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.

1 comment:

Sue said...

This was just a crazy race!