Saturday, August 30, 2014

Group Rides

I Do Not Like Group Rides

I do not like them sam I am
I do not like them on the road
I do like like them with a toad
I do not like them when they are fast
I do not like them when they last and last
I do not like them around the block
I do not like them without socks

I do not like group rides
I do not like them, sam I am

I do not like being dropped
I do not like belong flopped
I do not like dropping riders
I do not like awaiting hiders

Not a fan.  I like riding with friends.  I LOVE riding with friends, but I do not like group rides. I like the idea of the shop ride, building relationships, hanging out with everyone that makes the local bike community the awesome group it is, I just don' tike the pressure of the group ride.

Strangely enough, I like to race

Just and odd bird I guess

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Moab -- The Whole Enchilada

Whole Enchilada

If you ride one trail in your life in Moab, this should be it.  Depending on time of year, and luck with the weather, you start the ride at 9000', 10000', or nearly 11000' and mostly descend all the way to Moab.  How do you get up there? Well, you take a van, and since we had the great services of Rim Tours, we had our Van!

There was a very very very short conversation about riding from Moab up to the start of the Whole Enchilada.  I did not even ask the entire question before I was asked (politely) to take my endurance monkey mouth and stick a beer in it.

The very top section of the ride -- Burro Pass and Hazard County -- were closed because of a snowstorm the weekend before we arrived.  So we started the Whole Enchilada ride from The top of Kokopelli's trail.  It looked like this:

Here's the view with 6 dudes in the way:

A trail marker, and map.  look closely the map says "Whole Enchilada".  I was hungry all day

Many many people have written descriptions of this ride.  Find them here, here, or many other places.  So, again, I won't try the inch by inch description.  

I will say that the ride is everything people say it is.  Huge views, huge exposure, all the technical terrain you can shake a stick at, single track, slick rock, alpine glades and desert rocks all on one trail.  

Things I learned on this ride:

  • Pinion does not give-way like Palo Verde trees do
  • A well set-up dual suspension bike will "roll" some seriously gnarly gnar
  • Push-up position is really the best way to go downhill
  • My friends are quite acrobatic and can execute summersaults over their handlebars 
  • One of my friends is capable of breaking any bike he is on for more than one hour
  • Utah really is an amazing place 
If I lived anywhere near Moab, I would start counting the number of times I road the Whole Enchilada in a year, and try and make that number as high as I could.  I would like to go bak and try to ride the entire loop...including the climb.

I did make this video mostly of me riding the Porcupine Rim section of the trail, plus some other stuff. 

Friday, August 22, 2014


Moab, Utah. 

If you ride a mountain bike, you have heard of it. You have dreamed of it. A place so legendary bike companies name models after the town, and the trails. 
White Rim. Porcupine Rim. Amasa Back. Back of Beyond. Burro Pass. Kokopelli's. Gold Bar.  Slickrock. Hazard County. Portal. Behind the Rocks. Poison Spider.  

Every one of those trails is on a mountain bikers bucket list, and that's about 10% of what's there.  Mountain biking may have been invented on the Repack on Marin, but it's heart is on Moab. Sure, the new school guys are all in Whistler, Vancouver, Revelstoke, Ft William, and other lift served parks. But all still hear the call of Kokopellis flute. 

For me the call is strong. 20 years ago I scraped some money together, signed up with a guide company I found in the back of Bicycling magazine (20 years ago one did not simply Google anything...) and rode the White Rim Trail over 4 days with 3 nights of camping.   I have wanted to go back ever since. 

Finally, through a combination of luck, persuasion and incredibly accommodating families, the stars aligned, and for three days in May, we rode Moab.  Me and five friends spent 3 days and 4 nights riding, drinking beers, talking about riding...drinking whiskey...eating..and that's about it. If you look at pictures, you can see me with a massive stupid grin in every single one. Why?  I was in Moab. On a mountain bike.

Here's an example of the silly grin:

Moab sits at about 4000' flanked by the Colorado and Green rivers to the north and west, and the 11400' Lasalle mountains to the South and East. Snow caps on one side, desert cactus to the other. You get to ride from Alpine glades to the desert floor in one go.  Did I mention it's awesome?

Once we had the trip dates locked in, it was time to figure out what trails to ride.   I really wanted to ride White Rim in One Day.  I proposed this to my riding companions, and there was a healthy debate.  (I am lying.  The debate went something like this): 
  Me:  "hey, how about we ride White Rim in one day"
   Friend 1:  "uh, no". 
   Me: "really, it's one of those rides.  It's life defining"
   Friend 2:  "uh...have fun, I have enough definition in my life"
   Me:  "it'll be a great way to motivate ourselves to get in shape over the winter"
   Friend 3: "no"
   me:  "but...there's all--"
   Friend 1:  "no"

That settled, we decided to ride the Magnificent 7, Whole Enchilada and Amasa Back.  I will now attempt to describe riding these trails with my limited writing skills.  I apologize in advance

The day before the riding started, we took a drive out to Mussleman arch while awaiting the later arrivals.  The three guys I drove out there had never been to Moab. It was like being at a fireworks show.  Oohs and Aahs...and wows never stopped.  Obligatory Mussleman and White Rim Road pics:

Mag 7

The Magnificent 7 trails sit on a mesa above Moab and Canyonlands national park near the Gemini Bridges arches.  The system is mostly desert rock, sandstone looking slabs that provide enormous grip for any kind of mountain bike tire.  Riding them is a bit dangerous, because you keep looking up at the LaSalle mountains above or the Colorado river below.  Trouble is, look around like that too much and you put your wheel in a rock.  ouch.

We spent about 2/3 of a day riding these trails, taking pictures, and getting used to our rental bikes.  Our guide from Rim Tours, Dave,  was probably very sad to be stuck with us for 6 hours of riding.  Dave did an amazing job showing us lines, routes, views.  For those in the group unfamiliar to desert-like riding (not me...I'm lucky enough to live 200m from a tailhead with access to 40 miles of desert singletrack) he showed us how to set up the bikes, clear rocks, and generally not break Rim Tours rental bikes.  While his instructions were good, Dave eminently failed on the last point, as we managed to break stuff anyway.

There's about 100 descriptions fo these trails online, so I won't attempt to describe them inch by inch.  These trails really are all they are cracked up to be.  Actual singletrack in addition to slickrock.  Exposures, tricky moves, tough but not insane climbs...really could not ask for a better set of trails.

Our group also shook out interestingly during the day.  Discovered Dave (not the guide) is a heck of a lot faster than he claims, Conrad has even more endurance than we thought, and a few of the group are really scared riding anywhere near a cliff edge.  And a few of the group are scared riding next to Cliff.  Some of us also did not spend a whole lot time getting in shape for the trip, and some of us got in shape for the trip by riding our brains out since January. 

We also discovered what a great time we were having!  Phones were not really used except to figure out if Strava was working.  Anxiety over being "in shape" for Moab was lost -- what we were riding was a whole lot of fun, not a whole lot of lung busting.  You can tell because even in all the pictures, everyone has a gin on their face.  Maybe not as big as the grin on my face, but a pretty big grin nonetheless.

I like this trail sign
Mountains, Trail, Canyon...and a ton of fun

This post was intended to be all about the Moab trip. I got through part of day 1, and finally decided to post it. Will do the other days soon. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why Leadville?

I've been thinking about a post-script on Leadville 2014. Trying to wrestle the ups and downs, and trying to put in my own words "why Leadville"?

This.  This is why Leadville. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Leadville 100 2014 -- Part 4. Of Joys and Expectations.


A strange things happens at Leadville.  You spend the first 60 miles riding with people.  Lots of people.  So many people you're often jammed into a bad line, or stuck behind some slow guy or you're the slow guy that some fast guy is stuck behind. You come down from Columbine (where you've been riding for about 2.5 hours in 2-way traffic), and you pass through 3 full crew areas.  There's a lot of cheering, people pick up something about your kit and call you out.  For me this year it was "Way to go Lifetime!" Because my kit was a big ole Lifetime billboard:

Lifetime Fitness Race Kit.  Price of Entry for 2014
I also got the "Go Bahram"!  I am not Bahram Akradi.  I am not the CEO of Lifetime Fitness.  However, it is a fact that this is a white sport.  Really white.  Like whiter than that kit white.  (There will be a post later on the ill-advisedness of a white mountain bike kit...but that's a different story).  So, if you're a dark skinned guy in a Lifetime Kit at the LT100 in a helmet and sunglasses, people are going to think you're Bahram Akradi.  I offer the pics below.  Be your own judge.

Your Hero
Bahram and Someone Else

Shockingly I have digressed

When you come through the 3 crew areas at TwinLakes and its really pretty amazing.  Screaming, cheering, your own crew (hopefully), and cowbell.  Lots and lots of cowbell.  Cowebells are really one of my favorite sounds, and I am not kidding.

Then, you cross the highway where all kinds of cars are stopped for your passage (yes, Colorado state troopers stopping traffic for YOU Mr or Ms Leadville rider!) up a little hill and you're alone. Your bike is pointed downhill-ish, you can see Highway 24 off to the right, and in front of you in the distance you can see the mountains you have to go over before getting back to Leadville.  And strangely, you're mostly alone.  There's sometimes another rider ahead as a carrot, or some guy with an "L" for "Leadman" on his number plate passing you while eating a sandwich and talking on the phone discussing his next day's 45 mile cool down run, but mostly you're alone.  

On these miles I pushed hard.  I wanted that 10:XX next to my name.  I had refueled on the way down from Columbine, and surely my guts would have processed some of those calories by now.  I found I had some power.  Not huge power, but enough to keep the speed around 12-15mph -- mostly into a headwind.  I kept eating and drinking hoping to put enough juice in the legs for the Powerline and Turquoise Lake/Kevins climbs.  


I came into the pipeline aid station at 7:30.  I had ridden the Twin Lakes to Pipeline section in the pace I wanted for my 9 hour pipe dream -- this was awesome.  As I pulled up to the aid tent to refill the bottles and GU (yes, I ate a few in the last hour), I got a slap on the back and a "hey!!"  It was my friend Trina from Scottsdale!  She was at the race with her dad supporting their friend on his way to a sub-9 singlespeed finish, and they were hanging around waiting for us as their duties to fast racers were done.  It was great to see a friend who helped get my bottles filled and gave me a few words of encouragement for the miles to the finish.

I got rolling out of Pipeline with a few other riders, but I dropped them on the dirt trail not the way to Half-Moon lake road.  So much for having people to draft with!  When I made the left onto the road, the wind hit me full in the face.  Last year I was going about 8mph on this section.  This year I was going faster, but I was definitely hurting myself to do so.  I was very happy when a fast train pulled up behind me.  As the last rider of about 10 went by I stomped on the pedals and sprinted to catch their draft.  For about 1/2 the run down this windy, soul crushing stretch, I was able to sit on the back of this paceline before they dropped me.  It was all I needed to keep the pace up, and keep my spirits up before the Powerline climb.  I found a couple other guys to work with for the mile up to Outward bound, then it was the left turn onto the Powerline climb itself. 8 hours according to my watch.  a 10:30 or even a 10:00 was a possibility.  Things were looking up -- thanks to the nameless friends who paced me on the road from pipeline.

Just like everyone else, I ground out the first several hundred meters, then dismounted for the slog up the really steep face.  I had been alone for so many miles, all of a sudden, it was a traffic jam again!  Just another strange feature of the race...

Laurel as the Devil
After a few pitches, I was alone ( weird), focused on my front knobby and I heard a voice, "heeeeyyyyy....look at that guy in the cute outfit".  It was Bill Simmons.  I have made a lot of fun of Bill (a very handsome man) for attempting to look cool on his MTB and looking silly. He returned the favor - in spades.  Also there on the powerline was the Devil.  Yes it was Laurel Darren dressed as the devil....TdF style.
Bill the Handsome Man (and Laurel)
Don't let the smile fool you.
He has pink Handlebars
I was pretty tired of pushing my bike at this point...actually.  I was just tired, and hugs from Laurel and Bill for me moving again.  Once again, I had friends on a very lonely part of the LT100.

Wheels Off

I made it to the little flat and downhill to commence the real climb.  I accelerated on the downhill with the full intention of hammering the 2.7 miles to the top.  Run across the hot coals, don't walk.  Make the pain go quick.  That was the plan.  Then all the calories I had downed to reduce the calorie defect from not eating the first few hours caught up with me.  My stomach was turning trying to deal with the untold amount of sugar I had dumped into it, and I felt like the best thing to do would be to stick my finger down my throat and spend the next few minutes puking.  But I did not.  I kept moving.  Mostly.  I also mostly walked.  

I did not run across the hot coals.  I crawled across them.  Army style.  

Powerline climb just stunk.  I knew it would be hard, but it took almost 50 minutes to claw my way up the 2.7 miles to the top.  I was back in the dark place...and again, mostly alone.

One saving grace...I never really cramped.  Here or on Columbine.  A few twinges of tightening in the quads and calves, but nothing that could not be worked out.  

I made my way down Sugarloaf/Hagermans pass as fast as I dared.  The Hagerman's pass road is smooth, wide, and just begging for a tuck.  I did not do that, rather choosing to spin the legs and try and get any lactic acid out before attacking Turquoise Lake road.

Riding with Legends

The climb to the Carter aid seemed interminable, but it was do-able.  I made it up there at 10:00.  No way for a 10:something.  I would settle for 11:something.  My stomach had recovered (again) at the aid station, and it wanted salt.  So I gave it a lot of potato chips.  Then it wanted coke.  So I drank one.  And another.  And a third.  Loaded up with water for the final push home, I kicked off from the aid station right behind some Ride 2 Recovery vets.  Legends and Heroes.

On the final steep pitch before the St Kevins descent, I caught Jillene of Fat Cyclist fame.  Legend.

As the St Kevins road turned sharply down I caught Ricky McDonald.  21 time Leadville 100 MTB finisher.  Legend.

On the Boulevard I caught Art Flemming.  70 something years old.  11 time finisher.  Michigan Mountain Biking Hall of Fame inductee.  Legend.

I crossed the line Ken Chlouber whacked me with one of his big mits and said "Great to see you again - welcome home!" Legend.

I got a big hug and my finishers medal from Abby Long, a LRS staffer and a woman I have come to respect for for commitment to the legend...

I had another Leadville Buckle.  I was welcomed home to Leadville by Ken Chlouber himself.  My disappointment of not meeting my expectations was washed away with the joy that comes from riding that red carpet, and coming home to Leadville.  

And the best part? I get to do it all again next year.

See you in Leadville. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Leadville 100 2014 -- Part 3

Columbine and the Eating Contest

Hour 3:15 of the Leadville 100. I had consumed 1 or 2 GU packs, and 2 dilute bottles of carborocket. Total intake:  about 400 calories. Total expected:  900-1000. This my friends is called a calorie deficit.  

Of course, I did not realize my situation.  All I knew was I was continuing to ride relatively fast through this beautiful Colorado morning, and I had a plan. I was going to turn on the power at the left hand turn onto the real slopes of Columbine, take a risk, and burn some matches in an all-out push for the top. I would make or break my race here, and if my legs were able to give as well as I felt, maybe get myself back to close to a 9-hour pace. 

Crossing the ranch gate, I decided as soon as I saw the lead moto, I would hit the gas. When the moto came by, signaling the real race leaders were just behind, I was just turning left onto the Columbine road.  This was a bit of a victory for me, as last year, I was passed by the moto while still in the Twin Lakes aid.   Todd Wells went by the picture of composure dressed in Stars and Stripes kit of the American champion. Quickly some combination of Alban Lakata, Christoph Sausser, and some others came by. Really is amazing to see pros riding.  They really never look like they are working.

Now firmly into the climb I added gear, and stood on the pedals to put in a big 30 second effort and get some mojo going. 

Except that 30 second effort had me barely moving.  I had nothing.  No juice. No zip. No mojo. Nothing to get me moving faster despite my calls to the engine room for more power. 

I settled into a steadier seated climb, and let the HR come back a bit. I took another tug of water and tried to think of what was happening.  I was lighter, fitter, on a hard tail... That's when I started counting the calories I had taken on so far. Something like 500, counting the sandwich I had just eaten at Twin Lakes. 3:40 into the LT100, and I had eaten 500 calories. 


I ripped a GU off my top tube, washed it down with a couple big swigs of Carborocket, and willed my stomach to do its thing and start processing calories. I looked at the computer. I would down another GU at 4:10, and make sure to drink more Carborocket. I knew there's no way to actually make up for a calorie deficit, but I was going to try. 

The problem with the strategy I chose is pretty clear. It's really hard to eat a lot when you're climbing close to your limit just to keep moving forward, you're above 10000', and going up, and you're also thinking about making up some time. 

Very quickly the Carborocket started to taste like paste (and Carborocket Lemonade flavor 333 is pretty good stuff). As 4:10 approached, the thought of eating a GU turned my stomach, and I began to feel a bit nauseous. 

None of this was good.  Columbine is already a relentless climb.  The base is higher than any of the famous European climbs, and it's on dirt.  Add to that my massive calorie deficit, and I was in trouble. And I knew it.  Looking down, I had about 4 miles to go on the climb, and I was going to suffer the whole way.  I entered survival mode....there was no other gear, no mental well to go to to make myself go faster.  I'd run my muscles dry of glycogen, and until I could get enough calories down and let the machine process, I was simply not going very fast.   

There are a few folks who have called bike races eating contests masquerading as athletic events.  Biju Thomas and Allen Lim of Skratch labs fame talk about it.  Fat Cyclist (the definitive LT 100 blogger if you ask me) talks about it, and every year with the Tour de France on TV they do a segment on how much riders eat on a tour stage.  They say the best riders are not always the fittest, they are the ones that can east the most while riding the hardest.  I had lost this year's eating contest, not because I was not ready for it...but because I forgot to enter it. Not eating in the LT100?  Not a mistake a 43-year old buckle holder is supposed to make.  Leave that one for the rookies and the 20-somethings.  What a dummy.  Can't win if you don't play....and all my cards were in little 100-calories packs in my jersey pocket and taped to my top-tube...taunting me.

I was now in a dark place physically, but also mentally and emotionally.   I should have been the one passing people on Columbine.  Instead I was stuck in my smallest gear, barely moving the bike up the hill.  Lots of opportunities to grab a wheel and use it for motivation, but nothing.  The Pain Train led by Rebecca Rusch came down the mountain, no pop.  I was mad at myself, going slow, and feeling like crap.

So I ground it out.  I kept moving, did not succumb to the siren song of stopping to take pictures of the lake a few thousand feet below.  I kept pushing the fluids, and whenever I thought I might not vomit, took in more calories.  2.5 hours later I was turning around at the aid station, grabbing an open GU from an awesome volunteer, and heading down for the return trip.  At least I did not make the mistake of hanging out at the top of thing going well.

I made the descent and started to feel better along the way.  I passed Randy suffering on the Goat Trail, gave him a quick cheer.  Ken was in his usual spot, mounted on his 4-wheeler in short sleeves.  I yelled, "don't let em quit Ken!" He yelled back "no one quits!"

Once past the rocky section, the descent was pretty awesome.  I was going a lot faster than i remember going last year, laid off the brakes, and even drifted a few turns.  My stomach started to feel a lot better, and I managed to pop a few calories in when we started across the ranch towards the dam.

I came into the aid station pretty tired.  Just over 6 hours.  Not really where I wanted to be...except it was exactly where I wanted to be!  My crew of mom, Priya,  Farooq, and Layla were waiting.  I was in the Leadville 100 for the 2nd year, it was an amazing day, and I was going to ride my bike for another 45 miles in Colorado. I downed a bottle and a half, ate some more, dumped the trash, reloaded on GUs and bottles, and got ready to head out.  

My sister asked if I was still going for 9.  "  Not any more."  I still thought 10 or 10:30 was in sight.  I could get the next 45 miles in 4 hours or less surely, especially since I seemed to feel better.  

So, hugs all around, I told everyone I'd seem them in 4, or maybe 5 hours.  They headed back to the houses for naps, and I headed out on the trail back to the pipeline aid station.

Click here for part 4!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leadville 100 2014 -- Part 2

Riding Really Fast

I've done this once.  I have the hardware to prove it.  There's a lot of writing out there about the Leadville family, the draw of 10,200', the toughness of the  course, and the kindness of the competitors.  And you know, it's all true.

Once you have that 12-hour buckle, it looks big.  Then you see a big one.  The ones that they hand out for being one of the less than 20%ish that can get out and back in under 9 hours.  It is very shiny.  It is very pretty.  Once you have seen it, you must possess a Big Buckle.  

And so it was I came to Leadville in 2014.  Wanting a big buckle.  It would take a lot of luck to come in under 9, but if everything went perfectly, there was an outside chance I could pull it off.

The gun had just gone off, and 90 seconds of toe dabbing and scooting later I was going 25mph down 6th street.  Then I was going 30mph+.  Being very scared of the big crash, I stayed to the left, avoided getting into big bunches, and tried to make sure I always had an "out".  Sure enough, as we made the turn onto 9A for the final long downhill to the dirt, I heard the "BANG!" followed by crunching and scraping just to my right.  Someone had touched wheels at 30mph and gone down hard.  More pileups as heads swiveled around to look at the carnage, and one guy in front of me swerved right following his head around.  I kept my head up, and kept moving, as I figured at this stage (the "Neutral" roll out - HA! ) the downed rider would have no issues getting help.  

As we crossed the train tracks and hit the dirt I was feeling pretty strong. Riders were 3 wide on the dirt road, and sometimes the available line was not perfect.  I moved up whenever I could, tried hard to avoid getting stuck behind the slow guy, and focused on not crashing.  I succeeded, and as we crossed the cattle guard for the grind up St Kevins, I relaxed just a little bit. At least at 5-8mph, any crash was going to be more irritating than painful.

The St Kevins climb was uneventful, my legs felt good, and as I turned left onto the road I was able to power up the speed a bit. I told Marilee I loved her (Fatty says tell Merilee you love her, so I do.  Plus I really do love that lady) as I took the sharp right for the decent to the road.

I turned on to Turquoise Lake road for the long down hill, and I checked my computer.  55 minutes.  6 minutes faster than last year.  10% faster in fact.  Not bad Mr Bery, not bad at all.

Before the road really tipped down, I slurped down a GU (Lemonade Roctane -- YUMMY!  wish I had more than one, the rest were chocolate raspberry.  Chocolate raspberry you are good, but you are no lemonade) and took a swing from the bottle.  For those of you paying attention, you will look at the time I just mentioned, know I've gone about 10 miles, and thought about the number of calories I have so far consumed.  

The next climb up Turquoise Lake road, Hagermans Pass road, and the back side of Sugarloaf were where I planned to make up a lot of time.  I wanted to be 30 minutes faster than last year, possibly 45.   With the day as perfect as it was, and my legs feeling good, I figured it was a possibility, so I added a few gears, and looked for wheels to follow.  

Before I new it I was on the "trail" portion of the climb, and was pretty much alone.  It seemed I had climbed past the folks in the immediate vicinity, which meant I'd likely have a few minutes on the Powerline descent without someone breathing down my neck.  This was good, as I am not the world's fastest descender, and having someone over my shoulder makes me really nervous, mistake prone and slow.

There were only 2 places on Powerline I thought my day was over.  The first was near the top when the forest road-like trail is a little wider, and the dirt a little gabbier.  I had some good speed going and next thing I new I was airborne.  

I was airborne with my weight forward and my bike rotating to the front wheel.  My brain said only one thing, and my mouth said the same.  Starts with "F" rhymes with "Luck".  I said it loud.  Really loud.  And long.  You all know what I mean.

After what felt like a good 6 seconds in the air, but was likely closer to .6, my front wheel hit the ground, my jaws clanged together, and thanks to my Bonty XR2s (hooray Kaolin at the Flat Tire for telling me those are the best tires ever, and hooray Joey at Shadetree for getting them from Kaolin for me!), and a little luck, I kept rolling down Powerline.  

The next time I thought I was going to die was when there was another crash 2 bikes in front of me.  Poor guy had his wheel slip out into one of the massive ruts, and went right over the bars.  I already had both brakes grabbed hard, and my bike was going to keep going the speed it was going.  There were spectators there, so once again, I absolved myself of any guilt of not stopping and continued to move down Powerline's kitty litter covered surface as fast as I could.

I made it to the road breathing as hard as if I had been sprinting for 15 minutes instead of descending.  My heart rate was in the stratosphere -- that's how intense that descent is.  I looked at the computer.  2:00.  Not bad.  I was 30 minutes ahead of last year, but 15 minutes short of where I rally wanted to be for a comfortable sub-9.  Still feeling good, I figured I would push hard for the next 20 miles, and take some fitness risks while climbing Columbine to see if I could get back on pace.  

I managed to hold a few wheels on the way to Pipeline, though one really fast train passed that I could not grab onto.  The Pipeline to Twinlakes segment was again fast, but not nearly as fast as I wanted.  I came in to Twinlakes at 3:15.  Well off a sub-9 pace, but really, well on a very respectable pace.  10:00 or even 9:30 was well within reach.  No reason to back off and cruise through the next 60 miles...

My aid station crew was well prepped. Having done this once, they knew to swap bottles, make me eat a almond butter wrap, hand over a few GUs, and give me a bottle to chug.  Nice and fast -- great to have that awesome crew of my sister, mother, brother-in-law, and of course my 2.75 year old niece.  She really holds the entire crew together if you ask me.  

I saw in the next tent a really nice floor pump.  Remembering my tire was soft, I asked with some urgency and a whole lot of niceness if I could borrow the pump.  Connecting the pump the gauge showed I was down on the rear almost 10 pounds from ideal.  I wonder if that slowed me down?  I also noticed a serious lack of Randy's crew.  Seems there was a bit of a SNAFU on the food bag, and Randy's crew was conspicuously absent.  Hmmmm....walking a 1/2 marathon and leaving the food bag at the condo...a very interesting Leadville 100 strategy from Mr Gunzer I must say.

I clicked in, and headed out for the Columbine climb.  I had a lot of GU in my back pocket.  Really a lot for someone who was supposed to be eating 2 per hour, or at a minimum one every 45 minutes.  I also had the same 3 GUs taped to my top tube that I was supposed to eat early in traffic...

If you sense foreboding, you're right on track.  The climb to Columbine mine would be where I lost the eating contest.

Click here for part 3...
...Click here to go back to part 1

Friday, August 15, 2014

Leadville 100 2014 -- Part 1

The Year Prior

Most anyone reading this knows I got my Leadville buckle in 2013.  Life goal accomplished.  Trail and shop cred earned for many a year to come.  Most of you also know I'm just a little obsessed with the whole thing, so going back for year 2 was never really a discussion.  It was really just a matter of how fast I was going to go.  By the time I got back from iceman I was thinking about a new bike.  Hardtail for sure.  Carbon of course.  I was pretty sure I was going to get a Trek Superfly, but ended up with a Giant XTC SL1 thanks to some good friends.  

Sirina told him to look after me

The monetary investment made, I started to work on myself.  I gained some strength, increased my 90 second power output average to the 475W range, and dropped some weight.  I changed the nutrition plan all around to become a fat burning machine.  I turned down the intensity of the long rides, and put in base miles and miles and miles.  Saturday and Sunday mornings were all about 4am alarms, and 4:45 departs, always trying to get home before the girls were out of their pyjamas. 

One of the hardest parts of Leadville is getting in the race.  Demand far exceeds supply...I managed to not get in via the lottery, wrote and essay, and got myself into the race by committing to wear a Lifetime Fitness kit.  I like Lifetime, but at Leadville, I'd rather be seen in a kit from here or here or even here.

View from the Farrett's House
I had kind of a miserable 3 weeks of riding leading up to race day.  2 flats at the Tahoe Trail 100, and rides where I just did not feel myself.  1 long ride ended in my getting sick next to the house, another with me writhing in pain from dehydration cramps for hours after the ride.    

Hoping all my bad karma was spent in those three weeks, got myself loaded into the minivan, took the kids to their first day of school, and headed on up to Leadville.  AS with last year, the drive was amazing.  Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Monument Valley, Monticello, Moab, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Minturn...and then Leadville.  Really, does the American West get more amazing?  No, not really.

My friend Randy was riding this year, and lets just say his week of acclimating and course previewing was interesting.  One does not usually recommend a 13 mile hike in cycling shoes the week of Leadville...but to each his own.

My favorite Leadville souvenier

Thursday night I went to Rebecca Rusch's book launch party.  Got a "Rusch to Glory" signed for the girls, and headed back to the house to await my crew.  We were staying at a house in Leadville this year, which made everything so much easier.  If you're thinking about doing Leadville, I highly recommend finding a way to stay in town...

Friday we got up early, connected with Randy and his crew Scott and Brian.  We headed out to the Twin Lakes aid station early, set up the pop up, dropped off chairs and water, and had the entire rest of the day to rest and get ready.  We were so much more organized and relaxed than last year, it was going to be totally awesome!

Rebecca Rusch sharing wisdom
The Friday fire up meeting was what it always is.  I have to say I'm a little worried about Ken....seemed to not have the oomph I had seen last year, or perhaps I'm just a jaded second timer.  Regardless, I got my Leadville love and began to feel really good, and really nervous for Saturday.  Somehow I managed to get to bed good and early Friday, and woke up at 4:30, having had nearly 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  This really was awesome.  How could anything go wrong on this glorious Colorado morning??

Race Plate

Heart Power from Anya, Anika, and Sirina

Start Lines and Tires

Purple corral.  That's why my 7:15 with 2 flats in Lake Tahoe had earned me.  I wish I was a little further up, perhaps lining up in Red next to the Queen of Pain and the Hammer and all those folks hoping to hop on the Pain Train and have one of the sport's most amazing riders pace them to a sub-9 finish.  But, siting just east of Harrison was where my times had landed me, and from there I would launch the 2014 campaign.  

Mom and Priya took the pics, I chatted with my fellow purple people, and we were all amazed at our luck with the weather.  Absolutely perfect.  Clear skies, no rain forecast, and just under 40 degrees to start.  About 10 minutes before the gun, as the ropes were dropped, and the corrals started to get crowded, I decided to pinch my tires and prove I was ready to go.  


My rear tire was soft.  Not super soft, but softer than I thought it should be.  I looked around quickly.  Did anyone have a floor pump?  No.  Should I whip out a CO2 and get some air in quick?  maybe.  Pull out the Mini pump?  Definitely no. I panicked four about 30 seconds, pinched the tire a few more times and decided just to go for it.  Kevens is super steep and loose, the Powerline descent could use a bike more set up for downhill than XC, and if I really needed to, I could pull over and get some air in quickly.  Certainly a better option than messing around with the bike with now barely 5 minutes to start...

National Anthem.  Splash of CarboRocket.  Shotgun blast and we're off!