Sunday, July 29, 2007

Durango Day 4 – 7/17

About a week ago I got an e-mail from a dude I sort of knew through racing, Rob Houlihan. I’d never actually met him but we knew of each other. Anyway, he e-mailed to ask about the cabin that we stayed at last year when we were in Durango. I told him the what and where and it turned out that he and his family were going to be here at the same time that I was. So after a couple of phone calls we were finally able to hook up for a ride. We left the cabin around 7:30 in the AM and rode down to the Telegraph Trails. My legs were still very sore, I don’t ever remember having legs this sore from the previous days rides. I probably should have taken it easy today, but it was the only chance that I’d be able go for a ride with Rob. We hit the trails and maintained a pretty good pace up to Pilaski’s Point. After a while I could tell that Rob was a little quicker on the technical descents than I was, so I made a point to make sure he led the way when going downhill in the interest of preventing myself from wrapping myself and/or my bike around a tree or rock. It’s a lot more fun for me to follow somebody that is better than I am at technical descents. I followed his lines as long as I could hang onto him and had a great time of it. I ended up getting about 4 hours of total ride time in. I was only able to get about 24 minutes of Zone 2 in with rest being Zone 1. I didn’t try to push myself too hard because I was obviously in need of some rest. It did end up being a great ride despite how tired I was.

Durango Day 5 – 7/18

I decided to take a recovery today and do a road ride with the old man. I woke up with some very sore legs, were talkin’ lifting weights with the legs for the first time in a year kind of soreness. It hurt to walk down stairs, it hurt to walk downhill and it hurt to get out of bed. We headed into town and scored a breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes, pancakes and coffee at a local greasy spoon. The only bad thing about the meal was the freeze dried coffee, but that’s how it is at greasy spoons, if they have fancy coffee then it ain’t a true greasy spoon! We tooled around town, rode up to some of the neighborhoods at higher elevations to check out how the rich folk live. I can’t even begin to imagine how much some of these pads cost. I suppose it doesn’t really matter because as long as I continue down my current path of employment, I will always be classified among the common folk and I’m A-OK with that. Pops cut out of the ride after about 90 minutes because he was feelin’ a little cooked from his rides over the past couple of days. I continued onward at a nice easy pace of about 110 -120 in an attempt to help flush some of the crud out of my legs. It ended up being a nice easy three hour ride, enjoying the Durango cycling vibe and scenery.

Durango Day 6 – 7/19

Headed out in the morning and rode Dry Fork up to the Colorado Trail. Rode the Colorado Trail down to Durango. Rode up Animas Mountain and did the big loop to the top of Animas Mountain. Paused to enjoy the amazing view of Durango and the Animas River valley. On the way up I passed a couple of peeps that were running up the mountain. Pretty amazing stuff because the climb up was mostly very technical terrain and a lot of granny gear climbing. Once I got back to the bottom of Animas Mountain I rode back over to the Colorado Trail and back tracked it back to the cabin. My legs were still pretty tired, about the only time that I could get my HR into Zone 2 was when I was going uphill. I didn’t really persist, my legs were still in obvious need of some rest. So at the end of the day I had about 5 hours of total ride time, 2 of which were in Zone 2. My average HR was around 131.

Stay tuned for more updates,

Thanks for reading,


Monday, July 23, 2007

Cycling Bliss

Durango Day 1 – 7/14

Arrived in Durango around 1, got checked into the cabin and ready to ride by 2. Rode over to the Telegraph Trails, I was really jones’n to ride. I haven’t ridden in 2 days, way too much time off. Hit the base of Horse Gulch road and began the climb to the Meadow Loop. Hit the Meadow Loop, paused and smiled to myself… aaah, it’s good to be back… the fun was about to begin. Rode around the Meadow Loop to the base of the climb up to Pulaski’s Point and was pretty surprised at how good I felt at altitude.

The climb up to Pulaski's Point, the lower trail is the old telegraph lines, the upper trail is the grind to the top

The climb up to Pulaski's Point

The ride begins at about 6,600 feet and probably tops out at around 7,500 feet maybe? Not a lot of elevation change but a lot short climbs, some of which are pretty severe, enough that I was reduced to my granny gear a few times. It typically takes a day or two to get myself somewhat acclimated to the high altitude here. Today it seemed as though I never left! If you ever get a chance to make it out here, you gotta ride the Telegraph Trails. My total ride time was about 3:15 with an average HR of around 151.

Durango Day 2 – 7/15

My first epic of the trip, the Kennebec Pass Loop. Somewhere around 50+ miles of high altitude off-road riding. Left the cabin and began the 2 ½ hour climb to the ‘Notch’, a few hundred feet above Kennebec Pass at just over 12,000 feet.
The first hour was pavement, the next half hour was gravel and the last hour was some technical jeep roads. Some of the climbs on the jeep road are so technical and steep that I had to drop it into my granny gear a few times. There were a number of times when I came real close to stalling out and dabbing. Once at the top I stopped for about 20 minutes of chill time and enjoyed one of the most amazing views that my half blind eyes have ever had the privilege of seeing. I ate a Clif Bar, drank some water and began my way down to Durango via the Colorado Trail… nothing but 26 miles of sweet singletrack.

This... is why I ride.

Need I say more...

About 70% of it was downhill, the remaining 30% is climbing… steep climbing, some of which was so steep that I had to hike-a-bike. I pushed myself so hard going up a couple of the climbs that my legs started to cramp a little. Ended up with about 5 ½ hours of ride time, an average HR of around 151 and some very tired legs!

Durango Day 3 – 7/16

My all time favorite road ride, Durango to Silverton and back. Leaving from the cabin I end up with a total distance of around 109 miles. I could tell almost as soon as I started the ride that my legs were very tired from yesterdays efforts. I continued as planned figuring that my legs would eventually come around. As I started the first climb of the day my legs told me that if I persisted with this nonsense, I’d be in for a very long day. It should come as no surprise that I did persist, and it was a very long day. I still thoroughly enjoyed the ride, beautiful scenery, a lot of tough climbing and some screaming fast descents. In the end I had 6 hours of ride time, 8,800 feet of climbing, and average HR of about 141 and once again, a very tired pair of legs.

More posts to follow.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Seven Oaks and Manawa

Brief race reports…

Seven Oaks

The weather turned out to be near perfect, sunny, warm and most importantly, dry as a bone. Overall, the attendance was disappointing. However the expert field was stacked by Iowa standards. We had nearly 20 experts! As always, I looked around to see who was going to inflict the most amount of pain on me. The king of pain, Brian Eppen was there. Cully Todd, Andy Lueck, WWJ, John Eppen… Yes, Eppen has a sibling, a brother that will soon be inflicting even more pain upon the Iowa mountain bike racing community. Even tPod decided to show up for some pain and suffering.
So the race started, I led the way into the singletrack followed closely by Eppen and the rest of the field. Within a the first half lap Eppen and I had opened up a pretty substantial gap.

Leading Eppen before he put me in the hurt locker.

About ¾ of the way through lap one, Eppen passed me for the lead. I rode his wheel for the next lap or so. Everything was going pretty good, I was feeling pretty good, I was riding well. Though I did have that feeling that if he were to turn the screws a little tighter, he’d start to gap me. We hit a pretty technical downhill switchback, he went through it pretty quickly, I tried to follow suit. I took a pretty stupid line, dumped my bike over, got up, dusted myself off and tried to close the gap. I was getting pretty tired + Brian was flyin’ = game over for Cam. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort however, I worked myself over pretty hard to reel him back in, but it wasn’t happenin’ today.

tPod showin' his prowess on the dirt

Sea Biscuit entering the pain cave

The screaming tifosi lettin' it all hang out

Brian ended up winning with a time of 1:39:43, I rolled in 2nd in 1:40:30. Cully came in 3rd in 1:43:00. tPod was a big unknown for most of the field and brought home a had earned 4th in 1:46:22. John Eppen rounded out the top five with a time of 1:49:31.
All in all, it was a great day of racing! The trails were in the best condition that I have ever seen. Sea Biscuit and the folks with Singletrack Promotions did a stellar job in prepping the course. Seven Oaks continues to be one of the best venues for all things mountain biking in Central Iowa. The next race at Seven Oaks will be the 24 hour race on Labor Day weekend. I highly recommend this to anybody that loves to ride a mountain bike. I’ve done the 24 hour as a member of a four man team the last two years and had a ball!


It was a blazing hot day with temps soaring up to 99 degrees in Council-Tucky. Manawa is a fairly new venue, it’s pancake flat, very tight, very twisty, very technical and very fun. Of all of the race courses, this is the type that I struggle the most on. Going in I knew that it was going to be an interesting day.
As is always the case with Psycowpath races, the expert field was stacked, McNeil, Grady, Deal, Shim, WWJ, cyclocross superstud Wilhelm was there. My plan was to make into the woods 2nd wheel and let somebody that was familiar with the course show me the way. The race started and I got boxed out by McNeil and as a result, ended up 5th wheel going into the woods. McNeil was leading, followed by Gersib, Schlake, Shim and myself. McNeil pretty much dropped everybody almost immediately.

McNeil puttin' everbody in the hurt locker at the gun

About midway through lap one I passed Shim. Shortly thereafter I passed Schlake. I looked back and had a train of about 6 riders behind me. Near the end of lap one I caught and passed Gersib. Right before we hit the start / finish line I saw McNeil up the trail, he looked like he missed a shift and got it stuck in reverse. I and the six man train behind me passed him like he was standing still. He was obviously having some pretty major issues to slow down that much. So all of a sudden I’m in the lead. Not exactly where I wanted to be at the time. So I continued on, trying not to push too hard in the singletrack to ensure that my legs would be able to counter any attacks that might be uncorked over one of the open sections. I lead throughout lap 2 and all of lap three and the six or seven man train behind me was still there. Things were about to get interesting…

The Rassy camo at the head of the train

I knew the only way that I was going to have a good finish was to try and split up the train behind me a little. The only way that I was going to be able to do that was to uncork a massive attack on one of the open sections. The way that I felt, I knew if I had done that I would have put myself into the red. I’d been in real trouble if somebody would have been able to go with me and possibly counter. So instead I decided to slow the pace down on one of the open sections with the hope that somebody else would attack.
Sure enough, I heard somebody accelerating through the grass on the left side of me. I took a quick look over my shoulder to see who it was and how close he was. I wanted to time a counter attack such that I could jump on his wheel and follow. The deal went flyin’ by me, I grabbed his wheel and followed.

The Deal unleashing his fury

I think Grady was riding third wheel. Shortly after the attack, it was just the three of us and we were moving along at a pretty quick pace. I was kinda tired and riding like an amateur in the tight twisty stuff. The Deal was able to gap me a little, Grady recognized that this was probably a pretty critical juncture of the race, passed me going over a log and chased after the Deal. They both got away from me pretty easily and I put myself into preservation mode with the hope of at least hanging onto 3rd.
About midway through lap 4, I noticed that I was closing the gap a little. Grady looked back, saw that I was closing, passed the Deal and took off like a scalded dog. I caught and passed the Deal shortly after that and started y pursuit of Grady. Shortly after the beginning of lap 5, I closed the gap to Grady and rode his wheel. My plan was to stay on his wheel until the last open section of the lap, pass him and bring home the win.
We stayed together until we got close to the end of the lap. He managed to gap me a little before we hit the last open section. My legs were cooked, I couldn’t close the gap and he entered the last section of singletrack ahead of me. Aaron ended up winning the race with a time of 1:45:23. I brought home 2nd again with a time of 1:45:30, a painful 7 seconds back. The Deal salvaged 3rd with a time of 1:46:06, followed by Schlake with a time of 1:46:44. Mod had an awesome day rounding out the top five with a time of 1:48:00.

The podium, check out the dork on step #2

It was a pretty exciting race from start to finish, lot’s of fun to be a part of it. I bet it was a lot of fun to watch! I’m very happy with my result on a course that’s not really well suited for me. Just about everybody had home course advantage over me and that’s a pretty big factor on a course like Manawa. I don’t mind finishing 2nd to a cat like Grady, or any of a number of others in the expert field for the Psycowpath races. There’s a lot of really fast guys across the river and anytime that I can finish near the top end of the field can be considered a good day.
So the first half of the season is officially over. I’m sitting in 1st for the Psycowpath series and 2nd for the IMBCS. It’s going to be an interesting and fun second half of the season for both series. I’m not gonna worry about that for a short while though because all that’s on my mind right now is Durango! I've been in Durango for about a week now and I’ll try to get an update on how the rides are going. So until then, thanks for reading.