Thursday, December 16, 2010

off season transition





Catching Up...


The first 3 weeks of November were basically my "offseason" for 2010. I enjoyed an evening with some friends on my 35th birthday at the WENGER Flagship Store and BJ's Pizza...


Yes, I did actually eat 2.5 Pizookies




...found a Christmas tree...



...and avoided any structured "training" for a while. Instead of obsessing over workouts, mileage, volume, feet of climbing and flogging myself, I enjoyed frequent and random easy hikes, rides and runs with Lisa and my sister Lauren, who also lives in Boulder. Sleep and total recovery were the priority over morning 'sessions'. I made a few extra 6 packs (er, 4 packs) of GREEN FLASH West Coast IPA disappear and I feel like the period left me feeling totally recovered from the race season, albeit 7lbs heavier.




I have been back training for a few weeks now, focusing on frequency of sessions and functional strength as I ramp up carefully to my normal volume and intensity. I finally joined Flatiron Athletic Club, Boulder's ground zero for triathlon training, and have enjoyed getting back after it every day with a fresh perspective if not a sense of urgency to get back in shape.

One of the biggest reasons I am optimistic and freshly motivated for 2011 is that my friends and training buds like Slater Fletcher and James Walsh among others raised the bar significantly in 2010. I look forward to the training process as much as racing and hopefully knocking out some masochistic camps together as we all aim to raise the bar even higher in 2011, crushing our own and each others' dreams along the way...with Green Flash West Coast IPA or Piny the Elder IPA always waiting at the finish lines.



After starting the 2010 season as well as ending it with some form of nagging overuse injuries, my New Year's Resolution is to stay injury-free and prioritize my health and nip any injury red flags in the bud. Functional strength trumps all. More time in the gym and specific Prehab exercises I have learned from Dr. J-Rodg to keep the shoulder working properly.

Although 2010 was a bit frustrating with some close 2nd place finishes in adventure races, adaptation to living at Boulder's altitude and my ankle injury keeping me out of my scheduled Ironman Triathlon, I learned some valuable lessons in training and life and am extremely thankful for the amazing opportunities I DID HAVE in 2010 to race with such great teammates and friends in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, California, and Colorado. It is, after all, all about the Journey.

Future posts here will include race re-caps of events and some behind-the-scenes details, maybe some funny or even embarassing photos. The HD GoPro Camera is ready to go!

Proof (I do not think they used this ad):




Upward and Onward,

SC

Saturday, November 13, 2010

wintervention

On Friday night Lisa and I joined some friends at the Boulder Theater for Warren Miller's WIntervention premiere.
The stoke factor was high at the theater, with sponsor shwag give-aways and a bar in the middle of the crowd. The movie featured the usual Warren Miller jaw-dropping cinematography in some of the most spectacular terrain on Earth: Colorado, Tahoe, Antarctica, Georgia, Austria, and New Zealand.

Needless to say people in town are itching for the ski season to start. After spending the last five winters living at the beach in Southern California, I am seriously looking forward to getting back in the mountains this winter! I may not be able to surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon anymore, but that hardly ever happened anyway to be perfectly honest.

What's on tap? Back Country skiing hut trips, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, maybe some winter multisport races...The secret sauce of the curiously dominant athletes from Colorado and Canada is not altitude, but instead putting the bike away for several months and substituting skiing. Yes, it is true, my sea level friends.

While their competitors are noodling around "building base" over the winter, the Snow People are bleeding out of their eyeballs with intensity on their skis and/or climbing on the skis for hours at high altitude. Last winter I had time for continuous 400 mile bike weeks, even hitting 500...not anymore! Balancing work, a long commute, working in the mountain towns and family means it has to be about Quality more than Quantity this "out season". I am looking forward to new challenges in new places and working on specific skills more than logging mega-hours of the same old training.

Quality Time in the mountains...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bottlenecked: Game Over, Man!



Above Video shot by and featuring our friends from Seattle, Team VERVE at CheckpointTracker National Championships in Moab...In the video you can see my team literally lying down on the ground with our feet up, where we were for an hour (at the 2:10 mark you can see me with my red shoes propped up) as we waited for the Tyrolean Traverse bottleneck to clear. Absolute nightmare for any team.

Why would a team be sitting down for an hour waiting in the middle of an adventure race?

The teams ahead of us at the time were also waiting to get on one of the lines. They had skipped one or more checkpoints, which were optional, in order to get to the 300 foot tyrolean traverse across a canyon chasm before the 6:00pm cutoff. Our team had "cleaned the course" and hit every checkpoint with a 1 hour mistake that we were barely able to recover from. In fact, we made it to the tyrolean only 4 minutes before the cutoff. Although we were maybe the only team present that had cleared the course thus far (perhaps Verve did as well?) we were not allowed to go in front of these other teams who had skipped sections.

While we waited for an hour, the top 3 teams ahead of us were riding in a paceline at 20+ mph on their mountain bikes towards downtown Moab in daylight, having left the nearby trek-bike transition while we sat motionless as the sun set. For the record, the view was spectacular! It is very tough to beat Moab for a location for any endurance race or event.

What is even crazier than waiting for an hour in a race is the personnel at the tyrolean told us that on the other side we would easily find the rappel, and rather quickly. According to the map (satellite imagery maps were a novelty) the rappel was less than a mile from the trek-bike transition. We looked for the rappel for 30 minutes, and two different race volunteers (who unbeknownst to our team had just taken the rappel down) told us "you can't go this way" or "you need to follow that shelf"...of course we thought they were telling us how to get to the rappel safely, and they assumed we were already told the rappel was already gone. Awful.

We continued down the canyon until we hit the riverside paved road that took us back to the transition area, finally realizing that the rappel was non-existent. Then at the TA we find that we would be penalized an hour for "not doing" the rappel. Insult to injury.

Knowing the tremendous caliber of the teams ahead of us, such as DART-nuun/SportMulti, Osprey Packs, Yoga Slackers, etc., we were frustrated but invigorated to put the pedal to the metal to try to make up time. You never know what can happen in an adventure race! In this race, that certainly turned out to be the case...

So our earlier mistake of an hour + an hour waiting for the tyrolean (58 minutes, to be precise), + 30 minutes going back and forth in a canyon looking for an imaginary rappel + a one hour penalty meant we were had lost not just a "recoverable" one hour, but 3.5 hours! In a 24 hour adventure race that is an absolute eternity. We rallied and continued to move well almost mistake-free for the rest of the race, but it was too late.

The one and only reason I am recounting this story (for the record, not a whiny lament) is so race directors can read it (possibly) and take this situation into consideration when designing future courses. Directing an adventure race or any multisport event is a difficult and time-intensive job, and can be quite complicated. When you factor in teams skipping ahead to checkpoints, teams protesting against others tactics, and course design flaws, things can get dodgy very quickly.

Unfortunately, this new optional CP format is increasingly popular with race directors and even some racers, and more of the norm than the exception today. Race directors today have switched the emphasis in many cases from racing to participating and hence now create events designed to allow everyone to 'finish'. Although I recognize this may be the best offering to attract new athletes to the sport of adventure racing, I am not personally interested in any ultra endurance event that everyone knows they are going to be able to finish, even if it means skipping up to half of the course. Personally I find this to be antithetical to the concept of adventure racing.

Much like a hard drug user or other "sensation seeker", I require an increasingly intense and/or long challenge, preferably one that puts the odds against me. This applies to any endurance event, from a 2k ocean swim race where I know I will be trounced by the "real" swimmers, to a 20k TT where I hope to break my own PR or a 200k 24 hour adventure race.

You can only dig deep-really deep- when forced by competition and a sense of white-hot urgency. Folks who race bikes know this. This is why I am attracted to events that scare the crap out of you and require you to dig deep just to finish. We race against ourselves, our demons that whisper excuses in our ear as our limbic system convinces us to quit. Defeating these demons, even more so than the competition, is how you grow.

Adventure Racing isn't for everyone, and now it is trying to be. Bring back the hairy, scary races that NOT everyone finishes. Boo Hoo. Too bad. Races that eat their young. That's what I want. I want the finish line to MEAN something...that I completed the journey, ran the gauntlet, passed the test. Every adventure race certainly does not have to be this way. There will always be races for beginners or folks who just want to "play" more than race their guts out. There are options for both, but increasingly more for the latter and less for the former.

Contrast this new culture shift to the Barkley Ultramarathon and 60 mile Fun Run. Only 9 people out of 700 entrants have finished...ever. I do not believe they are planning on changing their race anytime soon. Apples to Oranges, sure.

http://www.mattmahoney.net/barkley/

While many are quite content to participate in these newer versions of adventure races, I will choose races that offer a "point to point" adventurous journey, and courses designed to prevent teams from skipping ahead of their competition. To me it is just a matter of satisfaction. When my team was undefeated in 2008, many of the season's races were ROGAINE format. Our navigators were co-North American ROGAINE Champions, as well as very strong athletes, which I believe gave us a tremendous advantage in this race format.

While I love spending time with my teammates and winning races for our sponsors, the joy or sense of accomplishment just was not there in ROGAINE races compared to point to point races when crossing the finish line...certainly not compared to crossing the finish line at a nearly suicidal insane race like the Baja Travesia. I was deathly ill and mostly worthless in that race, but making it to the finish line somehow with my teammates is something I will never, ever forget.

http://www.bajatravesia.com/_teams/dartnuunnw.php

Some adventure races on the radar include next May's new addition to the Adventure Racing World Series schedule: APEX: Alpine Expedition Switzerland Race, put on by veteran race director (best known for directing Untamed New England/Untamed Switzerland Adventure Races) Grant Killian. TRIOBA in Washington state is also a great option for those who want a capital A, capital R "Adventure Race". Outside of AR I plan on entering more solo races that promise to brutally crush my dreams.



I much prefer the odds for success, for even finishing, to be Against Me.



.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Curious Rise of ROGAINE Courses in Adventure Racing.



Dear Adventure Racer Family,

As Guest-Blogger on www.CheckpointTracker.com this month, I am tackling ROGAINE-format (orienteering, get checkpoints in any order, tally "points" at the finish line) courses in adventure racing. I am opposed to the concept, as I view an adventure race as a journey from Point A to Z. Nomenclature and semantics fog the definition, but Point to Point, Loop, Clover Leaf, whatever you want to call it...sequential order of checkpoints from Start to Finish is what I personally prefer as a "traditionalist" in AR. A good course should be designed to challenge racers' decision making and navigation skills, offering several options along the way that may or may not be faster: Bushwack or take the longer, but faster trail? There are myriad reasons why race directors decided to change to an orienteering format over the last several years, but my argument is simply that there is another way...

The rise of orienteering's influence on AR has meant that over the last few years more races have been designed as ROGAINE (orienteering acronym describing typically longer orienteering events: “Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance"), or modified ROGAINE, which means that checkpoints are spread across a "course", and the team that hits the most, sometimes in any order, at the finish line with the fastest time wins sometimes with a fixed time frame such as 24 hours. Skipping some or many checkpoints becomes a strategy for teams. Some teams may even skip half of the checkpoints, only to reach the finish line as..."finishers". This may work in orienteering, but Adventure Racing is NOT Orienteering in my opinion.

An event that calls itself a Race, but invites athletes to show up at the start line without even EXPECTING to FINISH the course is far from what I would consider a "race". Call me crazy. This is just my humble opinion as an "old school" adventure racer who started in the mid-1990s. I am totally aware that there are many out there who enjoy and even prefer this ROGAINE format. They don't want to do the whole course, or maybe in a few cases are not capable. I also am aware that many of these athletes came into the sport more recently than I, and this is all they have experienced. This is normative to them, and they see AR as a multisport orienteering event, or ROGAINE.

In recognition of the myriad challenges Race Directors face, the prime directive for them in my opinion is to design a course that recognizes the bell curve. A course should be do-able in 24-30 hours by the vast majority of teams. Some RDs complain that the top teams will then finish in under 20 hours, maybe even 12 in some cases if the majority finish in 24-28. I ask: How many teams are racing for the win? Not many. If there are 30 teams at the start line, there may be a few that will "blast through the course" without incident, racing for the win. Most of these teams care first and foremost about winning, not spending an extra 4 hours on a course orienteering in the woods, zig zagging this way and that.

The bottom line is my heart is broken that adventure racing has become-in some instances-a race that encourages teams to toe the starting line knowing they will skip checkpoints or entire sections. Who would start an ultramarathon, Ironman, ultra mtb race, sailing regatta, or any other competition planning on NOT doing the whole thing? This concept is native to orienteering, not adventure racing. I am all about inclusion and attracting as many people as possible to AR, however possible. In the past, finishing a race was not a guarantee in an adventure race. Far from it! I did one race in 2000, the Mega Dose in Virginia that had 60 or so teams. None made it to the finish line under the cutoff. None. My team was the only 4 person team to finish the race, and thus "won", after 88 hours of racing across 250 miles. The other teams all dropped out along the way, save for a couple duos and soloists. Every team knew at the start line that the race was almost a "Mission: Impossible".

Perhaps my "vote" will be meaningless, but I am too passionate about competing fiercely and winning races based on my hard work, blood, sweat and tears put into training. The commitment it takes to prepare to compete for the win involves enormous sacrifices and opportunity costs. I enjoy the training, and it is a lifestyle, but if I am standing at the start line with my teammates, knowing we have all made the same deep commitment to our preparedness, I want a rewarding JOURNEY from A to Z, and our win or loss to be based on fitness, teamwork and skill. Strangely, my opinion is in the minority today in adventure racing.

This is just one guy's preference and opinion. It should go without saying that my CPT blog was written purposefully as disruptive leadership, a splinter under AR's fingernail to provoke thought and an emotional response throughout the wider community...to elicit a reaction. This reaction was over 100 comments in the first 48 hours, and over 300 votes in checkpointtracker.com's online poll (Poll was ROGAINE FORMAT ARs: Good, Bad, Maybe).

This is just the beginning of the conversation, and I invite everyone to contribute their own opinions and offer solutions. For racers new to the sport, I invite you to read Martin Dugard's "Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth" and other accounts of the wild and wonderful world of adventure racing in the early to late 1990s. The book is fantastic and might acquaint some with both the Adventure and Racing parts of Adventure Racing. Both were unbelievably intense, and regrettably unimaginable to today's incarnation of the sport.

The #1 goal for the blog was to start a conversation with some controversy. It worked! I am stoked so many people have chimed in and opined on not just the original vs. rogaine debate but many other issues surrounding adventure race course design, cutoffs, short-coursing, etc. Hopefully this forum will continue to stay active and the racer-RD communication floodgates will stay open for the betterment of the sport, regardless of your preferred 'evolved' iteration.

In Adventure,

SC

Monday, October 18, 2010

USARA Adventure Racing National Championship





Never Give Up...



Sometimes things don't go as planned. Sometimes they do, but your plan backfires. Sometimes you are forced to dig deep and rally and race your guts out with a furious tenacity all the way to the finish line, only to have your dreams crushed at the very last moment. That, folks, is adventure racing.

Over the weekend I raced the 2010 USARA 24 Hour Adventure Racing National Championship with my usual DART-nuun teammate Mari Chandler and a "new" teammate and navigator Kyle Peter. We raced as Team Tecnu Extreme-StaphAseptic. This would be the second time since 2004 that I would race with a team other than DART-nuun. Mari and Kyle have raced quite well together in 2010, and going into this race they both had over twelve 24 hour races under their belts for the season. In fact, just one week before Nationals they raced together at the NorCal Racing Whiskeytown 24 Hour Adventure Race...and won. Needless to say, they are a well-oiled machine and both on great form...Terminators. Going into the race with a win streak racing with Mari of 6 or 7 races, and with a super-strong Kyle Peter navigating, we were confident that we had the tools to achieve our singular goal of winning.



The field was stacked with several former USARA national championship-winning teams: Team iMOAT from Texas (2006 & 2007 Champions); Team Granite (2009 winners); Team EMS (2005); TecnuExtreme-StaphASeptic (Sean & Mari won with DART-nuun in 2008), and dozens of other top contenders who had qualified at regional adventure races around the United States.

The event was hosted by the Hidden Valley ski resort in Laurel Highlands, Pennsylvania, and directed by American Adventure Sports, one of the oldest adventure racing companies in the United States. I was particularly impressed with the race director, Doug Crytzer, who has been directing adventure races since 1998, around the time I got started in this sport. In Doug's previous career he was a Master Sergeant with the 82nd Airborne. My kinda guy! His no-nonsense, totally genuine style reminded me of my early adventure racing mentors from my Navy days, who happened to be former Army Delta Force and Navy SEALs. These people are different, and these are my kind of people. "Take Care of Your Teammates" was repeated more than once.



You can see me in black/white/red at the start faking straight and cutting left, then climbing up the ski hill. Kind of a painful way to start a "29 hour" race!

After 4 hours of racing, we had a lead of approximately 40 minutes after hammering the first bike section which included plenty of long, steep climbing. In a cruel twist of fate, our hard-earned lead turned into a 1hr10 deficit to first place when we misunderstood the bike-paddle transition & banned-road instructions and struggled through a bushwhack to the paddle put-in. What we had interpreted to be the "intended" route on the map turned into a very slow, arduous and potentially deadly bush-whack in our carbon-soled mountain bike shoes on the lip (literally) of a concrete cliff (long dam drainage, 30' sheer drop) with very poor loose-dirt and pricker-bush footing along a steep slope.

The race directors spotted us as we approached the end of the cliff (which lead to another smaller cliff) and started running towards us, waving their arms, terrified that we would fall. After yelling back and forth and explaining how we got there, we managed to find the least-precarious spot to downclimb the loose rock, which was not easy in worn-out carbon-soled bike shoes and packs sloshing around...We carefully spotted each other, as tree and shrub trunks and roots were our only handholds in a very sketchy, super-exposed moment. Doug yelled "YOU ARE NOT RACING RIGHT NOW!" and you could cut the tension with a knife. But we made it down.

After we got down and started running towards the boats, we were stopped immediately and told we had to arrive WITH OUR BIKES. Which were stashed 2 miles away at the start of our ill-fated bushwhack. Apparently we mis-read the instructions and assumed the road to the paddle put-in was banned, and that the bushwhack was the intended route. In the pre-race instructions, we were advised to bring a bike cable-lock of some sort as we would have to stash our bikes at some point in the race, somewhere people might be hiking or hunting. The place we stashed our bikes seemed to fit that description perfectly. Alas.

We had just lost quite a bit of time with the slow bushwack, and as we "debated" briefly with the Doug the RD, we saw teams arriving to the canoe transition, coming in HOT on their bikes. We were told we had to run back to our bikes, which would mean a couple miles through town. Damnit.

We had our running shoes with us in our backpacks, so we quickly swapped shoes and did the "run of shame" back to our bikes, which were stashed in the woods. As we cantered back to our bikes, approximately 10 teams passed us as they rode towards the canoes. The look on their faces was either shocked consternation or smug amusement.

When we did reach our bikes, we noticed the race organization had a vehicle at the trail-head, stopping teams from taking the risky (and wrong) bush-whack. About 90 minutes too late for our team! Doug told us he honestly never expected teams to deduce that the bushwhack was 'intended'.

Back on our bikes, we hammered back to the canoes, and started the paddle NOT in first place, but 10th or 11th. In our hurried transition, we managed to pick the slowest canoe out of 20+ boats pre-staged next to the put-in ramp (they looked similar but were in fact different). We actually paddled a beater red COLEMAN canoe, the kind your grandpa would take you fishing in back in the 70s or 80s. The other canoes were not by any means "fast" boats, but the difference in hull speed was noticeable as we struggled to make the old boat "go" with our trusty EPIC carbon kayak paddles.

(NOTE: We opted to use our own paddles vs. the race organization's canoe paddles, since this seems to be faster for our team. The downside was that we would have to carry the 3 kayak paddles throughout the race for ~24 hours. We opted to use EPIC's 3 piece paddles, which broke down and fit into our larger-than-usual packs.)

One of the areas where we actually gained time on the canoe section was when we would portage (HARD) over sandbars, taking short cuts and one long beach (mud) run-up to the furthest checkpoint. Apparently dragging this boat across soft sand and mud was faster than paddling! The weather changed from 50s, calm and sunny to 40s, rain and 30mph NorEaster winds every half hour or so, which was slightly amusing since we are quite accustomed to training and racing in "poor" conditions.

The highlight of the paddle was portaging over the last penninsula, instantly leaving behind the 30mph winds and cold rain, only to be greeted inexplicably by sunny sky, calm water and a very low, obtuse rainbow on the near horizon. Team WEDALI was in the area and we all broke out into "DOUBLE RAINBOW!!! DOUBLE RAINBOW!! WHAT DOES IT MEEEEEEAN??

By the end of the 11+ mile canoe we would find ourselves back in the top 5, and once on the bikes we rallied back to 1st place in relatively short order. While we made up the lost time rather quickly with Kyle's ace navigation and some harder efforts, we couldn't help but think that our original 40~ minute lead could have been nearly 2 hours with our race pace. Rather than wasting mental energy lamenting our mistake, we focused on what was IN FRONT of us, not what happened behind us on that cliff...

Fast forwarding to the end of the race, a "challenging" night orienteering starting and finishing at the finish line,
WEDALI (We Eat Dust And Like It is the acronym!) navigated flawlessly and moved swiftly, never giving up. Those Minnesotans are Tenacious! Their team has won just about every race in the Midwest this year, and after 8 years of consistently racing together they have the experience to know how to handle these situations. Our team made only one navigational error between orienteering CPs 6 and 7, and actually realized it and made a correction after about 20 minutes. We backtracked to cut our losses and set a new bearing before continuing at full-speed. This trekking section was in thick brush before dawn, and the maps (as usual) did not exactly match reality. We seized any opportunity to run, and kept the intensity high to the very end.

After maintaining a ~45 minute lead all the way until the end of this last, 9 checkpoint, ~6 hour orienteering section in the middle of the night, WEDALI managed to sneakily out-maneuver us in the final few CPs and managed to win by just under 6 minutes. We had no idea they were that close until we hit the last CP atop the ski slopes. "WEDALI was here 6 minutes ago"...WHAT!?!? We had encountered them earlier in this orienteering section, but took different routes somewhere along the way.

As the sun rose we sprinted down the Hidden Valley ski slope to the finish line only to hear the confirmation that the Minnesotans had crushed our dreams, finishing 5 minutes and 40 seconds or so before. This was perhaps the closest finish in USARA history. You could hear the sound of the deflating balloon when we crossed the finish line. Or maybe a whoopie cushion.

We heartily congratulate Team WEDALI for not giving up, remaining confident and focused and for putting on a navigational "clinic". In an adventure race--or any endurance competition--you can never predict what adversity your competitors will face. Mr. Murphy of Murphy's Law fame is ALWAYS along for the ride, and he holds no favorites.

Several top-contending teams like iMOAT, GRANITE, BERLIN BIKES or EMS would normally have been right there battling for the lead on any other given day if not for their own unforeseen adversity. After 22 hours and 47 minutes of racing through some of the gnarliest terrain Pennsylvania has to offer, it was a tough way to lose.

WEDALI and Tecnu Extreme-StaphAseptic shared a table at the awards ceremony, drinking Yeungling lager and comparing navigation mistakes and bike mechanicals (dealing with a frozen/locked pedal was a new one) over pumpkin pie. The comaraderie you sense in the sport of adventure racing is beyond anything I have experienced in sport, and can only compare to my military training. The shared notion of "I can't believe we are doing this/I can't believe we just did that/When can we do this again" sums it up in my opinion.

One great thing about a crushing defeat like this one is you learn much more from your losses than wins. In this instance, WEDALI showed what can happen when you DON'T GIVE UP. DON'T EVER GIVE UP!
I can honestly say I am more motivated than ever after this dream-crushing loss.


Fire in the Belly, baby!


My 2008 National Champion trophy remains lonely on the bookshelf...until next year in Kentucky! Yep, it was leaked that the location of the 2011 National Championships will be somewhere in the Bluegrass State.


www.usaranationals.com




LASTLY, I am taking on a few more coaching clients this fall/winter for the 2011 season. If you are interested, email me at:
sjclancy (at) yahoo (dot) com

Whether you are interested in detailed weekly coaching and email correspondence, personal training (if you happen to live near Boulder, CO), a long-term general training plan, or consulting, we can work something out on a case-by-case basis at all price-points.

All athletes are different and there are no cookie-cutter-plans that I repackage and sell. If you want to take your racing to the NEXT LEVEL, then we should talk. It doesn't matter if your goals are specific to Adventure Racing, Ironman triathlon (in conjunction with your masters swim team), Ultramarathon running, Ultra-distance mountain bike racing, or just getting off the couch and getting active again, it doesn't matter.

Life gets busy. Make the most of your available training time. This is not a dress rehearsal!

In Adventure,

SC

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Boulder Daily Camera Interview

While I was racing at the USARA 24 Hour Adventure racing National Championship in Pennsylvania, the Boulder Daily Camera published the following interview in Friday's newspaper. Thankfully, they also posted it online so I can share it here...

Outdoor reporter Jenn Fields interviewed me as well as the Team Tecnu-StaphAseptic team manager, Doug Judson, prior to the race.

http://www.coloradodaily.com/ci_16332402#axzz13D1QNoV5

Monday, August 30, 2010

1st Place at TRIOBA 24 Hour Adventure Race!



25 Hours and 50 minutes after starting in Chelan, Team nuun-SportMulti crossed the finish line in Plain as 2010 Trioba Champions.

CHELAN NEWSPAPER REACTION TO TRIOBA 24
Including an audio interview of Glenn Rogers:
http://www.golakechelan.com/?name=News&file=article&sid=11221


What a race!

Team nuun-SportMulti at the 2010 Trioba 24 hour Adventure Race was composed of racers Matt Hayes, Mari Chandler, Sean Clancy and guest-racer Jeremy Rodgers. Mari and Sean went into TRIOBA with a 5-for-5 race winning streak together. For most of those races, their 3rd teammate was ace-navigator Glenn Rogers. This time around, Glenn was the race DIRECTOR, and teammate Matt Hayes would step into the navigator role. Could they keep the magical streak alive? Glenn and co-director (Team nuun-SportMulti racer and co-founder) Ryan Van Gorder promised to throw some curve-balls to prevent ANY team from having an easy go of it. By the time teams reached the finish line, the 2010 TRIOBA 24 would go down as a classic and one of the harder-but most rewarding-events in memory...

For Adventure Racers seeking a truly wild, gnarly, challenging and fun point-to-point course, the 2010 Trioba 24 Hour Adventure Race did not disappoint. The race was professionally directed with by our nuun-SportMulti teammates Glenn Rogers and Ryan Van Gorder. In the months leading up to the race, Glenn and Ryan posted random photos of locations they were scouting for checkpoints on the course. The photos depicted mountain-top fire lookout towers, mine entrances (?!), a ruined "castle" (seriously), rattlesnakes and some very large mountain lion and bear paw prints. We knew the race would offer serious navigational challenges and options, massive amounts of elevation gain and loss, and brutal amounts of rocky off-trail terrain. Oh, and a substantial paddle. Having known and raced with Glenn and Ryan for a while now, my expectations for the race were very high.

After a pre-race meeting in the town of Plain (the location of the finish) at 9pm where we received out maps and checkpoints, teams were bused (yes, in an old schoo bus!) 90 minutes to Chelan where the race began with a surprise midnight Prolog: an urban orienteering course in downtown Chelan. The local police gave us some funny looks as we bolted down the street hooting and hollering. Checkpoints could be hit in any order, so teams crisscrossed each other as they scrambled to complete the Prolog and begin the actual race in the mountains. Instead of punching our passports at each CP, we were given a list of questions and CP locations where we could find the answers. Names and dates on statues, address of the post office, etc. It was actually a fun way to start the race, and the only time we would be running on a flat surface!

Our team finished the prolog and began the first leg of the race, a 20+ mile mountain trek, about a minute behind Team Verve of Seattle, led by Latvian ace-navigator Peteris Ledins. The trek began with a substantial 3,000 foot, very steep climb straight up to a mountaintop before settling into more of a rolling (ok, steep and endless) rhythm between checkpoints. Peteris out-smarted us to one CP in the first couple hours of the trek, earning an instant 25 minute lead. This leg had some particularly steep and loose trekking, so I was glad I had my clear-lens Rudy Project glasses on with a Nex Strap. Awesome nighttime combination for adventure racing. If you are an adventure racer or 24 hour mountain bike racer and you don't use clear lenses and a NEX STRAP you are missing out, and risking it. Taking a branch to the eye is no fun! We finished the 7 hour trek, which had 7,000' of mostly off-trail elevation gain, in 2nd place. Team Verve is known for their exceptional navigation and fast travel on foot through gnarly terrain, so we were not surprised that they were able to maintain a lead heading into the first transition.


Placing a Checkpoint in an old abandoned mining building? And a few INSIDE mines? That's TRIOBA.

After the trek came a 20 mile paddle down the SLACK Columbia River. The river was moving at less than 1 knot, if at all. Because we were racing with guest-teammate Jeremy Rodgers, of the USA Wildwater Kayak Team, we knew we had an advantage over everyone in 'horsepower" but also reading the river. After a bit over 3 hours, we exited the paddle less than 10 minutes behind Verve and made a quick transition to the following mountain bike leg with the intent of a quick pass for the lead.

The mountain bike section allowed our team to exploit our strength on two wheels and to build a large lead on Verve. We managed to pass Verve in the first few miles and built on our lead throughout the 3.5 hour, 4,000' elevation gain ride. Along the way, we stuck to our team's proven formula for success by assisting our lead navigator, Matt Hayes by thinking aloud and collectively searching for key elevation markers, trails and features to eliminate any costly mistakes. Matt navigated one of the most flawless performances I have ever witnessed, with virtually zero mistakes throughout the race. In such a difficult race, this is exceptional and Matt's navigation is now at a world-class level in my opinion.





We exited the mountain bike section with a commanding lead on Verve, with Team MERGEO further back in 3rd than expected. The race was ours to lose. We were faced with an "optional" two-Checkpoint mountain trek that only teams who had cleared the entire course so far would be allowed to begin. The trek began with a SKETCHY steep and loose rocky climb out of the TA that involved hands as much as feet! The arduous and risky climb led us up a ridgeline to the first of the two CPs, which Matt nailed with surgical precision. Along the way we saw countless bear tracks and scat, as well as what looked like mountain lion tracks which added to the excitement. During the long downhill run and bushwack back to the TA, we encountered a recently-eaten deer carcass and other fun reminders of the carnivorous inhabitants of the wilderness. We chugged water and nuun out of our Hydrapaks as we headed back to the river-side transition.

Our guest-teammate Jeremy Rodgers had some extreme chafing issues during throughout the race, which came to a head in this section. Even turning his tri-shorts inside-out did not offer enough relief, so with no sign of civilization for miles in any direction, he opted to go au-natural for a bit as we bushwacked across the mountains in first place. At this point in the race, temperatures were in the 80s and the sun was beating down on our SportMulti hats and visors. I do not want to imagine the tanlines and sunburn that resulted. Jeremy visited the PAIN CAVE in a big way and never complained. We finished the 3.5 hour, 2150' elevation gain "optional" trek in first place with a large lead heading into the penultimate massively masochistic mountain bike ride to the finish

We began the mountain bike, the final leg of the race, at just after 6pm, having raced hard for 18 hours nonstop. Of course we were awake for an additional 18 hours before that as the race started at midnight, since Glenn masochistically started the race at midnight. Sleepmonsters started to kick in as dark fell, but we fought them with Red Bull, FEIN, Vivarin, and caffeinated gels. I had two large flasks pre-filled with Vitargo and FEIN before the race, which I somehow managed to not pack in our team transition bin. DOH!



The final bike was navigationally quite challenging, with or without sleep deprivation. After the race we would learn that many teams were either lost during this section or opted to stop and briefly sleep before continuing. From the Trek-Bike Transition, we climbed nearly nonstop, save for some bike-wacking from the trek-bike TA at 1450' to a fire lookout at 5800'. Although we started the bike in warmer temperatures, wearing tri shorts and unzipped jerseys, by the time we reached the 5800' checkpoint 4.5 hours later in the darkness we were all donning knee warmers, BUFFs, gloves, and jackets. The temperature had dropped precipitously and light rain and stong wind greeted us above 5,000'. Thunderstorms in the distance provided some help with our navigation, as the lightning strikes illuminated the fire tower structure above us. GOOD TIMES.

After the fire lookout TA we had a mostly downhill ride to the finish, albeit a 3 hour long one, with a nice 1400' steep grinding climb to break up the fun. We continued to work as a team to navigate flawlessly, and crossed the finish line after 7.5 hrs and 7200' of elevation gain according to my Suunto T6 watch. Remarkably, nobody on our team had a flat or mechanical throughout the race, except for some chain skipping here and there. (TURNER FLUX + SCHWALBE NOBBY NIC TIRES, FOLKS!). For me personally, this is even more impressive since this no-flat streak on the same tires/tubes includes a 24 hour adventure race two weeks ago and the 100 mile Breckenridge 100 4 weeks ago, as well as training in-between. This is unheard of.

Our rag-tag motley troupe crossed the finish line in FIRST PLACE at 1:49am, after 25 hours and 50 minutes of nonstop racing.

Before we could say thank you to the TRIOBA organization, they were handing us hot chocolate, lasagna, sodas, and whatever else we needed. First class all the way! We managed to sleep/shiver a few hours camped out near the finish line before waking up with the sunrise and greeting the other teams as they finished before the 9am cutoff. The adventure racing community vibe was strong, with teams lined up at the finish cheering until the last team finished after over 30 hours of racing.

If you live near Seattle, or anywhere in the Northwest, or if you are interested in visiting the adventure racer's paradise of Washington, you should check out what TRIOBA is doing. This fall and winter they will be offering talks and slideshows at REI and other locations for new as well as seasoned adventure racers. If you are just getting into the sport, Team nuun-SportMulti and other Seattle teams are offering a series of beginner races and clinics for athletes of all backgrounds and abilities. Contact us via www.trioba.com or www.dartadventure.com Sean is putting together similar programs in Boulder, Colorado as well.

Lastly, for discounts on nuun, SportMulti and other endurance supplements, please check out www.feedthemachine.com


PICTURE TIME!

Christina Chacharon Photography:
www.christinachacharon.com


We had some fast composite tandems reserved, but somehow when we went to pick them up they were "gone". We wound up paddling these plastic Necky Amaruks, which worked out fine.


MAKE SOME NOISE!!! Exiting the last mountain trek with a nice lead on 2nd place.


Some of you reading this know what the Feather means...


Entering transition after the last mountain trek. A bit worked but ready for the BIG ride to the finish...


RVG resisting the urge to mention the conspicuously inside-out tri shorts.


Count the teammates! It was great seeing so many of my teammates in one place.


Matt's shirt sums it up nicely.



Team nuun-SportMulti, 2010 TRIOBA Champions

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tough 2nd Place at Gold Rush 24 Hour Adventure Race



For another perspective on the race and VIDEO footage of the paddle, ropes, bike and trekking sections, check out my Gold Rush teammate Slater Fletcher's blog at http://trailtime.blogspot.com/2010/08/gold-rush-adventure-race.html Slater raced with a GoPro helmet-mounted camera and took some amazing footage. Additionally, he added a cool soundtrack. Make sure you check it out!

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of joining my Team nuun-SportMulti teammates Cyril Jay-Rayon, Jen Segger and "Stuntman" Slater Fletcher at the Gold Rush 24 Hour Adventure Race in Long Barn, California, near Yosemite National Park. Race directors Mark Richardson and Adrian Crane put on one of the best 24 hour adventure races I have done, anywhere, and I have been adventure racing since 1997. The race managed to be very challenging physically, even without much-feareds bike-destroying manzanita bike-whacks or a gratuitously long and boring hike-a-bike. Instead racers were greeted with an impressively considerate course design and wilderness experience that reflected an enormous amount of thoughtful planning and hard work. Every single one of the Gold Rush volunteers I encountered were ON IT, proactive and seemed as connected to the race as the racers. After crossing the finish line I had to say "No, Thank You" about 700 times as they continued to offer more and more drinks, food (fresh off the grill!), etc. Schwag included a nice long-sleeve tech running shirt and adventure racing mandatory gear item raffle-give-aways.

The race itself consisted of approximately: 3.5 hour paddle-4 hour bike (5200' gain)-9+ hour trek (6,000' gain)-9+ hour bike (6,000' gain). There were 24 checkpoints plotted along the way in a True Adventure Race point to point format. At all times the teams knew where they were ranked and what the gaps were in front to the next position. For most of the race Team nuun-SportMulti ran next to or minutes behind Team Yoga Slackers. Unfortunately we could not close the gap although we tried like hell to the very end! The heat and altitude (the course was laid out mostly between 5000' and 8400') took its toll on racers throughout the race, punishing those who skipped opportunities to fill their bottles with water and nuun at the many streams along the course. I fueled primarily with my usual Vitargo, however I did not bring enough and found myself a bit depleted around the same time the SleepMonsters kicked in after midnight. This is a dangerous combination for adventure racers, because regardless of your experience or past success, when you become sleepy and simply forget to drink or eat you can dig yourself a deep hole. 6 feet deep in my case! One mountain-top checkpoint at a ski resort we hit at 4am happened to have a giant stack of cold cans of Pepsi. In hindsight perhaps I should have shot-gunned a few of those before the following bushwack descent down the backside of the mountain!





Gold Rush 24 was a legit, "real" adventure race with a challenging, scenic and fun point-to-point course which took nearly 27 hours to complete. Thankfully the race organization chose a point to point course and not the lame ROGAINE design that has been poisoning and sabotaging our sport over the last few years in my humble-but-widely-shared opinion. A scenic free-hanging cliff rappel, scramble and ascend section was particularly memorable. Some 24 hour races today don't even *have* ropes sections for myriad reasons. Gold Rush 24 did, and it was awesome. Wait until you see the photos. Just Phenomenal. Imagine mountain biking to a ropes course atop Yosemite valley for an idea of the scene. I should also add that I learned my nose is still unbreakable after Jen accidentally delivered some foot-to-face Chuck Norris action as we climbed towards the ascent. You had to be there. Being kicked in the face halfway through an adventure race incidentally is a super way to wake up with a shot of epinephrine. I'll stick with FEIN for now, but that might be my go-to wake-up move for future races when I lose the plot at 3am!

Link for some photos the race organization took: http://www.untamedadventure.com/advzone/adventure2.aspx





The site of the race was just outside the northwest corner of the spectacular and world-famous Yosemite National Park, almost touching the park boundary. In my opinion Yosemite is one of the true wonders of the world. You cannot name too many places better suited for an adventure race. I have posted some photos on Facebook and will continue to post more as they come in.



Our 4th teammate (a cameo appearance by triathlon, multisport and mountain bike monster and good friend Slater Fletcher) wore a Go-Pro camera throughout the race and was able to get some great shots and footage that we will try to post on our DART adventure racing team Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/dartadventure. Slater had a strong race just as I predicted, and I think my teammates Jen and Cyril would agree that we look forward to racing with him again! He is one of the few people in the world doing both the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 8 weeks and the XTERRA World Championships in Maui a couple weeks later. If he had it his way I am sure he would tack on the UltraMan a couple weeks after Maui.



As for results, nuun-SportMulti wasn't able to secure the win this time, and took a close 2nd. Our dreams were definitely crushed....but only because Team Yoga Slackers absolutely killed it with a phenomenal, flawless race, edging us by half an hour. If they had made one real mistake or even suffered a few flat tires we would have been right there to capitalize on their mistakes and swoop in for the victory. This did not happen, which means Yoga Slackers not only beat us physically and with quicker navigation, but their attention to detail in transition and gear is also spot-on. They earned this victory! Yoga Slackers was on fire the whole time and absolutely deserved the hard-fought win, 2 weeks after we narrowly edged them at the Big Blue Lake Tahoe 24 Hr Adventure Race.

YogaSlackers seem to be on fire right now and we look forward to competing again soon. I highly recommend checking out their website if you haven't already. This is a very cool group of people who not only kick ass in adventure races, but also teach clinics in Slackline Yoga, Vinyasa and Acroyoga. Very cool stuff. Very cool people.

Up next for nuun-SportMulti is the Trioba 24 Hour Adventure Race in Lake Chelan, Washington. Trioba promises to give Gold Rush a run for their money for killer course design and "true" adventure. I will report back with the answer! If you can get to Washington in 2 weeks, check it out: www.trioba.com If you aren't familiar with Lake Chelan area, look it up on Google Earth. One of America's hidden gems. We hope to get back to our winning ways at Trioba, and roll into the National Championship race in Moab with a perfect score of 300 in the Checkpoint Tracker Series.

Shameless Plugs: I am riding the same 2008 Turner Flux, straight from their factory without mods, that carried me through the 2008 and 2009 seasons. I get compliments on the bike as it looks "new". It rides like new too! I have been meaning to switch to a 29er, but this bike for some reason is unbreakable, super fun to ride and perfect for adventure racing. Why change? She's been good to me.

The Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires I rode are the same ones I put on a week before the Breckenridge 100 a few weeks ago. Considering I have been on some long and/or gnarly rides on technical trails and mixed terrain in between Breck and Gold Rush, that is around 300 miles on these tires without ONE flat. Incredible. Weird, even. I am running them WITH tubes right now, at about 38psi.Like many, I always coat the inside of my tires with baby powder, but nothing else out of the ordinary to prevent flats. I weigh about 180lbs. The side knobs are in great shape as are the middle knobs. These tires are amazing. My teammate Jen Segger rode Racing Ralph in the back with a Nobby Nic up front at the Tahoe Big Blue 24 hour adventure race 2 weeks ago and the same set at Gold Rush. Again, no flats and tread is in great shape. This is amazing mostly because the Schwalbe tires tout a very high-tech rubber compound that provides amazing traction. Usually tires like these would last a couple races and need to be replaced. Fortunately for my pocketbook, I will race the very same set at the Trioba 24 hour adventure race in 2 weeks. I'm sold on Schwalbe tires.

Lastly, the new Light & Motion Stella 300 lights we're using this year are a huge step up from the Stella 180s I used two years ago. We are moving much faster through bushwack sections and navigating better with improved visibility at night. Check out reviews online and you'll see why they are a no-brainer for adventure racing and 24 hour mountain bike racing...http://www.bikelightingsystem.com/stella300.html

Wrapping it up, if you have never done one of the Gold Rush races, you are truly missing out. This was my first one and I will definitely be back. Awesome job, Mark and Adrian (and army of volunteers)!

In Adventure,

SC






www.sportmulti.com Endurance Multivitamin Created by Adventure Racers and Endurance Cyclists
www.nuun.com mandatory electrolytes for adventure racing!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mt. Bierstadt, Adventure Racing style...



On Saturday, I joined Jeremy Rodgers and Heather Prentice for a fun adventure racing training day in the mountains...Our plan was to ride up to Guanella Pass, stash our bikes, run/hike up to Mt. Bierstadt, traverse the treacherous Sawtooth Ridge to Mt. Evans, and then drop down a couloir back towards the bikes. We'd end with a nice downhill warm-down back to the cars, 12 miles below. Personally, I was looking forward to the traverse as the highlight of this trip.

We parked our "multisport-mobiles" at the Georgetown visitor's center parking lot off I-70 which sits at 8512'. We started quite late, especially for a high mountain excursion, around 10:00am. After giving Heather a head-start so we (ok, I) could fix a broken chain, Jeremy and I rode out of Georgetown and up the newly graded fireroad 12 miles up to Guanella Pass, at 11,669'. We caught Heather right before the pass and enjoyed some excellent views on a mostly clear, warm morning.

After hiding and locking our bikes together we began running/hiking up the sometimes crowded trail to the rocky summit of Mt. Bierstadt, 14,060'.

Shortly after a quick stop to put on warm dry clothes (and hats/gloves/jackets/knee warmers) and regroup at the saddle below the summit, we came within a literal stone's throw of the summit before the sound of thunder erupted around us and we found ourselves in the middle of a nice little electrical storm. The rocks around us emitted a light buzzing sound. Thunder became louder. At 14,000', we had a crystal-clear view of the surrounding hailstorms and approaching dark clouds. It was time to turn around and skip the Sawtooth traverse adventure...

I had never summitted Bierstadt before, so I RISKED IT and scrambled up to the top, where I spent approximately 2 nanoseconds before the feeling of electricity in the air increased, my eyebrows began tingling and buzzing and a couple zaps to my head scared me into retreating MACH SCHNELL.

Hail began to fall and my hair and eyebrows (time to trim?) stood on end. After many years playing in the mountains, this was the first time I had experienced audible zapping and buzzing to my head, and small shocks. This was good enough to motivate us to hurry down the boulder field and rocky slopes back down to the trail. We ran down the muddy trail back down to the pass in light hail and rain...which was actually refreshing!

After a quick transition we blasted back down the fire road to our rigs...

Although we were not able to accomplish our original goal-plan of traversing from Mt Bierstadt to Mt Evans via the Sawtooth Ridge and scramble down the couloir, I am sure we will be back soon to finish what we started. And speaking of 'started', we may begin our adventure a bit earlier next time...











Thursday, July 22, 2010

Breckenridge 100 Race Report



YeeeeeeeOUUCH!

Not acclimated to race at 10-12,450' yet...But I'll be back. What a great ride!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Standby for Pain


"Standby for Pain"..."Standby to hit the surf"..."Standby to go get wet"...

These mocking words--and their context--I will never forget. In my too-short stint in special operations training in the navy I learned at age 20 that the body and mind are capable of enduring far more pain and misery than you can imagine, for quite a bit longer than seems possible. That distilling experience over several months in spring of 1996 molded my mindset and prepared me to overcome any adversity in life.

Silly things like Ironman Triathlons, Expedition Adventure Races seem relaxing and comfortable--mere child's play compared to the intense strength, endurance, focus and fortitude which that training demanded all day, every day. 25 hours a week of aerobic training? That would have been a tapering vacation. Although I sorely wish I would have continued to complete the training, I benefit greatly in myriad ways to this day from the few special months I spent under the tutelage of the world's greatest and toughest warriors at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado.

As I do during all of my hardest races, I will try to recall that strength this weekend at the Breckenridge 100. Racing 100 miles on the mountain bike at an altitude of 10-12,500 feet is going to be a unique brutal challenge, but one I look forward to greatly. I have certainly raced much further in the past, both distance and time-wise, but not at a consistently high oxygen-deprived elevation at this intensity. This type of race promises to punish anyone who disrespects the elevation chart early in the race.

After pre-riding 2/3 of the course now, I know exactly how the altitude will effect power output and hydration requirements. The locals who live at 10,000 and train every day on the course have a great advantage over folks like me from Boulder (5400). For people who come to this race from sea level (like my super strong nuun-SportMulti teammate from Georgia, Jen Rinderle did last year), the race is more about completion than competition.

I have taken some measures to prevent the recurrence of the mindless mistakes that sabotaged my Vision Quest race this year. I have had former Team Garmin wrench DAIMO tune my Turner Flux to be race-ready, and I am running a pair of new Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires. The training "hay is in the barn" and fueling is a non-issue for me in any race when I use Vitargo, nuun, and FEIN.

As far as predictions, I have only one: PAIN. I will aim to think clearly, stay in the present and make the necessary adjustments along the way to take my task to completion...simple, right?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Singletrack Safari: Steamboat


Billy Kidd

After consecutive weekends riding and running some of Colorado's finest high-altitude mountain bike hot spots in Breckenridge and Salida, my definition of "great" singletrack has been totally redefined. Over the weekend I had the good fortune to hit another new (to me) "singletrack destination" that managed to meet "the standard" of my newly jaded perspective.

The subject of this week's edition of Singletrack Safari is Steamboat Springs. I arrived on Saturday afternoon with a rough idea of where I wanted to ride and run based on maps I had Googled at the last second. Fortunately I wound up riding some of the funnest sections of singletrack and one of the more rewarding climbs I have found so far in Colorado. Starting from town at around 7000', the ZigZag/Sunshine trail ascended to the summit of Storm Peak at 10,372 feet. Trails like ZigZag, Sunshine, Cathie's Pete's Wicked Trail cut in and out of thick aspen groves and across steep black diamond ski runs while offering occasional views of the town far below.



Notably, Steamboat Resort's trails on the ski slopes are almost *too* buffed and smooth. With wider than usual switchbacks, bermed turns and almost bikini-waxed singletrack, I wondered if it was the result of traffic or simply to accommodate the Monster-drinking downhiller/freeride crowd who prefer high-fiving on the gondola ride to the top rather than climbing 3500' feet. I will concede that unlike me, the majority of users would not necessarily deem the absence of technical riding a "negative".

Although I only encountered 3 other riders on this particular day, the condition of the trails tells a different story that this is a very popular trail system with the locals and visitors. I am certain there are myriad local trails I missed that offer a greater technical challenge, and next time I ride Steamboat I will surely check them out. With only one afternoon to fit in a ride, I still think I lucked out with my trail choice and look forward to riding it again. Overall, I have to give Steamboat an "A" and "must-ride" status for anyone interested. I award Bonus points for the Apres-Ride scene only a block from the trail head: multiple bars serving up Colorado IPA and live rock and roll, mysteriously almost as busy as ski season.



To check out the live MountainCam, click HERE.






Sir, have you had any alcoholic beverages tonight?

On Saturday night we camped above town at 8,000 feet (I need the extra red blood cells!), a short distance from the resort. Before we made it to our camping spot, while debating my route choice TO said spot, I must have swerved a few times because i was pulled over by the Steamboat police. Apparently they thought I was a DUI candidate. Great. The field sobriety test was a novel experience for me, as I simply don't believe in drinking and driving. After a hard ride only a few hours before, sore knees and a bit of dehydration at 11pm, I wondered if I DID actually appear drunk.

I tried to make the most out of the experience and secretly enjoy the balance exercises by pretending I was slacklining. Throughout this impromptu Decathlon of sobriety tests (which, for the record, I believe I can log as "training" on Attackpoint.org) the officer continually rebuffed my offers to take a Breathalyzer test. Finally after running out of 'events', the officer--who was quite nice the entire time--relented and gave me my very first Breathalyzer. I studied her countenance closely as she read the results, knowing she would be disappointed. "OK, you're fine..." She went on to give me directions to the campsite as well as some inside scoop on the best place to park for the next morning's (are you ready for this?) hot air balloon competition.

We eagerly rose before the sun the next morning to catch the Steamboat Springs Balloon Rodeo. Witnessing dozens of balloons carefully inflate, launch, and then carefully descend a and maneuver a brief touch-and-go on a target in an adjacent pond kept our attention. An over-caffeinated, wise-cracking emcee who must have been a last-second replacement gave the event an awkwardly surreal texture as the sun rose into the sky along with the colorful balloons.

My first painful disillusionment of the day (of many balloon-related disappointment daggers) was the realization that no lasso-ing of balloons was to occur. Nope. Not today. Even worse, I found out the hard way there would not be any furiously bucking bulls impaling the sweet and innocent balloons or baskets. In fact, the "Rodeo" misnomer must have been some sort of cruel joke of an ironic reverse euphemism, like naming a Yorkshire terrier "Bonecrusher". Duped by the bait-and-switch again. I won't get fooled again!

Seriously?
Balloon Rodeo: FAIL.






We left shocked and disappointed--embarassed almost--that even after the cancellation of balloon-lassoing and balloon bullfights, the glib balloon pilot curmudgeons chose to twist the dagger by:

A) Apparently disallowing any basket-anchored Bungee Jumping or Ballooon-to-Balloon jumping of any kind.
B) Obviously preventing passengers from Cannonball-diving into the water from their balloon as it hovered over the pond;
C) Astonishingly, forgetting to Drop water ballloons or other objects such as pumpkin pies or fake plastic frogs onto the crowd;
D) Pathetically chickening out on the much-anticipated Buzzing of the tower a la Maverick in Top Gun.

All of the above seemed like painfully obvious stunts that I had reasonably assumed I paid for with my 10 dollar admission.

What the hell, Scrooge?

Isn't the WHOLE POINT of flying a hot air balloon to drop splatter-able objects on unsuspecting pedestrians
below? Hello?

My dreams: Crushed.

Deflated, after the anti-climatic balloon let-down we stopped at Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs for a hilly trail run and a dip in both the hot springs and cold river. Hear me now and believe me later, girlymen: those springs are H.O.T., and the river is COLD. The funky interlude was timed perfectly to precede the next leg in our weekend journey.

Benefitting from our pre-dawn early start, we skipped town early enough and rallied the 100 miles over to Breckenridge to continue the weekend's "Singletrack Safari" on the last half of the Breckenridge 100 course. Little did I know what hypothermic misery was in store...

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Salida-Leadville-Breckenridge Weekend

On Saturday I packed up my new (to me) Tacoma with mountain bikes, running shoes and camping gear and headed out to the whitewater and singletrack mecca of Salida. There we met up with fellow Boulder athletes Jeremy Rodgers and his girfriend Heather Prentice. We camped on the Arkansas river under a clear night sky and shooting stars after watching kayakers work/get worked in the whitewater park. The next morning we loaded up the bikes into Jeremy's ridiculously pimped-out Mercedes Sprinter van and drove out to the Monarch Crest Traihead. Monarch Crest has been called one of the top 5 mountain bike rides in the United States. Believe me, it's absolutely true.





The view from 12,300 on the Monarch Crest trail...



Jeremy and I split up from the ladies and rode point-to-point back to town via some singletrack trail that reminded me quite a bit of my former hometown Issaquah, Washington.



After finishing the ride and scarfing dinner on the river we drove the 45 minutes up to Leadville to catch up with my friend and former Seattle neighbor Matt Hart, Sean Meissner, and one of Matt's ultrarunning coaching clients. They were in town for the Leadville Trail Marathon and to bag some 14ers.

Matt is pacing a friend through 40 or 50 miles at Hardrock 100 this weekend so he was getting some last-minute altitude exposure prior to the Big Show. (Contrary to McDougal's over-the-top book "Born to Run", we did not spot any (quote) "Mean MFers beating their wives" in town. None! Myth: Busted...Kind of like the barefoot myth) After touring Leadville on foot on our failed hunt for MMFers, Lisa and I headed up to Frisco to watch the spectacular 4th of July fireworks over Lake Dillon before camping above Breckenridge.

After breakfast on the river in Breckenridge, it was time for some pre-riding some of the Breckenridge 100 course. While I haven't any ambition to compete with Josh Tostado or other local pros with knowledge of every inch of the course this time around, I also want to know what to expect and I have been itching to get on the course after studying the map and seeing some amazing photography from past years' races.

I started in town and rode the first quarter of the course, more or less. The race starts with a climb from downtown Breckenridge at 9700' straight up to Wheeler pass at 12,400 feet. Wheeler Pass sits between Peaks 8 and 9. Much like the previous day's ride on Monarch Crest, where we contoured along at 12,000 feet, I would have to rank this section of trail as Top 5 range. After descending the backside of Wheeler, there is a considerably long section of flats that should be perfect for ingesting and digesting a huge hit of my race fuel, Vitargo S2 during the race.



...Much more enjoyable with two pedals...



Enjoy the view? OR focus on the 12" wide dirt and rock singletrack?



To make things interesting, the last couple thousand feet of climbing is on a somewhat loose, rocky jeep trail before the short singletrack contour (across snowfields) to the actual pass. To make things REALLY interesting, I broke my pedal somewhere around 11,500 feet. Bad timing! The singletrack descent on the backside of Wheeler pass is fantastic...not too technical or exposed but enough to keep you focused. With a 29er or full suspension bike like the Turner Flux you can really have a blast on this descent. For the record, I would not recommend riding this wearing a slippery carbon-soled shoe on a broken pedal spindle. FYI.



This weekend was a huge Mojo-Booster on the mountain bike...a much needed one indeed...but also gave me a rekindled appreciation for the little things...like oxygen. The moist oxygen-rich air in Boulder at 5400' feels like sea-level compared to the high country. Hopefully I can hammer myself with some interval sessions this week, freshen up a bit, and return to altitude this weekend to resume my recon of the Breckenridge 100 course this weekend.



I kinda like my new truck-driving hat...


See you on the trails...



SC