Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some CGM results and how to fix your reed switch in your wireless computer.

I've just completed my third week of using the Dexcom 7 continuous glucose meter. So far the values are mostly in the ballpark with my glucose meter. At least within 20%. Which is OK for the most part. And it is mostly continuous. As you can see below in the nighttime plot for this day sometimes when I apparently am turned one way it misses some readings.

The next two plots also confirm interesting trend that I was thinking may have been happening before I got the CGM. The first plot I went to bed with a reasonable level of 160ish. Then it jumped around a little bit and drops until morning. Most nights it stays pretty constant though. I ate breakfast and it rises and then drops until lunch. This is all good.

Now the second plot.... My sugar was a little high at bed so I took a small amount of Humalog along with the Lantus. This seems to happen even if I take the tiniest bit of Humalog at the same time I take Lantus. I have more plots that look just like this when I took Humalog.... The sugars drop and stay at a constant low level all night pretty much. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out my name when I finally wake up. And then when I eat (even a light breakfast) the glucose shoots through the roof even with extra insulin after breakfast. This plot is actually higher than my other meter read on this day but the point is still clear. Notice that it also takes a long time to drop back down.

So after looking several different nights data..... The key is to not take any Humalog with Lantus at night and try to go to bed with a level of around 150. And hope I can wake up in the morning.


OK so I got a Garmin Edge GPS cyclocomputer. It basically does everything. Tells you heartrate, cadences, speed, position, altitude, maps your ride etc etc. The weak link? OK other than leaving it in your pocket and washing it.... It worked for a month or two then died. I sent it in and they gave me a new one for a fee. They didn't tell me what killed it but probably the washing. So anyway the real flaw is shown below in the speed/cadence sensor. The speed sensor picks up a signal from a magnet attached to the spokes to give better speed data if you are in thick trees or whatever and don't have a good GPS signal.

On the little arm that pokes out and can be adjusted to get it close to the magnet on the spokes is a reed switch attached to a small circuit board. This is a cool little thing in itself and is shown below. As the magnet passes it it creates a connection and completes a circuit which then sends a signal to the computer to compute speed. A similar circuit collects cadence data.
So what happened to mine and what is the flaw. The reed switch is a glass tube filled with inert gas. So it makes sense that the last time this thing worked was just before I bumped the sensor and it got whacked by the magnet. When I took it out the glass was shattered.

So the key to opening up your GCS 10 it to take a chisel or something and carefully split it open on the seam. I left it attached to the cadence part to help stabilize it. Then I just pulled the plastic back to reveal the switch attached to small circuit board and pulled it out.

The next step is to find an old computer that broke and can be cannibalized. I had just the thing--pays to be a pack rat--on the broken one below. So I soldered the board below to my unit and slipped it in.

And here I am slipping it in. One thing I noticed was that this reed switch had a bunch of glue all over it to not only keep it stuck but I think to keep the glass from breaking as easily as it was completely encased in the plastic.

I hooked it all up. Tested it out by passing a magnet past it and the little test light on the sensor flashed green. Good to go! So I slipped it in pushed the cover over stopped working. Damn!
I thought the little circuit boards were close enough in size but this one was just a hair longer and it broke when I pushed it in. Damn! Luckily I had another old sensor that took apart. I soldered that reed switch on to the original board and tested it out. This one had some rubber between it and it's circuit board to keep it from breaking as easily.... If only Garmin would have put something in there to keep it from breaking so easily. If you look around on line or forums there a lot of these things breaking! So I put this one in and it fit nicely and all the electronics tested out. So now get out the epoxy and.... Damn epoxy has gone bad..

Time to get out the other epoxy and mix it up on the seed catalog....

Now spread the epoxy on the arm and press back together and clamp to cure. And let's see how long this fix works. By the way a new GCS10 goes for $37 with free shipping on You can also buy a reed switch here for $1.50 + SH if you didn't keep parts around.

So the moral to this story. Don't get your sensor too close to the spoke magnet and save all those old cycle computer parts when they break. And thank your spouse profusely for letting you solder and epoxy on the kitchen table.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 km classic ski race and Dexcom 7 CGM update. And everyone is an expert!

This morning Becky left a post on my Facebook wall. "You doing the race in CB? Give me a call." So Yeah I was thinking about it. What time did we start? I hadn't classic skied this year but had put some wax on my skis last night. I was planning on skiing somewhere today so why not? It's only 10K or 6.2mi.

This is day 3 of using a continuous glucose meter. The Dexcom 7. It takes a reading every five minutes from a electrochemical probe stuck into my belly and taped then taped on. It is pretty small and I got used to it pretty fast. You are supposed to be able to stay in water for 30 min and up to 3 ft deep. So you can take shower. It lasts for 7 days before you replace the probe that goes into the skin. The transmitter part works for 12-18mo before the battery runs down and clips into a new probe. Here I am modeling the transmitter.

And here is the receiver. You have to keep it around 5 feet from your belly to get the signal. I have to say it could some improvements. It is a bit big--especially compared to other things like my GPS that can receive signals from a HR meter, cadence, wheel (for speed when GPS is not good) and even a power meter, or a cell phone that can do a bunch of stuff as well. It has a clip that hooks it to your belt but it could be better... You can also input when you eat and how many carbs, when you exercise, if you are sick and alarms for high/low readings and for fast rate of change high or low. IT DOES NOT COME WITH AN ATTACHMENT FOR A BIKE! It is also not easy to view when you are skiing.

As you may be able to see in this picture that you can see an arrow showing a rate of change and the current reading. The readings for the most part seem to be in the ballpark of my One Touch meter. You can enter the meter readings into it to calibrate it and you have to do it at least every 12 hrs. It also has a plot of the readings of time vs blood glucose level for 1, 3, 6, 12 and 24 hrs. One thing that bugs me is that the y-axis is stuck at 400. I wish you could show it to only 250 maybe or have it auto scale. It just makes your data hard to evaluate as it is all scrunched up at the bottom. You can download it all to the computer to get a better look at it.

What have I learned from it so far? Well, at night and after dinner it is very interesting to see what my values do. They tend to be real flat and can drop to lower values than I would like. I was kind of just guessing blindly in this area before the meter. And during the day, I could check it anytime but it gives you a much better idea of what is going on. Some things that so far I knew. When I do something like a ski race or x-country or bike, my sugar drops steadily and I have to eat regularly. When I play hockey, it just starts going up and after the game it just keeps going up and up.....

So back to the ski race. It started at 10 so I went and picked Becky up at 8:45. My sugar was a bit low in the morning and when it is, after I get up my body dumps out a bunch of sugar so it gets high. So we checked into the race and got our kick wax dialed. At the beginning of the race, I was putting my receiver into my chest pocket so I could look at the changes in glucose afterwards. A guy I took a ski clinic with saw it and asked if I was texting someone. It kind of looks like a phone which is good so you don't have to explain it all the time. I said no, I'm type 1 diabetic and it's a meter. He said, "You're in good company with Kris Freeman" Kris is Type 1 Olympic skier. Another lady says, "You should really go gluten free." and she then continues to go on and on that my sugars would be much better controlled if I was gluten free. So blogs are officially where you can tell people that they are crazy if you can't get a word in edgewise during the situation.... So I never told her that i WASN'T gluten free. Which I'm not. I like bread. And she didn't know if I was type 1 or type 2. I was thinking "Oh let's take out YOUR pancreas and you can test it ALL out.... I tried to tell her that there were many variables to living without a functioning pancreas and that it would be interesting to see if gluten free was a way to go. But she cut me off and huffily said "You should really go gluten free" and skied off.

So I went back to the end of the line up of skier to grab my skis and tighten my boots and then they started the race as I was still getting I was near the back. I just passed a bunch of people and settled in behind a girl that was pretty fast and we cruised along. My skis were gliding well and the kick wax was working pretty well. The course was not really hilly and it was around 23F with just a little wind. We turned to come back and she made me lead and we made it to the finish. I was a bit tired and some muscles that hadn't been used since I skied last year were a bit sore. Not too bad. I switched to skate skis and skied for a while more and headed back to Gunni.

A good day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New gizmos and too much Fe?

Over the past few years I've been going to the health fairs and getting my blood drawn and tested for normal type things as it was covered by work and then getting the optional A1C. In this tiny town it is faster then going to the hospital after getting the Dr note. So a few years ago a couple of the tests starts coming back high. The iron tests. I just assumed that it was probably because I exercise a lot at high altitude or something.

In an effort to 1) get lower A1C values (better blood glucose control. It wasn't terrible but not super duper.) and 2) check out if I could improve my glucose in racing I decided to try a continuous glucose meter, or CGM. I decided that the Dexcom 7 seemed pretty good as it has the smallest transmitter and worked pretty well. These meters are not quite as accurate as the One touch meter that I use but pretty close. For example it doesn't really matter if it is really 200 and it is reading 215.... The CGM measures glucose every 5 minutes so it can show you if it is falling or rising fast or slow or on a level track--which is handy. So to get the meter I had to have the Dr clear it and while I was doing that I dropped off the old test results that I had not given them to add to the files. The PA that I know pretty well was putting the results in and talked to me about the possibility that I may have a condition called hemochromatosis. It's basically a problem where you absorb too much iron and the body has a hard time getting rid of it and after many years it causes some serious problems... One of which it diabetes. Well don't have to worry about that... But it also causes the liver among other organs to not work. The main thing you have to do is give blood pretty regularly... So he had me taking some more tests. Now as it stands I am going to see a hematologist next week and may have a milder form of hemochromatosis. Or maybe not. Anyway it's genetic so if you are related to me by blood you may want to get checked out.

Wednesday night the CGM came and I've been testing it out for the past day. So how does it work? I would have to say the sensor that goes in the belly is pretty small and not too noticeable. the receiver that picks up the signal is a bit large and doesn't come with a bike mount. It has been showing pretty accurate readings. I have to say I have been testing my sugar quite a bit to check it and looking a the meter a lot. I has shown some things that I have seen but gives some real data. I had a hockey game tonight and I have had problems where as I play and afterward my sugar will be high. And sure enough as I sit here an hour after playing it starts to go up and up. During hockey the transmitter did rub against my breezers as they come up pretty high. But not too bad. I just left my receiver on the bench. It has a five foot range and sends a signal every five minutes so as long as I stood nearby it seemed to pick up most of the time.

Well more on the meter and my possible hemochromatosis later.... Now just one more week of school and then time for some skiing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Vapor Trail 125 2010 Part 3 Ride and Ride Some More

OK so the race was two months ago - I'd better finish it up!

When we last left our heroes, we had just left the second aid station, the sky was beginning to lighten and I was in 4th place. Really? I was just trying to survive this race. I was really nervous that I wouldn't be able to climb back out of Starvation Gulch. Also on my mind was dealing with the whole insulin thing. I ate a bit at the Aid station and had taken some insulin. But there was the problem. Sometimes insulin works too fast if you take it while exercising so I didn't take that much. And I was starting to feel not so fresh. Legs moving slower. A few miles down the road from Snowblind campground Aid, I turned left and began the climb up Old Monarch Pass. The pass isn't super steep--6-8% grade with smooth packed sand but can seem to climb forever for nine miles--especially if it's your first time after riding all night. Luckily I knew this road well as we rode it many times to access the epic Agate Creek trail or to just ride it after doing Canyon Creek. Below is a map of this section.

As I began the climb, the sun began to hit the high ridges and many of the trees were yellow. I was purposely not pushing it really hard and low and behold a single speed caught me halfway up. These climbs really were well suited for a single speed as they weren't really steep and the single speed is a lighter bike in general. 3/4 of the way up I stopped to check my sugar as I wasn't feeling great and it was a little high. Then at the top (~11,400') I stopped to check my sugar at the view point looking back west toward Gunnison. Then two more riders passed me. Me worry. Well maybe a little but ya gotta listen to the legs and body and I still had a long way to go. I hopped back on the bike and hit the single track that connects us with Monarch Pass where the highway goes over and the Monarch Crest trail starts. Here I pulled into the aid station and flopped down in some chairs in full sun at the Aid Station. The crew working this station made me feel like I was a celebrity pulling into some grand hotel in Aspen. They took my bike. Offered to pull off my lights, get me food, get my bag, oil my chain, etc, etc. I hung out here for a few minutes as I was loosing steam and needed a few minutes to regroup. I put on a short sleeve jersey and dropped some more ballast. I had two spare tires. I dropped to one and a can of air. No jacket. One water bottle. I forgot to put some more chamois creme on--Oh well.

So now 3 guys had passed me so that put me in 7th place. Still I'd be happy to just finish. I grabbed some banana bread and some sandwich and a Coke. And low and behold, Tim who I'd been riding with in the wee morning hours shows up. We chatted and I decided after a good long lingering break to get a move on. And then I had to visit the restroom for some business in the souvenir shop. Here Tim not knowing it, passed me as he thought I was riding on. So now I moved back to 8th place. I came out and started up the Crest Trail.

The Crest trail is an epic ride. Single track that follows the high ridge line (nearly 12,000ft) above treeline for about 10 miles to Marshall pass.

The trail starts off with a good little climb of about 700 ft overall. Normally when I ride this this isn't a big deal but today I was feeling this section. I caught some a few tourist groups and normally would have blasted past but today I inched by them--OK maybe not that slow but not with any authority. As usual, the fun single track took my mind off everything else and the miles went by fast. Finally the trail descends quickly down to Marshall pass. As I was cruising down, a small fly-like bug got around my sunglasses and went into my eye. As bugs smash in your eye, they release lots of things that make your eyes sting. I had to stop and try to get it out. Then I rode the rest of the way down to the aid station and tried to see if I could see it in a truck mirror. No luck. Eye burning I headed down the road to Starvation Creek--my nemesis. This trail climbs up a few hundred feet and then drops 1500-2000 ft or so on a narrow single track that isn't easy at all.

My inner animal. Emerged. The fly that lodged in my eye had apparently become part of me. I had become the "Superfly!" Like Spiderman got bit by the spider and took on spider powers I had adsorbed the fly and now had superfly powers. Just like my bike! As I was climbing the jeep road to the start of the single track I found Tim dazzed thinking he had taken a wrong turn. He was even more confused when he saw me because he thought he was behind me. I assured him that this was the correct way and we climbed to the top and flew down the rough trail as it followed the small Starvation Creek. As I emerged on the road that would take us back up, a lady, with her, I presumed, mother and daughter was yelling and screaming and jumping up and down to cheer us on. I went across the log over the creek and she offered some food. I said sure and Tim kept going up the steep road. She had some blessed Nutterbutters and Pringles. Her alleged mother also gave me some eye drops for the fly in my eye. As I was eating Pringles another guy came blasting off the trail and not even saying hi started up the road. Tarnations, I was in 9th place now! I thanked the kind lady and said I must be off! I began climbing and soon caught Tim and then one of the guys that had passed me way back on Old Monarch pass. Finally on the top sections, I caught the guy who had passed with out saying hi at the bottom. The Superfly powers now truly evident as I passed the aid station again and they were amazed at how fast I had come back by. Now we just had 30mi of sweet single track with some short steep climbs but mainly a lot of downhill. And then 10mi or so on the highway back to Salida.

So I had passed three guys so I was back in 6th place. Who hoo. This section has a couple of steep sections right off the bat. So I just had to get over these to hit the fun downhills. This is also notorious for flats. You're going really fast. Lots of sharp rocks. And I didn't have much for fixing flats.

I hit the Silver Creek trail that drops down to the Rainbow trail. I was have a great time. My superfly powers were giving me energy and I was feeling really pretty good. The guy that was just behind me did unfortunately catch me on the descent. I let him pass and moments later he hit a rock (haste makes waste) and had to fix his tire. Didn't see him again. I just kept on ripp'n. Then there is one more "aid" station as you get to the Rainbow trail. The nice nutter butter/Pringle lady showed up again. I had some more nutterbutters and some Dintymore beef stew. Then off down some more single track with a few short painfully steep climbs. No problems just fun all the way to the highway.

I hit the highway and dropped down on my bars and put it into the biggest gear. A tailwind hit. I started down 6% grade going as fast as I ever had. I kept looking for the other single speeder that had passed me on Old Monarch. There was no way he could go anywhere my speed. I hit the right turn for the last 5 miles back to Salida. And a couple of miles there he was. Spinning his cranks as fast as he could. I flew by and said sorry he didn't have any gears. He was in good spirits.... And finally I reached the end in 5th place and just under 16hrs. Not too bad for survival mode and all the stops I took along the way.

No sign of Jordan--my ride back. I hung out and tried to find him. The race also included beer and BBQ afterwards so I ate and waited for Jordan. Finally after quite a while, someone remembered that Jordan told them that he was going back with Keith Fisher (a friend that was checking out the race but had gone up the wrong route so I missed him) at Snowblind and I should drive his truck back. Now if I could just remember where his spare keys were. I had asked him as we rode out of town but in the night hadn't really paid attention. I had a guy at Absolute Bikes look after I looked a few times. I should say those guys were really good guys... Anyway after the tenth time, I finally found the key and headed back to Gunni.

Technology? I finally got my cell phone out of the truck and called Anne. She had just talked to Dave as she walked home from the library and he told her that Jordan came back with Keith. Then he called me as Anne was telling me this to let me know that Jordan was back as I had the bike shop call him to see if Jordan had made it down Canyon creek. Also on my phone was a message from my mom. She had been watching the GPS trackers that showed our position on the Internet. Unfortunately a few lead guys didn't have theirs working (some or not at all). And she was sure that I had won and told all her friends. So I had to break the news that I was 5th. I then drove back to Gunnison. Only slightly tired.....

Until next year--"Superfly" out!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vapor Trail 125 2010 Part 2 Into the light.

When we last left our heroes......they were headed into the dark side.

We hit the gravel road and began to climb. Here it was crucial to keep the pace fast enough but not so fast as to blow up later on. We did have another 120 miles or so to go.... Many people had turned their headlights down low or had turned them off and were poaching others light. I alternated between my head lamp and handlebar lamp just 'cause I like pushing buttons. The map and profile below show this section up to the first single track. We had about 14 mi at about 4% average grade. I just rode along behind people as much as I could as there was a bit of a headwind and why not save some energy. Several riders were already jockeying for position and going to fast but let 'em. I finished this section at 11:31ish (it says 11:41 on the results page but I think they entered it incorrectly) Click on the picture to see it bigger. As we approached the single track I pulled my leg warmers up and tucked them in as I had them pulled down. I also put on my warm gloves. It was a nice and cool temperature and very comfortable.

At the single track beginning, some guys were waiting and getting our numbers as we went through. Here it began to spread out quite a bit. It was very fun and fast single track with some really rocky sections and some steep switchbacks and stream crossings. The lights were great and I was really going pretty fast. I ended up riding with Tim on his big single speed from Crested Butte here and there on this trail. Towards the end we were rippin and he missed the trail as it turned on a road and went to the aid station. We went across the road and kept on the Colorado Trail. We eventually hit a road and no trail markers. We were pretty sure we were in the top 5 riders as we looked around and retraced our steps. And sure enough we found everyone. We just lost a little time. Tim was very apologetic and I think felt bad especially after I berated him and thoroughly let him have it in front of everyone. Well actually he did feel bad but it was as much my fault as his as I wasn't watching but just following. He got me a beer at the end so all was forgiven. As can be seen, we actually dropped a bit of elevation on this section and there were several steep hike-a-bike sections. According to the official results, we pulled in at 3:20 am or 5:20 into the race.

At the aid station, there were breakfast burritos, Oreos, hammer gels, water, Gatorade and fruit salad. I had a few Oreos, Gatorade and a little fruit. I also tossed some gels in my shorts under the elastic on my thighs. All the usual suspects were here. Jordan, Kerkove, Stubbe...... At this point, we followed the old railroad grade up Chalk Creek. The map below shows that this section that I would finish in the dark at 6:12 in the morning was long, at high elevation and had long downhills (single track).

The first part of the old railroad grade was again about 4% grade but seemed to go on forever. I passed Jordan and he didn't look good. He concurred that he didn't feel good. He would drop at the next aid station at Snowblind campground. I rode with the CB boys Tim and Matt here and there eventually dropping them. Finally we neared the Alpine Tunnel. At this point, the trail deteriorated and had old rail ties (I guess) laid across the trail to preserve it and make it bumpy. The Alpine Tunnel is now impassable so you have to climb up over the ridge that separates it from the other side. Now it is very steep and you hike. I stopped and checked my blood sugar and put on my wind jacket. I decided not to put on my balaclava or head band yet. The hike was good place to turn down my headlamp and check out the stars. Very cool in the wee hours. Finally I reached the top and rode down to the other portal on the very steep rocky singletrack. This began the sections of trail that I had ridden. I knew most of these very well. I actually didn't recognize the trail down as the descent until I got to the old wooden turntable and railroad building. For railroad buffs this is actually really cool as they have preserved many old structures including a water tower on the road up. The road now drops along a very cool work of engineering. In the daylight you can check out a rock wall built in the 1880s that holds the old railroad grade in place. The wall is several hundred feet high and was put up by hand. We turned to the left towards Tomichi pass. This road is steep and rocky. Lots of ATV traffic here--in the daytime anyway. So it was a grunt up to the 800 ft or so to 11900. I could see a few lights ahead of me but really had no idea of what place I was in. I knew several people were going harder than they should and could be hurting. It was also starting to get colder. Tomichi Pass summit was welcome. Now I had a huge advantage as I knew the next trail, Canyon Creek, very well. We descended the pass for about 1/3 of a mile and 150 ft. Here you take the single track and basically hike/carry your bike up VERY rugged trail up 800ft to 12,600 ft. I passed a couple of guys climbing here that didn't know the trail and it was getting in their heads as they thought that it may just go on forever. At the top at around 4:00am, I turned off my lights for a minute to take it all in. It was still very dark. There to the south was Orion not quite standing upright. I thought of Lila and Julian sleeping in their beds with the Orion constellation that we had made with glow-in-the-dark stars on the southern wall. They were nice and warm. I was just about to head down about 3500' of screaming single track in the dark.

Down I headed. The trail at the top is steep and tricky with some rocks that could send you into the abyss (especially in the dark). I caught a guy from Fort Collins that I had talked to on the way up. He still had his shorts on--no warmers. I tried to ask how he was doing as he was having some hard time negotiating the trail. I said he'd better put something on-I knew as we dropped it was just going to get colder. It did but I never felt that bad. Some riders afterwards had said their water had frozen and one guy said he had to get wrapped in a blanket and jump at the aid station. I saw some frost on the ground here and there. The trail was fast. The big 29in wheels were eating up the trail, I knew all the tricky spots, and I had both lights on high. Utterly fast and sweet.

About 6 miles or halfway down, I passed a "horse camp" where an outfitter takes people. The trail turns and the single track is not quite as steep and sandier as you drop. Near the end my headlamp began to lose charge. I saw a headlamp in front of me and began to chase it down. Then I slipped into a long puddle that had formed next to a log that was parallel to the trail. My right ankle hit the log and was nicely twisted. I tried to walk on it and then pedal on it and it hurt too bad to put much weight on. I just got back on my bike and "rode it off." After a few minutes I was able to move it again. The light got up the last hill a ways however. I climbed this short 300' climb and then rode the descent where my headlamp died altogether (I still had my handle bar mounted light working) to the aid station at Snowblind campground.

Dave Wiens has been manning this aid for several years. The light that I had seen had just come in ahead of me--I later found out it was Max Nuttleman. He used to live in CB and I knew him pretty well but I didn't recognize him at the aid station. I sat down and demanded a pancake. I had a pancake and some peanut butter and jelly bagel. Now if I could've eaten the bagel that Dave had dropped at Leadville 100 and OCHS from CB had sold on Ebay for $860, I would've been really good to go.

I checked my glucose again and it looked fine. I took some insulin as the bagel was big. Dave said I was doing well and in 4th place. Really? He also asked if I had seen Stubbe. I said not since the first aid and I had assumed he was ahead of me. He had dropped early for some reason.
It was a bit surreal at the aid as it was dark and cold. Some teenage guys were just milling around the table not really doing much, a lady was helping and Dave's son Cooper was running around in a big fuzzy bathrobe shooting a foam dart gun. I hung out for quite a little while as I was feeling a bit off-almost like I had just ridden all night. I got going and pulled out of the aid. There was the guy from Fort Collins that I had seen at the top. He looked disoriented as I pointed him in the right direction to the aid (he didn't make it any farther than this). I then rode down the smooth road towards Old Monarch Pass with one light as the sun began to lighten the sky.

Stay tuned as we ride into the light and the classic Monarch Crest trail.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Vapor Trail 125 2010 The Race Part 1

Riding all night and most of the next day, riding in below freezing temperatures at 12,600 feet in the night, riding 125mi on a mountain bike, lots of climbing-somewhere in the 20,000 ft vicinity, and miles of single track that are known to destroy tires. These are all things sum up the Vapor Trail 125. And I have to say the whole dropping down 4000 feet from 12,600 feet with below freezing temperatures was perplexing me as well. I hate to get my feet cold. And then how to juggle the insulin with a race this long. And oh yeah a headlamp that would last 8+hrs and light the technical single track lit only by stars.....

Anne was much more worried than me. I think she had visions of me in the crashing in the dark on the side of a mountain freezing. OK that could happen... Or who knows what else. I think the whole thing overwhelmed her. I thought my other adventures would have smoothed it over a bit. I guess not. Maybe she could sense my nervousness about it....

So I'd been thinking about this race for a while. Of course friends from Gunnison have been doing it and it grew on me. Wiens had done it a few years ago and spoke of it with awe in his voice. Which is something, considering the races he's done. Others like Jason Stubbe and Jordan Carr had done if a few times and survived. My real problem was that we are always back in school for a few weeks before this started and I had been burned out from doing Leadville 100 so riding had tapered and I didn't have lights. So this year I sent in my resume since I originally didn't plan on Leadville. Yes to do this race you have to be invited or send in a bike resume. I emailed Absolute bikes and sent in a resume. I put Dave Wiens, Brian Riepe and Jason Stubbe as references. I wonder if they called any of them. Brian and Jason are incredible athletes (and Dave of course) that I knew pretty well... So anyway they let me in.Then once you get accepted you downloaded the entry form. This basically consisted of you putting your name, town and a haiku with crayon. So here's my haiku.

ATVs asleep
Iron horse in my minds eye
So good rainbows end

I thought it was very symbolic as around Pitkin where we would be at 2-3 am is chock full of ATVs and they would all be sleeping. Then we go over the alpine tunnel (a closed railroad tunnel from 1880s at 11,500ft) and then the rainbow trail is the last trail before we hit blacktop back to Salida. I didn't win....

So like I just mentioned riding long rides during this time of year can be difficult. A week before the race I did get a chance to go over and ride some of the course for a long day. Other than that all my rides were close to an hour with a few 2-3 hr rides thrown in.

Gear preparation.
For the week before the race I threw all of my bike clothes including some of my winter ski gear into a pile that migrated from the mudroom floor to the kitchen floor and back to the counter in the mudroom and finally back to the kitchen floor. I decided to wear my wooley socks, winter bike gloves, shorts with legwarmers, my very old long sleeve jersey, a vest, a wind jacket, and my windstopper Nordic ski jacket. I had a warm skull cap that I had ridden with only a few weeks before but I still can't find after emptying every cupboard in the house. So for my head I threw in a balaclava and a headband. My 1990s era leg warms would not stay up anymore, my helmet broke the day before the race and I needed a new tire. So I had to hit the bike shops. I also had to get lights. Luckily I have friends with killer lights. Matt Burt loaned me his and I rode a few times early to check em out. Then I hooked up with Brian R and got a couple of super killer Lupine lights. Man, these things were bright. And turned on low for the climbs they should easily last the whole night. Which tires? It killed me to think of riding 125mi with very heavy tires but I had had a lot of flats on races this year so on the heavy ones went. A couple of Bontrager 29in tires. The front was a new one with some killer tread for the killer single track. The final item was a blinking red light for the roads out.

Word on the street was that the aid stations would be stocked with everything from Oreos to Dinty Moore beef stew to Wiens' pancakes. So I decided I would take enough Power bars and Gu's to make it most of the way to the second aid station about 8 hrs into the race. Don't wanna run out when you're taking insulin...

Saturday Sept 11 race day.
I got a ride with Jordan over to Salida at 6pm with Jason in the car behind. We pulled into Salida and went to Absolute bikes. It has a coffee shop attached to it with a door directly into it. We got our numbers and Spot GPS trackers. You didn't have to wear the tracker but I did so Anne could hopefully see me move so she could tell I was alive. The only problem was that sometimes the signal wouldn't get picked up and it would look like I hadn't moved in a while and other peoples' weren't working so it was hard for her and my family to track who was actually in the lead. After getting my Camelback set and my drop bag thrown in the truck up to Monarch pass for the daylight hours, I went into the coffee shop and watched the open mic night and and had some espresso. I hung out with a few Crested Butte boys, Matt S (I mainly know him as the guy that I can beat up the hill but is crazy fast going down), Tim, Chris (Ezster H's boyfriend/husband?). And finally at the table was the girl who was giving out Kep's pollen balls and also Kep's sister. A great group. I ended up seeing the Matt and Tim during the race more than others. So at 9:00 we had a short prerace meeting and then we headed down to the bridge on the main drag and lined up for the 10pm start.

There were a surprising number of people out to cheer us on as we followed a police car out of town. We cruised along at a very moderate pace to keep everyone together. As we rode, several deer tried to cross the road in front of us. We had to stay as a group to cross highway 285 outside of town a few miles and then we hit a dirt road and it was game on. Stay tuned for Part 2. Into the dark side.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vapor Trail 125 2010

Well at least I have something fun to do today. Aunt in NYC is remembering 9-11 again, Sister in NZ just had major earthquakes and their house will need some work...

Why did I sign up for this again?? The Vapor Trail is definitely the hardest race (probably) I've ever tried. As I write this, the race will begin tonight, 9-11-2010, at 10:00 in Salida, CO. It is 125 mi and climbs up into the mountains to the west over such passes as the alpine tunnel, Tomichi pass (followed by Canyon Creek singletrack trail topping out at 12600ft), then on to Old Monarch pass (a smooth road with a good 6-7% grade. Then onto the new Monarch Pass followed by the famous Crest trail to Marshall pass. At Marshall pass is a cruel joke to send us down 2000ft of the narrow and technical Starvation creek then back up the dirt jeep road to Marshall pass again. Now onto the Famous extension of the Crest-- the Rainbow Trail and back to Salida.... 18-20,000ft of climbing depending on who's data you use and most is above 10,000 ft.

So here's my bike for the adventure. The Superfly 100. Should be fast enough. I do have tires that are quite a bit heavier than for Leadville as there are many rocky sections. The Crest is notorious for flats. I mainly don't want to have to change one in the coooold at 12000 ft in the dark! Will be below 20F for a good while until the sun comes up.

Yes our tomatoes froze behind the bike. We took the cover off too soon a few days ago.

A week before now I had noticed a small crack in the seat tube.... The trek rep said it wasn't life threatening so I could ride it but they would send a new frame anyway. OK it won't break...
I rode Signal peak behind campus the other night to check out my lights I had borrowed from Mr Mountain Flyer, Brian Riepe. They are ridiculously bright but I still seem to get in a weird trans riding at night. So all was good going up the 1000 climb but then coming down near the bottom I hit a rock and blow out a side wall. then I notice my helmet strap has come loose from the helmet--still on my head just the back part that you tighten up is disconnected for good. Then I look up for a second almost at the end and hit a rock and crash really pretty hard. So now bruised knee, hip, and shoulder. Ouch... Hopefully the race will go better!

So at 6:00 I'll catch a ride over to Salida with Jordan Carr, who's done it a few times and I'll try to finish the race and maybe hang with the fast guys.

If you want to follow the race, they are hooking GPS trackers on us so there is live tracking click here at

Here are my possible times (mountain time) that I could do on a good day. I'm kind of guessing on these....

Aid station 1 at chalk lake at 30 mi 1:30 am
Aid 2 at Snowblind Camp Gnd (Dave Wiens don't let me stop) 6:30
Aid 3 Top of Monarch pass 8:30
Aid 4 Marshall pass 1 9:40
Aid 5 Marshall pass 2nd time 12:00
Finish 2:30 (16:30 hrs)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Leadville 100 2010 Part II

When I moved to Gunnison 14 yrs ago I fell in with a rough bunch of friends that like to ride bikes a long ways. Mostly we would just go on long rides at high altitudes. Then it got worse and now I'm signing up for races like Leadville. The caliber of athlete is amazing. I ran into Duncan Callahan today. He won the 100mi run in Leadville this past weekend. In Leadville I saw Ethan Passant who won the self supported Colorado Trail race. And then there's Wiens....

S0 now the big controversy the week before the race was, "Is Lance gonna be there?" There were sightings on the course and even reports that he would be there with Levi L. Then he said his hip was still sore from a crash in the tour and he would stay home.... Other big names showing? Dave Wiens, Levi L, JHK (Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski), Todd Wells, Jeremiah Bishop, Ned Overend, Matt Shriver of FLC, Travis Brown (broke his arm a few weeks before) and Tinker Juarez among others. Should be fun.

My crew, Anne and the kids, and I decided to head over Thursday afternoon so that we could beat the mad rush of 1300-1500 people trying to register for the race Friday morning. We had a house to stay at with some distant relatives of Anne--Thanks Nowakowskis!! We pulled into Buena Vista and the tire is shreded! So we unloaded the car, put the spare on and I went to go find a new tire while Anne and the kids played in the park.
Here I am doing the 5min tire change. Hope I don't have to change any more tires Saturday!
Here the crew in Leadville.

It was good that we had gotten in early as the next day after I got registered in the small gym the line outside grew several blocks long. There was to be a mandatory riders meeting later. It was so crowded I went to the park nearby and played with the kids. I couldn't have gotten in anyway. Tom Verry, the rest of the crew, showed up and we went on a short ride on the first part of the course while the kids went to the pool. The weather was very nice and supposed to be nice the next day.

Friday night we got everything sorted. Since I was 28th last year, I got to start up in the front. Woo Hoo! So Tom and I drove to the start Saturday at 5:30am. It was probably 35 F out and clear. I got a spot next to Dave's brother Brian and we chatted while Tom took pictures. Then all the big dogs showed up and lined up in front of us. Starting in front is soooo nice as trying to get around all the people that think they can go faster than they can and line up toooo far forward. And then they counted down and the shot guns went off and away we went. I usually just wear a vest but this year I wore a ORANGE jacket until the first climb. See if you can see me right behind the front in these two videos!

The start.... A guy's video I linked...

A little bit farther down the road.

As you may have been able to tell the pace was fast but not scary fast like last year with Lance. It was pretty mellow really until we turned up the first climb. Here I hooked up with Troy Hiatt a Gunnison fast guy, Rebbecca Rusch and some other guys. Last year I caught her towards the end. This year she crushed us. We rode as a group to the top of the Powerline climb. Then the girls took off a minute or two ahead and the guys rode as a group to the second aid station.

Here I am coming down the Powerline descent.
At twin Lakes, I saw Anne but no Tom. Got some more water and food. There were SOOO many people here it was just crazy. They were all cheering like crazy and taking up a lot of the road as I came over the dam. It felt like a Tour de France stage.... Crazy. I think they were still pumped as the lead pack wasn't too far ahead at this time.

Now we hit the BIG climb up to the Columbine mine at 12570 ft. Here we caught Ned Overend as he was relieving himself. He hopped on his bike and we rode up the lower stretches together. I asked how he was doing. I didn't want to say, "Man you must be hurting to be back here with me!" I later learned that he gave his wheel to Todd Wells after he crashed into Levi. Then I told him I used watch him kick butt back in my FLC days and then he started to speed up, or maybe I started to slow down. It's hard to tell.

Then I see JHK followed by Levi. Both in a tuck screaming down the mountain. JHK with his Superfly 29in wheels going just really really fast. Nice. Then Wells and Wiens a few minutes back. Then just as I hit the steeper sections who do I see but the Hot Dog guy. My scrappy friend Becky Sears knows this guy and he saw my number plate and insisted that I eat a hot dog. It didn't sound very good but I reached for one, grabbed it and as I brought it to my mouth it slipped and hit the ground. Darn err good?

So far the climb went OK not great just OK. I was getting some crazy cramps for a good bit of it but kept spinning until they passed and then came back. I finally get to the top, about the same time as last year and 10 min slower than two years ago. 1:38 of climbing. Now I turned around and rode back the way we came. I was going very fast and trying to make noise so the poor oxygen starved folk coming up would get back over on their side. Then I came around a corner and there is a truck stopped on the right and bikers on the left. I hit the brakes and slowed enough to get through.

Here I am coming back through Twin lakes. I had to stop and say hey. By the way that's Dave's dad in the back ground.

The rest of the race I just didn't feel real fast. Last year I began going faster and faster over the last 40 miles and passed a lot of people. This year with the heat and my lack of energy I was just trying to not get passed. I finally made it to the finish with out losing too much time. Just before the finish my tire started spraying Stans sealant and Garth Prosser, who I had been riding with, went on to finish a bit in front. Errg... Luckly the tire sealed itself pretty quickly and I didn't have to put in a tube. Here I am finishing. 8:17 in 44th place.

Dave came over to say hey afterward. His bro came in a few minutes ahead. Nice job Brian!
Afterward I was a bit dehydrated but after a little bit, I felt pretty good. We hung out with Susan D and she invited us down for Mexican food with the Wiens crew... The next day we went to the awards deal and got another big buckle. We stopped to get coffee for the ride home and ran into Travis Brown and Dave. They had raffled off two tickets into the race to raise $ for their trail organizations. Part of the prize was having coffee after the race. They'll do it next year too! I tried to get Travis to let me help him test bikes for Trek.... He helped get the Superfly that I rode dialed in for Trek by riding several prototypes.

Then we went back over Cottonwood Pass. Here is a picture of us on a little hike up there.

Oh yeah if you were curious about the whole diabetes thing.... I took 15 units of Lantus the night before and 5 units of humalog with pancakes at 5am and nothing else for the race. I was going to test my sugar half way but I didn't see Tom who had my meeter. No biggie. On the way back at mile 80 I ate extra food so I didn't have low sugar like I have in the past. At the finish my glucose was 170ish.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Leadville 100 2010 Part I

The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race this year did not unfold the way races like this usually do. First, I decided to try it again and so in January, I applied online and paid my $15 nonrefundable application fee. Then in February they send out emails telling if you got in or not. I didn't.

So that took some edge off how much I thought about training really seriously--not that I train really seriously. Living in one of the best places to ride mountain bikes, or road bikes for that matter, I would still go ride a good bit. I also told Anne that I would drive us to Minneapolis Minnesota to see her family where they were all getting together for a week. That is my secret weapon!

So the first races I decided to do were the Growler training series races at our local area called Hartman's Rock. They are short one hour races followed by pizza and beer that are training for the quite hard Gunnison Growler. The Growler is a 64 mi (70 mi actually) mountain bike race on mainly single track Memorial Day weekend. All of the races are put on by Gunnison fast guy Dave Wiens. Each race I got faster and more into mountain bike mode. Riding starts slow here as the snow doesn't melt until April in the lower areas here but I was in pretty good shape from nordic and back country skiing..

Coming off the Growler I felt pretty good and in descent shape. Now what bigger race should I try this summer? I finally decided that maybe the Vapor trail 125 might be interesting. It is 125 miles, starts at 10pm, climbs a ton and covers a lot of classic and hard single track at high elevations. So maybe I should go ride a bit....

July 5th I was riding old monarch pass and the classic Canyon creek trail and Dave W calls the house. Anne answers and he asks if I'm around. She say's I'm riding my bike. So then he asks if she minds if I do Leadville. She is a bit of a secret bike race fanatic I think. She likes watching me and helping but I think she really likes to watch the fast guys like Dave come through also. So I get back and I can tell something is up. Just have to call the office and I'm in. Hmmmm I'm sure I can do OK but it could be a little harder as the race is just a little over a month away and we have a solid 2+ weeks of travels planned. To Minneapolis and then to Mancos for Derek and Di's big wedding. So I tried to put a lot of rides in before the 13th when we took off early for the Black Hlls and Badlands.
Had some good rides that week. Three good road rides (Monarch pass, Taylor res, and the CB group ride) but only one big mt bike ride at CB lowerloop/Slate duez/Paradise divide/403/401 and I got rained out at 403 and had to bail. Then on the trip out, I rode a couple of longer rides and some shorter ones. One good one was the paved road in Badlands--42 mi, 2200ft climbing in 2:15 and pretty.

Lila picking George's nose.

Here's the campground in Badlands. No water, but it was free and bison wandered through every morning.

Bison in the fields all around the camp....

Bison near camp

Canoeing down the St Croix by the "Cities"
And the new fashion trend starter! Rode with a group of Minnesotans (actual residents--locals as it were and ran into the family going to the milk carton boat races... So old swim suit better than spandex....
So it turned out I got about 15 hrs of riding and a few slow rides to the beach at the lake over these two weeks.... Then we came back to Gunnison for a couple of days on the 25th.

The 26th I headed out from Pitkin to ride over the Alpine tunnel, Tincup pass, and back over Cumberline pass (all over 1200') to Pitkin. About 45 mi and 6100' of climbing. Unfortunately as I began to climb the steep and rocky Tincup Pass, I realized that I had indeed contracted what ever Julian and Lila had got from the cousins. This consisted of fever, great thirst, tiredness, and funky spots all over my belly. So I began to feel really tired and thirsty. By the time I started back up Cumberline, I was really wobbly and not feeling very good. About a mile from the top and just a few more hundred feet, I hopped in a guy's truck from Arkansas and got a ride to the top. He thought I looked bad apparently. I got home and was covered with little spots and was very tired. The next day I managed a slow ride at Hartmans...

Then on to Derek's wedding in Mancos. On the way to Mancos, I recovered enough to ride from Telluride to Mancos. While in Mancos, I did a couple of short mt bike rides and then I rode back to Telluride on the the way back. Anne drove the kids and then we played in Telluride to see how the other half live. So the race was now only two weeks away.... I rode as much as I could the next week and then just a bit the week before the race. It was nice not really stressing about the training and hanging with family--Especially the Whalens and keeping burglars out of their house (should score points with the Mother in Law).

Next the Race!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Growler 2010

The Growler Mountain bike race is a race through Hartman Rock recreation area near Gunnison CO. It was started by Dave Wiens to raise money for his nonprofit, Gunnison Trails. It is about 70 miles once it's said and done and covers a lot of single track and much of it technical. This year the course was similar to the first year 2 yrs ago and just about the reverse of the course last year. The difference this year was that I got a new Gary Fisher Superfly 29er. Nice bike.

So we lined up in town at 7:00 and Ken Coleman the city manager fires a shotgun twice and we role out of town at a neutral clip. My goal this year was to stay towards the front and try to maintain on all the steep little climbs and technical areas and descents. My new bike is much faster on the hard stuff and downhill but probably not so on the climbs. I wanted to get close to 6 hrs. No way I could hang with Travis Brown who won last year.

We got to Kill Hill at the start of Hartman Rock and dirt roads to spread every one out and I felt good and kept a good pace.
Then we hit the single track. On the first harder section, "Top of the World" in dust and low light I smacked a pointy rock with both tires. Stans sealant then begins to fly out of BOTH wheels! Tarnations I'd never had that happen!

I quickly tried to get the Stans to seal the tires but it wouldn't so I put a tube in the back and used my CO2 cartridge to fill it up. Unfortunately I didn't have enough to fill the front! As the multitudes passed me on the single track a guy let me use his pump. I thought I got air into the front tire and got it to seal. But after riding a little ways it appeared that the rim wasn't sealed. Another friend tossed his pump to me but it didn't work! Finally another friend towards the rear of the pack had a large CO2 cylinder that we used to get the tire seated and it stayed inflated! Thanks Matt! And I was off again. Now behind way too many people on tight single track. I passed and passed some more. This took a lot of effort and was kindof dangerous.... I passed Grandpa Bill who was out on the course about 1/4 of the way around the lap with water and tools and grabbed my spare tube and pump and water. I passed tons of people. By the half way point at Skull pass the groups were thinning but I still was stuck a lot of the time going slow. So I came in to the end of lap one around 3:30. Anne and the kids were waiting and gave me some water and energy. And off I went. Other than some odd cramps I started to make up some time. the second lap was about 3:05 for a total of 6:35 and 53rd place. Not as good as last year in the rain.

Here I am at the finish with the Growler given away for finishers.

Smithy's Birthday ride, White rim in a day Nov 2009

So for the past few years local bad boy and very fast person Brian Smith has had a ride the white rim trail in a day birthday ride around the middle of November. Too bad his birthday wasn't closer to September. I had done it two years ago in 2007 and it was a hoot.

Drive out there, ride the trail unsupported that time then tired drive home. This year I decided to leave Friday early, ride some at Fruita and get out to Canyonlands Island in the sky early enough to enjoy the views. The only problem with this was the HUGE rain storm over Fruita so I just kept going. The weather around Moab wasn't great either......

A bunch of Gunnison guys met at the little campground just before you go into Canyonlands while Brian, his wife Jenny and some friends stayed in Moab. We all went to bed ready to go in the morning. We woke up to a nice snow and Brian had rain all night in Moab. We barely got a cel call to Brian and he bailed as he thought it was toooo wet. We got the troops rounded up and decided to give it a go. Ricky G had just gotten a littel truck and wanted to test it out so we had a sag just in case. So off we went. The day started out well and we made good time. The snow fall at the high elevations gave way and the trail was dry and the day was cool. Around mile 80 it started to snow however. I had been riding with everyone but seeing that we were going to be lucky to make it out before the dark and snow I started to go faster. In the end I was the only one to finish as we shuttled everyone else. I also got to ride the last miles in a blinding snowstorm.....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Problem of the day!

Well I haven't posted much on here. So much fun this fall and winter... Maybe I'll put up some pictures! Some events of note.....

Brian Smith's White Rim in a Day birthday ride. 100+ mi of Utah dirt. We camped near the entrance to the Island in the Sky at Canyonlands. So not to ruin the surprise in case I get around to it.. but Brian stayed in Moab and it rained like crazy there. Up higher where we were it snowed a bit. He thought the trail would be too wet, we rode down a ways and it was dry so we did it with out Brian and his wife, Jenny. This was the 3rd 100mi mt bike in 4 months... More later.

Then let the Nordic and Rondonee racing. We didn't have much snow in town so to Nordic ski we had to drive 20 -3o mi.. So I didn't get in super shape. The Rondonee is basically racing up the mt and back down. New for me but fun. Some of the bigger races were the Alley loop 42km (26 mi) Nordic marathon and the Leadville Loppet 44km Nordic race (>10,000 ft makes it challenging). And finally the Elk Mt Grand Traverse backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen or should I say grand Reverse!

But first the big problem this morning. Lila who is now almost 7 got a helium filled balloon at school. Julian (3.7yrs) was playing with it and I tied it on his little Frosty stuffed snowman's arm. So it comes off Frosty's arm on the stairs and the balloon goes to the top of the vaulted ceiling above the stairs. It is quite a ways up and seemingly unreachable. So we brainstormed while we ate pancakes. HOW to get it down?? (I might add the same thing happened when Lila when she was 2 or 3 and we used my fishing pole to pull it over and grab it--she didn't remember. What fun getting the kids to think though).

Julian first thought that maybe we could stack up the table and some chairs and then some more chairs.. Not a bad idea really.

Then Lila thought maybe if she got on my shoulders and then Julian got on hers.... No still not tall enough so maybe mom could go on Dads and then the kids..

And Julian's favorite craft item these days.. TAPE. How about we put tape on Julian's paper airplane and try get it stuck to it. Or just a ball of tape or tape on a ball of paper and throw it and get it to stick.

Julian really wanted me to just go get a ladder..
Or if we all got a straw and sucked we might be able to suck it down. I offered the shop vac.

Then it went into animal mode... We could get some ants and put some sugar on the wall and train them to climb up and get on it. Or as the birds outiside were going to be laying eggs soon maybe we could catch one of the smarter ones like a crow or magpie and train it to go up and get the balloon. We decided these would take too long and mom didn't really like them.

So onto a food theme. We were in the middle of making some bread so why not get some of the sticky dough and try to throw it a the balloon and stick it to it. Julian thought muffins might do the same thing.
I thought it might be a good time to introduce the kids to spit balls but mom didn't think so.

Anne offered a fan to maybe blow the balloon around... I just thought we could pray.

In the end we got my fishing pole and pulled it over where I could grab the string.....