Breckenridge 68 Race Report

It’s been a rainy summer here in the mountains. Saturday’s Breck 68 was no exception. I haven’t raced on this exact course since 2010, when it was my first singlespeed 100 (I am glad I don’t have the same strong feelings about the bump in the road that is French Gulch, since that climb is in basically EVERY Breckenridge bike race). I was happy to come back and do it over again with way more experience/fitness/acclimatization and without the 6:00am first lap start up Wheeler Pass.

It rained a lot. I packed the car in the rain, drove in the rain, picked up my race packet in the rain, set up my pit cooler in the rain… you get the idea. Not sprinkles, not storming (yay!), just a constant, steady rain.

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There’s some variation of a quote about there never being bad conditions, just bad clothes. Saturday was no exception. The temperature in Breck was 50. However, on the drive to Breck, the temperature was 42 over Hoosier Pass- an elevation I’d be racing at more than once on course. It had also been raining all week in the mountains, so there was sure to be standing water and high creek crossings on course, even if the rain stopped.

So, I dressed for a day of 40s and rain. It’s really easy to cool off if you overdress and get hot. It’s wayyyyy harder to warm up in those conditions if you get too cold. I saw a lot of people dressed for an hour of 50 and rain. I also saw a lot of people DNF because they were hypothermic. I wore normal summer kit, waterproof socks, rain pants, a real rain jacket, and mid weight gloves. The gloves were my weak point. I don’t own an waterproof gloves. Later I was given the advice to put latex gloves under my normal gloves. That definitely would have been an improvement, given my issues with poor circulation. I also put a few extra things (cap, arm/leg warmers, warm gloves) in plastic bags inside my pack (my Osprey Rev pack with no reservoir) in case the isht really hit the fan, weather-wise. I don’t usually race with a pack, but in this case, it was important to carry the rain clothes if it got warmer and to carry the other stuff if it got colder. It’s a super light piece, so without water in it, it’s hardly noticeable.

I entered the Pro Women’s category because there wasn’t a women’s singlespeed category available at registration. Also, I have been turning course times similar to Pro women, and there’s usually money available for placing. Once the race started, though, I didn’t really pay attention to who was ahead/behind me. I figured it was going to be a long day, and that things would just shake out however as long as I was keeping a good pace.

First order of the course was to climb up to/over French Gulch. I swear that climb is smoother/easier since the first time I did it back in 2010. We descended American Gulch on the other side, where I had flashbacks from Breck Epic 2015 when Sara Sheets and I battled up that climb after trying to kill each other over two other mountain passes. At the bottom, I stopped at the aid station to refill a bottle and swap to dry gloves (the aforementioned bad circulation was biting me in the ass). It took some effort to get the dry gloves on because the muscles controlling my right fingers had basically stopped working, so it was like trying to cram wet noodles into a glove. One of the aid station workers rubbed my hand between hers to get the circulation back, and I was able to manage getting the glove on. It was a bad chunk of time to lose on course, but I feel like it was necessary for my hands to be functional in order for me to continue racing.

The next climb up the Colorado Trail is a tough one with an awesome downhill reward. The toughness level was increased by the number of wet roots on the steep parts. I walked a good bit. That was also the warmest part of my time on course. I removed my rain gear and stuffed it into my pack. At the bottom of an really awesome descent, I filled another bottle and headed out over the last hump of that loop (Tiger Road) before rolling back in to Carter Park and starting loop #2.

At the park, I grabbed my windbreaker out of my stuff. The rain had started alternating on/off, and it was a little windy and chilly, so it felt like the right clothing for the rest of the day. I kept my rain jacket & pants in my pack, because, even though the weather seemed to be improving, it could potentially turn to downpours at any time. I don’t screw around when it comes to weather in the backcountry.

The 2nd loop started with a hard climb up Indiana Creek to Boreas Pass. Again, I had some flashbacks from Breck Epic. Once at the top of Boreas Pass, the course goes down the Gold Dust Trail. It was there, that I had my only wreck of the day on a wet, sketchy, high-speed, off-camber bridge. If you want to hear the details, you have to listen to the latest episode of Just Riding Along. It’s funny in a self-deprecating way.

The Gold Dust Trail seems to go on forever, but I eventually made it to Como, where I fueled up in order to start the long climb back up Boreas Pass. I gathered all of my mental energy and made it my goal to have empty shells of legs at the top of the pass. That worked out really well, because I suddenly found myself approaching the aid station before I was expecting it. I could smell the barn from there, so I hauled ass over the top without stopping.

Somewhere on the last singletrack, another singlespeeder caught up to me. I asked if he wanted to get by, and he mentioned that we were racing each other. I told him that even though I was singlespeed, I was definitely entered in the Pro category. Fun fact of the race I figured out later- I ended up finishing a little less than 1 min behind him. If I had turned on “ludicrous speed” for the last downhill and beaten him instead of staying “conservative” and letting him by, I would have been 2nd singlespeeder of the day behind Dan Durland.

Looking at the results page for just the 68 mile race (not the 100 or the 32), here are your rain/cold Did Not Finish/Start (DNF/DNS) stats:

43 Finishers
4 DNFs during the 1st lap (started the course and quit before the end of the 1st lap)
26 DNFs who finished a 1st lap and didn’t start a 2nd
16 DNSs (people who looked out the window that morning and were like, “Nah”)

Hopefully some of those 46 people can read this and take it as advice on dealing with the weather. I’ve been hypothermic more than once in the middle of summer in Colorado, so I’m coming from a place of lots of personal experiences in doing it wrong.

I ended up 2nd overall woman by about 14 minutes.

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Carbon Drive is really awesome in those conditions. The only complaint about my drivetrain was the freehub on the Stan’s Neo Ultimate rear hub. It was popping/creaking during the race, and making me feel like it was going to catastrophically fail at any point. When I took it apart on Monday, I found that the rubber seal between the hub shell and freehub body had failed to keep mud out. The low points of the drive ring were filled with mud, and the lubricating grease had become mud-fouled as well. I cleaned/re-lubed everything, but I don’t know if it caused permanent damage. After years of Industry Nine reliability, I’m not at all impressed with the performance or reliability of the Neo Ultimate hub.

I’m still pretty shelled from the effort. It was a really nice hard day of training for Vapor Trail 125, though.

Adventure Dump #2- Matt Visits Salida

Before we get started, I just want to mention that the deer in Salida are pretty out of control. They aren’t afraid of people, and sometimes even act aggressively towards pets. They also poop everywhere.

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Now that’s over, time for Adventure Dump #2. Matt came to visit, and since he has been living at sea level since mid-may, I made the riding plans sub-epic (I don’t GAF, I’m taking that word back). It was perfect timing for more reasonable adventure, because I was racing on a duo team for Firecracker 50 the Tuesday following Matt’s visit.

Day 1, we rode Marshall Pass up to the Continental Divide/Colorado Trail to Starvation Creek. Afterwards, we hung out at the river and visited the local shooting range. I’ve shot plenty of shotguns and a rifle or two, but it was my first time shooting a handgun. It’s definitely a little harder to aim.

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Day 2, we rode some Colorado Trail from Blank’s Cabin. The section from Blank’s to the Angel of Shavano Campground is one of my favorites because of the Aspens.

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Day 3 was definitely the raddest. We caught the first shuttle of the year up to the Monarch Crest Trail. I had only ridden the full trail twice- once on my first-ever trip to Salida and once during Vapor Trail 125 (I honestly don’t remember much of the VT125 passage because I’d been riding all night).

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There were still a couple of large snowdrifts to hike over.

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It’s a lot of fun to play around above treeline for a handful of miles on a clear/sunny day.

We stopped at my favorite water refill spot on Marshall Pass. I’ve been using an MSR Trailshot filter and loving it.

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You might notice from the photos that I put the RS1 fork on the 429sl. If you haven’t already heard me talk about it on Just Riding Along, I will say it again here- the RS1 is the cross-country Pike that I’ve always dreamt about. It’s not SID-WC light (weighs in between 1600-1700g), but it’s stiff, plush, and freaking awesome. If you have the $$, and you’re on the fence about it, I say go for it.

The three days of “normal person” adventures was a perfect lead-in to the Firecracker 50 race. I teamed up with Brad Berger- one of my other new-this-season Gates Carbon Drive teammates. He hammered a 2:12 lap, which put me someplace in the top 10 of 65 teams. I managed to reel in some of the ladies ahead of me, but also got passed by Cody (who turned a 2:02 lap)- the dude half of the eventual winners. My lap time was 2:27- fastest of any of the women who were on teams, and comparable to the mid-pack pro times. We ended up in 3rd place… not shabby, considering we were the only SS team on the podium.

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The short/hard effort of XC-distance racing is a good blast of intensity to keep the watts topped off while I’m exploring for hours otherwise. With a couple of days of hard rest, I was ready for the hike-a-bike extravaganza that was my next weekend off/next blog post.

Double Race Report: CO State XC Championships and Vail GoPro Games

So many adventures, so little time.

It’s been long enough since these two races happened that I don’t remember a lot about them to report other than copious amounts of sweat, dirt, and heavy breathing.
I’d been conflicted about whether to race the Colorado XC State Championships in Eagle or to race the Beti Bike Bash back on the Front Range. I ended up going to Eagle because I’d never ridden there, and it avoided taking a day off of work (the Beti Bike Bash was on Sunday in Bear Creek Lake Park where I raced my season opener).
Other than having a hard time finding the start line, the Eagle Race went extremely well. I only had one other singlespeed competitor, and I won by a few minutes.

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While I was waiting for the podium, I ate the only restaurant meal I’ve purchased since I moved. If you only do it once every few months, $14 for a burger is totally worth it.

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I wasn’t planning on attending the GoPro Games. It’s a huge freaking circus of vendors and various “extreme” sports lodged in a whitebread resort town… basically the sort of venue I avoid at all costs. However, I happened to look at their website early in the week, “just to check it out” and noticed that the singlespeed category was getting PAID. $500 for a win? Yeah, I’ll deal with the other crap to have a go at that. I also knew that sort of payout would bring out some competition, but, given my power numbers from the Eagle race, I felt ready to take on anyone.

Two other racers were at the start- Gretchen Reeves and Sara Sheets. That’s about as high as you can stack a 3-person singlespeed field. When we took off, I got the holeshot up the first hill and on to the singletrack

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Gretchen came back with small attacks at the top of the first couple of short climbs, edging ahead of me to get into the downhills first. I definitely wasn’t rubbing her back tire down those, either. She was pinned. We started up the long climb of the course, and I ever-so-slowly pulled ahead. Again, the powermeter was clutch for pacing.
The course switchbacked several times, and each time I’d turn and look back, Gretchen was a tiny bit further back. I got to the top of the long climb and hauled ass back down. Once I started in on the second lap, I didn’t see Gretchen anymore, but I kept it in my head to not let up because she was RIGHT THERE.

I rode the entire lap with the mental image of her chasing me down if I slowed at all (my power was a little higher up the long climb on the second lap). It paid off…

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I think a big part of my success this season is having good sponsors to work for. Gates and Spot have given me some really good stuff to go out and hammer on. And, while SRAM isn’t “officially” a sponsor, that RS-1 that I’ve ended up loving more than any other fork in the world was the answer to my “I want to try an RS-1 if I can get one for free” plea. It also helps that I’m in a city I love. It’s almost like the layer of stress I felt in the crowded Front Range has converted into a layer of power living in Salida.

The adventures here are unlimited. Like I referenced before- it’s hard to not go out for an all-day exploration the Thursday before (or the Thursday after) a race weekend.

Gunnison Growler Race Report

Nearly two weeks ago, it was re-enforced in my brain that people’s memories about the difficulty of a trail system are highly subjective and very skewed towards the difficult portions of said trail. I’d been warned repeatedly of the tech that awaited me in Gunnison and had people freak out a little when I mentioned that I’d be singlespeeding it.

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The Gunnison trails used in the Gunnison Growler course are mostly buff, smooth dirt. If I had to guess a percentage, I’d say 90% of the course was silky smooth, flowy, bermy sage surfing. The other ten percent is where the trail crosses a rock formation- probably ten to twenty feet at a time’s worth of rock garden navigating. Apparently, those rocky punctuation marks in the trail burn a lasting impression in to people’s brains moreso than the silky parts, because based on the descriptions I’d heard, I was expecting it to be the the other way around.

The difficulty in the race for me was singlespeeding it- not because of the terrain itself, but because the race started with the bane of all singlespeed existence: the “neutral” rollout.

A “neutral” rollout is where you’re in spin-coast purgatory, burning matches at 120rpms and hoping to hell that you don’t get spit out the back of the group as the lead vehicle gradually accelerates to speeds that far exceed your (and even a lot of geared riders’) ability to hold on. According to people I talked to following the race, the “neutral” rollout from town to the race course ~4 miles away was rolling in excess of 25mph for the last two miles. Needless to say, my belt-drive equivalent to 32×20 gearing had me riding off the back for a mile or two before hitting the dirt.

It’s worth adding in here that Sunday’s full-distance Growler course (two 32 mile laps) was accompanied by a non-competitive Half Growler ride (one 32 mile lap). The competitive version of the Half Growler was on Saturday.

What I’m getting at here is that the combination of a fast rollout and an additional bolus of less competitive riders on course meant that I hit the singletrack with people who tended to granny gear the climbs and walk the technical spots. No bad vibes to them… they were doing alright and having a good time. They were pleasant to be around and generally courteous. However, I went in trying to race, and, for the first 32 miles of dirt, was in a conga line of 10-20 people, and couldn’t. I’d try to pass a person or two, only to have them pass me back on the intermittent dirt roads in the first half of the course. The second half of the course, there just wasn’t room to pass 5-10 people at a time without being a jackass.

I re-adjusted my expectations somewhere on the first lap and rolled in to the pit area feeling nice and warmed up, ready to kill my second lap of much more open trail. The second lap was pretty great. I had free reign over the climbs and rode most of the technical stuff. Other than the rollout, the course is pretty great for singlespeeding.

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Back when I’d entered the Growler, I didn’t know if I’d have a team bike ready or not, so I’d just entered the Pro division instead of singlespeed (I was the only woman on a singlespeed doing the full version, anyway). I ended up finishing 5th in the Pro category. I didn’t think I’d get any sort of prize (the podium was 3 deep at the Saturday half), so I committed the pro-faux-pas of leaving before my podium presentation. I was already home when friend/COSprings singlespeed legend Dan Durland sent me this photo:

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Oops.

I don’t want to dwell too much on the race logistics that made the Growler less of a race for me (I’m just repeating them here because they’re pretty relevant to a race report post). It was still a fun time on a gorgeous, unique course. I still had a killer day of training- I left with tired legs and more skill than I’d started with. So, I consider it a success.

Spot Rocker- the 2017 Race Machine

And now, for something completely different…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moab Rocks Stage Race

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

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

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

I digress.

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

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

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

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

SOLD!

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

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

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

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

Pics:

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The Golden Giddyup that Wasn’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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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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