theZeph

namely, fit for a dog

Archive for the ‘biking’ Category

The Worst Acronym

with 10 comments

Did Not Finish (DNF).

Okay, that may be a bit melodramatic. There are worse acronyms.

DOA, SOL, GOP – all infinitely worse than DNF.

But for an endurance athlete (again, I use that term loosely) having those three letters show up next to your name on the results page of any race is disheartening. Especially a race you were all geeked about.

So what happened at Pierre’s Hole? Nothing.

I had nothing from the word go. After twenty-five miles still nothing. No spark. No passion. No energy.

I’ve said it before, the mantra for endurance events is “no matter how you feel now, it’s gonna change”. As such, I kept going, hoping the lifeless feeling would eventually morph into something better. But as the miles ticked by…30…35…45…I never felt better. By mile 45 I was spending more time off the trail than on it while letting other racers pass. So at the end of lap two – mile 50 – I stepped off the trail and laid down on the grass. When theWife asked what I needed, I responded:

“I just need to lay here and ponder the meaning of life for a bit.”

And then slowly I slipped into a depressingly deep state of introspection.

It was only my fourth DNF in 10 years of endurance events. I’ve bailed on the Wasatch 100 twice and missed the time cutoff at the Butte 100 – but in none of those did I feel so desperately at a loss.

When I dropped at Pierre’s there were maybe twenty people from the Draper crew milling about. As time passed, I sat there two feet from the race course I had previously suffered on…pondering. Until at long last, it was just me. Sitting in a camp chair. Alone.

At one point I looked down and noticed I was wearing only one shoe – the other I must have pulled off earlier in the day. I hadn’t remembered removing it. If you were a stranger passing by you might have thought I was a lost, homeless, single-shoed mountain biker. We all know the scene in endurance event documentaries – you know the one, as racers still speed by there sits the one who dropped – his face solemn and forlorn. Wondering what might have been. What went wrong.

Yep. That was me.

Truthfully, for about a month leading up to the race I had felt the same way on training rides…lifeless. As I puzzled about what might be wrong with me , I thought seriously whether I was really sick. Was something terminally the matter? Did I have a tumor? (right now theWife is reading this, rolling her eyes and saying you are SO extreme. hi Wife!).

No. Nothing was wrong with me. Well, other than I eat like a glutton, train like a couch potato, and have too many balls in the air.

I am officially losing the battle with busy.

But sitting in that camp chair on that lonely August Saturday in Wyoming I wasn’t just thinking about the DNF at Pierre’s. No. No, on that day I sank much deeper into the recesses of regret.

I thought about the training plan I had worked up late in 2010 to prepare for a killer race year in 2011…DNF.

I thought about the disciplined diet I’d hoped to maintain leading up to and through the big races of the year…DNF.

I thought about the lawn I was going to mow before leaving for Pierre’s…DNF.

I thought about the horrific mess in the garage I’d promised theWife five years ago (and every year since) that I’d clean up…DNF.

I thought about that side business I’ve been wanting to start for the last two years…DNF.

I thought about the journals I wanted keep about my daily interaction with my sons (the same journals I’ve been meaning to keep for seven years now)…DNF.

I thought about visiting my best friends dad before he passed away from stomach cancer…DNF.

Then…

I thought about dying.

And wondering – when that day eventually comes – what my life list of DNFs will look like then.

Busy is a brutal tyrant. It can rob us of things in life that are infinitely more important.

On that Saturday in August, I learned a priceless lesson in life…enough really is enough. If it isn’t, we all risk missing out on what really matters most during our short time here.

So it’s one month later and I am still not winning my battle with busy – life has become even more hectic. But, I’ve lost ten pounds since I dropped out of Pierre’s and am eager  to give the Park City Point to Point race hell on Saturday (although we all remember how that worked out for me last year).

But more importantly than the race, I’m paying more attention to what is really important and working on shortening that final list of regretted DNFs.

Bottom line?

Life is short…don’t DNF.

P.S. by far, the highlight of Pierre’s Hole was seeing our good friend Brandon “Evil” Banks cross the finish line after 15 hours in the saddle. Brandon went through two years of endurance race DNFs before finishing (and completely destroying) three of the toughest races in the region this year. Brandon taught me another great life lesson that August day…how to persevere. Nice work Evil and thanks for the lesson.

Advertisements

Written by eber

September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Pierre’s Hole Recon

with 5 comments

So the title of this post is, um…interesting.

But for those of you prepping to race the 50 or 100 mile version of the Pierre’s Hole MTB race next Saturday, the title holds significant meaning – race course beta.

Let me start by saying I don’t think there is a purdier race route out there – it’s definitely the most amazing scenery I’ve raced in.

So the plan for today, was to solo the full 25 mile loop and send back recon data to the Suncrest crew. That was until I noticed on the following note updated on the race site yesterday:

“if you see the grizzly, ride faster. she has two cubs.”

So much for that solo idea. Considering the bear bugaboo, I opted to start my ride at the Teton Canyon parking lot (aid station #2 @ about mile 5.5). This puts you at the base of the first major climb of the race. This climb is a lot like South Suncrest – gradual 6-8% grade up about 1,100 feet in 3 miles to the Dry Creek turn off.

On race day, the course descends the pine covered ridge in the middle of the image below and then ascends the winding pavement.

Dry Creek

The descent down the Dry Creek double track is going to be fast with good potential for chaos. There are some tricky rut sections that sneak up on you at high speeds – I almost kissed a lodgepole pine at 25 mph on the way down. Keep your speed in check here, especially on the first lap.

Below is a shot of the descent down Dry Creek Ridge.

Heslin Ranch

Once you roll down Dry Creek you come to Heslin Ranch – an amazing piece of property tucked up in the foothills. This is private property, but the owners are part of the trail council and welcome racers on race day with food and a sprinkler shower to cool off. With this not being race day I wondered how they’d feel about an unexpected guest in tights. I rolled onto the property and made my way up to the ranch house and barn area. The scene was bucolic, but eerily quiet. As I rode towards the barn a sheep dog trotted out friendly enough with a brief glance my way, then made off after realizing a fat guy in spandex posed little threat. I started to roll into the barn when out galloped a young black colt – “holy crap” I thought, “I’ve let their horse out of the barn…how the hell did I do that!?”

I watched the colt make it’s way down to the other horses and thought I better head back to where I saw a 4-wheeler parked down the hill. As I did so I heard the bark of an agitated and much larger dog than the peaceful fella I’d met earlier. Looking across the pasture I could see a large white dog not very happy about something. Cujo made up my mind for me – I was getting off this property and fast.

As I rode back down the drive, I noticed a man out in the pasture holding a metal detector. I asked if this was the Heslin Ranch. He motioned that he couldn’t hear me so I got off the bike and hopped over the split log and electric fence. Walking up I introduced myself and asked if this was the Heslin Ranch. He confirmed it was and introduced himself as Buell – the owner of the place. He was very friendly considering some random stranger had just hopped over his property line in pursuit of idle chatter.

I asked if it was okay for me to ride through his property. He was very nice and told me how to get through the paddock and over to the gate leading to the ATV trail that leads back to the course. He said on race day the gates will be open and his family would be cheering on the racers from the barn. I thanked him for his generosity and asked if I needed to watch the electric fence when I crossed back over – he replied that  it wasn’t lit up. But he did warn me about his “other” dog that wasn’t as nice as the first (I presumed he meant Cujo). Said he’d seen that white dog chase off a bear, kill a coyote, and bite the leg of a friend of his. I asked what the best approach would be should I encounter the white dog at close range. “Should I stick out my hand and let him smell it?” I asked. “Ride faster,” Buell said matter-of-factly. “If he gets close, put your bike between you and him and hope that keeps him back.”

Okay then. Thanks for the advice.

Making my way back up to the barn I spotted the gate to the ATV trail on the far side of the paddock. I made my way across only to find the gate locked. I picked up my bike and started to hoist it over the gate when…BZZZT!  I staggered back, trying to comprehend why I just  felt like someone had rolled out the defibrillator and put about a thousand volts through me.

Buell didn’t mention anything about the FULLY LIT electric fence running across the METAL GATE on the other side of the paddock. Holy shit.

The jolt had not only knocked the sense out of me, but also shocked the bike out of my hands and onto the other side of the gate. After gathering my wits, and as I was looking around for a less hair raising way to get to my bike I heard a noise that made me pee in my pants a little. Cujo.

He had come across the pasture and was none too happy to find me standing inside his property. In fact, he was pissed. And barking. And running. Straight for me!

I wheeled around and ran for the wooden fence post next to the metal gate, thinking I could reach the wood and catapult myself over both the electric ribbon and the fence in a single bound. BZZZZZT! I swear the second jolt was more volts than the first. It felt like my heart had exploded in my chest. I was staggering around like a drunk in a leotard. I didn’t look to see, but I’m sure the horses in the paddock were standing stock still wondering “what the hell is up with this guy.”

After shaking the cobwebs outta my head I started to panic. I had Cujo racing across the yard looking to take a pound of flesh, I’d been blasted back off the fence line twice, and my bike was stuck on the other side of an electromagnetic nightmare! I ran for the barn, hopped an inside fence and then through the corral to another fence with no electric ribbon. I raced across the back pasture and damn near hurdled the property line fence behind the barn. Bushwacked my way back to the metal gate, picked up my bike, took a quick pick of the fence and got the hell out of there. I don’t know where Cujo ended up, but all I heard as I pedaled furiously up the ATV trail was his horrifying bark behind me.

If you ever see a metal fence with a fancy white ribbon like this – it ain’t no Christmas present. Stay away from it.

Bustle Creek Climb

After leaving Heslin Ranch, you face a 1,500 ft climb over the next 4.5 miles of double track. The trail isn’t used much, but Troy (the race director) has cut back the grass and cleaned up the trail well. There are a few short, stiff pitches, but all in all the climb goes by fairly quickly. Maybe not by lap 4, but the first couple of laps shouldn’t be too bad.

Here’s a shot looking back down the Bustle Creek climb:

The Bustle Creek double track takes you back up to Ski Hill Road where you have another 2 miles or so to climb on pavement to Targhee. The best part of the entire course is just north of the resort in Rich’s Basin.

Rich’s Basin

Miles 16 to 22 are by far the best miles of the course, which is saying a lot, because the rest of the course runs through some pretty amazing country. Rich’s Basin holds miles of single track through pristine meadows of wildflowers and groves of aspen and pine. Have a gander at some of the beauty in the area:

Entering into the basin:

Aspen & Pine:

Range east of Rich’s Basin and just south of the Tetons:

An infusion of yellow wildflowers as you work out of the basin:

Lighting Ridge

After leaving Rich’s Basin you’ve technically finished the 25 mile lap, but I started 5.5 miles in so I thought maybe I’d venture out on the new Lightning Ridge Trail that represents the start of the race and leads over to Lighting Ridge and Papoose Creek (where Mama Grizz and her progeny had settled). The trail is new and a little bumpy, but nothing too bad. I made it about half a mile in when the woods start to creep in on top of me and that’s when I started hearing things. You know things like the sound of human bones being crushed in the jaws of a Grizzly. I got spooked. Turned around and headed back to the start line. I know…I’m a pansy. I’m not normally afraid of being out on the trails alone, but the suggestion that a mama had been seen with her cubs really got in my head. With two new cubs of my own coming in September, it just didn’t feel right today.

At any rate, I took a shot of Lightning Ridge from Ski Hill Road so you can see what we have in store:

We’ll ride that jeep road on the first lap and then the single track below it on all subsequent laps. In hindsight, I’m very glad I turned around on Lightning Ridge – as I was developing this film I noticed something in the shot that when you zoom in is pretty darn scary:

Takeaways

Climbing

Mentally it didn’t feel like I had done much climbing on the lap, but in hindsight I’d climbed about 3,800 feet in 20 miles. The site says 4,100 feet p/ lap – so 16,400 for the race – that could hurt a little.

Tires

If you raced the Crusher in the Tushar a couple weeks ago and you were sold on your tire choice then – those will be the perfect tires for Pierre’s Hole. I am going to run the Bontrager XR1 Team Issue again – the rolled well on the pavement and provided plenty of grip on the one and two track.

Bug Spray

The horseflies weren’t nearly as bad this year as last year, but they are still out and about – best to reduce the nuisance and sport some bug spray.

Family Friendly

If you are bringing your family up for the event there will be plenty for them to do including swimming, hiking in Rich’s Basin, Frisbee golf on the mountainside and rides on the lift. The camping site for racers is a beautiful meadow just below the resort – one of the best race camping sites I’ve seen. There are 8 or 9 Honey Pots setup nearby so you don’t have to run up to the lodge.

I’m thinking this will be one of the best races I’ll participate in this year and maybe ever – at the very least, the scenery will be unsurpassed.

Can’t wait to get going on Saturday.

Written by eber

July 30, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Park City Point 2 Point – Race Report

with 16 comments

Some days you are the hammer and some days you get the crap kicked out of you and then have your nose rubbed in it. My experience last Saturday at the PCP2P, was pretty much the latter.

It all started well enough off – at the start I’d tipped back an Ensure, the temps were mild, the vibe was good and it was shaping up to be a solid day. There was some confusion during the pre-race sort, I think because the first call was for 6-7 hour finishers which wasn’t a legit start group (should have started with 7-8 hour finishers I think). I’d intended to jump in with the 9-10 guys, but because I counted groups starting from 6-7 hours, instead got into the 10+ hour crew. Which as fate would have it was a bad omen.

Kingdon, me and JJ rolling out at the start. After the race, JJ said “this was the fun part.”

Things were going swimmingly during the parade lap around Round Valley – pace was mellow, riders were easy, the air was crisp and filled with 28 lbs per square inch of dust and anxiety. When riding directly into the sunlight, visibility went to zero as dust particles made it look like I hadn’t washed my windshield in years.

But all the dust aside, Round Valley really is good trail and the first 8 miles were a lot of fun. Which was a bonus, because the next 50 miles weren’t…so much.

Things started going downhill (certainly not literally) at about mile 9. I was on the wheel of a very courteous rider climbing up out of the Meadows Drive section. As we moved up on slower riders he would politely ask to get by when there was a good spot to pass. When he went by I would also chime in with a “one more, if that’s okay.” Everyone we passed was very accommodating and would respond to our “thank you’s” with a “no problem” or “your welcome”. Everyone seemed to understand it was a race and that most of the course was single track – hence you’d have occasion to pass slower riders. It’s all good, right?

Everyone that is except one upstanding, albeit slightly larger fellow racer.

Curiously, this guy didn’t say anything in response to my new riding partner’s request to pass. He just moved over and didn’t so much as grunt in response to the first “thank you”. At the time, I didn’t know why I paid particular notice to his silence, but 3 minutes later it became clear why I was so curious.

The difference between this guy and the other riders we had passed was that he quickly grabbed the wheel of my partner, so rather than follow our normal passing pattern I just sat in and found a good cadence. Until it was clear that he couldn’t hold the wheel in front of him and quickly fell off a couple bike lengths. That’s when I chimed in with a “hey, when it’s convenient I’d like to pass too, thanks”. Again, no response. But as before, he moved to the right. So I accelerated to pass. And wouldn’t you know it, right when I came up alongside, he moved back into the center of the trail and locked up my handle bar yanking my wheel to the right, undercutting him and causing us both to go down in a heap – unfortunately with my new found riding buddy sandwiching me between him, my bike, and the ever so soft sage bush to our left.

Now, crashes happen. I think we all get that. So my first response was “dude are you okay?”

His first response? Rage and words from his mouth in very high decibels.

“IT’S AN 80 MILE RACE AND I WAS RIGHT ON HIS WHEEL!” was the gist of what he had to say.

To which I meant to respond with:

“Well, fine sir I am not sure what distance has to do with it, as you mentioned, it is a race after all and pray tell what do you mean you were right on his wheel, it was clear he was rapidly distancing himself from you.”

But what came out instead was:

“WHAT THE [bleep] DOES THAT MATTER…”

To which he responded with…nothing. Back to the silent treatment he was. He got up and pedaled away. I hurried to get back on my bike to continue our friendly dialogue when I noticed my handle bars were twisted into my navel. My seat was skeewampus. Half of my pulley hangar was snapped off. A spoke was broken. And I was bleeding down my leg. I think it is safe to say that The Silent Type came away from our little scrape in better condition than I.

Needless to say I littered the air with expletives as I tried to get the bike back together. Once I was back in the saddle I felt a surge of adrenaline and my focus was turned to REVENGE! Which doesn’t work so well in general and certainly not during a mountain bike race. While busting down the trail powered by my rage and fury I neglected the trail at hand and two miles later washed out hard on a sharp right turn. Now my right leg and arm were bleeding. Then I began to REALLY come unglued. I jumped back on the bike and started racing down the trail only to hear parts of my bike falling off behind me. Stopping to assess, I saw my bike tool and tube lying in the trail. In my rage and haste I had busted the zipper on my seat bag and it’s entrails were strewn across the single track.

Oh for the love of all that is holy – I’m only at mile ELEVEN!

Pulling into the aid station I hadn’t cleaned up my language much and greeted my crew with a “some dumb [bleep bleep bleep] crashed into me, can you pull off my seat bag?” Only I didn’t say “mother father” (sorry mom). theWife said I was visibly shaking while at the aid station. I chugged another Ensure and was off again – still plotting my revenge amidst a surge of adrenaline.

Update: So as you’ll see in the comments below, turns out I actually know the guy I got tangled up with in Round Valley. Amidst the dust, confusion, emotion and his speedy departure we didn’t realize with whom we had just intertwined. His name is Pat Terry and he is a really good guy and a solid rider. So Pat did indeed move to the right, but unbeknownst to me had to move back left into the trail because of a sage bush that would have sent him flying ass over tea kettle. You can read his version of the story here . If you read my previous edit of the story, I need to apologize to Pat – I went a bit over the top on his weight. Pat’s not fat, he’s just big boned. 🙂 Sorry about that Pat.

I passed Dug and Sleepy along the Rail Trail and shouted an incoherent obscenity laced summary of my last 4 miles and continued up the trail. Dug responded with a typically even and mellow “that doesn’t sound like a very good start to the day” response.  It wouldn’t be the last time Dug would try to help me get through the day.

At the Solomere junction I chugged down 26 oz of CarboRocket and another Ensure.

Then six miles later all that adrenaline was gone. And by gone I mean I could barely turn the pedals. I had crashed so hard from the adrenaline rush it felt like I hadn’t slept in weeks. Less than 20 miles into the 76 mile day I was completely spent and on the easiest and most enjoyable section of the race no less. And then came Dug, happily rowing up the trail behind me. We rode up over Snow Top and up about half of Deer Crest together, but I couldn’t hold his wheel and dropped off. I saw him as I came into Silver Lake and quickly chugged down another Ensure and another bottle of CarboRocket. theWife asked how I was feeling and I could only respond with “I am SO tired”. She said the difference in my physical appearance between the first aid station and the third was amazing – from shaking to lethargic in less than 20 miles. Not good considering the next 2 miles presented one of the steepest climbs of the day up to Bald Mountain.

I left the station before Dug, but it didn’t take him long to catch me. When he rolled up on me I was standing in a stupor on the trail. It was bad enough that I was so tired, but I had no spark. Zero. Nothing. He gave me some of his CR 333 to tug on, which I did. That little sip was either one of the bigger mistakes of the day or one of the crucial turning points. It was mixed pretty strong and I think probably acted like baking soda to the vinegar already churning in my belly. Dug seeing that all was lost continued up the trail and left me for dead.

I made it to the top and started the downhill. I am normally pretty fast on the descents, but I just couldn’t get anything going. Some lady blasted past me like I was standing still. Something wasn’t right. I was feeling bloated and felt like my kidneys were detaching with every bump in the trail. I limped around Bow Hunter, totally wasted the awesomeness that is Dear Camp and started into the trees on Flagstaff. Then all hell broke loose.

At first there were a few innocent wretches. Then the wretching turned to roars. If you’ve ever heard a T Rex mating call – it sounded like that. Over and over and over. Then an atomic puke bomb went off in my head. Then 4 or 5 more of them. The sheer volume of stuff coming out of my face was SPECTACULAR! It was like the pie eating contest in Stand By Me – only pink. The hills were alive with spewage and ruckus. Banks said later as he was coming up the hill he could hear the carnage and thought to himself “that sounds like Bright”. Say what? He recognized my wretch? I think we have spent to much time together.

After throwing off excess ballast things started feeling a bit better. I started to have clarity. The encounter in Round Valley followed by the subsequent adrenaline rush had overridden my body’s ability to digest all the liquid calories I’d consumed during the day. Even though my stomach was full – I was running on empty. I had burnt through the adrenaline jet fuel and had clogged the fuel pump while I was at it. At least that’s what I think happened. I only play a doctor on this blog.

I was a little worried that I had 5 miles to the next aid station with no food in me whatsoever, but I also started processing what I needed to do: get to the next aid station and regroup. Sit down, eat some solid food and just regroup. And so I did. During the second pass through Silver Lake I learned that Dug, Jason and Erik were already on their way. Banks, Kingdon, and Shellenberg rolled in behind me and things were starting to look up. I ate some fruit, peanut butter and jelly’s, and a coke and started feeling like I could at least get up and go.

The section between Deer Valley and Park City was long and hot. I ran out of water. But rather than dunk my head in and quaff a portion of Shadow Lake, I found the head of a little spring that was running down the trail and guzzled as much as my stomach could hold. As I was slowly making my way across this section, Banks caught me again and after a particularly steep climb back up double track to the lift below the brown shack we looked at our clocks. It was 1:19 PM – we had just over 2 hours to go 12 miles to make the cut off time. I was doubtful, Banks wasn’t – he was certain we’d make it. Banks’ confidence we’d make it was the second critical point of the day for me, once he said we could do it I was ready to make the push. We walked up the rest of the steep double track with a lady pushing a single speed and when it turned back to single track I got on and went, no looking back. Turns out I should have maybe looked back at least once, because Brandon missed a turn that eventually ended his day. Sorry Banks. But thank you for the boost to get me to the PC aid station in time.

Coming into PC I saw my dad at the top of the ridge line. “3:06” he hollered – 24 minutes to spare, whew.

I rolled in to see the carnage that was Erik R. – he looked like someone had only just brought him back to life with the defibrillator. Stomach issues. theWife told me Dug and JDub had left ten minutes earlier. I decided to wait until 3:30 to make sure Banks rolled in and to get fueled up for the last 20 miles. The last 10 minutes waiting there hoping to see Banks crest the horizon was painful. I knew how important a finish was to Banks and we all were sharing in the anguish of anticipation. 3:30 rolled by. No Banks. With heavy heart I set off for the next 2 miles of climbing up Spiro.

About 10 minutes into my Spiro climb I saw a ghost. My mind couldn’t comprehend what I saw coming down the trail on a bike. It was Banks. Descending the trail he should have been ascending after making his wrong turn. We passed each other in a blink, both wading in thoughts of regret (Banks in making the wrong turn and me in not waiting). Well Karma was about to return the favor.

Spiro wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated and getting to the top got me over a pretty big mental barrier. I was about a half a mile across the buttery section of the Mid Mountain Trail when suddenly my seat fell out from under me. At first, I thought the collar had come loose and my seat post dropped to the bottom. That would have been good. Instead my frame had cracked and come apart just above the top tube and the entire seat post folded back to the tire. That was not good.

18 miles to the finish and I was standing there with seat shrapnel in my hand. Perplexed, but not really surprised given how the rest of the day had gone I worked through the options. I could go back to the PC aid station and drop. No way. I already had one DNF this year at Butte. So buck up lil’ camper and start riding.

I started with the seatpost in my left hand resting it on top of my handle bars. That lasted about one minute and 12 seconds or until I had to brake quickly and realized that holding the seatpost and trying to brake with the same hand isn’t really a good idea. So I slid the seat post and seat down my jersey and rode Quasimodo style for about two miles. Standing up. That wasn’t going to work either. I knew my legs wouldn’t last another 16 miles without any break from standing up, getting off the bike to rest every two miles wouldn’t get me in before dark and walking certainly wouldn’t get me in before dark.

So I pulled the seat back out, removed the broken piece of frame and slid the seat post back into the seat tube to see how far down it would go. Naturally, it went all the way down. It wouldn’t tighten (because the collar was attached to the broken piece of frame) so it swiveled freely. That should make for an interesting ride.  Scenes and lines from Cast Away started playing in my mind.

“YESSSSS! Look what I have CREATED.”

And off we went, me and my new BMX bike.  I settled into a rhythm alternating between the middle and small ring on the front and leaving it mostly in the biggest cog on the back. I could power up most of the mild climbs sitting in the saddle albeit with strain on my lower quads and knees. The big climbs I climbed out of the saddle and powered up.

“This could work.”

Riding so low in the saddle I felt like an Oompa Loompa blasting through the forest, but I was moving and that was all that mattered. The low center of gravity made me feel surprisingly in control even at high speeds. Before I knew it I was passing people, including Shellenberg who I didn’t even recognize. I was in the zone. The miles started ticking off…13 to go…9 to go…5 to go. Being forced to focus on the problem and how to resolve it cleared my head of everything else that had gone wrong during the day. I didn’t think about the Round Valley Rumble. My stomach was no longer bothering me. And I had some spark!

Coming around a corner at about mile 73 I saw J Dub standing in the middle of the trail. Pondering the possibilities of life, maybe? I don’t know, but he was just standing there and I was really glad to see him. We made the final push up and over the torture of the last 1,000 foot climb before the finish. Riding in front, every now and then I’d hear J Dub chuckle.

“It’s like I am riding behind a little kid on his BMX bike!”

The comedy of the situation made the final miles go by real fast. Losing my seat was probably the best thing that happened on the day. Those last 18 miles were by far the best 18 miles for me. I was so focused on keeping the seat pinched between my cheeks and powering up the climbs that I didn’t even notice how bad the re-route of Mid-Mountain was and the brutal climb up Ambush didn’t really feel that brutal.

Blasting down the pavement between the barricades and cheering crowds was such a highlight. The crowds were cheering so loudly I felt a bit embarrassed. A sheepish grin stole across my face and I gave a brief wave to the crowd feeling so undeserving of their cheers, but so grateful nonetheless.

J Dub and me crossing the finish line – BMX style baby! (that smokin’ little number in green to the left in the background is theWife – such an amazing partner and crew chief – you rule Cic, thank you so much for getting me through it):

*thanks to MoBe Photo for the picture

The day ended on a super positive. Looking back I really loved racing the PCP2P. I’ll do it again for sure. The course was amazing. The organization was the best I’ve seen and with one notable exception the people were so much fun to be around.

A huge and heartfelt “thank you” to the Draper Wives for once again providing the best crew support out there – you all make the day so much better.

Thank you and congrats to all of the fellas on a great ride especially Banks, Dug and J Dub for being there during some pretty dark parts of the day. It is so great to roll up to the start and finish lines and share stories with all of the friends from the biking crowd. That’s what makes these events great – shared suffering and triumph with really great people.

Next up? Cyclocross and some trail running.

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim anyone?

Written by eber

September 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

12 Hours of Mesa Verde

with 2 comments

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.

Written by eber

May 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

22

with 8 comments

Unless you are a mathematician (or somewhat odd) you likely have not looked up a number on Wikipedia. I suppose I fall into the “somewhat odd” camp – my 8th grade geometry teacher would certainly agree I am no mathematician.

So just for fun I looked up the number twenty-two. Fascinating, I tell you.

For instance, did you know:

  • When cutting a circle with just six line segments, the maximum number of pieces that can be so created is 22, thus 22 is a central polygonal number (you don’t say)
  • Psalm 118 verse 22 contains all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and is dead center of the Bible (for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to go through the effort to validate this one)
  • 22 is worn by Manchester United player, John O’Shea, the only player in club history to have played all 11 positions (this one is for you Mark)
  • The Titanic was traveling at a speed of 22 knots before it crashed into an iceberg (this is a somewhat dubious claim, but interesting nonetheless)
  • There are 22 stars in the Paramount Films logo (this one is legit – I counted)

So what, pray tell, does 22 have to do with this post?

Eggnog. That’s what.

Because my wife loves me (or wants to kill me – I am not sure) this past winter our refrigerator looked like this on most days:

theWife buys in bulk. The real glory of this is that I am the only one in the family who really likes eggnog. Consequently I set a new benchmark for myself. Between the drive home from Fall Moab in October and the end of February I consumed a LOT of eggnog. Yes, I said February. Eggnog makes great food storage.

22 quarts to be precise (this is legit – I counted). If you are keeping track at home, that equates to:

  • 792 grams of fat
  • 26,400 calories
  • 7.54 lbs of weight gain (assuming 3,500 calories equals an lb)

Just from the eggnog alone.

Which would be life sustaining, if that is all I consumed over the winter and hadn’t already established that I have some restraint issues when it comes to junk food.

When I started my eggnog binge back in October, I had just completed two long days of main-lined awesomeness riding with friends in Fruita. Prior to that I had completed the Leadville 100 in August and LOTOJA in September and was feeling pretty svelte (if I do say so myself).

The intervention came in February, when upon returning from a run I found a stranger in my house. I first noticed him when I walked by a bedroom mirror and caught a peripheral glimpse of him in his tights.

“Why would some dude sneak into our house in tights?” was my first thought.

“Oh sweet mercy!” was the realization.

The man in the mirror…was me.

After a pretty active year, surely you can understand how I mistook this for a stranger:

Now that I am 37, another problem I’m noticing (in addition to my sweet tooth) is that I can’t seem to keep the winter weight off.

Let’s just say this winter was an unpleasant wake up call. A real doozie.

With a planned death run across the Grand Canyon and back, RAWROD, 12 Hours of Mesa Verde, the Squaw Peak 50, Butte 100, and Park City Point 2 Point coming up over the next 5 months, I best be for doing some sit ups or getting some gastric bypass work done.

PS – I also don’t recommend going on a hair vacation and a health vacation at the same time. This winter I became Gene Frenkle.

Written by eber

April 11, 2010 at 8:26 am

i have problems

with 10 comments

I like to eat food.

I mean I REALLY like to eat food.  But not all food.  For instance, theWife joined a veggie co-op last year and every other Thursday she comes home with this:

Veggies

Which doesn’t excite me all that much.  You see my body has a daily vegetable quota.  Once I reach the quota the next bite of vegetable usually makes me all gaggy and such.

No.  This is more like what I prefer theWife bring home from the co-op:

Junk Food

Oh sweet mercy.

[Sidebar: Dug I know you are seeing those Cosmic Brownies and think you have found your culprit.  I’m innocent.  Boo’ing is an impossible task for me…I consume the treats long before they make it to the door.]

Problem #1

Over the years I have developed a Pavlovian response to junk food.

It all started as a child.

Growing up we had The Third Drawer (my friends coined the phrase). The Third Drawer was the third drawer down on the left side of the stove in our kitchen and Mom kept it fully stocked with junk food…much to my (and my friends) liking.  In all my youth, I can never remember a time when the third drawer wasn’t brimming with artery clogging, waistline expanding yumminess.

Over the years, my fondness for treats has evolved into an addiction.  Literally.

Case in point, we ate dinner with Mark and Rachel a couple weeks back.  Rachel being famous for her skills whipped up a wicked cake of lemony deliciousness and combined it with chocolate pools of heaven.  Being the great hostess she is, she sent us home with a sizeable portion of what was left of the cake.  I ate two slices at dinner and then most of what she sent home.  Looking back I think I ate half of that cake.  HALF.  By myself.

Herein lies one of my problems.  I can’t say no when offered junk food.  I can’t stop myself from finding and consuming junk food.  I know where every junk food stash is at the office.  I can never stop with just one.  I usually will eat junk food until I am sick.  I even eat when it doesn’t sound good.  I can’t stop myself.

Admittedly, my “habit” is a running punchline at the office.  That’s not good right?

Problem #2

I am getting older.

I was blessed with good genes.  My parents are thin.  I grew up thin – so thin, in fact, my friends would  ask me to pull up my shirt and suck in to show the rib cage in all it’s glory.  They used to call me Alien.  Nice, huh?

These days when I pull up the shirt and suck in…it looks the same as when I don’t suck in.  Bulbous.

Age and junk food began to collide around 2001.  That was the year we bought 19 boxes of girl scout cookies from a nice lady at work.  One month later I was complaining to theWife that all of the girl scout cookies were gone.  She said of all 19 BOXES she had only eaten one sleeve of thin mints.  Houston, we had a problem.

So what I am about to type is not based in vanity, more to illustrate the point.

When I met theWife in college, I was spending 4-5 days a week out climbing the crags around St. George, consequently I was in pretty good shape.  The first time theWife saw me with my shirt off her comment was “look at your body.”

Today? She calls me Shrek.

I think she has a fair argument for bait and switch.

Problem #3

Further, emphasizing the problem are the guys in the neighborhood.  All great guys to be sure, but all also are incredibly fit and much faster than me on a bike.

Sam is the Wunderkind.  It appears Mark has affixed anvils where his calves should be.  Rick looks like he just came off the Pro Tour.  Erik is almost always shirtless in 60 degrees.  JDub and I started in about the same place a year ago and now I can’t catch him up a climb.  Even Dug – the elder statesman – in an off year, is no slouch on the bike.

Eating junk food like I do makes it nigh impossible to match pedal strokes with these dudes.

Problem #4

With all the riding I did this year in prep for Leadville and LOTOJA I actually lost weight…20lbs.  That’s great right?  Correction, that WAS great.  Only, one month after LOTOJA I have put 10 lbs back on.  ONE MONTH.

What’s worse is I look like I have added 30 lbs.

Last weekend I put on the jersey and shorts to go out and ride some dirt for a few hours and this is what I saw in the mirror:

Fat Guy in a Kit

I’ve got rolls and ripples popping up all over the place.

That’s it.  I resolve to not gain weight this winter.

Problem #5

So I started with some ab workouts.  It was hot that morning, so I had my shirt off.  I was laying on my back crunching and twisting when I heard it.

It sounded like a fart.  Funny, didn’t smell like one. Come to think of it…didn’t come from the traditional location either.  Slightly perplexed I continued with my routine.

When it happened again I was horrified. I had pinpointed the source.  It was a back flab fart.

What on the great green earth is a back flab fart you ask?

Well my friends, a back flab fart occurs when you eat too damn much junk food, don’t exercise enough, take off your shirt and do ab workouts on a yoga mat.  Combining blub rolls and sweat on a non-absorbant surface traps pockets of air that rupture as you roll about…thus creating the back flab fart.

To quote Kramer:

Look away, I’m hideous.

Written by eber

October 30, 2009 at 6:40 am

that about sums it up

with 14 comments

So get a load of this:

LOTOJA Hanger

Hmm…a hanger?  What’s so special about that?

I “raced” LOTOJA this past weekend and after suffering much, much, MUCH longer than I had planned, this hanger  awaited me at the finish line.  You see this year instead of race medals or bottles of Ibuprofen, the LOTOJA race committee opted to go with a recycled bicycle parts hanger as the medal.

Nice, huh?

Do you remember the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s dad gets the shipment that “must be Italian”?

More importantly do you remember Ralphie’s mom’s reaction to the contents?  It’s classic.

Well, when all the finishers lined up to receive their hanger, each had essentially the same response as Ralphie’s mom’s:

“What is it?”

“It’s a hanger.”

“But, what IS it?”

Ah well, after the tragedy that was my second attempt at LOTOJA it was fitting that in addition to my deflated ego I also brought home…a hanger.

Continuing with the Christmas Story theme I imagine when I show friends and relatives the hardware I picked up from the race the conversation will go something like this:

Friend or Relative: “Hey Eric what is that?”

Me: “Don’t bother me now. Can’t you see that I’m busy?”

Friend or Relative: “Yeah, but what IS that?”

Me: “Well, it’s a major award.”

Friend or Relative: “A major award? Shucks I wouldn’t a knowed that, it looks like a hanger.”

Me: “It IS a hanger, you nincompoop, but it’s a major AWARD. I WON IT.”

Friend or Relative: “Damn hell, you say you WON it?”

Me: “Yeah. Leg power, you see.  Leg power.”

Dear LOTOJA finisher award picker: Maybe a stockinged leg lamp from Italy would a good idea for a finisher medal next year.  I’m just saying.

I don’t mean to be a sourpuss and normally I don’t care what the finisher medal looks like.  I mean it is after all, just a finisher medal…it’s not like I podiumed.  But, I wasn’t the only one a bit perplexed by the goods.  This was my favorite question from a another flummoxed finisher who picked up his hanger just before me:

“Does it come with a jacket or something?”

At any rate, the hanger perfectly sums up my latest attempt at LOTOJA.  Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong:

  • For the second start in a row I dropped a perfectly good train to go pee about 10 miles before Preston (you’d think I would have learned from the first time)
  • For the second start in a row I blew myself up trying to catch back onto that train
  • I mucked with my front derailleur the day before the race and wouldn’t you know it – I screwed it up royally trying to fix it.  Rather than drive the extra 5 miles to Revolution I drove it down the hill to Canyon.  I really like to buy my bikes from Canyon (they usually give me great deals), but I have yet to have one of their mechanics actually make my bike any better than it was before I brought it in.  Consequently, I couldn’t shift down into my small ring on the way up Strawberry. Ugh.
  • When the support wagon pulled up I asked if they had any lube (to quiet my uber squeaky pulleys).  The nice old lady said “sure I’ll get you some”.  She handed me a patch kit.  “No, no –  I said do you have any lube.”  She came back and handed me ANOTHER patch kit – this one just had different packaging.  I politely said thanks and went on my squeaky pulley way.
  • I just can’t seem to figure out that blasted climb up Strawberry.  Each year I feel like I am packing a gnu on my back up that thing.  It may be the thrashing I give my legs trying to hook back on to trains before Preston, but I don’t know.  I hate that climb.
  • I missed my support crew at two aid stations.  Not one, but TWO.  Give them a little credit – the traffic was terrible.  I had already used my emergency CarboRocket at the top of Strawberry so this was a huge blow.  I tried to choke down aid station Gatorade instead.  Consequently, I had a massive gut ache between Afton and Alpine.
  • What sucked worse than not having any CR, was missing the chance to see theWife’s smiling face at the aid stations.  Even though I was a horses ass in Montpelier she still makes me feel so much better when I see her at an aid station. (thanks for the support Cic)
  • The feet, oh the FEET!  I don’t know what was going on, but from the bottom of Salt to the finish my feet hurt like the dickens. I rode the last 80 miles with all of my buckles and velcro undone.
  • After letting Rob J and Erik R pull for the bulk of the last 20 miles (Rob J pulled for a ridiculous amount of time from Afton on in – thanks Rob) I sprinted for the “win” at the finish.  I know…nice move jackass.  I wouldn’t have done it.  In fact I told myself at the 4K, 3K, 2K, and 1K marks to let one of those guys have it for doing all of the work – then two idiots who hadn’t pulled a second from Afton came from behind and jumped for the line.  I wasn’t about to let them take the “win”.  I beat them both by a couple bike lengths.

So all in all, it was not a fun day at LOTOJA.  On Saturday I was sure I wasn’t doing it again.  Today…a little less sure.

Some of the positives I took from the day included:

  • Feeling really strong up Geneva and Salt.  Didn’t get passed and in turn passed a bunch of people.
  • Felt strong on the sprint to the finish.  Although the two yahoos I beat to the line may have been slouches for all I know.  Their race etiquette certainly was slouch-like. It did feel good to blast down the lane just inside the barriers to beat them.

It was really good to be there with friends and kudos to Sam, Rick, Mark, Erik, Jamie, Whitney, JJ, Steve, Brad R, Dave R plus a slew of other friends who went out and made it happen.  An especially BIG kudos goes out to J Dub who rode that thing into the dark on a recently broken hand.

Maybe next year.

Then again, maybe not.

Written by eber

September 15, 2009 at 6:18 am