Monday, July 30, 2007

2007 Laramie Enduro

Wow, what a great race! Here is a quick recap:

  • I finished in 6 Hours, 49 minutes and placed 9th in the men’s 30-39 class. I missed my personal goal of 6:45:00 by four minutes but I took 20 minutes off of last year’s time.
  • Michelle finished her first Enduro in 8 hours, 55 minutes and looked great at the finish line. I think she might be hooked now.
  • I rode with some great people during the race and met, and hung out with, more great people before and after the race.
  • In my opinion, the Laramie Enduro just gets better each year. The organization, the volunteers, and atmosphere were great.
  • I absolutely suck for not getting any pre or post-race pics

Michelle finished!

Before I jump into my race recap, let me just say that my wife Michelle rocked it in Laramie. Her first attempt at a solo endurance race was in August, 2006 at the 50-mile version of the E100 and it ended in a big disappointment. She didn’t make the cutoff time for the last stage and was pulled from the race. This time it was personal. She has been training hard for two months and to see it pay off was awesome. Now she is planning to go back to the E100 50-mile this August and kick that race right square in the crotch! Right on!

My almost-perfect race

My day started off great as we arrived early and parked right next to Ed, whom I had hoped to meet in person somewhere along the course of the day anyway. Perfect!

As I began to warm up and figure out my layering for the damp conditions I realized that we hadn’t signed in yet. Crap! This race requires that you sign in the morning of the race so that they know whether to go looking for your carcass later on. It was 6:39AM and the line to sign in was about 20 minutes long. I barely got through the line in time but was now stuck in the back 1/3rd of the Sport group staging to start. This meant I was going to going to have to burn a couple of matches very early to pass most of these folks and get into the opening singletrack before the mob. I did and it hurt…a few matches burned. Side note; every race should start with AC/DC blaring at 7AM!

My plan this year was to go out harder than I normally do in a long race and see if I could sustain a slightly higher pace throughout. Last year I held back a bit and had a lot left for the big climb at the end, which felt good at the time but probably didn’t translate into the fastest possible race.

The shock of the initial 15 minute effort subsided and I settled into my newly formulated race pace. The pace felt good and I was riding among a good group of guys who seemed fast and able to maintain this pace. The early miles at Laramie fly by because a lot of them are spent in the big ring…yeah baby! Water, Perpetuem, Endurolytes, more water, repeat…I was totally focused on the process and not the result and the miles were flying by.

Somewhere after Aid #3 I recognized the female rider ahead, Sarah Konrad, as the women I rode a lot of the race with last year. She had started 5 minutes ahead of me with the pros this year and was looking strong. We ended up riding most of the race together again this year which was great. She is a super-fast descender and I was a little faster on the steep climbs so we pulled each other along in places.

As I rolled into Aid #4, my second and last planned stop, I hit the lap button on my Polar so that I could compare my splits later on. Through Aid #4, I was 19 minutes faster this year. However, in the final 2+ hours of riding I would only be able to shave another minute from last year’s final split time.

The final 7 miles of this race hurt and I know this. I plan for this section and look forward to delivering a fatal mental blow to my competition as I ride by them while they push their bikes up the Headquarters climb. This was my plan anyway. During the hour prior to the final climb my tummy was a little gurgley so I stopped taking in calories and just sipped water. The climb is littered with roots and rocks and step-ups and you have to have you’re “A” game to ride it all. I was rockin’ the lower 1/3rd of it when the ferocious bonk hit. It was as if I had never ridden a bike. I would look at a rock that I wanted to avoid and proceed to run right into it and fall over. My legs were willing but the brain was mush. After about the 3rd mishap I took a huge hit of Espresso Hammer Gel and had a stern talk with myself. Meanwhile, three riders passed me and I was pissed. The gel kicked in fast and by the time we hit the rolling singletrack at the top I was looking to pass. My little calorie miscalculation probably only cost me 5 minutes overall but knowing better and not executing bugs me.

I missed my personal goal of 6:45:00 by about four minutes so I thought about my two main mistakes; not signing in earlier which cost me a good warm-up and a decent start position, and my little bonk at the end. Overall I had a great race and a wonderful weekend in Laramie.

Big congrats on great races to:
Rick & Joanne L.
Kris from Jackson
David S.
Paul Nash

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Le Cheat

How does a rider look so bad one day (Vino, Stage 14) and then miraculously smoke everyone the next day (Vino, Stage 15) in an individual time trial? They "freshen up" their blood, that's how.

I could care less what happens to Vino now and he deserves to lose everything over this. How many people's lives will be adversely affected by this one?

If you are a T-Mobile exec, do you really sign up for another $20.4 million per year? If you are an American corporation being courted by Lance and Johan to replace Discovery, do you even call them back? If you are Jonathan Vaughters, do you really want to take your young Slipstream-Chipotle team to Le Tour next year? If the answer is unanimously no then the list of unemployed cyclists, coaches, team directors, mechanics, and support staff is going to be very long.

Today's news made me think about one of my all-time favorite Blog posts. Last year about this time we had some similar bad news and Adam wrote a great piece that I think about often. I am proud to be an everyman (July 28, 2006). This weekend in Laramie I will be cheering for the everyman like never before. I will cheer for the everyman that passes me on the Headquarters climb 3 miles before the finish and I will cheer for the everyman who crosses the line well after the 9 hour mark. There will be no "tranfusion tents", no team chefs, and no team buses with tinted windows. There will be real people, with real jobs, busting their asses because they love mtn biking and I can't wait to be a part of it this weekend.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Countdown to Laramie

Michelle and I leave Thursday afternoon for Laramie, WY to race the Laramie Enduro. This will be my fourth consecutive Enduro but I am more anxious this year than in the past. A few weeks ago I decided that this race was more important to me so I skipped a couple of other events I had on the calendar in order to show up fresh for this one. I have a time in my mind that I want to beat and that is main source of my self-imposed pressure. My personal goal would mean taking a significant hunk off last year's time of 7:08:00.

Somewhere on the course during the 06' Enduro

An added twist to this year's race is the fact that Michelle has signed up to race her first Enduro. I am excited and nervous for her. Michelle is very new to mtb racing but she has been logging some big rides over the past two months to get ready for this one. Finishing is her only goal but finishing the Enduro is no gimmee. We have been studying the cuttoff times and talking about pacing and her hydration/calorie strategy. I can only hope that Michelle is doing this for her own personal satisfaction and not because she has been inadvertently sucked into the vortex of my training and racing. After our shakedown ride Sunday she was pretty excited about her new fitness level and the fact that she shaved 15 minutes off of her PR for that particular ride. I think if she finishes Laramie she will be hooked for good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gripped by Le Tour

I get the sense that many folks feel as if watching the Tour this year isn't cool and that they should boycott the Tour in the name of "clean sport". So far I am enjoying the shit out of the Tour and I can't wait to watch the rest of it for all of its highs and lows. I am an optimist and I want to believe that pro cycling can save itself from its own dark shadows where the immoral doctors and blind team directors lurk.

The highs so far:
I am rooting for Iban Mayo to keep riding strong. I have always liked his style when he is riding well and loved it back in 2003 when kicked the crap out of Lance on the Alpe d'Huez. I think he will win a stage before its over.

I love the black CSC wrist bands and I want one. They simply say "Harden the Fuck Up!" Yea baby!

The post-race interview with Linus Gerdemann of T-Mobile speaking about the greatness of the sport, his appreciation of his team's sponsors, and his thankfulness to be able to do this for a living. Not a word about his individual achievement.

The post-race interview with Rasmussen where he made the tongue-in-cheek comment about still having to "negotiate" over 100K of time trialing. Perfect use of words by an articulate athlete.

Alberto Contador...stay tuned.

The lows:
The Cofidis director not paying attention while driving the team car and taking out a Discovery rider.

The three Ausies, Mick, Stuey, and Robbie, crashing separately but exiting the Tour with some serious injuries on the same day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Teton Pass and the Cowboy Junkies

Sunday's road ride was my third consectuive day in a pre-Laramie Enduro training block. Since I have decided to skip the E50 on the 21st, I was able to train more this weekend instead of being in taper mode. There was a lot to cram into Sunday so I was up early and out on the road by 7:30am. The climb up Teton Pass is beautiful and mostly shaded in the morning and I had a great tailwind for the descent which means speeds over 55 mph! I finished the ride up with a climb up to Targhee.

Sunday's ride was interesting because my HR was super low for a given effort but I was able to turn over some big gears. I have had the low HR thing before but usually I have no power when it happens. I climbed Teton Pass in one cog lower than normal!

The motivation for getting the ride done early was the Targhee Fest in the afternoon. Our little ski resort attracts some great bands in the summer and there is no better place to kick back and enjoy live music outdoors. When the 2007 Targhee Fest was announced I immediately zeroed in on Sunday because the Cowboy Junkies were scheduled to play and I have been a huge fan since college.

Margo Timmons' voice is mesmerizing. The second song they played was "Cause cheap is how I feel" and the crowd was immediately into it. Kicking back in a folding chair listening to Margo while thunder clouds built over us and cooled the air was the perfect way to end the weekend.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Big Ride in the Big Holes

Saturday’s solo ride in the Big Holes was part training ride and part backcountry adventure. I had only ridden a couple of sections of the route and was looking forward to a big ride and seeing some new trails. Super loose trail conditions and running out of water only added to the experience and reminded me that it is better to over pack on a ride like this.

Quick Stats:
5:55:00 ride time
6140' of climbing
42 miles
A healthy dose of hike-a-bike, minor crashes, and shin-deep creek crossings

The ride starts at the end of Horseshoe Canyon, heads north, and climbs up to Relay Ridge on dirt roads and double track for nearly 2 ½ hours. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the ride.

After climbing 3200' and topping out on Relay Ridge, the backside descent is not exactly a "reward" for you effort. A combination of dry conditions and heavy moto use have left the trail loose and dangerous. I hate hiking my bike downhill!

After surviving the descent from Relay Ridge I finally scored the goods. There was just enough great singletrack mixed into the ride to keep the mojo flowing.

The North Fork of Canyon Creek has the potential to be one of the best pieces of trail within 100 miles of here. The pic below is a sample of one of the "good" sections.

However, the pic below shows what happens when a few motos have at it. The motos are absolutely within their rights to use this trail since it is a multi-use trail. I simply wish we had more than 10 miles of non-motorized trail in the entire valley. It seems disproportionate to me. This was another hike.

I would like to try this route again after we get a good rain. We had not had any rain since June 6th!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Last night after work I grabbed the GPS and headed out to the end of Horseshoe Canyon for a little exploring. I wanted to ride for a couple of hours and see if I could piece together a new route to the top of the Big Holes and then use the new route as part of a BIG ride on Sat.

Everything I rode was either gravel, dirt road , or double track but it was a blast exploring new stuff and I didn't see a single person. We have some great trails here but the majority of them go straight up and then straight down which is not always the best thing for training purposes. I will definitely add the dirt I found last night to the training arsenal. When I got home and looked at my ride profile I was amazed to see that I had climbed almost 3000' in a couple of hours of JRA.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Race or taper?

All season I have been wondering whether I am any faster than I was at the same time last year. I love to look at results, HR graphs (I am a geek), and anything else I can use to gauge my fitness compared to the previous year. There were several races on my calendar that "should" have given me a direct comparison to last year but for various reasons they were all different this year. The WYDAHO XC race had two new short pieces of singletrack and the Targhee Hillclimb was 3.9 miles longer this year.

On July 28th I will race the Laramie Enduro. The course is supposed to be the same as last year so this has the potential to be a good measuring stick. Last year I raced the E50 the week before Laramie and I swore that I would skip it this year and come into Laramie fresh. I had a great race last year at Laramie but from the start I knew my legs were not what they could have been.

On the other hand, I had a great time racing in Park City and there are only so many events over the course of the summer so why not do both again? I am flip-flopping like a yellowfin tuna on the deck of charter boat! I need to make a decision quick so that I can train accordingly and make final travel plans.

Plan A: Race the E50 AND the Laramie Enduro full tilt just like last year

Plan B: Race the E50 but hold back a bit and use it as training for the Laramie Enduro

Plan C: Skip the E50 and try to go into Laramie fresh and snappy

Monday, July 9, 2007

Celebrating JayP’s GDR, the Targhee Hill Climb, and a flamethrower

The weekend kicked off Friday evening with a party for JayP over in Jackson at Snake River Brewery. Jay looks great and has been eating like a machine to replace the ten pounds he lost during the GDR. The “meat & potatoes” pizza was no match for Jay.

Jay had a great story about how he got his bike home after the race. Have you seen the giant cardboard boxes they use for watermelons in the produce section? Picture Jay unloading watermelons from one of those boxes in the Super Wal-Mart in El Paso, walking out of the store with it, and then riding back to his motel while carrying this giant box under one arm. Once back at his motel room he went to work with his knife and duct tape and crafted the burliest cardboard bike box you have ever seen. Greatness!

Sunday was the Grand Targhee Hill Climb road bike time trial. This race is a local favorite and most folks like to measure their times to previous years. The race had always started at Stateline Rd and had been an 8 mile climb. This year the new organizer decided to start the race in town which added 3.9 miles to the course and another 400’ of gradual climbing at the beginning. Many people showed up with clip-on aero bars to maximize the new beginning section.

I think I nailed my pacing as my average HR was 175, my threshold, for the entire race and I was able to ride the last ¾ mile above 180 to finish strong. My time of 45:57 was good enough for 4th in my age group and 14th overall in the men’s. It is amazing how much a 45 minute can hurt! Local pro Kris Lunning laid down an incredible 38:19 and won by a good margin.

I am always interested in what's happening in the world of LED lights and I just read that Lupine Lights is about to release their latest LED light which will almost double the lumens of their already insanely bright Wilma. This light will not be cheap but mounted on a helmet it would be the only light you would need.

There is a thread over on MTBR about Lupine's yet-to-be-named light and more info is trickling in.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


The annual WYDAHO race on the 4th is my favorite local race and has to be one of the best race "values" around. The entry fee gets you a T-shirt, post-race burgers and beer, and a great raffle that always includes a brand new Rocky Mountain frame of some type. I think 90% of the people walk away with raffle prizes. It was a great way to spend the 4th!

10 hours of riding the prior weekend had me feeling a little less than snappy but its not like I am one of the "fast" guys anyway so I just pin it, work on some skills, and have a good time. I did shave four minutes off of my time from last year though so that is encouraging.

Michelle lined up for her first XC race ever and had a great race in the Intermediates. Nice job!

I did have a brain fart during my last lap though and I still feel bad about it. I was chasing a fellow Expert racer and was slowly reeling him in on the climbs on the backside of the loop when we came upon another Expert, Forest Dramis, running next to his bike with a flat rear tire. I was blown and so focused on how to catch and pass the racer in front of me that I did not ask Forest if he needed anything. I suck. After the race I went up and apologized to Forest and he told me that nobody offered him a tube and that he ran over half of the last lap. Again Forest, I am sorry man! I have stopped many times during races to help others but I dropped the ball yesterday. It could be me running next to my bike next time!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The 24 Hours of Grand Targhee

Sept 15th, 2007, I will line up for my first 24 hour solo race. At about this time last year I had just completed the Endurance 100 12 Hour race and I swore that I had no desire to do a 24 hour race. But then my 12 hour race at Steamboat this year got me thinking more about doing a 24 hour race and when Grand Targhee announced their inaugural 24 hour race for this September I got fired up thinking about it. The fact that the race is 15 minutes from my home is a bonus.

I have always thought that the current trails up at the Ghee would be perfect for a lap race of some kind. First off, they are fun! There is plenty of double track climbing for passing, lots of twisty singletrack though aspen groves, and the course is just long enough to not get boring over the course of a race. Each lap will be about 7 miles with 950’ of climbing per lap in the form of two short but steep climbs. The climbs will definitely hurt after about 6 laps!

There are two fun but very competitive local races this week. Tomorrow is the WYDAHO MTB Race up at the Ghee and then on Sunday we have the new, longer version of the Targhee Hill Climb road time trial. Time for a new all-time high HR! Happy 4th everyone!