2012 in the Rearview Mirror

Everyone says that you should do an end of year - end of season review. I don't normally do that because I sit down and analyze every race right afterwards. But after reading a few other end of year reviews, I realized I was looking at it too narrowly. The year isn't just about the races - it's about the miles, the trails and the adventures. So, in no particular order - some of the best (and a few worst) adventures of 2012

Best 24 Hour Race - 24 Hours in the Sage
You can't beat the party at 24 HitS. The KOA hospitality is on full display, with Dave's Kitchen cooking up some hot food around the clock. Nick and I have raced here four years and each year it just gets better and better. This year was especially memorable because we had a fantastic race. We were both on fire and ready to ride hard. Nick had a smart start lap and then kept the pressure high every other lap. While my fastest lap time was a little slower then last year, I took over two minutes off my average lap times. We finished strong - winning the entire Duo Class out right
Handing off the baton at 24 Hours in the Sage
Photo - Justine Garrett

New Trail of the Year (Long) - Monarch Crest
I had to break the new trail of the year into two classes because we did so much exploring and riding this year. The Monarch Crest trail was so much fun - I'm happy I finally got a chance to ride it. It was a gorgeous setting for a long ride with friends. Technical in spots, but overall just a blast. Distinct segments of trail divided the long down hill - from alpine tundra to a creek side flume trail to undulating single track under the changing aspens. It's no wonder so many people flock to Salida to experience Monarch Crest
At the junction of the CT on the Monarch Crest
Photo - Dan Joseph

New Trail of the Year (short) - Curt Gowdy State Park, Wy
There are oodles of trails and days of riding in this state park west of Cheyenne. We didn't get as much a chance to explore because I was racing in the Xterra. But what we did ride was making Nick giddy. Rocks! Big rocks! Tight single track under the trees! More rocks! It was a feast of technical riding that made the mountain bikers at Xterra Curt Gowdy super happy. I know we just touched chunks of the riding there and I hope we get a chance to head north again this year.
One of the smaller rocks in Curt Gowdy State Park
Photo - Nick Thelen

Worst Race Experience - Battle the Bear, take 1
Throwing in a worst, because I can. I knew that starting Battle the Bear on May 19th was dumb. The trails were already saturated with a night's worth of rain and anyone who's ridden at Bear Creek Lake Park knows what happens - clay. Lots of tire sucking, bike wrecking clay. Maybe if the sky hadn't opened again just after the start, we would have been able to finish the entire race. But the weather won that round. I only made 7 miles of the 60 and pedaled back on the road, drenched to the bone, shivering and covered in mud.

Best Race Experince - Colorado Trail, Breck 100
I have never had as much fun during a race as on the Colorado Trail - once I got to the top, that is. I'd ridden the descent to Dredge twice before, but not in a race situation. With a number plate on my bike and almost empty trails, I was able to test the limits of my skills and my bike. A grin and giggle inducing trip down the switchbacks with hardly anyone around me, through the meadows and under the pine and aspens. I knew I was riding really well down that section as the leaders of the 68 weren't pulling away that fast on the single track. Too bad reality had to set in with the next climb!
Coming down the CT and having a blast
Photo - Mountain Moon Photography

Best Local Fun - Ascent Cycling Series (racing and writing!)
I've off and on raced the local Sand Creek Races for the last few year. This year, I had the privilege of wearing the Sand Creek jersey and writing about the races for Pikes Peak Sports. Five races, one hour of pain each. The Palmer Park races were especially fun, throwing everything Palmer has to offer at us. And I can't beat being able to ride to the race from my house!
Palmer Park under the clouds
Photo - Christian Murdock

Best Camping Trip - Pikes Peak by Bike
Nick's idea, but one that sounded like fun. Ride up Barr Trail and Elk Park on Saturday, camp off Elk Park, then ride up to the road to watch the hill climb on Sunday, and finally ride back home down Barr. Carrying everything we needed for a night at 10,000 on our back and our bikes, we got some weird looks from the hikers that weekend. But it was a great trip up and down, with a quiet night under the stars to boot. I could like that bike packing thing - getting away under my own power. Watching the car race was fun too - the first time I'd done it, despite being a native!
I was doing some hiking on Barr Trail for sure!
Photo - Nick Thelen
Most Epic Ride - Up Jones
There were many rides that fit into this category  But having to audacity to ride UP Jone's Downhill in the middle of December topped them all. Add in the fact that I was riding with some very fast guys and I was in for a long day. But beating the weather and getting one more long day in before snow closed in was worth every minute of climbing. Coming down Pipeline and Seven Bridges also rewarded us for the three hour climb.


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