Bike Race/Human Race

I raced my third Winter Park Cross Country race yesterday and secured my 3rd win in the Singlespeed category. For as awesome as the previous race was for someone on a singlespeed, this one was bad. I rode the same gear- 32×21, and, while I usually expect gear choice to be one of compromise (gear so that you’ve got the “right” gear for a majority of the race and gut through the rest), this time I felt like I had the wrong gear- on either end- for a majority of the time. It started on a five mile climb with the last mile or so being steep, rocky forest road. There were a lot of similar sections where I was either standing on my gear at 30 RPMs or hike-a-biking. There were what seemed like an equal number of slightly downhill gravel road sections where I was totally spun out for minutes at a time.

I probably wouldn’t have had as hard of a time with the steep spots if my legs weren’t loaded up with Breck Epic training. My average power numbers were definitely a little on the low side. Unfortunately, I forgot my garmin at the previous race where I was feeling awesome, so I can’t compare between the two with anything other than knowing I felt way better last time and finished 4th overall for the women rather than 16th like yesterday (the course had a little to do with that for sure, but I’d still expect better).

So, now I rest. Of course, I’ve suddenly got all sorts of ideas for crazy rides, but I’m forcing myself to take a hiatus from them until after the Epic.

I feel like I need to take this chance of having some spare Sunday afternoon time to write a rebuttal to my own blog post from a couple of days ago where I stated that everyone needs to be humbled by the mountains so that they learn another level of respect for nature. One thing I’ve also learned from being in Colorado is that everyone also needs to live for a given period of time in a place where you see, on a day-to-day basis, the products of a large minority population living at or below the poverty line. In Memphis, you can’t get away from it. You don’t have to watch the news- it’s visible any time you drive/walk/bike in the inner part of the city. No matter how high you build your fences and how much you gerrymander school and voting districts, the crime and difficulties that result from a population of individuals oppressed by generations of lives of poverty are visible all over. There are zip codes in Memphis that have 3rd world infant mortality rates.

I’ll never personally know what it’s like to be a poor black person, but you’d better believe that living in Memphis made me realize just how privileged of a life I’ve had as a middle class white person. There are a lot of people here, living in their unique mountain bubble, who haven’t and won’t ever see, first-hand, the struggle that some people face just to exist in everyday life. It’s not their fault, and I’m also not saying there aren’t people struggling and poor in Denver. I’m saying that the crime and problems that exist as a result of a huge population of people in need are far more invisible here than they are in Memphis. The end result is a noticeable undercurrent of attitude and behavior that lack both gratitude for one’s good quality of life and empathy for those who don’t share that same quality of life. Not that people like that don’t exist in Memphis, it just seems like there’s way more of them here.

So, Colorado people (or maybe I could say anyone lucky enough to have a house, computer, and internet), some of you need to realize just how lucky you are to be in such an awesome place. Don’t take your mountains, nice weather, and generally high quality of life for granted, because there are sooo many people who will never get a chance to experience what you’ve got.

Respect the Mountain

If everyone on earth had to live in the mountains for a few months, they’d learn first hand that nature is something that you respect, because it’s way bigger and more powerful than any of us. It’s not just predators like mountain lions and bears, either. The mountains, in general, don’t play around. You have to know what’s out there and prepare for it, and you still may get caught off-guard on occasion.

The other day, I went out for a ride up Rollins Pass. It was my 3rd attempt at getting to the top, and, I’m happy to say, I made it up…

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…and over

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Something wasn’t right, though. I usually love being over treeline on top of mountains. It’s a very special place for me. Instead, I felt anxious. I wanted to get down… for no obvious reason that I could see (there was that one grey cloud that skirted by in the first photo, but it was otherwise nice), hear, or think up. I just didn’t want to be there, which is way out of the ordinary for me.

So, rather than explore around up there, I started back down the way I’d came. Just as I crossed back over the tunnel you see in the pics, a huge, black storm cloud appeared from around the mountain in front of me. On top of a mountain, lightning is both extremely dangerous and absolutely terrifying. It was at least two miles to get solidly back below treeline where there was less chance of getting struck. I saw some people hiking away from their truck with Missouri plates, and told them, very firmly, to get back in their truck until the bad weather passed. Then, I put my jacket on (you always carry a jacket up here because it’s possible to go from 70 and sunny to 45 and raining/sleeting/hailing in two minutes flat) and pedaled my ass off to get down the mountain.

Luckily, I was into the trees when the storm was overhead. Not totally safe, but way better than being exposed. It’s a good thing, too, because the thunder was deafening. There was hail… lots of hail. I didn’t want to stop because I didn’t want to get hypothermic (my pocket windbreaker is great, but it has its limits). It was incredibly painful, but at that point, I was just really glad that I wasn’t being struck by lightning. I didn’t get a picture then, but here are a couple of pics from a nearly identical storm I drove through the other day. The hail was so blinding and thick on the road that traffic stopped for a few minutes-

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When I arrived back at my car (parked at the nearby Moffat Tunnel), My upper thighs and back were welted from the hail. That was scarier than a bear outside your RV at 4am.

Also on the list of “non-predatory things that could kill you” are moose. They don’t have natural predators in this part of the world, so they aren’t afraid of much, and occasionally get territorial towards humans. I was riding with a teammate the other day when we rounded a fast corner and startled this guy off the trail. He went right back to what he’d been doing, I snapped the photo, and we GTFO of there.

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Yesterday, I went out for another adventurous ride into the backcountry. The same thing happened- I started a large moose as I descended into a small clearing. It moved so fast, I only saw the back end of it as it jumped into some thick foliage. It was as if someone was driving a brown minivan into the bushes. I kept going without trying to get a good look at it. I definitely heard it snort at me.

I respected nature and everything in it before I got here, but in the last few months, that sense has been elevated to another level. While the risks are still relatively low, it’s still humbling and awe-inspiring and so many other things all rolled in to such an amazing place.

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Getting in to the Garbage

Though I’ve been out of Memphis for 3.5 months now, I’m still getting involved with the stupid stuff that happens there. Namely, this: Stanky Creek Time Trial

If you click that link and read the race flyer for the Stanky Creek TT, you’ll see that women don’t get an actual race. They race their respective categories, against dudes. It’s not even about equal pay at this point… it’s the fact that there’s not even a WOMEN’S CATEGORY. The promoter could break a limb off a tree and write “winner” on it or find a pair of crappy socks in the LBS bargain bin… whatever. That’d be shitty, but at least there’d be some sort of recognition that yes, women actually exist, and sort of matter. A friend of mine from Nashville (part of the Tennessee Women’s Cycling Project) brought this up on Facebook and questioned the race promoter about it, and this was the response:

“It could be debated all day long and from all points of view, but we did what we felt was the most fair and the most economical. We would love your feedback and the feedback from all the women after the event and will consider it for next year.”

After further talking with the promoter, he admitted that the women’s categories are always a loss of money, so if she could find a sponsor herself, he’d make a women’s open time trial. I immediately jumped on the offer and put up the $60 required to make a ladies category. She told him that the money was gathered and that the sponsors would be Brickhouse Racing and Just Riding Along on Mountain Bike Radio. He then refused to put anything on the flyer that had to do with me. Apparently, we’ve had some sort of differences in opinion in the past (that I don’t know about). He later told my friend that he didn’t want her money and that he’d make a women’s open race without it, but they’d only get a payout if at least five women showed up. They’re still trying to work out an amicable solution, but she’s prepared to take the money and give it out herself, despite his wishes. 

That’s a load of garbage right there. I don’t really care about not getting recognition. I’m just glad that the women are going to get treated fairly, one way or another. We talked a little bit about it on a special episode of Just Riding Along with special guest, Amanda Batty.

Here’s my afterthought- Women’s categories at races may just add up to be another expense, but they’re soooo necessary. Think of it like this- if you’re a promoter, you wouldn’t NOT have portapotties at your event, would you? No. They’re an expense, but a very necessary expense. One that you expect to have. One that you plan for out of respect and comfort for the people who come to your race. I hate comparing women’s racing to a porta-potty, but THAT’S how necessary it is to have a women’s category at your race.

On a totally different note, at 4am this morning, I awoke to what sounded and felt like someone, or something, was stomping around on top of my RV-house. The noise continued, the RV shook, and I realized that there was a bear raiding the garbage cans that sit directly behind my bedroom wall. I looked out the window to see, no more than a few feet away, a large black bear was dining on a bag of garbage. He heard my window open and darted off with the bag in his mouth. A few minutes later, he returned for seconds. I yelled at him from the window, and he ran off for good. Black bears in Colorado are way bigger than the large dog-sized bears in Arkansas.

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Jet9 RDO for Sale

This bike was purchased back in 2011 soon after the Jet9 RDO was first released. In 2013, I broke the front triangle while racing Trans-Sylvania, and it was replaced under warranty. So, this is a 2013 bike with a newer Fox Shock, carbon links, and 142×12 rear triangle.

I’m selling the frame (it’s a size Small), SID RCT3 fork (120mm), Chris King headset, Zipp stem, Niner carbon handlebar, Hope seatpost collar, spare derailleur hanger, and a nearly new GXP bottom bracket in a PF30 adapter.

This bike has been used. It is in good condition, but the frame and fork do come with some cosmetic scratches and chips. When Niner warrantied the front triangle, they sent to protective tape uninstalled. I suck at installing those things, so the edges peeled, and now it looks less than perfect. Everything still works great, though.

I’m asking $1600 plus shipping (if you’re in the Front Range, we can work out a delivery). Email me andrea at brickhouseracing dot com if you’re interested.

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One Last Jet9 Adventure

This week, I’m replacing my trusty Jet9 RDO frame with a Mach 429sl. The Jet’s been a pretty badass bike. I’ve used it to win two Tennessee State Championships, climb huge mountains, climb small mountains, tackle rocks and roots from Memphis to Colorado, raced two enduros on it, and basically turned to it any time I wasn’t sure what sort of challenges I’d face on a given ride or race. If you refresh the page a few times, you’ll see that the Jet is a reoccurring theme in a lot of my adventures.

In my quest for Breck Epic prep, I decided to do a huge ride Sunday to stack some fatigue on top of my sore cross country legs. I went with 92Fifty Team friend Shane, who wanted to ride the Cougar Slayer course. Per Shane’s recommendation, I took the Jet9 because A) I wasn’t sure what the trails would be like, and B) I figured it’d be a nice final epic ride for that bike before I sell it off to the next person. We planned a shuttle, and he loaded the course into his garmin. He figured it’s take us somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 hours.

Easier said than done.

Within the first 30 minutes, we were searching for a turn off of a forest road and on to a trail. We eventually found it when we saw three random old dudes on circa 1995 mountain bikes riding through the woods on a trail not far from us. One guy’s canti brakes were howling as he picked his way down a long descent. The trail dumped us out at what looked like someone’s driveway. Luckily, no one was home.

We were somewhat lost other than knowing we were west/northwest of Nederland. That’s basically how much of the adventure went until we arrived at the Sourdough and South Saint Vrain Trails. I’d never ridden them, but Shane was somewhat familiar. I lost my front wheel on a rock climbing up Sourdough and fell on to more rocks. Luckily, I wasn’t any worse than bruised.

Soon enough, we were back to only having a vague idea of where we were… somewhere near Ward. After some more forest road riding, we found ourselves on a moto trail near Gold Lake. It was pretty terrible. We were both getting to be death-march tired and were only 30-something miles in to the course (the course being 62 miles plus another 10-ish to get back to his house from the end). I did get a nice picture of the view from the top of a ridgeline climb.

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Soon after, I wrecked again near the bottom of a descent that was so blown out, it was basically a chute full of loose rocks and sand. Still just bruised, we descended more of the same stuff to Lefthand Canyon Road, where, at mile 40ish/6 hours, Shane brought up the option of turning left instead of right to leave the course and head back to Boulder. After a few minutes of hemming and hawing, we decided to go back to the house (the tipping point for me was that I’d left Indy on his porch, and I was a little worried about him).

It was a tough day. We finished up with 54 miles and 5,500 ft of climbing… though, if I had to make an educated guess, about 5200 of those feet were climbed by 35 miles into the ride. I was beat. And, to top it all off, pulling up at Shane’s house, I realized that I’d left the keys to my car- our shuttle vehicle back to Nederland- in my purse, in Shane’s car, in Nederland. I had to call Matt to come up after work and give us a ride to get Shane’s car.

At least Indy was perfectly fine. On the way home, I stopped and picked up a pint of cookies and cream ice cream and ate the entire thing. Those two things made the day more tolerable.

I needed a brutal beatdown of a ride like that. I need to get at least one more of those in my legs before Breck Epic, and several more of them before Vapor Trail 125… two months from now.

Winter Park Race Rendezvous Report

Last week at the shop was insanely busy with getting people ready for MTB Nationals along with more than the usual number of repairs coming through. I love working on bikes all day, so it was pretty great. On Thursday, I squeezed in a quick ride at Golden Gate Canyon. It was my only ride between Monday and the race at Winter Park, so I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel.

Answer? Awesome. Seriously. It’s one of those rides where everything felt totally on point. I felt ready to smash the Winter Park XC race on Saturday.

Saturday rolled around, and once I was checked in, I found the start and rode the first mile or two. I’d forgotten my Garmin, so I’d be racing off of feel- not terrible, but not being able to go back and look at my effort… Sad day. From the start line to the beginning of the first singletrack climb was maybe an eighth of a mile of gravel doubletrack. On the singlespeed, start position was key to not getting stuck behind granny geared riders (Pro, Expert, and Singlespeed women started together). I decided it was worth burning a match to be the first singlespeed in to the singletrack. When everyone began gathering at the start, I inched my way up to the front row with the pro women. I’m relatively certain that the other 3 singlespeed women hadn’t adopted the same strategy as me.

When we started, I sprint-spun as fast as I could towards the trail. The pro women and a handful of expert women dashed in ahead of me, but I was successful in grabbing the singlespeed holeshot. From there, the hammer was down. I never saw any of my competitors, and I took to picking off as many of the other women as possible. The Rendevous Trail system was amazing, btw. Unlike the first race, the course was excellent for a singlespeed rider to be in the mix of geared riders. The backcountry trails were gorgeous and a fun mix of a few rocks, roots, and some flow. The last five miles were through a network of neighborhood trails and roads, and were about what you’d expect out of that sort of system. I didn’t know it at the time, but the lady I passed with just a couple of miles to go was the leader of the expert women. I ended up finishing a couple of minutes behind the four pros, a minute ahead of all the experts, and six minutes ahead of the next singlespeeder.

Even though the podiums were way more timely this week, 3rd place had already left.

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I’m really stoked on how much my legs have come around since I moved out. The Memphis winter was hard, and with the combination of that and altitude, I was definitely a slug when I first got here. Hopefully I’ve got the right combination of base and intensity to make it through Breck epic with the same sort of success.

Bonus pics- Indy is taking well to life as a shop dog:

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Firecracker 50 Race Report

Since my last post, where I laid out a kickass plan for some overload leading up to Breck Epic, things haven’t gone exactly I’ve expected (though, when do they ever??). The Firecracker 50 race was excellent. I last minute teamed-up with Liz Carrington, a fast lady from Durango who I met at Team camp in Moab back in March. The Firecracker race, which is one of the biggest ones in Colorado, is two laps around a 25ish mile course of forest road and trail. It’s a good mix of climbing and fast rolling/descending. For the duo category, each team member rides one lap. Liz wanted to go first so she wouldn’t have to sit around waiting and being nervous. I wanted to go second so I wouldn’t have to deal with as much trail crowding. So, it worked out really well.

The race start is also the start of the Breckenridge city 4th of July Parade. Each category goes off down the main street to a crowd of parade-watchers and kids wanting high fives. I opted to roll with the start and pull over at the end of main street (an option extended to teammates who are doing 2nd laps), though I didn’t high five any kids. Kid hands are gross.

The waiting around wasn’t all that bad. After a couple of hours, I ate a Gu and started rolling around to warm up. It was a little more crowded in the team start area than what I’d expected, so I couldn’t really see who was coming through and tagging out. I just watched for Liz’s yellow helmet to come down the switchbacks behind the park. When she did, I elbowed my way into the exchange area, and she rolled up saying we were in 2nd place.

I hadn’t seen the other team make the exchange, so I had no idea who I was looking for on my lap. Everyone was supposed to have calf markings with their category, but it seemed like half the women I caught had no calf marking. I didn’t care. I just charged. I felt like a bull raging down the trail. I’ve only ever ridden Breckenridge on a singlespeed (between my first Firecracker 50/Marathon Nationals, Breck 100, and two Breck Epics). I was motivated by how hard I could go on the flatter/rolling spots on a geared bike. I also laughed int he face of Little French, the infamous steep and rocky climb that takes you up to somewhere around 11k feet of elevation. It’s a relative piece of cake when you have a full suspension and a granny gear.

The only disappointing part of my lap was the two dudes that dove in to the final descent ahead of me and another women who didn’t have a calf marking. The last downhill is a bunch of awesome banked turns into Carter Park. The dude in front was terrible at the turns and wouldn’t let anyone by. It meant that there was another dude, the non-marked lady, and myself all rubbing tires going down the last mile of trail. I don’t now if she was aware of my presence, but I decided that I was going to sprint past her on the final 50-ish feet of straightaway before the finish line just in case she was the person I’d been chasing the entire time. She looked at me funny when I did that, but I didn’t really care. It’d be a terrible way to get 2nd place if she was the person I was trying to catch the entire time.

She wasn’t, though. We were second by a pretty stout margin (about 15 minutes) behind Jamie Brede and Kelly Boniface. I didn’t feel bad, though. I am really happy with how hard I rode and how steady I felt over my 2 hours and 18 minutes of ride time. I was totally gassed by the end. It makes me feel a little more confident in m fitness and nutrition (a.k.a. a flask full of Roctane gel) to go harder in the other XC races I’m planing on entering. Also, 2nd out of 34 women’s duo teams isn’t bad at all.

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The effort left me pretty weak for the next two days of planned overload. I went out for an easy-ish ride with JRA Superfan/92Fifty Temmate Jake on Sunday, then tried to show Rollins Pass to Matt on Monday, but we ended up getting caught in the rain on a long descent, so it turned into “get coffee in Rollinsville and death march home” instead. We had enough rain gear & warm clothing that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

It’s basically been raining since then. It sucks, because it’s not the typical “20-minute storm then sun” pattern. It’s just cold, grey, rain. It should lead to a pretty sloppy Winter Park XC this weekend, but with my singlespeed and meaty tires, I’m sure everything will be fine.

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.