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The Worst Acronym

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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.

Written by eber

September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Pierre’s Hole Recon

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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

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.

Written by eber

May 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

that about sums it up

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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

rawrod 2009

with 5 comments

Last weekend I joined a whole slew of crazy people and subjected myself to a masochistic ritual known as RAWROD (Ride Around White Rim in One Day).  In the simplest terms it is a 100 mile suffer fest across this:

white-rim1

On bikes.  All in one day.

Wouldn’t you know…it was SO much fun.

You might ask “how was it riding 100 miles in the desert through incessant dust storms and occasional downpours?”  I am so glad you asked.

RAWROD takeaways:

  1. When Dug gives you directions to the camp site…it’s a good idea to have a backup source.  (Hi Dug!)
  2. I didn’t realize how much I was looking forward to Kenny’s and Elden’s world famous brats until our batch (the LAST batch) rolled off the grill and into the fire.  It was like someone had just kicked my favorite poodle.
  3. Dug should really invest in a new tent.  Aside from one of his poles snapping in the wind, it was making some very ominous noises throughout the night.  It sounded like a bunch of Orcs were sleeping over there.
  4. At mile 40 when someone asks you “what’s the longest you have ridden your mountain bike?” and you answer “35 miles” and then they respond with “just think, you’ve already set your personal best and by the end of the day you will more than double it!” don’t think you’ll be able to take ANY comfort in that.  While I really like J Dub, at that moment all I wanted to do was let the air out of his tires. (Hi J Dub!)
  5. If you ever have to ride your mountain bike 5 miles across a wind blown highway look for two guys who are at least 6 foot 2 with broad shoulders to tuck in behind…that will certainly save your bacon (thanks Dug and Mike).  And if you are ever able to return the favor maybe try to do it somewhere other than on the downhill (sorry Dug and Mike).
  6. I have never been happier to see someone than when DT climbed out of the SAG wagon at mile 50.  Talk about a joyous reunion.
  7. Riding for 75 miles through incessant wind (gusting to 50 mph) will inevitably, at some point in the day, REALLY piss you off.
  8. Watch out for the wind gusts around the last switchback on Hardscrabble…sheesh.
  9. If you ever come to a climb called Hardscrabble…you should know by the name it’s going to be brutal.
  10. If you’ve ever wondered what would hurt worse hitting you at 50 mph:  hail or a wall of sand.  Let me set the record straight…it’s the hail.  For the love of all that’s holy…it’s the hail.
  11. I’m certain the taste of sand, sweat and phlegm is 100% better than Cola flavored Shot Bloks.
  12. If you ever thought it would be a good idea to climb up 1,000 feet in just under a mile and to do it at mile 99 of a 100 mile ride…think again.

All in all, it was an amazing day with a really great bunch of people and I think we generated about $1,000 for Kenny’s LAF page to be donated to cancer research…that doesn’t suck.

Morning at the RAWROD camp

RAWROD Camp

Shafer Trail (we end up WAY down there…sucks to be the guy  who built this trail on a cliff)

shafer

Hey kids, pay attention…this is how NOT to fix a broken chain

bad-fix

This is the face of suffering (thanks for the pic J Dub)

hard-climb

Horsethief – the 1K ft climb at mile 99 (we started in the sunlight by the river below)

Thanks KK for the pic.

horsethief

Elden also took some great video with his super duper new camera, check it out:  Ride Around White Rim in One Day (RAWROD) 2009.

Thanks Kenny for putting this on…what a great day in the desert.

Written by eber

May 2, 2009 at 6:37 am

dog sprints

with 8 comments

I spent the last couple of days in Eastern Idaho attending the funeral of a really great lady.

My Aunt Jean.

Sidenote: Please  indulge me for just a second. One of the speakers talked about how it seems that power, prominence, property and prestige are the primary factors that motivate us these days.  He followed that with what motivated Aunt Jean…friends and family (which was obvious by the turnout).  His point was that the 4 Ps above, all eventually fade…but family and the relationships we foster will always burn bright.  Point well taken.  It’s pretty great to have Mel in the family.  He has a quiver full of great lessons like that, including this one 7 years ago that has become my Fatherhood for Dummies guide.  Mel also was instrumental in helping me secure theWife for the long term.  When she had convinced herself to ditch the hippie me and head out on a mission I took her to Mel, who put in his $0.02 and basically told her she’d be CRAZY not to dump her plans IMMEDIATELY and marry ME instead.   That’s pretty much EXACTLY how it happened.

So as I was saying…Eastern Idaho.

Ever since I was a kid, Eastern Idaho (specifically Teton and Ashton) has been one of those places where you feel like you’re home.  Sourdough pancakes (cooked in bacon grease of course), whole milk, fresh fruit w/ REAL cream, the Grand Tetons, endless Idaho skies, and that fresh Eastern Idaho air…what’s not to love?

Okay, I can think of ONE thing.  There is just one thing I HATE about Idaho.

Dogs.

You see Idaho has some of the best road biking routes around.  Rolling hills, great climbs, wheat fields, snow capped mountains in the distance.  It kind of, sort of  is what I imagine its like riding in The Tour.  Well, except for the dogs.  And the lack of world class riders.  And no crazy dude running alongside the road, dressed up like the devil.  And no whiny French people.  Okay, maybe not THAT much like The Tour.  But, I’m just saying.

I also don’t imagine Lance spends the better part of a ride strategizing the best way to get around the canine conundrum that IS road biking in Idaho.

So, here are the three critical success factors for a successful doggie dodge, prioritized in this order:

  1. Surprise (how well you sneak up on the dog)
  2. Angle (aided by the element of surprise)
  3. Speed (how fast you can pedal in the event of a chase)

This past Saturday, over 32 miles of riding I had 7 encounters with 9 different dogs…if you do the math that is one puppy problem  every 4.5 miles.  Or to look at it from the perspective of time…I was dodging at least one dog every 12.5 minutes.  Sheesh.  To make matters worse, the dogs it seemed,  had the upper hand on all but one of the critical doggie dodge success factors.

It felt like the scene from Better Off Dead where the newspaper kid and his buddies gang up on John Cusack in the woods. “I want my two dollars!”  Classic.

ANYhoo, of the  SEVEN encounters on Saturday, there was one I thought surely would end with me being Cujo’s kibble.

So Cujo and his puppy pal (we’ll call him…Frank), caught wind of me early and entered the roadway well ahead of my arrival, thus cutting off my angle.  Blasted!  Two of the three critical success factors GONE!  Speed at this point is worthless.  Why?  Because bunny hopping a moving dog on a road bike isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Imagine what the result of speed and a lunging, gnashing dog looks like?  That’s right, biker road kill.  Cujo would be burying pieces of me all over the back yard.

So what do I do?

Slow down.  Be nice.  Make friends with the cute little guys.  Nice doggy.

At first, it appeared to work.  Frank seemed to really be into slow, casual cyclists in tights.  I think at one point he even winked at me.

Okay, I thought…this is working out just fine.  Until I turned my attention to Cujo, who looked like this:

pitbull

And I am quite certain I looked something like this:

scared

Thank the maker for adrenaline.  I rode as fast as my little legs would pedal.  Got around the bend and down a hill into the river bottom where I got off my bike and just sat on the side of the road.  I am pretty sure I peed a little in my pants.

In Utah we call them Intervals.  In Idaho…they are called Dog Sprints.

Written by eber

March 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm

who needs bear skin?

with 7 comments

I really love me some Southern Utah.

Not just for the great hiking, biking, and climbing – cause that’s all good.  But down south things seem to get a little, shall we say…idiosyncratic.

Like for instance the town of Tocquerville.  Interesting name.  I can see the first settlers relaxing around the campfire, weary from their long and difficult trip across the red rock mountains and desert:

“Hey, Obadiah…what say we roast one.  Then we gots to think of a right proper name for this here place.”

Or how about the Fillmore-Beaver area?  We all love the Fillmore-Beaver area…right?

What about those whacky LaVerkians.  You know, the folks from the great town of LaVerkin.

What exactly is a LaVerkin?

Anyhow.  Remember when those insightful folks on the LaVerkin city council voted to outlaw the United Nations?  It’s true. LaVerkin is a United Nations Free Zone.  So if by chance you are ever on the run from the UN…you now know which town to make a break for.

So last weekend I loaded up The Family and we headed down for some Southern Utah livin’.  After a very muddy and unfulfilling bike ride I happened upon this:

shag-rug-la

Just your everyday, run of the mill, traveling rug sale.  And judging by the flags, a very international rug sale to boot.  But, in and of itself, not really out of the ordinary.

Until my eyes got a load of THIS:

mudflap

That’s right.  The Naked Lady Mud Flap AREA RUG!

Now this was no ordinary entry rug…it was 4′ WIDE x 6′ LONG (yes…I did in fact measure it).

So…who buys this?

And where, EXACTLY, do they put this in their home?

“Say little lady.  It’s getting a little [ahem]…nipply in here.  What say we cozy up by the fire on my new bare skin rug?  It matches the sweet mudflaps on my F150.  Now if I could just me find some curtains with Calvin pissin’ on that Chevy logo.”

Wow.

Written by eber

February 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm