Battle the Bear and a Move to the Mountains

The Spot Rocker is, hands down, the most fun-to-ride hardtail I’ve ever owned. Whether you want to ride geared, chained SS, Gates Carbon Drive SS, or Carbon Drive with an internally geared rear hub, I’d highly recommend it. Short chainstays are pretty great.

On Saturday, I raced the Battle the Bear race of the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series. I wasn’t surprised to be the only singlespeed lady lined up. So, I figured I’d do my best to ride a steady and hard pace all day. I may have been a tiny bit conservative for a race-pace day, but I count it as a successful hard day of training.

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What the podium picture doesn’t show, and what went largely unnoticed (as far as I could tell), was that I was also second place overall in the women’s times (15 minutes slower than pro racer Megan Carrington).

At least I won the podium jorts competition.

Sunday following the race was time to pack in preparation for Monday-move-to-Salida day. Moving is absolutely exhausting, both mentally and physically. Luckily, I had the help of Matt and Levi. Matt and I packed up a U-haul load of house and drove it over to Salida Monday afternoon. After packing some stuff in to a storage unit, we dropped the rest of it over at the house where I’m staying for the next few months.

In lieu of driving Matt back to Denver (he’s working a Mountain Bike Radio job for the summer), our best Arkansas-transplant buddy Levi came over to ride a little and drive Matt back to Lakewood.

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Life in Salida so far is absolutely amazing. I almost can’t believe that I’m living here. I worked Wednesday and Thursday, then went for another ride up to the Cottonwood and S-Mountain Trails today.

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I can ride prettymuch anywhere in town, which means that since I got here, I have driven a total of 5ish miles. The Surly is on car duty now. I rode the bike path to Wal-Mart last night.

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The ride today was beautiful. County Road 175 is my new Apex Valley Road (Apex Valley was the “road to adventures” in Black Hawk when I first moved out to work at 92Fifty).

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I’m old enough to be cynical about having an optimistic outlook on new things, but I have a feeling it’s only going to get better from here.

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Spot Rocker- the 2017 Race Machine

And now, for something completely different…

If you listen to JRA, just scroll on down to the pics, because you know the rest already.

In the not-too-distant past, I received an out-of-the-blue Facebook message from Mitch, the Manager of Team Gates Carbon Drive. He wanted to know if I’d be interested in joining, we discussed some specifics, and I said something along the lines of “f*ckyeah, let’s do this.”

If you have been following since the beginning, you know I’ve worked really freaking hard to reach out to sponsors and potential sponsors and, more often than not, get rejected or not even answered. I did get some really solid, long-standing support from the likes of Gu and Industry Nine, but was generally pretty burnt out on the whole process. So, for someone to actually take notice of my race results last year and reach out for this season with some really excellent team support literally brought me to tears.

Last week, I put the finishing touches on the build up of my Spot Rocker singlespeed (of course, it snowed 10″ immediately after, so I’ve only ridden it once). Today, I finally got around to taking some nice photos…

It’s steel, belt-drive, RS-1, and Quarq equipped. It’s a bike with as many personalities as the weather in Colorado.

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Gotta fly the WC Rainbow seat pack as a nod to winning Breck Epic that one time.

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Level Ultimate Brakes and a Whisky Parts Co flat bar… that sucker comes stock at 840mm wide. I chopped it to 730.

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-I’m missing my I9 hubs. They have not been granted access to SRAM’s Predictive Steering hub, though, and mismatching would make me itchy.

The maiden voyage was pretty great. Belt drive is super quiet and smooth, and the belt-compatible frames have to be extra stiff in the bottom bracket & chainstays because flex will derail your belt. The result is a metal frame that pedals like its made of carbon. The chainstays on this particular frame are also super short- something I’d never experienced in a frame. It makes it way boost-ier and fun.

I am going to withhold totally gushing over the RS-1 right away, but will say I was incredibly happy with it on ride #1. I want to try it on the 429 since I’m more familiar with that frame, and that will give me some back to back comparison against a Pike.

Next race is Battle the Bear on the 13th. Since I’m a little more concerned with being ready(ish) for Gunnison Growler not long after that, I’m going to train right on through it rather than tapering back for it. I’ve heard that one’s a beast!

Moab Rocks Stage Race

In the midst of everything happening in my previous post, I participated in my first bike race of the 2017 season. After competing in 6-7 day stage races in the past with Breck Epic and Trans-Sylvania, the three day Moab Rocks race felt pretty manageable. My results were solidly mid-pack, but it was a hell of a pack out there. Matt and I made a daily race report recording for Mountain Bike Radio that you can listen to here: Moab Rocks Recaps

The basic gist, if you’re not the listening type, is that I need to work on my longer power output efforts- days 1 and 3 began with ~15 miles of climbing, and I felt pretty flat (finished 10th both days). However, day 2 was less sustained and more punchy, and I was able to pull off an 8th place finish. I was very consistent with my power over the 3 days, though, which is a nice affirmation of my base training, as well as my ability to pace myself, recover between stages, and push myself when I start to feel the previous days’ efforts.

The only dark spot of the entire weekend was some jackass with a backpack speaker. Every day, we was someplace in the pack close enough to me that I listened to a lot of really terrible music being broadcast across the desert. In case you, the reader, don’t know this already- the only person who enjoys listening to music from your backpack is YOU. EVERYONE ELSE HATES YOU AND THINKS YOU’RE A SELF-CENTERED PIECE OF GARBAGE. If you’re the type of person who can’t stand the thoughts in your own head, GET HEADPHONES. I also watched the same guy ride through cryptobiotic soil in order to make a pass on two out of three stages, so he obviously needs to trip and fall in to a pile of fire ants.

I digress.

Other than “that guy” the race was pretty great. Moab is a special, awesome place. I want to make a trip there in the fall to try White Rim in a Day as well as the Whole Enchilada (the highest I’ve gone into the latter is Upper Porc Rim).

In bike news, hopefully I’ll have a new singlespeed build going on pretty soon. I sold the Mach 6, so I’ve got some cash to budget towards making a sick race sled this season. More on that as it happens, though.

Big Things, Sad and Happy

It’s been a few weeks, so I can finally type it out without getting too upset. You gotta gut out the sad part of this post to get to the exciting part.

The weekend of the Land Run 100, I made the decision to put Indy to sleep. His dementia had made caring for him a pretty full-time job for at least the last year. I missed out on some bike racing, some good friends’ weddings, and some other life stuff in the name of watching after him. He’d been with me through so much of my adult life, he was worth every second of it, though. He’d just slipped to the point of where he didn’t do anything except eat, sleep, and walk in circles.

I won’t sugar coat it and say he was a loving, sweet baby… he was a little terrier a**hole (saying that with a little grin), who most people have a story about “that time Indy bit me.”

He did typical terrier things like getting in to the compost bin to dig for critters:

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He had a ferocious appetite for sticks:

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One time he broke his foot, and I never figured out how it happened:

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He was definitely a giant dog in a tiny dog body:

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He wasn’t 100% piss and vinegar, though:

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I miss him a lot. It’s lonely not having a dog.

I do, however, get to borrow Matt’s dog Marley… which brings me to the part of this post that as exciting as the first part is depressing.

I’m moving to Salida, Colorado in May.

I’ve lived in Colorado for two years now, and, while the Front Range region has a lot of upsides, it also has an insane population density. Everywhere you look, multi-story apartments are being built, so it’s not like it’ll get any better any time soon. The trails are great, but they’re also really crowded. User conflict abounds.

Ever since the first time I visited there, Salida has remained one of my favorite towns. It’s small- around 6,000 people, and it’s nestled right in the crook of the mountains not far from both the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Bike Route. It’s the home of the Vapor Trail 125 race as well. So, saying I’m excited to live there is somewhat of an understatement. I’m going to work at Absolute Bikes, which is basically your one-stop place for all things cycling in the area- they’ve got a really great demo fleet, maps, local knowledge from people who built some of the local trails, shuttles, and, pretty soon, a cafe next door.

I’ll be taking Marley with me for the summer while Matt works in Wisconsin for Mountain Bike Radio.

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It’s going to be quite the adventure. I can’t wait to be living in the mountains again.

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SOLD!- Pivot Mach 6 w/XTR, Size Small

There are currently a bunch of things happening right now, all of which will culminate in the renewal of posting here on a more than quarterly basis. But, for now, I would love it if one of you would purchase my Mach 6…

SOLD!

A little about it-
You all remember the shock failure at Golden Giddyup, right? I got the warranty front triangle and shock from Pivot/Fox, then put the bike back together and never rode it. So, half of the bike is new and unridden. According to my mileage on Strava, the rear triangle, front fork, wheels, and drivetrain have exactly 627.6 miles on them. I’ve serviced the fork once in there somewhere (like I said, the shock has never been ridden).

This thing is clean. It’s not the clapped out full suspension bike that we warn you about on the JRA Show. It’s got brand new shift cable/housing, the chain wear is at .25 on my KMC digital checker, and there’s at least half pad life in the rear (more on the front). All of the pivots felt great when I reassembled it with the warranty parts. There are a few scratches and dings (pictured), but they’re minor and cosmetic. Here’s a rundown of the parts on it:

Industry Nine Pillar Carbon Wheels
Maxxis High Roller II 2.4 front tire
Maxxis Ardent 2.4 rear tire
Fox Factory Series 36 Fork
Fox Factory Series Float X Shock
Shimano XTR Right Shifter, chain, 11-40 cassette, and rear derailleur
SRAM GX Crank (175mm) w/Race Face direct mount 30t chainring
Wheels Manufacturing pressfit BB w/angular contact bearings
Shimano XT Brakes (180mm rotor front/160mm rotor rear)
Rockshox Reverb, 100mm travel
Ergon grips and saddle
Race Face Atlas 35 Stem (65mm, I think. Could be a 50mm. It’s stubby, OK?)
Race Face Next 35 Carbon Bar, cut to 760mm wide
GTFO Bell

Asking Price, $4000 shipped to anywhere in the lower 48 States. Email me: andrea at brickhouseracing dot com

Pics:

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East-Bound and Down

Forty-eight hours from now, I’ll be on the road, heading east and south to the great state of Arkansas. The winter slowdown is in full effect at the bike shop, so I’m taking the opportunity to go out and explore the Northwest Arkansas trails that I’ve been wanting to check out for forever (and visit with some family as well).

Last week was a bit of a rollercoaster. Wednesday morning, I was fresh out of bed and at least half asleep when I walked out the back door holding Indy in one arm. He’s got a handicap ramp built out the back door because he falls down/up stairs too easily, and it was nowhere in my mind at that point in time that said ramp might be covered in frost. I took one step, both feet slipped, and I landed violently on my ass and right hand.

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How violent? My landing broke the runner under that part of the ramp and hurt my shoulder pretty bad. On the up side, I didn’t fumble the dog. With all of the moderate-risk activities I’m in to, it’s the mundane things that are the most dangerous. Since shoulders have a lot of stuff going on, I decided I’d get to a doctor as soon as I could. The last thing I need is a nagging injury that turns out to be something serious.

Luckily, the x-ray was clear, and the doctor determined with some range of motion tests that it’s an anterior deltoid strain. I basically just stretch it and keep my activity level pain-free, and let it get better on its own.

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Picture unrelated. It’s just a very satisfying steertube cut.

Given my shoulder felt a little weak, I didn’t really want to go for a long bike ride on Thanksgiving. I instead convinced Matt that climbing Mt. Morrison would be a good idea. It’s steep and a little scrambly near the top…

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Obligatory Thanksgiving Dinner photos-

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Saturday, I celebrated my shoulder feeling a lot better by taking the Singlespeed to Buffalo Creek.

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I love the mountain biking in Colorado, but I also can’t wait to get to Arkansas.

On a somewhat unrelated but equally stoked note, Thursday night, I was extended an invitation to test for my blue belt in Jiu Jitsu. The coolest part about this is that December 1st is my martial arts “birthday” of sorts- It’s when I started training at UFK in Memphis three years ago. There have been a couple of breaks in there, but the journey is always ongoing. I’ll test sometime later this month.

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Boulder Running Adventures

When  I first started working in Boulder, I made the climb up Flagstaff Road a somewhat regular part of my training. It’s literally right outside the door of the shop, so it’s a good pre-work leg burner. I couldn’t help but notice on the way up that there’s a trail that crosses the road in various places. It looked somewhat gnarly, so I was intrigued. However, all of the signs say “No Bikes.” So, I took to two feet and started exploring.

Holy wow.

I’d had no idea that there was an entire trail system up/around/over the Flatirons. And the “No Bikes” thing? Unfortunately, a lot of the trails in Boulder are closed to bikes. However, you really wouldn’t want to ride a bike on large portions of the trails.

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Ok, now that I look at those pictures again, maybe they’re the “perfect” trails to ride down (pictures always reduce steepness by 10% of the grade), but there are a multitude of straight up/down rock steps with tight switchbacks and whatnot. You’d never go up any of the trails, and people would literally die trying to go down.

The ruggedness makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I started with small run/hikes up and around the Flatirons and corresponding peaks. Green Mountain is the easiest and closest to where I park at Chatauqua, so it was the first route I came up with. This picture is from an intersection near the top at the exact moment I started wondering “when TF am I going to be at the top?”

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Not long after, I visited the 1st/2nd Flatirons trail, which is a shorter, but no less steep climb. With a short scramble, you can sit on top of the first Flatiron (the one in the background is the 3rd, I think).

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I started to get a little brave and made a bigger loop out to Bear Peak… slightly larger than Green Mountain, and a significantly longer run. The last hard climb before the top goes though a burned area and can be demoralizing if you don’t like seeing what sort of challenge is ahead of you.

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At the top, you have the choice of scrambling to the summit, going down the Fern Canyon Trail (The descent down Fern Canyon is the right amount of dangerous, if you’re trying to go fast), or continuing on to nearby South Boulder Peak. The top of Bear Peak has an amazing 360 view.

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East:

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South:

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North:

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West:

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Seeing the trail out to South Boulder Peak inspired a new personal challenge to myself. I wanted to run all three peaks before work the next Sunday. I called it Boulder Three the Hard Way.

Physical challenges are the high octane fuel to my motivation…

Up Green Mountian:

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At the top:

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Bear Peak:

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And off to tackle the out & back up South Boulder:

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I couldn’t find any survey markers or cool stuff up there, so here’s a weird iron thing driven into a rock-

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The run down Shadow Canyon from there was exhausting. It’s at 7.5 miles/8,500 feet of climbing in, so my legs were already pretty torn up. I made it down with no falls or rolled ankles and motored on to the return on the Mesa Trail… which is neither flat nor all downhill until you’re at the last mile.

Here’s the route/profile: https://www.strava.com/activities/760836310

Fourteen miles in 3:45 doesn’t sound that impressive until you start looking at the gain/loss on each climb and descent. Running downhill there is like its own lite version of parkour.

I’m hoping that my body holds up to the running enough that I can do it all Winter as an alternative to riding in the cold or on the trainer. I’m still having some pain from previous overuse injuries in my left knee and foot, but listening to my body and doing a lot of yoga and foam rolling seems to keep it relatively minor. This Saturday will be a good test… I’m going to go out and try a self-supported trail marathon. It’ll be scenic, if nothing else.

Boulder Gravel Adventure

It’s only been a month-ish… but I’m just gonna pop in here and drop a post like it’s been last week.

In my previous post, I told you about the failure of my Fox shock. I’m happy to report, Fox warrantied the shock, and Pivot warrantied the front triangle (after I proved to Fox that I didn’t run the bike in to a garage door).

Enough about that, though, there are adventures to report.

I’ve got very little free time. Yeah, I hear those of you with kids laughing/groaning/whatever. It’s not my fault you baked up some new little humans to engulf your mornings/nights/weekends, so, I’ll say it again… I’ve got very little free time. I try and make the best of every second of it, which explains my lack of recent postings. If you really want to see/hear some snippets, I’m on the internet in other places, like the Just Riding Along podcast, Instagram, and Twitter.

It’s here, though, that you get the whole story of the snippets. I’ve got a lot of stories, but my favorite of the last month-ish is definitely my gravel ride out of Boulder. I used a combination of my limited local knowledge and a site called Coloradogravelroads.com and mapped out a route that turned out to be amazingly rugged.

You can see it here: https://www.strava.com/activities/770204857

I started from the shop in South Boulder and rode the bike path up Boulder Canyon to Four Mile Canyon. The pedal up Four Mile is the longest bit of asphalt on the route… about 5 miles. It dead ends at Switzerland Trail- an ATV road that’s also a popular mountain bike route. There’s a really grouchy guy at that intersection that yelled at me from his porch to not lean my bike on the fence next to the Switzerland Trail sign. “It’s a CONSTANT problem”… according to him.

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Switzerland Trail isn’t bad on a CX bike. I’ve actually ridden it on my road bike a couple of times as well, though, I wouldn’t really recommend that to anyone. As you climb Switzerland Trail, you get to periodically peek at the high mountains in the distance and start to get that warm, fuzzy feeling of isolation.

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Once I was on Gold Hill Road at the top, I stopped to eat and saw a bald eagle. I tried to get a photo and managed to fumble part of my pop tart on the ground and get a blurry pic of my feet. The eagle was still pretty sweet, though. I still ate the pop tart… you know- five second rule & all.

Gold Hill road has a few steep spots, and it’s up where you start to really feel the elevation in your legs. I eventually made it to the peak to peak highway, where I headed south for a mile or so before turning off on to the next forest roads- FSR 116 and 505. Those took me to the high point of the day- topping out somewhere around 9,400ft at mile 32. They’re definitely the best part of the route.

FSR 116:

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When I saw FSR 505 on the map, it wasn’t clear as to how rugged it would be. It was a varying combination of chunky like in the photo to smooth flowy dirt and everything in between… including ice.

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I dropped down in to Nederland from there and stopped to refill a bottle at the local coffee shop/cafe. I needed to get to Magnolia Road to take me back down to Boulder, but rather than climb out the obvious way on Peak to Peak highway, I rode into a neighborhood on the south side of town and took a small singletrack connector into/through the East Magnolia trail system. There was a little hike-a-bike involved… a trait of any and all excellent adventures.

I didn’t take any pictures after Nederland. I was a little worried about getting back to town in enough time to get to Doggie Day Care to pick up Indy. If they closed before I got him, I’d probably sit outside the door and cry or something. So, I was making haste. The only part of my planned route that I messed up was taking the Winiger Ridge trail out of a neighborhood off of Magnolia. You can see on the route that I turned in and missed where I should have gone to get to the trail. Oh well… next time.

The last of my gravel was one more chunky 4WD route called 68J. It connects in to the back side of Flagstaff Road, which goes directly back down to the shop. That last little 500 foot kicker up the back of Flagstaff really builds character at the end of a route like that.

I can’t wait to do that one again, though at this point, I’ll probably have to modify the far end of it to stay lower. I’m guessing that the last weather that came through put the first real layer of snow on FSR 116 and 505. So, I’ll likely take the southern spur of Switzerland and connect to County Road 103 to go south to Nederland- not as wild or rugged, but still pretty fun.

I’ve got a lot of Boulder running adventures to post about soon. The trails in the Flatirons are incredibly challenging, so I’ve taken to them like Br’er Rabbit to the brier patch.

The Golden Giddyup that Wasn’t

We’ve talked about it on the JRA Podcast, but, if you’re like me, and don’t listen to podcasts, then this is news to you…

A few weeks ago, I was racing the Golden Giddyup. It was a cool race- one of the only opportunities riders will ever have to ride some favorite Front Range trails as a closed course. The course featured both uphill and downhill timed stages, and you could bring whatever bike you wanted depending on where you wanted to focus your speed. Since it’s not terribly difficult to knock out an uphill time on a normal weekday without ruining other trail users’ fun, I decided to take full advantage of the closed course and bring out the Mach 6 for maximum shreddage on the downhill stages.

I wasn’t the only one who was thinking the same way. There are a handful of ladies around here that are incredibly fast downhill, and they were all lined up at the start. I was stoked that the Open Women’s category was the wave to go just behind the Open Men. This meant that we likely wouldn’t be dealing with a dude who wouldn’t let us pass on a stage, which had been one of my biggest fears, given dude’s track records for just looking over their shoulder and trying to go faster when anyone is behind them (especially a woman) and wants to get by.

Stage 1 was uphill on a section of the Chimney Gulch trail (you can look at the Strava page I’ll post a link to below if you need some help knowing where that is). I went kinda hard, but not really. The Mach 6 is a little on the heavy side (around 28 pounds), and it gets a little unwieldy on steep, technical stuff because the bottom bracket is low and the front wheel likes to be off the ground… you know, all the stuff that makes it great at going downhill. So, I ended up walking a rocky section and soon after, pulling over to let the woman behind me pass (somehow I still managed a 3rd fastest time out of the group up that one).

Stage 2 was down the Enchanted Forest and Apex Trails. I got to the start of the stage ahead of the other women and went as soon as I could. Enchanted Forest is cool because, unlike every other exposed, loose-over-hard front range trail, it’s tread is comparatively soft and grippy… and it’s through a forest, as the name suggests. It’s the perfect sort of place for the Mach 6 to shine. It’s got steep downhill droppy root sections that, if you have the nerve for it, you can let loose and straight line. I was doing just that (see Strava page for proof): https://www.strava.com/activities/717363117

I was feeling really good- somewhere on the edge of being out of control, but not quite. Suddenly, at the end of the Enchanted Forest before the course turned on to the Apex trail, I was hauling the mail down the last major root section, when I heard a bad POWCRACK noise and almost instantaneously lost control of my bike. I managed to lay it down somehwat gently, considering the speed at which I was traveling. I quickly gathered myself off the track to try and continue, but when I picked up my bike, realized that my top shock eyelet had failed… catastrophically. As in, it went from being an O to being a C.

I was sad.

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I walked my broken machine down the Apex trail to the neutral support at the bottom, where everyone gawked and said they’d never seen that happen before. I continued being sad and had a shot of Wild Turkey 101 and a slice of bacon.

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The following Monday, I called up Pivot and explained what happened. It wasn’t their part that had failed, but, in the process of the Fox part failing, the linkage had broken the seat tube on the Mach 6.

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Even though it wasn’t technically “their fault,” they agreed to warranty the frame, though in order for them to get a warranty shock from Fox, I ended up having to prove to Fox that I hadn’t driven my bike into the roof of a garage whilst it was attached to a roof rack… which wasn’t all that hard to do, considering I had strava, chip timing info, and a couple of people who were willing to vouch for me (including a professional photographer who took a photo of my broken bike on course when I walked past her), and a solid lack of owning a roof rack or being friends with anyone who does.

Don’t expect that sort of treatment from all bike companies. There are some out there that would have given me a warranty shock and crash replacement pricing (maybe) on a new frame, rather than a warranty. Pivot is pretty rad, though, and in the words of their warranty guy, “we want you to be stoked on your bike.”

That, I am. I should have a new Mach 6 back in the stable any day now.

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Devil on the Divide 22k

Wait, what?

A long time ago, I started my endurance racing life as a trail runner. I raced a handful of 50ks and trail marathons in Arkansas before my trail running friends (the Warthogs in Memphis) took me out on a bike one summer and I gradually left the sport of running for road racing. I still have a love for trail running, though.

So, when I started having a 45-60 minute one-way commute every day, I found that running is a good way to get in a quick workout prior to leaving the house for the day. I’ve been running around 3 miles 1-2x per week, depending on whether or not I’ve got a cross country race on the weekend.

You may remember a while back, I went on a hike-a-bike adventure with Jake. Look at the map so the rest of this makes sense:

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https://www.strava.com/activities/651266584

We traversed the Bard Creek Trail, which he’d seen on a website for a 50k running race called Devil on the Divide. He wanted to recon the trail as a way to “close the loop” for a popular mountain bike ride up Jones Pass to the Continental Divide Trail and Herman Gulch, which, if you close said loop using the road, looks like this:

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https://www.strava.com/activities/699535569

The 50k Devil on the Divide makes the loop on trails. Though, as Jake and I discovered, not very ride-able trails. Since the day he told me about the trail race, I was itching to do the 22k version of it, which is a point-to-point of the above map from the start/finish marker to the trailhead by I-70. However, with my lack of running volume, I’d sort of written it off.

Then, exactly one week ago today, I went and ran the Mount Falcon trail. The loop I made was probably somewhere close to four miles- almost two miles up, and almost two miles down. It felt awesome. So, I went home and entered the Devil on the Divide 22k.

Let me interject here some reasoning to make this sound less insane- I know that normally a 4 mile “long run” is not usually considered sufficient to do a half marathon on such extreme terrain. However, it did let me know that the previous overuse injuries I’ve been trying to avoid re-irritating were not going to be an issue in a half marathon. Also, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know how to dress, pace, and feed myself for such an effort. The rest of it is just putting my bike fitness and stubbornness to good use.

Friday morning before the race, I’d had to take little 16-year-old Indy to the vet because he had terrible diarrhea and vomiting the day/night before. He had to get some fluids and anti-vomiting drugs, and I almost decided not to go to the race because I was so worried about him. However, he slept most of the day and seemed a little better. So, Matt agreed to watch after him until I returned home on Saturday.

The race start was so early that I didn’t want to make the drive Saturday morning. Friday night after work, I loaded up the car and drove up to Empire to camp out at the race HQ area. It was cold up there. The Weather Channel had predicted an overnight low of 37, but my tent was covered in a thick layer of frost when I got up in the morning. I made some coffee, picked up my race packet, and changed in to my running clothes with a few extra layers to take off after the shuttle to the start area at Henderson Mine.

The 22k had a single aid station at the top of Jones Pass road- about a 4 mile climb. The remainder of the course was about 2 more miles rolling uphill on the CDT before turning downward towards the Herman Gulch trailhead. My fueling strategy was simple- I had a 16oz handheld water bottle and a gel flask full of Gu Roctane in the pocket of my tights. I carried a windbreaker in the pocket of the water bottle harness. I figured that the 16oz was enough to get me up to Aid #1, about a 1-1.25 hours (contrary to what a man at the start line thought when he looked at me and asked, “what do you think this is, a 5k fun run?”). Then another 16oz would get me up the CDT, and I wouldn’t have much opportunity to drink after that other than the brief uphill punches on the way down.

When the race started, I didn’t really pay attention to the other women around me. I had no idea if there was a method to the bib numbers to determine who was a 50k runner and who was a 22k runner. As I alternated running and fast walking (on the steep sections), I knew that I was pretty far up in the group, and passed a couple of ladies as I made my way up. I finished the last of my water just as I rounded the last switchback to the aid station. There, I refilled and struck out on the CDT. I passed another lady right there… again, not knowing if she was 50k or 22k.

Running the CDT is an amazing experience. I kept up my strategy of running/hiking depending on the grade. The lady I’d passed at the aid station was staying close until I went all mountain goat through a scree field. I don’t know if she had some sort of issue or just went slower than I had, but when I looked back at the high point of the trail soon after, she was a loooooong way back.

I started my way down to Herman Gulch. There was one out-and-back spur to Herman Lake about halfway down. It gave me the opportunity to see anyone ahead of me as well as anyone close behind me. It was on the out-and-back that I really started to feel some pain in my legs from my efforts. At the turn-around, the man punching bibs let me know that I was the 3rd woman he’d seen. I asked if he knew if the other two women ahead of me were 22k runners, and he had no idea. When I saw the woman I’d passed at Aid 1, she seemed close to catching me.

I knew it was almost all downhill (and very technical, even from a running standpoint) to the finish. I was hurting, but I managed to hold her off until I reached the 22k finish/50k Aid #2. The ladies at the finish area said I was the third woman overall. I was OK with that, considering the nature of my “preparation” for the race. The lady that I’d been holding off came through and ended up being a 50k competitor.

While I sat around, I couldn’t help but notice that there were no other 22k-looking women milling around as if they’d arrived ahead of me. There weren’t any on the shuttle bus back to Empire, either. I figured they’d just had a ride back that wasn’t the shuttle and already left. The crew was still working on results back in Empire, so I ate some post-race pasta and packed up the tent.

To my surprise, when they announced female and male overall 22k winners, they called my name. The other two women ahead of me were 50k runners. Hot Damn. I got a finisher mug, a bell, and a $110 gift card for Chaco sandals.

prizes

I’m hurting pretty badly today from the miles of downhill running, but all-in-all, I don’t feel terrible. Last night I had a little aching in my posterior tibial tendon, but nothing like the pain I felt there last time I tried to run and foolishly increased volume too quickly and nearly put myself on crutches. Otherwise, it’s just the joint and muscle pain one would expect to feel if one took a somewhat unconditioned body through such an ordeal.

My shoes (Altra Lone Peaks) were not so lucky. The tread on them was previously a bit low from their brief use in Memphis and as occasional work shoes, but after a couple of times on the trail here in Colorado, the aging tread now has chunks torn out of it like a well-used mountain bike tire. A new pair isn’t in my budget right this second, so I’ll likely keep them around for a while. I have a pair of Altra’s Olympus model that I use for road running, which is currently 99% of my runs right now. They’re the only brand of shoe that don’t give me blisters and that don’t make me feel like I need to constantly loosen my shoes as I’m running.

shoes

Also, more importantly than all of this… Indy is feeling better. He hasn’t had any more vomiting since he saw the vet, and, with the tiny amounts of food and pepto bismol he’s eaten, he hasn’t had any obvious diarrhea. He has two more days of eating bland can food and anti-vomiting pills and hopefully he’ll be back to normal.