A year is a long time to be working towards a goal - espcially when there’s so many individual milestones to be met along the way. In 2018, ...

Jul 30, 2012

Breck 100 - The Colorado Trail

One lap down, two to go. The middle lap, billed as the hardest and most technical section of the race and the lap every athlete would tackle - from the 32ers, the 68er and the 100ers. I knew Thane had sent out some politely, yet strongly worded emails telling the athletes in the shorter racers to be nice when passing. Hopefully they would all be nice, because I knew I would get passed. But I didn't know when.

I knew the first section of trail well from the MSC hill climb. We climbed up the switchbacks out of Carter Park, briefly crossing the incoming racers. I stayed in an easy gear - eyes focused on the switchbacks and ears peeled for the next woman Larry announced. I didn't have a big gap between fourth and fifth - only a few minutes. But the focus had to stay on the trail and riding to finish. I turned over a steady, smooth cadence as we climbed higher away from the park. I had a train of guys on my wheel as we vanished into the trees. None of them seemed inclined to pass - at least none of them asked to get around. So I kept pedaling up, up and up. A few sections of double track provided passing room, but no one was interested. I guess my pace was good. The Barney Ford single track was fun, but I knew it wouldn't last long. Sure enough, the dirt road leading up to Sallie Barber mine appeared. I took advantage of the brief flat section on the road to finish eating my potato, trying to keep my tank topped off for as long as i could. The short flat section was soon just a memory as the trail turned skyward and we were climbing again. It was a short but steep climb up to Sallie Barber. And while the descent down the road was fun, the next section was anything but. Little French creek.

Ahh, Little French Creek. It starts easy enough - a nice gradual climb.on a wide, smooth road. Past s few houses and the road starts narrowing. Another few homes and cabins ad the road gets a little rockier. Then a sharp left, straight up. The road quickly disintegrates into rocky, rough double track, filled with baby heads. As i climbed higher and rode deeper into the woods the trail continued to get steeper, rougher and harder. We were riding up a creek bed, with imposing mountain walls looming on either side. One time across the creek and my tires slipped on the wet rocks. I was bale to keep it upright and kept pedaling. The track continued to get rockier and looser. Another creek crossing - this one dry - but i wasn't able to keep my forward momentum on the loose rocks. Like everyone around me, i was off and walking. I was really impressed by the amount of communication between riders. I've never been in a race situation where people talked so much. Someone would know they weren't riding a section and before dismounting, would say to the riders behind "I'm off here" and try to get out if the way of people still on their bikes. There was so little of the "if i can't ride it..." mentality I've seen at of her races. It was awesome. I did hike up to the top with another rider. He asked how many 100 miles races I'd done and where i was in the women's field. Answered as best i could (none, third i think) but had to smile when he said "saw the P on your leg and figured you know what you were doing." Not so sure about that, but thanks for the compliment!

Another flume trail descent - a fun trail perched along the mountain side, just a thin ribbon of single track curling thru the trees back to the north.We traversed the steep mountain for several miles. I knew a sketchy road descent was coming up, but also a good opertunity for some passing. I did get right on a few guys near the end of the flume trail, putting me in a good position to pass as soon as we hit the road. And I took full advantage of the time to rest as well. A nice change from the climbing and enough to bring a grin to my face. It was a fun little road section, with some berms, some whoops and plenty of loose gravel. I actually passed about 5 guys on that section of road, but I knew they would catch me back as soon as the trail tipped up again.
Drop bags in the morning - waiting to be delivered.
Photo - Nick Thelen

The aid station at Swan River was the first aid station where I had a drop bag. I cruised to a stop, easily finding my bag. I had been a little worried about that - I'd completely blanked on having easily identifiable bags that seals securely. Instead, I had two grocery bags and two zip-lock bags with my number written in permanent marker! But no issues at any of the aid stations. I also have to give kudos to the RMES crew and volunteers. I never once stopped at an aid station and had to fumble with my bag. Sometimes before I'd even picked it up, I had someone standing at my side asking if I needed help. Never pushy, never in the way, but there if I needed. They always asked what they could do or if I needed something besides what I had in my bag. And it was most appreciated at a few of the aid stations, given that the knots I'd tied in the grocery bags were a little hard to get undone in gloves and with tired hands!

Fresh bottle on my bike, eating a Snickers and with a mounds bar stashed in my pack, it was time to start thinking about the Colorado Trail. At least 30 minutes of solid, single track climbing. On the road to the CT, a rider asked me if I knew what was coming up - he hadn't had a chance to pre-ride anything. I just replied "UP." He laughed and responded saying anything "Can't be worse then Little French - anything with gulch in the name just sucks." Yeah, wait until you hit Creek... When we got the CT, I was in a que with several guys and quite happy with the pace. I knew the climb was going to be long, so I just wanted to keep a nice steady rhythm. I'd struggled on the CT climb during our pre-ride due to fueling issues, but didn't seem to be having that problem. The smooth single track of the lower slopes gave way to rooty switchbacks as we climbed higher and higher. I slipped off the pace a little, loosing my place in the que. Oh well - just ride steady and smooth. My legs were getting achy, feeling heavy and tired already. About three quarters of the way to the top, I decided it was time to walk. I hadn't wanted to walk any of this section - was planning on riding all of it. But it was getting to be too much - my legs needed a short break from pedaling. I stepped off the trail, hoping that the fatigue I was feeling already wasn't a sign of things to come. Thankfully, I wasn't walking that much slower then the men still riding ahead of me. It was just a short little walk, but enough to give me a boost when I got back on the bike.

Finally, a break in the trees indicating the top of the climb. A rolling section of single track overlooking the backside of Keystone provided a chance for me to gather myself and recovery for the screaming downhill coming up. I love that descent. It's my third time riding that section of the CT and I have more fun each time. It's just a blast - twisting down the mountain side with long straights and tight switchbacks. The rain the day before tightened the trail to the point of butter - awesome conditions to just fly. So fly I did - talking to myself as usual the whole way down. I took advantage of our pre-ride to put some huge chunks of time into the men I'd climbed up with. Tried to ride smart and not take any chances, but let the bike run. Catching some air and throwing up dust around the corner with a grin on my face, but I was staying in control. Nearly at the bottom of the long descent, the first rider in the 68 caught me. He was so cool - rider back - when safe - take your time. As soon as the trail opened up, he was around and gone. Just one more rolling up, then the last switchbacks of the CT. I have to admit, I was pretty pleased with my ride down the CT. I've never managed to drop other riders on that kind of descent that easily and still have fun doing it.
Me racing on the CT just before Drege
Photo - Mountain Moon Photography

At the next aid station, a short stop to get a new bottle and some food. Almost done with this lap - just one more tedious double track climb to go before the short descent back into town. I was starting to get passed by more and more 68ers - like I said before, all of them were really nice - so friendly and supportive. It was awesome. Coach Adam caught me in the middle of Discovery Ridge trail. We talked for a bit - he asked how I was feeling and if I was eating. I said I was doing okay, but getting tired. He said to just ride smart and in control. Yep - that was the plan. I was starting to get more tired then I wanted though. Not good. I still had over 30 miles to ride and was feeling sluggish at the start of the road climb. Felt like the pace was okay, but slower then I wanted and I was loosing some of my spunk.When Kathy Eckhart passed me near the top of the climb, I rode with her for a little - but not long. She was climbing just a little faster then I felt comfortable going at that point. Hoping I'd catch her later, I dropped back to my own pace for the rest of the climb and the descent past Minnie Mine.
Nick racing on the CT in the Breck 32
Photo - Mountain Moon Photography

By now, the forcasted rain clouds were looming heavily over the ten mile range. Thunder echoed in the mountains to the west and rain was sheeting down to the north. About 10 minutes before I finished the lap it started raining - a cold but light rain. The rain quickly turned into a downpour. I thought about putting on my raincoat, but it was so close to the end of the lap and to the pit area. Besides, after the first seven hours of racing, the cold rain felt good. It was mostly road back to Carter Park, manned by volunteers. One last swoopy single track section, then I was finished with the second lap.With Nick out racing, I quickly cleaned my bike in prep for the next lap. Swapped bladders in my backpack, got a new waterbottle and some food and put on arm warmers. Clean sunglasses and off I went. Larry said I was in fourth as I rolled through to start my final lap. Realistic, but still full of hope, I headed south...

Jul 26, 2012

Palmer Park at it's finest!

The Cat 1/Pro women on the start - yes, we are there to race!
Photo Tim Bergsten
Another Wendesday night, and time for another race in the Ascent Cycling Series. Back to Palmer Park this race for some fun in the rocks. I have my race report posted on Pikes Peak Sports. It was a fun race and a great night for riding my bike.
Can't Help Smiling

Okay, now we're a little more serious! Race time!
Photo - Tim Bergsten

Dropping one of the rock gardens - good thing I took the easy line!
Photo - Christian Murdock, CS Gazette

Cleaning up the course in more ways then one....
Photo Tim Bergsten

Jul 25, 2012

Breck 100 - Climbing for the Sunrise...

Cameron Chambers and I - at least one of us is ready for the race!
Photo - Sarah Musick
Over 150 riders -some nervous, some eager, some terrified - assembled in the pre-sunrise gloom of Carter Park. Time to focus on riding and the next 100 miles of pedaling. Even though Nick's race didn't start until much later (10:45) he dragged himself out of bed to help with my drop bags and see me off into the wilds around Breckenridge. It was still cold at that hour and I was bundled up in knee warmers, arm warms, vest and a jacket to wait in. Five minutes before the start and I gave my jacket to Nick. I couldn't help but sneaking a glance up to the west. Wheeler Pass was waiting for us - the early rays of the sun just starting to illuminate the alpine terrain. Then the countdown began.

It's cold at 5:40.... Racers gathering
Photo - Nick Thelen

We rolled out of Carter Park under neutral start, under the escort of the race officials and police. I know why I've been doing group road rides now! That was one of most sketchy situations I have ever been in - with nervous riders trying to get into a good position in the peloton, avoiding the traffic furniture and crosswalk signs and multiple turns in the short distance from Carter Park to the Beaver Run parking lot. Plenty of early rising spectators greeted us at all the intersections, but solitude was waiting higher on the mountain slopes. I'd positioned myself near two time winner Jari Kirkland and NUE leader Amanda Carey, hoping I would be able to keep them in sight for most of the climb. Then the flag dropped as we turned onto the Peak Nine service road. The racing was on! And I watched Amanda and Jari climb away from me up the road, making it look easy. I wasn't willing to go that deep that soon in the race - time to settle into my own pace and just ride my bike. The ascent up Peak Nine road was long and steady with some steep switchbacks. It was mostly smooth, with just a few rocky sections to keep us alert. I took a few glances up the mountain and down the mountain as I climbed. A line of riders stretched for what looked like miles in both directions!
And they're off! At least for the neutral roll out...
Photo - Nick Thelen

As we gained elevation, the road gradually turned from smooth and steady to loose, rocky and punchy. Past the Peak Nine restaurant - only half way to the top. The restaurant was also where the road really disintegrated into wide double track.The hardest climbing was still to come, on the loose babyheads that could bring you to a halt if you hit it wrong. In almost my easiest gear, I kept one eye on the trail and the other on the riders around me. Racers were scattered along the road, some still pedaling, other hoofing it. I did end up walking a few sections as we continued to climb higher and higher - but all of the riders around me were also walking. It was too energy consuming to pick my way around the people walking. I did actually ride most of the climb, which I was pretty happy about. Well above treeline now and the line of riders was impressive. I could see the leaders - tiny colored dots speeding along the ridge line leading to the pass. Awe inspiring - yet frightening. I still had to make my way across the mountain face and climb even higher.

Finally, the sharp right turn onto Wheeler Trail. I was looking forward to riding my bike and I knew the upcoming section of trail was nothing but fun. I wasn't anticipating the amount of traffic up there! I mean, really guys? I didn't think that there was that much technical riding on the traverse between the road and the pass, but it seemed like the riders around me were just tipping over. I saw a whole lot of people fall over, other riders struggling with the short, punchy climbs. Yet when I caught up with them and asked I could pass,  the response was "yeah, as soon as I get around the five people in front of me." Um, thanks guys. I know, one simple way to avoid this issue in the future - just ride faster and I'll have less traffic! Everyone walked the steep switchbacks leading to the pass. As soon as the trail opened up and the grade lessened, I hustled to get around some of them. Whew - now to look forward to an almost clean run for the descent off Wheeler Pass. Almost clean - at that point when I caught someone going down hill, I never had to wait long to pass. I was happy we'd pre-ridden. I knew the trail decently and knew to keep my eyes on the trail. Luckily, I'd done all my sight seeing during the pre-ride because the views were really pretty. 

But too soon, the single track ended and it was time for the long strech of bike path from Copper to Frisco. All down hill for the next few miles. Nick had coached me to try and stay on wheels - save some energy for the next section of trail. There weren't that many racers around so I put my head down and pedaled. I also made sure to eat on that easy stretch. I started noticing more and more roadies, streaming down the path. Some of the roadies were wearing Triple Bypass jerseys and they all had numbers on their bikes. It must have been the people doing the Double Triple Bypass. But then I realized that the trains of road cyclists had mountain bikers attached to their wheels. Whoa - missing an opportunity here! I started paying a little more attention and attempted to jump on some wheels. Tried being the operative word - I couldn't hang with the groups at all - spun out completely. All the traffic on the bike path definitely drew some looks from the weekend warriors...

I made the choice to bypass the aid station at Frisco. I had no drop bags there and figured I had enough fluid to make it back to Carter Park. And I was hoping that it wouldn't take that long to get back. While Peaks Trail was mostly up and somewhat technical compared to the Wheeler Climb, it also had plenty of fun rolling sections. I was ready for the up, mentally prepared for the steeper sections and rocky sections. It was also still shady and cool, so I was confident in not getting a bottle. I was going back and forth with a few guys the whole section of trail - they would put some time into me on the climbs, I'd catch back up the descents or through the rock gardens. We settled into a good rhythm on the rolling trail and I wasn't looking forward to leaving the shaded woods. A few minutes before we left the trail, I drained my camelbak dry - at least it wasn't too far to go! We were all unprepared for the sharp turn to continue on Peaks trail - the directions from the pre-ride had indicated we were going straight there. Oops! But that meant we had a little more singletrack fun before the screaming road descent down Ski Hill Road. A quick right turn onto HY 9, then the short climb up to Boreas Pass Road - all the intersections had volunteers stopping traffic and waving us thru. A short little dash on Sunbeam trail, then Carter Park was in sight.

Nick was waiting for me. A quick bike cleaning as I swapped my camelbak for my Osprey Talon 11. Ate a little, drank about half a bottle and replenished all my food stashes. One lap down, two more to go. I rolled through the lap/finish line in 3:28 - a little slower then I'd hoped but still reasonable for my goals. I was still feeling strong, had a smile on my face and was ready for more.

Jul 24, 2012

Community Support

It is nice to see bike shops supporting the community in general not just the riding community. Tracy and I race for Ascent Cycling. While they support us and a few other racers in town. They support a local race series. You see Ascent with numbers on their bikes racing, you see Patrick at the mechanics tent lending a last minute repair to anyone needing it, and some Ascent colors helping with set up and tear down of courses. I was poking around some lesser ridden trails near Palmer Park and saw the Ascent logo on a community garden. While it is a given that some of the items above occur from most shops it is cool to see something out of the ordinary that lends itself to everyone in a community. (Posted by Nick)

Jul 22, 2012

Training or Challenges

Okay, while I have posted prior condemning the "stravahole" mentality some riders display, I will admit to having a Strava acount. It's fun - uploading my rides and seeing if I got any fast times on local segments. And while I know not everyone who's fast uses it, the benchmarks among local riders is also nice. I have never headed out with goals of crushing segments - preferring to just ride my ride and see what pops up. I'm training for specific events, not chasing kudos.

So it was with a little trepidation that I joined the latest challenge on Strava -climb some crazy amount of meters - the amount the boys in the Tour climbed in the last week in the tour. I knew I'd get a great start with the Breck 100. Bu I also knew I'd need some easy, non climbing rides after to recover! So would I meet the challenge or not? As of now, I'm thinking no - I'm gonna be at about 98% of the needed total. I could head out for a few mor miles, hitting all the local hill and get the number. Or I could do exactly what I did - recover smart, just ride my bike and hope for the best. It's amazing how many meters some of those people climbed - but my training is more important then the challenge. I'll be happy with my 98% completion and the knowledge that I gave it a go. Will I join more challenges? Maybe. But I'm not gonna go out of my way to meet them - just like with my riding. Riding is first, segment chasing not at all.

(Edited to add - Some how, my math was wrong! I did actually complete the challenge - got 101% of the distance. Not sure how, but I'll take it!)

Jul 20, 2012

Ascent Cycling Race #3

Nothing like some fast, local racing to wake up the legs after a long day in saddle! The third race in the Ascent Cycling Series was held at Bear Creek Terrace on July 18th. It was another fun course, racing in circles with all the local speed demons. My race report is over on Pikes Peak Sports, a long with some photos, interviews and other fun things.
Dusting off the Cobwebs

As usual, Tim Bergsten took some great photos from the race:
Game face on! Or oh man, my legs are tired!

Last lap - of course I'm having fun now!

Jul 16, 2012

Breck Interveiw

Some how I managed to sound some what smart during this interview with Thom Parsons of Cycling Dirt. Trying to think of intelligent answers after riding for 12 hours was a challenge! Guess I'm committed for the 100 for a few more years too...

Cycling Dirt Interview

Jul 15, 2012

Breck 100

Two alpine passes, 1000s of feet of climbing and 100 miles. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a Sunday in July! I had no clue what to expect when I signed up for the Breck 100 back in winter. I just knew I wanted a new challenge and this seemed like a great place for my first 100 mile mtb race. My primary goal was to finish, so once the flag dropped at the base of Peak 9, I settled into a steady tempo - and watched as Amanda Carey (1st) and Jari Kirkland (2nd) rode away into the distance. The climb up to Wheeler Pass was an hour plus gut check - I'm really out here, planning on riding my bike 100 miles! And since it's not a mtb race without some soil sampling, got the one crash of the day out of the way early on the descent down Wheeler. Kept the smooth tempo across the rolling up of Peaks trail, then back into transition to start lap 2. Still feeling good, eating and smiling on the switchbacks up to Sallie Barber mine. Then came Little French Gulch - and in the words of one of the guys I was riding with - "anything gulch or creek is gonna hurt!" Yep - pretty much... Thunder was starting to rumble as I climbed up the Colorado Trail, a hint of what was coming. But I ignored it, focusing instead on the sweet single track descent on the Colorado Trail. A grin a mile wide coming down that! But the fun was short lived as the trail turned up again. Another long climb before returning to Carter Park. At that point, I was in 4th overall, as Cathy Ekhart passed me near the end of the second lap. I was also getting passes by the B-68 racers and I have to say - They were all cool, polite and encouraging. Into Carter Park to start my last lap. I was entering unknown territory at that point. The longest mtb race I'd done so far was only 66 miles. Time to dig deep and keep pedaling. At least until the top of Indian Creek! Then it was time to walk - I walked and rode the rest of the way to Boreas Pass Road. An old railroad grade, Boreas Pass was a welcome respite to the steep and rocky climbs featured in the first two laps. I was starting to feel a little sluggish by the time I reached the top, but knew some fun single track awaited. More thunder heralded the coming storm. Luckily, I was in the trees and had a rain coat with me. Everyone was stopping to bundle up as the rain turned to pea sized hail and turned the trail into a ribbon of slime. They say mud is good for the skin! Well, I was coated in mud! Yet not two miles later, the sun was out and the trails were dry. Welcome to racing in Colorado! The rest of Gold Dust was good - a nice fun rolling and rocky trail dropping into Como. I made the left turn onto Boreas Pass road, starting the last long climb. And I was toast. There was no more power in the engine room. I tried eating, but that didn't help. Not quite pedaling squares, but not pedaling circles either! That was the hardest section for me. I knew I was almost done - I just had to get over the pass. But getting over the pass would take all my mental strength to just stay on the bike, keep pedaling. All I wanted to do was stop, sit down for a few minutes and stare at the clouds. But I kept pedaling, moving forward towards the top. Once at the top there was only a few little climbs and the rest of it was down hill. I was so happy to see the white tent of the aid station. Then the run for home... Despite the fatigue, I knew I only had a few more miles. And I wasn't going down without a fight! Even though I was hours behind the leaders, I still wanted a solid time for my first 100 mile race. Took a few chances on the last single track descents, but it was enough to bring back my grin. A sweet reward for all that climbing! The final little section of trail and the finish line was in sight. My husband (who raced the 32 SS) and my mom (who was a course marshal on the second lap) were waiting for me. I have never hurt so much at the end of a race nor had to dig so deep mental during a race. And I loved every minute of it! I'll get the full report up soon.

Jul 13, 2012

Doughnuts or trying some junk food

I have never made doughnuts in my life. I've never even made something that required frying before. So in my overly antsy pre-race taper mode, I some how decided that I would try to make some doughnuts for Nick today. He hasn't had a doughnut since he went gluten free and has at times talked about missing eating them. It's not like we had them that regularly, but when driving up the pass to points west, we'd always stop at the Doughnut Mill in Woodland Park and get some treats. Mmmm - those were tasty! So I took a recipe that I had and modified it a little for the gluten free. For a first attempt, they turned out pretty good - Nick really liked them so that goal was accomplished. I did notice a few things though while working on the recipe. I did mix and need the dough a little too much. While Nick likes his doughnuts dense and doughy, for most people I think it would be a little heavy. So when getting them ready to cut out, be gentle with the dough. That should maintain the lightness and not leave the doughnuts heavy. I also uses a very small pot to fry the doughnuts in - I didn't want to waste that much oil. It worked well, but I could only make one at a time. I also didn't change the oil during the cooking process. If I was making a larger batch, I think I would want to use fresh oil about halfway through. If you do try this recipe and have some suggestions, please leave them in the comments - I appreciate the feedback!

In a large bowl, Mix:
3 cups gluten free flour (I use Bob's Red Mill baking flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cardamon
(you can adjust the spices as you prefer - more or less of anything will work)

In a separate bowl, combine:
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients - making sure it's evenly combined and there are no lumps. When the dough is nearly mixed, turn it out onto a floured counter and very gently knead to finish mixing. DO NOT OVER KNEAD. Allow dough to sit for 10 minutes. While dough is resting, start heating canola oil in small pot - it should get very hot. I used 2" of oil in the pot. Roll out the dough to about 1/2". Cut the doughnuts out (I used a small bowl for the large circle and a sake glass for the hole - improvising!). I also made doughnut holes out of the left overs and the centers. Gently place the doughnuts in the hot oil and cook for a few minutes, then flip for even cooking. Don't let them fall to the bottom and stick! Once the doughnut is cooked, remove to plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.

I rolled mine in granulated sugar, but you could also dust with powered sugar or make a glaze. Here is a lemon glaze to try:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c warm water.
If the glaze is too think, add a little more water - gradually until desired consistency. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar

Jul 12, 2012

Breck musings...

Less then three days - then it's time to toe the line, gaze up at the mountains, realizing that I will be riding my bike over two high alpine passes (one of them twice!), down some fun single track and across rocky flume trails. The usual doubts keep creeping into my mind - have I done enough, trained hard enough? Has my taper been good enough? Will the altitude take a toll on me? How will I handle the inevitable dark patches and mental drains that have as much effect on a distance race as a mechanical? All of these questions and more will be answered on the course. Three laps, 100 miles. Of course, I wouldn't a normal athlete if I didn't have the doubt in the back of my mind prior to this undertaking. That's what separates the field - how well you can handle the doubt.

But looking at the Breck 100 as one big race - one 100 mile day in the saddle is the best way to fail from the start. It's supposedly one of the hardest 100 mile races because of the altitude, amount of technical single track and the climbing. I seem to like picking the hardest events to cut my teeth at... It's too big to try and wrap my head around from the gun. So each lap must become a benchmark, with added little steps to keep the motivation high. Lap 1 - to the west. Up and over wheeler pass, down to Copper, around the 10 mile range to Frisco, then back up to Breck and Carter Park. Ride smart, ride safe and conquer each little segment. Lap 2 - to the east. The hardest lap - up to Sallie Barber Mine, up Little French Creek, down to Swan River, up and up on the Colorado Trail, then down the back side, thru the gold run neighborhood with another long climb, then down into Wellington and once again back to Carter Park. Time to start racing, but still riding smart. There's a long way to go... Lap 3 - to the south. Across the Blue River trail, up Indian Creek, up to Boreas Pass, down Gold Dust all the way to Como, back up to Boreas pass, then the final push for home on Banker's Tank. And now the faster 68 racers will start catching me. Use them if you can, but don't blow up. But the goal is to finish with nothing left...

Yes, I've done the training - the hours on the bike, the long climbs and the intervals. Coach Adam has guided me through the training stress, coaxed me to take recovery days, listened to me whine about poor workouts when I'm beat up and generally turned me into a bike racer. Nick has chaperoned me on boringly hard rides, dirt road explorations, climbing sufferfests and the like. He's also painstakingly taken care of all my equipment so I have that much less to worry about. So I'm ready to race - ready to take the test of my first 100 mile mountain bike race. There is nothing left to do - but get on my bike and start pedaling at 6:00 am on Sunday!

Jul 10, 2012

A new toy for the Exposure Lights

After getting back from 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest and using the Exposure Lights to illuminate the forest, Nick and I were really excited to get a new toy for the lights. A remote switch that controls on-off and beam power. While the on/off switch on the Maxx-D and Toro lights is already easy to use, the remote switch is awesome. It's like having a hydraulic lockout for the fork instead of reaching down every time. It is as convenient as using your thumb to switch to a higher gear. Comes with a little Velcro loop and the aluminum housing is rubber backed to keep it form slipping around (you need to get the Velcro tight). This is going to be very nice come the next 24 hour race and or night ride.

The remote switch

Mounted on the handle bar

Perfect placement for on the fly added lumens - don't have take hands off bars or look at the light

Jul 9, 2012

Shared trails

Something interesting and a little scary happened while we were riding down  (counter clockwise) Palmer Trail the other day. I know that most of the time the riders go up, looking for the fun pay off of Section 16 and the hikers like getting the steep hill over with and having a gentle downhill. Well, given the goal of that ride, we were going in the same direction as the hikers. Since we knew that there would be other users on the trails and it's harder to go the same direction, we were moving rather slowly down hill. I think at one point, I could have run down hill faster then we were riding! We met a few hikers, slowed to pass them and were really polite. Then a couple got annoyed when Nick said hello - they stepped to the side and let us pass, but glared at me when I said last one, thank you. They also hollered after me - "watch out for our dog!" So we were being very aware of the trail.

Then the scary encounter. Nick, in the lead as usual, comes up to another hiker. Says "Hello, riders back," The hiker turns around, walks back UP the trail towards Nick and grabs his wrist with both hands. Huh? Why would you grab someone's wrist without provocation, especially when that person is in motion? Was he trying to get Nick to wipe out? And the fact that he felt comfortable enough doing that indicates to me that he's done that to other trail users. When I rolled up a few seconds later, the hiker was standing in the middle of the trail, his hand still on Nick's bars, lecturing him about how we are supposed to yield to hikers and that we were riding too fast for the trail.... Yes, we know we yield to hikers - but we still have to pass you some how, we're going in the same direction! Nick was doing a good job of keeping his temper, but he was getting irate. And the hiker still had his hand on Nick's bars, physically preventing us from passing him.

As soon as the couple we'd just passed showed up, he let go of Nick's bars. Now all of a sudden it was two bikers pissed at one older hiker for no reason. And of course, the hiker is being super calm and nice now that the other hikers are present, a far cry from the aggressive and belligerent front he'd had before. So the couple starts in on us, saying how reckless we were riding and that we were riding much to fast for that trail. It was too much. Nick said a few to many swear words (I was not saying anything because I really would have lost my temper) and finished with "Where your leash for your damn dog?" (which we still hadn't seen) We rode off, shaken by the encounter. I have to wonder - why did that hiker feel like he could physically stop us like that? And if he was alright doing that to Nick, what would he have done if I'd been riding alone?

Jul 8, 2012

In the bank

With yesterday's climbing fest, the last hard workout before the Breck 100 has been completed. All the work, all the suffering and all the strength gains now in the bank for withdrawing come the 15th. Hopefully, there will be enough - plus interest! - for me to have a successful first 100 mile MTB race. Sunday's ride was fun -we did everything in the opposite direction we normally ride! Up Section 16 instead of down, up Captain Jacks, kept climbing till we reached 666. Then back up and finally down Jacks. I wasn't looking forward to riding up Section 16 when we left, but I'm happy we did. It was steep as shit, loose in places and I did some hiking. Yet my confidence for some of the steep road climbs and for Little French Gulch has just jumped. Yes it's gonna be hard - but it's not as steep as Section 16! I was also able to clean riding up the top half of Jacks. The rain helped since the trail was in awesome condition, but it was a steady grind. I thought it was really funny - we met two riders coming down and they just stared. One of them even told me there's an easier way up!

But outside of the training and the hours on the bike, I think I'm ready. Having gone up and ridden the whole course over a couple of days, I have a better idea of what I'm in for. I also can plan my food and drink choices a little better. I also am aware of the tough sections, the hidden areas where mental things might fall apart, and the tricky sections that could cause carnage. I might never have done a 100 mile race before, but I have experience doing long distance racing. I know the low patches where stepping off the bike is the most tempting idea and how I've gotten through them in triathlons. Here's to hoping that experience serves me well in a week.

Jul 2, 2012

Breck 100 scouting trip photos

At this point, it should be pretty clear that Nick and I went up to Breckenridge last weekend to scout out the course for the Breck 100. We had the maps and the cue sheets and were hoping not to spend too much time looking at either. Not being familer with the area, it was a little frustrating at times, but we got the courses down. I still don't have much of an idea of how long to expect to be on my bike because of all the detours, wrong turns and such. But I have a general idea of the terrain (up, more up, little bit of down, some rolling up, more up, loose up...) It was a useful trip, some fun time on the bike. Nick manned the camera and took a few shots during three rides. 

Day 1 - Lap 1. Up and over Wheeler Pass, down to Copper, around to Frisco, then back to Breck on single track
The view from the turn onto Wheeler Trail. That was a long, long climb!

Riding on Wheeler Trail - my first experience of alpine mountain biking

Happy now that the top of the pass is in sight!

Riding at 12,000 feet - Keeping my eyes on the trail instead of the flowers

Day 2 - Lap 2. This was the hardest of the loops, with two really long and steep climbs. There was also some fun single track. We met a lot of people out pre-riding the Firecracker
The climb up Little French Creek - a mix of single track and jeep roads

Another shot - riding up the Little French Creek

Day 3 - Lap 3. I was anticipating this to be the most boring of the laps. But with the drop down Gold Dust Trail from Boreas Pass all the way to Como, it was actually a lot of fun.
Gold Dust Trail - there is a narrow bridge under my tires!

Heading off into the woods on the Gold Dust Trail

Looking at the scenery while climbing up North Tarryall Creek Road to Boreas pass

Back to the business of climbing

On Boreas Pass Road - time to start the last grinding climb!

Off into the distance on Boreas Pass Road

Jul 1, 2012

Final day

This went a lot smoother today. Really only one map search, and one issue with the directions. This loop was a lot more fun the I had anticipated - sure there was a lot of road, but the trails we rode were lots of fun. A gradual single track exit from Carter Park, then a really fun trail paralleling some private land. Then came the kick in the pants jeep road climb up to Boreas Pass road. We met some locals we knew and rode up the pass with them. All the tourists on top of Boreas Pass just stared at the five of us as we rolled through. On to Gold Dust Trail, all the way to Como. And that was a really fun trail. Flowing at top half, then rolling after crossing the road. More technical then we'd anticipated, with some tricky rock gardens. But it was fun, fun, fun!

Then the dreaded climb back up to Section House at the top of Boreas Pass. Sure, it's a gentle railroad fraud, but it was a long climb. And it's gonna feel a lot longer the next time I ride it! A quick drop on the road to another cool section of single track with plenty rocks and roots. It wasn't too bad in terms if climbing, which was a relief, but heads up riding will be required. Finally, back to Carter Park and done...

It's gonna be a long day for sure. I've got some planning to do to make sure that long day goes smoothly. Looking forward to it, but a little nervous...