Saturday, July 18, 2009

That's all folks

At least this poop show ended on a medium note for me. And I got the buckle. Now I need a belt big enough for it. I'd take a pic and show you, but my camera is busted. From crashing on it. Poop show it was.

The last stage took us up and over and up and over Boreas Pass, an old railroad grade turned into wide dirt road and some sweet funnest on both sides. Named after the howling wind on it by some old guys digging in the dirt for metals to make 'em rich and due to the tons of snow they had to work through - they put in a tunnel on part of this thing cause it was way easier than trying to clear the tracks each winter - Boreas was a nice change from the damn steep ass climbing they'd had us doing all week. There was a humungous snow blower for the front of the trains - big enough that they'd need a couple engines to push it - on display close to the start/finish of one of the stages. Then there were pics that showed guys on snow 6 feet above the top of the blower, their job being to shovel down to the blower height in front of the train. That's a freakin' ton of snow. Might have been easier to just shut down for the winter. Or build a much bigger tunnel.

Much of what we were on during the rassin' out in Breck was in some way linked to the old mining days and it wasn't unusual to be rolling along some way remote piece of trail and come upon remnants of the reason these towns existed in the first place - it actually wasn't about powder originally.

Today started with another bitch of a climb - basically back on the damn prologue course and the leg was into full lock down mode about an hour in again and what little power I might have had was gone. At just about that time though I hit the first descent and dropped onto the RR grade road over the pass. When the trails and roads got real steep all week I had to get off the bike. With this grade at only a couple percent, that made things a little different. Today I was able to actually put some power into the pedals and though the hip was screaming at me, I could roll the gear.

It was really nice to do nothing but pass people all day long. Finally I wasn't just suffering and sucking ass. Today, I was suffering but not completely sucking ass.

I rolled up one side of Boreas catching a dropping a ton of people I should have been spanking all week by basically ignoring the hip as much as I could and trying all sorts of different pedaling positions. Eventually I settled on jamming the tip of the saddle into my taint and putting a bit more into the top of the pedal stroke. I also stood up a ton and got way forward on the bike. This sorta worked. I ripped the singletrack on the other side and then found that same sweet grade on the way back. I kept eating people up until I finally got to a point that the pain was a bit much and I had to back off.

We crested Boreas to the tune of "20 minutes back to town!" and I'd have been smiling today if not for the grimacing. On the next road descent I was actually yelling in pain trying to get some release. It was also on this descent that I finally caught some of the SSers that had been kicking my butt from day 1. Mr Moots, Rich D waved me by to drop into the singletrack in front of him. I obliged and immediately bounced back and forth in one of those western ditch singletracks before dismounting hard into the ground. Rich probably should have dropped in first.

I hopped back up and caught Rich who let me go by again probably thinking it'd be worth the entertainment value. I found Tomicogs spinning his way down the trail shortly after - man he's got that dialed - and he let me scoot by. Got one or two other guys in that last bit o' singletrack in Breck too and finally felt okay about a day in this thing coming across the final finish line. It was definitely a good way to wrap things up.

Got back to the condo and Kris and little guy wanted to get on the lift to the top of the mtn. Well, Kris did anyway, I'm not sure Braden cared one way or the other. So we did a little hike around Wheeler Pass so I could show the family where I was stinking things up. Actually, I could just point to any land visible between us and the horizon from the 11,000 foot peak and say, "I sucked there. And there. And over there. And over there. And over there. And there. And over there too. And there. And up there. And down there. And that spot. And there. And, yep, there. And over there." Kris threw snowballs at Braden, unfortunately he doesn't know to duck. Braden lost his hat on the way up in the lift, but mom saved the day by hiking back up after to get it as it would have been a crying to shame to lose that. At least that's what I was told.

The dinner party came later at the swanky River Walk. We watched a kick ass video made during the week and I got to see what the front of the race looked like after the first 20 sec. of any stage. We also got our buckles. Then they did a killer raffle with kick ass long boards and Crank Bros wheels and other cool stuff. I won a pair of tires and a light up aerobie. Thank god there was free beer.

I canvassed the place with the help from my friends Harlan and Garth with TransSylvania Epic info and got an overwhelmingly positive response to the whole thing. Keith B was all about it and sending his buds in England the info. A bunch of western types were all licking their chops with the promise of tearing up the east coasters with their train high approach and easterners were like, "Yeah Rocks!! and Oxygen!! Bring it bitches." So spread that word - May 30-June 5, 2010 -

All's well that ends well.

Except I couldn't f'ing walk for three days after I got back.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mamma said there'd be days like this

(This post is about a freakin' week in the making, final Breck Epic post to follow)

I intended to post following the Wheeler Pass stage with a wrap of days four and five of the Breck Epic. During that stage things went really badly on a couple fronts and I came very close to pulling the plug on the whole damn thing. Not much interest in writing about it then either. I've been dealing with the aftermath of the race since and only finally starting to get a handle on the injuries in the last two days. Heres the first post, started last Friday (7/10).


Wednesday was one of the hardest things I've done on a bike. None of the stages here are very long - 30-40 miles basically every day but the prologue - but what they lack in distance they more than make up for in vert. In the first 20 miles we did about 5000 feet of climbing (for comparison races like the Wilderness 101 and Shenandoah 100 contain about 10-12,000 feet of vert in 100 miles). Of those first 20 miles there were also 5-6ish miles of descending. So, 5000 feet of climbing in 15 miles. Up and over the continental divide. Then we went up and over again. Yes there was some hiking involved but it was a lot of just steep ups on the bike. My back and hip were pretty wrecked early on from the steep stuff and I ended up off the bike a lot trying to stretch out and keep moving. I screwed up on a refueling stop too and that was biting me in the ass for a bit.

When we finally got up and over the second big climb we rolled into an absolutely killer descent of a section of the CO trail. This particular bit starts out swooping and fast and then turns into something a lot like the descents at Lehigh U in Bethlehem in an instant. It was pretty cool to see such a sudden difference in the trail and it was very cool to be able to stomp the crap out of some people that went into that descent 5+ minutes ahead of me while I was standing along the trail stretching one more f'ing time.

After this killer descent I had a little bit of motivation and was able to fight through the hip/leg (mostly by trying to ignore it) and pushed pretty hard to the end catching back basically everyone I'd been with during the first hour. I felt like I was almost actually racing for the first time this week. Unfortunately it was not to last.

Thursday was harder. I was expecting something easier, instead ended up being the worst day of the week and the hardest terrain and the biggest disappointment. The first hour, much like on Wed, went pretty well and maybe even a bit better than the day before as I was much further up in the field and riding decently. Then the hip struck again. Off the bike I went and just stood there for a while, somewhat numb. Really frustrating that I couldn't get in one damn day without pain. My warm up even included downing a bottle of my favorite pain killer. Didn't help.

It took more than an hour to do the next 6 or so miles to Aid 1 from that spot. Every time the trail went the least bit up hill I was off the bike walking due to the hip pain - and almost none of this section was steep. Sucking more was the fact that this bit was rocky and when I was on the bike I was riding it well - and way better than most of the west coasters that were around me. By the time I pulled in to aid 1 - two plus hours into the race and out of liquid (since I didn't expect it to take 2+ hrs to go 13 miles) I was ready to throw in the towel. I stumbled around the checkpoint feeling a bit sorry for myself and going back and forth between "This isn't worth it, I'm in pain and its not going to stop" to "Quit being an f'ing pussy and keep going so you get that damn buckle."

I was soooo close to stopping. So close. Luckily for me along came my new friend Peter from Misfit Psycles on his trusty rigid single speed and kept me in the game. He convinced me to keep going and for the next hour and a half he and I basically hiked with our bikes to the top of Wheeler Pass above Breck. I'm pretty thankful he showed when he did though the hike to the top was unreal - nothing like getting spasms in your back from pushing your bike up a hill. By the time we topped out on Wheeler at hour 3.5 into the stage I figured that the front boys were probably getting close to finishing their day (damn you Jeremiah!!!!!!!!).

Since I couldn't ride I was taking a bunch of photos and as I'm cresting Wheeler taking shots I realized I've 5 bars and figure what the hell, I'm moving pretty slow, I'll call the wife. After a little "Hey, I'm going really slow and it'll be another 2 and a half til I'm back, you might as well go back to the condo."
"Okay, be careful, don't crash."
"I will, love you."
I'm off again and Peter and I take some pics next to the summit sign. After this he says to me that that rigid fork of his I'm might as well roll, "be safe." So I do. And into one of the sweetest descents of the week I go.

I'm rolling along and finally starting to find something to enjoy about the day, stopping a couple times for more photos to show off the exposure and in general feeling much better about things than I did getting to the top of that pass.

Wanna take a guess what happens? I'll save the suspense. I eat shit. Rolled into something that wasn't even that bad but missed the line a little, corrected, thought I had it, and then launched through the air landing f'ing hard on my low back. On a rock. Freakin' awesome. As if the day hadn't been swell enough I'm now lying on the damn trail cursing and swearing and generally pissed off.

And I knew it happened when I hit, but I didn't want to look. Pulled the bag out of my pocket and there is my iphone...smashed to bits. The phone took the whole impact. Its toast. Can't get a damn thing off it. Lost all those photos. No proof I actually rode up there. Just my word. You'll have to take it.

I'm pretty sure the phone saved my ass from a broken rib or worse - more than a week later and I can still barely touch the area - so at least the phone was sacrificed for my well being. I'm not happy about it, but at least I can walk. As an aside, I thought, "well at least I can get the new iphone." F' that. $500 without the contract. Not even that bit worked out.

I got through the rest of the stage just plain annoyed. I wasn't even happy about finishing the day. I didn't get a sense of satisfaction from completing something this hard and I wasn't even glad it was over. It just was. Not being able to race or even ride for much of the week and then destroying my phone and injuring myself further had me in a pretty bad place.

One good thing about stage racing is that you get to (or have to) get on the bike the next day and that is at least a chance to be less shitty. And even a little less shitty can be a good thing after days like today.

Gotta take a sec to again thank Pete and to apologize for leaving him hi and dry on pedaling his ass off on SS on the bike path from Frisco to Breck. I didn't tell him, when he told me we were no longer friends since I left him behind, but he probably wouldn't have wanted to ride with me then anyway. I mean who wants to ride with some douchebag swearing and cursing and generally pissy for a minute, let alone an hour and a half? Not me. Unfortuneately I was stuck with him for the rest of the day and wanted to save Peter from the same fate.

And, if you call or text send include your name since I gots nothing in the phone.

It gets a little better before getting worse.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Breck Epic - I ain't done yet.

Obeekaybee, two full stages and the prologue in and I'm only down about 3 hours on GC. I'm kinda having a Murphys Law style race out here. Certainly I wasn't prepared for it (like, uhhh, probably would have been a good idea to put on a triple for a race claiming 40,000 ft of total elevation gain, at uhhh, elevation, derrrrrrrrr), but its not been super smooth on the bod either which has been a bummer. The thing is, its still pretty great.

Easy to see why, no?

The first two "real" stages were tough and Wednesday's "Queen Stage" is going to be brutal - we're going high enough to ride through a snow field. Today was a little better than yesterday for me, but I'm still barely moving out here. I'm holding out hope that I'll get healthier and adjust a little more before the end of the race. You want to make sure you don't go into the first week of the stage race peaking. You have to time it for week three... I'm just lulling everyone into a false sense of security.

We're going way up there tomorrow.

It is hard to tell by the pic, but up where the snow is there are no trees. There are no trees because the climate is too freakin' harsh. Sounds like a great place to "race" a bike. Who is the genius who came up with this? Who is the bigger genius that bought the ticket?

That'd be me -- on a break and a little sample of the Colorado Trail.

Besides the killer riding, we're enjoying the stay out here too. Though not quite as easy to get to race HQ as billed - making the family friendliness a little difficult to work through - we're in a nice joint.

Roughing it at the condo contemplating the peaks
(and getting in some product placement all at the same time.)

Braden checkin' out the ladies at the pool.

So that's it for now as it is already past bedtime with what's on the radar for tomorrow. Here's to hoping I drift off easily even with visions of my large ass ascending 12,000 ft peaks. 'night kids.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Holy (don't let the kids see this) Fuck

Those are happy clouds. You should see the mean ones.

Sorry if I offend. If you are offended you'd best not read more. Still reading? It is on you then.

I'm in deep shit out here. We did the uphill ITT today. 5.5 miles or so. It took me almost an entire fucking hour to get up the hill. Guys who started a 15 minutes after me came by. I don't think I've ever suffered like that - I can't go at all. Holy shitballs batman. I definitely should have trained for this. And while having properly functioning lungs would probably help, they wouldn't be helping enough. I tweeted about needing a lung. Screw that, someone send me a vat of EPO.

About an hour before my start time today the sky let loose with just this side of wrath of god rain and hail. Lucky for us that's likely going to be a daily occurance. Here's to hoping I'm back before it happens most days. I'm going to pack with the expectation I won't be since we're looking at 6,000-10,000 ft of climbing daily from here on out. 40 miles tomorrow with a profile showing 7,000 feet of up.

I had good notice that this might be bad when trying to fall asleep at 7:45 last night. Yep, after less than 3 hours of sleep Friday night before the travel on Sat due to the illness setting in (Kris is sick too and suffering the same) we were in bed way early last night. Not like the clues the Hardly boys get, my clue came in form of suffocation. Okay, not complete suffocation but the pattern was like this: take 10-15 deep breaths trying to feel normal, settle into a bit of a rythm, drift off, awake with a start because I wasn't getting enough fucking air. It went on for like an hour. Awesome.

I meant to grab a shot from the top of the TT since going that slow should certainly equate to good race shots of guys like Harlan and Garth coming by. My air starved brain forgot. Instead, here are some shots from our first day in town; traveling out; Braden figuring out crawling; and from the final clean up at the farm after last weekend.

Helping grandpa get things cleaned up.

Note placement of team logo.

Gotta start 'em young.

Braden on the move. Looking for mom.

She's right behind you!!

Found her!

Breck with kid in Deuter pack (yep, more gratuitous product placement).

Braden sending you off from the Rasta Pasta man (he recommends the one with the pinapple curry sauce, yummy).

Friday, July 03, 2009

Ready or Not, Here I....go?

Breck. Starts in two days. I was going to start training today, but I caught a cold instead. I'll have to try to start training tomorrow now. Awesome. 6 days of hard mountain biking. This was supposed to be the carrot. The motivator that got me back on the bike. The year was going great through Feb, since then...not so much. Instead I've done less riding than I have in at least a decade and probably longer. Not feeling super confident about this, but what the hell it'll be great riding in a great place and I'm told the time cuts are "generous." By best hope now is that this just takes me down a notch - in my belt. Then I need to keep the ball rolling and stay on the bike. More than twice a week would be a big improvement on the recent past. 'Course this is also a good opportunity to spread the love about our Trans-Sylvania Epic with some folks into that sort of thing.

Jr. started crawling today. Well, he figured out that he is able to crawl today and that crawling gets him places. He had the scooting around a little thing happening for a week or so but it was just short little bursts and it was never very far. This morning he crawled across a room to get to Mr. Bear. Something musta clicked. It wasn't immediate, but by this afternoon he was doing laps of the house and Kris and I were putting in the miles trying to track him down. Gates went up on the stairs and the cat food went up on the table and out of reach. The joy on his face and in his laugh was pretty great. He moves and then squeels for no other reason than he's moving. Tomorrow we're supposed to spend a bunch of hours on a plane. Today Braden learned that he can crawl. We're a little concerned about tomorrow.

Uh oh, spadoodios

More from Breck as I at least use it as motivation to blog again.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Great Expectations

So the Festival is wrapped. A great time had by all. I'm sure those of you who didn't show are already quite sorry you missed it so I won't rub in just how great the weather was and how sweet the trails rode and how stellar the prizes were and how good the band was and how much fun everyone had. I'll just let you wallow in your own self loathing wondering what might have been had you been there.

Already thinking I want more partying next year so its probably shorter rassin on Sat and more fun after. Plus we're doing individual and team points next year so those of you who measure your manhood by the number of MASS points accumulated in a year actually get some satisfaction from the event - since rippin' it around one hell of a fun course and all the other good stuff apparently doesn't do it for you.

The Race in #s
6 days to put the race course together
3 days to race it
2 days to tear it down
40+ volunteers
40,000+ feet of tape
500 stakes
$3400.00 in cash payout
$2000.00+ in merch in the raffle
$7500.00 in prize merchandise
150 rassers
12 light up flying discs
8 portajohns
4 sets by the band
5 laps by me
2 brand new trails
43:18 by Rob L.
1 big announcement about a new ride in central PA next Memorial Day
1 exhausted promoter and crew
1 hell of a good time

Breck Epic next week. I've done less riding this year than I have at any time in the last, oh I dunno, decade or two. So my plan to be well rested should work out. More on my preparation horrorshow later.

Those of you who came out - thanks. Those of you who didn't - put it on the schedule for next year. It just gets better and better.