Here they come again - nervousness, the second guessing and worrying if everything I've done will be enough to carry me for 17 hours across the Continental Divide. The Vapor Trail 125 is Saturday - 10:00pm and 45 intrepid souls will head off into the night. This will be my third time riding (racing?) the Vapor Trail and dispite a hard earned veteran status I don't feel as ready as I have in the past.

Why? In prior years, Nick and I spent every free weekend down in Salida, riding almost every inch of the course. From the Colorado Trail to Canyon Creek to Rainbow Trail - we spent many hours scouting. Always fun, but always with a purpose. Learn the course, memorize the descents and mark the climbs. That way nothing would be a surprise come race day. Sure the trails can change a little, but it's nothing like going into the event blind. Not this year - with the exception of one run down Monarch Crest, we have spent no time in Salida. No treks to the summit of Granite mountain for the epic descent of Canyon Creek. No long slogs up Old Monarch Pass. Everything will be new this year - seeing the course through fresh eyes. In some ways that makes me even more excited for the race - but at the same time worried. Will I be able to descend at my full potential without pre riding anything? Will I pace appropriately on the climbs or just go all in and blow up later? Time will tell. 

And why didn't we spend weekends in Salida this year? For the same reason I haven't done a single ride over six hours this year. I had other goals in the middle of the summer that didn't involve riding. That didn't mean I wasn't spending plenty of time out on the trails, getting in the miles and putting in the hours. It just meant I was on foot, rather then on bike. Since one of my big goals this summer was to finish my first 50 mile race (which I did at Sheep Mountain) I wasn't spending my weekend riding. I was running. A lot. A few weekends, I covered nearly 40 miles on foot, in addition to a ride. A lot of miles leading up to a long day. But that also meant I wasn't riding as much as I normally do. So the Salida trips were out - it didn't make much sense to head down there when I had specific running plans and couldn't get the most out of the weekend. Our adventures had us in Buff Creek and Fairplay this year, with an added trip to Utah for good measure.

So here I am, charging my Exposure Lights and making sure I've got my clothes, food and plan dialed when I'm not even sure what to expect. I know endurance is endurance and the strength gained from nearly 12 hours on my feet in July, as well as the training leading up to it should help carry me through the hours of darkness, sunrise and the Monarch Crest Trail. A different kind of endurance, yes - and a different kind of strength. At least the HAB up Granite Mountain should be easy this year!


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