La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

2010 Gunnison Growler report

This was the best race experience I’ve ever had. It was also hands down the hardest. And some of the coolest trails I have ridden (racing or otherwise).

It was a incredible course – I’ve never ridden trails that have such a great mixture of flow and technical challenge. Here’s some shots that capture a bit of the course feel:

Handling the tough technical sections after repeatedly redlining it on the steep little climbs really took its toll.

Shannon Boffeli, writer for, described the course perfectly:

Tough is the one word needed to describe the Gunnison Growler. Located in the high desert of Gunnison, Colorado, the Growler is a brutal mix of short steep climbs, insanely fun swooping singletrack, and lots of rocks.

Or, As one rider said: “Wiens really knows how to make you suffer.” Oh and the two brutally steep and loose hike-a-bike sections didn’t help either.

My goal, based on the placings and times from past results, was to shoot for a top 15. I went out fairly hard up the first climb but not so hard that I would dig a hole for myself. Of course I did not count on the altitude (about 8k ft above sea level) which really lengthened the amount of time it took to recover from a hard effort. I was in the top dozen about 45 minutes into the race when I realized that I had definitely gone out way too hard. I never really recovered from that and spent the next 5 hours trying to just hold it together. If there’s one thing my training this year has taught me, its the ability to push through fatigue and keep on keeping on. Not my best race physically but I managed to keep on pushing for a 19th place overall (11th in the Men’s 30-39 category) with a time of 6:04:03. See the full results.

After the race, I laid down at our campsite and could not move for a few hours .. this was my post race view:

Nutrition went pretty well. I went through 6 bottles of HEED, 1 bottle of green tea, 5 endurolytes and 4 gel flasks with a Perpetuem/Espresso Gel mixture. Instead of relying on the crowded and somewhat chaotic feed zone, I set up a cooler along the course and stopped there on each lap. Each time I lost a place or two but it went a lot faster than stopping in “the pit”. When I rolled straight through the official feed zone at the end of lap 1, I picked up 7 places (!) and kept my lead over all but 4 of them.

Many thanks to Dave Weins and the whole Gunnison Trails crew for putting on such a great event. Truly every detail of the race was superbly executed. Smooth logistics, awesome food, beer, atmosphere, reasonable entry fees, well marked trails, good communication … If anyone is wondering how to put on a good race, just use the Growler as a model. Next year it’ll likely sell out in a matter of hours. For good reason.

Besides the race itself, Jos and Japhy came along and we camped up in Hartman Rocks BLM land in a gorgeous little cottonwood grove right near the race course. Got in a few little hikes and a nice side trip up to Crested Butte. Such a gorgeous area!

Did a little preview hike on the Colorado Trail near Kenosha Pass. (Jos LOVES aspens)

And some hiking around Hartman Rocks in Gunnison

After cramming my feet into race mtb shoes all day, it felt good to free my feet and hike around in the Vibram Five Fingers

Japhy really dug the singletrack and mountain views

The Mamasita & campfire. Both very hot.

Still snowy up at 12,200 feet at Cottonwood Pass


June 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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