Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jackson ICUP and Phillips Canyon

Dave on the Ridge Pass Trail
Teton Village Hostel.
Spacious acccomodations for 7 in the Hostel.
Scott on the race course trail.
KC checking out the map. That's all we had!
Team Mad Dog at the top of Teton Pass. Sorry but when the slow guy is taking the pictures, you don't get many action shots.

I haven't posted in a while cuz I've been riding my butt off preping for the Leadville 100 on Aug 9th. LW has me in a 2-week taper mode now so I'll try and catch up a little.

Mad Dog went to Jackson for the next to the last ICUP race and we had a good result. I won my group (there were only 2 of us) and we had 4 or 5 other winners while the Holley's continued their awesome year with a 1st and 2nd place finish in the pro division. My race went well with only 1 crash and no injuries. We stayed 2 cozy nights in the Hostel, which I understand is being torn down in the near future, so get up there before that part of Teton Village's history is gone. By cozy I mean 7 people in a 10x20, one window box. It was tight!

We rode 9-10 hours total and finished with a semi-epic Sunday. The first ride was up the Old Pass Road to Ridge Pass Trail and down Black Canyon. That was a great ride with long stretches of pavement, buffed single track, beautiful flowers and views of Jackson and a tight, rocky downhill that took us back to the trailhead. We were out about 2 hours.

The second ride was a little more involved, and exciting. We headed back up Old Pass Road past Carter Lake to the parking lot and crossed the new highway to Phillips Canyon Trail. This is where it started to get exciting. As earlier, the flowers and views were magnificant, and the riding was spectacular. All the ingredients for a pleasant ride. We met some trail workers who warned us the trail we were heading to was a work in progress and a bit lumpy. That's an understatement! The uphill was no big deal, but the downhill - yikes! The next 4 miles was white knuckle, rocky, rooty and curvy steep drops that pushed well beyond my comfort level. My tires got swallowed up several times but I was able to keep from going over the bars, barely. KC watched over me after many of the bigger drops and commented how tough the riding was. She got no debating from me.

Here's where the ride got goofy. We finished the descent, with no crashes, other than Tim rolling a deflated tire, and came upon a sign that said "access" and chose to ignore it. Instead of going straight, we went right. Oh boy! It was hot, sunny and we were out of water - and we began to climb again. It got so hot and steep I chose to push my bike for probably 10 minutes. We followed the fire-service road up and up, to where it dead ended, 1,000 feet of climbing above the "access" sign. Chris did a short recon and informed us we were not where we were supposed to be, and that's not good! I started thinking about how much a helicopter rescue was going to be and if we were going to be on the Sunday Night news. And, what we were going to do for water? We had no phone and barely an idea of where we might be. After a short discussion our only option was to go back the way we came up and see what that brings. Well, wouldn't ya know it but that "access" sign was still there and we decided to see where it lead. Within 3 minutes we were on the paved road heading west to Wilson which was 4 miles away. We made it! We stopped at the General Store for water and went back to the trailhead where Keith, Dave and Scott were patiently waiting.

Lessons learned: never go exploring into the unknown with a half full camelback, and "access" means this way out :-)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Park City Perfect Weekend

What a great weekend it was. It began at 3:45 a.m. on Saturday morning and I still have a smile on my face late Sunday evening. The Park City Perfect 10 held at Deer Valley Resort was a most excellent event.

Jane and I got to play host to the legendary Chris and KC Holly, Lynda Wallenfels and Dave Harris. We had a good time swapping war stories Friday night, all bicycle related surprisingly, and helping each other in the tent during Saturday's 10-hour race. It's times like this that make me happy to be part of the mountain biking community and thankful for having such good friends.

Of the many races I have attended over the years, this one had one of the highest showings of top-notch racers that I've been to. For having only 150 entrants, the quality of competition was over the top. There were a bunch of faces in attendance I recognized but don't remember their names, but I do remember the likes of Brad Keyes, Kenny Jones, Dave Byers, Roxanne Tolley, Chucky Gibson, Jen Hanks, and others that put this race over the top. And what was really cool was the Young Riders Club featured a 14-year-old that turned a 30 minute 22 second lap! And the dude was on the 29er. Bob Saffel was there to, but fortunately he wasn't there to torment BK. The race was a lot of fun for me because every time I got passed by somebody I knew, which was quite often, they would always shout out something encouraging and lift my spirits. It's interesting being a middle of the packer and seeing just how fast most of these guys and gals are. Their speed and smoothness in the tight and loose switchbacks is just amazing. And KC and LW, well their both from a different planet. Really. How they get so much power and speed out of those small bodies is baffling. They've got Kenworth engines and Porsche bodies.

I decided to do this race last week after talking to coach LW who suggested this would be a good training ride in preparation for the Leadville 100. I didn't think my fitness would be good enough to climb this much on a high mountain course, but decided to give it a go anyway. My goal was to do 10 laps, ride the full 10 hours and ride the second half faster than the first. I ended up doing 12 laps and rode the second half three minutes faster than the first half. Mission accomplished on all 3 counts. That makes this a good day.

For the most part, over the years I've been relatively mechanical free. This year has been an exception. Flats seem to be hounding me lately and on Saturday they came out in full glory. Near the end of the fourth lap I ripped a side wall on my rear tire but was able to get the Stan's to temporarily take hold. I only had about a quarter mile to go to get back to the staging area and was able to nurse it down the switchbacks just as a tire went completely flat as I hit the finishing shoot. Chris made a quick repair for me and got me back on course in no time and I able to ride 2 more laps before the same tire had a catastrophic failure. I didn't look to see if the side wall had ripped all the way through or what, but I put a whole CO2 cartridge in and it came out as fast as it went in. I ended up pushing and carrying my bike from the barricade down through the switchbacks back to the staging area where Chris took the tire off and put a new heavy-duty 2.1 Continental Explorer Protection on for me. What a difference that made. With the bigger beef on the back I was at the able to go much faster through the loose and rocky Naildriver downhill section and my confidence and comfort levels were significantly higher. I didn't notice the extra weight climbing and my times became much more consistent after the tire change. I think I just converted from being a tire weight weenie and am going to something more substantial, dependable and predictable. Confidence equals speed.

Regarding the race, my strategy was to stay in zone 2 as much as possible during the first 5 hours, assess myself over the next 2 hours to see how I felt, and then finish off the last 3 hours in a blaze of glory, assuming I still had something left. I have to say everything worked out pretty well. Of the 12 laps I rode, 10 were between 46:00 and 49:29. My slowest lap was 51:37 on the lap where my tire failed and I had to hike. My riding time on the bike was 9:34 and I finished somewhere around 10:35 which was good for 14th out of 32 male soloists. I think I only got beat by three solo girls this time. Thankfully KC and LW were riding on duo teams otherwise I would have been chicked five times. I don't know if my odometer was off calibration but the laps were closer to 6.1 miles instead of the advertised 7 so the mileage was around 73 - 74 and climbing was 9900 feet. The temperature ranged from 47° to 88° and it was pleasant all day because much of the course was in the trees. And the flowers were in full bloom on the Flagstaff Loop which made riding the narrow singletrack through the bowl somewhat dangerous because I wanted to look around and take in the beautiful scenery. That's one of the advantages of riding solo, you can do what you want and not worry about disappointing your teammate.

In ending I want to congratulate Chris and KC on their duo win in finishing just ahead of LW and DH. That is an amazing result and I know KC is still smiling. I also want to tip my hat to Brad Keyes who rode a punishing 14 laps on his single speed to take the male solo title. Thank you LW for your well thought out and effective coaching programs without which I don't think I'd be where I am. Thank you Dave and Chris for taking such good care of my bike between laps & LW and KC for your smiles and encouragement. Congratulations to everyone that finished and I look forward to seeing you at the next event.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Park City Perfect 10 Pre-ride

First, the pictures...

The staging/transition area will probably be somewhere around the Sterling Lift.
Typical buff single track with big trees and plenty of shade.
This is one of the bigger switchbacks on Team Big Bear (TBB).
After getting off TBB, you follow the single track that parallels the road and pass under this tower.
Confusion junction near the start of the Flagstar Loop. I don't know which way to go... I think right since I went left and that was wrong.
If you see this sign, I think you screwed up. Sorry.

And if you see this pond, that's not good either.

But this is good. It's right before the short switchbacks that lead to the start/finsh. Note the soft terra notfirma.

Next, the BS.

Well, I rode the Park City Perfect 10 course this evening and got myself completely lost. Call me stupid but the map on the website did nothing but confuse me, and the course was not marked.

It looks like the course starts at the Sterling Lift, heads west for a short distance and turns left on to the mid-mountain trail just beyond the bridge. The mid-mountain trail is nice singletrack with a few loose rocks at the start, but nothing technical. When you come to an obvious junction in the trail, with a sign that says Team Big Bear, go left. This is nice climbing singletrack with many tight corners, some of which are loose, that winds through tall trees, over roots, rocks and small stumps and will provide welcome relief from the sun. When you come to the first fire road cross it onto the singletrack on the other side, do not turn left or right on the fire road. Continue winding up TBB singletrack for a quite some time until you come to another wide gravel road. At this point, turn left immediately. Do not get on the road. The trail parallels the road and heads east and within a few hundred yards you'll pass under a chair lift. From here on is where I got confused so hopefully it will be marked on Saturday. Course I'm not worried, I'll just follow everybody else. Somehow I ended up on the lower loop of the Flagstaff Loop, not the upper loop. The regular signs in here are confusing and again, the map offered no clear suggestions. I was able to get on the Deer Camp Trail but I ended up at the pond and the map shows I should've been south of the pond. I have no idea how I got goofed up in there. I missed the GS Trees section but did find Naildriver which was loose, dusty, rocky and fast. Naildriver takes you back to the start/finish.

I rode my geared bike and stayed in the middle ring the whole time. On the climbs I used the 3 easiest cogs on the back and kept my heart rate below zone three. I think using a lightweight cross country tire will be risky because of all the sharp rocks. I'm going to take an extra set of tires and definitely carry a tire boot with me. Several of the corners on the descents are loose, rutted and rocky. I don’t know how long a lap will take since I didn’t complete a whole one. I rode 6.6 miles in 60 minutes and made at least 6 wrong turns and had to backtrack, and wander. I’m thinking about 50-55 minutes for myself. You fast guys will probably go 40 + or -.

So that's it. Looks like it'll be a fun course with plenty of good views and relief from the sun. Hope this little bit of info helps and see you Saturday. Oh yeah, and thanks for showing me the way :-)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

State XC Champion

It's been a while since I've posted cuz LW's Leadville training program has me on the road alot which leaves little time for writing. But, today is a good day and I'm going to toot my horn a little.

Bill Dark, me, Bruce Argyle.

The State XC Championships were held at Solitude this morning and I won my division. Yahoo... I was a little apprehensive at the start cuz I just finished a big 3 week block with lots of intervals and 9-12 hours per week, so I was less than fresh. As I look back, every time I'm anxious at the start of a race, it turns out favorably in my direction. I have to say, I felt great today. My legs felt strong on the climbs, I did not cramp, I did not crash (like I did on Thursday's pre-ride), I was a little slow on the descents and my attitude was positive. I held back after topping out on the 2nd lap cuz I couldn't see anyone behind me and didn't want to blow it by crashing or doing something stupid. And, true to past performances, I only drank about 1/2 of a small water bottle in 1:16, but it didn't seem to have an adverse effect. I've got to get this drinking thing figured out on short races. Long races aren't a problem, just the <2 hour ones.

Ed had us old guys start about 5th from the pros, instead of near the back of the pack like usual, so I had a chance to race with some fast ombres. I caught Roger Gillespie at the top of the long climb on the first lap. He was having a bad day and bailed shortly after that with a mechanical. Actually, he was probably embarassed I passed him, and that did him in. I caught pro chick Roxann Tolly at the start of the 2nd lap and rode with her and some other chick for the rest of the Serenity Loop, after which we parted ways. Keith Payne (3rd place in 40 Sport) and his fast group of 3 passed me at the end of the 2nd lap as we crossed the ski run just before the pavement and "s" turns, so that made me feel good to stay in front of him that long. KC never caught me (she started ahead of me and I was off the course before she reved it up). If I would of ridden one more lap, she would have chicked me too. Chris Holley had a good race but decided to eat dirt a couple of times and that did not play into his plans. KC & I forgot to send him the memo that we were going to win our divisions on Saturday. Chris finished 5th in a strong pro division.

Team Mad Dog had a good day winning 6 individual Championships, the most of any ICUP team, with many others finishing on the podium. We may not be the biggest team in the ICUP series, but man-for-man, and chick-for-chick, we kick ass.

I had some fun before and after the race cruising around the venue on my 1982 Specialized Stump Jumper. To my surprise, it was a big hit. It was more comfortable than I thought (it has a really long wheel base - kind of like a limo), but I can't imagine how I rode that thing on the Slick Rock and White Rim trails way back when. Maybe I'll get the guts to take it out on the local trails again, for old times sake. No, I think I protect the 20+ year old tires and stay in the parking lot.

Karl's 2008 Arantix with my 1982 Stumpie in the back ground. My Stumpie has superior rear wheel mud clearance and a much safer stem. What a difference 26 years makes.

So, now it's on to a well deserved recovery week and the Park City Perfect 10 next Saturday. The Leadville 100 is 5 weeks away and it looks like everything is coming together nicely. I think all those hard Moab rides with Chris and KC, combined LW's 100 PR program are a good potion for me. Stay tuned.

Chris takes dirt to the next level. There was more on him than there was on his bike.

Mad Dog put on a feast for the team and families after the race.

I found this tear in my rear wheel after the race. Wow, am I lucky, or what!