Halfway

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

Jun 30, 2012

Another day of studying

Maps that is. I think the ride took two hours longer then it should have because we got turned around and made a bunch of wrong turns. That and the directions were kinda hard to follow for people who aren't familiar with the trails and roads around here. I think we did get the whole second lap, plus some extra stuff. There were some fun trails, for sure and the descent off the Colorado Trail is awesome. The climb to get there however? I was hurting on that. I didn't eat enough during this ride, and it showed in the climbs. But there wasn't the kick in the pants climb at the end of the lap. Just some steady riding.

We met a lot of people who were out pre-riding the FireCracker 50 course. That was marked and really easy to follow. At times we were on the same trails and same direction. Other times, we were going against traffic. Having some other people around was good on a few times we got lost. Although four lost people with the same vague directions aren't very efficient!

I do have some photos - will post them later. This was another really pretty day on the bike, lots of expansive views and wild flowers. Before we got onto the Colorado Trail, we rode past the dog sled kennels off of Swan River road. And the dogs were out today! There was a team of ten running up the road, pulling a golf cart behind them. Those dogs looked so happy, tongues hanging out, pulling with all thier might. I've never seen sled dogs training, so it was fun to see.

Jun 29, 2012

Studying day 1

Wow. Starts with a sucker punch and ends with a kick in the pants. Lots of fun, but it's gonna be a hard first third of a long day. Can't really say how long it took us to finish the lap - we spent a lot of time studying the map and took a few wrong turns. It's a long, rocky road climb from Carter Park, as the ski area service road goes from nice and smooth to loose, rocky and steep. Add in the altitude and I was using all my gears! Finally, after way too long on the road, we reached Wheeler Trail. Single track in alpine tundra! The view was amazing, but I had to focus on the trail. A little more climbing, then time for the descent down to Copper. Wow. Overheated my brakes for sure on that one. All that climbing, those hours on the road and it took us minutes to reach the interstate. A break from single track on the Bike Path was welcome. My hands were sore! We overshot the turn to the next trail by a few miles and had to backtrack, but then onto the Peaks Trail. Rooty, Rooty and lot of rocks. Add in another gradual climb and it was a tough end to the first lap. Some fun sections for sure, but mostly heads up riding. A full days ride - and there's still two more laps! I'll get photos up later next week.

Jun 28, 2012

Finding Rocks and Loving it - Xterra Curt Gowdy


Like I said - I'm going to focus on positive things. There's enough bad news and depressing images going around and while the fire is still burning and there has been true devastation in parts of the city, I really want to keep looking forward. And maybe provide my own little distraction from reality for some people! In that vein, I'm posting my race report from Xterra Curt Gowdy instead of a Waldo Canyon Fire report.

Xterra Curt Gowdy - held at Wyoming's  Curt Gowdy State Park between Cheyenne and Laramie, just north of I-80. This was one of the most fun Xterras I have done. The swim was in the crisp water of Granite Reservoir, the bike meandered along the IMBA Epic rated trail system and the run traversed many of the same trails. I knew going in that I was in good mountain bike shape, but I wasn't necessarily in good Xterra shape. My adventure last weekend surely wasn't going to help much either! But it was a great race, a fun time and awesome riding. Congrats to Sara Tarkington for the win. And a huge congrats to Lance and rest of the Without Limits crew for the fantastic race. Very well done, especially for a first time event!
Even at 8:00 am, the temperature was nearly 80 degrees. Nick and I had camped overlooking the swim start and transition area and it was an easy pedal to the venue in the morning. I set out my gear and decided to jump in the water for a little swim. The water was 62 degrees, but I was still hoping to get away without wearing the wetsuit. One - haven't worn the thing all year and two, was hoping that the cool water would keep me cooler a little longer after I got on my bike. But alas - it was too chilly even for me. For swimming, I could have gotten away with it, but trying to get on my bike after and ride hard? The cold water would sap too much energy. So into the wetsuit I squirmed.

As with Xterra Lory, Lance divided the race waves into swimming and mountain biking ability to alleviate congestion on the bike course. I lined up in the first wave, feeling a little nervous about the two lap, 1200 yard swim. At the whistle, we were off into a churning mass of water and neoprene. I had a good start and found some good feet to follow. Settled into a smooth stroke, but knew it was a little fast. Or my wetsuit was a little snug! Very much not used to swimming in the wetsuit right now... Around the first buoy and the mass of swimmers had spread out. I noticed Sara right next to me, so I knew the pace was good. I was still with her at the end of the first lap, but started feeling the effort a little. I lost contact with her just after the first buoy again and then focused on maintaining my stroke and staying smooth. Even without putting in huge yards in the pool, I still managed to be the second woman out of the water. My transition was pretty slow - as I had anticipated, getting the wetsuit off was a bit of a struggle. 

Onto the bike. I was looking forward to the bike course after my pre-ride. I know people will complain that the bike course was too hard, that there was too much technical riding. Well, this was a course that required attention and the ability to ride a bike. It was not a course where big ring grinding was the fastest way to get from swim to run. This was fun mountain biking with consequences for mistakes. The consequences weren't huge, but they were there - the potential for carnage was fair. There were plenty of sections that required timing, skill and some good body English on the bike. It was a breath of fresh air after three seasons of racing on double track disguised as single track. The first seven miles especially had so many fun sections - so many rocks where the line was "Make your own fun." Unfortunately for me, I wasn't able to get into race mode. I cleaned 95% of the bike course, but I was in ride mode for the whole race.
Found some rocks in the middle of an Xterra - Photo Nick Thelen

Having fun on the rocks - Photo Nick Thelen

Ride mode with a huge grin on my face. I knew there were times that I should shift into my big ring and did, but the legs were interested in hammering. Not a quick response for more speed and power. I was more tired than I thought. And while the rocks were awesome fun, the punchy little accelerations and climbs and throwing the bike around were taking their toll. I got passed by two women on the bike (one was racing on a relay team) and two other women in later waves had faster bike times. I knew the time wasn't going to be super fast, but I still had a good time. I was happy to be wearing my camelbak too, the temperatures soared into the 90s by the time I got off the bike. The cool of the lake that morning was nothing but a faint memory. Another so-so transition (that's what I get for not practicing!) and I was off on foot for the run.
In the trees along Mo-Rocka trail - one of the really fun sections - Photo Nick Thelen

Heading for Transition on Shoreline Trail - Photo Nick Thelen

I knew the run would be a struggle. If I was tired on the bike and I've been riding a lot, I was going to suffer on the run since I haven't been running that much. Nick hollered at me to "run them down" as I left transition since the gaps weren't too long. Yeah, right. I might have looked good when I started running, but I knew it would last long. But image is everything, right? I tried to run hard for the first mile, but as I saw the red suit fading into the distance among the trees, I knew I wasn't going to be running anyone down. Just running was good for me. That's what I get for not running much over the last few months! I still had a decent pace, even with the heat. As I left the finish area behind and headed deeper into the tree, I decided to take my tri-top off and not deal with it unzipped all the way and flapping. My CTS kit is comfy, but black is not the best of colors for hot and sunny! It was a fun run, covering the first four miles of the bike course, then striking off onto new trails for the last miles. There were plenty of water stations - Lance added some due to the heat, but I was still happy to have my little water bottle with me. Got a refill on that twice! I did manage to not get passed on the run, but it was close. Despite being third on the course (I thought I was fourth, but didn't realize that one of the woman in front of me was on a relay) I finished fifth overall. There were two speedy ladies in later waves that had blazing fast bike and run times!
The run was just as much fun as the bike! Photo Nick Thelen

Heading for home - almost finished! Photo Nick Thelen

This was a great race. I'm happy I decided to make the trip to Wyoming and explore Curt Gowdy State park. The trails throw a nice mix of easy and fun and are truly epic. Hopefully the Xterra will grow and continue to provide a race with some real riding and fun atmosphere (though I did miss the slip-n-slide...)

Jun 27, 2012

Waldo Canyon Day 2

It's really day five since the fire first plumed in the center of the Waldo Canyon Trail, but day two of what is being called a siege on the city. First, Nick and I are on the south west side of the city and doing fine at this point. We do know plenty of people who live in the evacuated area and one of my friends is worried that he may have lost everything (but he did get his bike...)

I was in Pueblo yesterday, following the news briefing on Twitter. Then it changed - went from a standard briefing to mandatory evacuations for a large portion of the city. Tweets became direct and frantic at times. Driving back up 25 to town, the smoke plume towered into the sky, the closer I got, the darker it became as the smoke filled the air. When I got home and turned the news on, it became clear. The fire, whipped into a frenzy by raging winds, had jumped over two fire lines. Into Queens Canyon, directly behind the Mountain Shadows area. With winds howling up to 65 mph, the fire had the upper hand and quickly descended into the western limits of the city. A gut wrenching site on TV - watching flames eating away at homes I've ridden my bike past many times.

So far, the fire crews have held it to west of Centennial. Homes have been lost and people are on edge, for sure. But everyone is saying its gonna be another hard day with more wind and continued high temperatures. It's a hard, hot job - wildland and urban interface fire fighting and a long struggle ahead to gain control.
Photo of the fire storming into the Mountain Shadows area - I stole the photo off Facebook, so don't really know who took it

Jun 26, 2012

Waldo Canyon Fire

It's the inescapable news. A large fire is now burning in the Rampart Range, just between Colorado Springs and Ute Pass. I learned of the fire while at Curt Gowdy St park in Wyoming for the Xterra - yay Twitter(?) and followed the progress between pre-riding and racing. (And probably burning my data plan to shreds). Too close to home, and we aren't near the evacuation zones. It's one thing to read in the paper about all the fires near Ft Collins and another to have one right against the city limits.

And this is really close to home. As a little girl, hiking Waldo Canyon was a Thanksgiving tradition. After putting the turkey in the oven, time to hit the trails. We'd come home after a fun hike to a house that smelled yummy. Even after that tradition faded, I still went to Waldo Canyon to run and do hill repeats. This morning, it sounded like the fire had reached Rampart Resevoir, another place where I spent time training. I prepared for my first marathon on the trails around Rampart. I headed up there for long runs and to escape the heat of the city. And some of trails I was just introduced to this winter - the overlook drop, Waldo connector, Williams Canyon. All right in the center of the fire. Who knows when they will be rideable? It might be a month or more before the fire is out, then comes the long task of rehabbing the first and trails.

And right now, because of the high fire danger, every city park is closed. Stratton - closed. Red Rocks - closed. Palmer Park - closed. Garden of the Gods - closed. Cheyenne Canyon - closed. (I don't know how they are enforcing the closure, but I'm not gonna test to find out. Besides, the air quality is so bad right I don't even want to run or ride outside!) Would the parks need to be closed if people weren't stupid? I don't think so. But unfortunately, people seem to be completely unaware, lazy and lack common sense. I've seen too many hikers out on the trails in Stratton and Palmer Park smoking and it doesn't take more then a careless toss of a butt to ignite. Conditions are that dry right now. And if you think the smokey haze and campfire smell pervading town, along with the column of smoke to the west would make people think, try again. Right after I took this picture, I saw two different smokers flick their butts out of their car windows onto the ground...

Jun 20, 2012

Casting a Spell - 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest

As Nick often says, a 24 hour race does not really start until midnight. The first hours are important, but once darkness has lingered for a few laps, the mental aspect of the race begins. And if things were a little hot earlier, the cracks can begin to show. For our first time in the Enchanted Forest of the Zuni Mountains, Nick and I rode smart, rode strong and stuck to the plan. We didn't allow the other teams to dictate terms or pace, dealt with the little issues that always come up over 24 hours and kept rolling. At noon Sunday, "Slowly-Faster" took the top step, with 18 laps at 11:42. Defending Co-Ed Duo champions, Allan and Karen Rishel of Stan's NoTubes Endurance Racing placed second, completing 17 laps at 11:47. Third place went to another Colorado based duo, Leslie Handy and Jill Hueckman from Trek Store Boulder/BandWagon Racing, finishing 16 laps at 11:33. It was a great weekend - a camping trip with a very well organized bike race in the middle of it. Zia Rides did an awesome job with the race and I'm very happy we finally made the trip to the forest. I have no photos from the weekend though - too busy riding our bikes!

Jun 19, 2012

24 Hours of Enchantment

For our first trip down to the 24 hours in the Enchanted Forest, Nick and I had a great time. We hung out with The Back Of the Pack, enjoying the lights and the living room they provided. It was nice to meet the Foxy Mamas and the rest of the Back of the Pack family. The environment at 24EF was awesome - so much more like a camping trip with a mountain bike race in the middle then a mountain bike race in the middle of no where! And even with the last minute Forest Service ordered venue relocation, the site was good. It was spread out, but we were right on the track and got to people watch the entire weekend (when we weren't riding our bikes!) Nick and I did really well, turning 18 laps before noon on Sunday to win the Co-ed duo. We also beat the Men's duo winners and the Single Speed Duo winners! I'll get the full race report written this week.

Some notes from the weekend:
* Tedd from Back of the Pack has his dogs very well trained! Nick went to get a drink from their cooler, and the dogs went crazy! They even broke the tree branch they were leashed to off. Protect the beer - that's the motto of the mutts.
Maybell - the guardian of the cooler (and the rest of the camp!)

*On Thursday, while sitting and relaxing in the shade, we got to watch some fellow racers attempting to set up a really fancy tent. It took them three hours to get the pole figured out and another two to get the tent set up... We could have offered to help, but watching was so much more fun.

* The chair forest sprouted up Thursday. Everyone had a camp chair and as the shade moved, so did the chairs. All shapes and sizes, colors and styles of chairs. I didn't get a photo but there were about 20 chairs around camp - not including the living room couches!

*Nick and I had our bikes hidden behind the Turtle the whole weekend. We didn't want to contaminate the Back of the Pack fleet with our suspension, geared and one 26" bike! And until the race started, no one noticed that we were back there...

* A very family friendly event, with lots of activities for kids including arts and crafts, the normal 24 minutes kids races and the longer Enchanted Land race that used part of the 24 hour race course. Tedd raced with his family in the Enchanted Land and it looked like he had fun. There were also things for non-racers to enjoy, like wine tasting, a live band and a movie after dark.

Palmer Park Fun

Before Nick and I headed south to the Land of Enchantment, I raced in the second Ascent Cycling Series race at Palmer Park. It was a short but fun lap with plenty of rocks, sand and roots. There was a good turn out for the race and the competition was pretty steep. My race report is over at Pikes Peak Sports:
Ascent Cycling Series - Palmer Park

Am I racing or just having fun riding my bike? Humm....
Photo - Tim Bergsten

Jun 15, 2012

Searching for Echantment

This is gonna be a fun weekend. Not only do we get to hang out with the fun Back of the Pack Racing single speed freaks, we get to check out a new 24 hour race! This will be our first time in the Zuni Mountains east of Gallup, NM for the 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest. I've seen pictures from the race, with riders on flowing trails under huge pines. It really looks like a fun course. I've also read reviews and it sounds like a very well organized 24 hour race. It's cool - We're heading to a race with no prior experience on the course. Neither of us have ridden any of the trails in the area. It's all brand new, we don't know how hard or technical the course is, how the climbs and descents compare to anything else, or what the passing will be like. I have no clue how fast our laps will be, outside of estimating based on what other teams have done. That's part of the cool factor. A chance to see how dialed Nick and I really are when it comes to 24 hour races. A new course and new venue...

And we get to hang out with the Back of Pack gang. Hopefully, they will have the 24 hour living room set up, complete with the Pink Futon! Although Nick and I will resist the lure and curse of the Pink Futon... We go into race mode once high noon approaches, but before and after, it's a fun group to swap stories with and just chill out.

Jun 12, 2012

Ascent Cycling Series #2

This week we're heading to Palmer Park. There's been quite a bit of damage to some of the trails from the rain storm last week, but Andy from Sand Creek Sports has been working hard with the city and parks department to get things repaired. It was amazing during our preride, how much damage there had been. Andy's put together a fun course - there's some butt-pucker moments for sure! Here is a link to my pre race comments on Pikes Peal Sports
Pre-Riding Palmer Park

Jun 10, 2012

Crazy Weekend Part 2 - Return to Battle the Bear

After a good night's sleep in the Walmart parking lot, it was time to get going for Take 2 of Battle the Bear. A perfect morning, with only a few low hanging clouds greeted us as we made the short drive to Bear Creek Lake Park. The staging area was already hopping and the pit zone was getting full. We set up the tent and dragged over the cooler and a chair. Our tent was gonna be a busy place this race, with four racers in the Marathon pitting under the shade and Nick in the half marathon. The air was still heavy and damp from the thunderstorms the night before, but the moisture did nothing to chase away the mosquitoes! I have never been so happy to have bug repellent in the camper - otherwise I would have been eaten alive while racing! A few shots of DEET to my clothes, my neck and my helmet took care of those little annoyances... Then time to get a short warm up - I wasn't going to make the same mistake with my air pressures in my tires again. It wasn't long before the announcer started calling the marathoners to the line. I took one last mental inventory, reviewed my race plan and wheeled over to the starting line to wait.
A much better day to race - me and Cam all smiles before the start
Photo - Nick Thelen
 We started right behind the Pro men again. Our group was small; two single speeders and me and Natalie. We were missing a few of the brave souls who'd started on May 19th for the first attempt. It was the same story off the starting line. I bolted to the front, looking for the hole shot, with SS racer Cristina Begy right on my wheel. We took a slightly different route up to the main trail this time, a little steep and rockier. At the top, I shifted into my big ring and set my attention to getting a gap and keeping it. It would have been much harder to ride away from the field if Natalie hadn't also raced the 24 (20) Hours of E-Rock Friday thru Saturday. She was rightfully very tired from that race - and her team did great, winning the co-ed 4/5 class with only 4 riders!

It was amazing how much faster I could ride without the wind, rain and mud of May. Instead of worrying about my bike and trying to stay in the middle of the river so my tires stayed mud-free, I was pushing the pace hard. I managed to hold off the leading SS men until the top of the third hill in the race - one that I'd walked up last time because of the mud. On the long down hill that followed, I tucked onto wheels, drafting as much as I could. It didn't make sense to pass the SS men - they'd all just have to pass me back on Mt Carbon. I did manage to hang with them until the climb up Mt Carbon. Then they were gone. I was pretty happy with that, normally when the single speeders pass me, I'm left in the dust. Halfway up the climb, the AG men started slowly bridging through the start gaps. But it wasn't a steady mass of riders like at Ridgeline - whether it was because I was riding faster or there were fewer racers, I don't know.

I'd ridden the first seven miles of the course on the 19th, but the last three miles held the most surprises. In start contrast to the straight up, straight down and long flowing trails of the first half, the last three were twisty and filled with sharp turn and punchy little climbs. On the descents in the first seven miles, getting the weight back and floating around the bermed corners was awesome fun - I was able to go faster then some of the road cyclists on the drop off the dam! But the last three were completely different - winding along the creek, through trees with tight, off camber corners and those little steep kicker climbs that really started hurting in the last half of the race. There were also a few short, little rock gardens in that took a few racers by surprise - I saw a few waterbottles scattered among those rocks. Than across the last bridge and onto wide and fast single track leading back to pit row. A fast course with the fun riding coming at the end to keep things honest.

And truly a pit row this time. Unlike a Ridgeline, where people where handing off on both sides of the trail and there were a few near collisions between thru riders and pitting riders, there were two clearly marked lanes. One for pit, one for thru riders and a volunteer monitoring traffic so there were no accidents. I was running solely on bottles for this race, so was planning on five exchanges with Nick. The first one was so smooth and fast - I hardly needed to slow down. Tossed my bottle a little early, then easily took the one Nick was holding for me. The second exchange was just as quick and smooth. We've practiced a few times because nothing is worse then fumbling an exchange... I did have to slow down a little more for handups 3 and 4. I was getting both a bottle and some food those times and only have hands for one thing at a time. This was the perfect race for no camelbak, especially as it started getting hotter later. I didn't have to get off the bike once - no issues. Nick makes an awesome pit crew! I'm not sure I did as good a job later for him!

After the hard start, I settled into a sustainable race pace for laps two and three. I kept the tempo and HR high, focused on smooth up the hills and efficient down. The clouds started burning off, going from muggy but tolerable to windy and hot. I was tactically smart this time around - with the long straight sections, fighting the wind alone was silly. So I used the men around me, making the small accelerations to get on wheels and drafting where I could. Might not be nice racing, but it was smart racing. I kept monitoring my effort levels, making sure I was drinking enough and eating enough. Getting a fresh, cold bottle every lap certainly helped with the drinking enough part! The heat got to me a little on laps 4 and 5 and I slowed a little. But not much, maybe a minute or two for the whole lap. I noticed everyone around me was also slowing, with the guys not gaining any ground after they passed. I was starting to bring a few of them back as well. On lap 5, the two leaders in the pro men lapped me - Kalan just before the entrance to pit row.

Flying past pit row on my last lap Photo - Nick Thelen
Then at the start of lap 6, I flipped my watch from split to total time. Uh oh. I'd already lost the shot at my fastest goal time - 4:15, but if I wanted to meet my second goal time, I needed to kick it up a notch. I would actually need to ride close to my time from the first lap! I had no clue what the gap was to second, but knew that I could afford to go a little crazy to try to get my time. So I did - I was hammering up the hills in my big ring for a few, then flying down. I started reeling in the men in front of me and just set my sights on passing each one. At the bottom of Mt Carbon, I caught two who had passed me at the start of lap 4. I rode by one like he wasn't moving - in my big ring, standing. I heard him say as I passed "Holy shit, where did she come from?!" Awesome! At the creek crossing, I knew I had to keep the pressure on - the split was good, but I needed to be smooth and fast in those last three miles. And I had my best run through that section - clean through the rock gardens, no brake squealing on the tight corners. Across the bridge and it was gonna be close - a minute either way. I put my head down and flew, focusing on nothing but the trail in front of me. And crossed the line in 4:19:16, just beating my goal of 4:20. It was the third fastest women's time for the 60 mile course and I was pretty happy with how the race turned out. I'd keep the pressure on and hadn't had the last third fade like at VooDoo and Ridgeline. I'd actually ridden my second fastest lap time on that last lap! I also felt a lot better - my back wasn't spasming and cramping.

Women's Podium - Natalie already went home and went to bed!
Photo - Scott Mulvaney
I sat in the shade for a few minutes, then rode back to the camper to change and get something to eat. Nick would be starting soon and I needed to be ready to take care of him. I watched his start - he got right to front of the SS half marathon men. Came through with a 30s lead at the end of lap 1, but it was down to 5 seconds at the end of lap 2. I did catch that he'd tossed his camelbak, but had no clue where. Turned out Heather W of Dirt Divas had picked it up for him. Then at the finish, Bryan Smalley of Rocky Mountain Racing came through in first, with Nick about 2:20 back. The long weekend had caught up to Nick and he'd had some really bad cramps in that last lap. But the good news was the cramps went away pretty quickly after he finished - they used to last much longer.

A few short races, one 24 hour race, one Xterra, then time to start thinking about the big one. Breckenridge 100 - July 15. My date with true, Rocky Mountain ultra endurance mountain bike racing - my first 100 mile race!

Jun 7, 2012

The Strava Effect - or how to really make other trail users hate us...

Not every ride is a race and unless there is a number on your bike, it's a trail not a course! Nick and I were enjoying a perfectly quiet climb up the Chutes - taking that trail since it was 12:30 and usually no traffic up or down. We were just pedaling along, enjoying life on two wheels. Then we nearly got run over. Some dude came flying around one of the blind corners, completely out of control and riding way too fast. He almost ran into to Nick and would have run me over had I been riding alone. He sputtered for a little, got out that two more riders were behind him and pushed his bike around us just as his friend also came skidding down the trail. As he passed me, I politely but pointedly said "Next time, how about you learn to ride in control?" I have no clue what the dude said next, but it wasn't polite! Rude enough that Nick whipped his bike around and went flying down the trail after them. I followed a few seconds later. Nick had caught them just before the Chutes merges with the road and was having some words about safety, control and multi use trails. The kids kept saying they were in control of their bikes, we were in the way on the course and they didn't see us coming up. Not once did they realize the implications of their lack of control or courtesy to other trail users.

So few observations...
1. The Chutes (and every other "segment" in Stratton Open Space) is a multi-use, open trail. There are other users - hikers, the occasional horse, dogs and other mountain bikers. We as cyclists are supposed to yield to other users, not run them over. It's great fun to go flying down the chutes, but we also need to be aware someone might be coming up and be able to stop - in control of the bike.

2. Speaking of those other users - a bike flying down the Chutes - or any other trail - can cause some serious damage to an adult hiker, a small child or even a dog. It's not their responsibility to alert you their are on the trail - it's your job as a rider to anticipate that there will be other users around at all hours.

3. Speed is good, sure. But riding within your ability level is even better. That's the mark of true mountain biker, no careening around the corners, bouncing off the trails. Almost running over someone, then stating that you didn't see them so it's not your fault isn't riding within your ability level.

4. It's not a course. No one really cares how fast you can ride down the trail. In fact, riding so out of control that you can't stop until five feet after the person you almost hit is a good way for mountain bikers of all abilities to lose access. It only takes once incident and all riders are branded as out of control jackasses. One bad encounter can erase 20 prior episodes where the riders were polite and everyone left the scene happy. We love our trails - and it's people like the boys we met today that jeopardize our ability to ride where we love.



Ascent Cycling Series - Race 1

Another fun afternoon of racing at Bear Creek Terrace. The weather almost won this round, but everyone got a chance to throw down some laps on the fun single track. Cameron and I got our jerseys for the Pikes Peak Sports Ascent Cycling Series Team - they're really cool. The full race report is on Pikes Peak Sports - go check it out!
A "hail" of a good time!

Some photos from the race:
Cameron and I talking team strategy before the race
Photo Tim Bergsten

Chasing the guys with the weather looming...
Photo Nick Thelen

Focusing on the trail
Photo Tim Bergstem


Jun 5, 2012

Crazy weekend part 1 - 24 Hours of E-Rock


Back at the start of the year, my Mom got the idea that she wanted to try something new - a 24 hour mountain bike race. She'd had a good time helping at the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs last year and was really impressed by all the riders. She's also heard all our stories about the various races Nick and I have done together. So she decided to have a go at the 24 hour challenge at the 24 Hours of E-Rock. It was the perfect course for her to test the waters - flowing wide and mostly double track with nary a rock in sight. A few sand pits, but other than that a perfect beginners course. Mom partnered with Noemi, one of the CTS employees to do a two woman team. Nick volunteered to help out - thinking nothing would be going on that weekend. He was gonna do all the 24 hour support Mom  needed - food, bike maintenance and helping with lights.
The course at E-rock  - it didn't get much narrower!
 Then the Battle the Bear reschedule date fell on the Sunday after E-rock. Since E-rock is an unusual 6:30-6:30 Friday through Saturday, he would still be able to help - he would just be really tired for his race on Sunday! It also meant that Nick's bike was already single speeded, ready to go for Sunday when he got to the E-rock venue on Friday. Part of the fun of 24 hour racing is the atmosphere, and Nick wanted Mom to be able to enjoy some of that. He also had some friends racing in the Co-Ed 8 person division and wanted to have some people to hang out with while Mom was out riding or sleeping. But after getting everything set up, his friends asked him to join their team. Turns out one of their riders was sick and couldn't race and they really wanted the 8th person. Nick agreed to do four laps, but that was it. He was really there to support Mom - and that's hard to do while racing!
Mom out riding before the clouds rolled in
So after getting Mom all ready to ride - she was going second on her team, Nick got ready as well. He did the second lap, two night laps in a row (a great chance to get some time on the Exposure Lights in a race situation...) and one lap in the early morning. His team-mates picked up the rotation with only 7 riders after that so Nick could help Mom and not be too tired for his race Sunday. Even on the single speed, he had some of the fastest laps on the course. And this was not a single speed friendly course, with a rolling climb dropping down into a straight run at the finish line. The road heading back to the finish was a gentle decline with a tail wind most of the day. When I took a spin on the course on Saturday, I was spun out with my biggest gear! Brad, one of Nick's team mates said he was easy to pick out coming into transition - he'd wind up the cadence to about 200, then coast, then spin it up again... I can only imagine what times he would have done if he'd had a big ring!

Clouds building over Pikes Peak - more bark then bite...
Mom had a great time in her race - she did 12 laps and her team finished with 24 laps when the race was called due to weather at 2:30 on Saturday. Nick said it was funny - she was uber talkative and chatty for the first few hours, then gradually got quieter and quieter. She did a good job and was a good person to support - listening and telling Nick what she needed. He even got her trained to write what she wanted on the marker board in the Camper while he was out riding! I came up Saturday morning and it seemed like she was having a good time - but getting tired. I also noticed that the odd start time was playing tricks on veteran 24 hour racers - usually when the sun comes up, there's only 6 hours of racing left. Not 12 - kinda demoralizing to think about having to face the hottest part of the day just when you most want the race to be over.

Hanging out after the race
Photo Brad B
After the race, Mom headed home and we hung out with Nick's teammates for a while. The fearsome storm that forced the early finish of the race never materialized and it was a great afternoon to sit around the imaginary fire and tell stories. The team was pretty pleased that they were able to bring the title back down to Monument and were already plotting as how to defend next year... Then to the high class camping establishment known as Wally-World parking lot to get ready for Battle the Bear take two!

Bear Creek Terrace

This blog post is actually over at Pikes Peak Sports - it's my thoughts and review of the upcoming venue for the start of the 2012 Ascent Cycling Series at Bear Creek Terrace. Always fun riding there...
Bear Creek Terrace

Jun 4, 2012

Battle the Bear

Finally - we got to race our bikes at Bear Creek Lake. It was the best of all possible weekends - conflicts did pull away some riders to other events such as the Teva Games. But for a rescheduled event, there was still plenty of racers eager to rise to the challenges that Bear Creek Lake presented. I finally put all the pieces together, turning in the 3rd fastest woman's time on the course to claim the top step on the podium. I finished in 4:19:16 - meeting my goal of breaking 4:20. Natalie Ryan hung tough in a long weekend that included the 24 Hours of E-Rock from Friday thru Saturday to finish second in 4:36:35. Third place went to SS racer Cristine Begy with at 4:43:27.

Nick also had a crazy weekend - he crewed for my Mom's team at E-rock and joined an eight person team for four laps. Then he helped me with my race Sunday morning before finally toeing the line for his race. He had a solid race - pushing himself to the limit and finished second. Now it's time to catch up on his sleep!

Jun 1, 2012

Simple Oat Scones

I had a recipe for simple scones that I was going to make for snacking on this weekend. Well, I decided that I wanted something with a little more staying power and a little more energy. I like oats and have found that anything made with oats tends to be more filling. So just as I was cutting in the butter, I decided I wanted to add oats to my simple scones. Did I bother measuring? Nope - just threw in a few handfuls! But with the addition of the oats, that meant I also need to adjust the liquid content - so I added some milk to the yogurt/egg mixture. And it turned out really good - lighter then expected with the oats, fluffy and yummy. Of course, adding the chocolate chips helped with that - and so did eating them right out of the oven, with the chocolate all melty....

Pre-heat oven to 425 and grease two baking sheets

In a large bowl, combine:
2 c Gluten free flour (any combo of flour works - I used 1 1/2 Bobs Red Mill and 1/2 quinoa)
1 c Gluten free oats
1/4 tsp Xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2  tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamon

Cut in with pastry knife or two forks
5 tbs chilled butter

Add:
1 finely chopped apple
Chocolate Chips (as many as you want...)

In another bowl, combine
1 c plain greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (reserve white for topping)
1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla

Add liquids to flour mixture and mix until evenly moistened. Do not over handle dough. If dough is very dry, add more milk, 1 tbs at a time until easy to work with and moist.

Drop dough onto baking sheets, making 12 evenly sized scones
Brush tops with beaten egg white
sprinkle sugar and cinnamon to taste on tops

Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. Removed from oven and serve warm if possible.