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Sunday, August 21, 2011

And so it begins

It starts with an email.
Someones burning desire to "get outta' dodge".
Ideas get thrown about.
A plan forms.
Then.... then it begins.

A new day starts in a new place.
You reach new heights
in a new place
searching for.....

You explore your options....
....pick a direction
and go deep
loving every minute of it
regardless of how much it hurts
Every day has its end and this trip will be no different
as the sun sets and you begin to plan for your next day and your next adventure.
Here's to road trips.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The TS100 Race Report... fianlly

Ok. This event is O-ficially on the team Mighty Mobile race calendar for next year.
The aid stations were stacked with everything you'd ever want and the volunteers go above and beyond to ensure your day of ultimate suffering goes foreword without hesitation or holdups.

The race - damn hard. Classic Tahoe dust, sketchy descents on both singletrack and Jeep trail. Ridiculously hard climbs. Chilly temps at the start that turned into plenty hot for me by mid day. Mmmm. I can almost taste the warm water in my bottles as I type.

The excitement at the start was electrifying. Or at least it must've been. I was actually at Sakos' truck shedding a layer when I heard everyone hooping and hollering. Sheeiite! I hopped on my bike and made it about halfway back to the start when I saw the pack coming at me full bore. I pulled in between two cars, got myself turned around and hopped in the front third-ish of the pack.

After a mile or so of pavement the course hit the dirt through some of the ski trails at Royal Gorge. Dusty. I was glad I had a bandanna tied around my neck that I could pull up over my nose and mouth to filter at least some of the dust. I probably re-passed most of the people that passed me at the start and was told about an hour into the race that I was 40th.

At this point of the day (7:00am) I was still uncertain as to how hard I wanted to push for what I thought would be about 9 more hours.

I spent the next hour riding at a medium pace and started to feel pretty good. At one point I saw Obie Miller get waaayy out of control on a fast rocky fireroad descent. His bike was swapping so far sideways left to right that I could read the letters on his downtube! I don't know how he saved it but I'm damn glad he did. We would end up riding quite a bit together throughout the day - sometimes talking, other times just pedaling along in survival mode with the classic "100 mile stare" in the eyes.

I didn't have enough time to get my ipod filled with music so I left it up to chance that I'd have some killer tunes in my head. This can be a deadly gamble. Seriously, one wrong thought on a tough climb will have you humming "don't worry be happy" over and over and over again until it makes you half crazy. Fortunately, I dodged that bullet and lucked out with stuff that didn't suck.... at least to me.

So, on and on. More aid stations. More drink mix. More gel packs. A nibble of PB&J. Perhaps a banana. Occasionally, two cookies - one for now and one in the leg of my shorts for later. Hate to eat and run but.....

At some point we got to the section of the course that I'd done a few weeks prior. This was both good and bad. The good thing was that I knew what was coming up. The bad thing was that I knew what was coming up.

All hundred milers (or at least the good ones) have an element on the course that "stands out" from the rest of its route. For the Tahoe Sierra 100 it's the last three climbs that takes this ride to eleven.

After a descent that overheats brakes and tests the limits of suspension you have 15 miles to go when you face the first of the last three climbs. It's 1,600 vertical ft in 1.5 miles. Plenty steep. 75% hike a bike even on a good day. The blood drains from your arms as you push your bike up this ungrateful ascension to Devils Thumb. Sweat stings your eyes as tiny flies buzz your head making an already tough situation even harder. You pray for the climbing to stop - and it will.

You'll have just enough time to get a few quick drinks from your water bottles before a second helping of ledgy, loose and steep switchbacks descend to yet another canyon. You'll need two fingers on your brake levers this time. Partly because it's steeper but mostly because your entire hands will be stinging from the constant beating their dealing with on this downhill.

Not to worry though, the pendulum of gravity will start to swing the other way once again and you'll be faced with your next climb. This one isn't quite as bad as the last but you'll still have to dig deep to get yourself out. 2,000ft in 3.5 miles. You'll be pedalling a little more on this climb but still be off the bike pushing for more time than you probably will the rest of the season. The last "kick up" on this one is a real monster. You round each corner hoping that you'll see the top of the climb... but you won't. Hang in there.

Thank you ma'am may I have another. Yep, one more time. Another descent and another climb. The last climb isn't as hard as the first two but it's still a soul crusher. You'll be glad to see the pavement near the top of this one and even more stoked to see the finish.

Full Epic. The course is hard. The help is amazing. You get fed after the race. There's beer. I mean, what more could you ask for out of a bike ride.

I would definitely recommend this race to a friend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

more ts100

If you're not into 100 mile races, this might not be the week for you to be reading this blog. Or maybe it is since the race is actually only 89.3 miles. Not to worry though, it still has something like a billion feet of climbing so I'm still considering it an epic.

I couldn't help but notice a tandem signed up for the race while checking out the start list. Not sure if that's an act of burliness, a gluttonous desire for punishment.... or just plain stoopid. In any event, it did make my "wonder which bike I'll race" conundrum seem a bit petty.

Each 100 mile race I do presents itself with the need to plan, pack, plan some more, pack some more and set some sort of realistic goal for myself that I'd like to meet while out on course.

I'm still not sure exactly how I'm feeling about this race. One thought has me on a light bike with the bare essentials in an attempt at posting a decent finish. The other thought has me simply out riding around in the woods for the day with the main objective to finish and have some good fun. I guess I'll have to figure that out in the next couple of days.... or on the morning of the race while making my carpool friends as late for the race as I'll be.

On a separate -but somewhat related- note, good luck to ya'll that are heading to Leadville for the hundo out there. Seems like a good party. No, I'm not racing it. No, it's not because it's the same weekend as the TS100. No, it's not because it's too far. It's the lack of singletrack that keeps me away from that race. I've raced a 100 miles of fireroad before and quite frankly hope that I never have to do it again. If it weren't for music in my drop bag at the 50 mile mark and beer at the finish I'm sure I would've posted a big fat DNF at that one.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lagging on the race report from Kirkwood. Sorry. I'm faster on the bike than I am at postings on this here blogity thing.

The race - I took the "W" by 6-ish minutes thanks to quite a bit of techy downhill. Well... that and deciding, at the last minute, to run the 2.35 Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front of my race bike. Note to self; always... ALWAYS do a "shake down" ride on the race bike after doing changes. After having gotten used to the 2.35 inches of ultra-traction that the Nobby Nic provided me at Downieville going back the the "spindly" 2.1 WTB Prowler -which worked fine in the early season- proved to be quite scary. On my shakedown ride I was questioning my ability to pilot the bike as I overshot corners, had little to no braking power up front and generally had less fun on the ride than I knew was possible. Upon arriving back at home base, I threw the bike in the repair stand and put the Nobby Nic back on the front of my rig. That tire is simply AWESOME in the Tahoe duff and dust.

Fun course. 4 laps. Hard climb to start. Onto singletrack. Then a quick, hard, steep headwall climb on fireroad. Then... then some ultra-rad singletrack. Mostly descending. Lots of off camber sketchy rocky trail. Mmmmm. I like. A typical lap went like so: Get caught on the start climb - recover - drop the guy who caught me on the descent - repeat.

After the race, me and the misses did some investigation of the local campgrounds and decided on Kirkwood lake campground as our accommodations for the night. Super nice site. Out on a point. Killer views. A nice little trail that took us to a waterfall. Mmmm. I like.

Then on Sunday we did a nice road ride on nearby Blue Lakes Rd (Hope Valley). Light on traffic, heavy on views and nice pave'. Mmmm. I like.
Next up was some recon on the last 35 miles of the Tahoe Sierra 100 race course. This thing's gonna be a soul crusher. Steep climbs, river crossings, poison oak, loose trail with lots of rocks, bugs that swarm your head while hiking your bike.... should be a hoot. How hard is it? Well, hard enough to make you look like this!!!
Why do we do this? Because you also get trail like this:

and this

and this
and this
with views like this
and this????

So.... I'm racin'. Or at least going out and riding 100 miles. Should be some tales to tell. Race report to follow.

Ya'll come back now.... ya hear.