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TransRockies Classic MTB Stage Race Recap

mtb stage race

I’m finally raising my head up from sand after competing in the 2019 TransRockies Classic 7 day mtb stage race.  This event traversed the Canadian Rockies from Panorama B.C. Canada to Fernie B.C. Canada. Riding 350m/550km and 39000’/12000m elevation gain over 7 days in remote parts of the Canadian Rockies.

This is an event I read about almost 10 years ago and I know it was something I wanted to tackle some day.  2011 was the last year they ran the event and  I was super excited they brought it back in 2019.  This event was my big goal for 2019.  I focused all my training for the demands of this event.  I was quite nervous about racing this many days, distance and elevation gain.

My training started in November with an already good level of fitness.  Training over the winter wasn’t anything new for me, but it was great preparation for this event.  During the winter I ride gravel and snow packed roads and can easily get 5-6k feet elevation gain in 4 hrs over 40 miles.   In hindsight, this training was perfect for TransRockies as we spent a lot of time racing on gravel and getting 6000-7000′ elevation gain daily.

Over the next 7 months training was interrupted by a work travel, bronchial infection, family travel and a recurring back injury.  The interruptions didn’t affect the fitness too much and I think they provided well timed rest.  During the three months prior to the event start I focused on threshold power, VO2Max and trail riding.  There were lots of 20-40 min threshold intervals and 4-6 min v02max intervals.  These paid dividends during the race as I was able to hold my threshold power and prevent separation during the race all the way to the last stage.  My worst day was probably stage five, where I paced incorrectly and made a tactical mistake, I lost 5 min to my nearest competition.   I followed my Stage Race Training Strategy and Daily Recovery methods used in my coaching programs.

mtb stage race
TrainingPeaks PMC – six months of training prior to race.

Stage Highlights

The stages where mostly gravel with some ATV track and some very raw single track.  The one interesting part of the stages was the timed sections;  some of the stages had neutral sections in the middle of the course.

Stage 1

The first stage was good for me.  It was just like home, a big climb followed by a big descent.  There was some fun singletrack in the middle of the stage.  I won the stage for my age group by ~4min

Stage 2

Mostly gravel road with some ATV path and an ancient indian trading route footpath.  The course was sabotaged by someone covering the start of the footpath.  Many of us in the front of the race stopped for 20 min or more allowing the back to the field to catch up.   I lost ~11 min to 3rd place GC (Henry Gertje)  causing me to get second in the stage.  Henry now in 2nd GC 13 min behind.  It was a strange stage because I finished 5 min ahead of Henry, but he was faster in the timed section caused by the sabotage he took the stage win.

Stage 3

It rained a lot the night before and the track for the day was a classic XC course.  Twistly, rooty muddy single track for 25m/41k.  I won the stage by ~3:30 min and held 15 min lead in GC.  Henry still in 2nd GC.

Stage 4

The stage with the  biggest distance at 61m/102k.  It was mostly gravel, but some deep cold river crossings and raw ATV trail.  Henry (2nd place GC) caught me about 1/2 way.  We rode the last 30 miles working together in the wind, which made for nice company.  The last 20 miles it sounded like my freehub was going to fall apart and it seemed to get louder as me moved on.  The last 5 miles the pace picked up and we ended up sprinting to the line after 5:10hr of riding.  I won the stage by .7s.  Ha.  After cleaning my chain and inspecting my freehub all was good with my drive chain, thank god!

Stage 5

This was a timed stage that I didn’t play right tacitly.  In hindsight I should have just stayed with Henry, but instead I charged ahead and ended up blowing up on a big climb.  I ended up riding a big section alone.  Henry caught me about 5 files from the finish and he attached hard, putting me at my limit.  I was able to hold on and we finished together at the end of timed section.  It turns out he hung out at the start of the time section for 5 min.  Since he caught me he was 5 min faster in the stage. Henry wins the stage. I have a 11 min lead in GC.

Stage 6

This was the most exciting stage.  At the start of the race, I’m nervous, tired and we have 56 miles of racing and a very small timed section at the beginning.  My plan is to just say on Henrys wheel.   After the timed section start it’s full race pace  We have a long road section where we work together at a high pace.  We catch on to a group of guys and the pace picks up.  I get on the very back of the 15 person group and try to hold and conserve as much as I can.  We are doing 20-25 mph on a long gravel road.  After about 40 min we hit the first climb.  Henry and I are together.  We start the climb and I feel Henry is occasionally try to gap me and pushing me to my limit many times.  I get into the red zone a few times but recovery quickly. We stick together almost the entire stage.  The last few miles have many super steep climbs that we walk.  I was able to ride the last one and get into the final descent first and put a 45s gap with the stage win.  Henry is still in 2nd GC 12 min behind.  What a day!

Stage 7

mtb stage race
Stage 7 Finish

The final stage!  It’s the biggest day of climbing and the distance is about 51 miles.  I’m nervous again.  I’m thinking I can’t ride the same effort we did the day before. I stick to same plan, say with Henry!  The start isn’t easy, but not too hard either.  Neither one of us is feeling spunky, thankfully.  I get a head of Henry in a few sections, but I don’t attack.  There is still a lot of distance left and I know he strong enough to catch me.  I don’t necessarily sit up, but I’m not going easy.   We finally get to a section and ride together.  There is a big 4500’/3000m climb and we ride tempo the entire time, chatting and sharing fun stories.   We get to a sizable technical descent and I get ~ 1-2 min gap on Henry.  He catches me at the last aid/check point while i’m stuffing my face with treats. I wait for Henry before we start again.  I get to the bottom of the big descent and Henry isn’t with me.  I’m feeling good and we have about 10 miles to the finish and I put on the gas. There is some fun single track, and not so fun steep climbing.   I finish the stage with about a 6 min lead.  Henry comes in second on the stage.  This was our longest day of racing with 6 hrs on the bike.  Phew!

It was quite an amazing week.  It was really fun to race with Henry.  He pushed be beyond what I thought I could do in a mtb stage race.  Below is the stats from the week.

mtb stage race
TransRockies Classic daily stats and overall stats for the week. It was a huge week!

I was very happy with the event and my performance.  The riding, people and event were spectacular and I came away with 5 stage wins and the overall GC in the Solo 50+, 4th overall in solo riders and 7th overall in solo and teams combined.

mtb stage race
MTBCoach on the top step TransRockies Classic Solo 50+ Men

 

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24hrs in The Old Pueblo 2013

The 2013 edition of the 24hrs in the Old Pueblo was my 4th start of a 24hr solo.  I had completed in the previous years edition and ended up 3rd there and my goal was to just get through without stopping for any significant time and have a good time.  I easily accomplished that goal.   My last race was in Oct 2012 at the last edition of the 24hrs of Moab.  I placed 2nd behind 24hrs national champ Josh (Toast) Tostado and was my hardest earned result in 12 years of racing MTB.   Going in this years Old Pueblo, I was nervous and anxious.

My goal was 18 laps and get one step higher on the podium.  This was not going to be an easy task with the likes of Tinker Juarez, David Munoz, Brian Bennent, Taylor Lideen, and good friends Jonathan Davis (check out Jonathan’s race report) and Brian Sells. All experienced endurance MTB racers and strong riders over all.  There were a number of other people that I didn’t know could also reach the podium. there must have been 10-15 people that were capable of challenging the front of the field.

camp
The course goes between our camp.

This is one event I look forward to all year long.  The folks at EpicRides put on a great show.   The race is well organized and ran.  Road tripping  and camping  with friends in the desert for a few days is the highlight before the race itself.  Hangout out talking bikes, racing and pre-riding the course is what I look forward to the most.

start
Just before the start.

The race begins with a Le Mans start, and this is the most nerve racking part of the race.  I was at the front, and 800 people behind me  that are much faster runners.  People are pushing and shoving as you run in carbon sole shoes in sand, ruts and rocks.  You are luckily to survive this part.  I feel like I’m home free once I get to my bike.

The first couple of laps were fast, and I came through where I thought I would, 1:05, and the 5th solo.   Kept about the same pace for the next two laps, times were a little slow, then I finally settled in to my zone 2.  For the remaining laps, I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on around me in terms of other racers.  I lost track of time and how many laps I had completed.  I was just riding.   It’s a long race, and I let the top guys battle it out.  I figured let them beat each other up, someone will eventually crack.  That happend.  Tinker had some physical issues, rumor is he lost sight in one eye.   Late in the race I battled with Brian Bennet, also rumored to have a sight issue.    We were 1 min apart on a couple of laps trying to hold 2nd place and I was giving everything after 20 hours to get rid of him.   He finally stopped racing, due the sight issue, I presume.   After 16 laps I had enough lead above 3rd and 4th place that all I had to do is complete the laps in a reasonable time.  I limped around at sub 1:30 laps, and those were very painful laps.  my back was hurting, my feet were shooting pains up my leg with each pedal stroke.   There was no way I was catching Jon, he finished 19 laps at almost the same time I finished 18laps.

I don’t recall ever being on the podium with friends.  Some how we ended up taking the 1st, 2nd and 4th spot.

Podium with Friends
Podium with Friends. Left to right. Brian Sells 4th, Curt Wilhelm 2nd, Jon Davis 1st, Jason Michalak 3rd

There are a lot of people that I need to thanks for helping with this race.  First off, my family earns a huge thank you for the support they give me in racing my bike.   They fully support me in my training and racing and without their support there is no way I could accomplish great results.  Racing and training takes time away from the family, but they are supportive in my goals.

I spent the last three months training harder then I have ever trained. I wouldn’t have been able to train as hard as I did without the help from Kelli at Apex Nutrtion.  Kelli guided me in my recovery meals, daily and training fuel.  Not only was I fueled properly I lost 5lbs.

Of course all the usual suspects deserve some recognition   Trek for making some sick bikes, Trek Bicycle Store Boulder for getting my bikes ready for battle, Infinit Nutrition for suppling our team with fuel for the entire race, Maxxis Ikon tires, Ergon for saddle and grips for a comfy ride, ProGold Lubricants, and a rock star support team.

My support team consisted of great friend Alan Smith and Sam Blumquist.  Alan helped me last year.  Doing a 24hr solo and in a race like Old Pueblo, solo racers need support.  Alan stayed up all night long and greeted me each lap.  Alan kept me fed and kept me up to date on my place and the racers around me and provide much needed motivation.  Thank you Alan!    Sam Blomquist provided mechanical support, and luckily I only needed a chain cleaning a couple of times.  ProGold was a perfect lube for this course.

Old Pueblo File 1
Old Pueblo File 1- First 14.5 hours

Here is my Heart Rate and Power profile (red is HR, yellow is watts).  I used a SRM 2×10 power meter to help me pace.  I found from previous 24hr solos i can sustain a Level 2 power literally all day long.  The first part of the race was quite a bit higher, and slowly lowered my pace to right at my lower level 3 and upper level 2. Used 800-900kJ each hour, which requires a lot of fuel.  I used Infinit Nutrition Go

Old Pueblo File 2
Old Pueblo File 2-last 8 hrs

Far and Custom Blends, along with some solid foods like Honey Stinger Bars, 1/4- 1/2 Bagel with Almond butter and jelly.    I’ve had a fuel test from the Boulder of Sports Medicine and learned I’m a Carb burner.   I used a 70oz CamelBak that  contained 6 scoops of Infinit and enough water for two laps.  I used two packs and would alternate each lap.  Alan would have the fresh pack ready for me every other lap.  Each pack consisted of about 900cal of fuel which lasted between 2.5 and 3hrs.  300 cal an hour, plus what I ate during pits.  I ate about 800 cal per lap.  The last few laps my power was still at level 2, but my heart rate was in active recovery (zone 1).

I took a much needed break from training, a total of 15 days off the bike.  I’m feeling good and motivated to get back into it.   I’m now getting ready for the regular race season, with many 4-6 hour races, a couple of 100 mile races, and the 6-day Breck Epic.  It’s going to be a great season.    Thanks for reading.

Dont for get to watch the video our team put together.

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24hrs of Moab

2nd place mens solo, 24hrs of moab. Curt, Josh, Richard

The 24hrs of Moab was on my mind since early spring soon after  24hrs in the Old Pueblo.  I knew 2012 was the last year for the race and I wanted to do it before it was gone.

After my original support crew (my wife and kids) backed out because of other commitments  I was planning to go self supported, which I wasn’t looking forward to, but I figured I would just get through it.  Once my friends Jon Davis and Tim Lutz decided to pit for me, I knew I had a chance at the podium if I could just keep it steady and stay within my limits.

I had done this course as a 4 person team twice before, so knew what to expect from it. Except this year, someone dumped a beach on the course.  The sand was deep, and would stop you in seconds even doing 30mph down hill.

The race started off pretty good, I came in 3rd place on the first lap, I think top 15 overall.  I was a little surprised when I heard that from the announcer as I passed through.  I felt good and just keep riding a comfortable pace.   Once the sun set, my lap times slowed, but my times were consistent.

Coming in for a lap

I  held 3rd place until late in the night when last years winner Andy Jacques-Maynes crashed and sat out for a few hours.    Now in second place with 50-60 min on third I was just riding my pace and still putting in time on 2nd.  Josh Tostado had lapped me twice by 2am so there was no chance to catch him.  At 8am he had done 14 laps and was taking a break.

In the early morning, maybe 6am,  Jon told me a guy that was in 12th place moved up to 3rd and was coming on strong 45min behind.  Richard Abbot was putting 15 mins on me each lap.  I tried to go faster, but my body and mind was struggling to get through each lap.  I was trying to be smooth and consistent and trying not to loose too much time.    Jon told me that I may have to go out for another lap if Richard came in before 10:30am.

Lap #14 was my biggest challenge of the race. I was so sore and tired.  Each pedal stroke there was pain in my feet.  my hands struggled to hold on to the bars.  I didn’t know how I could possibly do another lap.   I finished lap #14 at 12:02, unable to make 15 laps.  Richard finished lap #13 at 10:45, so he would have to pull a 1:15 lap to catch me.  I had secured 2nd place, but by only 9 min. Richards last lap was 1:29, close to his lap #3.   If Richard had started his attack 1 lap sooner, no doubt he would have caught me.

Sunset

I was very happy to get 2nd place. I could not have done it without the help from Jon and Tim.  Not only did they have everything ready for me each lap, but they gave the mental strength to keep going.  Jon was posting about the race on Facebook and he told me about the cheering and good wishes from my friends, which also gave me strength.  Though, most of my strength came from thinking about my wife and kids at home cheering for me.  I could hear them telling me to keep going and not to give up, keep pushing, you can do it.

In the end, I was glad I did the race, but I’m also glad I was the last time it will be held.  I didn’t really enjoy the course and I don’t want to convince myself to do it again.  It was absolutely  hands down the hardest event I have ever done.  It was a great way to end the season, and I’m looking forward to starting the 2013 season with the 24hrs in the Old Pueblo Mens solo.

 

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VaporTrail 125, better late the never

Michael, Me and Jon at the start of the VaporTrail 125

I’ve been working on this post for almost three weeks.  It’s finally done.  It’s rambles on, but it gives a bit of insight of my experience with this epic event.

When I first read about this race back in 2008, I never thought I could or would do this event.  It was way out of my league.  Then I was racing XC, my longest ride to date at the time was about 10 hrs, 15years earlier.    I was in awe by reading blogs of Jeff Kerkove and others about this monster.  I followed it year after year.  Last year some of my crazy friends did it, and well, I figured it was my turn.

My goal from the beginning was to just ride.  I wasn’t going to race it.  No chasing anybody down.  Keep a steady pace and let my body tell me how to proceed through the gnarlieness of this course.   I didn’t have any knowledge of the course, other then what I read. It’s set in a beautiful part of Colorado, and includes some of the best riding too.  I wanted to enjoy the experience.

A few days prior to the start my family started getting sick.  Nothing serious, just the common cold, runny nose, sore throat.  By Friday I was feeling the same, and Saturday morning I was feeling feverish, sneezing, runny nose, and a slight sore throat   This was not good and made me nervous, mentally I was ready for this event, but physically I just wanted to sleep 1ohrs.  With my wife’s support and encouragement I left the house around noon for the 3hr drive to Salida to meet friends that were also joining the fun.  My goals changed slightly, now I would see if I could even make it to aid 1.  If I made it to aid 1, then if I could make it to aid 2, I believed I would be able to finish.  By the time  we were ready to line up, my aches were gone, but I still had the runny nose.  This gave me some confidence that I could finish.

The race starts at 10pm, with lights mounted and cool weather gear on.  I also had some deep winter gear packed in my H.A.W.G. CamelBak for the early morning when it’s the coldest.   My lights consisted of a NiteRider 1200 Pro on the bars and a  NiteRider Minewt 600 mounted on the helment.  I programed the 1200 to run at it’s lowest lumen, 50.  My plan was to use this for the long run to the Granite Peak hike-a-bike.  I used the head lamp for the hiking and turn both on full blast down the Granite Peak descent.   After 8 hrs of riding at night, I wasn’t sure how much battery would be left, so I brought an extra just in case.  That was an extra 1lbs to carry a long.   In the end, I didn’t need it.    My cold weather clothes included a full winter ride jacket, and thick winter riding gloves.
The start in Salida is neutral, and this night was a comfortable temp, and the moon was bright with mostly clear skies.   There was a lot of energy around with these crazy people about to embark a tough adventure.  There was some newbies like me, and a few vets.  I felt nervous, but also excited.   We had a neutral roll out for the first 30-40 min, then the pace car stopped and the race was on.   A group of about 5 took off with a fast pace.  I was still in the mind set of just riding and enjoying the whole experience so i let them go.  My good friends Jon Davis and Micheal Scott were in that group.  A few others tried to break the gap, and would soon some back and I would pass them, Micheal was one of them.  He found himself at a XC pace and didn’t want any part of that.  I don’t blame him.   I was keeping a comfortable pace, barely breaking a sweat.   I checked my power and my HR, and it was right in line with what I thought I needed, both in Zone 2.

Most of the trail is a blur.  I only remember the major sections.  The Colorado Trails is awesome, I’d like to ride that during the day.  I’m not the best technical rider, and riding at night has it’s own challenges, but to open with this section was pretty cool.   This section was smooth sailing.  Got to aid 1 in 3:32.

After aid one, we had a LONG gradual 2% climb up to Alpine tunnel.   This section was made for me.  Still holding my zone 2 pace I was flying up this road.  I passed many people and rode alone all the way to the tunnel hike section.  At Alpine tunnel, there is a short hike a bike that lasts about 10 min.  Since we already had a couple of other short hikes, I thought this might be the last one.  When I got to the top I put on my jacket and gloves. When I mounted back up I couldn’t get my cleat into the pedal.  My cleat had come loose form the the hiking.  I sat down and spent about 10 min cleaning out the screws so I could tighten them up.  Still no body passed me.   Finally mounted back up and headed down a short single track, then another old rail road pass.  I sped by but it looked like it was an old depot the opposite side of the alpine tunnel.   Another time I would like to see this during the day.

All this time I’m riding around just below treeline at night in an area I’ve never been.  I try to gaze around at the silhouettes of the mountains.  It’s a majestic a sight at night, and I have no doubt it’s spectacular during the day.

Not too far down the road I come to a fork and the sign points me up.  The road is a rocky ATV/Jeep trail that barley looks rideable.  I take off my jacket and gloves and start riding up the trail.  Still no one has  passed me, but I’m seeing lights head.  I’m still on course!  I ride up this road and there is another hard climb that is steep, loose and off camber.  I decide to walk it.  In the distance I can see a few lights.  I’m making good time, but I see a light behind me.  I remind my myself I’m not racing and there is at least 10hrs to ride.  I get to the summit of the pass and stop to notice the mountains and the lights slowly creeping up the side of a hill and cresting it.  With the bright moon, it’s another awesome site.  The clouds are skimming the top of the mountain we are about to hike over.    Another short descent of a mile or two, then the hike a bike section starts.  I push for a while,  it’s steep with boulders so I carry the bike.  I see lights ahead of me, and lights behind me.  It feels good to not be alone in the dark again.   After 40 min of hiking I reach the top at just under 13k.   The wind and moisture   make it a little cold so I put my jacket and gloves back on and I’m glad I did.  I was headed into an hour long descent.  I never got cold all the way to aid 2.

This descent is another section that would be more fun with full daylight.  It was just technical enough to make it exciting, and fast enough you can get pretty hurt if you are not careful.  I did go down toward the end in a non-technical section when my front wheel got caught in the sand.    About five miles from end of the trail my rear brake wasn’t feeling right and I was hearing strange noises.  I tried to sping the rear wheel and it wouldn’t spin freely.  Yikes.  I pulled the lever and spun again and this time the wheel spun.   Back on the bike with a few more turns and drops the brake noise comes back and I’m now feeling the drag.    I get the wheel to spin again, and move one trying to limit the use of the rear break.   I figure it’s super hot and just needs to cool.  If I don’t use it it will cool off and we’ll be fine.

Aid 2 comes at about 7:30am, 8.5 hrs after the start, and about 8 hrs more to go.   I’m feeling good.  Lacy Scott, Michael’s wife is there to give me new bottles,  take my lights and cold weather clothes.  Having Lacy there waiting was awesome, not only a cheerful face to greet me, but she had everything ready to go and took my mess of clothes and lights.  I didn’t have to worry about a thing.  Dave Wiens and his family was there taking care of the station.  He was grilling some pancakes on a camping stove.  His sons were sitting around a camp fire.  His wife, Susan was there too.  It was cool to see them together.  I went over to say Hi and mentioned the last time saw them together was during a NORBA  event at Mammoth Mountain in 1991.    They both looked at me kinda funny.  I’m guessing they were flashing back 2o years and thinking about what they were doing then.  I don’t even know if they were dating then, but I loved watching them race with the other elite racers of the day.   They offered me some food, which I didn’t take. I grabbed my bike and new bottles and took off.  I was feeling pretty good and still motivated.

It was a bit cool.  I took off my long sleeve undershirt, leg warmers, put on thin socks, and the sun had not come over the mountain yet.   I figured once I started climbing again I would warm up, which I did.  Once I started climbing the Old Monarch Pass Rd, I passed another rider.  He was moving slow, but looked good.  I was still holding my zone 2 pace, feeling very comfortable.  I took a drink from my bottle.  YUCK!  It was spoiled.  It was an old bottle left over from a previous race.  I kept it in the fridge the hole time, but it didn’t last.  Ops.  I tasted the other bottle, and it was also spoiled.  I did have a couple of gels and a bar with me.  but there was no water until the top of Monarch Pass.    I had at least 1 1/2 hrs to get there.  I took a chance and took a big gulp and let it set there for about 20 min.  My stomach seemed to be ok, so I continued to drink it.  It tasted terrible though.    About 1/4 the way up the climb it seemed my power was high for the speed and cadence I had.  I stopped to check my rear rotor again.  Crap, it was rubbing again, but this time it worse.  I got my tools out and got it to spin without rubbing.  I had to do this again almost to the top.   I had no idea what was causing it.   I got to the top of the climb and headed into the single track headed to Hwy50.  I tried to use only the front brake but ended up using the rear which was bad.  When I it the Hwy, the wheel would not spin.  Aid 3 is in sight so  I slowly rode there hoping to get some help.

Aid 3 was stocked with all kinds of food and people.  The Salida HS MTB team was there helping to wrench.  I told them what was going on and they took my bike while I got my drop back and ate some real food.  I had bacon, sausage, top ramon, and a pb & j.   the support crew got my chain all clean and did the best they could on the rear brake.  I mounted back up and headed out for the Crest Trails.   Within 10 min my breaks were rubbing again.   I decided to loosen the caliper bolts and let it move as needed.  It still rubbed, a lot, but at least it spun without stopping for awhile.  It seemed to work fine like this.  I was able to use my rear break and the rubbing didn’t seem to get any worse.  I rode the rest of the race like this.  I had never ridden the Crest Trail before and was impressed by it.  The views are awesome and the trail is smooth and flowly.  I need to make a trip there sometime to really experience it.

I think it took about 1 1/2 hrs to get to Aid 4.  Lacy was there and had all my stuff. I grabbed fresh bottles and a pb&j.  I was headed into the Starvation Creek Trailhead,  I heard it was a great singletrack the ended with a brutal climb that loops backup to Aid 4.  And my experience was all that.  The single track seams to go down for ever.  I was enjoying it until I went over the bars just missing a face to rock encounter.  I got back on quickly but was a little shookup, so I was a bit slow to the end of the trail.  At the end of the trail we are greeted by a 5 mile steep rocky climb.   There were a couple of times that I wanted to stop and take a nap under the shade of an aspen, but I didn’t.  1hr later I reached the top, and I cursed that bitch.  It was one of the hardest climbs I have ever experienced.  It was on this climb that I decide I was not having any more fun, and would not do this event ever again.

Lacy was there at the top again having all my stuff.  I grabbed two more water bottles and more pb&j’s.   I took a few minutes gather myself after the climb then I was off to climb some more.  The climbing wasn’t as difficult and was more enjoyable.  Single track is always better.   After another 1k of climbing I finally reached the top and was greeted by a long and fun single track downhill.  Then into the Rainbow trail.  The Rainbow trail is fun and challenging after 15 hrs of riding.  There is some wonderful flow to this trail, with some added short steep pitches.  I was surprisingly able to ride most of the pitches.   Mentally and physical I was feeling pretty good on this trail.  I was tired, but not exhausted and having a good time again.   This trail lead right into Hwy 285.  From here it’s about 7 miles to the finish with about 5 miles of downhill.  I could see a guy a head of me, and no body behind me.   When we hit the flats I caught the guy in front of me.  He was a single speeder.  At that same time another guy  caught up with gears and took off.  He had a triple ring with a 44 .  I couldn’t keep up with my 39.  We pretty much rolled in together.

My official place was 7th with a time of 16:32.  I was shooting between 15-16hrs,, so came up a little short.  During the climb out of Starvation creek Trailhead I told myself I would not do this event again.   I did enjoy most of the trail, some sections are extremely difficult.    Almost 4 weeks later, I’m thinking about this event and maybe putting in a race effort next year.

Congrats to my good friend Jonathan Davis setting a goal to break the course record, and then going on to smash the course record.  He did this riding solo from the CO Trail all the way to the end. Congrats to everyone that started, it takes some balls (male or female) to even step of to the line for this one.

Big thanks to Michael and Lacy Scott for providing there home in Salida as a base camp.  Lacy’s support out on trail made the ride that much easier.  Thank you Michael and Lacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PV Cycle Derby, RME Series

Wow, what a day!  The PV Cycle Derby went off yesterday and boy was it a good one.  The venue was at the Peaceful Valley Boy Scout Camp in Elbert, CO.  This is a great place to hold any type of MTB Race.  Our race  was three 22 mile loops that zigged and zagged through the camp property.  Sick singletrack throughout the course, but not much rest in between.  A strong head wind made the wide open climbs that much harder.

For me the race was great.  I lined up with the Overall Series Leaders Jersey on to complete the series.   After a neutral roll out I led the group up the first climb and into the single track.   I didn’t set the pace hard and I wanted to have someone to race with and help work through the wind and up the climbs.  No body joined me, so I rode my pace.  The first lap was super fun.  I didn’t have a chance to pre-ride, so all the trails were new to me.

After the first lap, I was 2 min ahead of second place and sitting in the top 10 over all.  I then set my goal to see where I could get in the overall race standings.   I kept my pace high, but within my limits.   I was slowly picking off the 30+ age group, and caught a couple of pros.   Still riding alone, the high wind was zapping my power.  Lucky for me, I train all winter long in the high winds, so I know how to get though it.  Near the end of the second lap I could see friend Ben Welnak ahead of me.    Which gave me another carrot to chase.

Going out for lap three, Ben was 30 seconds ahead of me and within a couple of miles I was on his tail.  He picked up his pace, hammering out of the saddle many times.  While he was doing this, I was pushing hard, but keeping it under control.  Ben was having a great race, and we were sitting top 7.  We picked off a couple of riders a long the way.  Eventually Ben let me pass him, but he was never far behind.    Eventually he caught me again in the single track and we rode together for a while longer until he lost his traction on a steep loose climb and I put a good gap on him.     We also had pressure from another guy that was trailing about 1 min behind.  He was good in the single track, but slower on the climbs.

With not much climbing left, I was trying to keep the pace high.  In one of the last technical sections I came up to Russ Kappius who needed a tube.  I have to stop every time someone needs something.   It’s not only the friendly thing to do, but also Karma.  I want and have needed help on the trail many times, so I need to pay it forward.  While I was helping  Russ, Ben and our chaser came right up to us.  The chaser passed, and I handed Russ the tube and pump.  Ben stayed to help more and I took off.  At this point I had nothing left.  I tried to keep pushing hard, but the speed was slow.  Now I was the chaser,and couldn’t catch him.

Ben ended up catching me within a mile of the finish about 30 seconds ahead.  It was fun riding and racing with him.  He is a strong rider and was showing great late race form on this day.  Nice job buddy!

The Warriors Cycling Crew did an outstanding job on this series.  Each race was well planned and executed.  I’m looking forward to see what they have in store for us next year.   Thank you Thane, Hutch and the Race Crew for all your hard work to provide us endurance nuts with sick riding and great times.

My next race is the Vapor Trail 125 next weekend.   This won’t actually be a race for me, but more of an adventure ride.  My goal is to simply finish.   After that, my race season will wind down.  I had planned on racing 24hr Nats in some capacity, but I’m thinking I’m going to scratch that.  It’s been a long and successfully season and it’s time to decompress a bit and give some time back to the family.  There are some late season races I’ll probably jump into, but there are none planned and I won’t be training for anything in particular.

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Pierre’s Hole 100

Sweet Singletrack

I was going into my third 100 mile MTB race of the year a little nervous.  I had a lingering saddle sore since the prior weekends race, the Laramie Enduro, and I didn’t feel recovered from the same race either. Also, on paper, the Pierre’s Hole says there is over 18000ft of climbing (4600 per lap).   Regardless, I was looking forward to a road trip with some great guys, Jon Davis, Brandon Newcomer and Ernesto Marenchin.  I have never been to the western slope of the Tetons, I was excited to be on new dirt and see new sites.  It was very green all around the mountains, and the views of the Teton valley, and the Grand Tetons were awesome.  The race is held around and on the Grand Targhee Ski Resort.  There are only a few lifts, but the terrain looks excellent for novice and expert skiers.  This is a place I plan to come back to in the Summer and Winter.

Race morning, I woke up at 4am for a 6:15 start.  My legs still didn’t feel great.  I told myself I would start off at a mild pace and see how I felt after the second lap.  I was as ready as I could be, and regardless of the outcome, I was going to have fun.

At the start, I was lined up on the second row just behind the NUE racers, Josh Tostado, Jeff Schalk, Ernesto Marenchin, Cary Smith, Eddie O’Dea, and a number of locals that knew the trails really well.  I knew the start would be fast and I reminded myself to stay calm and start slow.  This strategry paid off in the end.

So after the word go, a big group started out fast and I hung back and I held my pace to the first descent, then to the first big climb. On each of the climbs I watched my HR very close and paid attention to how my legs were feeling.    Three quarters through first lap, Jon and Brandon, who were doing the 50 miler gave me a hand up.  They gave me some encouragement and said I was doing really well. But I didn’t know what that meant, so I kept cranking away.  I did pass a few people on the first lap, so I knew I was doing ok.

Lap two was more of the same, just kept cranking way, enjoying the sweet single track and pass a couple of more people on the climbs.

Lap three was tough, it was getting hot, and the mid course climb was about to crack me.   I got to the top and slowly pushed  to our pit, which was right near aid #4.   I was burning up from the heat, and I was shutting down fast.  I decided to take some of the ice water from my cooler and dump it on my head and back.  Grabbed my bottles and pedaled away.  By the time I finished my third lap I was feeling much better, and the pain in my legs were gone.

Lap four  I picked up the pace a bit but wasn’t sure how I would handle the mid course climb.  I got to the road climb and passed another racer, then to the mid course climb, and passed a couple of other racers. Dumped more water on my head at aid stations, which REALLY helped me.  I’ll be doing this more often, especially when the temps are above 70f.  After the mid course climb I picked up the pace again and passed a couple of other guys in the single track.   I finished in 9:24, fast enough for the belt buckle, and 1st place in the 40+ group.  11th Overall.

Total climbing was at 14600, not even close to the 18600ft advertised.

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Laramie Enduro 2011

2nd Place 40-49 group

I got a last minute entry to the Laramie Enduro thanks to friend Josh Bezecny.    I wasn’t sure if I should race, only because I have another much larger and harder race next weekend, the Pierres Hole 100.  But I couldn’t resist, it’s a great event, fun trails, and I wanted some redemption from last year.

Last year I went out too hard and blew up big time in the last 20 miles.  This year I planned to take it a little easier and watch my HR (no power meter at this race) that it didn’t get too high.

Again, this race proved to be a challenge.  The first 50 miles, are very fast, but no too difficult. There is some fast single track and fast open fire road/double track.    A few miles before the course gets really hard, a course marshal said I was in 17th Overall.  There were a few guys on my tail, so I kept the pace high.

After aid 4, the course gets more technical, the hills are steeper,is mostly single track and rocky.  If one was fresh, it wouldn’t be so bad, but after 4hrs of hard racing, this setcion is tough. This is where I had a hard time last year.  I went backwards fast this last year, lost about 15 spots between aid 4 and the finish.   This year, I held my place better, but I was really hurting again.  It was terribly hot, almost 90f, and that was taking it’s toll on me.  I was passed by  a couple of guys, and I passed a couple of guys.  I lost count of where I was, but was really trying to hold the top 20.  I was digging as deep as I could to hold the top 20.

In the end, I finished 16th overall, and 2nd in my age group, again.   I beat my time by almost 20 min.   I wasn’t expecting it, but got a nice check too.

Next up, a course that climbs 18,400ft in 100 miles, the Pierres Hole 100.  I’m a bit nervous for this race, for the the amount of climbing, and  that I just raced at the Laramie Enduro.  I had a good break after the Breck 100, so I think I will be fine.  I will probably start off the race a little more conservative then I have in the past.  I am really looking forward to racing some new dirt and road tripping with some cool dudes.

 

 

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Breckenridge 100 Result

Breckenridge 100
MTBCoach on Podium Breckenridge 100

My 2nd 100 miler is the books.  It seemed like it took for ever to start.  I really enjoyed last years race, and couldn’t wait to do it again.  I wanted to come a little more prepared.

Quick Stats:

  • 21st Overall
  • 2nd in Age group
  • finished in 10:03:24
  • 7:30min faster then last year
  • Started in the RME Series Leaders Jersey

Going into the race, I felt like I was ready for this race, I really thought I could have a better time.  But from the first point it turned up I felt slugish and no power.   The long climb up to wheeler pass was slow, and I think I was 50th going into the single track.  The second loop I felt better and started pulling in a few people, but by the end of the second loop I was really didn’t want to go any further.  And on the third loop, I limped around, but still pulled in a couple of people and didn’t loose any spots.

I’m very happy with my result, and retained the RME Series leaders jersey.  I’m looking forward to the next 100 milers which is entirely on new dirt, the Pierres Hole 100, in Alta WY, which has about 3-4k more climbing then the Breck 100.

 

 

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Ridgeline Rampage Report

Before the race even started, I thought I was out.  While warming up, on the first turn into dirt I was down and broke the strap on my shoe.  After I calmed down a bit I found some electrical tape, repaired the shoe and was back to a warm up.  Whew!

The trail system for this course is brand new, and this is the first event they had.  I had no idea what to expect, but  heard it fun.  I get a little nervous about racing trails I haven’t ridden before.  My plan was to sit back on the first lap to watch the lines of the other riders.  During the race, I thought to myself how fun the course was and I never got bored even with six laps.

The neutral start was chill until the first turn up hill.  The pace picked up pretty quickly with a local guy (Ed T.) attaching before we hit the dirt.  Ed helped design the trails and it showed he knew the lines.  I entered the dirt in 4th position, and we were ripping though the course.   About 1/2 way through the first lap, I ended up leading,  which I didn’t care for.  The downhills were a little tough being off camber and sandy, not part of my skill set.  I came through the first lap in first, was keeping a good pace and trying not waste energy attacking so early in the race.    Soon after the start of the second lap, Dwight Hall from Fort Collins , a 40 something who races a lot of road as a  Pro 1-2 joined me (he has won his last three races).  I let him take the lead on the second lap.  I never let him get more then 10yds from me, and after the second lap I was back in the lead.  I think I lead the rest of the race, laps 3-6.  There were a couple times I put a gap on him  but he would always come back.   I was impressed by this and wondered how the race would be won.  I never really put on an attach, I just rode my pace and hit the climbs to try to break him, but he never cracked.   Somewhere around the 3rd lap, another racer in the 30’s said that he was leading his class, and we were about to catch the pros, who started 9 min ahead of us.   So we had passed all the 20, 30 and now catching the pros.

The last lap was tough.  It was hot, and I was getting tired.  I was feeling some cramps creeping in to my legs and Dwight was still right on my wheel.  Just after the second last climb Dwight attacked and tried to pass.  I heard his tires in the grass next to me, but I shut him down with my own acceleration, and then I put the pressure on.  We had about 3 miles to go.    He was a better descender, than I and I didn’t want him to pass me with only one climb left.  I railed the last downhill, with him still on my wheel, less then a bike length away.  At the base of the last climb, I attacked as hard as I could and soon, the sounds of his bike were fading away.  He was nowhere in sight at the top of the climb and I just kept going as hard as I could.   I finished 8.2 seconds head of Dwight, sealed the win, and the series leaders jersey.  Dwight is a strong rider and I am impressed by his skills and endurance.  It would be fun to race with him again.

I ended up 6th overall,  1st in my age group, and obtained the series leaders jersey for my age group.  I also won some cash for the 6th fastest time, a nice Rudy Project travel bag and other SWAG.

I had planned to race the 24 hours in the Enchanted Forest solo, but with all the forest fires in AZ, smoke is very close to the race venue.  Weather reports  indicate hazardous air conditions and wind expected over the weekend.  I pulled the plug on this race and was able to get an entry into the Bailey Hundo.  I’m really looking forward to the Hundo with so many of my friend racing it should be a great time.  It will also help me with some prep for the Breck100 a month away.  I’ll be racing the Hundo in Men Pro/Open, but I’m not expecting a high placing; these guys are young and fast.  I’m just happy to be racing on awesome trails for a great cause with great people.