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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Press on the 2011 12 hour Dawn til Dusk race podium finish

Kiviok and I got some nice press in the newspaper for the 12 Hour Dawn til Dusk finish. Check it out at http://www.cortezjournal.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=2&ArticleID=15153 . I road 21 miles at Boggy yesterday. Felt better after Kiviok's miracle chiropractic work and I also wore the kidney belt from my old moto gear for support. Still hurts to sneeze!

Monday, April 11, 2011

1st in the Singlespeed solo 40+ category at the 2011 Dawn til Dusk 12 hour race in Gallup NM

Tough race conditions!

It turns out I finished 1st in the Singlespeed solo 40+ category at the 2011 Dawn til Dusk 12 hour race in Gallup NM.  At first I thought maybe I ended up in 3rd place, then I stood on the podium in 2nd and now after some lap errors were repaired I ended up 1st

How is this possible?  NASTY WEATHER, having no pit crew to keep track of anything and some kind of results posting problem.

Check out my garmin stats at http://connect.garmin.com/activity/78596308
Overall I ended up 4th out of all the solo categories including the geared racers and the fastest geared solo finished less than 5 minutes in front of me.
Living in Colorado I have definitely been caught in snowstorms during bike rides but I can't recall having raced in full on blizzard conditions.  The race was actually called after 10 hours.

It also turns out that it really isn’t a good idea riding 100 miles in wind, rain and a snow storm when you are not quite recovered from a cold yet.  People must have thought I had a screw loose being out there the way I was coughing.  Then they saw I was riding a singlespeed and probably thought “He’s not right in the head anyway.”

I gambled on going with harder gearing than the previous year on the Trek Superfly (32x19).  I still don’t know if that was the right choice.  With the wind and added weight from the mud I think the 20 might have been more appropriate.  The Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front and Schwalbe Racing Ralph on the back worked perfect on all the different trail conditions encountered throughout the day. 

I’ll start at the beginning.  Kiviok and I loaded up the truck in Dolores Colorado in windy but tolerable weather.   North of Gallup we went through a nasty windstorm which was very similar to blizzard conditions except with sand.  Now I can see why it looks like a beach without an ocean on that stretch.  Check out the sandstorm video while driving to Gallup.

We arrived in Gallup and quickly saddled up for a spin on the course in high winds but moderate temperatures.  Luckily the winds died down a little and we set up camp, got our pit situated and headed out to packet pickup and pre-race grub.  Check out this video of the first climb on our preride.  It was the first time I used this helmet cam and it's not the ideal angle.

At 5:30 I woke up and downed breakfast then finished some last minute race preparations and headed for the 7am start.  The temperature wasn’t bad, in the 30s for that time of day.  At the starting line I was surrounded by a slew of tough racers who all had a chance to win.  Tough competition!

Right off I saw Dan Durland and Mike Melley take off down the graded road used for the mass start.  Those tall guys can really spin there legs fast with those comparatively short cranks.  I spent the next few miles spinning out on the singlespeed while geared guys appeared to effortlessly pass me in masses.  Toward the end of the road I was able to make up time when we hit some climbs.  After entering the singletrack it became apparent that either there were a number of racers that blew themselves up on the starting road section and decided to coast on the singletrack or there were road bikers who could hammer on the road but lacked the skill on the singletrack.  Either way, things slowed down considerably and I used a lot of extra energy trying to pass racers in the soft dirt alongside the packed trail.

Surprisingly, the majority of racers from the Kokopelli Bike & Board team were all clumped together on the first lap.  Dan and Mike appeared to have successfully made it past some of the congestion we were dealing with.  The strategy of not taking a pit the first lap paid off by gaining a few spots for myself and fellow teammates Kiviok Hight and Paul Adams who were right on my tail.  The first couple of laps I couldn’t shake Paul or Kiviok.  Just when I thought I gained some distance on them they showed up in the pit just when I was leaving after getting another bottle of Hammer HEED, Gels and Perpetuem solids.

I spent the following laps trying to catch the guys in front of me and put some trail between myself and Kiviok.  Just when I thought I had a safe lead Kiviok shows up right behind me.  I really stepped it up at that point but he stayed on my tail and after taking a faster pit pulled ahead through the timing tent.  Kiviok really took off up the hill and I thought he might be uncatchable until I started gaining ground and eventually passed him back while he was dealing with some cramping on a climb.  With a new burst of energy I was able to step it up and put a couple of minutes between us by the time I crossed the finish and found out they called the race.  I almost went out on the 9th lap until a spectator filled me in on the race cancellation as I was starting up the hill.  It was slightly disappointed because I thought I was in 3rd and the previous year I ended up moving from 3rd to 1st in the last lap by turning a fast lap time and I felt I had one in me this race.

Kiviok finished right behind me in 2nd in his first singlespeed race.  He is a strong racer in his other disciplines (Primal Quest, etc.) so I would expect nothing less in this race.  In his own words “It pays to be tough”.  Nice job Kiv!  Looks like I have another racer to watch out for.  Just let me know and I may pull over for you.

In the end there was less than 19 minutes between the first 5 racers in my category and with some late in the race mechanicals (Dan flatted) and slower lap times for the race leaders I was lucky enough to get the win.  Dan Durland and Charley Hayes really turned some impressive lap times.  I guess you never know until the end (or days later) who will get the win.  10 hours is a long time!

Mike Melley really hammered to get the overall (geared & singlespeeds) and the 0-39 SS solo win.  Apparently the same spectator who told me about the race being called wasn’t around when Mike came through and he ended up doing a 9th lap that didn’t count.  Tough luck!  You think they might have mentioned that when you rode through the tent.  For a guy who lives in Phoenix he rode strong in the blizzard conditions.  After riding down there in 95 degree weather I have a new respect for those guys training in that.  Nice race Mike!

After packing up, getting the wrong award, some post race talk in a tent filled with people who chose to drink free beer instead of suffering out in the cold (Maybe the smarter ones like teammate Jeff Hemperley) we headed out for some vitamin M (Mexican food) and blazed back to Dolores in the snowstorm.
The mass start, Photo Katie Koppenhafer
The Kokopelli team at the start, Photo Katie Koppenhafer
Pit Stop, Photo Katie Koppenhafer
The Climb, Photo Katie Koppenhafer
At least I still have a number plate.  Some racers lost theirs in the wind, Photo by Kiviok Hight
Kiviok's pit, Photo by Kiviok Hight
Packing up the pit, Photo by Kiviok Hight
Loaded up and ready to go home, Photo by Kiviok Hight
 Jeff Hemperley's van the morning after, Photo by Jeff Hemperley

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Dawn till dusk 12 hour mountain bike race is coming up this weekend in Gallup NM

I'm recovering from a nasty cold which will hopefully be gone by the Dawn till Dusk 12 hour mountain bike race in Gallup New Mexico this coming weekend.  It looks like I'll need to bring some crappy weather gear as well.  I'm already having flashbacks from the old pueblo race.  Fond memories!  I hope it's not a repeat of two years ago where we went to bed after a short preride and woke up to snow everywhere and an unridable trail resulting in the race cancellation.  The year before that I got frostbite on both my thumbs by wearing inadequate gloves for the first lap.  I won't make that mistake twice!  
The Superfly is pretty much ready.  I'm going with a Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front, it should be the perfect tire for those corners.  I'm still on the fence as to what gearing to use.  Watching the weather, the wind and rain could be a factor with the gearing.

The competition is going to be huge.  Both age groups are stacked with racers that have the potential to end up on the top of the podium.  Should be fun?
Day Night

Scattered T-Storms / Wind


Wind: From SW at 26 mph
Humidity: 44%
UV Index: 8 Very High
Sunrise: 6:51 AM MT
Avg. High: 64°F
Record High: 80°F (1996)

Partly Cloudy
Overnight Low


Wind: From WSW at 13 mph
Humidity: 59%
Sunset: 7:43 PM MT
Avg. Low: 23°F
Record Low: 11°F (1993)

Last Updated Wednesday, Apr 6, 8:06 AM Mountain Daylight Time