A Little Gift I Have or How Was Your Father’s Day Weekend Doug?

My super power is the ability to pack. I can always find room for more. But this post isn’t really about my super power. It IS about a littler gift I have. The gift is the ability to state the totally obvious. Like this, after I finished Leadville I said “it was hard”. Ok news flash.

I used my gift Saturday night when I looked at Coreen and said, “well this isn’t how I expected to be spending my Saturday night.” OK, so that’s not super obvious without some context. I mean really maybe we ended up at a concert by chance that was awesome.

Nope the context here is REALLY important. I told Coreen this while we were in the local ER and I was the patient. With that context in mind it was a fantastically stupidly obvious thing to say. I mean who plans to spend a Saturday night in the ER?

This is my long winded way of saying that I missed writing a post last week well because I was having a medical issue. Namely I had some swelling in my face along my right jaw that was getting worse and worse. I violated my most important RULE about DOCTORS several times (there were no bones sticking out and there was no blood) and saw a couple of doctors (a friend who is a ER doc Thursday night, my regular doctor Friday morning, the official ER doctor Saturday night and a ENT doctor in a different state sometime early Sunday morning).

All that got in the way of my riding (well the second head I was growing also got in the way my helmet making biking something of an interesting act) and writing and generally having a good time this weekend. I’d post a picture but some things are better left unseen.

Now the good news in all of this is that we found out what was causing the swelling, removed the sources, and we think things are getting back to normal. Just a hint, I’m not all the way done with Whiteface story for this year yet.

Wilmington Whiteface 100k: “Noah’s Ark Edition”

It’s rare that you get a weather forecast that predicts a 100% chance of rain. It seams like even when a hurricane is bearing down on you there is only something like a 80% chance on rain. So the weather forecast for Wilmington (100%) was pretty bold.

I figured there were a couple of good things about having rain in the forecast: 1. Not everybody would show up (thereby increasing my chances of getting a Leadeville spot); and, 2. Not everybody would finish (thereby increasing my chances of getting a Leadville spot). The only real drawback was having to ride in the rain and mud. The temps were forecast in the mid 50’s. I hate biking in a rain coat if I can avoid it, so I went long sleeve jersey, no rain coat. (BTW, that FC long sleeve jersey is the BEST long sleeve jersey I own. It was warm, even when wet.)

Wilmington 2016 Clean a

The gun went off at 7 am sharp. The rain started (literally) when the gun went off. I have documented the race course before. Say here for example. So I’m not really going to talk a lot about the course. But….. there are 4 major climbs in this race. The first was a dream (good). The rain tamped the sand and dust down. The road was tacky and the traction was good. The second was also in great shape. 1:30 into the race and the rain was a non factor.

Wilmington 2016 cant see

And then we got to the top of the second climb and the a very different dream came into focus. I rode the first half of the course a couple of weeks ago and knew that this section was rough. It was still rough, except that now it was also a muddy mess. This transitioned into the downhill, and that folks is where the wheels became….. completely unnecessary.

The road had deep ruts and now those ruts were filled will rivers of mud. The line you took down the descent was largely dictated by which mud river rut your wheel was in. In a lot of ways it was like being on luge run. Steering? Completely ineffective. OK, to be fair it wasn’t like a luge run. You can steer a luge sled. It was like a bobsled run (you cannot steer a bobsled 🙂 ). When I got to the bottom I looked at the guy next to me.

“I wonder if my face looks like yours.”

“Don’t know, all I see is mud.”

On the back side of Jay Mountain the roads were soft with a 1″ layer of mud. The net effect was that going downhill felt like biking on a flat, going on a flat felt like biking uphill. The turn around is a 3 mile section of “single track” that was really a muddy swamp. Then back up the river of mud.

Wilmington 2016 smile a

(Yes I AM smiling in the pictures from this race.)

Bike started to get really upset at this point. Every pedal stroke was accompanied by grinding (on my NEW cranks, NEW chain and NEW rear cassette). Shifting was a 3 step process: Index down, index up lightly (to release the cable so it could actually index down) and then index down again. I was in good shape though, I still had brakes (which many people lost).

The course “firmed” back up once we got back over Jay Mountain. My time wasn’t great but I was feeling good. Down the Jay Mountain descent back into Wilmington. Up over the last major climb. Into the Hardy Road “Trails” (i.e. mud pits). Then back to Whiteface to finish the day. We ride a set of trails called the Flume Trail. I was wondering if that one would be cut out of the race. It parallels a river and is ALWAYS wet/muddy, even when the world is dry. Those trails ended up being the best single track we rode during the day.

The final section is on Whiteface. Every year it seams like they change the end, never really finding the right mix. This year they carved a bit of trail that went up, down and then up the lower portion of the ski mountain. I rode it on Saturday to see what it was like. Like? Steep, loose, rocky and tight. Fun in the right conditions. A day of rain? Not the right conditions…. As I rode onto the mountain I realized they bypassed this new little section (yeah!) and I entered the final single track right before the finish.

That section, well it sucks in dry conditions. It is deeply rooted with a really soft surface. In wet conditions it was a nightmare. I did wrap myself around a small tree in a slow motion crash. Nothing serious. I went conservative and walked some. Only bad things would happen at that point.

And then onto the finish.

Wilmington 2016 finish2a

Wilmington 2016 finish1a

See, I got a medal and everything…

Wilmington 2016 finished

And that is where the real adventure BEGINS (and this episode ends……)

5 Hours in 7 Springs

Remarkably there are not a lot of bike races in my neck of the woods. That’s remarkable because we have some awesome trails. It seams like we should have more races.

My dream is to have a endurance lap race on one of our trail systems. I’ve been thinking and plotting about what a perfect loop would be. Something that takes “an hour” so that if you ride fast enough you get an extra lap. If you ride a little too slow you don’t. Something that has challenging climbs. Something that has “buff” single track. And if possible something that has really flowy downhills.

One of our trail systems up here has all the elements of that dream in it. Elements. But its going to take some work.

Last week I needed to put in a 5 hour ride to prep for the Whiteface race (this Sunday, Yikes!) and I decided to take that opportunity to try out one idea I have for the endurance race lap. The day started off with a little jaunt on the road to the local hill climb. You know, something to warm the legs up. This was followed up by 5 laps.

Here is the profile (ignore the first 17 miles to warm the legs up):

5hours_7springs_elevation

The race lap starts with a steep climb on a two track trail lovingly called “The Climber”. This is a rocky two track that has a couple of really deep puddles on it pretty much 365 days a year. Bike Eating Puddles. The Climber also has a couple of really really steep pitched, baby head sections. You need to look up the trail, pick and line and keep your pedals turning. Nice and technical.

The lap then transitions to “Charlie’s Trail”. Charlie’s is my favorite trail right now. It’s what I would call a intermediate/advanced trail. It has a couple of technical pitches, some flowy sections, and beautiful sites. It’s  a trail that is fun to ride and would be fun to race. The loop then dumps out onto some dirt roads. Its a fast return to the start line with a short but very sketchy downhill section.

I did the lap 5 times. The good parts: The Climber got harder each time. Nice. Charlies run stayed fun each time. Double nice. The bad: The course is too short. It took me about 42 minutes to run, at a fun but not race pace. Too short.

What I really want to do is this: At the end of Charlies is a trail called Kenny’s Climb. That trail parallels Charlies and can be taken back up to the top of the mountain. Its a good trail but it has some pretty technical moves on it and some I am not sure are rideable by anything but a pro-rider (I could be wrong, but I’m not seeing most people bunny hopping up a 2.5 ft ledge).It also has a “skinny” on it that I detest. It’s too skinny (about 4 inches wide) and it’s not straight. Hey in theory I’m all for some challenging bits. And I know that the skinny hate I have is emotional. But asking me to look forward on a skinny and turn my bike is one step too far. Frankly I think there is a good chance someone would be hurt on this going at race pace. So Kenny’s is going to require some work.

Let’s assume you can get back up Kenny’s now you are back at the top of the hill. Did I mention this particular hill is an old ski hill? A small one, but a ski hill none the less. Clarkson owns the hill and the Clarkson Mountain Bike Club has trails on there. They have what they are calling a “flow trail” on it. Only its not really a flow trail. It’s not the kind of trail that you can take your fingers off the brakes and ride the banked, bearmed, buff trail to the bottom. But it could be (and the MTB club wants it to be). That trail dumps back off  into the start/finish line in my dream.

THAT loop would take about an hour. It would have a challenging climb, fun single track and a killer downhill run. Yeah. That’s my dream. And something that would be so worth spending say 8 hours riding in.