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!

1 comment:

jpnairn said...

Way to go! Thanks for sharing the story here.