Monday, August 29, 2005
We got to Waverly in great time which prompted me to do a pre-lap on the 10 mile course. We got to the course just in time to see Jeff Kerkove who rode up from Cedar Falls. Jeff is training for the 24 Hours of Iowa next week and is the odds on favorite to take it again this year.
Cam and I set up to do the warm up lap at very slow speeds, due to the length of this course it took over an hour to complete the lap. Before I got up to Waverly, I told myself I wouldn't ride the whole lap in an attempt to save energy for the race, but that theory went out the door when I realized that I didn't know any short cuts back and would probably get lost and miss the start.
Anyway, we got back to the start line with about 20 minutes to spare. Just enough time to take care of some pre-race rituals, (thanks for your contributions Paul and Jeremy).
Camp Igwanis is a great course with lots of tight twisty single track, a few short climbs and lots of horse dung. I've never ridden a course that had horse dung the size of log jumps in the middle of the trail, but today it was an obstacle that you had to ride around, over or through.
This was not an IMBCS race so a couple of the big hitters didn't show up for the race, but in our class my usual top competitors were there. Tracy Thompson, Paul Veneable, Andy Leuke and Chris Reed. Regardless of the course these guys are always tough riders, each with their own strengths and capabilities. I knew Tracy would come out strong with Paul attacking at every opportunity. I had just ridden for an hour prior to the start so my strategy was to stay on Tracy's wheel and help reel in Paul when needed. The start of the race was awesome. After pledging allegence to our flag, (this race was put on by the Boyscouts and this is mandatory before any event. I love this idea and feel we should always do this). Tracy let out his inaugural deep throated belch and the race was off. Donny Quixote, (single speed), got the hole shot, just has he did last race, with Tracy and I directly behind him and Paul behind me. Somehow Paully jumped in front of me going into the single track. As we were heading to the first creek crossing, Tracy, Paul and I passed Donny. It was obvious Paul made the wrong tire selection cause he was all over the course. As we hit the creek we all jumped on the bridge ran across and up the hill. By this time we had put a little gap on the field, being a teacher Tracy wanted a role call of who was still with us, (Me, You and Paully), I said to him. The three of us rode together through the first loop and down to the second creek crossing. I was feeling stronger and stronger as we got deeper into the ride. My heart rate was right where I needed it to be and I was riding the course very efficiently. Today could be a great result I told myself, just keep patient and ride smart. Through the second loop, Paul kept having trouble staying on the course but would catch up each time he stalled. As we approached the second creek crossing, Paul and Tracy jumped off their bikes, I decided to ride over the bridge and onto the planks. We all regrouped at the top of the hill and continued our ride. Paul jumped in front of Tracy and began his attack. We weren't 200 yards past the creek when all of a sudden, "POP", my tire blew! Realizing what had happened I screamed in frustration. I quickly dismounted my bike and pulled my spare tube, levers and CO2 out. This was the first flat I've had in a race since the Heartland Series in 2002. I pulled the tube out and pushed the replacement in the tire, beaded the tire back in place and pulled the CO2 from jersey. I threaded the CO2 and screwed it into the presta valve. It has been so long since I used one of these I forgot that you have to thread it then back it off to get the air out. I stood there amazed that I had the wrong valve or the CO2 was bad. 30 seconds went by and so did more and more riders. I was getting frustrated. I decided to pull the CO2 off the valve and use another one when all of the sudden the tire inflated...sweet!! I'm back in business. I had lost about 10 to 11 places. I had a lot of work to do.
As I jumped back on my bike I had to re-strategize. My back tire had about 30 psi in it and was very soft. I could feel it bottom out when I hit the roots, but had to make the most of it while I had air. Each biker that I'd ride up to is another goal, and everytime I pass one I have to ride faster to get to the other, keeping my back tire from slamming into anything causing a pinch flat...It was working. As I rode up to the riders they would let me by and I was off. (By the way, thanks to Thad, Krenz, Brian, Sean, Dennis, Brian Benson, Ken Sherman and many others for letting me by and encouraging me to keep going hard. That was really cool of you guys).
The first lap was in the books and lap two was still in front of me. I had passed 5 guys already with a full lap to go. Maybe I could catch Andy and Chris, we'll see. As I came to the creek crossing again, Brian, Dave Krenz and I slammed across it. I warned them not to hit the first plank, it was pretty flexy. I had to laugh at Krenz though...as we were heading down the bumpy single track and his bike was crying in pain. It was making noises that I've never heard a bike make before. I could here it weeping and praying that Dave would go easy on it on lap two and three.
Getting across the creek and hammering through the flats, I was feeling great. I hadn't switched water bottles at the lap break but had 3/4 of a bottle left. I knew I better start drinking more fluids and slam a Hammer Gel. I was feeling good but worried about cramping towards the end of the race. Getting into the cow patty field I couldn't see anyone, this made me attack the field and the pine forest area. I figured most riders were recovering in the field and on the downhills. This would be a prime area to make up time. Coming up through the cabin area I caught Dennis Grelk again on his "mutant ninja single speed hybrid contraption". I don't know what you call this thing but it is cool....and heavy. This bike looks like a monster truck with pedals.
Anyway, through the cabin area I noticed another rider just up ahead but couldn't see who it was. They had on a Rassy's jersey. I quietly rode up the gravel rode and could see pink socks...to my surprise it was Andy Leuke. Andy won this race last time and is an incredibly strong rider who possess many skills. One of those skills is gapping the competition. I didn't want Andy to know it was me until I was on his wheel. As we entered the roller coaster section I knew I could catch his wheel here and turned on the gas. At the bottom we were together and Andy figured out it was me. He asked me if I needed to pass but I opted to stay with him to see what he was riding like. Andy turned up the intensity and he and I rode hard through the next 5 miles together. I couldn't pass him if I tried. He was pulling me right up the the next person and past. Finally we were in the last section of trail. This section was newly built before the May race and pretty much sucked at that point. From May until now this part of the course settled in well and became a lot more fun to ride. Andy pulled us all the way up to the fourth and fifth postion. Steve Bullerman, (4th), and Chris Reed, (5th), were riding together up ahead. As we caught them Chris seemd to slow down, not letting us pass him, and Steve sped up. I told Andy to get around him but it was tight and Chris was not giving an inch. Chris is a strong, young rider, but his technical skills leave a lot to be desired. He was having problems negotiating the turns and roots, plus I'm sure he was battling some fatigue at this piont. Finally Chris pulled to the left and Andy and I busted past him. Now we have to catch Steve. He was 15 seconds up on us. We had about another 1.5 miles to go when Andy washed out on a sweeping right hand turn. He was inches from getting run over by me when I slammed on the XT's and pushed my foot to the ground. Andy was doing a type of break dance, with his bike tangled up on top of him, to try to get out of my way. As soon as my leg hit the ground instantly my quad cramped hard. I knew I had to push through this and catch Bullerman. I politely asked Andy if he was allright? He said yes, now go, go go....I was off again and mentally trying to battle this damn cramp.
I could see Bullerman up ahead but he was riding strong. As we crossed the fire road with only 1/4 mile to go I realized I was not going to catch him. Now I had to just ride the finish out and take whatever place I was in. As I rode up the final gravel rode before turning right back into the single track for the last 200 yards, I heard, "POP" and "ssssssssssss". Unbelievable, another flat! I had to ride this baby to the finish regardless. I knew Andy wasn't too far behind me. Finally....I made it to the finish. To my surprise I had caught 8 racers and finished 5th overall.
At the front of the pack was Tracy in first, Paully in second, and Donny in third. If I had to give a most improved rider award today, it would go to Donny Quixote. Donny has improved leaps and bounds this year with his mountain bike skills. Donny is a strong rider to begin with but lacked in the technical handling department...that is no more my friends. Donny finished third in sport overall with a rigid, heavy single speed. That tells me he is fast!. I also want to make sure I thank Andy for pulling me through the second half of lap two. Dude, you rode strong and fast. I appreciated and enjoyed riding with you in this race. I'm hoping I can return the favor sometime in the future. I don't think I would've ridden as fast by myself. Again, thanks for the strong effort.
Congrats to Tracy again and Paul for getting second. I only wish I had kept with the pack today because I really felt strong. I'm not saying I would've won but my chances were pretty good today.
Also, congrats to Cam Kirkpatrick for kicking tail in the Expert race and revenging last weeks Sugarbottom performance. Cam put a beating on the field and smoked one of the guys that who beat him last week. I knew he would do well today, all he kept saying for an hour on the pre-lap was, "Petey, I feel strong today. My legs are feeling great and I feel great". Also, congrats to Sean Noonan for a strong 4th place finish. Sean hates technical courses with no climbs, today he did well on a course that he didn't like. Congrats to Sally Logan for hammering the course today. She gave it her all and finished a very tough course. It wasn't long ago Sally had a bulging disc that was operated on. She rode well today.
Also, I have to give a shout out to another rider...Master Lou. Lou competed in Saturday's State Crit Championship series in Pella, IA. Lou not only showed guys he's a strong rider, but he also put on a martial arts clinic while on his bike on a mouthy rider. My friend, I know your an easy guy to get along with so it must have taken some serious taunting to get you riled up. I'm hoping you taught Mr. Mouth that this is a gentleman's sport.
Thank you to Paul Meyermann for putting on another great race at Camp Ingawanis. You and your people are first class and we all want you to know how thankful we are to be able to race at your venue.
Next week is the 24 hours of Iowa followed by the Sycamore Time Trial. I'm taking next week off but am looking forward to the Time Trial race that Maharry puts on. This will be a ton of fun. Good luck to everyone riding next week, I wish I could be there with you but I have a wedding to attend in Sioux Falls, SD.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Donny Quixote of Quixote Coaching and Rasmussen Bikes threw together a time trial event at Denman Woods last night. Donny has a very unique ability to promote, manage and score races. The $0.25 entry fee made it possible for everyone to participate that wanted to and allowed those of us who took loans out to race Sugarbottom this weekend not to have to dig any further into debt.
The course contains a lot of technical single track with tight turns and log jumps. It plays to the rider who has solid technical skills and no fear of big log jumps. In the past, time trials have mostly favored a course with open trails and climbing allowing for the faster roadie types to dominate. Riding this course you have to be on the brakes and explode through the turns otherwise riding it at 100% will roll you through a corner and off the trail.
Twenty seven riders, of all levels, showed up on an overcast Wednesday night. Some guys rode with a Hawaiian shirt, others with a cut offs and flanel shirts, while most of us went the convention route and stuck to the regular bike fashioned garb.
The race started at 6:30pm on the dot with Troy Tellinghusen starting us off followed by Chad Vandelune and Chris Maharry. Sterling was in the front mix as well followed by Brian Pottorff and myself. As Brian took off down the 1/4 mile bike path it took him a full minute to drop into the single track. As soon as he went over the first log jump, Donny sent me off. Brian was riding a single speed and had some adult beverages prior to the TT, but if you know Brian like I do, that only fuels his fire more. I certainly had no expectations of catching him...even on the single speed. I've ridden with Brian for years and understand that he could be on a uni-cycle and still beat almost everyone. The way I describe Brian is this, "He never surprises me, but always amazes me".
As I slammed over the first log jump I was on the gas as hard as I could go. The night before, we had run 2.5 hours of gravel hill climbs in Booneville, so I knew the pain would set in momentarily. Denman's is kind of split into two sections, the first and second section are seperated by a 40 yard stretch of field before diving back into the woods again. Through the first section I was maintaining a strong pace with a heart rate close to 180, (much higher than the average mtb race). Coming into the section two I began to get a little sloppy and knew I had better slow it down a little bit, but I was reluctant to slow the pace. I still couldn't see Brian anywhere. I kept thinking to myself, "am I riding this slow or what?" Where is everyone? In a time trial effort a good strategy is to try to catch the guy in front of you, it provides momentum to ride faster and harder than normal. Anyway, as I pushed through the lactic acid burn from Tuesday nights ride I slid right through one turn and then got washed out on another. Crap! I'm losing time, now I've got to push it even harder!!
Finally, there's light at the end of the tunnel, but still no Brian in sight. Man that dude is fast, where the heck is he? As I rounded the exit of Denman's and headed down the "connector trail" I figured it was time to pour it on to make up lost time for washing out in the turns. A last right turn and there is the finish line with Donny and the clip board...."start rolling harder, don't be so soft", I kept telling myself. Finally I hit the end of the TT with my heart rate jumping out out of my jersey. I looked to see where Brian was on his warm down, and he was at the end of the bike path. Oh well, guess I sucked on that ride.
Many more racers had shown up after my start, so I was amazed to see a lot more people at the start/finish line when I came across. There's John Conlan, Bill Fanter, Terri Pottorff and Bianchi, even Craig Decker showed up on his commuter bike. All the racers slowly began to cross the line before it got too dark. A couple of riders had technicals and had to DNF.
Overall, this race was a total success for Donny and everyone who took part. What a great way to train mid-week. I want to thank Donny for taking the time to get this event together and putting others ahead of himself. Donny didn't even get a chance to race because of his responsibilities to score the times. Hopefully this event will spawn Chris Maharry to relocate his highly successful TT event to Wes Des Moines from the rutted out pits of hell at Targhetto.
Congrats to Brian Pottorff for laying it down last night, brother you are one fast stud. Great job to Chad Vandelune who just got back from Puerto Rico on a three day stage race with some seriously tough competition. Chad didn't even get a chance to rest his legs before competing last night and still threw down a third place finish. And lastly, thanks again to Donny for putting this "ride" on. We are all looking forward to the next one on Sept 7th. See you there!
Results from the Event:
Brian Pottorff: 18:22
Pete Basso: 18:26
Chad Vandelune: 19:22
Lee Johnson: 19:26
Bill Fanter: 19:32
Kyle Sedore: 19:33
Chris Maharry: 19:44
Jeff Anker: 19:58
Jason Alread: 20:11
Sean Noonan: 20:15
Jason Plunkett: 20:48
Jacob Nauman: 21:25
Craig Decker: 21:37
Taylor Webb: 21:38
Sterling Heise: 21:40
Chuck Hilsenbeck: 21:42
Troy Tellinghuisen: 22:22
Mike Lebeda: 22:46
Rick Cheevers: 22:46
John Pugh: 23:47
Mike Baker: 24:22
Jim Thomann: 25:29
Andrew Pospisaz: 25:30
Kobi Voshill: 25:57
Lance Chase: 26:20
Kyle Robinson: DNF
Mark West: DNF
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
by Pete Basso
No love at Sugar Bottom; rain postponments, cramps, mechanicals, big entry fees, pitiful swag and no free food at the best race of the year??? Nope, no love here today.
How do I begin to explain this race? For starters, it is the mountain bike race of the year for all Iowans who ride in the dirt. It seems the toughest riders show up for this race year after year and the course has no mercy on anyone. The loop is about 9.5 miles of pure single track, of which the Sport Class rides twice and the experts ride three times. But this isn't just any single track, this is a bumpy, rooted, rolling with short explosive uphills and long windy downhills. Each lap takes just under an hour for most riders. The trail is a little deceiving in that it seems to be mostly flat so you push it a little harder then normal when really you are climbing a lot more than you think. You get lost in the huge pine trees that carpet the forest with pine needles that make your wheels whisper as you carve the turns. The dense trees have grown into a natural canopy which shields you from the sun most of the ride. This course also offers some great decents that scramble your brain as you hammer the roots, rocks and erosion. (The suspension came in handy today).
I didn't get a count of how many riders were in the sport class, but it appeared to be around 50 or 60 when I looked back just before the start of the race. Tracy Thompson busts off his usual beginning of the race belch...that's when I know it was time to roll. The whole morning my legs had been unusually tight and achey. I wasn't sure how I'd feel until I got into the woods.
The race started with a 3/4 mile sprint up a gravel road then into the woods. When the gun went off, two big dudes jumped out front like someone was holding T-bone steaks on a stick just inches from their mouths. I was impressed by their sheer power off the start which immediately dissappeard as we began the climb. Now it was Paul Veneable, Chris Reed, myself , Tracy and Bill Fanter making up the front pack. As we dashed into the woods, Paul attacked and gapped the main group. I almost knew immediately that I didn't have the legs I usually do but kept telling myself it's still early, I'll stretch out and gain my strength.
Chris was leading our pack with me in the middle and Tracy yelling at Chris from behind. Tracy is non-stop comedy, just talking up a storm and mouthing off at every opportunity. He always keeps me laughing during a race. We made it through most of the first section of trail when Tracy passed us and gapped the field. He was riding strong and looked good. Chris, myself, and Bill Fanter were all hanging together in a small pack. We rode this way through the entire first lap. As we hit the Rock Garden area of the trail, (my favorite part), I rode up on Donny Quixote who was riding a rigid single speed bike. Poor Donny, I could see frustration vibrating out of his ears in this section. As I came up to him, yelled to pass but didn't tell him a side. Donny, being a seasoned veteran of racing moved to the left as I passed on the right. Then I hear him yell, "dude you've got to tell me what side", "come on". Knowing Donny like I do, I knew he was pissed more at the trail then he was at me passing him without calling a side. This is no place to ride without suspension.
As we finished the first lap, Bill had yelled at me from behind asking if I had any more liquids at the starting line that he could have. Seems Bill had run out. I had a little less than half a bottle left with an new bottle coming up. I handed Bill off the rest of my bottle as Pam Heise handed me my new bottle, (thanks Pam, you are the coolest).
We hit the long gravel rode up the hill again where I preceeded to really start my physical decline. Bill could sense the anguish and asked if I'd like to ride his wheel for awhile? Bill is the consument nice, polite guy who always is looking out for the other guy. I decided I was hurting and I'd better let him by so I could let him pull or chase Chris Reed down. It didn't take Bill long before he rode away from me about 1/3 way through lap #2. As we exited the first section of the trail and began a short climb to the most technical part of the trail I could feel the cramps slowly and intrevenously making their way through my legs. I popped a couple more Enduralyte tabs and a Hammer Gel. As I hit the toughest switchback I cranked on the pedals to make it through, but my legs screamed back sending three or four jolts of muscle cramps. I screamed in pain and jumped off the bike. I could see my legs slowly deforming before my eyes. I sat down for a minute and stretched the muscles where the cramps were. I must have stayed there for three minutes when Donny and Kyle Sedore caught up to me. I told Kyle as he passed, "Dude, I'm done". I had made up my mind to DNF the race. As I slowly walked my bike up the path I realized it is just as far to the finish riding as it would be to just stay on the trail and finish, plus, I was not going to let Sugar Bottom get me again.
Within 2 seconds I had changed my mind again and jumped on my bike and started riding. I knew I had to keep my legs spinning with as little effort as possible. This was going to be hard considering this is the toughest part of the course. I had to jump off two more times to stretch as I watched 3rd place slowly fall to 5th, then 10th and beyond. This sucks, I said to myself, but it could be worse....I could be in the hospital getting back surgery or missing a leg or worse yet, fighting in Iraq. These thoughts fueled my finish. I made it through the rest of the course and came in 15th overall.
As I made my way into the finish line, the race judges stop you to peel the number from your jersey. As soon as my legs hit the ground the muscles seized on me and I could barely walk. Brother Logan, (Jim Logan), had passed me in the woods, riding a single speed hard tail and tearing the trail up, saw my pain and elected to run to my car to get my recovery drink. Racing with friends definitely has it's perks. Thanks Jim you saved my life Sunday and great job by the way. As I lay there in my pity I watched numerous other riders of all levels cross the finish line writhing in pain with severe cramping as well. One of the worst was my buddy John Conlan. Johnny C is a strong technical rider who has seriously improved his fitness this year. However, Sugarbottom got the best of him as it did me. As JC came across the finish you could see bumps forming in his legs followed by explitives spewing from his mouth. When I say, "I feel your pain", today I really mean it.
Tracy ended up catching Paul who made a couple of attacks but couldn't withstand the consistency of the Atlas Stud. Tracy gets his first Sugarbottom win and a bunch of publicity. Great job Tracy. Also, congrats goes out to Bill Fanter who rode strong and finished 4th overall. Bill rode a great race and continues to improve tremendously every week.
In the Expert Class Brain Eppen and Cully Todd duked it out for first. Brian pulled away for the win and $500 cash. Cully got second followed by another Atlas rider, then a single speed freak on a fully rigid frame and finally our beloved Cam Kirkpatrick. Cam said he didn't feel too great today but still finished strong. Great job to everyone who made the trek, paid the ridiculous entry fee and walked away sore!!
Saturday, August 13, 2005
So my first race as a semi-pro would appropriately enough be a Nebraska series race. I say appropriate because the competition over there is what I would consider to be at the semi-pro level. I arrived at the race venue, Ponca State Park in the northeast corner of Nebraska, at about the same time as WWJ and Nooner. We got ourselves registered and headed out for a pre-ride lap on the course. Ponca is one of my favorite venues. The trails there are first rate, a lot of smooth, tight, fast singletrack with a lot of climbing. It is definitely one of those types of courses that suits my riding style really well.
After our pre-ride we noodled around some more, took care of the usual pre-race ‘business’ and lined up for the start. The race started on a black top road for about ¼ of a mile and then dumped us into some singletrack. I was sitting third wheel when we hit the dirt, behind Darin Schlake and Jesse Peterson. About midway through the first lap I could tell that I was going to have a great day. I felt like I was floating effortlessly up the climbs and I was riding very smooth lines with minimal braking. Darin began to gap Jesse and I about five minutes into the first lap. I eventually passed Jesse for 2nd place about midway through the first lap going up a pretty steep climb. I had no idea what was going on behind me, I couldn’t hear anybody behind me, so the three of us must have established a pretty good gap early on.
Throughout the first two laps (of four total), I could see Darin ahead of me but I had difficulty reeling him in. I would close the gap a little on the climbs and he would open it back up on the technical descents. I finally closed the gap about midway through the third lap and we rode together for about ten minutes, until we hit a pretty tough climb. He let me by and I pretty much checked out from there. I took off up the climb and it wasn’t long before I could no longer hear or see him.
I ended up winning the race by about two minutes, which was another major milestone for me. It had been a goal of mine for a long time, to win a Psycowpath race. It wasn’t too long ago that the top finishers were laying the wood to me by five or more minutes. This is definitely the biggest win that I have ever had and it was incredibly satisfying! The win launched me from fourth overall in the points to second. I feel like I have a pretty good shot at the overall and I definitely plan to shoot for it. Nebraskacycling.org did a pretty nice little write up on the race. Check it out if your interested.
Next up is the next IMBCS race at Sugarbottom. Cully Todd usually puts everybody in the hurt bag there, but I’m flying right now so it should be interesting.
Day 1 – July 14
I arrived in good ole Durango, CO around 2:30pm. I looked at my Dad and said hi, then I suited up for a ride at the Telegraph Trails. My Dad opted to chill in the room while I rode. I think he was probably pretty tired from his long drive from Austin, TX. The Telegraph Trails include the areas first wagon road in addition to some old communication lines that are still in place, a lot of history there. There is over 30 miles of wooded, hilly singletrack. You are either going up or down so you better have a set of good lungs otherwise the altitude will kick the crap out of you.
About 30 minutes into my ride I heard a rattling sound that I’ve only ever heard on TV. My first instinct was to look around to see where it was coming from. As I was rounding a corner, I saw out of the corner of my eye a brown rattlesnake coiled up and ready to whoop some ass. I thought about stopping to say hi, but he looked pretty pissed off so I kept riding. I hate snakes anyway, slimy, sneaky, shifty, @$^&!%$ little reptiles.
I got about three hours in at a fairly moderate effort and never rode the same trail twice, sweet! I was suffering a little from the altitude, but I always adjust pretty quickly.
Day 2 – July 15
I woke up at about 7:30, ate a box of cereal, drank a pot of coffee (from The Steaming Bean of course), shot the shit with my Dad and then suited up for my first epic of the camp. I did one of my all time favorite rides, on or off road. The road ride from Durango to Silverton is a tick over 50 miles and goes over two mountain passes. I do this ride out and back for a little over 100 miles of riding. The views are absolutely unreal, the roads can be pretty narrow, the climbs are epic with a seven mile climb (7% average gradient) out of Silverton, and the descents are screaming fast.
I could still feel the effects of the thin air a little, but it was better than yesterday. I was also a little dehydrated and didn’t feel that great during the latter half of the ride. I suffered throughout the ride but it was still a blast. I ended up climbing a total of 8200 feet, with a peak elevation of 11,000 feet. I did the ride in 5:40 at about a 17.7 mph average, my fastest on this ride so far. I guess that means that I am more fit than last year. Cool...
Day 3 – July 16
Woke up and went through the same routine as yesterday morning, as I will pretty much everyday while I’m out here. I did another one of my all-time favorite rides, this time on the dirt. One of the great things about Durango is that I never have to actually drive to any of the rides that I do. I left from the hotel and rode about 18 miles on pavement until the road turned to gravel and eventually into jeep road. The gravel/jeep road portion of the ride is about 12 miles. Portions of this road are incredibly steep reducing me to my ‘granniest’ of granny gears. Normally you wouldn’t think of a gravel road as being technical, however some of the steeper portions of this road are very technical due to large, loose rocks that are strewn about. The first 30 miles of the ride is pretty much a constant climb up to Kennebec Pass, which sits at about 11,600 feet. One of the fun parts about this climb is that I usually encounter a couple of ‘cattle cars’ full of tourists. They always look at me with about the same expression as a bunch of cows in a ….. cattle car. Apparently they’ve never seen a cyclist ride uphill. It took me about 2 ½ hours to get to Kennebec Pass, pretty much all climbing, only in Colorado…
Next is where the real fun begins, 21 miles of some of the most amazing singletrack in existence known as the Colorado Trail. There is a ton of bench cut track, if you happen to wonder off the trail you will end up at the bottom of Junction Creek canyon. That would pretty much suck so I would recommend keeping your tread on the trail. I could write for hours describing various parts if the Colorado Trail, I’ll spare you the boredom and instead refer you to a link on the web that contains a bunch of pictures. I didn’t take the pictures nor do I know who the knuckleheads are in the pictures. http://staffwww.fullcoll.edu/brippe/kennebec/index.htm
Total ride time for the day was about 6:30, including some diversions up near Kennebec Pass.
Day 4 – July 17
I did a 3 hour recovery ride with my Dad today and rode on some roads that I had never ridden before. I always enjoy the rides with my old man, it’s usually at a fairly easy pace for me. He’s got about 20 years on me and has consequently slowed down a little. However, he used to be an expert master racer back in the day. After about two hours of riding we stopped at the best bakery in the U.S. simply called ‘Bread’. If you ever get to Durango, look this place up and go. You will not regret it, just ask Nathan Bartels. He goes to college in Durango and Bread is responsible for the 30 extra pounds of body mass that he brings back to Des Moines every summer.
Day 5 – July 18
I did the Durango to Silverton ride again, I couldn’t resist. I usually never do the same ride twice when I’m out here, but this ride is way too much fun to pass up. I felt great the entire ride, I was adequately hydrated, acclimated and fed. I ran into some cat from Albuquerque, NM that goes by the name of Cliff. He’s a semi retired physician that frequents Durango often. It was nice to have someone to talk to on such a long ride. I finished the ride in 5:32 at about 18.2 mph for an average, my fastest time yet. Did I mention that the descents are screaming fast? I love passing cars…
Day 6 – July 19
The Hermosa Creek Trail is one of the more popular trails in the Durango area. The trailhead is located about 15 miles north of Durango. The trail itself is nearly 20 miles of ascending and descending smooth-running singletrack beside the beautiful Hermosa Creek. While not overly technical, there are some off-camber sections of trail that look precipitously down to the creek. Complicated with roots and rocks, these sections lend an element of technicality not otherwise encountered. There are a number of creek crossings and the water is cold enough that you definitely want to keep your nether regions out of it. Both trailheads see enough use from ATV’s and horses that they can be pretty rough at times and made me wish that I had my full suspension bike with me. I think the entire ride was about 5 ½ hours long, including the 20 miles of pavement and gravel I rode to get to the trailhead and back to town. I got about 20 miles of pavement in addition to 40 miles of out and back singletrack, another epic ride…
Day 7 – July 20
Today was my last day in Durango, always a sad moment. I would kill to live out here, however the average household income in La Plata County is around $40,000 and the average home costs about $300,000. You do the math. My plan was to do the Kennebec Pass loop again and get back to the hotel and shower up before check out time. It took some persuasion, but I talked the desk clerk into extending my check out to 2pm. I took off around 7:30 and did the same ride up to Kennebec Pass and rode the Colorado Trail back to Durango. Words cannot describe how amazing this ride is. The epic climb, the singletrack, the scenery and the fragrant scent of the pines of the high mountains…. Totally unreal.
I got back to the hotel about 5 ½ hours later and found that the maids has already cleaned the room. Oh well, I took a shower anyway. Whoever had the room reserved is going to have to deal with a dirt coated bathtub, a dirty towel on the floor and a tainted toilet seat.
I packed the rest of my crap, made a few stops in town and headed out for Aspen where I hooked up with Nooner. There is a NORBA National at Snowmass this coming weekend. I’m looking forward to watching some pro’s put the hurt on each other.
Day 8 – July 21
Got up in the morning and went down to the hotel restaurant for the complimentary continental breakfast with Nooner. The hotel we stayed at was the type of place that the rich folk frequent. The employees are bona-fide professional ass-kissers. They serve on you hand and foot, it can get a little over bearing at times. I’m thankful that Nooner, his brother (Chewbacca), and expecially his mom let me crash in their room for free.
Nooner was planning to do the NORBA marathon this morning so we packed up the car and headed for Snowmass. His race started at 9 so about 20 minutes after they started I headed out for an easy lap on the same course. As expected, the course was amazing. It was a 25 mile lap and the racers were doing two laps. The course had an epic climb, sweet singletrack, some technical rocky sections and some amazing views of the valley.
After I finished my ride I wandered around the expo area and checked out some of the pro’s bikes. I began to drool uncontrollably, so I went down the hill to Snowmass village to try and regain my composure and wait for Nooner to finish his race. About 4:45 after the start, I finally found Nooner wandering around the finish area. He had one shoe on and the other was still clipped into his pedal. This guy gets about as many bad breaks as WWJ. He reminded me of a character from the Peanuts comic, ‘Pigpen Pete’. He had dirt all up and down his sides, his shorts were halfway down his crack with dirt/mud stuffed down his pants as well as underneath his jersey. After I fed him some water and Fig Noonans, I took him to the bike wash area and hosed him down.
Day 9 – July 22
Nooner and I broke out the road bikes and took off from the hotel to ride up Independence Pass. It is about a 19 mile climb to the top with slopes that kick up to about 8% in some areas. Nooner and I swapped pulls all the way to the top. I paced him as much as I could because he was still a little cooked from yesterday’s race. We got to the top in about 105 minutes and went straight down the back side, passing cars left and right, how sweet is that! We stopped about 38 miles into the ride for water. Nooner wasn’t feeling up to doing 100 today so he turned back. I continued on and turned around at 50 miles and headed back. I got to the top of Independence once again and saw Nooner crawling out from behind a big rock. He got to the top and decided to take a nap until I caught back up to him. We headed back down into Aspen, passing cars once again. My maximum speed, while coasting, was a little over 50 mph. What a rush! I had to bunny hop over a chipmunk at about 45 mph. The little shit probably saw me coming and wanted to kamikaze me into an endo.
Day 10 – July 23 – An epic day in Aspen
Nooner and I woke and inhaled some breakfast and got back to the room in time to watch Lance crush everybody on the final time trial of his career. After the TT, we headed out on our mountain bikes to do some exploring of the area. We headed up a gravel road that led to the top of Aspen Mountain. It was a 5 1/5 mile ride that climbed a total of about 3200 feet. It averaged out to about an 11% gradient. A lot of spots were so steep that I was once again reduced to my ‘granniest’ of granny gears. It was a tough climb and took about 80 minutes to get to the summit. Once again we were treated to some amazing views at the top. It was among the most beautiful views that I had ever been privy to viewing. The ride back down was pretty crazy, I spent a lot time on my brakes and had to reduce my speed considerably. I was afraid that my rims would accumulate so much heat from the friction that my tires might blow. While riding down some of the road, I remember looking at the steepness of some parts in a state of disbelief. I couldn’t believe that I was able to ride my bike up some of them. Once we got to the bottom we tooled around town on some of the city trails. We ended up riding for about 3 ½ hours then hit the showers. The NORBA pro’s were racing at 3 bells and we didn’t want to miss any of it.
Nooner, myself and Chewbacca got to Snowmass with about 15 minutes to spare. We found a prime viewing spot about midway up the initial climb and watched the start of the pro men’s and women’s races. As they went by, it was pretty obvious that there was some major suffering going on due to the steepness of the climb and the altitude. We then started our long hike to the top of the hill and got about halfway up and realized that we had no idea where the hell we were going. We wandered over to an area where a bunch of other people were and found out that one of the ski lifts to the top of the course was free. Chewbacca about ripped our arms out of our sockets when he heard this. So we tumbled back down the mountain to the start of the lift. We got to the top of the mountain and had to backtrack downward a little to get to the course. On our way down Chewbacca had a little too much momentum going and did an endo onto one of the gravel roads (we were on foot). He got pissed off again. I remember hearing somewhere that it is never a good idea to piss off a wookie…
We finally found a portion of the race course and it happened to be one of the more technical portions. It was really cool watching the pros fly over some pretty gnarly stuff. One dude broke his chain and stopped to fix it. I helped him out because I felt pretty bad for him, he was having a good race.
As the race progressed, we followed along the trail with the intent of following it to the finish. It started to cloud up and sprinkle a little and we didn’t think much of it. At one point while we were walking along the trail, the race leader (Geoff Kabush) about ran over Chewbacca. Chewie wailed out a primal scream and scurried up a tree and out of harms way. We were about 3 miles from the finish and all hell broke loose with the weather. The temperature had dropped from about the upper 80’s to the lower 60’s in a matter of minutes. The rain was coming down in sheets and it was hailing marble size hail. Shortly thereafter lightning started striking everywhere. We found the nearest shelter, the underside of some rich dudes deck, to wait the storm out. We could see the course from where we were and the trail had become a river. As racers would go by we would yell encouragement to them. One dude stopped dead in his tracks when he heard us yelling and bee-lined it for our shelter. We ended up waiting underneath the deck for about 90 minutes before Nooner ran out to get the van. He hitched a ride to the bottom and came back to pick us up. He had the furnace blasting when we got into the van and it felt so good. We were cold and wet, but in retrospect it was still a lot of fun.
It was an epic day, the last of many epic days this time around. Then I drove home, so sad…
Thanks for reading my long winded account of my training camp. I know it was a little on the lengthy side, but those that have ever experienced cycling in Colorado can understand that you cannot adequately describe in words the amazing experience of riding out there.
Next up is round 3 of the Psycowpath series at Ponca State Park in Nebraska and the Iowa state RR.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Monday, August 08, 2005
For over 12 years Penn Cycle has been promoting a very popular series race in
Since this was potentially the last race ever, Pat and his crew sent out a bribe over the internet to see if we could break the previous attendance record of 175 riders by offering free pizza after the race. It worked, 247 riders showed up to race and eat over 42 pizza's. The class I race in, (Rec Men's), was 112 deep. One of the largest fields I've ever competed against.
The race always seems to start with an uphill climb, (see the pics below). With this big of a field it was the best way to string out the riders before going into the woods. The single track at the top of the mountain is very tight and twisty. It doesn't offer a lot of great places to pass people. My strategy was simple and consistent as with most of my races, get up the hill in one of the top three positions and get into the woods first. As I crested the climb in first place and just about ready to dive into the woods one rider, (Charlie Simarek), passed me. I stayed on his wheel to see what kind of skills he had. To my surprise Charlie could ride well in the technical stuff. He and I stayed together through the first lap where we began to hit the Advanced Mens group, (whom had 81 riders). As we came out of the woods, another rider passed both of us, (Mick Carlson), who has been the consistent winner of the Rec Class most of the year. As the seond lap began, Charlie had put a few seconds on me in the traffic, however, I was able to catch him on the climb which helped me stay with him in the woods. Now we were starting to run into the back half of the advanced mens group in a big way. Charlie made a very smart move, using his knowledge of the course and perfect timing, he passed three advanced mens racers in a very tight area which left me sitting behind them trying to get past. He began to put another little gap on me and the course was starting to run out of room for a come back. I yelled at the riders ahead of me, "on your left", "on your left", but no real effort was put forth to let me through. OK, now this hasn't happened to me in a long time, most riders let you through immediately, so it was time to get aggressive. With a sudden burst of energy I pushed forward next to the second rider, using my shoulder and helmet, I buried it in his side pushing him off the course. I quickly yelled, "sorry my friend, I thought I could get by without bumping you". No such luck.
The next guy was still in my way but a turn was coming up. The turn was a left hand turn with a tree to the left. I edged up next to him cutting the tree by an inch and bumping him from the side, forcing that other rider off the course and putting me directly behind second place. I could still see him but it was going to take some effort to catch him before the finish. I stepped on the throttle and began my pursuit. Fatique was setting in but my riding still strong. After a few short steep downhills I found myself three bike lengths from Charlie and a fast decent coming up. Only one left turn to go before the downhill and I was on his tire plotting my over throw on the downhill. As I looked in front of him I saw Mick Carlson right in front. This finish is going to be great with all three riders sprinting to the finish!! Excitement was setting in and the adrenaline was flowing. I said to myself, "Look out boys, here comes the bull in a china shop". I was so excited about this that I lost focus on the course and suddenly wiped out in a sand wash....CRAP!! Now I'm definitely out of contention but I still had to fight for third place. I got up very quickly taking no inventory of any possible damage and jumped back on my bike. I knew the fourth place rider wasn't too far behind me. Coming out of the woods I looked back and there he was, 20 yards behind me. I pushed the downhill pretty hard but didn't want to take any chances of wiping out again. All I had to to was ride smart and give a 90% effort and the third place was in the bag. As soon as the downhill turns left you have a 150 yard climb to the finish. I pushed that as hard as I could to finally end the race in third place.
Overall, I'm disappointed in my finish only because I was looking forward to a serious battle for first, instead I found myself trying to maintain third place. However, out of 112 riders, third place is nothing to be mad about. I felt strong during the race and rode fairly smart. Great job to Charlie and Mick for riding so consistenly and sticking it to me in the end. Great job fellas.
Thanks to the whole crew at Penn Cycle for doing such a great job over the last 12 years. I hope you guys can work something out for another venue to race at next year.