Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back in to Adventure Racing

I'm really excited to be getting back into Adventure Racing again! I took a hiatus when I moved here, mostly because I didn't know anyone who raced out west. But, I got back into the swing of things last year with a bang by racing a monster 6-day expedition length race, the RTNX.

That was an awesome experience, but I raced RTNX with guys from all over the country, which makes it hard to train together and gel as a team. This year, I have found a local team, Git Some! So far, we have planned races that we can drive to, which will make racing much more affordable. Moreover, they seem to be at the right level of competitiveness, gunning for top finishes beneath the super fast professional teams. We are looking for sponsors! We will find out how good a fit we are on May 9th and 10th, when we do our first race together, the Buena Vista 24 Hour Race from the Gravity Play Adventure Extreme series.

I've met all the guys and have gone out for some training sessions with them, including a monster 13 mile trail run near Chautauqua. That was long and a lot of climbing!

Tomorrow we head out to Bear Creek Lake Park to practice paddling (figure out the best seating configuration) and get in a a night mountain bike ride. Whoo- Hoo - it's going to be 43 degrees and snowing! Should be good practice for being cold and miserable.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Moab Gurlz Weekend Out

GNO's are nice. GWO's are better! Six women from Colorado, Arizona and California just proved it.

Kathleen, Carmen and Lynnette (old friends from AZ), Celia and Dana (new friends from Marin in CA), and I met up in Moab for a long weekend of some serious riding. I mean serious - most of these gurlz are competitive downhillers. Being women of means, we rented a swank condo so we could relax in comfort before and after each full day of shreading and hucking. I left the Singlespeed in the garage and spent the weekend-plus on my full suspension, geared Titus. This is my "BIG BIKE" but compared to the other gurlz' bikes, my Titus was undersized. I was the only one without a through-axle fork (I am going shopping soon...).

All six gurlz arrived on Thursday and set out for a late afternoon jaunt on the Slickrock Trail. This trail is one gigantic mass of red rock. You can essentially ride wherever you want, but following the painted marks on the rock helps to ensure that you won't ride off a cliff. Celia and Dana had never been to Moab. They were amazed by the bizarre rock formations, the incredible views and the strange tacky rock that you can almost ride vertical up. I've been to Moab several times and I'm still amazed by it!

The trail boasts a lot of up and down, some quite steep. I had my first (and only serious) wipe out following Carmen off a drop I thought was a roller. Hucking Rule Number One - look ahead not down. I was saved by my cute pink armor.

Slickrock was the perfect warm up for the next day's bigger ride. We caught a shuttle up to Lower Porcupine Single Track (LPS). We had wanted to start up at Hazard, but it was still a tad under snow. This was on a Friday, so there were not a lot of other riders on the trail, which allowed us to stop and play some on the ledges, working on our drops. I started out feeling a somewhat timid (for me at least) but began to get in the groove as we descended onto Porcupine Rim proper. I even did some drops that were not rolls. Hucking Rule Number Two - keep your rear tire even with your front tire until it has cleared the drop. Porcupine takes you along the top of a huge mesa - the valley straight down over a thousand feet below. The views of Castle Valley and the La Sal Mountains are spectacular.

The ride eventually drops down to the Colorado River via Jackass Canyon. All in all, this ride totally rocks and is one of my all time favorites. The profile is quite a contrast to the previous day's up and downs. However, going downhill that long on rocky technical trail is tiring, so we were all ready for beers, hot tub and dinner.

Porcupine was the perfect warm up for the next day's bigger ride. Mileage-wise, Saturday's ride was a few miles shorter than our LPS - Porcupine Extravaganza. But effort-wise, it was way more work. We decided to try something new for all of us. And, something not in the guide books. And something poorly marked, just to make the route finding really tricky. And something remote and way out in the high desert. I don't know of many groups of women who would head out and do a ride like this without a MAN to help find the way.

We started out at the far end of the Gemini Bridges Trail. The tail starts out as a gravel road and tended downhill for about 5 miles. Then we intersected the Gold Bar Trail and began to climb up toward the ridge, looking for the mysterious Blue Dots Trail. This trail had been recommended by locals as a bike only alternative to Gold Spike, which allows jeeps and motorcycles. Blue Dots was reportedly hard to find, but we did it! It takes the rider up closer to the ridge, eventually turning into the Green Dot Trail and then dumping into the infamous Portal Trail. Blue Dot/Green Dot was a blast! We had to work hard to keep on the trail, which sometimes petered out. The trail went up and down, some sections very technical, over white sandstone. We were often very close to the edge, with a massive thousand foot drop.

Kathleen scared us all with a nasty crash on a techy section that was closer to the edge than we realized. I still can't believe she attempted to ride it, and she almost cleaned it. Instead, she went ass over tea kettle and cracked her brand new helmet (which she had just bought to replace the helmet she cracked a week before). I tell you, Kathleen's Ovs have grown since she got the BeSHEmoth. Hucking Rule Number Three - spot the drop before you ride it. Check out the video link at the end of this posts - the crash is in there.

As we came up to a rocky protuberance along the ridge, we knew the Blue Dot/Green Dot Trail was over and we would soon be descending down to the Colorado River on the Portal Trail. The wind had been picking up all day. In fact, it had wigged me out on a few sections of Blue Dot/Green Dot; I lost my nerve to ride a couple really technical and exposed sections after nearly being blown over. The wind certainly added another element of danger to the Portal, and the Portal doesn't need any more dangerous elements. The trail starts out with signs warning that three people have died on this trail. The trail is extremely rocky, without much flow, and the ramifications of messing up a rocky section are to fall hundreds of feet off the cliff. Although I would never claim that I could clean this trail, I walked a lot more than I would normally if the wind wasn't such a factor. Even Carmen and Lynnette got wigged out from the forceful wind gusts. Nevertheless, the trail was a fun end to our epic ride that day. Ok - beers were the fun end to our epic day!

The last day, Sunday, we opted to tone it down and ride the Sovereign Trail. This is a nice up and down trail with no really technical sections. Since it was still really windy, we were happy to be off the exposed ridgelines and technical rocky sections of the past two days. I have ridden this trail once, last November. However, the trail has already been modified, with some reroutes and new sections. Despite the reroutes, Kathleen and I were able to mostly find our way using maps and GPS. We ended the ride in a sandstorm at the parking area and high-tailed it back to the condo for adult beverages and hot tubbing.

All six gurlz packed up and left town the next morning, with the sense that this was the first of many GWOs!

Check out a bunch of pics here (coming soon):

Check out the video here: You Tube Video of Girlz in Moab

Monday, April 14, 2008

Big Long SS Ride

This past weekend, Jesper and I got out on our first big long SS ride. We brought a friend, Mike, even though he had nine gears. We intended to be out for at least 5 hours of riding. First, we rode some new trail up near Loveland in the Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. We did a loop up to a trail called the Power Line Trail. Warning to those not familiar with Power Lines - they go straight up the sides of mountains! We walked a few sections.

We finally reached the top and hit the Ginny Trail. This was totally worth the brutal climb up the Power Line! The Ginny Trail was very technical and rocky and bizarre like a strange moonscape. There had been a large fire up there in 2000 to add to the strangeness of the landscape and to allow for spectacular views of the mountains to the west. I found my mojo and was rocking it! Mike nicknamed me "Techno-Mama". Jesper was in the Zone too, just cranking through some tricky rock sections. Mike did great, especially considering that he's a roadie and doesn't get out on his mountain bike much. We finished up the 10 mile ride, hopped in the car and drove to our next destination - Lory State Park.

We began part two of our day's ride near Inlet Bay and made our way north up to the park's terminus via the West Valley Trail (I think). This was an easy flowing trail. Then we turned around and took the Timber Trail which looked to provide a loop that would eventually dump us back onto the West Valley Trail further south. The Timber Trail was marked FOR EXPERT MOUNTAIN BIKERS AND EQUESTRIANS ONLY!, so we thought it would be perfect.

And at first it was. The trail began by climbing (a lot) on smooth tacky dirt. Then it finally showed some of the rocky sections that gave cause to the warning sign we had seen. These sections were tricky and usually on very exposed ledges. The ramifications of taking a bad line or biffing would be a long, nasty fall WAY down. So, in other words, it was fun! The trail then showed us another face as we entered a pine forest that unfortunately took us up a series of north-facing switch backs. North-facing in Colorado in April means SNOW. So, despite the 60 degree-ish temps, we found ourselves slogging our way up mushy snow on what would have been a very technical uphill. Although it seemed to go on forever, it was probably something between 1 and 2 miles.

We finally topped out but still had some snow to slog through. We were a tad concerned about how we were going to get back down to the West Valley Trail, as the trail map we had did not seem to have trail that allowed mountain biking to complete the loop. Fortunately for us, the trail map is somewhat outdated. Howard's Trail provided a very fun and pretty technical downhill. We dumped back onto the West Valley Trail and rode a zippy pace back to the car.

The final total was almost 28 miles and a gazilion feet of climbing (my GPS said almost 6000 feet but Jesper's said "only" 4000 feet). Here are more pics I took of the boys:

Check out Jepser's post and more pics (some of me!!) here:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Time in Colorado (or trying to do it all)

It's spring time in Colorado, which means that you can do both winter sports and summer sports, sometimes both in one day. It's exhausting! I've been doing my best to do it all and I'm pretty pooped as a result.

First, if you read my last post, you know that Jesper and I completed a winter ascent of 'Atlantic Peak' last weekend. After that, I must admit, I rested a bit. Then, on Tuesday night, I hopped on my Single Speed for a Gurlz Ride on the Poorman Loop. It's not a technical ride by any means, including gravel trail and even some road, but the last push up to the top before heading down Sunshine Canyon is steep (especially on the SS). Between the cold descent and the climbing, I felt pretty worked over afterwards. So, I rode again the next day, this time an easy Marshall Mesa ride with the Title 9 girls. On Thursday, I took a break from the bike and went for a run with Strelka. Just a few miles. Then on Friday I was back on the SS, this time to ride the Doudy Draw trails with Kristin (aka Catzilla). We brought Strelka and Boodro, her hound doggie mix, along for the fun. Dogs love mountain biking! My tush is getting used to it again too.

Since the resorts are still open, we skied on Saturday, or at least kinda skied. We headed up to Loveland hoping for soft spring skiing conditions that we did not get. Then Jesper didn't feel well, so we headed back down to Boulder at noon-ish after only a couple hours of skiing. I could have stayed and skied alone, but as I said, the conditions were not good and I quickly determined that I could get a nice trail run in with Strelka if we hustled back down I-70. So I guess I ended up skiing and running on Saturday, getting the pupper out for a nice Mount Sanitas run.

On Sunday, I got out for what I consider the first BIG mountain bike ride of the season. I had so much fun, it reminded me immediately that mountain biking is my all-time favorite thing to do.

Jesper and I rode the trails up at Devil's Backbone with our very good friend Cynthia. We all rode our Single Speeds and we all rode fast (or at least Cynthia and I rode fast trying to keep up with Jesper). Cynthia and I are both working on getting really lean, and I can tell you it showed in Cynthia's riding. She was hard on my @$$ the entire ride, making me ride harder than I would have. Thanks Cynthia!!! I personally feel that I'm lighter in the climbs and I'm pretty pleased with that.

The Backbone boasts rocky technical parts and smooth flowy sections, the variety making it a lot of fun. Over the 20-ish miles we rode, we climbed about 3000 feet. Considering how early in the season it was, I felt like we all were riding very well.

Hard to believe we were skiing the previous day! Oh yeah - and running in shorts!

Here's a linky to Jesper's posts and pics: