Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pierre's Hole 50 Mile Race Report

I saw things transpiring very differently in my mind when I thought about this race beforehand. A furious start to the race, hot temps, loose conditions, and some seriously steep climbs took their toll everyone but I should have been more mentally prepared. Being “only” 50 miles and on my local trails, I took it for granted a little and suffered badly at the end as a result. No matter how many races you have done, there are always lessons to learn out there.

Maybe a little too comfortable before the start?

The "Start Loop" took about 11 minutes and I was already pinned

I went from 0 to 178 in a flash. That is how high my HR shot up on the opening climb on the “Start Loop” designed to spread out the field before the first section of singletrack. This might be ok for the WYDAHO XC race that used the same climb but not for a 50 miler with almost 8K of climbing. I will admit that I got caught up in the moment. As my friendly adversaries from Jackson & Teton Valley surged ahead, I tried to keep them in sight when I should have calmly let them go and stuck to my plan. I did do a good job of sticking to my hydration and fueling plan. However, my plan was flawed because 88F at 8,000+’, with a warm wind, dries you out in a hurry and my planned hydration was not nearly enough.

An hour into the race I knew that I had gone out too hard but I felt as if I could back it off a notch, recover a bit, and then finish strong. Near the end of my first 25 mile lap I washed out my front tire in an off-camber turn and went down hard on my left knee and head. The knee took the brunt of the fall and the crash forced me to walk for several hundred yards as I evaluated the injury. Luckily the knee pain faded and I was riding again in minutes but I had lost some of my mojo and definitely backed it off a notch on the following Mill Creek and Dry Creek descents.

The events of the day, in squiggles

Any visions I had of finishing strong came to a screeching halt on the last pavement climb when inner thigh cramping forced me off the bike and into a long-stride stretch. It had been a long time since my arch nemesis, the inner thigh cramp, had shown itself and I truly thought that my current fueling system had eliminated them. Cramps are such a mysterious thing; is it electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, duration + intensity of effort, or a special blend of all three? I was determined to finish and decided that I would walk my bike through Rick’s Basin if I had to but I was able to slowly ride Rick’s with the occasional shooting cramp. It was a humbling last hour as I had to “granny gear” sections that I normally climb in my middle ring while I nursed my cramps. I crossed the line in 5:31:00 with a little more respect for the Pierre’s course.

My man Hamilton is on fire on his new Siren rigid singlespeed. Hami followed up a strongman effort in Butte with a fast Pierre's 50

Gabe, aka Fiddee, went down hard only 7 minutes into the race but rallied back to ride another lap and a half before having to pull the plug. Hopefully my gangsta buddy is just bruised and not broken

Dave Saurman is a force to be reckoned with. Saurdude and I have a friendly rivalry and right now he is kicking my ass...but its not over.

A Great Event

Thanks to Andy Williams and Troy Barry for a putting on a great event. This race is going to grow! Grand Targhee in August is gorgeous, the course has great variety, and this year they nailed the start/finish line scene. Even though I know the course well I paid attention to the course markings and they were PRO. Racers walked away with tons of great raffle prizes and hot pasta, salad, and Grand Teton Beer was served in the awards tent. I think it is very likely that 160+ racers will line up next year for Pierre’s Hole.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pierre's Hole 50/100 Mile this Saturday!

The 2nd annual Pierre's Hole 50/100 is this Saturday, August 21st, and its not too late to join the fun! For those who need their beauty sleep, the 50-mile race doesn't start until 9am. I have chosen the 50-mile option this year and I look forward to mixing it up with the usual suspects. Speaking of usual suspects, there are several names suspiciously missing from the roster as of today. Let's support our local race scene people!

Singletrack, doubletrack, gravel, a little pavement, and a great scene at Grand Targhee

A few out-of-town folks have asked about the course so I thought I would post a few notes describing the different sections. The Pierre's course throws a little bit of everything at you but the best section in my opinion is the Mill Creek singletrack descent. Just reflect back to how great the Mill Creek section was while you are crying for your momma on the heinous Bustle Creek climb. Oh, its not that bad...on the first lap. The doubletrack descent down Dry Creek, following the first pavement climb, is fast! Watch out for the water bars on steroids and keep the rubber-side down through here. A race in Wyoming wouldn't be complete without riding through a horse corral right? After descending Dry Creek, the race course goes through some private property, through their horse corral, and back into the National Forest. Sweet!

Although I own a singlespeed, I have never done a complete lap of Pierre's on it so I have no idea what gear I would run. I thought about single-speeding this race...for about 30 seconds, and then I came to my senses. Ha!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Park City Weekend

Michelle and I escaped to Park City for some Point to Point course recon and binge riding this past weekend. I managed to ride 11.5 hours in two days and was sufficiently tired Sunday evening but I am already looking forward to going back over Labor Day to race the PCPP.

The Mid Mountain Trail

The PCPP course is a little like Jekyl & Hyde in that some sections are buffed and fast while other sections are rough and punishing. One common trait shared by all sections of the course is "climbing". Every time you leave an aid station at the PCPP, you better get your head wrapped around the fact that you are fixin' to climb for a while.

You have to earn this view from Bow Hunter at 9,200'...unless you purchase a Deer Valley lift ticket.

There is a new, very rough, section of the Mid Mountain Trail between Park City & The Canyons

A note about the Mid Mountain Re-Route: I bummed to see the new Mid Mountain Trail in its rough and raw state. Maybe the trail was recently machine-cut and is still a work-in-progress? However, when I think of Park City as a mountain bike destination I think of forested, buffed, swoopy riding on the Mid Mountain Trail. Of course there are other great trails in PC but the Mid Mountain Trail is the crown jewel. My fingers are crossed that over time the new section of trail will be as fabulous as the rest of the Mid Mountain Trail.

Railroad Earth played a free concert at The Canyons Saturday night

Michelle and Kenai enjoying the band from the balcony

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fit Session at Fitzy’s

Over the past couple of years I have had my saddle height & position checked on my road and mountain bikes but I have never gone through a complete fit session. When I made an appointment for a complete fit at Fitzgerald’s Bicycles with newly trained fit specialist JayP, I had two goals:

Goal #1 was to verify my saddle height & fore/aft position on my Air9 race bike because I have been trying new saddles and moving things around a bit.

Goal #2 was to evaluate my current road bike fit, make any adjustments Jay recommended, and then use these numbers for a future road bike purchase. This would also tell whether I am a candidate for a custom road bike or whether I can look at stock sizes and still achieve a proper fit.

Upstairs Pro Shop and Fit Studio

Jay’s background as an ultra-endurance cyclist gives him a unique perspective as a bike fitter. Jay knows firsthand what it feels like to ride a bike for a long time and what issues can arise over the course of a long ride or race. Jay’s workspace, the fit studio at Fitzgerald’s, is PRO. The upstairs location gives you some privacy and the dedicated space is equipped with a stretching table, video equipment, and the latest Serotta fit tools.

We accomplished Goal #1 pretty easily as my position was very close to spot on. We did slide my saddle back about 5mm to get my knee in a better position.

The Serotta Fit Cycle


The second part of our session involved the Serotta Fit Cycle. Jay used the geometry numbers from my current Orbea Orca road bike to duplicate my current position on the Serotta Fit Cycle and then we started tweaking things a bit. I have logged many 6 hour rides in the saddle of my Orca so I knew my position wasn’t drastically off but we did decide that I would benefit from reducing my reach by about 1cm. The other bit of good news was that I can easily fit “most” standard 56cm road frames as long as the head tubes are not ridiculously short. Once we dialed in my fit on the Fit Cycle, we used the Serotta XY Tool to apply those measurements to a couple of frames on the floor to see whether a proper position could easily be achieved.

My current Specialized footbed on the left, eSole modular fotbed on the right

A key part of any bike fit should address the feet. Shoe fit, insoles, and cleat position are very important to long-term comfort and efficiency. Fitzy’s is carrying a new insole from eSoles called eFit Supportive and this insole is unique because it is modular. Each insole comes with four different arch supports and two metatarsal pads so you can create your own perfect fit. Having dealt with Hot Foot issues over the past two years I was very excited about this product and purchased a pair to try so I will report back once I have some miles on them.

In my opinion, a complete fit session is one of the best investments you can make in your cycling and will provide far more benefit than lighter bits & pieces on your race bike. We are fortunate to have a dedicated fit specialist and fit studio at Fitzy's.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I am a downhill racer.

I did not say that I was proficient at downhill racing. My fear of hucking myself off of large drops and my lack of skillz on flat pedals are immediate barriers to DH racing success. However, rocketing down singletrack, plowing over rocks that would make me poop my pants on my hardtail, and getting “small” air on a bike with 8” of travel is fun. I mean really fun.

Rockin' the old school loose-fit Fitzy jersey

The Giant Glory 1, 8" of travel and seductively smoove

My demo bike is aptly named "The Godfather"

Grand Targhee hosted its second of three downhill races today and I couldn’t resist joining the fun. I tried it last year but I didn’t have access to a true DH bike. Fitzy’s is now stocked with a couple of Glory 1s in the demo fleet so I rented one with plans of DH domination, um, survival, in mind. Side Note: I find it interesting that Fitzy chose NOT to race today and I have to assume that my late entry intimidated him.

I tried using flat pedals on my first practice run, like all of the cool DH hipsters, but I was having hard time staying stuck to the bike in the air and through the chunder. With enough time for one more practice run I swapped pedals to my Time Atac XS pedals and clipped in...much better. At least when I went airborne I knew I was going to come down on the bike but not being able to “dab” a foot through a few loose corners was the tradeoff. The massive tires and 8” of travel give you some margin for error when picking your line. Initially I was trying to steer around rocks but during my last run I was plowing over them and just hanging on.

I did not come in last and I kept the rubber-side down. Greatness. You don’t “need” a DH bike to race downhill at Targhee but it sure is nice to have the extra travel. The last race of the series is September 11th and I can’t wait!

Thanks to Andy Williams of Grand Targhee for putting on another excellent event. The competition was tight, the category winners got very cool “DH Champion” shirts, and the raffle was extremely generous.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kenai loves the Arrow Trail

Kenai misses his buddy Bechler so he is getting some extra TLC this week. We let him pick the trail again last night and, surprise, he chose the Arrow Trail. There are lots of squirrels, grouse to flush, and a cool creek drink from at the turnaround. I can't blame him really because it is one of my favs too.

Cooling off the feet and getting a drink at the turnaround

I think Kenai is smiling

My first ride with a rigid fork on the singlespeed and it was a hoot. Not fast, but a hoot!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Tallboy is taunting me

I was resisting the temptation just fine until I saw one in person yesterday. I stopped into Habitat to say hello to Troy and they had a large Santa Cruz Tallboy in a box just begging me to hang it on a scale. I shouldn't have done that. My 2008 Turner Sultan frame weighs a portly 6.5 lbs and when I saw the scale flash 5 lbs, 1 oz I got weak in the knees. I had to leave before I did something rash but now I can't get the Tallboy out of my brain.

In an effort to justify NOT buying the frame, I thought I would see just how heavy a 1.5" tapered fork plus a 15QR would be. At first glance, it has to be WAY heavier right?

My current fork & hub setup:
Fox F29 FIT RLC with 9mm open dropout = 1,690g
DT Swiss 240 hub with centerlock adapter = 165g
Salsa stainless skewer = 48g
Total = 1903g

1.5" Tapered Fork with 15QR axle:
Fox F29 FIT RLC with 15QR & 1.5" tapered steered tube = 1,760g (includes axle)
DT Swiss oversize 15mm hub with centerlock adapter = 156g
Total = 1916g

Holy crap! My One9 singlespeed has a 15QR fork on it and the ride is noticeabley better but I always assumed it was a lot heavier. Plus, the 15QR axle is so clean and easy to use.

The real dilemna is that my shop, Fitzgerald's Bicycles, is not a Santa Cruz dealer. I have always ridden brands sold by Fitzy's but 29er full-suspension frames that weigh 5 lbs are not exactly common. Did I mention how sexy this frame is?