Thursday, July 25, 2013

Carolynn Conquers Centennial Cone

On the way to Estes Park, Colorado we stopped by a new trail for us.  Centennial Cone Park is rated by most as an intermediate level trail and is about 13 miles in length.  My main goal today was to have Carolynn ride the entire trail system.  On past rides out here in Colorado altitude seems to get the best of her and she ends up not riding the entire planned route.  Today would be different, I could just feel it.
Located in Idaho Springs, Colorado, Centennial Cone Park is a Jefferson County Open space park.  We decided to run the trails clockwise and started with some easy double track across some open fields and ranches.  There was some climbing, but nothing bad.  It was actually a little boring and Christopher sure did not look like he was having fun.  For a few miles there I was thinking "how did this trail get such high rankings?" 
We made it across the old homesteads and fields to another trailhead.  We decided to wait until Carolynn arrived and regroup. Travois trail was up next.  This is the main trail and hopefully it was single track because I could tell Christopher's motivation was lacking after he completed the Elk Range trail.
Luck for us the Travois trails is awesome.  Plenty of great single track with great views.  Some of the trails are rather technical and Carolynn did a great job on her new Giant 29er.
After taking the Evening sun loop we caught up to Carolynn.  Just 10 minutes prior Christopher was ready to head back and now just look at him - all smiles and ready for a great day of riding. Carolynn continued on the Travois trail and we opted for another quick loop of the Evening sun.  
 Christopher settled into the climbs and I had a very hard time staying with him.  I did very well on the steady climbs, but the step rocky stuff he left me behind (hence no pictures of him climbing the rocks).
The climbs are not bad on the trail which was good for all of us.  Like I mentioned before, I really wanted Carolynn to do the entire loop by herself.  I think my positive reinforcement before the ride really helped.  On top of the second climb she was doing great and riding strong.

Yes I made is always a great feeling reaching the top of any climb.  Time to celebrate for sure.

A short stop on top and then we headed back downhill for a couple of miles of just beautiful riding. We really got hauling on these downhills.  It scared the heck out of me a couple of times.  I put a good gap on Christopher on one section, but later found out it was because his rear end broke lose due to over braking and he nearly went off the side of the mountain.  After that he took it easy the remainder of the ride
Carolynn continued to ride well and handled the fast descents well.  

A the bottom we were treated to a little rest and a cool bridge.  Time for a few photos and refuel for the next long climb. 
The next few miles were all up hill.  Plenty of switchbacks which caused me trouble.  Christopher seems to handle them much better.  Balance is key and commitment is key to make them, especially  if you crash you could fall a few hundred feet.
Another fast and very fun descent was the reward after our long climb.
The views are great and every couple of miles I would stop and wait for Carolynn, and let my brakes cool down just enjoy the view.
Carolynn at the finish was tired and her legs were dead, but she did it.  She kept her fuel intake up and stayed hydrated just like I told her to and she was able to conquer Centennial Cone and most importantly high altitude riding. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Ride on the Buffalo Creek Trails

This week we are in Colorado for our annual summer trip out west. Ben and Allison have again welcomed us to their beautiful home in Highlands Ranch, Colorado for us to stay.  With so many trails to ride it is hard to decide where to go.  Originally we picked Three Sisters to visit again.  We went there last year and sometimes it is nice to know where you are going instead of always having to stop and look at a map.  Do to some of the rather technical sections of Three Sisters and the fact that we were all going to try and stay together the choice was made to go to Buffalo Creek Trails in Pine, Colorado.

Carolynn's weak point in riding is climbing, especially in high altitudes.  The trails in Pine, Colorado are between 7,000 to 9,000 feet.  With this being our first day and not used to the altitude we all had trouble breathing, but no one more than Carolynn.  Luckily for us Ben let us use his tow rope and Christopher stepped up and offered to help his mom with the first two miles which were the steepest and would give her the most trouble on the day. 
We came to another steep section of Buck Gulch and I insisted she let me help her to catch her breath, I encountered a little mechanical difficulty. While shifting down to the small ring my chain somehow derailed - most likely due to the extra torque from taking off before she was clipped in and ready to go.  While derailed chains are usually not a big deal, they are when the chain gets wedged between your frame and linkage system.  For the life of me I could not get the chain out - the linkage while compressed allowed the chain to slide between the link/frame and when I got off the bike this unloaded the suspension system and put a death grip on my chain.  I had Carolynn continue up the climb to where Christopher was because he was riding ahead of us.  I had just told him to ride to the top and then come down and enjoy the downhill until he met up with us again.  I always make fun of Christopher because he carries this huge knife with him during rides.  What I would have given for the knife (or a screwdriver) on the mountain side. As crazy as it sounds,  I ended up having to remove the shock and part of the linkage system to remove the stuck chain. 

Yes I love Colorado and the views that you get on top of the mountains.  The Buffalo Creek Trails have some great trails with killer views.  I now see why they are on IMBA's Epic list.
Part of the trail system goes through some areas that were damaged by recent fires. It's a unique feature which offers some great views, but does allow you to get full sun exposure.  It was in the 90's today so while these open areas were nice to ride through I was looking forward to the cooler single track sections. 
Carolynn rolling along on her new 29er.  She really enjoyed the ride of the Women's Anthem 29er and handled the technical sections of the trail with more confidence. I was actually shocked while riding behind here on this descent.  There was this large log with a drop off and she just rode right over it. 
Buffalo Creek has a wide variety of trails including some nice single track.  The majority of it flows really well and is in the shade which is nice on a hot summer day.
Christopher and I  decided to try out Raspberry Ridge.  We would soon find out this was a rather technical section of trail.  Carolynn proceeded down the flowing Homestead trail which leads to Sandy Wash and some epic views and yet more climbing.
If you like technical trails and rock then you will like Raspberry Ridge. I grew up riding on sandy dirt so these types of trails are always a challenge for me. Christopher had little trouble on them and his Kenda tires were hooking up as usual.
Some great views on top. I could spend all day up there just chilling out and dreaming of living in the mountains.
Yes this is part of the trail.  There were rocks placed out on the top that you were supposed to follow.  Some sections were easy, but others were just plain crazy.  I could not imagine someone actually riding these.  I could barely walk up them and my shoes were slipping at times.
At the end of nearly 4 hours of riding I was done.  The altitude and heat had taken its toll.  We descended back down Raspberry Ridge to meet up with Carolynn. 

After nearly and hour of looking for Carolynn we came up on her bike.  Where was she?  Chilling under a tree enjoying the views.  She was also done, but we still had to make it back down the mountain to the trailhead.  A very fun descent down Strawberry Jack ended a great day of riding at Buffalo Creek. We did not get to ride the entire trail system, but the trails we did ride were very fun and well worth the trip to Pine, Colorado. If you are ever there be sure to check out Buffalo Creek Trails which in my eyes earn the Epic standard from IMBA.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Warrensburg Hare Scrambles - A Dusty Doubleheader.

The promoters of the Forward Motion Hare Scrambles Series experimented with a doubleheader.  Well, sort of a doubleheader - two races on the same weekend not same day.  From experience I know holding two events over a weekend is a lot of hard work.  A huge Thank You goes out to everyone who makes it happen: Dan, the signup ladies, scorers, sweepers, the folks who set up the course, the concession dude who kept us fed and the landowner who opened up his gates and let us play for the weekend.
Overall the event had a great turnout with several hundred riders and spectators on hand for the weekend. I enjoyed spending the weekend riding and racing with my son, but I was done after riding over a 100 miles and breathing in dust for 3 hours each day. 

Christopher got off to a good start on Saturday, but a first turn pileup that he had to stop for allowed over half the field to go by him.

 Dust was a huge issue this weekend. Poor Christopher spent the entire day eating dust and trying to recover from that first turn crash. 

Lately I have had a problem with my glasses getting all covered in sweat.  This has caused me to really suffer out there with very poor vision.  Rich Anderson suggested an old trick that he used to use.  Something about panty liners absorbing the sweat.  I tried em, but it did not work.  Same issue as before sweat and smudge marks all over my glasses which really impaired my vision.  It was really bad today and actually made me nauseous from all the turns and up/downs.  I have the same thing happen to me when I close my eyes on a roller coaster. 

At the last race there was a new winner in the Senior 45+ class - Mike Trent out of Columbia, MO. Mike, who comes from the crazy racing world of Outlaw Sprint Cars, has only been racing motorcycles for about 5 years, but once a racer, always a racer.  Those racing skills get passed on to any sport you do, plus those guys who race the Lucas Oil Sprint Car Dirt Series are not afraid of speed nor backing it into a corner at high speed. 

Today I had my hands full with Mike as we battled for 7 laps. He left me in every open field section but I would catch him in the woods.  My Stone Works Suspension was working great.  I flowed really well today.   I lead for the majority of the race and most of the laps but not the one that counted :-)
I tried every trick in the book to put distance on Mike.  I was ducking trees, railing the berms and really attacking the creek sections.  The creek section on the 6th lap put an end to our little battle.  I was leading and we came up on a lapped rider. This rider crashed in this deep rut in a corner of the creek I went to go around and so did Mike.  Mike's front end washed and he ended up crashing into me which caused me to fall into the down rider.  It must have been comical looking for a few minutes as we all tried to get back up.  I could do nothing because I stuck in the middle with a 250 pound bike on top of me and a 200+ lb rider standing on top of me.   Rich called this type of pass "Pick up and Go Pass" - fist rider to get back up on his bike makes the pass.
Check out that front wheel.  Yep, it is off the ground from Christopher actually finally grabbing a handful of throttle.  Christopher was fast in the woods, but had issues in the open field sections which were really dusty.

Second on the day for me and Christopher battled his way back up to 7th.   Both of us were tired but looking forward at a chance to redeem ourselves on Sunday.

Today Christopher was going to try a new starting technique that Doug Stone told me about.  He had a "full gate" of riders so a good start today was going to be important.

I did not want anything to do with the dust today so I put everything into the start.  My reaction times were great and I lead everyone into the woods by a large margin. 

Doug's new starting technique (which I will keep a secret) worked well for Christopher.  A top 3 start was his goal and he got it.
Did I say it was dusty?  Carolynn took this photo of some foliage and roots. 
In the woods I was really on the gas.  In the corners and open fields I took it easy and safe.  The ground was very slick.  I wanted to stay upright today for sure.  I injured my wrist a little yesterday and did not want to aggregate it any more.

Junior turnout was good today.  This little guy was flying in the woods.  With the small bikes the little kids can really motor in the woods.  Hare Scrambles and Motocross are great family sports and it is good to see so many families out racing together.
This was a very cool section. I could ride in terrain like this all day long. 

My friend Randy Wade took home 4th place on both days of racing.  Randy has recently started a serious training program which includes mountain biking.  Look for his results to improve with his fitness.
The creek sections were fun.  I would take a muddy race over a dusty race any day.

This was my favorite section of the 6 mile course.  I was having fun in this rut every lap.

On the gas again.  Kid is learning fast and is adapting to the sport of Hare Scrambles.  Christopher is still a much better mountain biker, but his motor skills are improving.  Today he got up and ran in 2nd for awhile but got passed on the fast section of the course which were kind of dangerous.  He did the smart thing and rode at his level.  A small crash caused him to drop a few spots and he could never regain them.
A big "W" for me today and Christopher moved up one spot to take home a 6th place on the day. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Meltdown at Wyco

Summer is in full swing. What better way to spend your Sunday that at the Masons Midsummer Meltdown
Good turnout for a first year event with a lot of the local guys showing up to support the event and enjoy a day of riding
Cliff and his family made some cool awards.  All from recycled materials.  Hopefully with form, which is not very good right now, I can earn one of them today.
The Wheel Cyclery and crew were on hand providing food and Heather Jordan was again the official.  The Wheel/Heather so far has officiated and supported the majority of the local MTB events.   They deserve a big Thank You!
Midwest Mountain Bike Patrol ready for the days action.  I would actually pay them a visit later in the day :-).  The patrol are some of the people that support events that never get enough credit.  Without this guys/gals we could not have events

 On Saturday the family headed out to Wyco to pre-ride the course.  Christopher rode the large log on the new section with the 3 foot drop on the other side. On this day he missed the ramp on the other side and crashed really bad.  Luckily he only ended up with a few scraps and a sore neck.  That makes 3 people I know that have crashed on that log.  Call me a candy ass, but maybe that obstacle should be removed or a wider ramp placed on the other side. I would hate to have someone really get hurt and then sue the park/city/Masons. 
Christopher toeing the lined today with his teammate Shane Martin.   There are two classes we need to grow in the sport - Juniors and women. 
Getting ready for the start on the old Mary.  I got her built up with a lot of  Crank Brothers parts including their Colbalt 29er wheelset.  I decided to race the Single Speed class in XC events this year.
Jennifer getting ready to feed a bunch of hungry mountain bikers.

While he has not trained much when Christopher does ride he seems to have fun. That is what riding is all about anyways int he end.
Having fun is great, but winning is even better :-)  Christopher on the top step of the box at the Meltdown.  He mentioned after the race that he wants to race the Marathon class to get in better shape for Hare Scrambles.  That might actually be a good idea.
I had a good and a bad first lap. The good is I got off to fast start and was out front with a nice size lead. About 1/2 into the first lap I was really pushing hard in this fast section and got to spinning to fast - that happens sometimes with a single speed.  My chain derailed and I had to stop.  Lost about a minutes or so putting it back on then I really put in a hard effort to catch back up with the leaders.  This got me outside my planned intensity zone which would come back to bit me on the second lap.
After the hour mark I started to feel the effects of the first lap effort and the heat.  I was still in first but second place was closing in fast on the up hills.  I could see he on the switchbacks.  Picking up the pace was hard for me on the climbs.  I tried to distance myself again on the downhills.  This did not work so well as I clipped a tree.  Could have been those wide bars I have been running on the single speed.  Jeff ended up getting by for the lead.  My hand was numb at this point and I had trouble handing on, but I chased hard the last two miles only to come up 29 seconds short to eventual winner Jeff Wass.
Hand getting some attention.  I thought I might have broken it because it was numb and somewhat painful.  The patrol cleaned it up and we applied ice to it.  In the end just some lost skin and a swollen finger (which is really hard to type with by the way....)
Not the step I wanted, but at least I was up on the box today and earned one of those cool awards.  My derailment on the first lap and a slight meltdown on that last lap cost me but that is racing.