 19 laps at 12:00:10. Nick and I - the 2:00 AM Demons took second again, with 19 laps at 12:23:39. Third place went to Noxid Knar R. R. with Jeffery Rank and Marlee Dixon turning 17 laps by 12:10:20.

Full race report coming later! Many thanks to KOA Dave for securing the awesome campsite and providing the Turtle with power through the night. It was a great group to camp with and made the weekend much smoother.

Feb 17, 2012

Sleeping with the "enemy"

Last year when we were camped in Tucson, we were the youngest people at the RV park, with the oldest RV in the group. It was a neat, quiet park, with plenty of snowbirds wintering over for golf and relaxation. We got some pretty odd looks when rolling out of camp on our bikes to ride Fantasy Island. Well, this year, we are staying with Nick's Mom, in a much smaller park, with completely different types of people. Not only are we the doggonest, with the oldest RV, but we are really the only ones with bikes. Everyone else heads out for a ride in the morning sure, but with four footed steeds - either horses or mules. Yep! Staying with the horse people...

It's been interesting. All of the other campers are either retired or semi retired and this is a way of life - get up, plan a ride, load up the horses, ride for a few hours, come back and relax until bed time. Not all that different from Nick and I when we are on vacation. What's been interesting has been listening to the different opinions they have about hikers and mountain bikers, and the other horse people. Some of them understand the multi use concepts and need for common sense when following the trail right of way rules. Others - not so much. Like in the mountain biking community, there's a general disdain for the lack of common sense other trail users display. Everything from hikers holding the poles in aggressive manners and getting pissed when asked to put the poles down, to mountain bikers leaning their bikes against the horses to ask for directions. (I kid you not - and he was not telling me this story - he was talking to a fellow rider) Then there's the riders who do their best to get the horses used to other trail users, especially the biker, so there is less risk for conflict. I've been surprised at how cool the horse people are - just like us, all they want it to enjoy some peace and quiet on the trails and get in a fun ride with friends. And after spending some time on a bike, a few of the horse people understand that most mountain bikers are pretty cool too - just naive about how horses react and their limitations. (we've been invited on almost every ride this week)

And one of the biggest complaints of the horse people? Rudeness and being unaware of surrounding because of headphones and such. It's not that hard to smile and say hello. A little kindness goes a long way in keeping user group conflicts down and changing perceptions of the other users. And I'm not big on headphones, so its pretty easy to see that issue.

Feb 15, 2012

Fresh tracks on Bug Spring Trail

Our adventure today took us back up the Catalina Highway. I needed to do a few intervals and the trek up the road was perfect for that. Nick also had his eyes on another chunk of single track called Bug Springs trail. I was game, but had no clue how far up the road we would be going. We met fellow COS resident Russell F in the climb and Nick chatted with him while I was doing my intervals. He was on his road bike with a few team mates, but sounded like he was dying to take a run down Milagrosa.

After 12 or so miles of climbing, we finally turned off the road onto single track. And about three inches of snow! There were a few more sections of hike a bike with a steep trail and big water bars. I was pretty tired from the long climb, but gamely pushed my bike though the snow. In Arizona, fresh track on a new trail! Awesome. After the first climb, the trail descended through a creek. There was plenty of snow and no evidence of other users. It was such a fun rolling ride throught trees and up and down along the creek. Then another long climb with a few hike a bike sections. My feet were soaked from the snow and I was a little cold. But at the top, we could see the trail dropping away from us. It reminded me of Columbine, a fast drop with tight switchbacks and lots of rocks. There were two sections I walked, but otherwise a lot of self talking got me down and around the switchbacks.

After the drop back down to the highway, we meandered through the Gordon Hirobachyi campground and got in the Molino Basin trail. I was getting tired, but that aaas a fun, rolling trail along the creek. Up and down, though rock gardens and scrub bush. It was a good trail and much better then riding down the road then whole way! But we were forced to blacktop for the last eight miles. It was a good ride, about 35 miles total with plenty of single track. And amazingly, snow! We came to Tucson for sun and dry trails and still ended up with snow! No photos - Nick just wanted to rice and I couldn't take pictures and try to keep up. Tommorow we head to 24 hour town and get ready to race...

Feb 14, 2012

La Milagrosa - The Miracle

Waking up to sunny skies and warm weather, Nick had one goal - ride his bike for a few hours. We looked a few maps, then headed north towards Mt Lemmon. There were a few trails that sounded interesting and we were hoping for some good pedaling. After 20 minutes on the road, we turned onto the Catalina Highway and the road turned uphill. We stopped to look at every vista point, searching for a trail that headed down the mountain. A few roadies caught us, giving us that "what are you guys doing riding your bikes up this?" looks. Then two guys on mountain bikes caught us. Nick decided to ask them about the trails in the area and they gave him a suggestion as to something that might be fun. With Old Pueblo coming up, Nick didn't really want a really technical trail that would freak me out. He pretty much said so when talking to the other riders. Oh, no, no big drops, they assured us, mona lisa smiles on their faces. You're gonna have a great time, especially on that bike (Nick was on his 29er 1x10 Epic and I was on my Era. But they hadn't even looked at me). So we turned off the Catalina Highway at the Molino Basin parking area, right onto the AZ trail. We had no clue where we were going, just that we needed to turn right at the intersection and were going to have fun (or so we'd been told).

As promised, the initial climb up to the saddle was steep, loose and rocky. I wasn't having that great of a ride at all on the climb. There were things that I was walking that I felt like I should be able to ride. It was a steady grunt of climb, but as we got higher I started feeling more comfortable. And the views were great, with the Catalina highway far below down the valley to the north west and miles of cactus filled canyons down the ridge. I wasn't hiking that quickly on the hike a bike sections because I was too busy looking around at the views. Then we reached the top of the ridge line.


Coming down one of the little hills along the ridgeline

And the trail plummeted down into the canyon below us. I could see the switchbacks far down the valley, long straights and tight corners. And plenty of rocks. Nick was ecstatic - a downhill worthy of the climb to the top of the ridge. He took off down the first long, steep rocky drop with a hoot. I got to the top and slammed on my brakes. I knew it was all rollable, but just did not have the the guts to point my bike downhill and roll. I'd watched Nick and he'd made it look so smooth. Something about the 1000+ foot drop on my right! So down I walked. There were a few more sections that I did not even attempt, including a sharp left switchback with five waterbars. But as we got closer to the valley floor, I started regaining my confidence and riding more and more. It was awesome fun, and I was having a good time talking to myself as we descended.

We reached the water tank in the bottom of the canyon and stopped for a bit. The trail we'd descended vanished into the cactus above us. We continued through a gate and took the right as instructed. Right away, the trail dived into a deep canyon, with the rocks bleached white from the water and sun. There were still deep pools of water in the canyon and we stopped to look around again. Up a steep, rocky hill with large steps, the trail hugging the canyon wall and cliffs dropping down into the narrow canyon. Then the terrain opened into the top of one of the many ridges folding down into the horizon. It was a fun trail, rolling along the top of the ridge with picturesque canyons to either side. The constant rolling up and down along the ridge made for some fun riding. It wasn't too hard, just constant awareness of the cacti and rocks.
Right after barbed wire gate - about to follow the fence up and over some rollers

After a few of the rolling hills, we started descending again. The rocks got steeper, much like the slick rock we'd ridden on in Moab. The trail was narrow in spots, hugging canyon walls and wide open in others. There were a few sections that we both walked as we descended into a wash. It reminded me of the section in Williams with the waterfall. I leaned into the cactus as I unclipped and we had to spend a few minutes pulling spines out of my rump. Then the climb back out of the canyon wash. Without a bash guard and a race coming up, Nick wasn't try the step ups. I was happy to walk up it, even with a bash guard. At the top of that hill, we could see trails all around on the canyon and the Tucson valley spread out below. Only one more fun descent left. Again, there were some uber steep and loose sections I choose to walk. But when we popped out onto black top and around the stucco gate, we both had huge grins. Awesome fun ride. Our Specialized Era and Epic bikes, while not all mountain rigs, handled the miracle trail with ease. Now Nick wants to come back with a Safire and a Stumpjumper and really have some fun! As for those two locals who thought they playing a joke on the clueless tourists, that was a perfect ride for the day...
Yep! We had a great time on this bike....

Feb 12, 2012

Have Turtle, will Travel!

As usual, when February rolls around, it's time to load up the Turtle and head south. We're as bad as the RVers who travel from state to state in search of good weather, sunshine and friendly faces! We've pushed up the moving date every year, keeping a close eye on the weather as we make our plans. This year was no different - Nick gradually loaded up all the gear for the 24 hour race into the turtle through the week, with plans to leave when the weather was the best. I got the text Friday at work with the weather update and it's time to hit the road when I get home. It was perfect weather when we left, but that changed quickly oer the night. I'm not sure the Turtle would have gotten out of COS with the weather that moved in Saturday morning early.

This was the easiest drive south we've ever had. Thanks to leaving early, we just drove. No traffic through ABQ and we were able to cruse at 55 the whole way. Night driving in the Turtle is super easy - there's hardly anyone on the road and usually no wind. We stopped in a rest stop just south of Albuquerque to sleep for a few hours, then back on the road. And the Turtle ran smooth, very smooth. We stopped a few times to stretch our legs, but mostly drove. Nick was hell bent for sunshine and open singletrack trails. Finally, 22 hours after we left Colorado Springs, it was time to ride! A quick lap around Fantasy Island to shake off the cobwebs from sitting. I was uber stiff - everywere - from the long drive. We did everything but Bunny Trail - just enjoying being able to ride without bundling up. Already getting the tan lines going! After the ride it was off to find the campground we're gonna call home home for a few days. We were meeting up with Nick's mom at a horse campground on the north west side of Tucson. A few days of hanging out, riding and just chilling, coming right up...

Feb 9, 2012

Apple Blueberry Multigrain pancakes

I have to admit to bing a big breakfast person. I love breakfast and pancakes arw usually quick and easy. And then you have leftovers for the next early training morning. I have been expermimenting with some diferent flour and grain combos and been having a lot of fun. These multigrain pancakes are filled with fruit, but still light and fluffy. The ground flax seed provides a nutty taste and healthy omega 3s. Combined with the buckwheat and oatmeal, they are also filling and a great breakfast with either maple syrup or fruit preserve. Make sure you get oats labeled gluten free if there are concerns.

Combine in large bowl:
1 cup gluten free flour
1 cup steel cut oats
1/4 cup course ground cornmeal
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp baking soda (seems like a lot but that provides the fluffy texture)
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

Add to dry mixture and stir well:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup milk
1 apple chopped fine or greated (I prefer using Gala or Jazz apples)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.

Let batter stand, stirring occasionally while griddle warms. Cook until bubbles form and edges are no long wet looking then flip. Serve warm with Maple syrup.

Feb 6, 2012

Overload

Its the purpose of training - overload the system right to the limit, then take a recovery to develop speed and endurance. Well, I think Coach Adam and I did a really good job of pushing right to the limit over January. And it's been a blast. I love the hard work, testing the limits of what I can tolerate. Over five weeks, only one recovery week and few completely off days lead to my pulling the plug on the final scheduled workouts of the week. I'd been pushing on the bike, dealing with a slight issues in my calf while running and getting in the water about three times a week. Sleep was good - trying to go to bed early and then sleeping in as much as the kittens would let me. (Sasha likes snuggling in the morning and her purr is loud) But I was still starting to feel that deep seated fatigue from the cumulative stresses. So when I got started on my workout Saturday morning, I was mental motivated to turn out another strong interval set. My body on the other hand was not as motivated. The fact that I wanted to go back to sleep after swimming was a major clue to just how tired I was. When I got on the bike and started the intervals, the numbers were pathetic. Not even close to what I was looking for. I knew that it wasn't worth the stress to try and finish. So I pulled the plug and went back to bed. Texted Adam, pretty much whining about the lousy workout and how tired I was. His response was classic "yeah, I didn't expect you to finish that workout!" Perfect! And now it's time for a good recovery and taper week! All the overload of the last few weeks will soon be put to good use at the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo....

Feb 5, 2012

Cute Kitten Photos

Okay, enough with the blah blah about racing and training. Time for some cute kitten photos of Miss Sasha and George! They are five months old now and are getting huge. And their personalities are really coming out. It's funny, at first we thought Sasha would be the bossy, head of the household cat. She was very commanding when we first brought them home. But now, she's quiet and a little shy around strangers. Snuggly on her terms, which seem to always be while I'm trying to sleep and she wants to curl up right on my shoulder or neck. As for George.... She's a little monster! She's into everything, needs to explore every box and shopping bag we bring home. She's bold and bossy and not afraid to stand up to DumDum. She'll curl up next to you and pass out, purring like a freight train. And one of these days, the red bug will sit still long enough for her to catch it! DumDum is starting to play with them more, and playing on his own a little more as well. Since they are still supposed to eat kitten food, we've kept his food bowl on the banister. That hasn't helped - I can't get the kittens to always eat the easy to get at kitten food  - it's so much more fun to jump onto the railing! It's all fair - DumDum thinks hes getting away with something when he sneaks into the bathroom to eat their food!

She's getting big, but still thinks she's a shoulder kitten.

George helping me with the photos on my computer. She's really good at helping! And now she covers the whole key board...

I was mixing up some new food for DumDum and Sasha decided she wanted a snack - this is what a food bowl should look like!
Snuggling after a hard play session - during which they'd flipped the cat bed over, sent the pad flying somewhere and played peekaboo with Sasha under the cat bed
Sasha snoozing - all the camera click got was a twitch of the ear.
Sasha playing with a little grey stuffed cat that I had as a kid. And yes, I'd named the stuffed cat "Sasha!"