Adventure Dump #1

Re-occurring three day weekends are one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced. You’d think with all that time, I’d be able to post here more regularly, but the opposite happens- I venture out into the backcountry and make more adventures than I could ever describe in the small amount of time that I make to sit down and stop moving for a few minutes.

The month of June is a micro-shoulder season around Salida. The low trails are hot and dusty, but the high country is still snowy and wet. I spent a lot of time scouting up Marshall Pass and riding “backwards” on the Monarch Crest Trail as far as the snow drifts would allow.

IMG_1188

Sometimes I have a hard time stopping to take photos because the iphone will never, ever really capture how amazing the scenery I’m looking at really is. If you look at any of these, just imagine them being 10x more awesome in person than how they appear on your screen.

June is also Tour Divide and American Trail Race season at the shop. The two cross-country routes meet up just north of Salida and share a path through town, staying together until they’re over Marshall Pass. The leaders of both races rode through town within about two hours of each other. If you follow my instagram account, you’ve seen the multiple drivetrain replacements I’ve performed for riders on both courses.

Pro tip- if you’re racing across country, start with a new drivetrain, brake pads, and tires.

One of our Just Riding Along show listeners is a member of a group of gravel riders in Kansas. They have a friend on the Divide route, and wanted to send him a beer via the shop. In keeping with the ethics of self supported racing, if they wanted to do that, then all riders had to have access to a beer at the shop. So, he paypal-ed me a few bucks for beer, and we’ve been offering it to every rider that comes through the shop. I also spent a day on the route up the north side of town offering beers to racers I found on course.

This was my “waiting” spot on the last hill that racers climbed before descending into Salida. Soon after I set up there, I met a couple who were northbound Divide riders. They passed on the beer, but stopped to chat a few minutes before heading off.

IMG_1285

Looking at the Trackleaders site, I could tell I had at least an hour or more before the next rider was through, so I went off in search of a forest road I’d seen on a map that looked like it’d connect to make a loop back to my beer spot. I found the road…

IMG_1286

I also found out that the Everett Cattle Company effs up everything in that area…

IMG_1287

Basically every secondary numbered forest road north of Salida has one of these signs on it. Highly disappointing.

I went back up the hill to wait on the next rider. He showed up after a while and was pleasantly surprised for the beer handup.

IMG_1290

That same weekend, I decided to explore a 4×4 road I’d seen on a map (basically how most of my adventures start). County/Forest road 240 goes into the mountains from Maysville (on highway 50) and ends at Billings Lake. I took the Colorado Trail to 240 in order to skip riding up Highway 50 (though I did end up riding down it to get home)

Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1052441531

The section of Colorado Trail from Blanks Cabin to 240 is gorgeous and flowy (with a slightly hairy descent at the end). On the way to the trail, I could see my destination in the distance- the low spot in the mountain horizon just to the left of the cow’s head.

IMG_1303

The CT:

IMG_1304

The climb up 240 was tough- about 7 miles of mostly steep and rocky jeep road. However, the scenery at the end was as gorgeous as the climb was difficult.

Along the way, you pass an old trail that goes up the backside of Shavano. Gonna have to explore that one.

IMG_1305

Stay right for maximum mountain enjoyment:

IMG_1306

The area at the end of the road is covered in old mine remains. I’d love to find out more about the history of that spot. You can see the road I came in on to the left of the lake in the first pic-

 

IMG_1307

IMG_1308

IMG_1314

IMG_1315

IMG_1318

IMG_1319

The opportunities to explore the mountains around here are nearly endless. I spend literal hours looking at a topographical map, then cross-referencing it to strava heatmaps and local trail maps to try and determine if what I’m looking at actually exists as a road or trail. I want to refer to the resulting rides as “Epic,” but that term has become pretty watered down by people whose idea of adventure is a zipline tour or ski resort.

In my next installment, I go higher.

 

 

 

 

Over the Rainbow (again)

Since my days off from the shop are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I have quickly formed a tendency to do something a little “out there” on Thursdays, despite having a race on Saturday. Last week, it was another Rainbow Trail adventure.

If you recall from a recent post, I explored a section of the Rainbow Trail that people generally avoid due to an extended hike-a-bike. After figuring out that I’d gone the “wrong” direction before, I decided to go the other way on this outing.

The skies had been a little threatening most of the morning before I left, but I decided to pack a rain jacket and take my chances anyway. The trails here are super dry now, and any moisture that falls gets soaked up super fast. I headed up county road 110, hitting the Double Rainbow trail along the way. Once I made it to the Rainbow Trail, I started the walk.

IMG_1084

There are a couple of spots you can ride, but they are brief.

IMG_1086

It rained steadily for about half of the hike up. I was prepared, though, and thoroughly enjoyed being at the top of Poncha Mountain at the exact time that the sun re-emerged.

IMG_1089

The aspens up there are hardly believable.

IMG_1087

I have no pictures from the descent, because I was having too much fun. I will say, though, the view of Mt. Ouray on the way down nearly wrecked me with distraction.

The Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1016899299

I bonked a little on the way home and drank the last of Leah’s almond milk in a recovery shake so I wouldn’t die all the way before I was able to make real food. A ride that includes two and a half hours of climbing isn’t my usual “thursday before a race” routine, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Rainbow Trail- Over the Hump

I raced the Gunnison Growler on Sunday (the 28th), but that’s another post.

At the bike shop, I work 4 days (Sunday-Wednesday), then I have 3 days off. That leaves the 3 day weekend to do some big adventures and whatnot. On Saturday, roommate/co-worker Leah and I rode out to the south/west end of the Rainbow Trail.

IMG_0975

It had snowed earlier in the week, so everything above 9ksomething feet in the shade was patchy snowy. It made for some sketchy wet rocks & roots in spots as well as some cool scenery.

IMG_0976 IMG_0977

As it dropped out of the woods, it turned beautiful and dry.

IMG_0978

There’s a section of Rainbow Trail that, since I started visiting Salida, I’ve been told is no fun because it’s blown out, steep, and hike-a-bikey (the trail is open to motorcycles, so it definitely gets loose). Since I was there, and I didn’t have much else to do that day, I figured I’d try it out.

IMG_0979

I was able to ride about the first half of the climb up. As the summer progresses and it gets drier & more moto-trafficked, there will be some spots I rode that won’t be as rideable. The second half is a lot steeper and rockier. I was getting really excited that the other side of “the hump” (the local name for that part of the trail) would be a fun, techy descent much like the stuff I was hiking.

IMG_0980

IMG_0981

IMG_0982

The top of the hump is somewhere around 10k feet, so there was a good bit of slushy snow and water. I eventually made it to the spot where the trail seemed to drop straight off the mountain.

IMG_0984

I was mildly disappointed when I found that the descent was nothing like the climb. It was all gravel & sand surfing. So, next time, I’ll definitely go the other direction and hike up the gravely side and descend the fun side.

I kept riding to county road 108 and descended back down to town. Here’s the Strava file for it:

https://www.strava.com/activities/997741104

It was about 6 hours, door-to-door, so I was stoked to eat a two-person-sized serving of tacos for dinner.

IMG_0986

Adventure number one of many.

Battle the Bear and a Move to the Mountains

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

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

brap

bearcreekpodium

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

At least I won the podium jorts competition.

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

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

cotonwood

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

182 175

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

walmar

surly

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

182 175

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

shine

 

 

 

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

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

SOLD!

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

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

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

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

Pics:

DSC_7477 DSC_7478 DSC_7479 DSC_7481 DSC_7484 DSC_7488 DSC_7487 DSC_7486 DSC_7485 DSC_7483 DSC_7482 DSC_7480

East-Bound and Down

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

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

img_0311

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

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

img_0312

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

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

img_0315

img_0317

Obligatory Thanksgiving Dinner photos-

img_0316

img_0319

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

img_0326

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

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

img_0343

 

Boulder Gravel Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

img_0238

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

img_0239

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

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

FSR 116:

img_0242

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

img_0243

img_0244

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

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

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

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

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

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.

IMG_9886

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:

IMG_9887

IMG_9890

IMG_9891

IMG_9892

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

IMG_9895

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

IMG_9898

IMG_9899

IMG_9900

IMG_9902

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…

IMG_9904

IMG_9905

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.

IMG_9906

IMG_9908

IMG_9915

IMG_9919

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.

IMG_9920

IMG_9921

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.

IMG_9922

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.

IMG_9924

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

IMG_9925

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.

IMG_9809 (Copy)

Random bike…

IMG_9810 (Copy)

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?

IMG_9802 (Copy)

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.

IMG_9866

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.

wrngler

 

 

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.

IMG_9711

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:

IMG_9765

IMG_9766

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

IMG_9774

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

IMG_9773

Spot the cairns #1:

IMG_9772

Some hike-a-bike:

IMG_9771

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

IMG_9770

IMG_9768

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

IMG_9776

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:

IMG_9777

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…

IMG_9760

IMG_9761

…not trying to brag with the postcard pics…

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