La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Inaugural 40 in the Fort

Ever since my tires touched dirt at Lory State Park and the adjacent Horsetooth Mountain Park, I’ve dreamed of racing these trails. These are real MTB trails with technical singletrack, long brutal climbs, hike-a-bikes and just tough rocky fun stuff all around.

So when Overland Mountain Bike Club announced the first running of the Horsetooth/Lory event, I was stoked. The event, at first unnamed, came to be know as “40 in the Fort”

There were some tough competition for a local race capped at 150 riders. National junior champ Skyler Trujillo was there along with lots of strong local guns. I felt a good solid 90% all day long, never really feeling great but always feeling good enough to keep the pace high. Climbing Timber trail on the first lap, I was in 4th and had no interest in keeping the pace of the 3 leaders. I fell in and out of that slot all day long, eventually finishing up with a 4th place overall. The major climbs – Timber, Mill creek, Towers and Stout – seemed to come in rapid succession and I felt that the majority of the trail time was climbing. Indeed the 38 mile course showed about 6k vertical according to my Garmin! And the descents were brutal too, big techy drops and loose rocks made you work just as hard on the way down.

The only real reprive were the Valley Trails which offered some very familiar smooth swooping singletrack and a chance to mentally regroup.

There were definitely a few mandatory hike-a-bikes on the way up – I tried to granny gear up the climbs on the first lap but found it faster to just grind it out in the 32T and run anything that got too steep. There was even a descent that I ran on both laps, the big staircase on the Spring Creek trail. Dismounting is not my normal style and I’ve ridden all of this stuff before when I wasn’t racing but during a race you’ve got to minimize risks, conserve effort and do what’s fastest.

It was a great day on the trails and I was really grateful for the 7am start time .. it was getting HOT up there, especially climbing up the exposed 20% grades on Towers. I’m glad the Overland club put this event together and my only sadness is that I probably won’t get to race it again next year (Jeez, moving to Portland in 2 weeks and already feeling nostalgia for CO …)

July 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Firecracker 50

.. well actually it was the Firecracker 54 this year. And not because I got lost off course 🙂 They actually switched it up a bit, removing the Iowa Mill climb and and fall-line descent, adding 2 new sections of singletrack and making a longer doubletrack loop out at Humbug Hill. Overall, I liked this course a lot better than last year’s version – although I’m sure there’s a way they could avoid running so much ATV-rutted doubletrack in favor of singletrack! Oh and there was MUD..

Anyways, here’s the quick rundown: I spent the greater part of the weekend up in Keystone with some friends – our annual “guys week” / bachelor party. We did some riding, some beer drinking, some whitewater rafting, some trail running/hiking, explored some old mines, some of us got in a final day of skiing up at Araphahoe basin. All around great time. But the 500 lb gorilla was lurking in the room all weekend – the Firecracker 50 on July 4th. There was no tapering or getting adequate amounts of rest for this one – just the promise of pure high-altitude pain.

I started off with my great friend Mike T who was visiting from Maryland (thats 0 ft above sea level). I wasn’t feeling super spunky but I kept going with the lead group despite my better judgement and cries from my legs to slow down. I hit the singletrack in 1st, and dropped to 4th by the end of the first lap … I was riding consistently and putting huge gaps on the descents but I just wasn’t climbing that well. Second lap, my morale faded on the big long road climb as the lead group of self-proclaimed “old farts” (Cat 1 40-49) passed me. I kept it steady and eventually saw one of my competition drop out with a mechanical, then slowly reeled in another .. my climbing legs were back. It just took 3 1/2 hrs to warm up! I pressed on hard to the finish and was using the downhills to my full advantage. Good thing too – I crossed the line in 2nd place with 3rd place (Matt Shiff) breathing down my neck just 9 seconds back!

My legs felt like crap the whole race but I kept it steady and just did the deed… and it paid off with a 2nd place! Mike came it a little ways back in 9th place with a bloody mangled arm and mumbling something about oxygen deprivation and vomiting. We spent the next few hours in the ER getting Mike’s arm sewn back together (OK it was just 5 stitches).

Great weekend with friends + high altitude pain + 2nd place finish = successful independence weekend (America, F yeah!)

July 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment