Boggs Epilogue Addendum

I posted this on the Book of Face on May 4:

“Elden and Jeff. You left 1 day too early. Dave took me on a newly completed flow trail. 4 or so downhill miles of smooth big banked turns and bumps. Video to follow when I have access to my computer to edit.”

See Elden and Jeff left California Sunday night to go home. But I stayed behind to ride some of the local tastiness. Dave took me to the Soquel Demonstration Forest on Monday. It’s a forest that is managed by the state for multi-use purposes and holds some really spectacular MTB trails. In particular we heard rumors that the newest trail was finally complete. “Demo” is on a mountain. You park about midway up the mountain and ride a mix of single and double track up to the top. At the top there are a series of trails down the mountain (kind of like a mountain bike ski area). The newest trail is what is known as a “flow” trail. Flow trails are usually rock and root free. The corners are heavily banked and there are usually large bumps in the trail. Flow trails are intended to be fast, flowy rhythm trails. Over the past two years volunteers have been working on sections of this trail. It was finally complete. And we were going to ride it.

Dave and I arrived ready to ride. A “quick” 40 minute climb up to the top of the mountain and we were ready to roll down. Instead of describing the trail, here it is in video form. Not sure if this qualifies as what the youngsters call a “sick edit”, but hopefully you get the idea.

(Elden, that’s Mumford and Sons.)

To give my non-MTB readers a sense of this trail, here is my analogy. This trail is like a long wide comfortable steep banked ski trail. The kind of trail you never need to scrub any speed from. The kind of trail that all the turning comes on banked corners. The kind of trail that has fun little modulations in the trail.

We have some flow trails around me. But what really makes this trail unique is the length. Its long enough that you can totally get into it and feel the burn when you get to the bottom.

Authors Note: For the record, David H took me riding the next day as well. His bike ride had evil ulterior motives. We rode some trails next to the UC Santa Cruz campus. Somehow we ended up on the UCSC campus. Then somehow we ended up downtown Santa Cruz for lunch. We even managed to stop at a couple of houses that were for sale to pick up brochures so David could “look” at them. It was the most loosely veiled recruitment activity ever attempted……. ;) 

Picture of the Day

redwood_Ti

“Ti Redwood”

Boggs: Epilogue

As I go through life it becomes more and more clear to me that happiness comes from shared experiences. Spending time and connecting with people. Maybe just an afternoon playing ball with your child or dinner and a movie with your wife or riding with a group of friends.

For me THE highlight of my trip to California was getting to spending time with friends who I don’t normally get to see. We set the RV’s up so that our little virtual campfire was between the two campers. Virtual because real campfires are a tricky thing in California. But it doesn’t matter. The campfire is neither necessary or sufficient.

boggs_postrace_relax2

boggs_postrace_relax

At the campfire we talked about lots of things. Leadville was a big topic. (Hey we Bike, so where did you think the talk would center????) 4 out of 6 of us are going there this summer. Some rookies with the goal of finishing under 12 hours, some sophomores with the goal of finishing under 9 and some who are institutions at Leadville with the goal of finishing under 8.

We ate. We talked about eating. We talked about what might possibly be the worst tasting thing a company has ever produced as endurance “food”. (I am groaning with disbelief in the picture above.) We ate some more. We talked about amazing blunders that large companies have made. We talked about what constitutes dessert. We ate dessert (well most of us). We talked about bikes. We talked about families.

We talked about snipes (both the legendary “purple” snipe and the much less known “arctic” snipe).

The other “campfire” I spent time at when I was in California was the Thompson family campfire. The Thompsons are a remarkable family. I saw this picture on the Book of Face and it made me think of them.

the_lama

Several years ago Amy and Dave’s son Rob had a serious accident, one that changed their lives forever. I know that like any family they have their moments (good and bad) but they face that challenge together with humor (sometimes highly inappropriate, but being part of a family that had someone who worked at Hospice, I certainly appreciate the need for inappropriate jokes) and a remarkably welcoming attitude.

This year Team Thompson are World Bicycle Relief Ambassadors. One of the WBR slogans is “The Power of Bicycles”. I was fortunate to have a chance to ride with Dave and Rob while I was in California. After the accident Dave built a custom tandom bike for him and Rob to bike on.

rob_bike

That bike proves the power of bicycles. The doctors, nurses and other care givers were amazed at Rob’s progress after he started riding. But here is the thing I learned while riding with them. Biking gives Dave and Rob a chance to be be together and share the “doing” of something that is independent of the accident. It’s pure connection. They get to do, something that most of us take for granted like playing ball or hiking with our kids. When they are riding they are actively experiencing things, they talk, they bicker. Rob told me that he likes to bike because his accident doesn’t matter when he bikes. (Authors Note: Dave and Rob are maniac’s on that bike. I wouldn’t ride tandom with either of them.)

Team Thompson, thank you for opening your house and family to me for a couple of days. No there cannot be too much Mexican food. Amy it was awesome to see you get your new dream bike (hopefully they got the frame thing straightened out!)

Yes. THE highlight of the trip to California was getting to spend time with friends. The kind of friends who I could have lunch with next week or next year and pick up as though I had seen them the day before.

 

Addendum: When we were talking about deserts, which all proper FoF do while eating, we discussed what may be the most repulsive desert flavor ever used by chef’s on humans. Lavender. Lavender is good in soap, but it makes desert take like, well soap. This was something I brought up having personally experienced this crime against humanity at an expensive local restaurant back home. In a strange twist of fate, Dave H. brought an assortment of birthday cupcakes. It was his Birthday. One of the flavors was lavender. It went uneaten. Jeff kindly reminded me that this was forgotten in his write-up, Elden’s write-up (to date) and mine. I added this so that the record of the horror would be complete.

Boggs Part 2: The Race

OK. Let’s get this “race report” thing out of the way. Because while it was A highlight of my trip, it was not THE highlight.

Friday morning the Princess RV was packed and ready to roll.

boggs_princess_rv_inside

Out of town and over the Golden Gate Bridge. (Why is it red, if it is the “Golden” Gate Bridge??? California is a strange place!)

Boggs_golden

The Boggs Demonstration Forest is north of the Nappa Valley, up (and down) a series of windy switch backed mountains. On the map it looks close to San Francisco but really that’s an optical delusion. Regardless, we got out to the race site before lunch. And once there, we quickly got an idea what the weekend would be like. We were met by a member of the race staff.

“Where is the RV parking?”

“Anywhere you want.”

Anticipating the arrival of Team Fatty Fundo we found a spot that was a) level and b) could fit 2 26ft RV’s. No sooner had we pulled in and gotten out when a guy from a camp site close to ours walked over and said:

“Just want to give you fair warning. This is the area of the campground with women, naked people and loud music.” (As the techno thumped in the morning air.)

“Naked women or naked people?” (I asked)

“Both.”

Well it was the best spot for 2 RV’s we could find and so we decided to go with techno music/naked people spot. Team Fatty Fundo sent a text about their imminent arrival and so I kitted up and biked out to catch them on the road to direct them. When I caught up with them I started directing them to the spot when Elden politely informed me that he had a reserved spot cordoned off for him. A quick survey showed that a) it was level and b) it was quiet and c) could fit 2 26′ RV’s nicely. So Team WBR pulled stakes and went off to the reserved site. Fatty Nation had arrived.

We were all eager to get out and ride the trails. But first a quick selfie for posterity.

boggs_selfie

The course for the race was simply fantastic. 11 miles of mostly single track niceness. Most of it was wide open flowy stuff. There were sections with rock gardens. There were steep sections. It was what I would call a punch course climbing wise. You know, one of those courses where you feel like you are always going up and never down. Even when you get back to where you started, well it felt like a net up.

boggs_preride

But, yeah a fun fun course.

The only real incident on the pre-ride was when Jeff somehow found himself in a tree instead of on a bike. We have photographic proof. I’m not saying how he got up there, just that he was in a tree and not on a bike.

Elden_w_jeff_in_tree

In my SOP race mode, on my pre-ride I felt tired, weak and slow. Luckily I recognize at this point that its just me and I race better than I pre-ride.

The race started Saturday morning at 8 am. Team WBR elected Dave to be the first rider. Chris and I flipped to see who would be second rider. I lost, which meant I was riding the second leg. Chris would ride 3rd. The Bike Monkey folks told us after the fact that there were 900 races lined up at the starting line.

Boggs_start

In order to “stretch the field out” the race organizers sent the pack up a climb before routing them onto the course. We watched Dave go by and headed back to the RV. I grabbed some food and then sat down to relax and get into the zone a little bit before my first lap. Me being me I couldn’t sit still and so I warmed up probably a little early and headed to the start finish line to wait for Dave. How did I know I was a little early? Well I got to the start/finish line to see Levi come in and Elden start his first lap for Team Fatty Fundo. (Authors note: Levi is fast. We all know this, but to see it in reality is something completely different. He was about 5 minutes ahead of the other pro riders and 20-30 minutes faster most of us “regular” folk, on a course that took a little over 1 hour to complete. Well for us “regular” folk anyway.)

Dave came in and I jumped onto the course and started my first lap.

Two things of note on this lap. Shortly after the start there is a steep little climb with some rocks. They put in some paivers to give a route up the section. During the pre-ride Elden was quick to point out that ALL of Team Fatty Fundo cleaned that section while non of Team WBR did. I was bound, determined, and focused.

boggs_doug_race

I was climbing up the steep move when a voice said “Doug I’m taking pictures so don’t put your foot down.” It snapped me out of the moment and failed the move. There was the trouble maker from Team Fatty Fundo, Jeff, sabotaging Team WBR. Did I say that out loud? Really I mean “taking pictures”. (The race would be affected again by Jeff later on that day. Also in an incident involving me. Que the ominous music.)

The other thing that happened on this lap? Well. My chain dropped between the rear cassette and the wheel hub. Sound familiar? It sure felt familiar. But this time I had a team depending on me this time and so I worked fast and methodical to get the chain loose. Back on the bike. Then the chain went back over and got stuck again. Grrr….. Keep it out of the big cassette ring!

It’s really really hard to get back into a race after people who you passed go back past you when you are on the side of the trail fixing your bike. But I did my best and actually felt pretty good on the rest of the lap. I crossed the finish line and Chris started his lap. Then I went to the bike mechanic tent and had my low end screw adjusted. Then I went back to the RV to have calm down.

It was right about this time that I began to understand the reality of what was happening. I had just completed what was essentially a XC race. Now I was cooling down and relaxing. It was probably going to be just long enough to get tight and then I was going to get back on my bike and do a second XC race. I began questioning the wisdom of racing on a team and started to think that maybe the 8 hour solo was a better option.

Levi came walking by. “Hey Levi, do you want to ride my second lap for me?”

“Nope. I’m tired from my first lap.”

“The second lap is going to suck isn’t it.”

“Yup. It’s going to take you 15 minutes to get back warmed up. That first climb is going to hurt, a lot.”

Great……..

Chris finished his lap and Dave took off on his second.

A bag of nacho chips and a chocolate chip muffin later, it was my turn to go back out so I wandered over to the start finish line to wait for Dave. While I was there I saw Jeff get que’d up for Elden to come in so he could take his second lap as well. Levi was about 20-25 minutes faster than any of us and so Elden was due to come in right about the same time as Dave.

I saw Dave and took off like a shot. Jeff was right in front of me on the trail. What? Why was Jeff in front of me? I must have missed Elden finishing. He must have lapped Dave. No worries I was going to go past Jeff and get out lap back.

“On you left Boston Boy!” and off I went. My mission now was to see if I could get enough time on Jeff to keep Chris from being lapped by Levi when he got out for his 2nd lap.

Levi didn’t lie. The first little climb was quite painful, but I settled in and got into a nice groove. I felt strong and biked the uphills with good pace passing people. We were now 5+ hours into a 8 hour race. Many people were riding solo and there was a lot of human wreckage on the course. Lot’s of rabbits to see and pass. My only real hick-up on the lap was when I got a little bit outside the line on a corner. The trail was buff and in good shape, but off the trail the ground was covered with a thick mat pine needles. Dave had warned us that they tended to break loose and slide. I discovered that aspect of the forest floor and went down. Not looking at my body I got back on my bike and finished my lap over 2 minutes faster than my first. (It wouldn’t be till 2 days later that I would actually see the big bruise I put on my left leg during the fall.) My uphills were faster on my second lap, but my downhills were slower. I had a good sense that this was happening because I was starting to get sloppy with my bike handling.

When I pulled into the finish Chris took off. Dave was there and asked about my lap.

“Good lap. I made back the lap you lost to Elden.”

“Elden never passed me. He was a couple of minutes behind me.”

“What? Jeff took off right when you came into the finish. Hey!”

Back up 1:13. Jeff had seen Dave coming into the start/finish line. Dave and Elden were both in WBR kits and Jeff thought that Dave was Elden and took off riding.

As Dave and I were working this out Jeff came trundling in.

“Hey camper. How was your lap?”

“Good.”

“You know you cheated right?”

“What?!?!?!?”

And so we explained what had happened. Jeff, who really is a great sport, and who really did make an honest mistake, was mortified. He ran over the the timing table and immediately fell on his sword.

I stayed in my kit just in case we had a chance for a 8th lap. But the time ticked away and it was apparent that I wouldn’t get a 3rd lap in. The real value of the Princess RV came clearly into focus. A hot shower. Not only that, but a hot shower while Dave was out racing for our team. I mean I had to take a shower then so that there was hot water for Dave when he finished. Right? :)

Eventually Dave finished and our race was done. While Dave cleaned up (see a good thing I took my shower when I did) I checked the results. We finished 26 out of 66 teams. All in all we were pleased with our finish. Dave is training for his second Leadville this summer and so is the most fit of our team. His laps were the fastest. Chris was recovering from a nasty respiratory infection and I was “coming out of hibernation”. We were both a couple of minutes slower.

We all gathered at the finish line for the awards.

boggs_postrace_awards

I was busy eating my BBQ and didn’t see who ended up on the podium in our division until after they were called up. When I did, my jaw dropped. There were 9 people on the podium (no shock here 3×3 “man” teams) and only 1 of the 9 was of legal drinking age. No, only 1 had even graduated from high school. Our entire division had been “kidded”. They have some very very fast kids in the NorCal NICA league and those kids showed each and every team of men what was coming from the next generation.

We looked on in awe.

“Holy Crap.” (Me)

“We have some fast kids around here.” (Levi, with understatement of the weekend.)

Picture of the Day

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“Elden Lap 3″

Boggs: Part 1, Getting There is Half Fun

I’m home from California and its time to write up my adventures. Two of my blogging colleagues (Jeff and Fatty) have been busily writing up their adventures. I could tell you that I taught them everything they know about writing up bike reports and didn’t want them to feel pressure by having mine come first, but that wouldn’t be true. Nope. In fact I am writing later than them because I have an Epilogue to my story.

The whole Bogg’s trip for me started with Jeff winning the all expense paid trip to California for Boggs to race with Fatty and Levi Leipheimer. A couple of my friends in CA have been needling me about coming out to ride by them and when Jeff won, one thing lead to another and pretty soon I was planning my trip.

Not Fun

My trip to Boggs started by packing up my bike. The week leading up to my leaving I had been meaning to see if my bike would fit in my bike bag (it had yet to be in that bag). But things were crazy and I never had time. Then departure day came and well I had to pack and in the way that things work in this world, the bike of course didn’t fit. Air out of shocks, drop-outs removed it was not going in the bag. A couple of frantic emails to my friends in CA helped me to realize that renting a bike for the trip would be very expensive and so I was preparing myself mentally to take my 26″ mountain bike with me to CA. I haven’t been on that bike much since Leadville and the couple of times I had been made me realize how used to my 29’er I had grown. But eh, it would be OK. Then I realized that it was the padding that was keeping my 29’er from fitting in my bike bag. Well I could take that out right? I mean what harm could come to my bike on an airplane without padding in the bag right? All kidding aside, the spot I need to take the padding out of wasn’t critical and my Ti frame is more forgiving than say a carbon frame, so I wan’t really worried.

Once packed I headed to Syracuse to finish up my sabbatical leave (I had 4 days of experiments to run before I was officially finished and on vacation). My training regime leading up to my departure? 3x 12 hour days in the lab running experiments. At least I would have fresh legs for the race.

Fun

Like Jeff, I had a benefactor for this trip who covered my airfare. Unlike Jeff, my tickets were in the front of the airplane. :) Like in front of the curtain they put across the isle. Yeah, my tickets were booked first class. I have been in first class on an airplane exactly once before in my life. Coreen and I got the karma/pitty upgrade once when we were in college. Ok let me in a secret here for those of you who have not been in front of the curtain. It’s fun. They bring you a drink before you take off. (Which we all know since we have to walk past them when we go back to the cramped back of the airplane as we board.) After the plane takes off they bring you a hot towel to wipe off with. Then they bring you heated mixed nuts. (Which the guy next to me complained about. Seems there were not enough in the cup. The people up front EXPECT certain things. Sheesh. ) Then lunch. Lobster Mac and Cheese. Yup. Lobster Mac and Cheese. It was a hoot. Not worth twice the ticket prices in back, but heck I was being treated.

I arrived at the San Francisco airport and was picked up by Chris the third mystery member of our three man team. We drove to my host, Dave’s house. And when we got there the “Princes” RV was waiting for us to see.

princess_RV

We were going to “camp” at Boggs.

I assembled my bike and we were ready to head off to Boggs early the next morning.

Dissapeared

Hello. Anyone out there?

Yea, sorry I disappeared last week. It’s  been a crazy two weeks. My super lovely, totally awesome wife was in Europe visiting friends.

slovenia2

slovenia1

venice1

Yeah, clearly it sucked to be her last week. Any guesses where she was? The bottom one should be easy. The top two, probably a little bit harder. (The top two are not from the same country, so you can cross the bottom country off the list when thinking about the top two.)

Meanwhile I was home playing single dad. But what made it really crazy for me was mixing work with that. I am finishing up my sabbatical. And right now I am trying to get a PhD’s worth of data in a 2 week span. That’s exciting because it is a lot of data and time that has to be taken right the first time. (I tell my students that data isn’t good until the 3rd time you take it. I don’t have that luxury.) But the more cool thing that made work very busy (and therefore cut into my fun biking/bleeding time) has been a proposal I needed to get out. It’s cool for two reasons. Someone I know called me and basically said I have money, can you do this work? With proposals being funded at about a 10% chance, someone calling with money is something you cannot pass up.

The other really cool thing about this work is it will keep you all safe. Usually my work keeps you safe, but more through the “safety through superior firepower” method of safety. This project will keep you all safe without that little twist and I like that.

Anyhow, that’s my long winded way of saying that I was too busy to write last week.

But worry not. I leave for California and Boggs on Thursday.

Yeah here is the link to the race information I got via email.

bike_monkey

Clearly this is going to be interesting. I am sure there will be something to tell when that is all finished.

An Open Letter to Elden Nelson Part 3: Calling you IN

Dear Elden,

I am going to be serious today, because well that is where I am.

You know that I have been writing some smack talk about Boggs. And you know that, that was all in good fun. (And I know that you know that was all in good fun.)

You also know that my fall and winter have been long and difficult. It started with being away from home for the year on sabbatical. While that should be a fun time, its hard to be away for extended periods of time from the people who are important. During the fall things became complicated with family medical problems. My uncle was diagnosed with cancer and passed in the fall. That was followed with more sabbatical traveling this winter and more being away from home. All that is to say, it’s been difficult to find the motivation to train and look forward to the spring.

About a month ago we had a second serious medical issue come up, this time with my mom. It looked bad, very bad. For about a month we didn’t know what was going on or how things would turn out. What little motivation I had kind of went out the door with just trying to get through the day to day grind.

Last week two things happened, both on the same day.

We talked a little bit off line about making a fun bet and you didn’t want to bet against any Friends of Fatty. You said you wanted to go to Boggs and cheer for all of us.

The other thing that happened is that we got word on what was really going on with my mom. We got some good advice from a doctor my wife works with and we were able to figure out the real problem. It turns out we hit a “best case scenario” and everything is going to be just fine. Now we are facing antibiotics instead of surgery, chemo and radiation. Yeah, best case there. And really a weight lifted.

I am really excited to go to California to ride in a couple of weeks. I get to travel to the West Coast and ride with an East Coast friend Jeff (who won the trip to race Boggs). I raced one year with Jeff at the Tour of the Battenkill. While that is the one race I truely hated and will never ever ride again, Jeff and I have kept up the friendship. I also get to go and ride with two West Coast friends who I met through your blog, Dave and David. I met both for the first time when I went to Davis to ride Live Strong. I remember meeting the Thompson Clan and hearing about Rob and the bike Dave built for him and Rob to ride together on. David has been bugging me to come ride in CA with him almost daily since then. So this is the chance to do that. (And to bug him hourly about some writing assignment that he has yet to finish. I think you may want to join me in that.) I get to meet Levi and to ride with you (with oxygen included this time). So yeah, I am looking forward to the trip. Its a chance to relax, race and more importantly to remember that bikes, even at races, are about riding with people.

I am officially calling you “In” instead of “Out”. I’ll bring the guacamole, you bring the brats. We can both bring bottles of Carborocket and pass them to each other as we race.

Doug

An Open Letter to Elden Nelson Part 2

Dear Fatty,

Hey Buddy, how’s it going?

Recently I wrote you an open letter discussing your team plans for the 8 hours of Boggs race. I have yet to receive a reply from you per this letter. I realize you may of been recovering from you True Grit Race experience and have not yet had time to reply to the challenge that has been thrown down. Nice job on your solid “middle of the pack” finish at True Grit BTW. How did your wife finish again? Or maybe you are shaking in your bike shoes. Who knows.

I thought I would update you a little bit on the progress of our team.

You may be asking yourself who this mystery “Rider-X” is on our team. Well let me help you with that. He is in this picture.

riderx

Hope that helps.

I also wanted to let you in on some of our special training. Dave has been riding hard. He has a unique training program where he rides a special tandem bike with an awesome stoker.

dave_training

Dave and his family are World Bicycle Relief Ambassadors and their story is AMAZING. (If you don’t know the story you can find it here.) Dave and Rob have been training hard, and when they are finished training Dave has been going out for more riding to build up his speed. Yeah, two-a-days for Dave.

Since Dave has been doing two-a-days, I have been counting his training rides as mine. I don’t want us to have an unfair advantage when we meet at Boggs. Yes. I have been embarking on a true “Team Fatty” training regime of bratts, pizza, ice cream (I have been doing two-a-days on this one) and pie this winter, with a couple of latte’s thrown in each day for extra energy. So far its working great. I am up 10 lbs above my optimum racing weight, which helped me in my serious physical training regime this winter: luging. You would NOT believe how much effort it takes to lay relaxed on a sled and let gravity pull you down a hill for 46 seconds and then get on a truck to go back to the top of the mountain.  I figure that I am going to be a monster on the downhills where gravity matters.

I also have been taking advantage of our fabulous winter here to avoid riding my bike.

postwood-1

The snow here is melting (well except for the fact that it snowed all weekend again) and we are at about 2ft in my yard right now. I should be able to start a more “formal” training regime in June or July when all the snow has finally melted off the mountain bike trails.

I did figure that I should check to see if my bike was working so we took a trip to the deep southern state of Connecticut for some riding.

doug1_ct_easter2015-1

 

It was a great ride and my bike (rusted chain and shot bottom bracket) is totally ready.

I decided that I am also ready to race

doug2_ct_easter2015-1

 

and have begun to enter taper mode for Boggs.

 

See you in a couple of weeks,

Doug (Designated GC Rider Team Fatty)