theZeph

namely, fit for a dog

12 Hours of Mesa Verde

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Headed down to southwest Colorado a couple weekends ago to race the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde with J Dub, Banks, and Tyler. When I say “race” I mean ride somewhat fast. When you are a middle-of-the-pack guy you aren’t really racing. Not really. More like packing the course down for the really fast guys who have lapped you.

The course was a 16.4 mile loop around Phil’s World just outside of Cortez, CO. If you haven’t been to Cortez, you really should go! Once (that should do).

The trail on the other hand was superbly, wonderfully, amazingly fun.

Well, except for the few miles know as Tuffy’s Rim. Tuffy’s was a bitch (to put it politely). Lots of sharp rocks, awkward drops, tough climbs up technical rock sections and just an awful lot of bone rattling horror.  We’ll get back to Tuffy’s Terror in a bit.

So we rolled into town on Friday afternoon, just in time to hit the local leather and lust bar for a late afternoon lunch. The food was fine. But the scenery unfortunately left little to the imagination.  The photos in the place covered every inch of wall space and were mildly distracting, to say the least. There is something about pictures of scantily clad, overweight, middle aged women straddling Harley’s that makes your food taste just a little skanky.

[shutter]

Rainbows. Butterflies. Teddy bears. Warm blankets. Church hymns.

Quickly moving on.

So we finished up dinner and headed out to pre-ride the course. Oh how loverly was the morning! That course was so much damn fun. Except Tuffy’s Tyranny – of course. By the end of the pre-ride lap all of us were giddy.

Who Needs Cash

To celebrate we headed out to the world famous Ute Mountain casino to sit around a felt covered table, in a smoke-filled room and light all of our hard earned money on fire and then sit there helplessly watching it go up in smoke.

Just to be clear – I am a terrible card player and I hate to waste money. Not an ideal mix.

But, what made this casino trip depressing was not my skills (or lack thereof), but rather the clientele and did I mention the smoke? Holy lack of ventilation batman. I snapped some pics for proof:

Did I mention the clientele? Talk about Zombieland – it would seem the entire reservation falls into a trance each night and makes their way to Ute Mountain, then mills lifelessly about pissing away whatever cash they brought into the joint.

They all had dead eyes. No joke.

It was like we were on the Polar Express only no one said a word. And no one was in pajamas. And there wasn’t a train. But you get the idea. Dead eyes I tell you.

Clientele and lung cancer aside, it was great to play with the guys and all came away with life in our eyes and carrying most of the cash we took in.

Race Day

I was pretty mellow during the pre-race prep. With Tyler and I racing in the duo category I was relaxed knowing I would have a 90 minute break between laps. That was until Tyler beat me in Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine who would do the first lap (including the Le Mans start). I’d never done a Le Mans start before, but I had seen plenty of video of idiots in spandex and cycling shoes stampeding wildly across a dirt road to know I might be in for more than I’d bargained for.

Sure enough. We lined up near the front (go figure) and when that whistle blew it was like 500 people had just been shocked with a cattle prod. Seeing Banks jolt and run like ol’ Bess had me laughing right up until the guy two rows up went down in a heap and damn near got trampled to death. Le Mans starts aren’t as fun as they’d seem. It might have been worth it had all 500 of us not piled up anyway at the creek crossing one mile down the road.

I need to figure out how to rig Rock-Paper-Scissors to ensure a win.

Lap One

First lap went just fine. Congested. Bottlenecked. Slow. But fine. So fine in fact that I hardly even noticed Tuffy’s Rim. There was some casual conversation as we all patiently rode through the 90% single track waiting for the race to spread out with time and distance.

I rolled the first 16.4 mile lap in 1:49 and felt no worse for the wear. Pulled into the transition barn and bid Tyler a merry farewell then moseyed over to the trailer for some food and rest.

Relay races are so different. Between laps you can tinker with your bike, clean up the drive train, fuel up without alternating heavy breathing and swallowing, shoot the breeze with your neighbors, and catch up on some reading. Oh, and you can sit down and RELAX.

I could get used to this.

Lap Two

Tyler rolled his single speed rigid across the course in 1:41. Wow that was short. I pulled myself out of the recliner and got back on the bike. Headed out feeling sprite and energetic and then 4 miles in hit a wall. HARD. I felt like I had been riding for 100 miles! My legs had no juice, my back was stiff, and the climbs seemed significantly steeper than the first lap.

By the time I made it through Tuffy’s Testi Tenderizer I was thinking I was done at two laps.

1:36 was my time and I was COOKED.

That recliner never looked so good! Getting the bike into the stand was a chore, eating was exhausting, and those damn chatty kathy neighbors of ours were giving me a headache.

This relay format really sucks!

Lap Three

Tyler rolled the second lap 2 minutes slower than his first and I thanked him profusely for it. Surprisingly, my third lap was much better. I paced a little better and had almost as much fun riding the 16.4 miles as I did on the pre-ride the night before.

I learned a valuable lesson on this lap. While it is always good form to offer help to someone in need, during a race it rarely pays to do so. I came upon a lady whose chain kept dropping and offered to help. When she accepted I pulled off of the trail and watched a train of folks whiz by. Right about then I noticed the lady had hopped back on her bike and was off to the races.

What the crap?

Puzzled I got back on my bike and proceeded to get stuck behind that train of people for about 3 miles. Did I mention the course was 90% single track? Needless to say the next time that lady’s chain dropped I rode by without a word.

Sayonara sister! Good luck with that chain thingy you got going on.

1:42 – slowing down, but felt like I paced it better.

Lap Four

By now we were into the late afternoon and I knew that Tyler would be getting tired, having ridden all day on a single speed rigid setup, and was thinking my next break might be a long one. Tyler pulled a very respectable 1:52 on his third lap and set me up for my fourth lap as clouds rolled in to cool off the day.

I was certainly tired by this lap. Having ridden over 50 miles already I could feel the fatigue in my legs, back and hands. But I was having so much fun on the course that I really didn’t mind the pain. As it turns out maybe a little too much fun. There is a section of the course known as the Ribcage that was made up of steep smooth drops followed by equally steep ups as you rolled through one arroyo after another – a naturally delicious dirt roller coaster. With the speed generated on the drops you could really launch over the top of the ups. Which is great when you have energy and can control your trajectory. When you are exhausted mentally and physically controlling trajectory is decidedly more difficult.

On one of the last really big ups I neglected to pull up sufficiently at launch and suddenly found myself mid-air in this position:

Any number of thoughts could have gone through my head at this point. But this was the one – oh, this is gonna hurt.

I don’t know how I pulled it off. It felt like I rode a front wheelie at 15 mph for a good 50 feet. All the while wondering when it would end and if I would break one or both collarbones.

Wouldn’t you know? I pulled it off! Somehow I got that back wheel down and rode out the rest of the rib cage without incident.

On to Tuffy’s Tallywacker Twister. One. Last. Time.

Tally ho!

By the time I hit round four of Tuffy’s it was no secret I did not like this 3 mile section of trail. During my third time through I was audibly bad mouthing Tuffy as I rode across his spine. Well, apparently Tuffy is a bit sensitive and vengeful to boot. For as I rolled through the rockiest section of the rim Tuffy reached up grabbed my front wheel between two of his sharp, jagged rocks and hucked me over the bars.

Tuffy scornfully left his mark on my right hip, thigh and knee.

Finish

I finished the last lap in 1:43 and if it wasn’t for the time cutoff and the fear and loathing I had for Tuffy I think I could have mustered one more lap, but was certainly satisfied with over 66 miles on the day.

Road tripping with Tyler, J Dub and Banks is always a great time and made this weekend that much better.

Here are some photos of the day starting with Banks in all his evilness:

J Dub rolling through one of the fast sections:

Tyler going purist on his single speed rigid:

Me, better managing the trajectory:

Wish Mesa Verde wasn’t on Mother’s Day next year too. Would like to go back, but I won’t miss Tuffy if I can’t get the hall pass.

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Written by eber

May 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I’m disappointed you didn’t include a pic of the damage Tuffy left on your hip et al. The art-school quality rendering of your pre-nose-wheelie maneuver leaves much to be desired. Mother’s Day again next year? I’ll have to start now if I’m gonna wrangle that hall pass.

    Derron

    May 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm

  2. Good report. I need to get down there to ride. Perhaps as part of a Moab trip.

    KanyonKris

    May 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm


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