View from the sidelines

No race report from Xterra Lory this year. After hemming and hawing since before 24 Hours in the Sage, I decided Saturday afternoon that I wasn't going to race. When I headed out for my pre-ride, that was the deciding point. I was too tired and not fully recovered to be able to race. I also knew that if I started, I would have issues keeping the tempo down - the Lory course is fast and there's no "fun" riding involved. All fast, high speed riding. So I didn't even number my bike or set up my transition bag. I wasn't going to get tempted to do something that would hinder my recovery for the next race. So I was just going to ride - find some of the new trails in Lory that I haven't explored because I'm always there racing. I checked in with Lance before I headed out to ride - I planned to volunteer for a while and still have some fun.

Number one goal on the ride - stay out of the way of the racers. That meant going up. Number two goal - keep it chill, have fun and be safe. I was riding alone, on unknown trails. I knew I would be walking some sections, just to make sure I didn't wipe out and do something stupid. I took the first bike legal intersection to the right and headed up the mountain west of Lory. The Mill Creek Link trail - a few tight switchbacks, some waterbars, but nothing too crazy. Then I had a choice - either continue heading up (and I didn't know how steep) or go into Horsetooth Mountain Park. I had a map for both, but decided to stay a little closer to the race venue - my map for Horsetooth was a little small and hard to read with my glasses on! Now I was on Howard trail, which climbed up, up and up. This sign wasn't joking!
Yep - I was dismounting on some of the switchbacks and rock gardens!
Lots of rocks, lots of really tight switch backs and more then a few minutes of hike-a-bike later I found myself at another trail junction. The start of the loop on the top of the mountains. I opted to go right and ride the loop counter clockwise, intending on riding back down Howard trail and joining with the race course. This section of Timber trail was fun - flowing single track through tall pines and open meadows. Saw a couple packing up their camping stuff - there are six back country camp sites at Lory State Park. A huge buck - didn't count the points and a herd of does. Three hikers also passed me, going in the other direction. I continued onto the Westridge trail, stopping a few times to enjoy the views.
Race venue - looking down at the finish line and slip-n-slid

Another venue shot - the transition area and swim start. Water was really low - last year, we were turning around about where the water starts!
 I could see Longs Peak to the South west, other high mountains stretching off to the west and the burn scar from the High Park Fire. It got a lot closer to Lory State Park then I thought it did! Then I started back down Howard trail. I didn't get to far before deciding that I didn't really want to go that way alone. I turned around and retraced my tire tracks on Timber trail, passing one of the hikers again. He gave me a look - like "that wheel is so noisy, you're scaring everything away!" Since he had a huge pair of binoculars and was wearing camo, I think he was there for the wildlife! I was getting annoyed with the wheel - it's got that typical "wizzzz" sound whenever I coast. But just as I was really wishing for my quiet Stans wheel so I could enjoy the solitude, I saw this fella run across the trial and stop.
Look closely - he was about 30 yards off the trail

Zoomed in - did not get any closer!
Huh - time to make a little more noise! Took a few pictures, looked around for little ones, said a few loud, meaningless comments. He bolted down hill, not looking back. Whew - now time to focus on the drop back down to the Xterra venue. Quite a few tight switchbacks later - some I made, some I didn't, with some really fun little rock gardens for good measure. A hard trail, but a worthwhile descent for all my climbing! I popped out on the run course, ahead of all the athletes. Perfect. Dropped down the run course and was off to find Lance.

My original job was to do run sweep. Follow behind the last runner on course, pulling the mile markers and picking up trash. I was getting organized at the car, prepping my Osprey Verve and such when Lance pulled up. "Hey, can you stand here and direct the runners into the finish area? I'll get another volunteer out here soon so you can do sweep later." Okay! Something fun to do while I was waiting! And right next to my car, too! Awesome. I grabbed my waterbottle off my bike and my cowbell and proceeded to spend the next 90 minutes ringing that cowbell and guiding runners to "stay left of the cones and finish to your left." I only had to say "your other left!!" a few times. Then finally, another volunteer came to take my place. I got the number of the last racer out on the run course and headed up.
Some of those little dots way up high are runners...
I was about 20 minutes behind him, which gave me enough breathing room to collect signs, garbage and waterbottles tossed along the run course. Soapbox moment - next time you're in a trail run and you toss that gel wrapper down on the trail, someone has to go through and pick all that up. Please be a little more considerate of the volunteers and think before you toss it! Up the mountain and down the mountain - easy running and hiking. More then happy that I wasn't trying to run fast on that course today! My easy pace was more then enough. I finally caught the last finisher with about half a mile to go. I walked and jogged with him into the finish, giving encouragement the whole way. All in all, a fun day of no racing. I got a good ride on some sweet single track, with no congestion, then I got to give back to the event and volunteer. Maybe next year, the time won't be right after a 24 hour race and I'll be able to come back and race

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