Winter Park to Boulder- Hood-Rich Transients, Volume 1

In my last post, I lamented on the difficulty of making the race/ride home adventure in one day. My work-around idea was to make it in two. So, for the final Winter Park race, I made additional plans and brought a friend.

Since there was some money available for the top three Pro spots at the final installment of the Winter Park XC race, I decided to put the Mach 429 in “race mode” and moved up from the Singlespeed category. This meant swapping the Pike for the SID World Cup and the I9 Trail 24 wheels for the Carbon Pillar Ultralight set. While it doesn’t feel as solid bombing downhill as with the Pike, I’m still “fast enough” downhill to be more than competitive in cross country racing at any level.

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I had a good race. I raced hard. The only snag I hit was when I passed two of my competitors on the first and longest descent of the day, only to be blocked by a dude I caught who had started TWO MINUTES ahead of me. I asked him to get around, and all he’d do was look over his shoulder and try to go faster, which wasn’t that fast. The second woman I’d passed earlier in the descent caught back up to me pretty quickly, and when we popped out of the trail on to the forest road, she called him a dick, and we continued racing (she’d had a front row seat to the whole, painful ordeal).

I digress.

I otherwise raced my heart out and ended up 4th behind Amy Beisel, Evelyn Dong, and Ally Faller. If you follow women’s cross country racing in the U.S. you’ve probably heard of the first two, but watch for the third one… she’s only 18, and she is kind of a monster. Though I was out of the money in the Pro category, I took home the overall singlespeed win for the series- something that had eluded me the previous year.

I crossed the finish line and regained my composure, then headed back to the car to eat and strap my bags on to my bike. At the time, the thought of climbing another 2,500 feet with a fully loaded bike seemed like an insurmountable task, but the weather looked clear, and Amanda was excited to get going. I was committed.

We headed off across the highway to Corona Pass Road, which would take us up and over the Continental Divide before we’d make our way down in to Nederland for dinner and camping. The views up there are something I can’t describe in available English language words:

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We reached the top eventually… I wasn’t really watching the time.

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On the other side, there are a series of abandoned train trestle crossings. Here’s a link to the story of Corona/Rollins Pass that you can read if you’re interested: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollins_Pass

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We descended the pass via the Jenny Creek jeep road- an adventure in and of itself. It takes you to the Eldora Ski area just outside of Nederland, where we were just a quick road ride away from pizza…

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The hippie pizza restaurant in Ned is also an experience. The person cooking the pizzas probably consumes more weed than he does pizza. We sat around in the brewery and listened to bluegrass and consumed large quantities of food (and a small quantity of beer). I called us hood-rich transients. Thus, the name of this adventure- Hood-Rich Transients, Volume 1.

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I’d be willing to bet money that Nederland has the highest per-capita rate of dreadlocks of any city in the world.

After filling up, we headed out to the woods to camp. There’d been reports of transients living in the campground, but Amanda knew of a spot far away from the transient camp. The adventure to get there was one of those where I quit believing her when she told me how close/easy to get to the spot we were going to was. It was OK, though, because it was a great spot where no one would be likely to come across our camp, and, as an added bonus, the view in the morning was amazing.

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In the morning, we packed up and rolled down to the Peak to Peak highway and up to Magnolia Road, which would take us back towards Boulder, where I was to be at work at 12pm.

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We stopped on Flagstaff Road- the final descent back in to reality- to take a picture at an overlook that really gave a sense of where  we’d come from. In the picture, we crossed the mountains just out of frame to the left.

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At the bottom, we at mass quantities of real food breakfast, and I clocked in right on time.

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I can’t really describe (again) how great of an adventure it was. I’m hooked on bikepacking now.

Oh yeah, and just to give my setup so far, since a lot of people tend to ask- most of it is made by J.Pak. The bottle/light battery/trash holders on the bars are Ruksacks, the top tube bag (most of my food fit in there) is a Snakpak, the seat bag (all my sleeping gear) is also made by him. I also used a Blackburn Cargo cage with a dry bag to carry some sleep clothes, a couple of extra layers for morning riding, and a rain jacket. If I were to need to carry real food/a stove, I’d probably try another cargo cage for that. I need something a little tougher than the dry bag, though.

 

Racing and Stuff

Jeez, it’s been two Winter Parks ago since I posted…

I’ve continued my trend of fun-rides and it’s worked out pretty well. Winter Park #4 was part of the Colorado Freeride Festival, so, unbeknownst to me, they offered a decent prize purse to the Pro racers. Even though some bigger hammers than usual showed up, I still could have finished in the money. Oh, Well…  I still picked up the SS win.
#4 was also my vain attempt at riding back to Lakewood from Winter Park. I’d planned accordingly with the exception of actually paying attention to the fact that finish times for that course were a full hour longer than the previous courses. I started up Corona Pass far too late in the day to make it through White Ranch before the sun started to set (and the park would be closed), so I ended up turning back just a few miles in to the ride. I decided that the only WPXC race with the right combination of “late enough that the snow has melted” and “early enough for the most daylight” is #3- the Race Rendezvous course.

Winter Park #5 was definitely the best course of all the courses. It was Point-to-Point style, starting in the ski area, and ending somewhere in the mountains west of Fraser. It was mostly singletrack, and played well to someone with both lots of fitness and very good bike handling skills. Even though I was singlespeed, I felt really good, so I took off after the Pro and Expert women up the first climb. After some jockeying for position in the first 5 miles, I was in 2nd place behind a young expert lady (who has been blasting everyone at a majority of the races. Despite my effort to try and chase her down, I never saw her, and I ended up 2nd overall, less than a minute ahead of Pro racer Kathy, who’d been chasing me all day. It was the perfect combination of course and fitness.

I discovered a new favorite (albeit too expensive to do often) recovery activity the Tuesday following the race when we went back to Winter Park with big bikes for some lift service riding. It’s like going to an amusement park, but with bikes and purpose-built downhill trails instead of sketchy-ass roller coasters assembled by carnies.

Somewhere woven in with all of that, I’ve been working my ass off. I did some mechanical support at Ironman Boulder. Triathletes are weird… it’s like a whole other sport that just happens to involve a bike. The bikes I saw were akin to a dog kept on a chain in the back yard- you definitely own it, but you don’t think about it much, and only really care for it enough to keep it alive.

The best part of the weekend was walking in to the shop tent and seeing another lady mechanic standing there. We shared a brief part of a second of surprise before getting to work fixing everyone’s clapped out stuff. Of course, I just took a picture of Knobby the dog, because that’s how I roll.

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Random bike…

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Also between races, I rode up to Squaw Pass. On the way down, I spotted a massive elk just chillin’ next to someone’s driveway just outside of Evergreen. If I had to guess, I’d say part of why he’s so large is because he terrorizes the local gardens. He also wasn’t very afraid of me. As someone highly wary of moose, I wasn’t very comfortable getting any closer than “across the road.” I don’t know how aggressive elk are, though I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of one trampling anyone. Better safe than sorry, right?

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With one more Winter Park XC left, I’m going to switch it up a little for the final race (where there is, once again, some $$ available for the Pros). I’m going to put the Mach 429sl into XC mode with my carbon wheels and SID World Cup fork (it currently rolls on a Pike, because the Pike is awesome) in hopes of taking home a little cash. We’ll see how it all shakes out. My work/commute to Boulder has me pretty exhausted most of the time, so I’ve had to really make time to get a hard effort or two in before the work day.

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At least I work right at the base of a kickass climb up Flagstaff.

If all goes according to plan, this weekend after WP#6, I’ll go to the podium party then ride off in to the woods for an overnight adventure with my (former) coworker Amanda, Indy wrangler and bikepacker extraordinaire.

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Dis-Organized Training

You may have noticed that my race report was absent following the previous Winter Park race weekend (way back on the 9th). I went to bed the night before with a slightly sore throat and woke up the next morning feeling like five pounds of shit in a 10-pound sack. I still raced, and I still won singlespeed, but I didn’t have the punch to pull off another overall win, finishing 3rd out of the women’s starters.

The next day, I went to my second ever jujitsu tournament. It was pretty small compared to the previous one, meaning I only had one other person to compete against. My lone competitor was fierce, but I won the first match via armbar and the second via triangle, giving me the gold.

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I’m testing for another stripe on the belt Thursday night, and I’ll be racing again at Winter Park this weekend.

I have to admit, I’ve somewhat lost my drive to do any sort of organized training plan. The dis-organized riding here is so great that I basically hit up Valmont Bike part before work a couple of days a week and try to get out for some sort of longer adventure on my two days off and Sunday mornings before work. The result is a general tapering off in fitness gains, but a gradual onset of awesomeness everywhere else. So, I’m not too concerned about it.

Since the last time I posted, I’ve ridden a big loop at Buffalo Creek, including the new Little Scraggy trail (sorry, no pics), I’ve taken Brandon, the service manager at the shop who just moved from Chicago, up Mt. Falcon and down Lair of the Bear, explored the Bard Creek trail with Jake, and went on a pre-work trail hunt with Clayton (which also resulted in nabbing a Boulder Strava QOM as we were hammer-down descending back to the shop, trying not to be late).

If you have ever lived someplace else besides Colorado, and then you move here, it gives you a whole ‘nother level of appreciation for the fact that, in an hour and a half of either riding or driving from the house, you can be in some pretty amazing places.

The Bard Creek trail is one of those places. Jake and I made a shuttle out of it, parking a car in Empire, and driving another to the Herman Gulch trailhead. We found out rather quickly that, while the trail is 100% legal for cycling, it is 100% a hiking trail. Most of the trail was extremely narrow (that is, in the places where the trail actually existed as more than just a sight line between cairns) and extremely steep. It also runs mostly above treeline (from about mile 1.5 to mile 10.5), making it as awe-inspiring as it is aerobically challenging.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that we likely hike-a-biked for 7 of its 15 miles. Our average speed was 3.6 miles per hour. You can see the map on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/651266584/overview

That’s about as solid of a trail as you get up there. The rest was cairn-hunting and following a GPS track on Jake’s Garmin:

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You know you’re way up there when the elevation makes your Gu packaging all puffy:

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A high Alpine lake… you almost can’t tell that there’s water in it because it’s so clear:

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Spot the cairns #1:

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Some hike-a-bike:

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Spot the cairn #2 (hint, it’s not the bush in the middle):

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Eventually we made our way down through some thick aspens and a soggy creek bed

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The final big view of the day on Empire Pass. It’s pretty amazing that the entire time, we were so incredibly isolated, yet never too far from a major interstate:

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It’s hard to convey in pictures and words on the internet the feeling of being in such a remote and beautiful place so close to where I live. It’s like every day off is a single-day dream vacation.

Working doesn’t suck, either. I periodically get to be a bike wizard/hero and save someone’s vacation/race/charity ride…

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…not trying to brag with the postcard pics…

I just know that posting them here will make my mom happy.

Every Ten Miles

With the extra horsepower I’ve felt on my singlespeed as of late, I’ve had a growing desire to buy a carbon hardtail. I like the Cysco and all, but I’m jonesing for something lighter and stiffer. I’ve got enough money saved up to buy something, but it’d involve some parts selling and maybe living close to paycheck-to-paycheck for a month or two. That’s not really my thing, so, even though the desire to make it happen is strong, I have been mulling over lots of purchasing options and not made any hard decisions yet.

Hold that thought for a few minutes.

Another strong desire I’ve felt for a long time is to get in to bikepacking. The pull I get from the mountains is almost magnetic. I feel physically drawn in to them. Good backpacking/bikepacking gear is expensive. That, along with Indy’s need for almost constant care, has been my barrier of entry in to the wilderness.

The other day, a man came in to the shop with a steel road bike and two flat tires. On his back, he carried a hacksaw and some hedge clippers. If I had to guess, I’d say he was somewhat homeless and did little odd jobs to feed himself. He was an incredibly interesting person. While I fixed his flats, he talked with my coworker Amanda about riding across the country and how free he felt doing it. As an avid bikepacker, she could relate.

He had a theory that every 10 miles, the landscape of the Earth changes. On a literal level, if you’ve ever ridden long distances by bike (or on foot), you might agree. When your mode of transportation is slow, you have time to notice subtle nuances in the terrain around you.

I thought about “every 10 miles” the whole way home that afternoon. Maybe it’s not the Earth’s terrain that changes every 10 miles of pedaling, but instead, your perception of the Earth around you. I’m drawn to the idea the same way I feel physically drawn into the belly of the mountains just to the West of my front door.

I went home and dropped a chunk of my carbon hardtail savings on a really nice sleeping bag and pad. The way I see it, it’s the difference between purchasing a “thing” versus purchasing an “experience.” I’m pretty good at riding the ti bike, anyway.

What about Indy?

I’ve found some very kind ladies at a doggie daycare called Rover’s Stay and Play. He gets to hang out behind the front desk and periodically go out make his right-hand circles in an outdoor kennel by himself. Between daycare and overnight help from Matt, I look forward to a couple of overnight trips this summer. I know Indy is somewhat of a burden to watch for anyone but myself, so I don’t have any current plans to go longer than that. Finding the daycare does open up a few more modest travel options than what I was limited to before, though, which is promising.

I don’t think most people would read so far in to a homeless dude’s theory of how the Earth’s formations exist. However, the more I think about the rate of personal transformation that can happen to you when you get on a bike and start pedaling, the more it fascinates me. I want to explore “every 10 miles” on both the literal and metaphorical levels.

Going to Moab and Getting Older

If you go to Moab and don’t post about it on the internet, did it actually happen??!? I don’t want to risk it, so…

I posted before about winning the bike shop lottery, and that still holds mostly true. It’s not easy to find a shop where, around the beginning of May, you can just knock off for a few days and take a Moab vacation (Well, I could do that at 92Fifty, but that’s because it was snowing and whatnot).

I took Matt along for his first Moab experience. We rode the Slickrock trail on the first day since we only had the afternoon, and it’s a trail that’s both interesting/iconic as much as it is worth getting out of the way early.

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The next day was Porcupine Rim. The weather was spotty at best.

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As we climbed Sand Flats to the start of Lower Porcupine Singletrack, we experienced the whole range of sun, rain, and, as we entered the trail, a few minutes of steady snow. A desert snow storm at the top of one of the most famous trails around is a unique and beautiful experience. The trail was mostly hero dirt… also rare and beautiful. And fast. The Mach 6 is still one of the most fun bikes I’ve ever ridden.

It took most of Porcupine Rim to get my nerve for tech/chunder up after being on the trainer all winter. I was feeling brave by the time we were at the bottom, though. Rolling back in to town, we made a stop at Milts… another iconic Moab spot.

Day three, we finally had perfect desert weather. We rode in the Amasa-back area- up Hymasa, down Ahab, then up Amasa Jeep trail and down Rockstacker and Jackson. I had several small victories on Ahab where I rode spots that I remember walking in the past. However, I also made what could be considered one of the worst GoPro videos of Rockstacker, as I slid/walked down the most infamous droppy spots on the trail. I will say, though, I’m getting waaaaaaaay better at dealing with exposure and dropping off of ledges. There are some spots that I know I’ll get eventually. There are some that I’m OK with never getting.

Screenshot from the video:

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Since the weather had finally turned awesome, at the recommendation of the campground owner, we went to a local swimming hole following our ride.

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Overnight, the weather went back to crap. So, day 4, we didn’t get any more riding before we had to get to driving home. On the drive home, the clutch in my Impreza started to die. By the time I was getting off the interstate near my house, I couldn’t put the car in to gear without the engine shutting off. Luckily, I got to the house, and my car insurance has a great roadside assistance program. I paid all of $7 to have it towed to a shop… where I paid all of $1100 to have a new clutch put into it.

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That was a bummer considering I’d been shopping around for a new car and just hadn’t had the time to make it happen yet. I did eventually trade it in the day after my birthday-

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I leave it to you guys to guess which one is mine.

My birthday was pretty rad all around. Not only did I get a sweet new car with the help of my parents, I am finally in a place where I’ve got some friends that are stoked to help me celebrate. At work, shop owner Steve gave me cake

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Afterward, we went to Mountain Toad Brewery in Golden and had a couple of beers, and another cake that my amazing co-worker Amanda baked at home. I am not misusing the word “literally” when I say, I literally don’t remember the last time I had such a great birthday. I have tried to remember, but I can’t. I have no idea.

P.S. Speaking of birthdays, Indy turned 16 a couple of days ahead of my turning 35. He’s quite the little dog fossil.

Turning 35 is oddly frightening at this point in my life. Before now, every year older is another year more awesome. That still holds true, but, as I look around, I know that most women my age are “settled” with socially accepted careers and families. Here I am, a divorced bike mechanic, seeking out whatever adventures may find me in ColorAdo. Fun? Yes. Do I feel like others are judging me? Also yes.

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My early-life proclamation that I don’t want to have kids feels more permanent by the day.

I have no regrets.

The age thing mostly hit me when I was looking at the registration page for an upcoming jiujitsu tournament, and I saw that I’m eligible to enter the Master’s division. I probably qualify for the same in some bike races as well, depending on the governing body of said race. Other than some occasionally intense back and finger joint pain, I don’t feel old. I’m actually in super great shape… not “for my age,” but for anyone. I’ve got better abs than I’ve ever had, and I’m ready to tear up some XC races on the singlespeed this summer. Master’s class be damned.

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Snow Days

I’m pretty sure that the people who watch the weather in the Denver Metro area stay high on legal weed 24/7. Since it started getting cold, any time there’s imminent snow, there’s some sort of winter weather advisory. However, Tuesday morning, Indy woke me up at 5:30 to potty, and as I was stumbling half-asleep through the house to take him out, I wondered, “why the hell is it so bright in here?” Then, I looked out the back window and saw that there was a blanket of snow on everything.

Nothing like shoveling the porch at 5:30am in a snow storm to let your dog know you love him.

We ended up getting somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-10″ (TWSS)
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Lucky for me, I’d brought a demo fat bike home from work a couple of days before that. My original plan had been to go ride up Rollins Pass, but I couldn’t leave Indy alone for that long, so I ended up not going. I set out on some of the less-busy roads and bike paths near my house.

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They snow plow the paths here. It’s pretty sweet. I did figure out pretty quickly that trying to ride through unplowed powdery snow is basically impossible. My take on fat bikes based on my 2.5 hour initial ride is this- no bike is great at riding in the snow, it’s just that a fat bike is the least sucky of all bikes to ride in snow. I’d like to try one on trail sometime this winter.

I think the flask is a pretty important part of the riding attire

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Taking on Winter without going a little stir crazy has been a little bit of a challenge. Luckily, the weather usually isn’t too bad. Sometimes, I grab an occasional night ride after work.

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Sometimes, I work on my ground and pound.

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Working in a bike shop over winter is an exercise in keeping yourself busy/entertained.

I got to check out a SRAM ETap bike the other day. I like it. I’m on the last gen 2×10 SRAM Red right now, and it’s great. I’m going to hold out until ETap has been revised at least once and is available at the Rival level before I consider upgrading.

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Speaking of upgrades… I upgraded a Speed Concept tri bike the other day.

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If you don’t know what #onelessarmadillo is, you are missing out. Check out the Just Riding Along podcast on Mountain Bike Radio, and you’ll also hear about that, as well as the McSnuggie:

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Don’t listen to the podcast if you’re my mom.

Ready to Rock

I think it’s been one of the busiest recovery weeks I can remember. That last Winter Park race was rough- and rightfully so. I basically was lumping race days in with more long training days, recovering during the middle of the week, then repeating the cycle over and over. Each time, the block of training days felt a little harder until finally, right on schedule, I went to race the last XC race, and my body was like, “DUDE, WTF???!?”

So, I took a few days off, and I’ve been riding on a more “normal” schedule since then. I even went for a nice hike on Fairburn Mountain, which is just across the street from my neighborhood. I could hang around in the aspen tunnel all day…

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I also found this in the middle of the woods. No trail, no other sign that people had even been there for a long time-

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Last week, Jessica and John from Texas came through while she was on a big road trip. I showed Jessica my favorite trail in Golden Gate Canyon- the Mountain Lion trail. It’s one of my top 5 favorite descents, ever. There aren’t many people I’d take straight to that trail, because it’s got some rocks, roots, and plenty of places where you can hit your front brake and see those things up close. However, Jess excels at rocks, so I knew she’d be game.

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The next day, we went to Rollinsville Pass. I wanted to show them the train trestle on the Winter Park side, but a storm cloud began gathering and growing as we neared the top. So, in order to avoid the lightning and hail I’d encountered before, we turned back at the Needle’s Eye tunnel.

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Monday, Kenny from Memphis also made a road-trip stop-through. Matt and I rode with him at White Ranch. My legs finally felt like they’ve turned a corner and started to feel really good. I pushed the pace a little on a climb, but kept the ride short and sweet after that. Kenny and Matt went on to ride some more, and I went home to eat and recover in the Elevated Legs.

Side Note- There will be an Elevated Legs squeezing station at Breck Epic. It will cost a little money, but considering how much you’ve invested already if you’re doing the race, it’s chump change. I will be nearly living in my set of Legs when I’m not racing because they really work to get rid of that heavy, dead, post-race feeling. You should check them out for sure.

It’s definitely a tough to balance between recovery and visitors, but I seem to have come through it successfully. It’s a good thing, too, because the ladies’ singlespeed division at Breck Epic is small but strong. I’m full of beet juice and awesome right now, though. I’m also going to be racing this totally kickass bike-

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After the Steve Domahidy episode of JRA (one of the best ever, BTW), I hustled my way in to him letting me borrow one of his Domahidy Designs titanium frames. I put my Pike on it along with all my singlespeed parts, and it rides great. It makes me even more excited for next week.

Adventuring

I put some good time in during the last week. Sunday, I rode with Jon and Tim Lutz. We made he Grand Loop of nearly all the trails in Golden Gate Canyon.

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While I wasn’t feeling particularly fast that day, I was for whatever reason, full of endurance energy. I saw moose for the first time while we were out.

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It was a hair under 30 miles to ride from the shop, and about 5k feet of climbing. The trails out there are pretty great. Lots of ThunderChunk. My favorite. Afterward, the three of us went to a local bar/restaurant and consumed an exorbitant  amount of food.

Monday, I went out for an adventure up high(ish). I have been eyeing a loop that goes up Apex Valley and eventually comes out at Rollinsville Pass Road. I was in the company of thunderstorms all day, though the only time one actually got me, I found a place to hide out for a few minutes while it passed.

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The last two times I’ve scoped the route out, I was thwarted by large amounts of snow. This time, I wasn’t as thwarted, though I still found large-ish amounts of snow. The first pic is a short push at the top of the big climb of the day (about 10.5k’ elevation).

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On the other side, I was hopeful that it’d be pretty clear

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That wasn’t the case, though

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I did eventually get to Rollinsville Pass Road. After tourist-ing around at the Moffat Tunnel entrance, I decided to see how high I could get up the pass before I hit snow.

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Answer- about 3 miles

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I headed on my way back down to Rollinsville and back south towards the house on another county road. I was greeted at the top with another half mile of snow.

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I’ll probably save riding this loop again for sometime in July. It’s exceptionally gorgeous up there.

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That evening, I saw another moose. He was HUGE and just chilling out in the field behind my house. From what I gather of locals’ information, moose are basically gigantic angry horses on steroids and are not to be messed with. I got close enough to zoom in and get a few pics before retreating from his territory.

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Tuesday morning, I wanted to go on another Apex Valley Road Adventure before work. In the hopes of keeping the ride at non-epic-pre-work length, I planned a route that would keep me somewhat close to the house. I was feeling the previous two days in my legs for sure, so I took it easy up the first climb

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I saw a compact car full of young adults coming down from where I was headed. When I got to my turnoff from the main road, I saw what looked like their camp. They’d left their campfire not actively flaming but still red hot and smoldering. So, I dumped some snow on top of it.

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Turns out, the road I wanted to take was uphill and covered in snow.

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So, I tried to find the same road on the other side of the mountain, where it’d be downhill and covered in snow (way easier to hike through). However, all I did was get pretty lost. The jeep road I was snow-hike-a-biking on just ended at a creek. So, I bushwhack-hike-a-biked down the mountain to a county road I could take back home. Once I was at the road, I stopped to gather my thoughts.

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I can get in to more shit on a three hour bike ride than what most people will get into during their entire lives. This place is amazing like that. There’s basically endless access to getting “lost” in the mountains around here. It’s awesomely soul-cleansing.

 

 

Lower Porcupine Rim Handicap World Cup Race

Jakub and I wanted to do some sort of a shorter and more intense ride on Monday morning so we could hit the road and be home at a decent hour ahead of some of the Memorial Day traffic. He had the idea of riding the lower portion of Porcupine Rim that you access from a jeep road turnoff about 5-6 miles up Sand Flats Road (if you were doing the “real” Lower Porcupine, you’d go 7-8 miles up, and for Upper Porcupine, you’d go 9 miles up Sand Flats and turn left for another 20ish minute climb up the Kokopelli Trail). He said he could do the lower loop in just three hours.

I had the idea of starting ahead of him and, at first assuming he’d catch me somewhere along the way. He wanted to give me a 25 minute lead since, on the second day of the trip (when I was having a bad time), he’d caught up to me on Sand Flats with me getting a 20 minute head start. However, I started to joke with him about the possibility of his not catching me.

Just a note about Jakub… he’s raced World Cup races for the Czech Republic. He’s fast. Really fast. He’s also young and hasn’t fully grasped the concept of Old Woman Power… something I’m just beginning to tap in to.

I played some head games with him-

Me: You want to hide the car keys here since I’m going to get back here ahead of you?
Jakub: Oh, yeah, sure
Me: What, you’re doubting yourself now?

It went on for most of the morning until I rolled out of camp at 7:55am.

I didn’t totally hammer… even the “short” loop was a long climb, the last few miles of which are a steppy, steep jeep trail. Blowing up early would make that section incredibly difficult.

I was watching my Garmin to note where I was on the climb at 8:20am. Then, my Garmin ran out of batteries somewhere around 8:40am. I’d just have to pace myself off of feel. I ate a couple of Gu Roctane gels on the way up. Side note- it’s not often that you’re gonna read me straight up schilling my sponsors, because honestly, that’s pretty obnoxious and transparent to read. However… Holy crap does Roctane give you a boost for the sort of intensity I was turning out. Seriously- it makes a hard effort feel less tiring. I’d be happy to give anyone a couple out of my own stock for you to try during your next interval workout. It takes normal energy gel to a whole ‘nother level.

I made it to the jeep road turnoff and the road behind me was still empty. I allowed my intensity to creep up just a little, because I knew that if I could rock the techy stuff, it’d keep me ahead. Along the way, I told a group of people to chant “USA” at Jakub when he chased by them. I reached the end of the jeep road at its intersection of the Porcupine Rim trail, and still no Jakub. I stopped and donned my knee pads.

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Most people take a picture of what’s behind me here, because it’s gorgeous. Duty calls, though.

From there, it’s a little bit rollling before the trail goes mostly downhill. I hammered it out and let loose as much as I was willing. At that point, I knew the trail well enough to know where the scary stuff was and where I could go all out. I only looked back a couple of times, and no Jakub. I actually got just a little worried that he’d wrecked in his chasing. The last part of the trail gets a little hairy with some ledges and exposure. I was sure that I’d get caught there, but, lo and behold… I made it to the bike tunnel at the bottom, still ahead.

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I checked the time (10:52am), took my picture, rolled through, and sat down on the rocks on the other side to take my knee pads off and eat a snack. About the time I was getting up to roll back to camp, Jakub came through the tunnel (10:57am). He’d gone all out. We high-fived and rolled back kinda easy on the bike path.

Perfect wrap-up for the trip. I’m finally feeling some fitness coming back. Not being able to go back and look at power numbers for the ride is a little disappointing, but I could tell on the harder jeep road stuff that my legs still had some juice, even after a 5 mile road climb. My descending is still just OK. Being alone that day, I took all of the “easier” options down the trail and avoided what drops I could. I gotta work on that.

More Moab!

With no end in sight to the rainy Colorado weather, 92Fifty shop-owner Jon Davis and I made an executive decision that we needed to go to Moab memorial day weekend and train where the weather was nice. Looking back, the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend was unfortunate. Jakub decided he’d join in for the weekend, and I rode over with him Thursday evening with the intention of grabbing a cheap, out-of-town campsite for Jon to park the shop Sprinter van in for the weekend.

Unfortunately, Thursday evening, the only out-of town openings we found were at a private place on Kane Creek road… the same price as being in town, but with no phone service, running water, showers, and located on a road that made me nervous with traffic. So, we found a spot in overflow camping at the Slick Rock RV Park/Campground in town. It was packed, but the conveniences balanced out the fact that people like to celebrate Memorial Day by being drunken jackasses. Jakub and I ended up camping there for the weekend, and Jon opted for the Kane Creek spot when he arrived Friday morning.

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I figured out over the weekend why I have a subconscious avoidance of camping. It’s not that I don’t like sleeping in a tent and not having a kitchen close by. It’s that campgrounds (even when they aren’t Memorial Day-packed) are basically a showcase of how much people DGAF about other people. Late night noise being offender #1. Friday night, there were people having an actual dance party with loud music and louder talking and yelling. They were surprised when they were asked to stop doing that. The same went for the Saturday night group sitting around the campfire yelling and laughing about 20 feet from my tent (and closer to others’ tents). I had to ask them to be quiet at 2am. They at least got quiet enough that my ear plugs could muffle their voices and bottle clanking.

I digress…

Despite my campground complaints, the trails in Moab were as amazing as ever, and it was rad to have my new Mach 6 out in some chunky gnarly stuff. Friday, Jakub and I rode the Pipe Dream trail behind town before meeting up with Jon to ride Hymasa and Ahab. Between sleep deprivation and tired legs, I was having a hard time. I ended up wrecking on Ahab because I attempted to ride down a steep pile of rocks without enough speed. I was basically OK, but at that point, I was ready to be finished riding for the day. I made it back without any more bobbles, and Jakub and I drowned our post long ride hunger with a burger and fries from Milt’s.

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P.S. Milt’s has delicious food- grass fed burgers, hand cut fries, and milkshakes… cheaper than most places in town, too.

Saturday, my sleep deprivation and tired legs were still haunting me. We all rode Porcupine Rim, though I basically rode slow enough up Sand Flats road that I let everyone else go ahead of me (on purpose). I was in one of those moods where I didn’t want to be around anyone… for their sake and mine. I told Jon to go on without me and I’d feel way better once I was at the bottom of the trail. It did result in a cool picture of a roadside memorial I hadn’t seen on other trips up-

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Once I was up the climb and on the trail, I happened upon Anthony (from the 92Fifty shop team) who was trying to help a woman trailside with her wheel. She’d flatted her rear tire, and, in the process of changing the tube, she’d removed her quick release skewer. Somehow, something had become lodged inside the axle of the wheel, and she couldn’t get the skewer back through the wheel. I stopped to help. I examined it while Anthony gave the two ladies directions for walking out several miles down a gnarly jeep road to get back to Sand Flats to hitch a ride back to town.

“Anthony, hand me a rock.”

-Anthony hands me a golfball-sized rock-

“No, like a hammering-sized rock”

-Anthony hands me a rock larger than my hand-

Figuring that it wasn’t going to get any more broken than it already was, I put the skewer in the wheel as far as it would go and gave it a few hard whacks with the rock. Something popped out and bounced down the trail on about the 4th hit. I raised the rock and the “fixed” wheel into the air and yelled “I AM THE GREATEST MECHANIC IN THE WORLD!” The women took my photo, and, once I made sure that they were going to be alright, I kept motoring down the trail.

By the time I got to this spot just a few miles from the bottom, I was feeling way better.

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My mood was definitely improved, even if my legs were still a little iffy.

The following day, I met up with Shane and Ky to go on a Portal trail adventure. It’s possible to start such an adventure with a long climb from town, but we opted for a shuttle instead.

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We started from the Mag 7 trails, then went on to the Gold Bar and Portal Trails. Along the way, we had to hide under a rock to escape a random rain shower.

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The Gold Bar Rim trail (formerly known as the “Blue Dot Trail” before it was “legalized”) is super fun. It’s got a few A and B lines marked, and a few tricky spots that warranted a look/go back ride. It gets hairy in a few spots, and the trail masters of Moab want to make sure that no one gets in over their heads.

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The views up there are some of the best in Moab. You can basically see everywhere else you ride.

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From Gold Bar Rim, the trail ends up at Portal, which begins with about a mile of extreme exposure. I walked a lot, because the consequence there isn’t a banged up knee or elbow, it’s death.

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After that section, the trail plummets down dusty, sandy, rocky, chunky goodness. My specialty. Having a toned-down downhill bike in the Mach 6 basically means I was limited only by my use of brakes and my inability to negotiate left-hand switchbacks.

I made it safely to the bottom and took a pic with a Mountain Bike Radio sticker.

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Now, I need to stop typing and get to yoga class. You’ll have to wait until the weekend to read about the first annual Porcupine Rim World Cup Handicap Race.