03 December 2011

Descending skills

Gina and I visited friends in Florida last week. It was a short stop-off before our trip to San Juan, PR. So what did we do? We jumped out of a fully functional plane.

What fun: a 15-minute flight up to 13,500; then jump out and freefall to 5,000ft; pull the chute and "glide" down the rest of the way. I say "glide" because my guide/instructor was pulling some aggressive moves and we came down quick!

Hut-to-Hut: September 7 (Day 3)

Today's leg was 34 miles and the start and finish huts were at basically the same elevation: 9,100ft. Our endpoint for the day was the Columbine Hut.

Snack time!
We started the day under cloudy skies and on soggy dirt roads from the previous day's rain. The route was basically up-and-down with very little flat. However, none of the grades were too severe. The road cut through the Uncompahgre National Forest heading northwest across the plateau all day long.

As the day started, I wasn't feeling that great and felt like I was having to work harder than the previous 2 days. My mood wasn't super but at least Gina was having a good day, sprinting full speed on all the downhills. The iPods were out today and I think that helped the miles go by quicker.

We took a snack break after an hour or so and the sun was starting poke out. That meant it was time to break out the portable solar panels and charge the iPhones/iPods. The device we have can only charge the iPhone & iPod, but they do make a bigger panel that can charge an iPad too. In the end, it worked pretty well. Here's the one we used: Nomad 7

Although in theory there were a few scenic overlooks in the first part of the day, the clouds obscured everything and we didn't get any good pictures. Also, as the day was basically level and the road tree-lined, there weren't many opportunities for expansive views.

Kickin' up the legs and having some lunch!
We arrived at Columbine fairly early in the afternoon and had time to relax while the sun set. Of course no relaxing was done until the beer was located! Apparently we had a group of vets in front of us that had some recovering alcoholics, so the San Juan Hut folks, as a courtesy, had the beer out of plain sight. Thus, I am captured here diving for beer hidden behind some trailer tires under the bunks.

Where did they hide the damn beer?!?

Despite my not feeling super, this was probably one of the easier days. Gina definitely was having fun today. She determined she liked downhills, as long as they weren't too steep.

16 November 2011

Hut-to-Hut: September 6 (Day 2)

Day 2:  Last Dollar Pass to Spring Creek Hut, 27 miles

The day began high on Last Dollar Pass under gray skies. The forecast was overcast with possible rain later in the day. On paper, the days route was downhill, but as we soon discovered "downhill day" simply means you end lower than you start. It doesn't mean you won't be doing any climbing! Even with a few uphills, this was probably the easiest day of the trip.

The start was a fairly long descent from Last Dollar through aspen groves to a high desert plateau. Here we rode by the old ranch where the original True Grit movie with John Wayne was filmed. We rolled up and down on this plateau until a sustained downhill to Highway 62. The roads on the plateau had more traffic than most due to the number of ranches in the area and the close proximity to the highway, but is was still tolerable. As we took a brief rest at Highway 62 (about the halfway point for the day), we talked with a couple guys who were riding across the country, east to west. They were nice guys and looked to be having a good time, despite getting wet and a little cold.

From Highway 62, we climbed up a couple miles to another high plateau populated with expansive ranches. Here we rode over nice gravel roads that zig-zagged through the ranch properties towards a darkening sky. Although we had sprinkles at various points during the day, I thought we might get lucky and avoid any hard rain. It was not to be, within 10 miles of the end the rain started to fall in earnest. The roads got progressively wetter and muddier as we approached the endpoint for the day. Although we were kicking up some muddy spray, thankfully, the roads never got boggy.

Today was Gina's longest ride ever! But, then again, so are the next 5 days! I for one couldn't imagine tackling this ride with as little preparation as she had going in. Nonetheless, today she was riding strong and in good spirits most of the day. Things started to unravel a little in the last few miles. Unfortunately, we ended with a climb and although Gina was still doing well physically, she was mentally ready to be DONE for the day. Although we never had any significant problems locating the hut at the end of any leg, it still can be a minor mind-f*** to not know exactly where the finish line is.

We arrived at the hut in the rain and partially covered in mud. Getting gear and clothing clean and strung up on the clothes lines was a little messy. Before getting cleaned up, I got the handsaw out and got my Paul Bunyan on. Luckily the wood at the hut was under the cover of trees so we had dry wood for a fire in the stove. This made it possible to get our clothes dry for the next day, yay!

In this picture you can see the "crapper" in the background. Apparently, these composting toilets have been pretty nasty in the past, but they were totally clean and non-nasty. They appeared to be relatively new and the design really works well.

07 November 2011

Hut-to-Hut: Telluride to Moab

Early in September, Gina and I did a backcountry MTB tour with San Juan Hut Systems. It was 7 days, 215 miles from Telluride to Moab. For those who might be considering such a outing, here's my review. For booking info see, San Juan Hut Systems.


First off, San Juan offers 2 routes: Telluride-Moab and Durango-Moab. Telluride is supposedly the easier of the two, but I think this refers mostly to technical difficulty. There are two days that have significant climbing, and the route is by no means a walk-in-the-park. The route could be done on a CX bike, but there would be some rough sections and the steep climbing could be pretty tough (probably depends how lightly you pack). If you want singletrack, the Telluride is NOT the way to go. It has very limited singletrack options off the main route. The Durango route is apparently much better in this regard.

The huts are great. Some are nicer than others, but all are comfortable and get the job done. The food choices are necessarily limited, but its no problem to put together tasty meals and chase them down with some well-deserved beers. Each hut has room for 8 people, so you can put together 8 friends and fill up the hut, or go with fewer and either end up by yourself or make new friends if others book the same start date.

Day 1:  Telluride to Last Dollar Pass

This was a short day--only about 15 miles--but it has some good climbing. The first few miles are flat-to-downhill out of town on a paved bike path. From there you turn north and make a decent 2 mile road climb up to the airport. The dirt/gravel begins from the airport and takes you up to the pass. It is basically uphill from here with the exception of a section of downhill early on (losing whatever altitude you had gained from the airport). The early parts of the climb are in an area with some housing so the road is smooth, maintained gravel. After a few miles, the maintenance ends and the road becomes rougher dirt. Close to the top there is a 1 mile section where the gradient kicks up dramatically. On a regular MTB ride the grade might not be too bad, but carrying or pulling gear (I had a trailer and probably 40-50 lbs of extra gear) makes it pretty challenging. And there is the 11,000ft of altitude item too! The day ends with a 1/4 mile hike-a-bike that, for me at least, was the hardest part of the day. Pushing 75 pounds of bike and gear up a loose gravel pitch was a bitch. Nonetheless, it is all worth it when you finally get to the hut. It sits on a ridge line looking down the way you came up. It is amazingly scenic and probably the best vista of the whole trip.

More to come...

06 November 2011

360 Cup & Boulevard Cup

Got to dip my feet back in the proverbial pool this weekend. While I have been getting some riding in over the past 7 months, I haven't done any racing, training or hard efforts. Nonetheless I can't complain about my results. I was mostly able to ride steady, but had no punch or ability to ride in the red zone. The bottom line is you cannot effectively race CX unless you are doing lots of short very hard efforts in training.

First off, it was awesome to see everyone from the local CX scene. I don't think I've seen nearly anyone for about a year. Thanks to all those cheering me on during the races.

360 Cup - Saturday

This race was at Stump Park, on the hilly, north side of the park. The main feature of the course was a moderate uphill stretch probably 300-500 meters long. My initial strategy was to try to pace my effort out for the whole race because I figured going too hard in the early part of the race would mean running out of gas at the end.

I got off the line okay, but I didn't get right into my pedal (no practice). I was in a pretty decent spot, 5th to 10th, until the first gully turn. Shadd rolled a front tire in this corner and there was some chaos as everyone tried to get around. I didn't get by cleanly and found myself back a number of spots. I didn't panic and just tried to figure out a rhythm for the course. I resolved to push the hill hard and cruise the curvy section across the top of the course. Later on in the race I found it easiest to push the flat sections hard, ride the hill steady, and cruise the technical parts.

At first I battled with Nate Woodman and then caught Adam Mills wheel. I couldn't really hold his punchy pace and had to settle into my own rhythm. After a couple laps the race was more or less laid out, Joe was leading and riding away, followed by Andrew, Mark Savery, Adam, me, and Nate. Through the mid-part of the race, the gaps between the chasers started to grow. At some point it looked like Shadd was going to make it back up to me, but then I didn't see him anymore.

I felt like I was holding my pace fairly well because I was more or less holding steady with the guys in front of me and seemed to be riding away from those behind. In fact, with 2 or 3 to go the gaps to Andrew, Mark and Adam had gotten pretty small. Mark and Adam were dueling for third and ultimately Adam won out. The battle must have blown Mark, because I caught him and basically just went by him without a fight. He later told me he was having an off day from a skills standpoint and more or less resolved to ride it in.

That was pretty much it. I rolled in for 4th. Not a tactically interesting race, basically just man vs. course. Thanks to 360 Racing for putting it on and all the officials and volunteers!

Boulevard Cup - Sunday

Good course---had a little bit of everything. All good course have some sand and some tricky corners. Even better with a steep downhill, into a turn, into a run up! Props to the course designers. Based on Saturday, I figured today would be a good course for me. I ended up being weaker on the hill and stronger on the flats yesterday, today was all flat.

I started from the second row and was pretty far back after the start. Over the first lap I moved a up some spots, but tried to do it without blowing a gasket. I rode a bit with JP Brocket and finally moved my way up to Adam Mills. We were sitting 4th and 5th, with Joe out front and Mark Savery and Colton Jarisch together battling for 2nd/3rd.

Yesterday Adam rode away from me without much of a fight. Today, given the flatter course I figured I'd have to be a little clever to get away from him. I hoped that if I was able to get a small gap I'd be able to maintain it. We traded off work for a lap or two while I figured out my best plan of attack. I was thinking this duel was my "race" because Colton and Mark seemed to be out of reach. Adam had been leading in the curvy section and I found myself soft-pedaling a little bit, so I resolved to lead through and see if I could get my gap. I did and I hit the flats hard to make him work hard to close it up. In talking with him afterwards, he thought the gap was so small he'd have no trouble closing it up. Needless to say, small gaps in 'cross are like big gaps on the road. That small gap meant he was getting no rest and it turned into a drag race. I got the better of it today and gradually stretched it out and locked down 4th. The rest of the way was man vs. course again. I did keep Mark and Colton honest and kept the gap in the 12-15 sec range the rest of the way. Just didn't have juice to punch across that gap.

Two 4ths, no complaints.

Don't know when I'll be back in town, but who knows maybe I'll get another race in before the end of the year.

Headed out Tuesday for a whirlwind tour of the east coast: Columbus, Philly, DC, Durham, Orlando, San Juan, back through town on the way to Boulder for a week, and back before Christmas.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Coaching Services

I am now offering coaching services related to many aspects of road, MTB and cyclocross training and racing. If you'd like some help with your CX training and racing, or are wondering what the best thing to do this off-season, I'd love to help.

Advice available in the following areas:

  • training plan development
  • evaluation of existing training plan
  • evaluation of performance testing results
  • strength/weakness identification
  • goal setting
  • race season planning
  • race tactics and strategy
  • bike fit/positioning
  • injury prevention/recovery
  • off-bike/cross training
  • diet, nutrition and on-bike fueling

Consultations can be conducted in-person or by telephone, email, or skype. Depending on availability, we can "meet" on the bike or at a race, too.

Coaching is available on an hourly basis at a rate of $60.00/hour. For ease of use, I am using PayPal for transactions. Other payment plans can be worked out if you'd prefer to not use PayPal.

Please contact me at 816-200-2188.

20 August 2011

BOB trailer anyone?

Anyone out there have a BOB Ibex trailer that I could borrow/rent? I'm doing a backcountry tour and it looks like I need to up my carrying capacity. I'd need it from a little before Labor Day until around the 3rd week of September. Thanks!

** Nevermind. I bought a Extrawheel Trailer, I should be good to go.

18 April 2011

Ouch! Bone Bender 2011

Back in town and I joined Rich Anderson to ride the Bone Bender 6hr as a duo team. First time on a MTB for probably 6 months and with the exception of a couple easy spin hours this past week, first time on a bike for 4 months. Baptism by fire.

I asked Rich to do the first lap because I didn't have much confidence about my rusty technical skills in traffic. Also, I really didn't think I was up to 4 laps either! I was right. Although my laps were decent given the circumstances, I had a good calf cramping moment on my last lap. This is actually the first time I have ever had a muscle lock up while riding. Of course, my bike fitness is crap, so its no surprise that riding hard for 2.5 hours was more than I could handle.

My technique seemed to be okay after some time on the trails. Everyone seemed to think the trail was really technical, I guess I didn't. Sure, it had technical bits that I didn't ride, but I didn't really feel like they defined the course. On any given course there are usually some technical bits that I can't ride, so this trail was about the same as anything else for me.

It was good to see everyone. It seems like I've been gone for a really long time. In reality, I probably wouldn't have seen most of these people at all over the last few months anyway, so its weird that it feels like I was returning from a long absence.

Anyway, probably won't be doing much riding/racing this year. Guess I better figure out something else to write about...

14 January 2011

Fun in the Sun

We've now been here the better part of two weeks. Unfortunately, we both caught a cold in the first week so we've been taking it a little easy so far. We start our days waking up with the sun, brewing some tea and coffee and then lazily reading and spending some time online. Once we feel better we'll probably be doing some surfing or yoga, or both in the morning.

Before lunch we usually hit the beach for some walking and swimming. Our tans are coming along nicely, we should be a nice golden brown very soon! By midday it gets pretty warm so we head to the casita for some lunch followed by more reading or napping.

At sunset the whole community convenes on the beach to say adios to the sun. Its a pretty cool ritual, and the sunsets can be fantastic.

Yesterday I was feeling better so I went for a little run. I think this will probably be my aerobic outlet; I need something our I might bloat up from too many Imperials (beer). Running on the dirt roads is nice and there are some hills about.

Looks like we will have a couple of beach cruisers starting this weekend so we'll have a little mobility since we returned the rental car. We'll put these to good use for runs to the grocery store in Nosara (about 2-3 miles away) or Esperanza (1 mile).

We've been watching the weather in KC...ouch! Let's just say we're not regretting our choice to head south for the winter...

We have anticipated some struggle with adjusting to the slowed pace of life and/or having few "things" to do to fill the day. As Americans, I think we have become conditioned to being frantically busy all the time. As of yet we seem to be doing okay. Of course, we were both sick this last week, which makes it a little easier to do nothing. We've spent lot of time reading, thank you for electronic books or we would be sure to run out things to read in a few weeks. Fortuitously, we have a guitar hanging on the wall of our casita, so maybe I'll finally start to learn how to play! I've had one day where I was a little anxious and wanted to be doing "something"; but most days have been great and just seem to fly by.

That's all I've got for now....