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.

 

Cyclocross Bike for Sale and More Birthday Stuff

First off, my Cannondale SuperX is for sale. It’s been my super-awesome cyclocross bike for a few years, and, since I’m not all that in to cyclocross any more, I need to off-load it to offset the cost of the Mach 6. It’s a 52cm with SRAM Red shifters and rear derailleur, a Force front derailleur (works way better than the Red on CX rings), Rival Crank, Mavic Askium Wheels, TRP V-Brakes (way more power than Cantilevers), Zipp Alloy Bar, FSA Stem, Thompson Masterpiece Seatpost, Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tires (almost new), Blacburn Carbon Cages, full run rear cable housing (keeps the mud out), Custom Top Tube sticker.

$1800, shipped anywhere in the lower 48

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Speaking of the Mach 6, it’s every bit of fun and more than I was expecting. I rode some pretty burly trail on Sunday in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, and it’s basically just point and go… as long as whatever you hit isn’t big enough to just totally stop you, the bike rolls over it like it’s a golf ball. This pic is from the Snowshoe Hare trail, which is steep and covered in rocks and roots. Everything is a line on the Mach 6.

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I got to ride it twice in Golden Gate before this happened:

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According to locals, snow this late is pretty crazy. The forecast for this week is calling for more cold and rainy days, so, naturally, that means it’s time to pack up the 92Fifty Train and head to Moab.

Indy got a birthday present that he enjoys as much as I’m loving the Mach 6:

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In other birthday-related news, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a bank in Nederland to open an account. There was a display of paintings by an artist named Heather Taylor, and, while I sat there, I couldn’t stop looking at one of them. I found out the price for it and thought it was a little more than I should be spending at the time (not that it was overpriced… I can’t stand it when people complain about the price of art. I’m just saying I didn’t have the extra cash at the time). The painting stuck with me, though. I found myself thinking about the bright colors and the way she interpreted the scenery that I love out here in the mountains.

Then, my birthday rolled around. Not only did I have a nice birthday dinner, but I also got some birthday cash from my family. So, I went and picked up the painting I loved.

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It makes me smile a little whenever I look at it.

I know a lot of women dread getting older. That’s silly. I look at ladies like Sue Haywood, Selene Yeager, and Rebecca Rusch (just to name a few off the top of my head) who are all in their 40s and totally killing it, and I get excited for what’s to come.

Birthday Awesomeness

Friday was my 34th birthday. It’s been a pretty great birthday week. Tuesday, I got a tracking number for my Mach 6 that showed it arriving in Black Hawk on Thursday. So, Thursday morning, I set off on a “explore/kill some time” adventure so that I wouldn’t sit in the driveway watching for the FedEx truck. I ventured out on some gravel roads that were pretty amazing. They ranged from graded/maintained county roads to single-lane, rock-laden jeep road through old gold mine areas north of Idaho Springs. The views over the valley that I70 runs through are huge.

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There are a lot of options to explore out there…

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My bike was at the shop when I arrived back at home. I cleaned up, ate, and went to go start the assembly while waiting for Matt to arrive for a little birthday dinner and JRA show recording. I got most of the parts hung. I was somewhat awestruck by the size of the fork. Funny “first big bike” moment… I went to bolt the front brake caliper on, and was like, “damnit, they didn’t send me a 180mm brake adapter.” Then, I realized that the fork’s posts are already sized for a 180mm rotor.

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Once the parts were somewhat assembled, I went back to the house to meet Matt and have birthday dinner. Jon and Kathy have really made me feel at home since I moved out here. Warm and fuzzy feels all around. After dinner, we recorded a JRA show that involved possibly the most technical difficulties of any of our shows.

Friday morning, I finished assembly of my bike, and yesterday I took it our for a first ride in Golden Gate State Park.

Initial thoughts?

I still dislike DT Swiss Hub’s engagement, and I can’t wait for my I9 wheels to arrive. The Mach 6 is made with a low bottom bracket, so you have to time your pedaling over rocks to avoid pedal strikes. The slow engagement of the DT Swiss hub makes ratchet-pedaling somewhat ineffective. However, the durability and ease of maintenance is preferable to the hub that require this box of proprietary uni-tasking crap to service:

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Side Note- If the going shop labor rate is $85 an hour, A DT Swiss freehub service costs $15, and Chris King service costs $40 labor.

Also, I’ve still got to tweak the front end fit a little and work on my own techy-climbing skill. It’s not easy keeping all that front end planted on the ground and moving in a straight line. I do like the 740mm bars, though today I’m going to try moving them down a spacer. My RaceFace 35 bar came in Friday, but I don’t have the 35 clamp stem yet. It’s slightly wider (760mm vs 740mm) and less rise (10mm vs 20mm), and I’ll also have both 50mm and 65mm Atlas 35 stems in the shop to test out (currently using a 60mm that came with the bike). It’s going to be a bit of a process figuring out the balance between the long/low-ish fit I’m used to and the short/high fit preferred by all who descend at a high rate of speed.

I am very glad I went with the medium frame, though. Even the 60mm stem feels like my bars are in my lap. A small would allow me to use a longer dropper post, but I can’t imagine ever being comfortable on something with a shorter reach. With stems coming in basically any size (including 0mm), I won’t ever run out of shorter options if I decide I need my bars even more in my lap.

Oh yeah, and, despite my feeling awkward climbing on my new bike, as soon as the trail is downhill… oh. my. GAWD. It fits my “pick any line” sort of style. Foot and bike traffic has created curves a foot or two each direction around beds of rocks, and it’s just like, “NOPE, I LIKE GOING IN A STRAIGHT LINE HERE.” It’s amazingly smooth and way more capable of going faster than my current skill allows.

I’m going to have a good time growing in to this bike.

The trails at Golden Gate Canyon are like Syllamo at 9-10k of altitude. Lots of rocks, steeps, and beautiful views… and it’s all basically in my back yard.

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Sunday Morning Pain Train

My Moab adventure didn’t end on Saturday. The Colorado mountains were slated to get ~1 foot of snow Saturday night and in to early Sunday, and I knew that I70 had the potential to be terrible. I talked to a few enduro people about riding Sunday morning with the idea of hanging around until later in the day for the roads to clear and had some possible ride options. Another option was to join Tim Lutz (2nd place finisher of the CTR last year) for a long ride of some sort.

As I’d expected, the mountains were angry Saturday morning

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I was sitting around in my yoga pants drinking coffee and enjoying the scenery when Macky and Syd messaged me to let me know they were headed to the trail.

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I didn’t want to make them wait, so I decided to catch the Tim Lutz pain train on its way through town (he’d started riding early that morning from his camp north of town and would be passing through Moab on his way up Sand Flats Road about 25-30miles later). Tim’s plan was to do a loop similar to what I’d done last time, linking together the Slick Rock and Porcupine Rim Trails. I met him at the bottom of Sand Flats Road (which takes you to both places), and we were off into the mountains.

This is the part where I realize that I’ve gotten a little soft. I haven’t really been “training” per se, more like riding and taking lots of photos and/or socializing. Basically, I’ve been tooling around and taking lots of pause to enjoy scenery since sometime last fall. So, once we were on the Slick Rock Trail, I felt like I was dying just a little. Tim doesn’t stop much. And, when he does, it’s for seconds. Like this <1min clothing change:

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That trail is basically a collection of 30sec-1min steep as hell climbs and descents. My dropper post stopped returning before the final race stage the day before, so I was forced to either not use it or to use it and stop to yank it up by hand once I was down whatever I was descending. Even though Tim was going “I’m not going to burn any matches today” ‘speed, my matchbook was set ablaze and mostly charcoal by the time we finished.

The ~1min bathroom break:

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Once we were on Sand Flats Road headed up towards Porcupine Rim, Tim said he needed to lube his chain. In my head, that was worth at least two minutes. Nope. World’s fastest chain lubing:

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In my head, I gave myself a little tough love, ate a Roctane, and resolved to this being the hardest training day I’d put in for the past few months. I needed it.

Instead of going all the way up to the Upper Porc Rim trail on Sand Flats Road, we turned off about halfway up and went up a jeep road climb to Lower Porc Rim.

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It intersected the Porcupine Rim Trail at a really nice overlook.

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We hauled ass on the way down. That’s the 3rd time I’ve ridden that trail now, and every time, I ride a little more and go a little faster (though, I purposefully didn’t hit the “big” drop I’d accidentally done the previous ride on the Mach 6). Not only is Tim a total machine, endurance-wise, he’s excellent at handling a bike as well.

At the bottom of the trail, we split and went to change before meeting back up for food. Apparently, his post-ride appetite rivals that of Matt’s. I was wonderfully exhausted and enjoyed doing mostly nothing for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday morning, the roads looked to be clear. I packed up and went to gather little Indy (happy birthday, Old Man… he turned 15 just a couple of days ago!) from Karen’s Canine Camp. I snapped a pic of Karen and all the other little dogs who he made friends with while he was there:

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My plan worked well. The snow was well-melted and traffic was moving smoothly. I went to the shop Monday afternoon and gave my bike a once-over. The brakes had felt funny a couple of times. It probably had to do with the boiled mineral oil inside of them.

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I also found out that 24 PSI still isn’t enough:

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It still holds air like a champ, though. I trued it and I’m gonna keep rocking it for the forseeable future. I will be somewhat more prepared for the next race. My kneepads came in while I was gone-

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And, my Mach 6 is on the truck RIGHT NOW for delivery! Also on its way, a carbon Enduro wheelset from Industry Nine and a RaceFace 35 Bar and Stem. I haven’t been this excited about a new bike for a very long time.

Creeping Spring

It seems like cool shit happens at a pace at which I can’t keep up with, blogging-wise.

Basically, outside of the shop hours, I’m riding either the back roads around Gilpin County, or I’m making the 30-45 minute drive to the lower altitude/not-snow-covered trails in the Golden area.

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Following the Sno-Ab snowstorm, the weather was nice again for a little while, then we had another small storm come through that dropped 3-4 inches of wet snow in the higher areas. Case in point- I went to yoga in Nederland, about 1000 feet lower in elevation than the bike shop, and the snow was melting immediately when I went in to class at 9:00 and was straight rain when I left class 1.5 hours later.

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Back up at the house, the snow had stayed steady.

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So, even though the weather seems to be slowly cranking over towards a Spring-like pattern, the trails up here are still a bit too snowy to ride. I went out on the road bike and showed Matt a fun pavement/gravel ride from the shop. He didn’t seem to embrace the thin mountain air in the same manner as I have.

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There’s another less road-bike friendly loop from the house that climbs towards Idaho Springs. I rode the short version early last week and hit the climbs pretty hard to see how I’ve improved since I first moved here. I’m doing about 15 watts better on average for the two significant climbs along the route. The snow was gorgeous, so I took a photo in the cemetery at the top of the long-ish dirt climb from Black Hawk up to Golden Gate Canyon Road.

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Thursday, Jon and I went out on a “let’s see how far this road goes until it’s covered in snow” exploratory ride. We actually made it all the way past where the snow was thickest and got back to some maintained roads. We tried to get to Idaho Springs from a long descent off the mountain, but the shoulder of I70 was closed for construction, and we ended up having to climb back up the 1800ft we’d just descended at 35-40mph. If this makes absolutely no sense, you can see the route/elevation profile here: https://www.strava.com/activities/295637310

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This backroads-wandering mule is my current spirit animal.

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Riding trails down the mountain is equally as fun as exploring and getting lost on backroads. I’ve met Matt (who lives in Lakewood now) a handful of times, and it seems we always end up riding the Apex Park trails. We mapped out one ride from his place to Lookout Mountain and back that took us up the Chimney Gulch trail and down the Apex trail.

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Along the way, he got too buck on too little air pressure and cracked his rear rim.

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That sucks pretty hard, though it did mean that he volunteered to play photographer since he couldn’t continue to get buck on his cracked rim.

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I met him and some of the other dudes from Wheat Ridge Cyclery Saturday evening for a “go hard, then stop for beer repeatedly” ride. It was short, and we were probably stopped for an equal amount of time as we were moving, but it was a good leg burner and downhill practice that netted me three downhill QOMs on Strava. It makes me even more excited to get the Mach 6 on order (happening this afternoon if everything goes according to plan).

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Sunday, I rode with Shane and Ky at Buffalo Creek (the same friends I rode Devils Backbone with not too long ago). The trail is tons of fun, and I’m lucky to have met some really cool people to hang out with.

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Currently, it’s cold and rainy (but not snowy!). However, warmer days are trying to creep in a little at a time. Indy enjoyed the brief period of sunny/62 on Saturday in his pen behind the shop.

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He’s also made friends with Ky’s little doggie, Agnes.

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He plays as much as a little old man can (he’s turning 15 in a handful of days) before passing out somewhere in or around his bed.

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Just a few more days and I’ll be back in Moab for my first out-West enduro! http://endurocupmtb.com/moab-may-9/

Nervousness abounds.

Adventures in Snowab

Holy bejesus. So much went on in the last week…

So, a week ago yesterday, there was a winter storm moving in to my area (remember in my last post how the man named Smith told me it was gonna be a big one?) I managed to squeeze in a ride at Centennial Cone before the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in. It’s a nice trail. Exposure still kills my confidence, though.

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I fully planned to gtfo on Friday morning and spend some quality time in Moab enjoy not being in the snow. However, by Thursday afternoon, it was already snowing pretty hard.

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By Friday morning, there was about a foot on the ground, and I wasn’t really sure what to do. It just kept falling, and I sort of wanted to yell at the sky to stop sending the snow down. I’d never seen more than a few inches of snow, so it blew my mind just a little.

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I shoveled out around my car so that I could possibly pack it, but, alas, the snow piled right on back in there.

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According to experts, you can’t drive in snow that deep unless your car is actually a lifted truck. However, eventually, a snow plow came along, and I was able to get out and start the long weekend journey. The snowplow driver probably wondered wtf was wrong with me while I stood with my mouth somewhat agape taking pictures like a tourist.

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Lesson learned… if you want to get to the desert and avoid snow, you should leave for the desert ahead of said snow.

It wasn’t all bad that I started my trip a day late, because apparently there was a good bit of rain in Moab on my original arrival day. I got in Saturday afternoon and dropped Indy off at Karen’s Canine Campground (side note- if you have a dog and vacation in Moab, she’s wonderful. Indy got the special little old dog treatment, meaning he stayed in her house and got to sleep in the bed) I checked in to the hostel (side note #2- a dorm bed is $11 a night, and you’re getting exactly what you pay for) and went for a quick ride on the Pipe Dream trail that runs basically parallel to town.

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Oh yeah… I forgot to mention. I took the shop’s Mach 6 demo bike. Spoiler alert- I’m shopping for one of my own already.

Sunday I wanted to ride all day. I’d never seen the iconic Slickrock Trail, and I noticed that it was on the way up to the top of the Porcupine Rim trail, which I’d ridden last time and wanted to try out on the Mach 6. So, I packed up and started my way up Sand Flats Road.

I don’t believe much that isn’t backed by peer-reviewed research. However, I do firmly believe in Trail Karma. I had no real trail karma in the bank for Moab, so, as I entered the Sand Flats Recreation Area, I paid my $2 day-use charge and also handed the attendant an extra two dollars and said it was for the next person who came through on a bike. He was a little confused at first, wondering if there was someone I knew coming through close behind me, but he quickly figured out that I was just being nice.

The Slickrock trail was cool. I highly suggest stopping in the parking lot and reading up on the history of the trail. It’s basically how mountain bikes came to Moab in the first place- people were attracted to the uniqueness of a trail that was almost all rock surface.

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Note the distance between me and the La Sal mountains in the background of that last photo…

After a lap of the Slickrock Trail, I headed up the miles of climbing on Sand Flats Road to get to Upper Porcupine. My chain was squeaking and tweeting at me. Everyone out here uses dry lube because of the dust. I’m not accustomed to having to re-apply chain lube more often than I wash my bike, so it came as a surprise that a cumulative 4 hours of riding had left my chain in such a state. Lucky for me, the trail passed through several campground areas, and I saw a guy with bikes close to the road. He let me use some of his chain lube, and I was on my way.

The timing of my ride couldn’t have been more perfect. All of the shop shuttles to Porcupine Rim had passed through already, so there was hardly any traffic. Also, the rain had knocked the dust down a good bit, too. There’s an open air vault toilet along the way.

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Somewhere after about an hour of climbing, I was starting to get a little tired. A mile or two from the entrance to the Lower Porcupine trail, a truck passed me. They had bikes over the tailgate and had used a yoga mat for padding… only, the yoga mat slipped out just as they were passing me. I yelled and waved at them, but to no avail. So, I picked it up, rolled it tightly, and stuck it in my pack as best I could. I figured they were either parking and all riding down the trail, in which case, I’d toss the mat in their truck when I found it, OR, their shuttle guy would be driving back down at some point.

I reached the lower porcupine parking area and didn’t see the truck immediately. I stopped to eat a snack, and just a few seconds later, dude was rolling through and saw me waving his yoga mat at him. He stopped, we chatted for a minute, and he offered to give me a ride the last mile or so up to the Upper trail. I was tired, and it’d already been a little over 4 hours, so I was happy to take a break before hitting the long trail down (which is actually another 20 minutes or so of climbing on a steep, kinda muddy section of the Kokopelli trail). When you come over the last hump to the trail, the mountains are huge and looming.

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At first I was a little tentative on the technical trail features. One thing about this bike is that the bottom bracket is lower than what I’m used to. So, I had to really concentrate on not pedal striking. To complicate that issue, I’m used to Industry 9 wheels, which are way awesome for ratchet-pedaling over and through dicey spots. DT Swiss hubs may be great quality and all, but their engagement is junk once you’ve ridden I9s (don’t even talk to me about the star-ratchet upgrade… still not the same thing).

I eventually got the hang of the bigger travel bike and was confidently launching baby 1-2ft drops. Then, I happened upon this:

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Ok, so that’s huge (by my standards). I basically reached the point at which you either need to stop safely or maintain/increase speed and thought that it was not that tall and put in a couple of big pedal strokes before realizing near the edge that it was about a foot out of my comfort zone. At the spot where I realized how far down it was, if I’d hit the brakes, I basically would have fallen front wheel/head first down the ledge, so I committed as if I actually knew what I was doing.

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I landed and nearly rolled away giggling before realizing I needed to turn around and get a picture of that shit. The trail was amazing most of the way down. That’s the sort of singletrack that, every time you ride it, it gets a little more fun. Pretty soon, I was at the techy, exposed area that makes me walk out of fear of rolling off the cliff. I took the opportunity to get a picture of the Colorado River.

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To top off the greatness of my ride, the canyon was gorgeous and green from all the rain, and I was met with a nice tailwind most of the way back to the hostel.

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That evening, I went to the Moab Brewery and impressed two locals with my ability to put down a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings.

Seeing as it’s close to my bedtime, I’ll save the remainder of the trip for my next post…

The Weekly Update

It’s somewhat difficult to formulate a single train of thought blog post with so many things happening at once, so quickly. Over the last week, I’ve been super busy at the shop, overhauling suspension parts, building bikes, and fixing whatever else walks through the door. Words of advice- don’t get your hand meat caught in the slide on the bearing puller

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Also, Fox forks will randomly break… well before you reach the 50 in-lb torque spec

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In shop stuff that doesn’t suck, I tried out a new XTR drivetrain on a SRAM 10-42 cassette.

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The shifting was OK. Not perfect, though I attribute that in large part to the cassette’s ~2yrs of prior use. I think that the 10t and the 42t are what set SRAM 1x drivetrains apart from anything else, but I love the ergonomics and function of the Shimano shifter, so I’d love to try it out with a new 10-42 and see if it’s what I’m hoping for.

After building the XTR11 bike, the winter shop staff/Enduro kids showed up. They invited me to ride Golden Gate Canyon with them, and we managed to find both nice views and all of the trails that still had a snow pack on top of them. It was a nice, laid-back time that included peanut butter sandwiches and yoga. Only in Colorado can you find 21 year old college bros who can execute “tree pose” on top of a rock while holding a sandwich in one hand.

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Through working on everyone’s bikes, Indy and I have both made some new friends

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Indy and Agnus played until they were both pretty exhausted. Once we were back at home, Indy passed out hard

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Sunday, Ky (from the pic above) and Shane (from the 92Fifty team) invited me to ride with them at a place north of Boulder called Devil’s Backbone. It was a pretty great day of riding and whatnot. Both scenery and company were excellent.

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Afterward, they took me to a place called Georgia Boys to sample Colorado’s interpretation of Southern barbecue. It was slightly less greasy, and I’m pretty sure the collards lacked any hog jowl, but for a place far flung from its roots, it does a good job.

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Yesterday, I planned my own epic solo ride. It was a little overly ambitious… but that’s generally true of some of the best rides. I rode to a place about 12 miles away called White Ranch Open Space. It was… interesting. I’m not really in to trails so steep and used that they necessitate the installation of hundred of water bars, and that’s mostly what this place was.

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It had its high points, though.

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I managed to clean all of the roots and rocks going uphill to the spot in the above pic. By that point, I was so out or breath that I was slightly dizzy.

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The descent in this pic was very rowdy and very fun:

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From there, I headed back towards home, but detoured through Golden Gate Canyon state park. From where I entered the park (~7400ft elevation), it’s almost all climbing up to where I exited (~10k ft) and headed home. Grand total for the day was just over 6000 feet. I’m not usually one to pay a lot of attention to amount of climbing in a ride, but jeez, that wore me out. I felt very much like this:

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Back at the house, I scavenged the pantry and found a bag of pre-cooked/seasoned brown rice and quinoa. I heated it up with leftover easter ham, broccoli, and then put some ranch dip on top. It tasted way better than it looks, I promise.

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I still feel like this guy every time I go up hill

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Today is the last nice day we’ll have for a while.

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While the Weather Channel is only predicting 1-2″ total, I was in a place called Dot’s Diner this morning (after yoga in Nederland) and an older mountain man named Smith told me that it’s highly possible that we’ll have feet of snow. Possible enough, in fact, that he and the waitress discussed how they were getting a few days’ worth of groceries in preparation. Seeing as this place didn’t bat an eyelash at the last 4-6″ that came through (which would have shut Memphis down for 3 days), hearing locals talk about snow-prep makes me think it’s time to batten down hatches and break out the fat bike. Dot’s is a unique little local place, and it was full of older mountain people sharing gossip over coffee and waffles.

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P.S. The biscuit at Dot’s is homemade and the size of three normal biscuits. I ate nearly everything, because I had post back-to-back big ride hunger that was potentially insatiable otherwise

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The Great Snow Adventure

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky”

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This quote from Buddha summarizes my time in The West so far. No one’s life is perfect. No matter how much they make it seem like it through social media and/or social interaction, there’s always some sort of struggle or strife or difficulty. However, there are moments that are absolutely perfect. I’ve taken to engulfing myself in every single one of them.

Sunday after morning yoga (I found a cool studio in Nederland about 20 minutes away), I scoured Google Maps, took some screen shots for later reference, and headed out on a county road that, according to everyone, would, at some point, be covered in snow. I’d never seen a road covered in snow, so I wanted to go to there (Apex Valley Road, going up Dakota Hill, for you local-types).

Most of the way up, the road was dry and in great shape

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Near the top, the road begins to steepen and switchback. There’s a gate that looks as if it’s used to block traffic when the road is snowed in, and it was open. I was passed by a couple of jeeps along the way. As I neared the summit, one of the jeeps was returning. The driver waved at me and said something about turning around at where the road ends at a tower. I knew from the map that the road shouldn’t end, and I knew from scouting Google Earth that there was an offshoot (that wasn’t on the official road map) that would take you to a radio tower from the final switchback. Hmmm…

I continued up, and noticed that the “clear” road straight ahead wasn’t on my garmin map. The road on my map seemed to switchback sharply to the left, where there was no immediately visible road. It literally took me a minute of head scratching and wandering to realize that the 2-3ft tall snowbank to my left was, indeed, the “road” I was looking for. I took this picture from the “corner” of the switchback. On the left, where I came from, and, on the right, where I was going.

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I was pretty giddy at that point. I took a few photos as I hiked and pushed and carried my bike.

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I finally reached the top.

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At that point, the “road” went downhill somewhat steeply (reference the top photo). It was enough of a grade that I dropped my seatpost and coasted down with my feet stuck out wide as outriggers as I drifted side to side. I laughed a lot.

It eventually leveled out a little and I had to hike some more.

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At one point, I thought that the hiking portion of my journey was over

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But then the trail circled more to the north side of the hill, and I walked some more. The snow at that elevation had occasional spots where I’d step and fall through to the bottom, leaving me thigh-deep with my bike on top of me a handful of times.

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I got kind of lost after that. I passed an intersection that was on my Garmin but (unbeknownst to me) not on my map screenshots. I went under a gate that I thought was another “road closed for snow” gate, but then passed a compound-like set of cabins and large tents. Luckily, no one was there, because the next two gates I went under before I reached the main road had large “No Trespassing” signs on the front sides of them (the top one hadn’t had any sort of private property/no trespassing markers). I hightailed it out of there and descended to the highway to get back home. It was only 26 miles, but had taken over 4 hours and included just over 4k feet of climbing (and no telling how much hiking/pushing).

It was exactly the type of adventure I’d been looking for. To top it off even further, when I arrived back at the house, there were Easter Dinner leftovers still warm on the counter. I ate large quantities of food then Indy and I laid back in the Elevated Legs in the RV bed with a sleeve of marshmallow Peeps and my Colorado Trail Databook. I can’t think of many more perfect days than that.

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