Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

1st Place Singlespeed at the Fat Tire 40

Had a great race at the Fat Tire 40 finishing 1st in the singlespeed and 10th overall with the geared.  Great marathon race in Fountain Hills Arizona AZ at the McDowell competitive tracts and the Pemberton perimeter trails (Sport loop>Technical loop>Long loop to service road>Pemberton CC>Scenic trail>Pemberton>Coachwhip>Dixie mine>Pemberton>Service road>Long loop>Sport loop in reverse).  It was a USA Cycling event.  The weather was perfect with no wind!  Check out my race stats at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/75380751 

The race was promoted by Swiss American Bikes http://www.swissamericanracing.com/fat-tire-40 

I chose to ride 32x18 gearing on my Trek 29r with a Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front and Schwalbe Racing Ralph on the rear which was a great combination for the varied terrain.  At one point there was a guy in front of me who really slowed down in the tight corners and almost crashed me when he put his foot out in an attempt to corner moto style.  Not sure what tires he was using but they were not getting very good traction.  I started with 3 water bottles with Hammer HEED and used the Hammer Perpetuem Solids, Endurolytes and gels during the race which worked great for me.  I didn't use anything from the feed stations but it was nice to know they were there.

 The bike performed great

The race started out with a short run then the usual chaotic mess of finding your bike before hitting the trail.  I felt pretty good on the competitive tracks and could see the leaders for the geared bikes but when we hit the pemberton trails I was completely spinning out.  I gained some ground back and passed a few racers on the more technical Scenic trail and Coachwhip trail with the steeper climbs but I needed a 15 or 16 for the rest of the Pemberton trails.  When we got back on the competitive tracks toward the end my gearing felt much better and it seemed like I made up some ground.  The ending was on Sport loop riding backwards.  It was obvious that the trail was always ridden the opposite direction.  The corners and climbs just felt odd.  Great competition with the other tough singlespeeders in my class.

After rolling across the finish there was a cold beer, raffle prizes and trophies.  I don't think I've received a trophy from a race since my motocross racing days.  I liked the race format and the promoters did an excellent job!

Check out the article on it in the Phoenix newspaper at http://www.examiner.com/mountain-biking-in-phoenix/mountain-bikers-rise-to-epic-challenge-of-fat-tire-40

First actual trophy since the moto racing days, the little biker even had a water bottle holder.
Ava hanging with me at the awards, she didn't know what to think of the self portrait shot and its nap time!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sedona Big Friggin Loop, 2011

The 2011 Sedona (not so) big friggin loop race was much shorter this year.  I finished 1st out of the singlespeeders and 5th overall out of all the geared bikes.  Here are the stats http://connect.garmin.com/activity/74057252  Course was way to short for my preference but it was still fun and Sedona riding is great.  I tend to do much better in longer races.  I think next year it will be back to a longer version.

Since the race length was only 38 miles I took 3 water bottles with Hammer HEED, Some Perpetuem Solids and a few packs of energy food.  My Trek was setup extremely lightweight with a Schwalbe Racing Ralph on the rear and I went with the Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front which cornered great on the course. Gearing was 32x19.  There were definitely some spots where a 21 would have been nice.  Overall I though my setup worked out great!

We left Dolores after work and arrived in Phoenix at around 11:30pm.  I took my truck into the Ford dealership there for an appointment I had previously made to have a Nav system put in which was scheduled to take 4 hours.  They gave me a convertible mustang as a loaner during the repair which seemed nice since it was over 80 degrees there.  Two days later they were still working on it and informed me that they needed to keep it over the weekend.  This created a predicament since I had to get my bike and equipment to Sedona for the race.  I ended up dissembling the bike and cramming it into the back seat and the trunk along with my gear and leaving Phoenix at 5am for the race.

When I arrived in Sedona I got a few strange looks from other riders and I could tell they were wondering "Who is that goofy guy with the top down when it was 50 degrees with his race bike in the back seat.  Does he know what kind of race this is?"  After explaining the situation and a few laughs as my expense we headed over to the Bike and Bean bike shop in Oak Creek for the start.

At the beginning we immediately jumped onto some great singletrack I had never done.  After cresting the top there was a gnarly decent!  At one point I wasn't sure if I was going to get stopped in time for a turn because I was sliding out of control on steep rocks while squeezing the brakes which seemed to be doing nothing.  After going through Red Rocks state park Dave Burdette and I hit a long road section where the geared bikes left me while I felt like my cadence was 120 or higher.  I ended up riding the remaining distance with a Dave Burdette who is a super strong rider from Chama NM.

Navigating the great singletrack route was challenging with the amount of turns and the GPS was invaluable!  At least until it quite functioning properly.  The GPS was showing a right turn where there wasn't one available.  After zooming out I realized that for some reason the route had a straight line back to the start and the last portion of the route was not available.  Bummer!

After that we had to navigate using old school techniques like looking for the bike tracks and tire tread prints from the guys in front of us and navigating via trail names and routes from memory and from previous Sedona rides.  We even got some route advice from a couple of guys from Mountain Flyer magazine who were out doing an article on the race.  This slowed us down considerably but we ended up finding the remaining route rolling into the Bike and Bean in about 4 hours and 20 minutes.

At the Bike and Bean we had Beer and Pizza on there patio with a lot post race talk.  Good times!  Scott Morris from Tucson Arizona got the win with the fastest geared bike time.  Nice job Scott!

Then I loaded up the bike into the completely impractical race vehicle and headed back with the top down looking forward to the next race.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Big Loop Maps Version!

Just released the new Big Loop Maps version 3 with tones of trail updates, new trails and new rides.  Also, it now has singlespeed gearing recommendations!  Check it out at www.bigloopmaps.com.

Over 5000 miles on the singlespeed in one year!

Made it to over 5000 miles in just under one year since I got this Garmin on my Single speed.  Thanks to Phil's world opening this last weekend I was able to get that last 99 miles.  I actually rode more than that but I forgot the Garmin on some rides and the battery ran out on others.  Now I need to go back and see where I was Jan 1st so I can get back on the normal annual schedule.

So a short recap of miles for the last year (in order by "fun to ride"):

5003 miles - Singlespeed mountain bike
92 miles - Singlespeed townie bike
0 miles - Geared mountain bike (Don't own one anymore)
0 miles - Cross bike
0 miles - Road bike  (I dusted that bike off a couple years ago to do the death ride which was fun but when you can ride a mountain bike why get on it!)

Trail work day at Phil's with the High School Seniors

Great trail work day out at Phil's World with a group of volunteer seniors from the Cortez High School.  Stephen and myself led a group of students in building banks, optional jumps, safety modifications and erosion control.  These guys were hard working!   

This is the third year we worked with the school to build new trails, improve existing trails and perform maintenance.  The first year there was one student who actually mountain biked, the second year there were a couple more.  I was pleased to see that a majority of them this year were bikers and from the conversations during the two trail work days it sounded like some of the students realized that they were missing out by not mountain biking Phil's and were going to get a bike and get out there.  Nice trend!

If you get out to Phil's World watch for new optional kickers/jumps off to the side and some off camber turns now have rippin banks!  Just road all 28+ miles yesterday and it was great!

The hard working Cortez High School trail crew

Working on a new banked turn.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Phil's is open for business

So far Sand Canyon has been great riding and now Phil's World is ridable.  At least until the next storm.  I road Phil's, Ledges and Stinky today and it was great for early season.  Ledges had some mud but was much better than I expected.

Another big Moab ride

Moab loop: Flat pass > Behind the Rocks > Hunter Canyon > Back to town.  We left Dolores at 7:00am, road and then I made it back slightly late for dinner at 6:45.  We were originally going to try and add Moab Rim & Hidden Valley at the end but time just ran out. There was plenty of sand (since its Moab).  Flat pass was really cool but Hunter canyon was the best.  The scenery was spectacular there.  Hunter is technical riding with some hike-a-bike and exposure.  This is not a good one for people who don't like scaling rock cliffs with their bike in hand.  Luckily we were easily able to lower bikes down by working together.  It would be trickier and more dangerous on a solo ride.  I liked Hunter Canyon.  Check out the pictures and captions.
TR, Jeff, Kiviok & myself before the ride
Quick stop on Flat Pass
Self portrait attempt
Kiv ripping it up down the hill
Drastically different lines for TR & Jeff
Kiv climbing up the hill
Nice stopping spot with the snow capped mountains in the background just after a creek crossing
Petroglyphs in the background.  Unfortunately some morons recently decided to put their own graffiti on top of the rock art.  We were fired up about that.
Kiviok (in the background) brought a hot dog purchased from the gas station.  Yuck!
Jeff and Kiv just after they crashed into each other.  Kiv stuffed Jeff and crashed him.  Surprisingly, Jeff picked Kiviok up above his head and threw him 20' using some kind of WWF move.  Afterwords they made up and Kiv shared the rest of his hot dog with Jeff.  LOL!
Hunter canyon,  Nice views!
Handing the bikes down one of the ledges.  Don't fall off this one!  You wouldn't be riding the next day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo news link

Check out the article in the Cortez Journal about the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo.


Moab early season 11 hour ride

Normally we would be doing the traditional White Rim in a Day ride but since Mineral bottom was closed from the big mud slide in the fall we decided just to do a big loop that Jeff put together.

Quick breakfast and some extremely thick coffee complements of Jeff.  I still can't get the smell out of my mug!
 Great early morning riding on the Sovereign trail
Sunrise, Cold!
Lunch, cold McDonalds cheeseburgers and a Nutella taco after 7-mile trail
Should we do that extra 2 1/2 hour loop on metal masher? Yep! 

Turned out great except when Jeff Hemperley ripped his tire on a wicked rock drop and face planted on the next ledge.  Luckily he was okay!  Since singlespeed endurance racers don't have much of a brain anyway we were not concerned about his head. 
The "Widow maker", unfortunately nobody got a picture of me huckin it.
Kiv and myself when the weather finally warmed up to 50.  Kiviok gets credit for almost all the pictures.
Great day!

Almost 5000 miles on the singlespeed this year

It's going to be close.  Two more weeks until the one year mark and the mileage on the singlespeed is 4901.  If it wasn't so snowy here that would be easy to get 99 more miles.  It would be cool to reach 5000 miles on a singlespeed in one year!  Look at the calories, that's about 10 big macs isn't it?