What a year

Time for another year end post! 2014 was an interesting year and one that I won't soon forget. We trimmed the race schedule even more then last year, allowing a laser sharp focus on the major events. I've already posted all the race reports, discussed my goals and done the boring stuff like that. No need to rehash all of that or analyze what I did right or could do better. If you want to read that, take a gander through the archives of 2014. Part of riding and racing is about the experiences so that's what I like reviewing at the end of the year. With that said, here's some of the things that stuck with me this year.
The guardian angel I didn't realize I had heading into 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest

Hardest two hours on a bike
Lap 12 at 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest. I'd taken the lead on lap 10 and needed to keep riding to claim the Stars and Stripes. Nick had done his job as Pit Boss exemplary and I'd not been off my bike for more then 10 minutes in the past 20 hours. Every muscle in my arms hurt from the miles I had already covered. The power had long vanished from my legs, leading to slower and slower lap times. It was the hardest two hours I've ever faced, with the smallest rocks bringing tears to my eyes and the steeper climbs slowing me to a crawl. 

Happiest I've been to get off a bike
Finishing Lap 12 at Enchanted Forest - I had two hours to ride another lap and mentally I wanted it to seal the victory. Physically, I wouldn't have been able to finish within the cutoff time. When Nick told told me to ride back to pit along the course and be ready, I did as he told. I waited for him, off the bike for the first time in hours. Each minute that passed was one less I had to possibly finish a 13th lap. When he rolled up and said I was done, it meant I didn't have to. I didn't have to get back on my bike. I could finally change out of my spandex and lay down. Sweet relief. 

Climbing up and crossing the Continental Divide at the Alpine Tunnel. The nearly full moon had reappeared to the west, illuminating the darkness of the pre-dawn morning, lightening the mountain summits surrounding me. To the south, the tiny dots of other riders, tracing a path in the night of where I was headed. Up and over Tomichi Pass and then the dreaded Granite Mountain hike-a-bike. And once I reached Tomichi and looked behind me, more lights twinkling across the mountain valley. So alone yet surrounded by other riders. 

Red sky at morning, riders take warning - Sunrise over 25 Hours at Frog Hollow
Best race distance /time choice
This was a tie between Sage and Frog Hollow. For the first time, Nick and I opted to do the 12 Hours in the Sage. A variety of reasons, with the biggest being the Vapor Trail 125 two weeks later. We raced hard the entire 12 hours, though the wind and rain. At midnight we were finished. At 2:00 we were in bed, cozy in our bed. Listening to the rain pouring down. I felt sorry for the racers still on course but happy I wasn't out there. And then at 25 Hours in Frog Hollow. Nick and I had a planned early stop to be able to enjoy our long riding vacation. We rode hard, again in the wind and rain, mud and slick damp rocks. After 16 laps, it was time to call it a night. We were both cold and wet, our bikes filthy. An hour after we stopped, the skies opened and rain thundered down on the roof of the van. Yep, not going out in that again! We'd picked the best time to stop, missing the worst of the weather.
Very faint double rainbow mixed in with the sunset over KOA Gunnison
Best new trail outside of Colorado
Wow - This was a hard one this year so it's pretty much the entire month of November. We got to spend two weeks roaming between St George and Utah in November. We got to ride Zen Trail, suicidal tendencies and Gooseberry mesa. All fun, rocky and technical riding. Things I wouldn't have touched two years ago. Then it was Moab - my first ride on the Rim. Porcupine Rim. Despite my attempts at flying, it was everything Nick promised. Awesome views, chunky rocks, tight Singletrack and big moves.
Zen Trail - rocks and so much more
Best New Trail - Colorado (tie)
Lots of ties this year...
Starvation! As part of our prep for the Vapor Trail 125, we made it a point to ride as much of the course as we could. And that meant exploring Starvation Creek trail. A mini version of Silver Creek but oh so much more. Tighter Singletrack, bigger drops and creek crossings. Sure, what goes down must go up, which meant Poncha Pass, but there is always a price to pay for fun. And then, Agate Creek. One of the spurs off the Monarch Crest, but dropping away to the west, away from Salida. An hour plus of just descending. From the alpine terrain off the crest to narrow singletrack winding through pine trees, followed by by aspen lined meadows and deep, deep creek crossings. Had to carry my bike through most of them - keeping wheels in the water meant the current would pull it out of my hands.  Don't attempt this ride when it's cold out!

Biggest pre-race freak out. 
No, this wasn't at 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest, but at the Growler. Nick and I are notorious about our detailed plans and Growler was no exception. Had every waypoint where Nick would meet me started on the map. And then the rain started Saturday night. And sins stop - a cold rain that chilled deep into my bones. The weather itself wasn't the issue. I was dressed and ready to go regardless of the weather. Then Dave Weins announced that the course would be changing because of mud and that support vehicles were suggested to NOT attempt to go up to Hartman's. Yikes! OMG - now what? Nick had already left to head up on course. After five very tense minutes and two phone calls to Nick, I was told to chill out and just ride my bike.

On my second lap at the Growler - finally chilled out and "just riding my bike..."

Most Fun New Bike of the Year
Yes, we are spoiled and get a new bike nearly every year. I'm sure most people will expect me to list my Camber here. Well, that bike is fast, it's fun and it's just a blast to ride. But....
I have to vote for Fatboy for most fun bike of the year. Why? Because it gets me off the trainer and opens up a whole new world of riding in the winter. In years past, I've retreated to the trainer for the winter, doing all my workouts and rides in the boredom of the garage. And while I might still be doing some of the workouts there, its not going to be my first choice. I have options. I have fat tires. The snow is calling my name....
Testing the snow and getting first tracks on the maiden ride of Fatso


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