Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009 Crested Butte Classic

" 'It's longer than an elephant's penis', that's what they were putting on all the posters around town," says the unofficial race organizer of the unofficial race, the Crested Butte Classic Dave Ochs. "I wonder what all the people in town are going to say?" And he chuckles.... Dave is a good biker with some crazy chops and a wicked sense of humor. He was MCing the finish of the Grand Traverse Ski race and it made all the pain go away. We were all sitting around Piezans having free pizza and Fat Tire beer compliments of Mr. Wiens and Gunnison Trails after the Thursday night mt bike race. Dave W. is the main character in an upcoming movie by the way .... So Dave Ochs asks Dave Wiens if he's doing the Classic. Dave says "Naw, We're making new trails at Hartmans on Sunday and I have to work on that on Saturday." Then Dave Ochs asks me if I'm doing it...... I say, "I might, been slacking for the past month." OK I'd ridden my bike a total of 16 hrs since Leadville Aug 15th. I was a bit burned out and had been playing with the kids and working more as school started.

So what is the Crested Butte Classic? You show up at the 4-way stop in Crested Butte. Sign your name on the list, listen to Dave give the route description and then roll on the hwy south on at neutral start. There's no entry fee, course markings, rider numbers... you just check in as you come into town after each lap and at the finish. Each lap takes you through a different set of classic CB trails.

So I decided I'd do it and keep it at a moderate speed, nothing too fast so I could finish and live to tell the tale.

I showed up and parked in my usual place and up pulls Gary Pierson and Chris Dickey. Gary is doing it all and Chris is doing it as a team. The temp out is 24F. brrrrr.

I put my GPS on this ride to get the actual stats... Here they is.

Here are some pics... My photographer had the day off... Go to Xavier Fane photography.

So off we go at a very moderate pace--probably because it was so cold. About 55 solo riders and others doing part or a team version. I began shivering pretty good after about 4 mi. I had on a vest, arm-warmers, jacket, and jersey and regular bib shorts. Dave O's wife was waiting at the first climb to pick up jackets. We turned up Brush Creek and then hit Teocolli ridge trail. This is a steep 2000' climb. I dumped my jacket. By the middle part of the climb, my fingers began to work again. As the sun came up and we got to the top, I took off my vest and arm warmers.

Down we came a quick stream crossing (got my toes wet yuk--it was still pretty cold) and then up strand bonus and down strand hill. Then back to town along the trail by the high way. 30 mi and lap one done! I had eaten a bit much for breakfast so figured my Glucose was a tad high so I stopped at the car and checked my sugar. 290? So I took a unit of insulin. I then skipped my next feeding (every 37:33 min my watch beeps for a feeding of a gu or something). I put on my light camelback as the next stage got me really dehydrated last year. I grabbed a small water bottle and more food. ~2:50 to the check in.

The second lap goes up past Peanut lake north of CB and out the Lower loop trail. This is an easy trail for the tourists then hits Slate river (dirt) road. This is pretty mellow until the old town of Pittsburg where it climbs up and up and up the Slate d'Huez for about 2500'. This is about 18-20% grade to the turn off to the 403 trail. The 403 is a bit tricky single track with steep descent to just above Gothic on the Schofield pass road. Now just another 1500' to the start of the 401 trail. This got a bit muddy in the trees climbing up to the top and the tires were covered with thick mud.... A guy was counting racers and let me know I was 13th. Not bad for a mellow pace.... Many guys were hurting pretty good at this point. I reached the top with Charlie Nuttleman-One of the Nuttleman twins. I had to pee so I told him to go down first. The 401 trail is really just a cool trail. You traverse across the side of a high ridge with views everywhere as you scream down. I hit a rock and heard air screaming out of my tires.. So I hopped off on the narrow edge of the trail and fix it. Blast it I get passed by 3 guys. Two I had passed up the climb. So about 4-5 mins the tire is good to go. And down to the road out. Here beavers had dammed up the crossing. This was supposed to have been cleared out but they were evidently some busy beavers and the crossing was a thigh deep trot... Now you hit the Schofield pass road skipping some single track trail. And it's a fast ride back to Crested Butte with a couple small hills. I get back and put two new bottles on and some food. My Glucose is looking good at 100-150 (I forget). I came past the check in at about 3:40 for this lap and 67 mi total. I was getting slower and slower on the hills... But the sun was still out and it's a beautiful day.

The last lap heads up Kebler pass to the town of Irwin. There's Nuttleman on the climb. I just hang behind him as a million cars go by on the dusty road. Nice! And there's a stiff headwind. We climbed the grade slowly it seemed to me, especially as Kerri Nelson comes screaming by us at the top. She is doing it as a team so is fresh. She has won several prestigious ultra hard running races. And she is a Western State College graduate. We headed to the start of the Dyke trail single track and on the downhills I can easily stay ahead of Kerri but as soon as we head up again she hammers past. The trail is mainly down hill to the other side of Kebler pass. Really a sweet trail even if it is 80 miles into the ride. Screaming fast single track through aspens with leaves turning yellow and falling on the trail. We hit Kebler pass road and the last climb of the day. The road is steeper on this side. I spun an easy gear up to the new Wagon Trail that cuts off the top of the pass and adds a bit of single track as you follow this trail half way back down the other side of Kebler. Finally I hit the paved Kebler pass road and the easy coast back to town. A total time of about 9:45 with 18 min for stopping at the car and fixing the flat. I think I was in 9th place. Last year I had done it in just over 9 hrs....

Now Free beer!

Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 Leadville 100 Mt bike Race

So there she is. My old 2002 Specialized Hardtail mountain bike and two time Leadville veteran. She's not as curvy and sleek as my Trek road bike, and not as plush and comfortable as my Specialized Epic Full suspension mountain bike. She is however lighter (a svelte 23 lbs) than the Epic without a lick of carbon fiber. And since Leadville is mainly on roads and has a lot of climbing I had to picked her. It's not as if the Epic is fat, just big boned. I assured my hardtail that I didn't have my eye on one of those new tricked out carbon fiber jobs but secretly at night I would log on to the Internet and Fantasize.......

I got her all cleaned up, put on some new rubber, lubed her, and tightened her up. We really were intimate... I packed my bags and was ready to go. Jim Dirksen showed up at 7:30 Friday morning to give me a ride to Leadville to register and go to the prerace meeting. He is a local legend who was racing in the M5 category. It hadn't rained for weeks--Of course now it was raining.

Anne and the kids were coming over in the afternoon and we would go to Copper Mountain where we had a condo that afternoon. Grandma Sue and Grandpa Bill were going to show up and watch the kids and help Anne with crewing (and be the official photographer), respectively. But unfortunately Grandma while picking daisies, slipped. The resulting fall broke her tibia, fibula and 3 bones in her foot. So with a plate installed less than a week before the race she decided that maybe she was in too much pain without a morphine drip to come. Luckily we have some great people in Gunnison that were willing to help. Becky, my scrappy partner in the Elk Mt Grand Traverse (See post) came over that night to help crew. Emily, a Western State student, came over early as we left for the race to watch the kids.

So Jim and I headed out. As we drove up Monarch Pass (11300') we were engulfed in a thick mist. Then out of the mist in front of us appeared a large suburban. The infamous Dave Wiens. He beat Lance last year but it would be difficult this year. I think he was ready to do the race as he had been training hard. We waved and hung out behind over the pass. Leadville had low hanging clouds but the weather wasn't too bad. The registration went fast. Got a water bottle, bag, Mountain Flyer magazine and a T shirt. I also got a wrist band so I could start in the front since I was 32nd last year. This would relieve some stress. The prerace meeting was the usual. Ken Choubler rallying the troops into battle, "I Commit! I won't Quit" we shouted in unison. "You're better than you think you are, You can do more than you think you can" Then Dave comes in to huge cheers and tons of cameras flashing gave a short speech. No Lance. After the meeting, Jim and I hung out to let some clouds move over, got some coffee and went on a short ride. At 3:30, Anne showed up and we loaded the bike and headed for Copper Mountain. Becky showed up and we got everything in order.

The first thing to do was to make a peanut butter sandwich that I would be offered at mile 60 or 80 during the race but probably decline it. But WAIT we forgot the jelly! No problem, I had a vanilla gu that had developed a leak. We'll use that. Here is Anne making the peanut butter and gu sandwich.

We filled water bottles with Gu2O, got extra water for Anne and Becky, got piles of gus, power bars, tools, extra tubes and clothes. Becky helped pin my number on my jersey very aerodynamically and I got the two numbers on my bike and sticker on my helmet. I also made some pancakes for the morning and set the coffee maker to go. It was a clear night as we went to bed.

At 4:30 we got up to a light rain. Emily showed up from her sister's place in Silverthorn and off we went. I grabbed a handful of pancakes and some coffee and checked the blood sugar. All good. I had taken 15 units of Lantus the night before. This is the same as I normally take. I had been real active normally so I felt that I didn't need to reduce it.

As we headed up Fremont pass on wet roads up towards the closed Climax molybdenum mine out of the mist appears the Wien's Suburban.... We found out later that they forgot the race food! Stressful! So they were a little late like us as they had to go back. I was getting worried that I may indeed freeze this day as I tried to ride at 12000' in the rain but BEHOLD first the moon appeared and then to the south as if to lead us to Leadville it was a star. THE STAR OF LEADVILLE! We followed this miracle of light, turned on the IPOD randomly as Anne can't see to well up close these days to INXS loudly (OK yes INXS is on the ipod) and as we got to Leadville the skies cleared to a light dusting of snow on the peaks.

We parked behind Dave, Susan and his brother and got the stuff out. I pumped up my tires, gave Dave a good luck high five and we all headed up to the start line.
At the start line I gave Anne some secret sign language. I think she was more stressed out than me.
At 6:00 clouds began to flow over the mountains we were heading into as the film crew in a helicopter flew over. We sent Becky back to the car to get more rain gear! At 6:30 they shot of the shotgun and off we went. As we followed the lead car we quickly accelerated to 30-35mph. Lance must have told them he wanted to go break the record... We made it to the dirt road turn off and off we went. The lead pack was gone so fast I didn't even see them go. My pack cruised along and then began the first climb. It was misty and cool with rainbows popping up here and there. We continued quickly over the first climb and the second. Here it began to rain and fingers and toes began to get really cold. Descending the power line was wet and hard to see. I hit a bump and lost a water bottle. Since I wasn't seeing Anne and Becky for 25 mi I stopped and picked it up. Big mistake as a guy I just passed got ahead of me and went really slow down the rutted out steep road. I couldn't pass safely so I stayed behind. If I raced more, I would have passed him I'm sure. So we reached the bottom and I felt a little off. We passed through the first aid at 26 mi and then down dirt roads with smaller hills. I hit the new single track and felt really not fast at all. Cold hands, sunglasses covered with water and dirt. The single track added 0.5 mi out and back to reroute around a steep hill. I eventually got to the aid station. Anne and Becky quickly put new water bottles in and lubed my chain. Susan D. helped shove dry wind resistant gloves on my hands since I couldn't move them. Here are some shots at the Twin lakes aid.

As I began to climb, it was clearing nicely and I began to get warmer. I climbed at a moderate pace still feeling off. Last year I climbed it 10 min faster. At the start I took off my cheap plastic rain coat but couldn't get it back in my pocket so after wasting to much time I tossed it behind a tree and continued. Here are some pics courtesy of Summer R. at mi 45 or so.

Lance Armstrong:

Dave Wiens:

And Me....

The road switchbacks up and finally gets steeper as you climb above treeline. Here is a video of Lance and Dave that shows the terrain. Near the top you can see the turn around way off around a sweeping turn. This puts the hurt on many people as they are really tired and at 12000' and then you can still see the top a long ways off. For me as I climbed around the bend, it began to get very windy and begin to hail. This was good since I dropped my rain jacket at the bottom and hail just bounces off. Rain would have been freezing! I got to the top as fast as I could and turned around and rode back down the wet road past the throngs coming up. Again I got a bit cold but at the the bottom the sun was out and Anne and Becky got my water and lubed my chain again. Here's Becky at the aid.

And I was off. Since I had not been going super fast up to this point, I began to feel better and better and started going pretty fast as I warmed up. The last 40 mi I passed a lot of people that were looking really tired. My split time for the last leg was 12 min faster than last year.

Only 40 miles to go! Can't help but smile....

I got to the finish and there were still quite a few people who where cheering loudly as we came in. Merrilee (one of the organizers) put a medal around my neck and gave me a big motherly hug. Then Anne came over to the racer exit with the kids and I lay down for a minute and got some food.

My blood sugar was 63 a few minutes after finishing. I think it was fine for the entire race but was probably dropping towards the end. I ate regularly--gu every 35 min. I also ate a couple of power bars during the longer climbs. We went and had some pizza and headed back to Copper Mountain.

I finished in 08:11:43 and 28th place overall. Lance was in in 06:28:50.9 and Dave came in at 06:57:02.0. I was sorry for Dave but that's the way it goes. All the other pro riders were in the 7 hr range. I was alittle annoyed by some slowness going up the big hill and the middle stretch but not too bad anyway.

The next day we took off to the awards and who do we pull up behind on the highway--Dave. He's going to think we're stalking him. The awards were pretty cool. Everyone who finished goes up and gets they're buckle. Under nine hours get a big buckle. And girls get a necklace/pendant or something also. Lance showed promptly at 9 and gave a talk along with the women's champion (who I barely got ahead of by the way--I thought she was a guy most of the race). Dave then gave a talk and I have to say the applause was much louder for him.

here's Dave's blog It wasn't working with internet explorer--use firefox or safari...

Here's another cool link with pics

After I got another BIG belt buckle, we went outside and I got my sweatshirt with my name and time printed on the sleeve. Then we headed back to Gunnison via Cottonwood pass. On the top who is there?? Wiens. He was waiting for Susan to ride up the pass and then he was off to Gunnsion and she was riding the rest of the way. We also saw 4 guys riding longboards down the pass. Crazy. I saw they had a helmet cam and asked them if they had a video--here it is.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Musings a Week Before Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race 2009

Leadville trail 100 mountain bike race is officially less than a week away. If you don't know about this race it is just over 100 miles-50 mi out and back. Starts at 10200' in Leadville CO. Climbs 12000-14000 ft depending on who's map you look at. Has nice scenery and there are >1300 starting this year including Lance Armstrong. It is billed as being hard.... Google it for more... Also if you want to watch some of it they will have some live streaming at and click on the “Buy tickets” link at the top. They will have a web stream video going for $6. They will show the start –you could see me there. And they will show a couple of other places along the course and the winners finishing in 6.5-7 hrs and the last people coming in at 12 hr.

This will be the third time I've done the race. Each year it gets bigger and bigger-especially since Lance did it last year and since he lost to Gunnison boy Dave Wiens will be back this year. I had thought about doing it several yrs ago. Dave was doing it and it sounded like a good challenge and good way to stay in shape. But you have to sign up in Janurary so I forgot for several yrs...

So anyway here's a rundown of the top riders, Dave, Lance and Me...

I'm really just a slower and less pretty version of Dave (or my blog last yr here or here). He's 44, I'm 41, He's 6'1" or so and 175lb he says, I'm 6'3" and under 180 for the race. He has won a lot of Mt bike races, is in the Mt bike Hall of Fame and his wife has a bronze medal for '96 olympics. I have raced some and my wife rides her bike to work. I have diabetes and as far as I know Dave is a marvel of healthiness.

Lance has won the Tour de France a few times and is a cancer survivor. I have watched the tour and am a diabetes survivor. He did the last tour to train for leadville this yr.
Dave and Lance will probably beat me by 1-1.5 hrs. But I will probably be in the top 30-50 riders out of >1300.

So how do I compete with elite atheletes having diabetes and a job and two kids. Well Anne the wife of 13yrs today is a big help. She lets me ride my bike a lot and is a bit of a secret bike groupie and loves watching the racers go by at leadville so she is a good support crew.

The training has been going pretty well this summer. I nordic skied a bunch and did the Grand Travers Ski race this winter so came out of our late spring pretty strong.

Here are some numbers of ride time, elevation climbed and miles. Note that this is a mixture of technical mt bike miles and road bike so the mileage would be much longer if I just stayed on the roads... I got a new toy Garmin Edge 705 to get #s. Go to and filter rides by jryter to see them all on a map!!

wk of 6-8-09; 16hrs, 15224', 245mi
wk of 6-15-09; 15hrs, 13890', 217mi
wk of 6-22-09; 14hrs, 16148', 193mi
wk of 6-29-09; ~15hrs, ~20000', ~190mi -did breckinridge firecracker 50 w/o GPS so some estimation...
wk of 7-6-09; 18:33hrs, 19000', 269mi
wk of 7-13-09; 17hrs, 22649', 216mi
wk of 7-20-09; 16:16hrs, 17724', 214mi
wk of 7-27-09; 17:39 hr 18493', 19000', 269mi

Well thanks for stopping in... I'm in taper mode now.. Shorter rides... less intensity. We'll see how next weekend goes!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Breckenridge Firecracker 50

On Friday the 3rd of July, I drove accross town (3-5min drive depending on traffic) and put Anne and the kids on a plane for Denver and then Madison WI. She had left me for a week with them so I think felt guilty (even though Grandma Sue and grandpa Bill came up to help out) so I was given a huge hall pass for a week and a half. The Breck firecracker is a good training race for the Leadville 100 as there is a good amount of climbing (4-5000 ft depending on how you draw the map for each lap) in two 25mi laps. So I signed up and then started bugging my good bud Gary who's family has a house in breckenridge. I didn't think I could stay there but at the last minute Gary got me a place to stay. So after I dropped Anne off at the airport I packed up my stuff and headed for Breckenridge. It seemed as everyone from the front range had come to Gunnison for the fourth as traffic was crazy. As I pulled into Breck I reallized that the Gunni traffic was nothing compared to this. Breck is just off I70 and was soooo crowded for the weekend. I went and got my number and all that and then went back to find the house. It was built probably in the 70s or early 80s and close to downtown. I got my stuff unloaded and went on a short ride up the start of the course to get the legs loosed up after the 2.5-3 hrs in the car. I also rode around downtown. Just a note: this is probably the blow up slide capital of the world. There were blow up slides and rooms where kids can bounce all over the place...

The weather was calling for 50% chance of rain. The streets were still wet when I got there from a thunder storm. I was a little concerned that we may get cold and wet at as the race goes above 11000 ft for a good portion of it. So then I went back to the house and threw my sleeping bag on a bed and went to sleep.

The race the next day was to start at 10:55 for the Pro men and then my Maveric class started after several waves at 11:05. The maveric class was for people who didn't want to get a year racing license but were still pretty fast... So I had time to watch some of the start of the TDF and get my bike all set up. I dropped a bag with extra rain jacket and insulin etc at the start of the second lap and checked my sugar about an hour before the race. It was pretty high~300-350 so I took some insulin. The race started on mainstreet as the start of the 4th of July parade. Kind of cool with tons of little kids wanting high fives as we rode down the street in a neutral start.

The race starts with a good climb up Boreas pass--paved and then eventually get to a dirt road and then some single track after a couple thousand feet of climbing. As I began to climb I got a distressing pain in my upper stomach. I slowed down a bit and after a few it went away. As I climbed I just didn't feel great. After about 45-50 min I began eating a gu or something every 35-40 min. This seems to work as I have done it in other races. The race then drops a bit and has one more big climb and a few more climbs before it descends back to town. The descent has some very rough sections.. I wished I had my full suspension....

I made the first lap in just over two hours and even though I wasn't feeling great I blew threw the aid where my bag was. The second lap I kept feeling worse. My legs just felt soooo slow. I began to get passed by people that I didn't think looked all that fast. My stomach began to churn if I tried to push too hard. I began to realize that my sugar was probably high. The problem with high sugar is that if it get too high (80 is normal, above 250 you have problems bringing it down with out extra insulin.) your body starts to try and use fat for energy and you have a hard time using the sugar in your blood so it just goes higher. So I just struggled to the top and back down. Going along feeling very weak and an odd aching sensation caused by the high sugar. So I got to the finish and checked it. Sure enough my sugar was 410 (auggg)! So I took a shot and got cleaned up and grabbed some beer and food that was provided. Riding with such high sugar caused my muscles to continue to feel weak and achy...

total time 4:52. I was 30 in my class. 70 or so finished... 97 had signed up. So I was a bit frustrated...I felt I could have done top 10. I finished just ahead of a pro girl that I had beat by more than an hour in the Growler........ and back a ways from other people that a had finished near in other races. Always a learning experience with a disabled pancreas!

So what caused my highs?? Most races I do start more like 6:30-7 in the morning. My long acting insulin is much more intense at this time of day so it can eat up sugar better. (I had high issues in a ski race that started at midnight) I also wasn't feeling great the week before and may have had a little something. I also may have not brought my sugar down enough before the race. If my sugar is too high it may not come back down.... So I should have waited longer before my first energy gu and then not eated quite as often......

Now I'm in Leadville as I decided to break the trip up and ride here a bit between rain storms... and back to Gunni tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2nd annual Gunnison Growler 2009 race report!

The cool pics are from Brian Riepe of the Mountain flyer--

On Bambi's Trail on the first lap.
As we rode down the highway at about 24 mph I asked Dave, "so how did you get the mileage for the Growler. Did you GPS it or have an odometer or.." He replied, "I have no idea how long it was! Someone with an odometer said it was 69 miles."

The Growler was in its second year. Each year I think the plan is to choose another lap at Hartman rocks that is in the neighborhood of 32 mi. This year we started in town and then rode as a group at a neutral pace behind a patrol car. Then you can do one lap or the full Growler of two laps. Here is a map of the Sunday May 24, 2009 race course. The course is mainly technical single track with over 8ooo ft of climbing--in short steep bursts. This means that there are lots of places that are steep and large rocks must be ridden over and even some places where there are large cliffs. There are also sections of fast smooth trails. Dave Wiens, a local biker, started the race to raise $ for local trails. Dave is way fast and way nice.... See for more info on race!

It had rained for several days with Sunday predicted to be the best day with just 30-40% chance of rain. Rain is actually good here because it causes the sandy trails to firm up and compact.

Sunday morning we get up early and make pancakes. I'm riding the old hard tail. It's light but I'll take a beating on the rocky sections. I grab some chow and head downtown. My nutrition strategy is to eat a gu or bar every 35 min as my watch will beep at me. I have two large bottles with Gu2O-about 100 cal from maltodextrin. Anne follows with the kids to watch the start. 225 bikers line up on main street--about 150 are officially slated to do the long course that I'm doing. The clouds are hanging low and the temperature is in the mid 40s. It could be worse..... Ken Coleman, the city manager, fires the shotgun twice to start the race at 7 sharp. And off we go behind the patrol car. They keep a nice easy pace so that the people with single speed bikes don't spin their little legs off. It it a easy ride and I chat with the other Gunni folk.

Then we hit the dirt. We climbed the main road and kept on roads for a couple of miles to spread every one out. The first part is very steep and aptly named "kill hill". Today it is about 2 inches of slimey mud. The single speeders can't ride it so they have to walk--which makes me walk as I should have gotten in front of them. We clean the summit and the road gives way to nice packed sand/granite. I purposefully go at 3/4 pace as I want to save something for the second lap. Also I haven't ridden a ton yet....

We then hit the first single track and I was slowed up a little by some people but not to worry. Many people lost this race last year by bonking in the last of it... like me last year. The first lap the trails were nice. Not super fast but just a bit of mud as some different geology was covered. I got lucky and missed the rain storm that passed to the north of me. As I went around the loop many Gunnison people were out making sure that correct turns were made. Brian Riepe, from the mountain flyer , was out taking pictures with his girl Larken. He would hop in his truck and drive around to several locations... so I saw him several times. He's also a way fast rider.. Finally I hit "the top of the world" trail where Brian Wickenhauser was overseeing the course. This was the windiest place on the whole course. He looked cold as the wind and light rain blasted him--looks like more like 80% chance of rain today! Now just one more seriously technical section (the ridgeline--400 ft cliff on one side, big knarly rocks on the other) and then down to the start.

Anne drove out with the kids at 10:00. I figured it would take me around 3 hrs for the first lap. I must have came in at around 3:11. Julian was doing a little victory dance for me. Anne handed me some more drink and food and I started the next lap. This lap started off by going up the steepest trail up to the ridge--the notch trail. From this point on ,I started to go faster and began to pass some people. Everyone was pretty spread out so I had no idea what place I was in or how close people were. The trail was really compact and fast for the first 15 miles. After this, however, some really muddy sections came up as the rain i had missed earlier had soaked some clay sections. No problem--had to walk a section or two and didn't crash as I slid down sections. I just kept thinking of the next two trails ahead so as not to overwelm myself...

Halfway around each lap you drop down Skull pass then back up the steep road. Ricky, from the Tune Up, and Clint, who I played with on the Gunnison Rec League championship team, grabbed my bottle and refilled it with Gatorade and offered me a pbj sandwich and a PBR beer at the aid station. I was tempted but thought I may not get going again. They were having a great time as they had camped out the night before and had some beers already...

Going up the "Ridge Trail"

Now a quick drop down and out of "the enchanted forest", up and down "Dave Moes" a steep climb up "dirty sock" and descent to "josies" then back up to "gateway" and down to "fenceline trail." Now just up the steep road to Brian at "top of the world" and then down to the start of "ridgeline" Coming out of ridgeline, I began to catch a guy who was obviously hurting. I caught him on a steep climb back up to the last trail straight down to the finish.... But a serious cramp hit and I forced to follow him down the single track to the finish as it was too muddy and narrow to pass....

So I finished 2nd in my old guy 40-49 yr age class and 17th overall in 6:23. I hung out for a while and rode back home. I took a hose to my bike to get the mud off, showered and rode back to the park with Lila for Cajun food served by Sugah's restaurant and Fat Tire beer. Anne and Julian came down after his nap and a good time was had by all.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Elk Mountain Grand Traverse midnight March 27, 2009

For more info on the route see my earlier post... It's a long backcoutry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen ~40mi if you're too lazy..

It all started late February or early March 2009. Becky Sears, a spunky biologist at Western State College whose office is across the hall from mine had signed up for the race in December. She was bound and determined to do it. She got on her computer to sign up as soon as it opened up. The year before the race filled up in a couple of weeks. This year it filled in less than a day with a record number of teams. Her partner, a very fit fellow, was having issues with his knee and wasn't able to train much. Every now and then, she would hint that she needed a partner. At the end of the first week of March just before spring break, her partner decided he couldn't do it so she asked me. I had been biking a bit as we had a warm week (OK, it was above 0 F) and had done some nordic races earlier so I was in pretty good physical shape. So I said sure. For spring break I was going to St George UT. I was planning on hiking, biking and running a bit.
Trouble hit on the drive down Friday afternoon (March 6th). My stomach was doing flip flops and I could barely keep it together on drive. It started snowing hard so we stopped at a motel and I slept some with my head propped on the toilet (this was strangely the only position that was "comforatble" in between barfing. The next day my stomach still felt awful but I could eat a little so we went the rest of the way and met Grandma Sue and Grandpa Bill. My blood sugars were ski high and no matter how much insulin I took they wouldn't come down. Finally on Monday, I felt a little better and Tuesday I went on a 22 mi ride on the Hurricane rim trail. Pretty fun and the next day we went on a hike in Zion. On the drive back, Lila's face was red and I was feeling feverish... Sure enough we both started coughing and had 101-102F fevers... So I didn't get much endurance training in.

We came back Friday and Becky was going on a big ski Sat and Sunday with some friends but I still didn't feel very well so I did a shorter ski Sunday at Mill Creek. Hmmm I wonder if I can do the Traverse in two weeks.....

The weather continued to be very warm and all the snow in town melted. The high country began to turn to corn chowder snow, crust in the morning and slush soon after. Hmm maybe skate skis would work on top of the crust. Finally a big storm hit a few days before the race dumping about 30 inches of snow in the mountains and cooling things off a little. So no skate skiing.
Becky and I went through the list of stuff we would have to take and get our packs as light as possible. Go to for the whole list. My pack came it at 20.8 lbs with 6.5 lbs of water. Some serious racer's packs are about 14-15 lbs full. We went with light Nordic and x country skis. Becky had skate skis that she waxed and could classic ski pretty good in with combi boots. I had combi boots and classic skis.

Here's Becky--Not very big but very scrappy. So we headed to CB school at 10 pm, got a bag checked to go to Aspen, got our avalanche beacons checked and our medical tags that we had to wear over our necks. We headed down to a quiet end of the school to organize and get final prepartions. Here we are--I'm tucking in my shirt.

Becky's secret weapons: Becky then pulls out some Little Debbies Oatmeal Cream Pie Cookies and hands me a few. Then her ultra secret weapon that I am about to reveal now for the first time in a public forum.... A bag of crunched up bacon and a bag of potato chips... I stick the cookies in the top of my pack. She put the bacon and chips in her pack.
And then out to the start of the race. It was 25 in Gunnison at 10:00pm. The temperature at the start was probably 15-20 with light winds. I had my insulin and meter tucked in my pack by my hot water so hopefully it wouldn't freeze....

And here is the start--thanks Gunnison Country TimesAnd they're off!

For a overview from The Gunnison Country Times GO here

So off we went. The skies were clear and as we skated on the groomed track to the first climb up to Crested Butte Ski area... We quickly put on our narrow 3/4 length climbings skins. The trail was single track so we just climbed along with some others at a reasonable pace. We got to the base of the ski area where a bunch of people cheered us on. Then up the ski area--the trail widens here and to the top where we pulled off our skins and skied down some blue runs to the bottom of the East River lift. With wax on our skis, we were able to cruise smoothly to Brush Creek and on up. We could pass the skiers with AT gear. My wax was wearing thin so at Death Pass I put on my skins. Becky tried but her skins were too cold and wouldn't stick to her skis. She tucked them in her shirt and took off and I caught her after this crux area. Luckily she was able to put her skins on and we climbed steadily in the dark up to Friends Hut Check point--And no, they don't let you in the hut.
Becky was setting a good pace so I just followed and tried not to get hypnotized by the strange shadows in the dark. We finally got to Friends Hut check point about 4:30 in the morning. The temperature had dropped to around zero and the wind hit right at the hut. Some volunteers offered a cup of water as they were melting snow. I went out of the wind to check my sugar (123 so good to go) and put on another layer. Becky took off and I caught her out of the check pt. My hands were freezing as we climbed straight up the wind blown slopes with strong winds (>40mph?). You could see headlamps way up high through the blowing snow. My skins were just on the edge of holding me from sliding backwards. Becky was hard to keep up with! Finally about 3/4 of the way up, my hands began to warm in my heavier gloves and as they thawed, they began to hurt - ouch!
We reached the ridge to traverse across before dropping down to the pass. Becky began shivering so we got out of the wind as best we could and she put on another layer. It was still very dark out. I got her a Gu and we went to the check point. Time 5:50-still dark-12400ft-the leaders had come through around 4:45. The guy said, "Try and traverse right and then at the bottom there is a signal light. So down we went. Halfway across the STEEP traverse in our skinny skis we hit a large steep patch of ice. Becky said "look out for the ice." I said "OK" and promptly hit it and slid straight down upside down and backwards. Then we hit some nice deep powder. I was able to pretty much ski back and forth down the valley but Becky couldn't go quite as well with her skinnier skis. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that her waterbottle and the hose on her camelback had frozen solid so she was drinking from mine from this point. This issue would come back to haunt her.

We made it down and got passed by a couple groups (the 1st place girls team skied along with us for the next few miles...) The trail now slowly climbs up through a nice forest (Becky was in a state of bliss as she loved the peaceful quiet forest) up to Taylor Pass. The sky began to lighten. I tried to check my sugar along here but my meter was too cold and wouldn't work. I ate some more as I felt low on fuel trying to keep up with ubber Becky.. We got to Taylor Pass and the sun began to come up. The winds picked up so we put back on our wind cold weather gear. We got passed by a few more groups through here as we began to slow a little.
The Elk Mountains (several 14000 ft peaks) were beautiful in the early morning light. The climb up and over the several climbs in the wind were slow and tedious. We hit a narrow snow mobile track and steep down hill with woop de doos. Also very fun on skinny skis.
We got to Barnard Hut check point and Becky was starting drag as she was feeling the lack of water. I was starting to feel the affects of eating too much so I took some insulin. We took off our skins and put on kick wax. Becky got some water from a student that was at the station. Here we had to wait 10 minutes to make sure we were fit to continue. The trail now is a narrow snowmobile track for 7mi to Aspen Mt. It is really a pain to ski on as it has woop de doos and several long slow climbs. We just took off our skis and hiked. Becky was slowing more and more. I wasn't feeling terrible at this point. At one point, we were skate sking on a flatter section and she fell flat on her face. Her avalanche beakon drove under her rib cage with her full pack on her back. I heard a loud "oomph". This fall would come back to haunt her....

We finally got to the top of Aspen Mountain ski area and hooked some shoe laces to our ski bindings and legs--you have to have leashes to go down. And down we went. Becky, being dehydrated and tired, couldn't ski down hill as well as at Crested Butte so she sat on her ski tails and slid down. I skied back and forth with her and we reached the finish at 12:04..... We finished in 26th place out of 140 teams. 37 didn't make it. We got our beer cups and a hug from the race organizer. They gave us the "most classey finish" as they could see Becky sliding for quite a ways down. Then Becky dissapeared.
I sat in the warm sun and looked for her. Finally the race announcer asked me to come to the food tent where I found her hung over a trash can trying to drink some Powerade with a medical person next to her. He asked if she wanted an IV. I told her to but she decided to go out and try to drink more. She really looked awful. Finally she changed in the bathroom and saw herself in the mirror and decided maybe she should get some IV fluids. A couple of bags later and she was good to go. My sugar was still high so I took some more insulin and had some beer. We crashed at a friend's house in Aspen and back to Gunnison Sunday. We found a ride back with Chase and Rooks--a couple of fine young Gunni boys. On the drive back we had Crunched up bacon and chips.... Apparently bacon is hard to eat with gloves on....
Monday Becky's crash on her stomach was hurting more. They did some tests and wanted to take out her gall bladder as they thought it was ruptered. She decided for some more tests and found it to only be badly bruised so she got to keep it!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crested Butte Alley Loop 2009

Winter just seems to fly by in the high mountain valley of Gunnison, CO... Harumph! OK so maybe it drags on a bit but that keeps the yahoos away and the snow here.... We stay in shape here by skiing. Nordic, backcountry, and at the ski areas. The last big nordic ski race I did was the Alley loop 42 ski marathon on Feb 6th 2009. It always seems that this race is way too early and I haven't got enough miles under my belt to finish the last 8-9 miles with some kick.

This year we drove up to Crested Butte around 8 in the morning. The ski was clear and it was cold. In CB it was -10 or so... But pretty nice in the morning sunshine. Lila was going to do a 1K kids race on the track through town but got freaked out when she saw all the people and skis and everything.. So we picked up my number and goody bag and hers as we had already paid. The race goes through the streets and alleys of CB and then out on a big loop north of town. The kids race started and then the longer adult races.

Here we go! There I am in the middle just behind Dave Wiens--This is how he stays in shape for Mt biking.

So off we went. Again on a race like this It's pretty fast paced and there is no time to check blood sugars--especially as you would have to take off your poles and then gloves and then have someone with all your stuff so it wouldn't freeze. I basically ate a gu every lap or so. Every lap was a little under an hr for three laps. I ended up doing pretty well even though I did lose some time on the last lap as usual but not as bad as sometimes. Anne, Lila and Julian had gone down to a friends house to play with a bunch of kids. I told her I was hoping to finish in 2.5 hrs so she was to come back around then. And Lo I finished in 2:33 a PB... And Anne and Julian got there just as I finished.... On races like this I have a hard time drinking enough so we went back down to our friends house and I was very nauseous and felt like barfing but I toughed it out and after a couple of bottles of Pedialite baby electrolyte I was golden... Now time to bike???

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ski season!

Well ski season is off! So this year I didn't get a down hill pass as it just takes to much time driving and waiting in lines. I did get a pass at our local run next to town--Cranor hill and have been skiing with Lila. She is figuring out how to stand up and crash right now. Crashing is very important in this sport. She is also taking cross country lessons in town with a winter Olympian.

I have been trying to skate ski a bit for the Alley Loop Nordic marathon 42K race in Crested Butte. Not necessarily to try and win but to make the pain less. But then again the pain is always there because then you just go faster until you reach the same level of discomfort. Maybe I can do it in 2:30 this yr.....If I'm lucky.

I did a 20 K classic race 1/17/08 and did OK. 12th behind some pretty fast guys. I was pretty tired as I hadn't done this style of skiing much. Yesterday was a 20K skate race in CB. I was 5th just behind one guy. Some of the fast guys didn't show.....Just a bit tired. Next week a 30K race in Gunnison and then the Alley Loop and then I may try a 50K race, the Super tour in CB and maybe a 12hr ski race in CB.