Sunday, September 18, 2011

Into the VAPOR!

It's raining now. It was raining two weeks ago. One week ago a high pressure moved in and shoved the rain down to the four corners south west of here. One week ago the moon was full. One week ago the skies were clear and at 10pm 60 or so mountain bikers left from the bridge in downtown Salida for an 125mi mountain bike race that would climb 18,000 feet or so and follow many old rail road grades from the 1880's. Yes that's right the Vaportrail 125. Now you might wonder why it's called the "vapor trail." I imagine that it is because it follows the old trail of the narrow gauge steam locomotives for a while. Anne, my faster reading better half, said she read or was told by Tom Purvis at the aid station that it was because it climbs up close to the vapor trails in the skys (or Chem Trails as some crazies call them). OK I could go with that. You do go up to 12,600' on a gnarly carry-your-bike on your shoulder hike-a-bike in the early morning. And are above 11,000' for a good chunk of it.

a 3D map

On these longer rides you may ask yourself what exactly do you think about. Well sometimes I get songs stuck in my head. When I'm feeling good this might be get stuck on my head on fast downhills. Replace car with bike and highway with trail....

Sometimes on my lowpoints I may get the old song by "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar but sung by the George Steinbrener character on Seinfeld.

If I'm cruising up a long hill, then I get this song stuck sometimes but it just repeats, "Motoring.." as I don't know the words.

And if I'm getting a little out of i,t this may get stuck for a while...from the Who.

And if I'm cruising pretty fast maybe another by the Who.

So there ya go.

Dave Wiens had emailed that they could use some help at his aid station at Snowblind Campground at about 62miles in. Last year I came in at 6am after screaming down some single track in the dark. So I talked Anne into taking the kids up there and she could help. And then she could see some of the race. We drove over about 3pm and drove up to the campground. Jimmy Dirksen and Dave with Susan and the boys were up there marking the course and setting up camp. They have twin boys that are 11 and one older boy that is 13. Dave gave Susan and Jim a ride up Tomichi pass and they were to ride down Canyon creek trail and mark it. Anne and I stayed with all the kids. The boys were super good kids and played with Lila and Julian and they had a great time getting firewood and playing games. Becky was doing the race after moving to Steamboat for a new job and stopped by to give me a ride over to Salida.

Here is a video of the race that Chis Miller, husband of Eszter H, put up. You can see Becky as the smiling girl at the start. You can get an idea of the trail...

Vapor Trail 125 from chris miller on Vimeo.

 and more pictures a Mountainflyer;Vapor Trail 125

For the longest time I never knew Salida had a downtown as I would just either not go the 5 miles over there as I would stay on Hwy 285 or if I did I just stayed on the main highway/drag and completely missed it. Finally a few years ago I digressed and low and behold there is quite a bit over there. Probably the best bike shop on that side of Monarch pass, Absolute Bikes, is down by the river and actually connected to a cafe/bike shop, which is cool. They also have a great pizza/brewery called Amicas. Becky and I decided to try that out before the prerace meeting at 9. We got there and it was just too busy so we headed back to the cafe by the bike shop. I had some pasta special, some coffee and a cinnamon roll. We filled up and got our bikes stuff going and then went to the meeting. It was cool to see familiar faces. The Nuttelman twins. Always a force to be reckoned with. Eszter and her husband Chris. The Crested Butte guys, Jason Stubbe, Dan Loftus and Aaron Huckstep (and new CB mayor), Troy Hiatt from Gunni, John Fulton who had done the CTR with me and many others. I also met some new people.... One racer named Todd Kennedy came up after hearing me talking in the parking lot and said he had been reading my blog as his son who was 4? now had diabetes since something like a year old and wanted him to be able go on rides with him when he was older. I can't imagine having one of our kids with diabetes. It's one thing to get it in your 20s but as a baby.... Lila has two boys in her class of 80ish with type 1. If technology goes like it is now, I think we'll maybe figure it out in the next twenty years. So give to your favorite research group!

For more info on the course see my post from last year or the vapor trail web site. I decided to leave a meter with Anne at Snowblind at 60+ miles and one on Monarch pass at the aid station and carry my Dexcom continuous glucose meter. My sugar began to climb an hour before the race.

The picture below shows the whole enchilada. I took 5u of Humalog and 15 of Lantus at 8:30. I slipped 5u into my pack in a syringe.  A little into the race at the mellow pace my sugar was still rising but once we began to ride harder and the insulin began to kick in it dropped quickly. I also refrained from eating too much. At the first aide at 1am,  my stomach was starting to feel off. We had just ridden a good section of Colorado trail in the moon light and it was good. As we climbed up the long rail grade up to the Alpine Tunnel, I was having moments where I would feel good and then not so good. My energy began to wain. Looking back, I had my watch timer beeping every 40min to remind me to eat. This was working well along the earlier sections. But half way up to the alpine tunnel my blood sugars began to climb. With the Dexcom, I notice that at the high extremes it is very often much higher than it reads.

So I feel the high glucose in the middle was actually much higher. As we got close to the tunnel a few guys I was riding with, a single speeder from Durango, and Dan Loftus dropped me and I was feeling very cold and having a harder time. My legs began to feel tight and my energy was lacking. I had this feeling in a race at the Firecracker 50 in Breck where I was getting passed by fat guys..... I began to descend the tunnel and hopped in the train building that tourists can drive up to. I put on all my cloths. Both pairs of gloves, two pair of leg warmers and jackets. I was shivering uncontrollably coming down. Later people would talk that it was cold but they didn't have that much on. Looking back when your sugar is high, you can't use sugar for energy either. Like you've flooded the engine with too much gas versus running out of gas like low blood sugars--where you get cold also. As I climbed up Tomichi pass, I began to feel worse. I began to see lights catching me and passing me. At the top the Nuttelman Bros went by. I stopped and gave myself about 3 units from my stash in my pack. I'm always scared to give too much as you may tank with low sugar. From my Dexcom you can see it did start to drop but I continued to feel like my friend the Dentist when we did this ride and I would have to wait for him for extended periods..... I dropped down the pass and quickly hit the trail up Canyon Creek. The 900' hike/climb-a-bike. The only good thing was the moon was very nice. Clouds were blowing over the 12,600 peak we were climbing over past the moon. Last year I flew down here. This year I was flailing. I hit a rock and whacked my left knee. I then decided I had had enough. I was going to bail for the first time. I stopped at one point to take a look at the Dexcom and two bow hunters were standing right next to me in the dark. I left ASAP. I finally made it to Snowblind Aid a good 30 min slower than last year at 6:40am. I checked my sugar with my meter and it was 255. My Dexcom said 155. OK it dropped but not good enough. No wonder I felt like crap still. Anne was up feeding people sausages and Susan pancakes. Dave was mixing batter, signing number plates for spouses of riders, making coffee... Jim Dirksen was putting lube on chains and checking water bottles. He was very careful to ask if it was OK as I guess some guy chewed him out for putting Squirt lube on his chain. Thanks so much guys! Lila and two of the Wiens boys were up, Julian was up before I left. I was still shivering even sitting by the fire. I took 5 more units of Humalog and with Anne's positive energy I slowly decided to continue. I also ate some pancakes/sausage/pure maple syrup and coffee. I was getting passed by so many people as I sat and shivered for a good 50-60min I thought I would be way back in the pack. And I was. Dave just smiled and said "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't" Aint that the truth. I headed down the road still shivering but starting to go faster. By the time I got to Old Monarch pass a few miles later and started to head up, I had passed 2 guys. I passed 10-15 more at least by the top. I was going really fast now. And feeling really good. The sun was now beginning to come up pretty high. I had left my light at the aid station and now began to finally take off my leg and arm warmers. I got to the Aid station at Monarch pass with Chris M who was looking tired.

The high school mt bike team from Salida was running this aid. They were very enthusiastic. One guy would ask if I wanted coffee, yes I said, and out of the blue another brings a whole plate of bacon and eggs that I didn't ask for and no coffee. No biggie--big deal for them though.... I used the facilities in the store and got out after 10-15 minutes total. I was still feeling really good. I passed more guys on my way to Marshal pass. Here you drop down Starvation creek and climb back up to Marshall. I told the guys at that aid I'll get stuff on the way back. He said are you sure it's two hours. I said two hours ha!. I passed three more guys here at least as I screamed down the techy steep single track with Deep purple playing in the grey matter and climbed back up the steep road back up. The guys at the aid were surprised to see me and said I was probably the fasted to do the loop. Now most of the trail is down hill with a few steep little grunters and lots of really sharp rocks at the top. But mainly miles and miles of fun single track that almost makes you forget that you have been riding all night. I went as fast as possible but didn't push it too hard where I knew the worse danger of hitting rocks and getting a flat. I was passing fewer racers so I knew I must be closer to the front. I finally caught the Nuttelmans. One then the other. Even though I have to admit, Max, had broke his chain. I completely forgot my tool at the start so he had to wait for his brother. I passed many people just riding for fun from Gunni and Salida and they all cheered me on. I finally reached the highway and got the big wheels rolling really fast in my biggest gear. It's not that I was trying to race so hard here as to get to the finish and have a beer. I saw two bikers ahead and caught them just after the turn into Salida. One was a guy on a Superfly but with the new XX set up. Not as big of gears.. and he couldn't keep up. The other was the single speeder from Durango. He had complained as I rode with him way back on the way up Alpine tunnel that people wouldn't ride with him here and was a little bitter that they didn't pull him along. So I blasted past him also and he didn't look happy at all. I had a heavier bike than both of these guys as I had the bigger gears so I didn't really care, I had pushed them up all the hills, I get to use them all the way back down. Anyway I just wanted a beer really. So the finish looked so nice. I tied for 7th in 16:32 hrs. The guy behind me was close enough for the same time. The single speeder was a good 8 min back.... Maybe next yr I'll try a single speed.

Anne and the kids were hanging out in the grass with a beautiful day. We hung out for quite a while and headed for home. So much thanks to all the Salida guys for putting this on and the lady (Forgot her name) that got me a new bite valve for my camel back as we rode out of town! Puts Salida on the way cool places to live just behind Gunnison. One more fun fact. The guy that won crushed it but Anne said he didn't eat any food at the aid station. His wife met him and he ate canned peaches from a ziplock only.... I can see that as we just canned peaches from Paonia. Could be good. All for now sports fans! Oh almost forgot I made the Web version of the mountain flyer--one of my "life goals"


Dr. D said...

Great story. That must have been hell with the highs. My DexCom is always suspect if I have big fluctuations. If I'm trying to get it down, it doesn't track it falling--as you saw. I also looked at it once and it said 300. I took a shot, then tested, and my meter said 145, but the insulin was already in. When I go out high it usually drops quickly but once it stayed high like yours. Not really predictable.

Anonymous said...

Nice job out there and next time I think you should give Matt a pull on the pave. He'll buy you plenty of beers I'm sure :)

Two questions: would you recommend the Dexcom CGM for someone in the market for one? What sports drinks/hydration have you found to be most effective?

Jarral Ryter said...

Thanks Chris (and Dr. D). Yeah Matt was a good guy to ride with in the early morning hours. I was hoping I could catch him actually after having probs. The Dexcom has been working better for me lately--most values are close. I have been getting really used to using it and it is kindof weird when I don't use it. Sometimes it will be off by a ways but the trends are really nice. It isn't designed too well for using while biking... There are some good discussion groups on it.. One at

I have been drinking GU brew for a while. It has some calories as maltodextrin and electrolytes. Or I just drink water. the flavors are OK--better in my opinion than other brands.
happy trails!

TKennedy said...


Todd Kennedy here. Just came across your blog again as I was reading the TD forum on Bikepacking. Great write up on the Vapor Trail from last year. Its unbelievable how fast you rode the race last year given the battle with your blood sugars.

Look forward to following your efforts on the Tour Divide. Someday might have to pick your brain as I am hoping for the hall pass to pull off the Tour Divide in the next two or three years. Trying to do a recon trip from northern colorado border to the southern co border this summer to test out systems, primarily how my legs and body respond to multiple hundred mile days.

My son Emerson, diagnosed at 18 months, now 5 will see a future of possibilities thanks to people like you pushing through the hurdles of Type 1. Thanks.

I'll be back at Vapor this year, see you there again, although given your strength, maybe only at the starting line.

Best of luck in June.