Monday, July 16, 2012

Crusher in the Tusher - Beaver UT July 14th, 2012

I know its been a long time since the last post but better late than never. The Crusher was our Triple Bypass replacement. After 9 years of going to Colorado for this weekend Crusher was an appealing change that had a similar degree of suffering with less driving. I think we spent a little more time on our bikes than driving, which is a huge contrast to the triple bypass where we log over 20 hours of driving in a weekend.
This year's participants were many: Berkley, Keith, Kevin W, Kevin P, Don, and Peter. Plus there were a bunch of other cyclocross and Strava friends signed up for the fun. The choice of motels in Beaver are slim and the Butch Cassidy Best Western Inn was one of 2 national chains in Beaver. There was a very talkative Indian guy at the front desk of the motel. He told us the best pizza in town was at the Chinese restaurant. "Get the Pizza, not the Chinese food." We thought finding a diner that served breakfast at night would be the safest bid. We tried 4 likely places and no luck. We settled on Arshels Cafe. Most items on the menu were a derivative of chicken fried steak. We all got the special, Glazed Chicken with Shimp.
The race started at 8:00am Saturday morning and was only 2 blocks from the motel. What a change from having to get up at 4:00am when we do White Rim and the Triple. We had nice big breakfast of  waffles, eggs, biscuits and gravy.  I even had time for a shower. I didn't really need the shower because it started to rain about an hour before the race.

We put on our rain jackets and made our way to the start line. There were about 350 riders and 123 in the 40-49 class. Packer was in the 30 group ahead of us. Peter was  behind us in the 50+ group. They started the groups about 30 seconds apart. We hung with the main group for about 3 miles until we started up the canyon. No need to blow a gasket with 67 miles to go. It was pavement for 11 miles up state 153. Pretty mellow grade like the bottom of American Fork Canyon.

The rain let up after about an hour of riding. The ride took a right turn on a dirt road towards Kent's Lake. The dirt road was a mud road after a morning of rain. By this time, Don was ahead of me and Berk. Keith and Kevin were behind a short distance. All dirt roads we road on were maintained and and mud was only a thin layer. The wet and muddy roads always kept us looking for the driest or less squishy line. We climbed through beautiful forests and mountain lakes all morning. The smell of pine trees was strong.  The first aid station was at mile 23.Very well stocked and super friendly volunteers.

The roads continued to climb to 10,000 feet. The grade wasn't ever really steep, I always had a 3 or 4 more gears to left. Matt Davis finally caught up us at about mile 25. He has already had 2 flats. The rain started again and we stopped to put the rain jackets on and give Matt some needed air. The course at 10,000 ft and about 4 miles of rolling hills before it dropped down to Circleville.  Matt was putting down a good pace which felt good on my legs, this is where I dropped Berk.

The speed was fast on the downside of the rollers and my legs were covered in light coat of mud/slit. Matt was on a cross bike which was slower on the washboarded down sections. I dropped Matt after a few miles. The road then dropped off the mountain top to Junction with a vertical drop of 4,000 feet over 14 miles with the top section of switch backs dropping 2,000 ft in 4 miles. Really rough washboard  conditions all the way down. I was very glad I had a MTN bike with front suspension. The race leaders were coming back up the section as they descended to the valley floor. The rain stopped halfway down and the pavement began 4 miles from the top. Next aid station was in Junction. Had some watermelon, cleaned off my glasses and stowed the rain jacket.
The next 10 or so miles was on Highway 89 going south towards Circleville. The winds were light and the riders had thinned out. I caught another guy about 5 miles into this stretch. His name was Scott and he recognized me from cyclocross a few years ago. Once we made it to Circleville the course went east and back on the dirt roads. The rain had stopped so it was actually a dirt road. I call this part the lone and dreary road. It was mainly sage brush and juniper trees. I spotted a Thinair Jersey out in the trees taking a pit stop, which was Peter. Don was a just a few minutes ahead. The road then came back around to paved road at the base of the Col-d-crusher as they call it.

This was the beast that we came down earlier and we had to climb up it. The road goes all the way to the top. This was a long slow grind to the top. Don and I stayed together for 1/2 of the climb. My pace was just a little bit more. The sun stayed behind the clouds which kept the temps down. This would have been really bad in the hot sun because there is no shade or trees on this side. I walked a few sections, which was just about as fast others riding. I was riding in my granny and #2 gears up most of this hill. Cyclocross gears would have sucked. The top of the switch backs was the official KOM at 9,100 ft and mile 56. There was still over 2,000 feet to climb and 14 miles of rolling hills and false summits. The course stayed around 10,000 ft for the remaining 14 miles with plenty of rolling hills and false summits. The last 2 miles was on pavement with the last 3/4 of mile up a 10% grade to finish line. The 500m sign to the finish was the longest 500 meter of my life. Even the last 100 feet the finish line was straight up. I think I finished in my granny gear. Finish I did in 7 hours 36 minutes.

The volunteers were great at the finish line. They had chairs and warm blankets. The finish line is at the top of Eagle Point Ski Resort at 10,200 ft. They even had warm wash cloths to wipe the grim from my legs and the salt deposits from my eyebrows. Kevin Packer and Keith greeted me at the finish line. They missed a cut off time at mile 25 and had to finish the last leg and returned back to Beaver in their bikes. They still put in 55 miles, climbed to 10,000 feet, and they even had spectators asking them if they were the race leaders. That's priceless.

They had a great after race buffet at the main ski lodge at Eagle Point Ski resort. Grilled salmon, chicken, lemon rice and a killer pasta salad.

Ironman St. George May 1, 2010

What a day and after 16 hours and 33 minutes I crossed that sweet finish line at 11:33pm.

Ironman is one huge production. There were 2,400 athletes participating in this event. Check in was Thursday where I received my number 1667. Had the number airbush tattooed on my shoulders and my age on my left calve. I didn't sleep much Thursday or Friday night. Friday we dropped the bike at Sand Hollow. I've never seen so many bikes in one place. It was a sea of bikes. There was roughly 12 million dollars worth of bikes in the size of a football field. 2,400 bikes at $5,000 per bike. I took a swim to test the water. Water was 59 degress and decided to go with my short sleeves and a rash guard. I wanted the better shoulder movement.

I later dropped off my T2 (second transition) bag which had my running shoes and clothes. Twice the logistics of smaller triathlon. The swim is 15 miles from the run start/finish which is in downtown St George. They don't allow any support from friends or family during the race. They give you 2 bags to place any special food or drink you may want in addition to the provided food which is Gatorade, Power bars, Power gels, bananas, and water. I placed a drinkable yogurt, V-8, and cliff bars in my bike and run special needs bags.

I got may an hour or two of good sleep Friday night. I was up at 3:45 am and had breakfast (oatmeal). Took the hotel shuttle bus to Main Street. Then dropped off my special needs bags and loaded up on the school bases at which took us to the lake. Everyone was pretty quick on the buses. We arrived at the lake just a little light was filling the sky. Winds were calm, sky was clear, morning temps were about 43 degrees so it looked like great day for weather. I checked my bike and pumped up my tires. Big thanks to my friend Rory, who had pump. They moved us down the beach and cannon went off at 7:00am. Was about 50 yards from the start line when the cannon went off and away I swam. I looked back it seemed like half the people were still coming down the beach as I crossed the start line in water which was about 100 yards from the shore. The swim was less crazy as I had though. I stayed in middle of the pack to the first buoy, I would have the occasional touch of another swimmer every couple minutes but it was easy to get in a rhythm and kept my head down. The coldness of the water seemed to go away after 10 minutes. I have neoprene cap and booties. At times it was kind of like a dream, I could see helicopters flying above the water, but with my ear plugs and cap, I could not hear them. The second turn buoy came pretty quick. The last leg was long. I didn't want to stop to see where I was so just kept my head down kept swimming. I was getting more tired mentally than physically as I was approaching the last turn buoy. Made the turn, and I could see the boat ramp, Yahooo. It still felt like an eternity to swim the last 1/2 mile. I passed the boat dock and tried touch bottom and I almost got a charile horse in my calf. I'm not trying that again, keep swimming. Walked up the ramp and crowds of people cheers were terrific. They striped my wet suit at the top of the ramp. Janie was there and she got nice pic of me in my speedo.

The air was chilly without wetsuit. It took a while to get dressed. My hands and arms were very cold. The volunteers were great. I could not get my socks on to save my life. I put my socks in my pocket and biked sockless for a couple hours. I came out of the changing tent and most of the bikes were gone.

The bike was long. I took my time and enjoyed the ride trying to save my strength for the run. With 30 miles to go on the bike leg, I realized I was going to cut it close on the 5:00pm bike cut off time. I turned on the after burners and powered it home. Made into the transition area with 10 minutes to spare. 

Leadville Trail 100

Leadville Trail 100  2010

I have been more anxious over this race than any race lately. I was able to pre-ride some of the course a month earlier.

Janie and I got an early start Saturday morning and left our condo in Copper Mountain and arrived at Leadville around 5:00am with the car thermometer reading 35 degrees . I was able it get a killer place about 100 feet from the start line, right in the middle of road. Within 40 minutes the bikes where back 2 blocks. Since its a mass start, it is advantageous to place you bike early. The starting line was like a huge twister game with an obstacle course with over 500 bikes laying on the road.

Ken’s shot gun went off promptly at 6:30am. And all 1500 of us started the downhill coast out of town. It was suppose to be neutral start and I was tying to keep a buffer around me but there we guys aways coming from behind, sprinting to the front. It was a just like the moving packs at the RMR crits except there were a 1000 riders who don't frequently ride in packs. I was glad to have on my winter gloves and booties.

We crossed the railroad tracks and made the sharp right hand turn on to the dirt. The pace was fast and I looked at my heart rate and it was very high, 170's. The climb up to St Kevins was fast wild mass of riders climbing up a loose rocky jeep trail. Guys were passing on the left, some were starting to walk on the right, what an experience. The trails makes a sharp left at mile 7 and the grade eases off a bit. In this transition to an easier grade my chain was caught between my granny gear and 2nd chain ring. I dismounted and wasn't sure what the problem exactly was. I run with my bike a few hundred feet to find a place on the side of the trail to fix it.

It was rush hour traffic of anxious races. I noticed that I was missing 1 of the 4 chainring bolts on my granny gear and the other 3 bolts were loose which is how my chain got jammed in between. I couldn't pull it out so I had loosen the remaining 3 bolts. It seems like an eternity getting bolts loose and tight again with large awkward tool. Got if fixed and started climbing again, then after a few minutes of climbing I noticed I was missing my sunglasses. I debated going back or use Janie's glasses when I meet her in 3 hours. I opted to go back to my repair site and retrieve the glasses. After wasting about 15 minutes I was back on trail. The rush hour traffic of riders had not stopped. I was a little nervous about riding the next 90 miles with a missing chain ring bolt so I made sure I didn't shift with much tension on the granny ring the rest of the day.
The Sugarloft climb was next and I found a good rhythm. The top came quick and the Powerline descent was next. The trail was still a jeep road with a dominate single track line. Faster riders would pass on really hairly sections. This woman, I will call Peppie Long Socks, because she was wearing long pink socks. She was yelling at men to let her pass so I let get a head of me and I followed her down the Powerline. Peppie was a good decenter but not a fast climber. I would tag team her several times throughout the day.
Made it to Pipeline aid station where I had drop bag. I ate a pickle and dropped off my leg-arm warmer and booties. From here on was new territory because my preride a month earlier ended at the pipeline aid station. I had 10:30 cutoff at Twin Lakes which was my next task. The trail followed mainy dirt roads in the foothills of the Leadville valley. There was a nice tight section of single track in the sage brush that lasted a couple miles. We made our way to some well graded gravel roads where I was able to draft off a guy for about 20 minutes. The nice thing with a lot of mountain bikers is they get the concept of drafting and pace work. This dude just pulled the whole time at a nice pace until almost got to the top and then he was spent. I crested the final hill into the Twin Lakes feed section, which I should just call the the Twin Lakes Zoo. There were people everywhere lining both sides of the trail for about 1/2 mile. I had no idea where the offical check in tent was but I has made it with 15 minutes to spare. I grabbed some water melon and water and I was out of there. It was at this point that Levi and Jeremy passed me returning to the finish line. They were a flying.
Janie was at the next crew stop which was only a couple miles away at the base of the Columbine Climb. Tinker passed me just I meet Janie. I ditched my camel back with Janie and choose to go light with just 2 water bottles for the next monster climb. This next climb is the mother of all climbs. It starts at 9,300 ft and climbs to 12,509 in 8 miles. The first 5 miles is nice wide dirt road that winds it way through dense trees. By this time the bulk of the 8-9 hour guys were coming down the road at blazing speeds. I keep riding a steady pace.
As we reached the tree line around 10,500 feet the road became rougher and looser. The first steep section was a "hike-a-bike" section. The little hiking section was a welcome change for my over pedaled legs. The funniest thing happen next, and it doesn't take much to be funny have 5 hours of riding. There were a couple a guys that had a barbeque set up roasting hot dogs. There was a sign on the side of the road that read "Free Hot Dogs and Beer". They were dressed in suits and had the hot dogs and beer on a silver platter. I passed on the beer, of course. and took a bit of the hot dog and the mustard tasted really good.
The road turned to the left and slowly the summit was in view with a trail of what looked like a line of ants marching up the mountain. It was a death march, everyone off their bikes hiking up a steep rocky jeep road. I was able to ride short sections but it was difficult to pass the hikers with a steady stream of descending rides on the left side of the road. I kept looking at my altimeter wondering if if 12,700 was ever going to come. I got the attention of a camera crew and starting to tell them I was riding on the only self made, garage build carbon frame. Time will tell if I make the cut on the movie that is released in November. 
I finished in 11:50 and earned the buckle. Glad its over!