Epic Prep Time

From the “don’t try this at home” files…

The Breck Epic, a 6 day stage race out of Breckenridge, CO, is a burly task. One that, if someone is going to race it, they generally plan and train far in advance. I’ve been hoping to get in this year, and I found out late last week that I’d be racing it. That gives me exactly six weeks of prep time. I’ve raced it two other times (won it once)… the siren song of its official-ish self-declaration of being the “singlespeed stage race world championships” drew me to race singlespeed both years. If you told me two years ago that I’d have to take on such a task with six weeks of focused preparation, I would have balked a little. However, I have come to realize that A)being acclimated to living at above 9000ft will mean a lot, and B) I’ve developed a good bit of “old woman power” to fall back on when the race exceeds my current level of training.

Old Woman Power (and likewise, Old Man Power) is a somewhat abstract combination of physical and mental abilities that give you an almost-mythological power over your younger opponents. I’m just now getting experienced enough to tap in to the edge of it, and it’s pretty awesome. It’s worth mentioning that my riding since I’ve come to Colorado, while done without any real structure or plan other than “ride a lot until you’re tired and then take a break,” is conducive to a successful Breck Epic. I’ve done lots of climbing, lots of back-to-back big days, and the 4-5 hour outing feels pretty normal to me now.

So, these last few weeks before I need to taper back and rest ahead of the start will basically just involve a little more focus on back-to-back training days. For example- I raced Winter Park on Saturday, went out for a 3-hour singlespeed gravel grinder on Sunday, then rode four hours of front range stuff from down in Lakewood on Monday. I’ll mostly rest/recover this week, then repeat the process over the weekend when I race the Firecracker 50 (as part of a relay duo) on Saturday, do a long, high singlespeed ride of some sort on Sunday, then another played-by-ear hard ride on Monday. I’ll add in another mid-week hard ride on Wednesday or Thursday, then race Winter Park XC again on Saturday and repeat the weekend pattern of 3 hard days before simmering the volume down a little bit each week leading up to the race.

It’s worth mentioning, I take recovery pretty seriously. For general well-being, I go to yoga two days per week, try to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night, and visit the chiropractor. Acutely, I make sure to follow all of my back-to-back ride days with a recovery drink and 30-60min of time in the Elevated Legs. I can tell a difference if I skip those things during multiple days of hard riding. If you’re going to invest the time, effort, and money in to bike racing, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t do things that maximize your recovery. Those things are my not-so-secret weapons against feeling like crap on days 2 and 3.

Speaking of products that give you energy, I have some other cool, Epic-Related news- If you’ve ever skipped the products at an aid station because you hadn’t tried them before, then some of you may be in luck. I’ll be handing out free samples of Gu Energy product to anyone that is registered for Breck Epic and either comes to the shop or finds me at a race (I’ll be racing regionally most weekends up until August). That way, you can try it out and make sure the taste/digestibility works for you, and you’ll be able to confidently take advantage of Gu’s sponsorship of the Breck Epic event. If you’re interested, shoot an email to andrea at brickhouseracing dot com or comment below (make sure you enter a valid email address with your comment)

I’m super excited. Breck Epic is one of my favorite races for sooooo many reasons. It can’t be August soon enough!

Winter Park XC Superloop Race Report

I felt somewhat relieved to not go race the enduro. I’m sure it would have been awesome, but my race at Winter Park was pretty awesome as well. Friday, I went for a quick recovery/bike test ride before opening the shop. The Problem Solvers PF30 eccentric bottom bracket I’ve been using for singlespeeding purposes has been one of the most problematic pieces of bike equipment I’ve ever used. Not only is the tolerance to the frame so poor that it gets noisy at the first sign of any mud or water, it also requires the trial-and-error fitment of multiple spacers and crap on the crank spindle in order to work without either binding or having play in it. I worked on it for 45 minutes Thursday night, and found a combination that only had a tiny bit of play in it. One more tiny spacer on top of that, and the drag is terrible. I’m currently looking in to a replacement from either Niner, Wheels Manufacturing, or Team Beer.

I rode over to Golden Gate Canyon State Park and for a short climb to a section of trail that would give me a nice feel of the bike and wake my legs up a little (my ride Wednesday was 5 hours, so I took Thursday off). The only troubling thing about my 40 minute ride? I’m so used to descending on a 6″ bike now that I got myself in to a couple of hairy spots on the hardtail. That’ll take a little getting used to again. Everything else shaked out pretty well, though.

Saturday morning, I made the drive over to Winter Park. I was there pretty early, so I registered and then sat around in the car drinking my favorite pre-race mix of Blueberry Pomegranate Gu Brew and Pure Clean Beet Powder. I’ve only ever ridden the DH trails at Winter Park, so I wasn’t totally sure of what to expect. I didn’t ask anyone about singlespeed gearing, I just assumed that since there were a couple of climbs, I’d put a 32×21 on there and hope for the best.

Once I was dressed and rolling around, I found the course start and rode most of the first climb. My gearing felt good. I could stand and either cruise or hammer and still be in a comfortable cadence zone. I love that the race starts all of the pro, expert, and singlespeed women together. Unlike the last race I did, it meant that the SS women wouldn’t need to ride through large portions of the field ahead of us while on all of the climbs. We all gathered, and there were two other SS women and a host of experts and pros. I didn’t really know anyone, so I figured I’d just go my pace and see how it worked out.

We started, and immediately, one of the other SS women took off near the front group of geared riders. I just paced myself. We had about 10 minutes of climbing up a ski hill access road before getting in to the first singletrack. I quickly caught up to the lady ahead of me. She was sitting and looking comfortable, so I think she was on a slightly lower gear than me. I didn’t know for sure if that was a good thing, but I wasn’t going to stick around and ask.

After a little singletrack, we dumped out on to another access road. It was one of several ~1 mile pieces of road I have dubbed “Singlespeeder Purgatory” because of their slightly downhill gradient. Basically, in those spots, you’ll spin-coast your brains out while geared riders go flying past you in their biggest gear. Being conservative, there were at least 3 miles of singlespeeder purgatory on the race course. I used all of them for drinking and eating Roctane gels. After what seemed like forever, we took some more singletrack out of the ski area and did some nice, flowy stuff with intermittent gravel road climbs.

Every time I’d get on a road, I was looking over my shoulder and expecting to see the other singlespeeders behind me. It never happened, though. There were definitely some steep spots where my gearing wasn’t ideal, but there were more flat-ish spots where, if other ladies were on easier gears, I definitely had the advantage. I knew that as long as I didn’t blow myself up too much while climbing, I’d be golden. Soon enough, we were back in the ski area, and the course was mostly downhill to the finish. I was starting to get my hardtail mojo back a little (there wasn’t anything really techy about the course. It was mostly smooth with a few roots and rocks), so I cruised all the way down, zipped up my jersey, and saluted the finish. Dirty South, baby.

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Second place had left already… the podiums were more than 3 hours after the race finished. When I stepped up there, the 3rd place lady asked, “Where did YOU come from?” That’ll make you feel pretty awesome.

Indecisions (photo heavy)

I’m sitting around the RV right now wringing my hands about what to do this weekend. I’m entered in the Snowmass BME race. For whatever reason, my motivation to go to said race has fizzled out. I’m not really sure why- it’s sort of a combination of the thought of being in a ski village for a few days combined with the fact that the race is mostly lift-serviced. I’m not criticizing the organizers for that second one, but, personally speaking, it’s not nearly as appealing to me as non-lift serviced riding. I could race Singlespeed XC at Winter Park instead, and it’d be a cheaper day trip as opposed to a three day/two night stay in the land of $17 hamburgers.

On the other hand, it’s been ingrained into my psyche for as long as I remember that you don’t just back out of things because you’re feeling wishy-washy (see pic of Gerald in my previous post). That personality trait makes more sense for children and teenagers than it does for an adult making a financially and personal preference-based decision, but it still makes me feel superiorly guilty to consider backing out.

The last week of riding was such a beautiful mix of both styles that it doesn’t help me much. The day after the Beti Bike Bash, I met some new friends at Keystone. Along the way, I stopped for an impromptu hike up the mountain from Loveland Pass. I can’t get enough of being up that high. It’s one of the most beautiful experiences on earth.

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There are tons of tiny wildflowers blooming. It boggles my mind to see something so delicate in such a harsh place.

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Keystone is gnar. Only the bottom half of the mountain was being serviced, and no one wanted to pedal up higher, so we stuck to the lower trails. They were chunky and steep. It’s the sort of stuff that, on the right day, I am pretty damn good at navigating… especially on the Mach 6, where I’m more limited by my nerve than by my machine.

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Mid week, I took the singlespeed out for some gravel riding in the backcountry. I discovered some pretty nice “roads”

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… including one that was basically a 1000ft descent on a blown-out chunk atv trail that I was sure would be gated off with a no trespassing sign between me and where I wanted to go. I was mentally prepped for a hour of hiking back up if that were the case, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the “use this road, but hurry T.F. up” sign.

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I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the snow had melted off of Dakota Hill (the place where I’ve experienced my recent “lost in the snow” adventures).

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Bookending my week, I went with Matt to Winter Park to do more lift riding. It was fun, though I wasn’t feeling the chunk that day like I had at Keystone (which isn’t too terrible, considering there isn’t as much chunk at Winter Park).

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There are a ton of tabletop jumps, which I’ve never actually learned to do (and actually wrecked on one at Keystone). I definitely improved while I was there. I can now leave the entry jump and land both wheels at the same time on the top part of the jump. I even made it smoothly across a couple of the smaller ones. Matt, on the other hand, was riding BMX before I learned how to ride a bike, so he’s pretty cozy with them.

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To balance the pre-packaged adventure of life-service riding, I ventured into the backcountry again yesterday. It’s been really warm here (in the low 80s!) so I wanted to see how far up I could go on Rollins Pass. Aside from a couple of snowy patches on the way up, it’s not totally covered until about 10,700ft.

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In the shop this week, I overhauled our Mach 6 Demo bike so it could be sold. It’s buttery smooth now. Anyone interested in purchase can email me andrea at 92fifty dot com. It’s a medium, 2×10, and in good shape other than the usual bumps and scratches. Asking price, $3800.

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We’ve also got a stack of MBR stickers

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And, your bike hates you…

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Now that I’ve typed it all out, I realize that what it boils down to is that Enduro seemed like an awesome idea until I realized that my fitness is decent again, and I can’t help but fall back in love with riding singlespeed. Don’t get me wrong- I really enjoy enduro racing… I just don’t have the motivation to spend the time and money traveling to do it right now. Other than feeling like I’m a giant disappointment of a human being for bailing on something I’d already committed to, I think I’m just going to bail on it, anyway, and go race SSXC in Winter Park on Saturday.

 

Beti Bike Bash Singlespeed Race

Sometimes, things get too rad, and it’s a week between blog posts. What can I say?

First off, happy Father’s Day to my Dad. This pic sums him up pretty well…

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When I last talked to you, I had taken some time to rest and explore the nearby mountain. That Saturday, I took the gears off of my Cysco Cycles hardtail and, after getting some local advice, put a 34×21 gear on it (I was gonna do 32×20, but I somehow I landed here without my 20t cog). Sunday morning, I drove down to Castle Rock for the Beti Bike Bash. Honestly, I was going with the thought that I’d kind of get my ass handed to me, and that it’d be a good test of where I was stacking up against the supremely badass women who race in Colorado.

I got a little nervous. The last XC race I attended was last year’s TN State Championship race (where I was the only participant). Before that? Uhh… I don’t really remember. I’d never ridden the course, and I didn’t know the other 6 women who were singlespeeding, so my goals were to play it cool at the start and pace myself so that I’d be super consistent for all 3 laps.

The singlespeeders were the last group of 3-lap racers to start (behind 19 pro and more than 30 expert women). As we climbed the first short doubletrack humps before singletrack, I filtered in to 5th place. The course rolled at first, and I picked my way to about 3rd spot as we navigated a few slick turns and punchy spots. Then, the first climb. We swamped the back of the expert field. It was a battle of who could trackstand at every pitch to let racers granny gearing the switchbacks clear the way. It was incredibly tedious.

I eventually found myself behind the lead SS woman. I decided to stick around there for a few minutes and figure out her strengths and whatnot. Climbing- I had her. I think she was overgeared. Descending- pretty even. The combination of not knowing the course and dealing with the kitty litter turns (which I’m not that good at dealing with) made it basically a draw. So, on the next climb, I asked if I could get past, and she was nice enough to let me by.

I basically had to ride through most of the Expert field. Everyone was pretty nice about it. I’d ride up and politely say that I was the SS leader, and they’d move over and let me by whenever there was a good spot. It was still exactly 1.5 laps in before I had a clear trail ahead of me with no more passing.

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I was pretty amazed at how well I did. I won by a little more than five minutes, and my time was faster than all but one Expert woman, and would have been 12th in the Pro category. That’s pretty consistent with how I’d place when I was more “in shape” and at sea level. It’s a big boost to my motivation to get out and race a little more… which is good, considering that there are racing opportunities all over Colorado every weekend of July.

Next on the agenda- the Big Mountain Enduro race in Snowmass.

 

Rest, Explore, Race

In the absence of a structured training program (which I dropped last Fall when I found myself too freaked out by the thought of training on the road and limited by weather for consistent training on the trail), I’ve taken to riding hard for a block of time and laying off when the rides start to get arduous. Following the rides I posted about last time, I found myself needing a break from the epics when Matt and I went for a Golden Gate Canyon ride and I fell apart after the first hour.

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I will say, though, when you’re having a hard time, and you open up a 4-pack of Gu Chomps to find that it’s a magical 7-pack, it can lift your spirits a tiny bit.

So, I’ve been taking it a little easy. I make sure to go to yoga twice a week almost no matter what. I’ve dedicated my ride time to exploring little offshoots and mining roads that mostly end up being extended hike-a-bikes up scree fields. Sometimes, the hike-a-bikes end at nothing in particular. Other times, you find a an outcropping that over looks the entire valley in which you reside and you don’t want to leave.

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Pictures never do these things justice.

Other discoveries include a mining claim of some sort-

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As well as one of my favorite trail features of all time, the aspen tunnel-

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I still have some places to explore. I pushed/rode to this split the other day, and because of weather and time constraints, had to turn and go back-

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Then, when I went back out the next day to find that spot, I ended up on someone’s horse trail (more accurately, a path through the national forest land on which someone has repeatedly ridden their horse) and found this spot-

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I’ve borrowed a hand-held GPS from my dad so that I can go out for more adventures and be slightly less lost.

Now that I’m rested and relaxed, I think it may be time to test my legs out. Tomorrow is the Beti Bike Bash in Castle Rock. There’s a singlespeed category. If everything goes as planned, I’ll drive down in the morning and give it a go.

Adventuring

I put some good time in during the last week. Sunday, I rode with Jon and Tim Lutz. We made he Grand Loop of nearly all the trails in Golden Gate Canyon.

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While I wasn’t feeling particularly fast that day, I was for whatever reason, full of endurance energy. I saw moose for the first time while we were out.

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It was a hair under 30 miles to ride from the shop, and about 5k feet of climbing. The trails out there are pretty great. Lots of ThunderChunk. My favorite. Afterward, the three of us went to a local bar/restaurant and consumed an exorbitant  amount of food.

Monday, I went out for an adventure up high(ish). I have been eyeing a loop that goes up Apex Valley and eventually comes out at Rollinsville Pass Road. I was in the company of thunderstorms all day, though the only time one actually got me, I found a place to hide out for a few minutes while it passed.

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The last two times I’ve scoped the route out, I was thwarted by large amounts of snow. This time, I wasn’t as thwarted, though I still found large-ish amounts of snow. The first pic is a short push at the top of the big climb of the day (about 10.5k’ elevation).

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On the other side, I was hopeful that it’d be pretty clear

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That wasn’t the case, though

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I did eventually get to Rollinsville Pass Road. After tourist-ing around at the Moffat Tunnel entrance, I decided to see how high I could get up the pass before I hit snow.

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Answer- about 3 miles

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I headed on my way back down to Rollinsville and back south towards the house on another county road. I was greeted at the top with another half mile of snow.

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I’ll probably save riding this loop again for sometime in July. It’s exceptionally gorgeous up there.

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That evening, I saw another moose. He was HUGE and just chilling out in the field behind my house. From what I gather of locals’ information, moose are basically gigantic angry horses on steroids and are not to be messed with. I got close enough to zoom in and get a few pics before retreating from his territory.

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Tuesday morning, I wanted to go on another Apex Valley Road Adventure before work. In the hopes of keeping the ride at non-epic-pre-work length, I planned a route that would keep me somewhat close to the house. I was feeling the previous two days in my legs for sure, so I took it easy up the first climb

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I saw a compact car full of young adults coming down from where I was headed. When I got to my turnoff from the main road, I saw what looked like their camp. They’d left their campfire not actively flaming but still red hot and smoldering. So, I dumped some snow on top of it.

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Turns out, the road I wanted to take was uphill and covered in snow.

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So, I tried to find the same road on the other side of the mountain, where it’d be downhill and covered in snow (way easier to hike through). However, all I did was get pretty lost. The jeep road I was snow-hike-a-biking on just ended at a creek. So, I bushwhack-hike-a-biked down the mountain to a county road I could take back home. Once I was at the road, I stopped to gather my thoughts.

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I can get in to more shit on a three hour bike ride than what most people will get into during their entire lives. This place is amazing like that. There’s basically endless access to getting “lost” in the mountains around here. It’s awesomely soul-cleansing.

 

 

Lower Porcupine Rim Handicap World Cup Race

Jakub and I wanted to do some sort of a shorter and more intense ride on Monday morning so we could hit the road and be home at a decent hour ahead of some of the Memorial Day traffic. He had the idea of riding the lower portion of Porcupine Rim that you access from a jeep road turnoff about 5-6 miles up Sand Flats Road (if you were doing the “real” Lower Porcupine, you’d go 7-8 miles up, and for Upper Porcupine, you’d go 9 miles up Sand Flats and turn left for another 20ish minute climb up the Kokopelli Trail). He said he could do the lower loop in just three hours.

I had the idea of starting ahead of him and, at first assuming he’d catch me somewhere along the way. He wanted to give me a 25 minute lead since, on the second day of the trip (when I was having a bad time), he’d caught up to me on Sand Flats with me getting a 20 minute head start. However, I started to joke with him about the possibility of his not catching me.

Just a note about Jakub… he’s raced World Cup races for the Czech Republic. He’s fast. Really fast. He’s also young and hasn’t fully grasped the concept of Old Woman Power… something I’m just beginning to tap in to.

I played some head games with him-

Me: You want to hide the car keys here since I’m going to get back here ahead of you?
Jakub: Oh, yeah, sure
Me: What, you’re doubting yourself now?

It went on for most of the morning until I rolled out of camp at 7:55am.

I didn’t totally hammer… even the “short” loop was a long climb, the last few miles of which are a steppy, steep jeep trail. Blowing up early would make that section incredibly difficult.

I was watching my Garmin to note where I was on the climb at 8:20am. Then, my Garmin ran out of batteries somewhere around 8:40am. I’d just have to pace myself off of feel. I ate a couple of Gu Roctane gels on the way up. Side note- it’s not often that you’re gonna read me straight up schilling my sponsors, because honestly, that’s pretty obnoxious and transparent to read. However… Holy crap does Roctane give you a boost for the sort of intensity I was turning out. Seriously- it makes a hard effort feel less tiring. I’d be happy to give anyone a couple out of my own stock for you to try during your next interval workout. It takes normal energy gel to a whole ‘nother level.

I made it to the jeep road turnoff and the road behind me was still empty. I allowed my intensity to creep up just a little, because I knew that if I could rock the techy stuff, it’d keep me ahead. Along the way, I told a group of people to chant “USA” at Jakub when he chased by them. I reached the end of the jeep road at its intersection of the Porcupine Rim trail, and still no Jakub. I stopped and donned my knee pads.

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Most people take a picture of what’s behind me here, because it’s gorgeous. Duty calls, though.

From there, it’s a little bit rollling before the trail goes mostly downhill. I hammered it out and let loose as much as I was willing. At that point, I knew the trail well enough to know where the scary stuff was and where I could go all out. I only looked back a couple of times, and no Jakub. I actually got just a little worried that he’d wrecked in his chasing. The last part of the trail gets a little hairy with some ledges and exposure. I was sure that I’d get caught there, but, lo and behold… I made it to the bike tunnel at the bottom, still ahead.

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I checked the time (10:52am), took my picture, rolled through, and sat down on the rocks on the other side to take my knee pads off and eat a snack. About the time I was getting up to roll back to camp, Jakub came through the tunnel (10:57am). He’d gone all out. We high-fived and rolled back kinda easy on the bike path.

Perfect wrap-up for the trip. I’m finally feeling some fitness coming back. Not being able to go back and look at power numbers for the ride is a little disappointing, but I could tell on the harder jeep road stuff that my legs still had some juice, even after a 5 mile road climb. My descending is still just OK. Being alone that day, I took all of the “easier” options down the trail and avoided what drops I could. I gotta work on that.

More Moab!

With no end in sight to the rainy Colorado weather, 92Fifty shop-owner Jon Davis and I made an executive decision that we needed to go to Moab memorial day weekend and train where the weather was nice. Looking back, the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend was unfortunate. Jakub decided he’d join in for the weekend, and I rode over with him Thursday evening with the intention of grabbing a cheap, out-of-town campsite for Jon to park the shop Sprinter van in for the weekend.

Unfortunately, Thursday evening, the only out-of town openings we found were at a private place on Kane Creek road… the same price as being in town, but with no phone service, running water, showers, and located on a road that made me nervous with traffic. So, we found a spot in overflow camping at the Slick Rock RV Park/Campground in town. It was packed, but the conveniences balanced out the fact that people like to celebrate Memorial Day by being drunken jackasses. Jakub and I ended up camping there for the weekend, and Jon opted for the Kane Creek spot when he arrived Friday morning.

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I figured out over the weekend why I have a subconscious avoidance of camping. It’s not that I don’t like sleeping in a tent and not having a kitchen close by. It’s that campgrounds (even when they aren’t Memorial Day-packed) are basically a showcase of how much people DGAF about other people. Late night noise being offender #1. Friday night, there were people having an actual dance party with loud music and louder talking and yelling. They were surprised when they were asked to stop doing that. The same went for the Saturday night group sitting around the campfire yelling and laughing about 20 feet from my tent (and closer to others’ tents). I had to ask them to be quiet at 2am. They at least got quiet enough that my ear plugs could muffle their voices and bottle clanking.

I digress…

Despite my campground complaints, the trails in Moab were as amazing as ever, and it was rad to have my new Mach 6 out in some chunky gnarly stuff. Friday, Jakub and I rode the Pipe Dream trail behind town before meeting up with Jon to ride Hymasa and Ahab. Between sleep deprivation and tired legs, I was having a hard time. I ended up wrecking on Ahab because I attempted to ride down a steep pile of rocks without enough speed. I was basically OK, but at that point, I was ready to be finished riding for the day. I made it back without any more bobbles, and Jakub and I drowned our post long ride hunger with a burger and fries from Milt’s.

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P.S. Milt’s has delicious food- grass fed burgers, hand cut fries, and milkshakes… cheaper than most places in town, too.

Saturday, my sleep deprivation and tired legs were still haunting me. We all rode Porcupine Rim, though I basically rode slow enough up Sand Flats road that I let everyone else go ahead of me (on purpose). I was in one of those moods where I didn’t want to be around anyone… for their sake and mine. I told Jon to go on without me and I’d feel way better once I was at the bottom of the trail. It did result in a cool picture of a roadside memorial I hadn’t seen on other trips up-

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Once I was up the climb and on the trail, I happened upon Anthony (from the 92Fifty shop team) who was trying to help a woman trailside with her wheel. She’d flatted her rear tire, and, in the process of changing the tube, she’d removed her quick release skewer. Somehow, something had become lodged inside the axle of the wheel, and she couldn’t get the skewer back through the wheel. I stopped to help. I examined it while Anthony gave the two ladies directions for walking out several miles down a gnarly jeep road to get back to Sand Flats to hitch a ride back to town.

“Anthony, hand me a rock.”

-Anthony hands me a golfball-sized rock-

“No, like a hammering-sized rock”

-Anthony hands me a rock larger than my hand-

Figuring that it wasn’t going to get any more broken than it already was, I put the skewer in the wheel as far as it would go and gave it a few hard whacks with the rock. Something popped out and bounced down the trail on about the 4th hit. I raised the rock and the “fixed” wheel into the air and yelled “I AM THE GREATEST MECHANIC IN THE WORLD!” The women took my photo, and, once I made sure that they were going to be alright, I kept motoring down the trail.

By the time I got to this spot just a few miles from the bottom, I was feeling way better.

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My mood was definitely improved, even if my legs were still a little iffy.

The following day, I met up with Shane and Ky to go on a Portal trail adventure. It’s possible to start such an adventure with a long climb from town, but we opted for a shuttle instead.

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We started from the Mag 7 trails, then went on to the Gold Bar and Portal Trails. Along the way, we had to hide under a rock to escape a random rain shower.

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The Gold Bar Rim trail (formerly known as the “Blue Dot Trail” before it was “legalized”) is super fun. It’s got a few A and B lines marked, and a few tricky spots that warranted a look/go back ride. It gets hairy in a few spots, and the trail masters of Moab want to make sure that no one gets in over their heads.

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The views up there are some of the best in Moab. You can basically see everywhere else you ride.

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From Gold Bar Rim, the trail ends up at Portal, which begins with about a mile of extreme exposure. I walked a lot, because the consequence there isn’t a banged up knee or elbow, it’s death.

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After that section, the trail plummets down dusty, sandy, rocky, chunky goodness. My specialty. Having a toned-down downhill bike in the Mach 6 basically means I was limited only by my use of brakes and my inability to negotiate left-hand switchbacks.

I made it safely to the bottom and took a pic with a Mountain Bike Radio sticker.

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Now, I need to stop typing and get to yoga class. You’ll have to wait until the weekend to read about the first annual Porcupine Rim World Cup Handicap Race.

 

Cyclocross Bike for Sale and More Birthday Stuff

First off, my Cannondale SuperX is for sale. It’s been my super-awesome cyclocross bike for a few years, and, since I’m not all that in to cyclocross any more, I need to off-load it to offset the cost of the Mach 6. It’s a 52cm with SRAM Red shifters and rear derailleur, a Force front derailleur (works way better than the Red on CX rings), Rival Crank, Mavic Askium Wheels, TRP V-Brakes (way more power than Cantilevers), Zipp Alloy Bar, FSA Stem, Thompson Masterpiece Seatpost, Schwalbe Racing Ralph Tires (almost new), Blacburn Carbon Cages, full run rear cable housing (keeps the mud out), Custom Top Tube sticker.

$1800, shipped anywhere in the lower 48

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Speaking of the Mach 6, it’s every bit of fun and more than I was expecting. I rode some pretty burly trail on Sunday in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, and it’s basically just point and go… as long as whatever you hit isn’t big enough to just totally stop you, the bike rolls over it like it’s a golf ball. This pic is from the Snowshoe Hare trail, which is steep and covered in rocks and roots. Everything is a line on the Mach 6.

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I got to ride it twice in Golden Gate before this happened:

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According to locals, snow this late is pretty crazy. The forecast for this week is calling for more cold and rainy days, so, naturally, that means it’s time to pack up the 92Fifty Train and head to Moab.

Indy got a birthday present that he enjoys as much as I’m loving the Mach 6:

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In other birthday-related news, a couple of weeks ago, I went to a bank in Nederland to open an account. There was a display of paintings by an artist named Heather Taylor, and, while I sat there, I couldn’t stop looking at one of them. I found out the price for it and thought it was a little more than I should be spending at the time (not that it was overpriced… I can’t stand it when people complain about the price of art. I’m just saying I didn’t have the extra cash at the time). The painting stuck with me, though. I found myself thinking about the bright colors and the way she interpreted the scenery that I love out here in the mountains.

Then, my birthday rolled around. Not only did I have a nice birthday dinner, but I also got some birthday cash from my family. So, I went and picked up the painting I loved.

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It makes me smile a little whenever I look at it.

I know a lot of women dread getting older. That’s silly. I look at ladies like Sue Haywood, Selene Yeager, and Rebecca Rusch (just to name a few off the top of my head) who are all in their 40s and totally killing it, and I get excited for what’s to come.

Birthday Awesomeness

Friday was my 34th birthday. It’s been a pretty great birthday week. Tuesday, I got a tracking number for my Mach 6 that showed it arriving in Black Hawk on Thursday. So, Thursday morning, I set off on a “explore/kill some time” adventure so that I wouldn’t sit in the driveway watching for the FedEx truck. I ventured out on some gravel roads that were pretty amazing. They ranged from graded/maintained county roads to single-lane, rock-laden jeep road through old gold mine areas north of Idaho Springs. The views over the valley that I70 runs through are huge.

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There are a lot of options to explore out there…

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My bike was at the shop when I arrived back at home. I cleaned up, ate, and went to go start the assembly while waiting for Matt to arrive for a little birthday dinner and JRA show recording. I got most of the parts hung. I was somewhat awestruck by the size of the fork. Funny “first big bike” moment… I went to bolt the front brake caliper on, and was like, “damnit, they didn’t send me a 180mm brake adapter.” Then, I realized that the fork’s posts are already sized for a 180mm rotor.

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Once the parts were somewhat assembled, I went back to the house to meet Matt and have birthday dinner. Jon and Kathy have really made me feel at home since I moved out here. Warm and fuzzy feels all around. After dinner, we recorded a JRA show that involved possibly the most technical difficulties of any of our shows.

Friday morning, I finished assembly of my bike, and yesterday I took it our for a first ride in Golden Gate State Park.

Initial thoughts?

I still dislike DT Swiss Hub’s engagement, and I can’t wait for my I9 wheels to arrive. The Mach 6 is made with a low bottom bracket, so you have to time your pedaling over rocks to avoid pedal strikes. The slow engagement of the DT Swiss hub makes ratchet-pedaling somewhat ineffective. However, the durability and ease of maintenance is preferable to the hub that require this box of proprietary uni-tasking crap to service:

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Side Note- If the going shop labor rate is $85 an hour, A DT Swiss freehub service costs $15, and Chris King service costs $40 labor.

Also, I’ve still got to tweak the front end fit a little and work on my own techy-climbing skill. It’s not easy keeping all that front end planted on the ground and moving in a straight line. I do like the 740mm bars, though today I’m going to try moving them down a spacer. My RaceFace 35 bar came in Friday, but I don’t have the 35 clamp stem yet. It’s slightly wider (760mm vs 740mm) and less rise (10mm vs 20mm), and I’ll also have both 50mm and 65mm Atlas 35 stems in the shop to test out (currently using a 60mm that came with the bike). It’s going to be a bit of a process figuring out the balance between the long/low-ish fit I’m used to and the short/high fit preferred by all who descend at a high rate of speed.

I am very glad I went with the medium frame, though. Even the 60mm stem feels like my bars are in my lap. A small would allow me to use a longer dropper post, but I can’t imagine ever being comfortable on something with a shorter reach. With stems coming in basically any size (including 0mm), I won’t ever run out of shorter options if I decide I need my bars even more in my lap.

Oh yeah, and, despite my feeling awkward climbing on my new bike, as soon as the trail is downhill… oh. my. GAWD. It fits my “pick any line” sort of style. Foot and bike traffic has created curves a foot or two each direction around beds of rocks, and it’s just like, “NOPE, I LIKE GOING IN A STRAIGHT LINE HERE.” It’s amazingly smooth and way more capable of going faster than my current skill allows.

I’m going to have a good time growing in to this bike.

The trails at Golden Gate Canyon are like Syllamo at 9-10k of altitude. Lots of rocks, steeps, and beautiful views… and it’s all basically in my back yard.

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