Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trail work and Colorado Trail Race Preparation

Last Sunday, June 12, we (All four of us) headed up to Segment 18 of the Colorado Trail in the Cochetope Dome area to walk some of the trail with friends and make sure it was clear of downfall and marked well. This section had been maintained by Ted and Martha Violet but when Ted got sick and subsequently passed people in our science department at Western State have been going up with Martha to continue the tradition. We drove up and were to hike a few miles and meet others and come back to the car and have lunch. I had also been putting together gear for the Colorado Trail Race August 1st. I wanted to take a shortish overnight to test out what I had put together so far. I thought I could have Anne drive the car back home and I could ride some of the route and then back home. About 80 miles the afternoon after our trail work and the next morning.

So first what had I gotten together. I had some new packs for my bike from Revelate Designs, some lightweight camping stuff and my new tent I had made. I had an old nylon tarp I had gotten from our killer outdoor program Wilderness Pursuits at WSC. Many that do this race get light weight tarp to use as a tent. I decided to make my bike the support and then use stakes to hold out the sides. Here is the original tarp over the bike.

Then I measured and cut some old sheets as a prototype and then cut up and sewed the tarp.
Gotta turn your head! Cutting the sheets!
Prototype on the floor.
And the "tent" before the tie-downs were attached.
So there is that. Maybe it will work in the rain.... So we headed out and went on a hike! Lila and Julian did great. We just hiked a little ways and the trail was in great shape.

Taking a break.
Then we went back and had lunch with the group. Here is some of them.
Then I quickly and randomly threw all my stuff in my packs. This was the first time I had all this together.
And I put on the bike clothes and took off.
The ride was nice but I had a serious headwind...... I learned a lot about how to pack things and what to change for the next trial. The tent worked well but it didn't rain and the wind wasn't blowing that night. Here is a picture along the way coming down Los Pinos Pass.
I turned down the road back to Powderhorn and camped at a free NFS campground along Cebolla creek. I tested out my steripen water purifier. It seemed to work well... No issues after a week. The next morning I got up and had a bagel in the sun. While I was eating it an older fellow on an old mt bike with a huge backpack on and a large bag full of gear on his handlebars. He had been riding from Flagstaff and had just came down from Slumgullion pass. I felt kind of funny as I had bike shorts, fancy packs etc. He was wearing sweats, coat and gloves from somewhere like wallmart and cheap shoes. His gear must have been soooo heavy. But then again he wasn't racing. We talked for a while and I gave him some pointers on where to camp as he got closer to Gunni and let him know of road conditions. The ride back was pretty easy and I was getting used to the extra weight on the bike.
Overall assessment. Everything worked well. I would have to get a better pad, smaller/lighter? I would need to work on packing. I couldn't find stuff easily and small clothes got all mixed up. I also need to work out a headlamp.... And ..... More later..

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hundred Miles of Nowhere

Anne has been reading a lot of blogs lately--hey she reads fast..... One she reads pretty regularly is www.fatcyclist.com. She doesn't even really ride a bike except the townie, she likes to run. I guess she finds it funny. Anyway the Fat Cyclist started this tour and she suggested that I do it. You get the usual swag like a T shirt, energy bars and even a number plate for the bike. The difference here was you ride wherever you want in some small course over and over for 100 miles. It was to raise money for Livestrong, which no matter how you feel about Lance, seems like a great organization for people who get cancer. The entry fees of the 500 people who signed up all got sent in by Fatty.


I was thinking if I'm going to go ride around in circles all day and this ride is about getting something done about cancer then I should do something with more meaning than just riding around all day. Gunnison and Crested Butte 28 miles up the road are both small towns and tight-knit communities (the Gunnison Valley as a whole). We are somewhat isolated as the next town of even medium size is 60 miles down a two lane highway and over some nice hills. I decided that I would put the word out that I was looking for people with some connection to cancer and make that my loop. I sent out the following email to my work and also put it in the local paper, Gunnison Country Times (Thanks Chris!) the week before the June 4th tour date.
 "Join me, Jarral Ryter, in the “100 miles of Nowhere” bike tour June 4th at 7am. This is a fund raiser for cancer research via www.fatcyclist.com and the tour idea is to ride a ridiculous small course for 100 miles. I’m not asking for money. I am looking for anyone touched by cancer in and around Gunnison. I will then ride my bicycle to everyone’s house that responds in loops from my house until I reach 100 miles. You can ride with me, get a high five as I ride past, get a hug (I’ll be sweaty and most likely smelly) or whatever you like. Call me 970--------- or email...."

I received quite a few responses even though I didn't really spread the word too much. And this is how it all went down. My nose was stuffy Saturday morning as I must have caught a cold from my family last week when they came through town. It was above freezing as I left Gunnison at 8am sharp for Crested Butte. 
Ready to hit the road!

 
Here is the beginning of my ride...
About 6.92 miles out of town I saw a funny bell on the shoulder and stopped to pick it up. It was a bar bell, er bear ball, errr I MEAN BEAR BELL. So I hooked it up to my seat post. 
 
I don't know how lucky this was because I wasn't attacked by a bear the ENTIRE DAY!! Actually the talk of bear balls would come back later in the day.... And the ride continued on

Here is the road closer to CB.

My first stop was at Karin's, a coworker, who was moving out of her house that day. The woman they had been renting the house from, Mary Gordon, had died of cancer that past winter. Karin had a real connection with her and wanted to honor her.
Mary left three sons and was 58years old. Karin showed me the entire house, a CB classic, which was still furnished with Mary's art and furniture. I was beginning to think it may take a while to ride my hundred miles if all the stops went like this--not that I minded. Karin gave me food and water and continued packing. I headed back towards Gunnison and of course the head wind picked up..... My next stop was at Robin and Ted's house. Unfortunately they weren't home. I wasn't going to make a loop past their house again as they live at the top of a large hill on a gravel road.
Robin and Ted weren't home...
So I went to my next stop Gary. By the way there is a great shot of Gary chugging a beer in a video of the Growler Mountain bike race here.
I hung out for a few and Gary's son showed my the robin's nest on their stairs. It seems that every person in Gunnison has rash of robin nests on their houses.... Now I had put in 57 some miles and just had about 40 miles of loops around the Gunnison. I figured each lap would be about 3-4 miles.... Could be a long day. I went back to the house and had some lunch and water. Julian and Lila had made a cool sign for me.
Lunch!
Julian gives a support hug.
I started riding laps around town. My first stop was at Ricky G's house. His son, Garrison whose house I was going to stop at later, had two bouts with leukemia as a child. Hadn't seen Rick in a while...
Then around some corners to Kim's house. Kim basically runs the show at Western State College where we work. I didn't know  that she had had cancer several years ago but now is doing well.
 My next stop was at Christina's. She had planted a tree for a best friend that had died of breast cancer. I sure hope that little tree makes it. She said some deer got some of it....
And then just before turning the corner back to our house I stopped at Janet's house who just had a party this past year for the final treatment for breast cancer.
 
The next lap the whole family came along. We stopped at Lynn's as she said she wanted to ride a few laps to honor someone. Here she is. We did a lap and then I picked her up.
On this lap we found Garrison making beer in the alley. The funny thing that Anne told me later was that Garrison's neighbor had come out and was delivering a bear bell to another neighbor.... What are the odds?
Now I just had 30 miles or so left. Had to make up some time! I found Lynn and we rode a lap and then went to Martha's house. Her husband Ted had taught physics at WSC for... well actually no one really knows how long he had taught as no one was still around when he started. Let's just say it was 50yrs because it was 50yrs. He had died of brain cancer last year. She was very happy to have us stop by and had us come in and have some water and talked for a while.
Martha and Lynn

Martha
We then found Pat at home. Pat's father had died of cancer, he also had several family members who had survived. Pat is a duck biologist so if you're in Gunnison look him up if you find a duck.

Lynn rode with me for a while and I ran saw another cancer survivor at her house. Susan and her husband Rod both are. She didn't want her picture taken so I just got her to put up her hand. 
 And after a few more laps Lynn stopped at the house to play with the kids. She had told me the person she was honoring was a close friend from Telluride who had just died of Melanoma. Her husband, Brian, and super fast biker was in Telluride at the graduation of the friends daughter. And finally I was on the last lap. I ran into Hank and two of his kids. I asked the one with the hose for a spray. I got a nice cool down. But then he wouldn't stop! So after the fourth spray Hank gave me a beer for the ride across town.
Look out! Their mom is cancer survivor also....
And I made it home at 100.2 miles! Check out the route HERE.
Done!
Lila by the sign. The other side said, "GO DAD!!"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

GRRRRRR Growler IV May 29th 2011

My arse is oozing..... OK you may ask why is my arse oozing? It's because of that Dave Freak'n Wiens. And how does Dave have anything to do with this? It's the Original Growler mountain bike race of 64 fluid miles that he started four years ago. And it kicked my arse and hence made it ooze. 

I always feel a bit, just a bit, perturbed that many of the  people that race have been riding for most of the winter while Gunnison it has been snowing and very cold up until the race and actually yesterday, the day after the race, it was snowing..... Hartman Rocks where the race takes place just opened for riding earlier this month as a matter of fact. Once it dries out enough the north side opens but the south end stays closed until the sage grouse are done mating. But this doesn't really mean much. Earlier Dave sat me down and discussed eternal mountain biking enlightenment comes not from riding on the road all winter in the city or on the rollers, it comes indeed from knowing the lines. Riding this race it is so true as you pass a roadie that doesn't know the line....And living in Gunnison and riding at Hartmans means knowing the lines.

I really should discuss how I prepared for my little condition, you know that thing where I have to take shots of insulin continually in order not to die after wasting away. But lately I have been tired of having it define me and just making it another variable that you have to plan for in your life. OK this is a big deal and should be talked about. I mean people spend pages discussing what is the best bike and then the best wheels, tires, food, drink, etc etc etc that is best for a race.We'll talk about that stuff I suppose.


This year the race preparation started out a little different that in the past. I had the feeling that this race would sell out quickly. The first 300 to sign up online got in. So I did a lot of fast twitch finger muscle training with a secret stretching of the joints. It paid off as the race filled in about 8 minutes. I was signed up in 2 minutes and that was with a costly error entering my credit card information. So I was in. Here is a reenactment of my fingers in action.


Now just to find some time to get the legs in shape a bit. I had been taking a biking power class a couple of times a week this spring with a recent WSC graduate Tim Curry and I had skied a lot. So I was in pretty good shape. Several road bike rides in the snow and some rides on the course after it all opened up and I was ready to go.

The race started as it always has. We lined up downtown and at 7 am the shotgun was blasted to start us off. I had my Rock and/or Roll jersey on as Dave Mo has helped me a bunch. It was mild for Gunnison at close to 50F and calm. We then rode behind the escort at at pace that was supposed to be single speed friendly but the poor guys with one gear were spinning their little legs off! And, of course, people that are going to get dropped on the first climb always have to try and get in the front. So after a couple of near misses including a lady that kept riding too close to me and then tried to pass, we got to the gravel and it was race on. I had eaten some pancakes at 6am and had taken 5u of Humalog and 7u of Lantus (8 the night before).


We hit Kill hill (it's a killer because it is about 22-25% grade and several hundred feet up) and this began to spread everyone out. I wanted to get past most of the pack so I went up at a medium hard pace for me. Then we hit the mild grade of the dirt road to the single track trail, Josho's. Here is a pic from Matt B photography.

The first lap of the Growler you have to pace yourself obviously as you have another 32 miles to go and the second lap is harder. The first lap you are also riding with other people quite a bit as everyone slowly spreads out. There were several little packs of riders. Many were good climbers but with my inner peace and big wheels I was really pretty fast going down AND I knew the lines. I felt a little like my blood sugar was a too high as my legs just felt a little weak/tight. I avoided food for a little extra time and began to feel better. I have a timer on my watch to remind me to eat. This also helps me see what kind of pace I'm on. I got to Skull Pass about halfway around and Brian Riepe of the Mountain Flyer was handing out water bottles. I grabbed one and left mine to be refilled. Skull pass is a bit gnarly but I was soon out and grabbed my old bottle. The aid guys were really good. I missed the bacon guys however.... I saw my Pa and sister at Josie's and they gave me a bottle. I ended up finishing the first lap feeling some cramping coming on and I smacked my knuckles and shoulder at the end of the Ridge trail at the very end of the lap. The Ridge trail is gnarly also. Each lap you put in about 4000' ft of climbing and 32 miles.


Anne and the kiddos were at the transition for the second lap and I scored some water, food, a kiss, and Julian gave me a big rock--thanks for cuing him in, uncle Collin. The first lap took 2:54. I was behind 2 people in my age group here and most all the one lappers I saw later. Here is a video coming out of the ridge and into tailpipe on the first lap.


The second lap goes up a steeper single track trail than Kill Hill called the Notch. I made it most of the way but a butt cramp made me dab at the top. Then, instead of the road, you climb Becks and ride Rattlesnake trail backwards. I passed a couple people along here. Rattlesnake has a couple of places that are very hard to climb in that direction and one that is nearly impossible. I made it up all but that one. Then the race continues on on nearly the same route as the first lap. The wind started to come up so a couple of spots that headed south and into the wind were obnoxious but then when you turn back the other way it was great. I got some more water from my dad and sister and Jason and Steph of the fine Gunnison Coffee company at Skull Pass. Then just keeping in my head the next trail or two that I would have to climb and I kept the pace up for home. All was well until the final descent. Collarbone trail is a roller coaster of trail and I was just going too fast and my wheels slipped out and I came straight down on my lower hip and slid on the granite gravel. Two photographers thought I may have hurt myself (there were many photographers out there is seemed like)... OK I did but I wasn't going to stop. And hence why my arse is oozing. I got to the bottom in 6:00:38 and 20th place overall out of 200+ and 2nd in my age.
Hang'n with the race officials after the race.

Brian Smith went wicked fast. Chill'n.

My oozing arse.
Now you just had to ride back to town for a final official checkin. This makes the race a total of just about 70 miles and 8000' climbing. 
That afternoon they had growlers of beer for finishers FULL of New Belgian beer! We also got food from Garlic Mikes restaurant. And they had the swag of the year that Dave "Freak'n" Wiens scored. Dave OCHS, the color man, was literally throwing socks, shirts, Ergon bar grips, carbon handle bars, etc into the crowd. The raffle went on and on. Winners in the age groups and overall winners got great prizes. I got a SRAM Cassette MSR $250 and a 10spd chain MSR $50.
Next adventure? Biggest--Colorado Trail Race. A hoot! Oh and for the record I ate a GU like product every 40 min. At the end, my glucose was 77. So going down but no serious bonks!