Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Holidays!

What a Blog slacker I am! A belated Merry Christmas to everyone!

Time flies when riding, pushing, skiing, skating, and spending time with friends.

We took our snow bikes for long walks before Christmas

Christmas Day at the Ghee, our first resort day of the season, was excellent!

Skate Skiing has been great and Teton Canyon has become our "go to" skate since it is only 10 minutes away

I am going to try and get a big ride in tomorrow regardless of the weather but I may have to get creative and include some snow packed road riding to do it. I do worry about cars not being able to avoid me when I am on snowy roads.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Army Training, Sir!

Near the end of the ride, as Jay and I were intermittently pushing our bikes throught the sugary snow, I had a flash back to the eighties. Bill Murray's voice popped into my head and I could hear him say to Seargent Hulka, "Army Training, Sir"!

Last year when I rode this loop conditions were better, but not great, and it took me 4:25:00. Yesterday, tough snow conditions turned the ride into an epic slog that took 6:25:00 (moving time). With brief stops to change air pressures, adjust layers, test boots in the icy creek, and eat, we were out there for a total time of 7:12:00.

Exposed areas were windblown and especially tough to ride.

Jay decided to test his boots in the overflow. He's crazy like that.

Jay and I guessed that we pushed our bikes 2-2.5 hours of the 6.5 hours of moving time. From a training standpoint, this ride was a great learning experience and hard effort. Several aches and pains popped up after pushing my bike for that long and now I can work on fixing them.

We rode the loop counter-clockwise yesterday and we both agreed that clockwise is a better direction.

Random post-ride thoughts:

1) The 25-mile loop version of the Togwotee Winter Classic was intended to be fun but challenging. Due to the tough conditions, most folks would probably not consider yesterday's ride fun.
2) When planning you calories for a snow bike ride, double what you think you will need.
3) Snow conditions dictate the speed. A combination of consistently cold, cloudy weather, a bit of wind, and minimal early season grooming left the trails sugary and unconsolidated. It was challenging to pick rideable lines in the wide trail all day.
4) Fig Newtons went down pretty well and are not too affected by the temps.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Lunch Ride

Friday's lunch ride with Rick was a good reminder of a few key snow biking rules:

#1 - Bring extra layers, especially for the head
#2 - Drink early and often and carry a backup bottle
#3 - Pack plenty of warm clothes for the drive home

Turnaround spot at the end of Darby Canyon

Rick and his new Pugsley...we actually rode from Rick's house! He is stoked.

So my Camelbak hose froze right out of the gate despite me blowing into the valve after each drink. Let's just say I didn't drink nearly enough for a two hour ride. My feet were noticeably colder after only two hours and I believe the dehydration was a big factor. Dumb. These are all good lessons to learn on short rides close to home.

Big ride planned for Sunday!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thoughts on elevation

Friday's snow bike ride with JayP was part training, part exploration, and part experiment. In addition to checking out part of the Togowotee Winter Classic 100-mile course, I wanted to capture some ride data and compare the results using the tools that I have. The main number I was interested in was elevation gain.

On the handlebars I had my trusty Polar 720i HR monitor as well as my Garmin eTrex Vista HCX to capture a track log. Both will capture elevation gain.

Step #1 - download file from Polar 720i into the Polar Performance Software. Elevation gain = 2,119'

Polar Performance Software Graph

Step #2 - Upload the file from the Polar into Training Peaks. Elevation Gain = 2,700'

Training Peaks Graph from Polar 720i file

Step #3 - Download file from Garmin eTrex HCX to National Geographic TOPO!. Choose "build profile" option from Route. Elevation Gain = 1,474'

National Geographic TOPO! Map & Profile

Step #4 - Download the same track file directly from the Garmin into Garmin's MapSource Software. Track is created but no elevation gain number is created.

Step #5 - Using MapSource, take .GDB file that was created when I downloaded the track, then save the track file as a .GPX file and upload to MotionBased. File can be viewed here. Elevation gain = 2,866'.

I used two tools to capture the data and four tools to look at the data. This resulted in four different elevation gain numbers. Arghh!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A new focus

With the Susitna 100 only ten weeks away, I have a new focus and part of my plan to be ready to rock on Feb 16th is some high intensity work on the trainer which began this past Tuesday.

I haven't done many high intensity efforts since October and after this morning's session I am feeling it. In addition, the PowerTap does not lie and I don't really like what its telling me.

When I hopped on the trainer, both Tuesday and this morning, I had a preconceived idea of what my power numbers "should" look like. Granted, I have no historical data because I haven't been using the PT very long and never for trainer intervals. So it was really just a guess. Regardless, I was mad at that little yellow glob of plastic sitting on my handlebars by the time I was done today. I thought "you f'n liar..I am sending you back for recalibration!" Ha! Maybe it was the Metallica I had on the iPod but I was a bit grumpy after I had grunted and snorted my way to my final "lack of" power numbers. At least there is a lot of room for improvement!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Awesome winter weekend

This weekend finally "felt" like winter. We don't have a ton of snow yet below 8000' but it was 18F-25F most of the weekend and a bit more of the white stuff came down.

We started off Saturday morning with a group skate ski up at the 'Ghee, followed by a big 'ole breakfast at our house. Then the group rallied for a snow hike in gorgeous conditions with big flakes falling straight down the entire time.

Michelle was itching to get out for her first snow bike ride of the season so we hit Teton Canyon Sunday AM with Kenai and had a nice 90 minute ride.

Riding conditions are perfect right now since the canyon is still open to vehicles and the road base is firm.

Sunday afternoon I met JayP and T-Race back up at the Ghee for more skate skiing. Those two make the steep hills look easy and I had to resort to my "flailing crab" technique a couple of times near the end. I think my skating made some progress this weekend though because my glutes are sore today and I did have a few moments where I felt pretty good. Learning to skate ski on a track with lots of hills is good & bad. I am getting an incredible workout but I know I am working much harder than I need to because my technique is not great yet. If I can learn to ski well at the Ghee I will be flying when the flatter tracks open up. I also need to learn the step turn for the fast downhills. I had a spectacular wreck on a fast downhill trying to simply power-slide around the corner. Ha!

I am officially entered in the Susitna 100 , Michelle is entered in the Little Su, and plane tickets are purchased. Woohoo!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Skate Skiing rookie

Since moving to Teton Valley six years ago I have been curious about skate skiing. As my circle of cycling friends grew it became obvious that I was one of the only serious cyclists here who does not skate ski in the winter. Many of them are accomplished nordic racers in the winter.

The final nudge came when, out of the blue, Michelle suggested that we add skate skiing to our list of activities to try and maintain some cycling fitness over the winter.

So last Friday Michelle and I jumped into a skate ski clinic at Targhee and off we a herd of turtles. Eager to practice, we skated the next two days as well and we discovered muscles we didn't know we had.

Grand Targhee nordic trails...good snow, lots of hills

Skate skiing is not coming easily to me. I am not blessed with great natural balance and my tendency is to try and "muscle" through all things physical. That just doesn't work on skate skis. I have had a few brief moments of greatness where I "get it"...and then I nearly crash and reality sets back in. Ha! I am enjoying the challenge though and I will continue to absorb everything I can to shorten the learing curve a bit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Return of the Green Monster

Man, I needed a ride today at lunch and two hours on the Green Monster set me straight.

There is not enough snow yet for the snowmobiles to be out or for the grooming efforts to begin but the road from Horseshoe to Packsaddle was totally snow covered and the riding was good. It was 8F this morning at my house and warmed up to about 20F by lunchtime.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Can you imagine being forced to push your bike for miles on rideable snow simply because your freehub froze up and the pawls won't engage? Yeah, that would really suck. But this scenario seems to take place every year in one of the snow bike races. Don't let this hapen to you people!

This weekend's 39 degree rain was a perfect excuse to spend some quality time with my FatBike's Shimano XT rear hub and get to know it on a very intimate level. The basic goal was to strip it down to the guts, degrease everything, and then re-grease it with a lube proven at extreme low temps.

Key ingredients:
1) Morningstar Soup grease
2) Morningstar Freehub Buddy tool
3) Morningstar replacement dust shield for Shimano XT

The Morningstar Soup has been tested down to -60F by a mad scientist in Alaska.

I also found some great instructions for tearing down the Shimano XT rear hub here. This is where the Morningstar Freehub buddy comes in. You cannot take apart the freehub mechanism once you remove it from the hub. However, the Freehub Buddy allows you to press degreaser through the freehub to clean it out and then to press the "Soup" through it to regrease it. Without the Freehub Buddy it would be impossible to get any grease into the Shimano freehub. Other hubs are probably easier to "winterize".

The guts of my hub were very clean since I have only ridden this bike on snow. However, the factory grease was very thick even in the moderate temps of my garage and I could easily see how it would be an issue in temps below zero.

One last note, the Morningstar relplaceable dust shield is another key part. You WILL destroy the Shimano dust shield when you remove it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

JayP's Dirt

JayP's website is now live!

Look for some great stuff to show up on this site in the coming months as Jay ramps it up for the 1100 mile ride to Nome, AK as well as other endurance racing adventures.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Test Driving the Sultan

Saturday’s ride was memorable for many reasons:

The crew - JayP, T-Race, Chris Erickson, and I had the trails all to ourselves and blew the needle off of the fun meter

The timing - we rallied for what was likely the last “dirt” day of 2007 in these parts.

Turner Sultan Test drive – this was my first ride on a FS 29er…and it did NOT suck

Chris E. had generously offered to let me test drive his large Turner Sultan several times and the riding season almost got away from us before I could take him up on it. I wanted to give the Sultan an honest evaluation so I met Chris at his house before the ride and we swapped seat posts & saddles, pedals, and adjusted fork, shock and tire air pressures. Chris took one for the team and rode my Turner 5 Spot while I rode the 4” travel Sultan.

First a little background; my normal race bike is a 4” travel Turner Flux that weighs about 26.5 lbs. I also ride my 5 Spot quite a bit on epics and fun rides and it weighs in at about 29 lbs with 2.4” tires. Chris’ Sultan weighs about 28.5 lbs with Panaracer Rampage 2.3” tires + Stan’s goo. Luckily Chris and I are close to the same size so once the saddle & pedal swap was complete the setup felt great.

Right out of the gate I felt very comfortable on this bike and the big wheels didn’t seem to take any getting used to. The handlebars ended up being about 1.5” above my saddle and I thought this would hurt my seated climbing but I was amazed at how well it climbed and how much traction I had in this upright position. In fact, even in the granny gear I could stay seated in the middle of the saddle and grind up some really steep and loose climbs. Descending was a blast with this bar-above-the-seat setup combined with the big wheels.
Here are a few of my post-ride Sultan thoughts:

- The bike did not feel especially slow or sluggish climbing or in the tight singletrack as I was expecting
- Although the bottom bracket height is similar to my 5 Spot at roughly 13”, I felt like I was sitting in the bike, not on top of it
- The front wheel did not “wander” side to side while climbing slowly in the granny gear.
- Sections of loose “baby head” rocks as well as football sized embedded rocks were easier to navigate and maintain speed
- I was immediately comfortable cornering this bike at speed
- The 29” wheels did not increase my red blood cell count nor allow me to out-climb JayP
- The bike was just plain fun to ride

So the question I have now is whether the Sultan would make a good race bike or simply a great “fun” bike. I am guessing that the lightest I could build one up is about 26.5 lbs. A Lenz Leviathan 3.0 frame is almost a pound lighter than the Sultan. But is the weight the biggest factor? My technical weaknesses as a rider/racer are ledgy terrain, sand, loose gravel, and cornering at speed. Several of these conditions are reportedly where 29ers shine and I saw glimpses of this in one 3 hour ride. I will chew on this a bit.

Chris E taking one for the team

T-Race saved her energy and then dropped the hammer on us at the end

Enjoying a little sunshine

The South Fork of the Snake River

As expected, we woke up to this Sunday morning...perfect!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sneaking one in

Riding singletrack on November 9th in Teton Valley, ID? With our weather heading for a change I snuck in one more mtn bike ride at lunchtime today with my trusty sidekick Kenai. This is definitely the latest into the season I have ridden on singletrack in the six years I have lived here.

After this weekend, we may be done on the dirt until May.

The exposed stuff was dry but anything in the shade was a bit muddy.
Kenai had his game face on...actually he was just pissed I was stopping to snap a pic.

My plan is to try for another mtb ride on Saturday unless the storm comes in early. In fact, I am hoping that Chris E. will join me and let me try out his Turner Sultan so I can finally experience the greatness of a FS 29er. This could be dangerous to my checkbook.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Extending the season

Although temps at night are now consistently dropping down into the low twenties, the days have been cool and gorgeous. The weather makes me want to ride more than it makes me want to stalk elk in the timber.

I hooked up with JayP and T-Race (Tracey Petervary) for an awesome road ride today from Wilson, WY into Grand Teton Park and back.

JayP sportin' the retro wool & retro Carerra melon protector.

The handsome couple on Teton Village Rd.

I was smiling until we turned around and Jay dropped the hammer into the stiff headwind. Ouch...but in a good way.

I would love to get another ride or two in on the dirt but the heavy rain we got last week may have closed out our mtn bike season unless I ride very early before the mid-morning thaw. Jay and I might try to recon of a piece of the snow bike course this week as well. It would be great if the weather turned in a hurry and we switched from road biking to snow biking in a matter of days. For now I am content taking whatever the weather gives me.

My elk season goes until the end of November so I am not too anxious yet. In most years we get a good storm or two around Thanksgiving and that is when I get serious about stalking them in the snow. For a hunter on foot, a foot+ of fresh snow levels the playing field a bit; your steps become quiet, the elk stand out against a white backdrop, most ATVers get discouraged, and the snow will tell you how old the tracks truly are.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Snow bike "State of the Union"

Since we are only a month away from consistent snow bike riding, let's talk gear. Who is making the perfect snow bike right now? Has the perfect snow bike even been made yet? The five bikes listed below share one common theme; they all have enough clearance to run the 3.7" Endomorph tires. After that, they are very different.

The newest snow bike on the market was designed by Alaskans and is being sold through Speedway Cycles in Anchorage, AK.
- Ti frame
- 165mm rear hub spacing
- 100mm bottom bracket
- Vertical dropouts
Thoughts: The 165mm rear hub is cool because it allows you to build a non-offset rear wheel. However, it also severely limits your hub options and most 165mm rear hubs are not light. So you get a super-light frame but then have to stick a boat-anchor rear hub on it. Hmmm (See my late edit below)

DeSalvo Ti FatBike
This is the only one so far and was built for 135mm rear spacing to accomodate a Rohloff Speedhub.
- Ti Frame
- 150mm rear hub spacing available

Thoughts: The 150mm rear hub "might" let you build a non-offset rear wheel and are more common than a 165mm rear hub. DeSalvo does great work but I am guessing this frame would take a year to get and cost about the same as two fully-built Pugsleys. Still, I am drooling.

Wildfire Designs FatBike
Made by DeSalvo for Wildfire Designs.
- Steel frame
- 100mm bottom bracket
- 135mm rear hub spacing
- Vertical dropouts

Thoughts: Very well made frame & fork...but is it worth 2X more than a Pugsley? I like supporting the small builder, it was the lightest available at this time last year, and I definitely wanted vertical dropouts so it was a clear choice for me.

Surly Pugsley
Surly was the first company to mass produce a snow bike, rims & tires. Without their gamble on this obscure niche we would still be welding rims together.
- Steel frame
- 135mm rear hub spacing
- horizontal dropouts

Thoughts: You can build a damn nice Pugsley for $2K and have an awesome snow bike. And now they come in grey. You could also run a White Brothers carbon fork with 100mm spacing and save 2 lbs! I am just not a fan of the horizontal dropouts.

Vicious Cycles Thunderwing
- Steel frame
- Each tube is sealed to prevent corrosion
- bb width not known
- 135mm rear hub spacing
- Killer custom paint

Thoughts: Vicious Cycles was blazing trails and built the Thunderwing before the Pugs came out. Nice!

The bottom line is that ther are way more options for a quality snow bike than there were two years ago. However, I am not sure my "perfect" snow bike is in this group. Here are the pieces to my perfect snow bike:
1) Ti frame
2) 73mm bottom bracket because my knees do feel the affects of the 100mm bottom bracket
3) 150mm rear hub spacing so I can build a non-offset rear wheel
4) Non-offset chainstays

My perfect snow bike frame would be light, have a normal Q-factor, and would allow me to run three chainrings in the front and 6 or 7 cogs in the back. That is plenty in the winter. In the summer it would double as a sweet 29" hardtail without having to build a funky, offset 29" rear wheel like I did for my FatBike.

Edit 10-28-07: My comment above about the 165mm rear hub being a "boat anchor" was based on my impression that it was a downhill hub and therefore must be really heavy. Greg from Speedway Cycles posted some great comments including the actual hub weights. The 165mm Hadley and DT Swiss hubs are both lighter than the XT "boat anchors" I am currently running. Ha! Thanks for straightening me out Greg!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Time of transition

In between the rounds of 40 degree rain and early snowflakes, we have had some gorgeous fall days and I have tried to take advantage of them. During last week's good weather I rode 6 our of 8 days with every ride falling into the category of simply "fun".

It is hard to say which I like the best; mountain bike rides on yellow aspen leaf-covered singletrack or crisp road bike rides where the fall colors sourround you.

One of our road rides in Grand Teton National Park to the top of Signal Mountain
Last week I realized that I was not as recovered from my 24 hour race as I thought I was. Riding was fun, and I was mentally into it, but I just didn't have much "onion" when I really tried to stomp on it. And for now, that is perfectly fine. My next planned race is in 2008 and a little break would probably do me some good. I may head down to Moab for the WRiad ride on Oct 27th in hopes getting in one more big ride in the sun and meeting a whole pile of great people at the same time.
Or, I may stay home, ride a little, and see if I can outsmart the elusive elk this year.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Togwotee Winter Classic

I am excited to announce a new snow bike race near Jackson, WY on January 19, 2008:

The Togwotee Winter Classic

I expect the 100-mile version will be incredibly hard and the 25-mile version will challenge those who want to experience snow bike racing without the extreme committment of the 100-mile race.

The goals of this non-profit event are to expose more people to snow biking and to have a great time.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Winter teaser

Mother Nature fired an opening salvo this weekend as a reminder of what is come. When we went to bed last night it was snowing hard and looking very wintry outside. However, the sun is already out and the snow will probably be gone by tomorrow. Perfect.

The warming trend forecasted for this week corresponds perfectly with my desire to get back into a riding groove as I have only ridden sporadically since the Targhee 24 Hour race.

Cycling has still been front and center though. The planning for a January snow bike race took a big leap forward this past week and I hope to make it official very soon. One issue I go back and forth on is how much support to provide during the race. Melting snow for water will be an issue for the 100-mile racers.

What are your thoughts?

Option #1 - Offer no suppport but allow racers to use any resources found along the route. 25-mile racers will have no resources and 100-mile racers will travel near a cluster of lodges at about the 70-mile mark.

Option #2 - Offer one aid station each for the the 25-mile and the 100-mile racers. Try to position the aid stations at roughly the half-way point on each course.

Option #3 - Offer an aid station for the 25-mile racers only at roughly the half-way point on the course. Treat the 100-mile race as a 100% self supported race.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Yellowstone National Park shuts out snow biking

The National Park Service has been working on a new long-term Winter Use Plan for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for the past several years. The main topic of debate has been the number of snowmobiles that will be allowed in the parks on a given day but the entire Winter Use Plan is being revised.

During the public comment period, our tiny group of snow bikers petitioned to be treated the same as cross-country skiers so that we would be allowed to ride on the groomed roads designated for over snow vehicles (OSVs).

The Winter Use Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement was released on Monday, September 24th and based on this document it appears that snow biking will not be allowed in Yellowstone. However, snow biking did get mentioned in the FEIS so at least we made it onto the Park Service's radar. Page 29 of the FEIS reads:

"Allow Snowbikes on Snowroads
A comment during public review of the DEIS suggested the parks allow snowbikes. Snowbikes are modified bicycles with larger, low-pressure tires to facilitate use on groomed routes. The NPS believes that the use of snowbikes could conflict with and/or create safety hazards along routes on which substantial numbers of snowmobiles and snowcoaches operate, such as the groomed roads in Yellowstone. Within units of the National Park System, bicycles may only be used on park roads, parking areas, and on routes designated for such use by special regulation. The NPS may consider whether the use of snowbikes would be appropriate on certain groomed roads in Grand Teton where conflicts with oversnow vehicles, other visitors or wildlife is not an issue."

The National Park Service have left themselves an opportunity to allow snow biking on Teton Park Road in Grand Teton National Park. This 20-mile section of road is closed to snowmobiles and is currently groomed for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing from December through March. Teton Park Road would be an incredible place to snow bike and I am excited about this possibility.

Selfishly, I am very disappointed we will not be able to ride in Yellowstone from the West Yellowstone entrance into Old Faithful. Why is it considered safe for a cross country skier but not safe for snow biking? Currently, cross country skiing is allowed on any groomed surface within either park.

The groomed roads in Yellowstone are open to Oversnow Vehicles as defined below:

Oversnow vehicles (OSVs): Self-propelled vehicles intended for travel on snow, driven by a track or tracks in contact with the snow, and which may be steered by skis or tracks in contact with the snow. This term includes both snowmobiles and snowcoaches.

Given the Park Service's definition of an OSV, maybe I will build up one of these specifically for Yellowstone adventures.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chilly night ride

Wednesday's ride was supposed to a be fun after-work ride with Chris Erickson on some of the classic Jackson singletrack. My lack of preparedness turned our ride into a personal sufferfest that left me so cold I had to sit in the car with the heater on full blast for 40 minutes in order to thaw out enough to drive home. So dumb...and I know better.

This left me wondering why I got so cold last night but did not have any issues with cold during the 24 Hours of Grand Targhee in similar temps. Here are my thoughts:

#1 Moisture management - During the 24 hour race I was riding at a moderate pace and not sweating profusely. Last night, we pinned it for an hour solid up Snow King to begin our ride and were soaking wet when we hit the top. The wet clothes chilled my core as we bombed downhill.

#2 Cold core = cold extremeties - Once at the top of Snow King I should have added a heavy layer to the torso for the long downhill but instead added only a flimsy vest and arm warmers. Once my core got cold, my hands turned to frozen stumps and I could barely work the brake levers.

#3 Add layers before its too late - In the Targhee race, I added layers in anticipation of the cold and unzipped as needed on the climbs. Last night, I had no extra layers to add because I had a brain fart and decided to "go light". Dumb.

Next time the Camelbak with have LOTS of extra layers and a couple of chemical hand warmers.

Unrelated to this post, here is cool pic taking by one of the Grand Targhee employees during the 24 hour race.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spinnin' and grinnin'

Does is get any better than late September in the Tetons?

I am back on the road bike and enjoying some mellow rides with Michelle as the legs slowly come back from from the 24 Hour race last weekend. Saturday morning's ride took us into Grand Teton National Park and before we knew it we had ridden three hours! I am not going to rush my recovery but there is one more event I would like to do before calling it a season. For now, I will keep spinnin' and grinnin' and let the recovery run its full course.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

24 Hour of Grand Targhee: Race Report

Disclaimer; long races result in long race reports.

The weekend of September 15th & 16th had been circled on my race calendar since late spring and my summer of racing and training was aimed directly at the center of that little red circle. The goal for my first 24 hour solo race was simple; ride consistently, take no sleep breaks, and minimize my time in the pits.

The planning and prep for this race took on a life of its own and the week before the race proved to be moderately stressful. A little training, organizing and re-organizing our supplies, prepping bikes, testing lights, and my day job were pulling at me from every angle. Quality sleep was a conscious, yet unobtainable, goal the week leading up to the race. I was way too excited, nervous, and anxious for this race but there wasn’t a damn thing I could about it.

Once Saturday morning finally arrived the race plan was set in motion and I headed up to Targhee to assemble our home away from home for the next 36 hours. The chaos and buzz in the pit area before a 24 race is infectious and this one was especially cool because so many friends were racing and setting up their pits all around us. My race plan included sharing a support crew with my good friend, and fellow solo racer, JayP so we set up our pits right next to each other to make it as easy as possible for Michelle and Chris to support both of us.

Let’s light this candle! At 11:55 AM we lined up for the shortest Le Mans start in the history of 24 hour racing and nervously chatted and performed fake stretches while waiting for the gun to go off. My warm-up consisted of pushing my bike to the staging area and walking back to the starting line. My plan was to be very conservative in the beginning since my ultimate goal was to simply keep moving forward for 24 hours straight.

Go! It brought a smile to my face to see JayP out in front on the first switchback leading the pack of hard charging team racers. There are a few things in this world that you can bank on and one of them is that JayP is going to stir things up early when he is in a race.

I immediately settled into my target HR zone and listened to the heavy breathing around me on the initial climb. Houston, we have a problem. I don’t know why I did not feel good early in the race. I know the course well, I planned every detail, I felt like I had a solid race strategy, and I had a great support crew. In hindsight, I think the anxiety of not knowing for sure that I could do this was affecting me physically. Three laps into the race I was looking for a pay phone on the course to call the Waaaam-Bulance as one negative thought after another occupied my brain. In the background I was having two-sided conversations with myself about quitting and how I would justify it, while in the foreground I kept pedaling on auto-pilot and stuck to my plan. By about the 5th lap I had beaten back the negative thoughts and started to settle into a groove. I kept looking down at my stem where I had laminated a sticker that simply said:


Having weathered that little mental storm I was now focused on the next goal which was making it to 6:30 PM for a scheduled pit stop. Add lights, layers, lube, and evaluate the fueling. Check. As the sun set and the temps dropped my mental state improved. I was looking forward to the night riding and felt confident that I could maintain the same pace throughout the night. I had been fueling exclusively with Perpetuem, plain water, and Endurolytes and the plan was to stick with it as long as I could stand it because this is a proven system for me in races up to 12 hours.

I will remember 8:45 PM as the time when “a good stomach goes bad”. Over the course of the previous lap my body decided that Hammer products were evil and that consuming them would lead to gagging and/or hurling. When I rolled into my pit at 8:45 PM I was fading and not sure what to do. I was concerned but not down. Mentally, I was ready to keep riding but I was also coherent enough to know that if I kept riding without taking in more calories my race would end early. However, nothing sounded remotely appetizing. Thank god Michelle, Chris, and Amanda Riley convinced me to sit down for ten minutes and force down some soup, pretzels, and hot tea because this was a turning point. Within ten minutes of leaving my pit my stomach felt better and I knew that I could finish this race. And that fired me up!

Sometime around 10 PM I stopped for a few bites of solid food and some more hot tea and my whole world changed. I discovered Pringles. JayP had packed a can and Michelle “borrowed” a small stack of them to offer me a little variety. The salty, crispy, dissolve-in-your-mouth texture of those little potato-like food products were an unexpected nirvana. In addition to a happy tummy and a new-favorite food, I grabbed the iPod shuffle as a little “reward” and began rocking out to The Crystal Method, Reverend Horton Heat, and Metallica. The lap times were coming down and I was now racing.

From 10:30 PM to 6:30 AM I remember having very clear thoughts about pacing, where to expend energy, how to attack certain sections, staying warm, eating PB sandwich wedges & Pringles, and how good it felt to have overcome two low moments and still be riding. I didn’t know exactly where I was in the standings but I knew that I was riding very consistent night laps and not getting passed except by the team guys. I also had a feeling that several solos had taken long breaks and that Forest was the one to watch out for but I was focused on riding my own race…for now. My rebound also energized my pit crew, which in turn further energized me, so I went a little faster.

One of my pre-planned stops was at 6:30 AM for breakfast. Originally I thought oatmeal and coffee would be nice treat but I decided to stick with the PB sandwich, Pringles, and hot tea program and warmed up under the propane heater for ten minutes while my Indy 500 pit crew removed lights, lubed my chain, and switched my helmet.

After two more solid laps I was looking for an update on the standings but the stats were not exactly current. I had not seen Forest but I knew he was lurking out there, still moving forward. From riding a bit with JayP in the wee hours I could see he was still strong and he had a full lap plus a little time on me. I knew it would take a major mishap on Jay’s part for me to catch him and I certainly did not want to win that way. I was mentally preparing myself for any scenario in order to finish strong. If I could stop after two more laps…fine. If I had to go out for one more lap at 11:59 AM to clinch 2nd place…fine. I was ready.

Now let me get this straight...

Heading out for my last lap.

I decided that the best defense was to attack so at 8:30 AM I uncorked my two fastest laps (actually slow, but fast relative to my previous laps) since early Saturday afternoon and ended up catching and passing Forest on the last climb of my last lap to clinch 2nd place and ensure that I didn’t need to go back out.

What an emotional roller coaster! The race couldn’t have ended in a more perfect way for me. I crossed the finish line with friends cheering and my wife there to give me a huge hug after helping me through it all before and during the race.

Michelle and Chris were unbelievable and I couldn’t have done this without them. In their first 24 hour support crew effort, they helped Jay and I to a 1, 2 finish! Given the short laps and difference in our pacing, they didn’t get much of a break and never missed a beat.

Big thanks to Amanda, Megan, Brendan, and Lori who also helped out during and after the race. I haven't slept a ton yet so if I left someone out I am sorry.

Congrats to JayP on a great win. People just expect Jay to show up and win and somehow he continues to deliver and that is not easy. Forest, thanks for pushing me and congrats on your strong race. Even when I couldn’t see you I knew you were out there.

I am off to write Pringles about sponsoring a pro mountain bike team.