Thursday, March 29, 2012

Settling Into Boise

Our move to Boise happened fast. Less than three weeks elapsed from the time when Michelle accepted her new job to when we were actually in our new Boise home. Everything else had to take a back seat for a short period while we focused on the move and it consumed all of our energy.

Although exhausting, our move was smooth and efficient thanks to some timely packing help from our great friends Brandon & Sarah. We chose to pack everything ourselves and have an Allied Moving company load & unload our stuff so that we could easily get both of our vehicles to Boise and reduce our own stress. Naturally, the bikes (all ten of them) rode with me...four inside the camper shell, four on hitch rack, and two on top.

There are some things that you should ALWAYS move yourself

Last Thursday and Friday were a blur of unpacking and organizing but we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel by Saturday and I finally felt like I could take a couple of hours and ride my bike. TK and Mike Sherman took me on a tour of my new-to-me trails and my mood improved dramatically. Michelle and I did some more singletrack exploring on Sunday. The Boise foothills trails are well-signed so learning the trail network shouldn’t be too tough.

Lower Hulls Gulch is one of the closest trails to our new home

The solid week of training I missed due to moving has me feeling a little “off the back” but I still have some time before my first real goal of the 2012 season: The 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, Solo Singlespeed. Time to refocus.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Yoga, One Year Later

Bridget Lyons, Anusara Yoga Instructor

This morning’s 7:15 AM Level 2 yoga class was my last yoga class in Teton Valley until I come back for a visit in May. My favorite yoga instructor, Bridget Lyons, taught class today and took it to another level. I am just going to say’s class fucking rocked! How many people can say that about their yoga class? We eased into class with a few warm-up poses and then moved through a rapid succession of poses that got our heart rates up and our breathing noticeably more audible. Sweat dripped from my forehead and the windows steamed up. Bridget touched all of my favorites: Warrior I & II, Hand stands, Backbends, and then lots of stretching to wind it down. Several times during today’s class I thought back to a year ago when I sheepishly walked into the Yoga Tejas studio for the first time and didn’t know what a Downward Dog was.

On February 19, 2011 I had to stop racing the 24 Hours of Old Pueblo after only 9 ½ hours due to severe pain in my lower back. Lower back pain during endurance races was not uncommon for me but I had never DNF’d as a result of it. I was pissed. Once home, I dove into “research mode” and sought the opinion of several experts. The problem is that there is simply not a lot of data on endurance athletes and when you tell a doctor that something hurts because you rode your bicycle for 100 miles, or 12 hours, or 24 hours, a typical response is “Well, don’t do that.” That is crap.

The Thursday after getting back from AZ I was getting a massage from Jen Fisher of Teton Therapeutic Massage and I explained to her what happened. After working on me for a while, Jen basically told me “you’re a mess”, and bluntly said, “You need yoga in your life”. Jen handed me a pamphlet from Yoga Tejas in Driggs and there happened to a 5-day Beginner Intensive starting the following Sunday night. Jen, thanks for the kick in the ass.

My preconceived idea of yoga was that it was too “fluffy”. Bridget Lyons changed any misconceptions that I had about yoga very quickly. I immediately latched onto the fact that Bridget is a mountain biker, skier, and runner, as well as being a yoga instructor. I remember being very sore from the first few days of class...and I liked it. Yoga challenged me.

I dove in and completed the Beginner Intensive and then attended two or three Level 1 classes per week for a while. Within a few months I decided to try the Level 2 classes because the time slots fit my work schedule better and, although I was in over my head at first, I immediately loved the challenge.

Teton Valley is truly lucky to have a certified yoga instructor of Bridget’s caliber and a professional studio like Yoga Tejas. I consider Bridget a friend now but I have admired her professionalism and dedication from day 1.

Has yoga cured my lower back pain while racing my mountain bike? It is still a work in progress. One year after starting yoga from scratch, my balance is better, my overall flexibility is better, my posture is better, and my core strength is better. I still feel some discomfort in my lower back during sustained hard efforts but it has not been debilitating as it was during Old Pueblo so I believe that I am on the right path. In a society where people often want others to "fix" their ailments and/or problems, yoga encourages you to look inward and fix yourself. I plan to continue with my yoga practice at least twice a week once I find a studio/instructor I like in Boise.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Moving to Boise

Dear Teton Valley & Jackson friends,

Michelle and I are moving to Boise on March 21st. Holy shit! That is only nine days away.

Michelle has accepted a great job opportunity in Boise and starts her new job on March 26th. This was a very tough decision and one that we struggled with because we have so many wonderful friends here.

The roads and trails of Boise will see a little more orange & green in the coming months and we look forward to flying the Team Fitzy colors all season long. I have expressed my desire to remain very active with the team and continue to publish the Team Newsletters throughout the season. Being only five hours away, you will still see us in Teton Valley & Jackson a few times per year.

Well, I better start packing...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

5th Annual Togwotee Winter Classic Race Report

My Togwotee Winter Classic race report is late due to a little curveball that life threw at Michelle and I this past week...more on that later.

Pushtastic! The V Trail climb was a steady push.

I would have to say that this year’s Togwotee Winter Classic was my favorite of them all. This might sound a little crazy because conditions were not ideal. As I was driving from Victor to Togwotee early Saturday morning, it was steadily snowing and at times the snow was blowing sideways across the highway. I seriously wondered whether we would be pushing our bike right off the start line. This year was my favorite because of the people who brought a positive attitude to the event regardless of the forecast. In addition to locals, we had racers from Salt Lake City, UT, Casper, WY, and Montana!

I started this little event in 2008 because I wanted to share my Fat Bike passion. We had 8 racers the first year. This year we had 34 racers “pre-register” and ultimately had 24 racers take the start line. Can we hit 40 or 50 in 2013?

The Race
Since I had zero warmup prior to the start of my race I am going to jump right into the race report as well.


The usual suspects shot off the line like bullets along with a couple of new faces to the Togwotee Winter Classic. Bill Martin, Chase Beninga, and Adam Leiferman were keen to jump out with JayP and Fiddee Cent. In a surprise move, “The” Dave Saurman joined the leaders for a couple of miles until he decided that powder skiing sounded way more fun that riding a Fat Bike on this day and turned around. I was just behind the lead group working hard to keep them close and in sight.

Conditions were not ideal but at least we were riding. It snowed 3-5” since the trail groomers finished the night before. The wind in the exposed areas created drifts that were 8” deep so lots of quick dismounts & remounts required.

The zero warmup + 8,600’ elevation had my lungs burning immediately but after about 20’ I calmed down and my HR settled into my endurance race zone.

TIP: Bring multiple pieces of headwear and handwear on the bike so that when you sweat one out you can change into a dry piece.

Being out in front was an advantage because I could choose an untracked line on the edge of the trail where it was the most firm. This was my first race on the Big Fat Larry tires and I thought I had let plenty of air out but they still felt squirmy. I think I could have let another 1-2 PSI out and gained some stability. I ran the rear Big Fat Larry in reverse for extra traction and that proved to be a good move.

The CD Trail pops out into an open expanse about a mile before the V Trail intersection and once we were in the open the weather got wild. Blowing snow and flat light made it tough to see the trail so you simply had to follow the trail stakes. By the time I got to the V Trail, the lead group of three probably had 5-7 minutes on me but their tracks had already been covered up by the blowing snow. I broke trail as I pushed my bike up the infamous V Trail hill while comfortably cocooned in my softshell hood.

Once I crested the hill, I was on and off the bike every ten yards for the next half mile due to the drifted snow. I needed to quickly decide whether I would take the K Trail for the 35-Mile route or stay on the V Trail for the 25-Mile route. I really wanted to do the 35-Mile but I was the race organizer and I didn’t want to be one of the last ones to finish. I saw two tracks, JayP & Bill Martin, make the left for the K Trail while the other two tracks stayed on the V Trail. I chose the V trail.

The riding was very tricky and required a lot of upper body work to hold the bike on a line at the slow speeds and make the necessary corrections. This also made it tough to eat and drink while riding because you couldn’t take a hand off of the bars. I made it a point to eat and drink when I was forced to push.

About halfway down the V Trail I heard a bike bell ring behind me. It was Eric Greenwood from Salt Lake City. Eric was making it look easy and passed me as he rode a soft section that I was pushing. This motivated me to try and ride some sections that I might have otherwise pushed in order to keep Eric in my sights for the remainder of the V Trail.

My favorite part of the race was the treed section of the V Trail where we were protected from the wind and big snowflakes were falling straight down. We were able to easily ride despite 4-6” of new snow because of a firm base underneath and a lack of wind drifting. I remember thinking to myself, “This is just fucking cool” as I watched the big flakes fall and rode through a corridor of dense pine trees heavy with last night’s snow.

TIP: When you need a quick boost, grab a Reece’s...specifically, a dark chocolate Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup. If there is a more perfect snow bike “pick me up”, I have not found it.

Eric and I made a brief stop at the bottom of the long CD Trail climb to take in some extra calories. Ahead of us was six miles of mostly “up” back to Togwotee Lodge. I took off first and tried to create a little gap on the first climb because I knew Eric was killing it every time the trail went downhill. My strategy worked and I was able to hold Eric off by a couple of minutes but it wasn’t enough to catch big Adam from Casper, WY. My time of 4:22:00 was good for third place in the 25-Mile race and was actually a lot faster than I thought was possible due to the conditions.

Everyone had a big smile on their face as they finished and we gathered in the Fireside room for burgers and beers to celebrate a most-excellent day. I am proud of the group as a whole for being prepared to race in those conditions. Thanks again to everyone who came out!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Two Days Until The 5th Annual Togwotee Winter Classic!

The 5th Annual Togwotee Winter Classic is two days away!

REMINDER: Racers can choose between the 25-mile loop or the 35-mile loop and you may declare your distance the morning of the race. Do not let your pride get in the way of choosing wisely. The 25-mile can take a fit person six hours or more to complete if conditions are soft & slow.


It really doesn't matter what Mother Nature throws at us because the race will take place regardless!

GROOMING UPDATE: The nice folks at Togwotee Lodge have confirmed that the following trails will be groomed Friday night: CD (east and west), V, K and X. Obviously snow and wind after the grooming takes place will result in soft conditions.

I strongly recommend that you PRINT a copy of this map, stick it in a ziplock bag, and carry it with you during the race

  • Headlamp
  • Red Tail Light
  • Handlebar mounted light
  • Wind Shell
  • Extra balaclava or Buff
  • More calories than you think you will consume

IMPORTANT: There will be a brief pre-race meeting at 8:15 AM inside Togwotee Mountain Lodge's Fireside Room. This is the same room we gather in after the race.

Please spend a little time at the Togwotee Winter Classic Blog looking at previous race results as well as the map and route sheets. Don't hesitate to email me with questions.