Getting Dirty at the Du - Cafe Velo Dirty Du

Sometimes deciding to do a local race at the last minute is the best decision. I had been on the fence about doing the CES Cafe Velo Dirty Duathlon for several weeks - one day I'd been feeling spunky, so I was all gungho, the next day dragging and not wanted to race at all. Just starting to get my running back was another concern keeping me from signing up. But after two solid runs this week and a really fun TallBoy ride on Friday, I was all in. And it turned out to be a great day for a race. It was fun to see so many members of the local MTB crowd stepping outside the box and giving multisport a try. With an "about" three mile run, nine mile bike and another "about" three mile run, it was a short and sweet event. I pushed the pace a little to take the lead in the women's race on the first run and was able to hold on until the finish line in 1:21:57. Jayson and Colorado Endurance Sports did (as usual) a fantastic job with race and the post race party at Cafe Velo from Bird Dog BBQ was yummy.

Since I hadn't had a chance to pre-ride the course, I showed up pretty early. My plan was to use my pre-ride as the warm up and then check out the run course if I still had time. The bike was a short four mile loop that we would ride twice, so I wasn't concerned about overdoing the warm up. It was a pretty fun loop to - I don't ever really ride in Ute Valley Park, so all the trails were new. There was nothing crazy - a few steep rocks that were all roll-able, a sustained and somewhat technical sandstone climb and plenty of rock gardens for some added fun. Something that would be challenging for many beginners but no so tame it would be boring for other races. After the pre-ride, I still had some time to kill and wasn't feeling quite warmed up enough so I headed out to look at the run course. Well, I didn't scope it out at all because I got to the first hill and said "Not riding up that right now!" Steep, rocky and really loose - looked the run course would be the hardest part of the race!

Well, that and figuring out what to wear. It was sunny and nice out, but not warm at all. I'd been pretty bundled up for my pre-ride and my hands just about froze. I'd brought just about every option of clothes with me that morning (amazing how much crap I can get into my transition bag without the wetsuit in tow!) I knew that it would be warmer during the race, but trying to ride a bike with frozen hands isn't the easiest of tasks. With a run first though, I needed to be comfortable while running and not starting the bike wet. I opted to just wear my tri shorts, a short sleeved top and arm warmers for the first run, putting on my vest for the bike, then taking both the vest and arm warmers off for the second run. It was a good combination of clothes - my hands were a little chilly on the first run, but I was never too warm or two cold.

Out on the first run leg
Photo - Bob Kane -
As 10:00 ticked closer, the racers gathered on the track for the mass start. Transition was full of bikes and the friends and family members provided plenty of spectators. Shouting "go" Jayson released the herd onto the track and out into the park. I had good start and was heading out to the single track in a solid position. Not know what to expect on that first run was awesome. I kept my eyes on the orange flagging, the rocky trail and the racers around me. I was in a pretty good group of guys, including Larry Dewitt. At the top of the loose climb I'd opted not to ride, the trail leveled out a little and traversed halfway down the ridgeline. We were heading northwest, rolling along, dodging trees and rocks. True fun, singletrack trail running. I was running faster then I'd anticipated but felt really good and was just enjoying the flow of the trail. After about a mile, we dropped down a small cliff to the water station. Some easier running for a bit then time for real cross country! Goat trails make for the best fun - running and riding. I was still in sight of Matt, so I knew I was running well. A few more technical sections of trail, then it opened up before the last climb to the track and into transition.

Starting the bike with a smile
Photo - Tim Bergsten
I was in the lead as I swapped from running to cycling. I hadn't practiced transitions at all and was a little slow, but got it done and was out onto the double track to start the ride. I was really looking forward to the bike course and being able to fly down some of those rock faces. I was also high enough up in the field that I didn't have to worry about passing or being passed by too many other riders. I think two guys passed me on the first lap and I passed three and three passed me on the second lap. On that first lap, I let one guy around just before the start of the sandstone rock climb. He got slowed by another rider and I caught back up. The work on my balance skills paid off as I was able to stay on my bike after they bobbled a rock section. Without having to get back on, get clipped in again, I was able to punch it and make the pass really easily. There were a few other times I took harder lines to make passes, feeling  pretty comfortable that I'd be able to ride it and make it look good. A few of the men seemed pretty impressed - one of them said I was flowing down the rock gardens with grace and another called me a monster who just attacked the rocks with confidence. Love compliments like that, but it just gives me incentive to work harder and get smoother. Smooth is fast and fast is smooth! One lap around the track, then back out into the course. I was smoother this time - had a better feel for the rocks and the lines. We lapped a few riders and started to see the daily Ute Valley users out and about. And amazingly - everyone who was there, hiking, running or walking the dogs were so respectful of the race. They all stepped off the trail and started cheering for us when we passed. I was doing a good job of maintain my position in the race and was getting ready for that second run.

Heading out for the second lap
Photo - Bob Kane -

Attacking the hill to start the second lap
Photo - Bob Kane -
There were two women ahead of me on the second run, but they were both on relay teams. I could see the pink shirts in the distance. I headed out, feeling surprisingly good. None of that heavy lead legs feeling like at Curt Gowdy earlier this year. I started picking off the men in front of me, one by one - but my goal were the two women in the distance. The steep climbs hurt a little more on that second trip up - I ended up walking just a little. But once on the traverse, it was back to running and loving the technical trail. My running legs were back and I was able to keep the pace high. No issues with the trail or with running. It's aways nice to be able to run well after the bike and having a fun trail to run on made it even better. I caught one of the two women right after the second water station, but it didn't look like I would be able to catch the other one. She was already on the flats, moving out fast. I was still making up ground, but I was running out of room. Oh well. But it was still a fantastic race and I was thrilled to reclaim my Dirty Du title from 2010.
Last climb of the race
Photo - Bob Kane -

As usual, the race was great. We lucked out with perfect weather for November. The course was well marked and lots of fun. There were plenty of volunteers all over, making sure things ran smoothly. The transition area was well marked and traffic control around the track was outstanding. I've said it before - Colorado Endurance Sports works really hard to put together fun events that get everyone involved. I saw a lot a familiar faces out on course and with the addition of relays, there were even more people raring to go. I'm sure this race will continue to grow and may even need to have a racer limit in the near future!


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