Monday, December 28, 2009

Operation Jackpine Loop a HUGE success

JayP and I had two goals for Big Ride Sunday this weekend: A) Ride our snow bikes for a long time, and B) Ride all the way around Jackpine Loop. Accomplishing “B” would guarantee “A”. Just to make sure that we got our money’s worth; we started our ride on the Rail Trail in Tetonia, ID and headed north.

Ride Stats:
Temp at start: -3F
Total Distance: 38 miles
Total Time: 6:38:00
Elevation Gain: 2,200’

Jackpine Loop is within the Targhee National Forest

Jackpine Loop has been in the back of my mind as a snow bike route for a couple of years and after hearing a rumor last year that Freemont County actually groomed it a couple of times for snowmobile trail riders I really wanted to see it firsthand. Although it hasn’t been groomed yet this year, heavy snow machine use left us a defined track around the entire loop and it was 99.5% rideable. Jackpine Loop itself is 25 miles and the approach from Tetonia adds 6.5 miles each way. With good conditions, I think the 25-mile loop could be done in about four hours.

A big snow bike ride in cold temps forces you to nail your clothing choices or you will suffer. After sweating non-stop on the 2.5 hour climb, my core got cold on the descent which caused my hands to go numb and I never got them back for the rest of the ride. Once my hands go numb, I neglect eating as often and/or adjusting tire pressure because those simple tasks are no longer easy. I felt great for the first 5 hours of the ride but my speed faded at the end because I wasn’t eating as often as I should have been late in the ride. Does anyone else have a hard time chewing when your face is cold?

Old farm buildings are common north of Tetonia along the Rail Trail

A short section of trail north of Felt is groomed by horse-drawn sleigh

Jackpine Loop climbs and then descends in a corridor of evergreens

Slow but rideable trail

The backside of the loop provides a unique view of the west side of the Tetons

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gettin' the holiday spirit

Decorating the Christmas is usually the festive catalyst for me each year. Michelle's brother and his family are visiting from Cali so we waited until today to get the tree this year so that the nieces could play in the snow and join us on our tree hunting adventure. They got a little tired hiking through the snow but had a blast.

We bagged a most excellent tree this year

Once the tree hunting was done, it was time to play

And the big kids got into the act

Monday, December 21, 2009

The year of the snow bike?

Being a snow bike nut, I have been riding throughout the past two winters even when the storms were frequent and the skiing was excellent. Some days I chose to ride the snow bike while my friends skied knee-deep powder on Teton Pass and I admit that I questioned my own sanity at times. Last year, in addition to the snow biking, I mixed in a healthy dose of backcountry skiing to satiate my lust for fresh powder and I enjoyed the variety.

Horseshoe Canyon is riding well

But this year is shaping up differently. With below average snowfall and thin coverage in the valleys, riding the snow bike is a “no brainer” right now. We have been enjoying some great riding on a combination of FS roads and even a little singletrack when conditions are right. One good storm should kick off the snowmobile trail grooming program in our area and that will open up even more riding opportunities.

For now, the skate skis are in the garage waiting for a fresh coat of wax, the backcountry gear is still in the basement, and the snow bike is freshly lubed and ready to rock.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2010 Togwotee Winter Classic Announcement

I am psyched to announce the 2010 Togwotee Winter Classic Two-Race Series.

Race #1 - Saturday, January 9th 2010 - 9:00am Start
Race #2 - Saturday, March 6th 2010 - 9:00am Start

Is your snow bike ready? Do you have a snow bike? What are you waiting for?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Building a Pueblo

The 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is two months away...holy crap! I think my foundation is solid but I definitely have a lot of work to do in order to pull off a solid solo effort.

My Pueblo will be open all night

Feb 13th is the move-in date and I am ready to put in some overtime.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fat Bikes emerge from hibernation

After a summer spent sleeping in the barn, the Fat Bikes came out of hibernation at the end of last week in time for a quick tune and were ready to go this weekend. The first snow bike ride of the year usually involves more stop-and-go than usual as you fiddle with your layers, thaw out your Camelbak hose because you forgot to blow back, and re-learn all your little tricks to stay comfortable on the bike in the cold.

Saturday's ride in the Big Holes was a great shakedown as the temps were cold enough to keep us honest. Even though the snowmobile trail grooming hasn't started yet, the riding was great on packed snow covered roads.

Somebody has a new Ti toy this year, and it is badass

Our friend Dave Saurman is the latest Fat Bike convert and joined us for Saturday's ride

We headed north on Sunday to scout the Mesa Falls area. JayP, riding his new Ti 9 Zero 7 (907 is the area code in Anchorage) was game for a longer ride so we left the group at Mesa Falls and continued north on 47 towards Harriman State Park for an out-and-back. JayP and I plan to explore this area a lot more this year.

Once you get past the two-hour point of a ride the chinks in your armor really show themselves. Temps were in the single digits and a stiff wind meant the windchill was well below zero. Neither of us wore our warmest shoe systems and suffered cold feet as a result. It was a great ride with a dash of discomfort thrown in to remind us to be better prepared.

Sorry for the crappy pic...notice the verbiage on the sign

My lack of photo skillz don't do Upper Mesa Falls justice

The potential for big snow bike rides up here is endless

Monday, November 30, 2009

My cyclocross season is over

Stick a fork in it. It is done.

This Saturday was to be my final cx race and I was ready to head to Ogden, UT to race in a bigger field and finish off the season in grand style...but my cross racin' mo' has fizzled and my brain wants to ride longer...much longer. The trip to Ogden would mean 7 hours in the car on Sat for a one hour warmup plus 50 minutes of racing.

Instead, the FatBack is getting dialed in after a long summer hibernation and will see its first action this weekend! Big Ride Sat followed by Big Ride Sun. I like the sound of that.

Upper Mesa Falls is on the radar for one ride this weekend

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The winter riding season has officially begun

At 8am Sunday morning the temp on our back deck was 11F and the previous day’s snow showed no sign of melting off anytime soon…in fact, the NWS was calling for more snow to begin falling before noon.

The Niner has been winterized

Sunday’s 4.5+ hour ride in cold temps and blowing snow was a good refresher course in winter riding and I was reminded how important it is to keep your core warm in order to keep your extremities warm. I even had to practice the “warmup walk” a couple of times…when your feet get so cold that you have to get off the bike and walk a bit to get the blood flowing back to the feet.

And so the season of pogies, vapor barrier socks, chemical hand warmers, and ride food that is edible when frozen has officially begun. There will be a mix of riding snow packed back roads with studded tires as well as a healthy dose of riding groomed snowmobile trails on the FatBack. Oh, and a little backcountry skiing too. :) The Niner Air9 has been converted to “winter mode” and will probably stay this way until Camp Lynda 3.0.

Its very wintry at the end of Darby Canyon

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Helena, MT double-cross weekend - Day 2

Sunday’s Montana Velo CX course was designed by Helena’s Geoff Proctor who is also the Director of Euro Cross Camp and U-23 and Junior National Cyclocross Coach. We were guaranteed a taste of authentic Euro cross.

We arrived early and walked our hounds around one lap of the course before riding it and the general theme was “steep & off-camber”. Every corner, descent, and rideable climb was off-camber and there were two sets of concrete stairs to run up as well as one set of double barriers.

A modest field lined up for the combined Masters B, Cat 4, and Women’s race including my teammate Mike who was fueled by his first-place-robbing mechanical yesterday. Also in the race was Mike’s good friend and stage race partner, Tim from O-Canada, who also suffered a mechanical Saturday which took him out of contention for the win.

A key part of racing cross is the hole shot and I didn’t have it on Sunday. Going into the first technical section I got stuck behind a group who piled it up in the tight left-hander while the leaders sped off and put 20 seconds on us within half a lap. Doh! But the day’s battle was unfolding just in front of me.

A rider from the Gallatin Alpine Sports Team, who will from this point forward be known as Mr. GAS, was a few wheel lengths in front of me and appeared to be a very worthy opponent. We were only a half lap into the race but it was clear that he would be the main protagonist in my personal “race within the race”. Once out of the first bottleneck, Mr. GAS displayed some serious power on the pavement section leading into the barriers. He quickly opened a 10+ yard gap on me but a strategic error cost Mr. GAS his lead in an instant. The devilish course featured a concrete curb immediately after the double barriers which caused many riders trouble: Do you remount and try to bunny hop the curb or simply keep running? I chose to run past the curb every time and passed Mr. GAS while he was indecisive. Mr. GAS responded with a furious acceleration on the next piece of pavement and passed me again leading into the twisty grass section. An excellent battle this was. Only seconds later, I was able pass Mr. GAS by diving inside on an off-camber 180 degree turn and I could feel Mr. GAS settle in for a ride on my wheel.

Did I mention that Mr. GAS was much taller than me? Yeah, well, when we hit the first set of stairs Mr. GAS was clearing every other stair like Bo Jackson in his prime while I had to touch every stair and just like that he had another 10+ yard gap on me. Note to self: Practice the dismount-to-shoulder technique…lots.

Again, Mr. GAS was powerful on the pavement but I ran the barriers well and closed the gap down to 5 yards heading into the twisty grass. I continued to chase the orange jersey around the course for what seemed like an eternity until the defining moment: Mr. GAS came into a downhill right-hander too hot, went into the barrier tape, and I scooted by on the inside to pass him for the final time. He never quit chasing but would not recover and I would finish the race riding in “no man’s land” and take 5th.

I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Helena, MT double-cross weekend - Day 1

The cyclocross scene in Montana is very cool and what it lacks in numbers it more than makes up for with its cross-stoke level and talent. Montana has a passionate group of cross-addicts who travel around the state to support each race and battle each other every weekend throughout the season. The fastest of their elite can compete with most anyone as we saw first-hand at Moose Cross this year where the MT crew won the Men’s 1-2-3, Women’s, and Master’s races handily. After receiving the support of the MT cross crew at Moose Cross I really wanted to show my appreciation by traveling to at least one race in MT this season and the Helena, MT double-cross weekend fit into the schedule.

Saturday was the Great Divide CX held at Centennial Park near downtown Helena, MT. Thursday’s storm coated the course with 1-3” of snow and the cold temps kept it crisp and white for Saturday’s race. Temps were 22F when we rolled into the parking lot to register and after one warm-up lap my hands and feet were frozen. Note to self: Pin your number on before your hands go numb. I thought about embrocating my hands and feet but ultimately decided against it.

With a short warm-up, I decided ease into this one and not explode myself in one lap so I was riding well back in the pack as we headed up the first hill and into the off-camber chicanes. Some first-lap carnage allowed me to move up a couple of spots and the “race within the race” began. While my teammate Mike was off the front leading the race, I was riding mid-pack and setting my sights on the next guy. Mr. Yellow Jersey was just in front of me and I was calculating how to pass him. Being similarly matched, I chased him for half a lap and had closed the gap down to a couple of feet when he made his crucial mistake. With me hot on his wheel, Mr. Yellow Jersey overcooked a corner, rode into the barrier tape, and I passed him on the inside and stepped on it while he untangled himself and got back on course. To his credit, he never quit chasing me for the remainder of the race but I held him off and finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, once I gapped Mr. Yellow Jersey I was riding alone in the all-too-familiar no-man’s land until the end.

At one point during the race I could not feel my hands or feet at all and shifting, braking, and re-clipping in were like taking a multiple choice when you haven’t studied…just take a wild-ass guess. The course was one of the better ones I have raced and the cold temps and snow made it epic...well, as epic as a 45 minute race can be. Ha!

Day 2 report and pics to follow...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Local cross & cruising backroads

I have to admit that it was nice to show up to a cross race and not be in "organizer" mode for a change. The city of Rexburg, ID puts on a three-race series called the The Cube Cyclocross and the first race was Saturday. Several members of the Fitzgerald's Bicycles Team made the one hour drive to race on a sweet course that included tight corners in the trees, a steep run-up, and some off-camber singletrack. Being a small race, we all raced together in the "Advanced Men's" race and it was a blast to chase each other around the course and then relive the action afterwards over a beer. The team has a couple of cross converts this year and it is great to see. Piker, who is always fast on the mtn bike, has now decided to go fast on the cross bike and has won his last two starts. Gabe "Fiddee Cent" Klamer is crushing it on his Kona 29er hardtail with a rigid fork and cross tires as well.

I pinned it until my eyes were crossed and I thought I was seeing Elvis in the bushes...but it turns out it was T-Race gaining on me near the end.

Carbon and cross...Hmmmm

Somewhere in the middle of my race I remounted after a barrier and heard a "snap" followed by my saddle position changing dramatically. Crap! I though my seatpost had slipped but since I run a Thompson I knew this was not likely. Once finished I saw the real damage. Bummer.

We definitely maximized the daylight hours on Sunday. Michelle and I hooked up with JayP and T-Race for a hike with the Dudes (our hounds) and the Lil Dudes (their new puppies) and we explored a bit of secret soon-to-be singletrack.

After the 90 minute hike we grabbed a snack, geared up, and headed out on the bikes for a tour of some backroads including the Darby Canyon FS road.

Most of our singletrack is wet but the backroads are still good to ride

In a total rookie move, I failed to eat enough and was bonking badly by the time I rolled in. Doh!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dreaming of being single

and I can't get it out of my head.

I am not talking about a wholesale change here but I do like the idea of a little variety once in a while. But like anything worth doing, it is worth over-doing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I take Cyclocross very seriously...

...well, not that seriously.

We wrapped up our 2009 Victor Cross Series yesterday with Spooky Cross and based on the number of smiles I think everyone who attended had a great time. The FREE costume race with $50 prizes for the best male & female costumes was a hit.

Michelle and I working the team tactics in the costume race

After the kid’s and the costume races concluded we got down to the business of serious racing. The cross course was turning into a slippery mess as the day warmed into the mid 40s after being frozen solid and snow-covered all week. We would finally get our chance to race in challenging conditions.

I quickly dropped a few lbs for the Masters race

Ready, set, go. I got a whopping 10 minutes to warm-up but I felt surprisingly good while doing a few short bursts so when Peet-o yelled GO I jumped out to second wheel behind Piker who was long overdue to unleash his fury in a cross race this year. It was obvious early on that Piker was not interested in tactics and just planned on riding off the front but when Buchko came by me on the pavement I jumped on his wheel and stayed there for the entire first lap. But then the big guy decided to shake me off and got about 10 yards on the bike path section heading into the twisty chicanes and in my effort to close the gap I lost my front wheel in the greasy grass-mud combo and went down in a splat. After a quick remount the gap was to Buchko was bigger but I managed to stay ahead of the chasers. The beauty of cross is that you can often see your opponents throughout the lap as the course winds back on itself. As I kept my foot on the gas I could see the gap to Buchko increase, and then decrease several times over the remainder of the race. Meanwhile, 4th and 5th place were working together to chase me down and were close enough that I could feel them all of the time. Smooth through the barriers, watch the corners and go hard on the straights…repeat several times. I crossed the line in third place, a drooling, muddy mess and I can’t wait to do it all over again next weekend.

The "Narrows" section was a little trecherous in the mud

Huge thanks to Brandon and Sarah for the great pics!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The last one?

I have been treating every local singletrack ride as if it could be the last one of the season but today's ride may very well have been it.

The snow was just shallow enough to ride on regular tires

I am willing to get up early to catch the frozen trails before they turn to mud but when too much snow falls we are done. Three or four inches fell last night and more is in our forecast for tomorrow. It could melt off or it could continue snowing until March at this point and that makes today's ride worth it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

In Search of Frozen Mud

With fall waning, winter has pulled into the driveway and is unloading her luggage for a long, long stay here in Teton Valley, ID. There is a brief window for those of us not ready to give into this new season but it takes dedication. Temps are now consistently below freezing at night which means that for a short window in the morning, before the sun can affect the moisture-filled dirt, the trails will be frozen solid and the weight of our bodies won’t leave a trace. But if you sleep too late and miss the window, nasty ruts in the mud will reveal your laziness and will you will spend more time washing your bike than you did riding it.

Kenai wishes we had started an hour earlier

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lunch ride amongst the aspens

The aptly named Aspen Trail is tacky, golden leaf-covered goodness right now and is the perfect length for a lunchtime adventure.

JayP, wondering when we will get to the "fun" singletrack

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moose Cross from an organizer's view

Peeto is setting the bar high for race annoucing at Moose Cross

A good team is always stronger than its individual members and our Moose Cross team proved that again this year. I am proud to work with such a passionate and close-knit group to promote diverse cycling opportunities here in Victor. This was my second year as Co-Organizer and Course Director (fancy title for chief shovel guy, re-bar pounder, and course-marker) and this post is from my organizer’s view of the weekend.

A quick word on why we do it. Every cent of profit generated by our cyclocross races goes back into Victor Velo and specifically the Victor Bike Park. We try to make our races affordable and attractive for both locals and the traveling racers.

We didn’t penalize folks for registering the day-of so our pre-registration numbers were not that great. Therefore, we didn’t really know what to expect on race day. I got to venue early to setup the timing tent, the PA system, the generator, and finish a few course markings, and it was alarmingly quiet. But as our first race approached the parking lot swelled and most of the 107 adults who would race on Saturday were out and about. The grand stands were filling up, people were in lawn chairs on the grass section, and others positioned themselves on the infamous double-barrier to run-up section hoping to witness carnage. There were people everywhere and it was awesome!

The kid’s race was again a highlight of the day and this year we broke it out into two separate races. The first race, the Tiny Tots, was for the wee little ones on the strider bikes and training wheels. We set up a short grass course with two tiny logs for barriers and a “ride around” option. Every tot who raced got a bright yellow Moose Cross cowbell. The under 12 race was half a lap and was at least 30 strong. We had serious little cross racers as well as little ones on BMX bikes with full-face helmets. They all got cowbells too.

As racers began to pre-ride I overheard positive comments on our improved course and this made all of the hard work worth it. There were some excellent adult races and an especially strong women’s field comprised of Montana’s and Idaho’s heaviest cross hitters. The largest field of the day belonged to the Men’s 4/5 race where 32 men lined up and the race came down to a sprint for the top three. With half a lap to go it was anyone’s race and hearing our two MCs go nuts on the PA while the tactics unfolded really got the crowd into it. Pulling out the win was our own Gabe “Fiddee Cent” Klamer. Speaking of the PA system, we were able to raise our PRO level up a notch thanks to Andy Williams at Grand Targhee who loaned us their sweet Peavy Amp & speakers. We were rockin’.

Mike Piker navigates the "Grassy Knoll"

Once Saturday’s racing was over the fun was just beginning and we entered a new phase of the Moose Cross weekend. We quickly moved from the park to Pierre’s Playhouse, an old-time theatre in downtown Victor, for awards, pizza & beer, and video highlights from the day. Yeah, that’s right…video highlights from the day. We had a determined film crew of three volunteers scrambling around all day capturing video footage and madly editing to create an eight minute highlight video that had Pierre’s Playhouse cheering. Greatness. The top three racers in each category accepted their prizes on the stage, in front of the packed theatre, on our homemade podium of giant stumps. 35 pizzas and a keg of beer later, the evening was winding down and racers began to think about Sunday’s races.

Our own marquee welcome

Saturday's Elite Men's podium

Pierre's was built in the 1940s and was an original Paramount Theatre

Fitzy teammate, new dad, cross nutjob, and I/O Bio Merino Director of Marketing, Tim Kelley

Sunday’s racers numbers were down a bit from Saturday but a drastically different Day 2 course kept the racers from getting bored. We eliminated the far end of the Day 1 course and chose to weave the course through two ball fields closer to the Start/Finish line and this made for a spectator friendly course. It also resulted in a course that favored a powerful rider as the spongy grass was relentless on the legs.

Elite cross'r Sam Krieg, who is nursing a hurt shoulder, decided to give it a go on Sunday and unleashed his fury on the Men’s 1/2/3 field and took the win. Sam always brings great energy to an event and his compliments were greatly appreciated. Heal up fast Sam!

Sunday night, while details were still fresh in my head, I created a Google Doc for Moose Cross Post-Race Notes and jotted down improvements/ideas for next year. I had moments before the race where I swore I would never put on another race but once it all comes together it is magic and I love the feeling of giving back to cycling.

I think we lost some spectators to the Church on Sunday, but the stoke level was still high

A sincere thanks to everyone who supported Moose Cross this year!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When in doubt, call Phil

The Phil Wood square taper bottom bracket

My Campy bottom bracket recently developed a "crunch" and since it resides in my cross bike these days I needed to address it with a replacement that could handle the mud and repeated power-washings. The same Phil Wood square taper bottom bracket currently in my FatBack is over 4 years old, is on its second snow bike bike, and is still as smooth as day 1. Oh yeah, and the Phil Wood bottom bracket cups allow you to adjust your chainline by 5mm to either side which is perfect for a single-ring cross setup.

When my new Phil arrived yesterday and I lifted the shiny nugget from its closed cell foam cocoon I was reminded of Phil's slogan: Build it strong. Keep it simple. Make it work.

Why did we move away from square taper bottom brackets?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moose Cross in 4 days!

Our small crew of volunteers is a little stressed, a little grumpy, and spread very thin these days but none of that will matter in 4 days because Moose Cross is coming and you cannot stop it. And when that first race goes off on Sat, and the cowbells are ringing, and the burn barrel is burning, and Peto & TK are going wild on the mic calling the race, it will all be worth it.

At times I think we have bitten off more than we should have by trying to grow Moose Cross from simply a "race" to a "cyclocross festival" but I know our crew will rally, and do whatever it takes to pull it off. I can't wait to raise a glass and toast my friends for putting on an awesome event!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our Field of Dreams

We, the Victor Velo crew, have the same attitude that Ray Kinsella had in a Field of Dreams: If you build it, they will come. We didn't have to order custom printed course tape, or rent a backhoe to make the lanes wider and cleaner, or hand paint the barriers, or have the bleachers moved to start/finish area, or even borrow a professional PA system. But we believe in doing things one way: PRO.

Suffering up the PRO-style run-up

A quick scan of various results from the weekend tells me that cross is growing in popularity:

1400 (not a type-o) raced the Cross Crusade in Portland

Utah Cyclocross Race #1 was a big success

And then there was a little race in Gloucester, MA.

Cross racing in Teton Valley is a no brainer. Our weather typically turns to crap around the first of October anyway so why not transition to a sport that embraces the rain and snow the way a Belgian cross fan embraces beer and frites?

We hope to see more cross converts out on the course in the coming weeks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Random Post-Cross Race Ramblings

1) Training with a little "specificity" might be a good idea if I want to stay with the Masters in future races

2) Mad Alchemy Uber Secret Formula Embrocation rocks

3) The long-sleeve skinsuit does NOT have super powers as I had hoped

4) I can't blame the bike: Bergy broke his shift lever minutes before the Men's 1/2/3 race so he borrowed my bike and won!

5) I wish I knew how to get more of our local cyclists stoked on cyclocross. 32 adults should have been at least 50! Scratching my head over this one.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stone Temple 8 Race Report

Michelle and I loaded up the bikes, some gear, and the hounds and headed to Laramie early Friday morning and drove straight to Curt Gowdy State Park for a lap on the race course. I am not sure if it was being in the car for 7 hours, or being surprised by the technical nature of the trails, but our pre ride was lacking mojo. It felt as if we were off our bikes as much as we were on them. At least our youngest dog Kenai was having a blast as he got to join us on our pre ride. We were a little skeptical about racing on these trails and Michelle and I half-joked that it would be excellent cyclocross practice.

Note to self: When you are about to pin it for an hour, do some semblance of a warm-up. Doh! Somehow the morning got away from me and it was time to race before I knew it.

Ready, or not, go! I decided to be aggressive on the run and try to be one of the first to the bike for a change and it was cool to leave the staging area the third wheel back. Having done zero warm-up (dumb, dumb), I was seeing stars and feeling the burn within minutes as my HR shot through the roof and my technical skills were fading as my HR crept higher and higher. With my HR soaring above 180, and only 15 minutes into it, I had to back it off a notch and let a big group go by so I could compose myself and get back into a groove before the first really technical section of the course.

There is a section of the course called Mo’ Rocka’ (one of the best trail names ever) and you can imagine how it got its name. Race speed and adrenaline allowed me to ride most of the big granite ledges that I had expected to hike after Friday’s pre ride and all of a sudden I loved this trail! Woohoo! I was clearing ledge after ledge and the lap just flew by.

I tagged Michelle after Lap #1 and she was off for her first lap. Our plan was to go lap for lap and just see how it played out.
The best part about duo lap racin’ is that you can pin it for an hour with almost total disregard for your hydration and calorie intake and then come back to your pit area and make up for it quickly. This course was tough to eat & drink on so I was lucky to drink half a bottle per lap but I drank plenty and ate in between laps.

Michelle nearly caught me off guard with her blazing fast first lap in 1:02…I was expecting something around 1:10 from her…but I was ready to go when she rolled through the timing tent. With my new confidence that I could ride most of the tech features I was psyched for my second lap.

The overall field was limited to 99 racers and this kept the 8.5 mile course wide open for racing after the first lap. I focused on trying to catch the next rider in front of me, using them as rabbits, and this was my motivation throughout the rest of the race. My second lap was quite a bit faster than my first since I was starting to learn the course and was clearing all but a couple of the tech features.

Back at our pit after my second lap I was drinking more, eating more, and getting to know our neighbors Nathan Potter and Chris from Fine Edge Sports. I even broke out my Park DAG-1 and straightened a bent rear derailleur for them. Michelle’s homemade peanut butter chocolate chip bars were going down especially well. Yummm.

Before staging for my third lap I looked at the results…Holy Shit Balls! We are in 2nd place, 7 minutes out of 1st and only 2 minutes ahead of 3rd. Now I had a new motivation to stay pinned throughout the lap. Michelle’s lap times were very consistent so far and I knew I had to hold up my end of the deal.

My third lap was 30 seconds slower than my second so we were still on track when Michelle headed out for her third lap and our sixth overall.
Meanwhile back at the pit I was drinking more, eating more, and checking in with our pit crew…our two hounds who were quietly kickin’ it in the back of our truck. Everything seemed to be going smoothly and I was mentally charged up to unleash every ounce of pedaling fury I had in me on my last lap…and then Michelle rolled through the timing and said “you might have to do a hot lap”. What?!?! That wasn’t part of our plan. I calmly said “you need to get ready to go again” as I pedaled off but now I was conflicted. Do I go all out or so I save a little in case I really do have to do two in a row?

I quickly decided to stick to my plan and empty the tank since I was 99% sure that Michelle simply had a “low moment” during her third lap and would rally for one more lap and finish off the race. And we were still battling for a top three spot at this point.

My last lap went great, I felt fast, cleaned almost all of the obstacles, and when I rolled into the timing tent Michelle was there ready to rock. Nice! We tagged and I yelled some encouragement as she pedaled away for our 8th and final lap. Catching first place was a long shot but she still needed to have a solid lap to secure 2nd place…and she did. Michelle threw down another very solid lap and increased our lead over 3rd place. Woohoo, lap racin’ is fun!

Michelle faced her inner demons and rallied for a strong 8th and final lap for Team Byers

The social aspect of lap racing is an added bonus. We met some great people including Mark from Wilson, WY who was having a phenomenal solo race until a mechanical ended his day.

Huge thanks should go out to Rich Vincent for putting on another great race and for keeping it fun. In addition to offering great racing at a great value, Rich and the Laramie Enduro are one of the largest private donors to the trail program at Curt Gowdy State Park. As long as Rich is organizing races, I will continue to support them.