Category Archives: Couch

2014 Yak Attack Stage 4

Valley Views
A long way down

Stage 4 was another combination of stages from previous years. It was to be another epic day in the saddle- 51 miles and about 9,000′ of climbing. It’s all up, with a nice spike of steepness coming in around mile 16. The down bits are few and far between, so I knew my chances of making up time were slim.

Something just wasn’t right in the morning. I was ready to go with plenty of time before the start, but then realized I wasn’t quite ready. Things got away from me quickly and suddenly I was racing to meet the whistle as the other riders started to leave the hotel grounds for the start about a mile or so down the road.

I was flustered, and foggy-headed. I strapped on my pack, and as I was heading down the steep rocky hill in front of the hotel, I suddenly found myself spread eagle, face down in the dirt, bleeding from my knees and elbow. I had wrecked trying to turn my Garmin on- caught a bad rock or dip, or who knows what. That definitely hurt and rattled me pretty good.

I limped my way to the start and when the whistle blew again, I knew I was in trouble. My legs were replaced with leaden replicas. I could not pedal worth a damn and saw the main group peel away from me quickly and I had nothing to offer in return. This was going to be a long day. As Tyler started to pass me, Garrit rode up next to me (he was playing photo-tourist today), looked over and shouted, “Don’t make it so easy on him, out of the saddle!” as he started to sprint away begging me to suck his wheel. I tried, but it was a miserable effort. I settled in to a slow rhythm again and was caught by Phil who usually runs sweep, “uh-oh.”

“I’ve got nothing Phil, this is gonna be a long day.” and he too pedaled away from me. I didn’t want to start wallowing in self-doubt so I just lowered my head and pedaled on. We were still only a few miles in, and I knew there was a long way to go.

Somewhere around the time the trail kicked sharply, I suddenly found my legs. I found that hilarious since historically, I am absolute shite climbing, but there I was starting to reel people in as the grade got steeper, more loose, and somewhat techy and chunky. I had caught and passed Phil, and was now trading back and forth with Tyler, and I think at some point even passed Wendy for a bit. I was starting to feel pretty good for the first time that day. I was still with Tyler and Wendy as we pulled in to the aid station at the half-way point. I downed a quick slug of water, and ate a few biscuits and followed Wendy out of the aid leaving Tyler behind. The trail got very steep and very loose again, and Wendy started to pull away.

Aid Station before the fall
Aid Station before the fall
Start of switchbacks
Start of switchbacks

We were switch-backing our way up the valley side and the heat was really bearing down. I was definitely red-lining but wanted to keep Wendy close and pace her as much as possible. The track I was on was getting way loose with big bowling ball rocks so I started to move over to a clearer track. At some pointe I stalled a bit and was about to un-clip when suddenly my cleat would not release. Yup, the mental notes from stage 1 and 2 came back suddenly- it was clear my cleat had rotated again. This all happened in a flash, and suddenly I was falling on to my right side- SLAM! I landed on the wrong end of my handle bars straight to the solar plexus just to the side of my sternum. My full body weight came crashing down on my bar end.

Yeeouch!
Yeeouch!

The wind was completely knocked out of me- I find this one of the scariest moments, especially after redlining up a steep hill to suddenly have no ability to breathe. I tried to remain as calm as possible reminding myself that breath would return soon. I hunched over, finally free of the bike and counted, desperately waiting for my diaphragm to start working again. From behind me I could hear Tyler asking if I was okay.

I was decidedly not okay. Finally a short gasp came, I heaved, groaned, and waited for a second breath, “Ohhhh fuck!” More short shallow breaths followed. Adrenalin started to take over. I righted myself and my bike. Things were hazy, but I started to walk, stopping to straighten my bars, Tyler still checking on me.

Then I noticed the “click.” It felt like my ear bud was bouncing off my heart rate strap, or maybe I had broken my heart rate monitor around my chest. I pulled up my jersey, and angry welt almost the perfect shape of my bar end smiled at me. My strap was fine, and my ear bud was nowhere near it. I pushed on my ribs, “snap, crackle, pop”- my fingers melted into what is normally solid bone.

“I fucking straight up broke my rib.” It was matter of fact- anxiety flooded me, was this the end of my race?

“Do you want to go back to the aid station- it’s just down the hill.” That hill had cost me too much to retrace. No way was going back down.

“Hell no!”

“Do you want me to stay with you?”

“No, go on, nothing you can do.”

There was probably a bit more yelling, a bit more cursing. I was pissed and didn’t really know what to do but keep moving my feet. Tyler took off and I continued to walk my bike up the steep grade. When it started to kick back, I got on and pedaled. This was suffering at its worst. I pulled over to readjust things. I ditched my heart rate strap as it was not helping things. I readjusted the straps on my camel bak. I pedaled some more, then I stopped to fix my cleat; I definitely didn’t want to take another tumble. I went on like this for a while. Time crawled to a standstill. I stopped again. People were now catching and passing. It was hot, dusty and endless.

I stopped for a longer stretch, poking and prodding my chest. First Paul appeared and offered help, then Phil came around the corner. I told them what happened and Phil looked at me, “Are you going to wait here for the sweep vehicle?”

“Fuck no!” the anger wasn’t at Phil, or the question, but at myself, for being in this spot. Just over halfway through the 4th day- the days only getting harder from here. I did myself in good. What the fuck was I going to do- ride in a jeep? Take a bouncing metal deathtrap all the way back to Kathmandu? Give up? No, I was pushing on.

Then the jeep appeared with the race Doctor sitting shotgun.

“I’m all fucked up.”

The doctor agreed I likely broke something, but there wasn’t much to do. He gave me some paracetamol and asked if I wanted to ride in the jeep. This wasn’t happening.

I waved everyone off, and got back on my bike. It was going to be a long day, and I needed to move if I was to see the end of it.

Trudging along and getting views
Trudging along and getting views

I don’t really remember much from here. I do remember some stunning views- we were getting deep into the mountains now. I think I pulled away from both Phil and Paul, and traded back and forth a bit with the jeep. There were waterfalls, and glacially cold water crossings. My feet were soaked and cold. Rickety bridges appeared across scary river crossings. It got steeper and steeper. Alcoves of waterfalls dropped the temps a good 20 degrees inducing some slight shivering. I pedaled on. Then a massive snow-capped jagged peak appeared and I stopped to take a photo- this may be my last chance.

Getting views
Getting views

I plodded on, turning the cranks, willing myself into Chame. I passed a couple more people before finally hitting the outskirts of Chame; I spun the prayer wheels as I went through the arch. It felt like forever to reach the finish line at the far end of town. I pulled in to the courtyard and collapsed in a heap on the stairs. It was cold. This was a forbidding place. I was mentally wasted, but I was at the finish.

My mind never really returned the rest of the day. I struggled to get my bike cleaned and shit put away. Every movement was a supreme effort. I gobbled down the ibuprofen and paracetamol. I tried for a shower but regardless of the signs, there was no hot water to be had anywhere. Then I grabbed my flask. It was full of 18 year Jameson whiskey- a celebration for a far off race finish that was now in serious doubt. Might as well kill the pain. I sat in the eating area and soothed my aches.

BOOM! View from "downtown" Chame
BOOM! View from “downtown” Chame

Tomorrow was a shorter day, but we were getting up there in altitude. It took everything I had to finish stage 4 and I really didn’t know if I could continue, but there was only one way to find out.

Stats: 51 miles, 6,900′, 7:07, 20th 2:51 off lead

Chame Shangri-La
Chame Shangri-La
Hand cutting stone
Hand cutting stone
Lots of wood, but no warming fires
Lots of wood, but no warming fires
Downtown
Downtown
Local residents
Local residents
Town water tower
Town water tower
Don't Believe the Hype
Don’t Believe the Hype
Warmth will not return anytime soon
Warmth will not return anytime soon

2014 Yak Attack Stage 3

Start line jitters
Start line jitters

This is the only stage that starts with a downhill close to the hotel. I had done this same downhill and taken 3rd during Trans-Nepal. We ran a staggered start with 30 seconds between each rider starting with the slowest. My goal was to catch as many rabbits as possible before we hit the road at the bottom of the downhill where the route turns uphill for a while before upgulating along on a fair amount of sealed road. I manage to real in a good 7-8 riders, and while I probably burned a match or three doing it, I really enjoyed the downhill. I’m not sure why I pushed so hard but I had an absolute blast railing this downhill for just over 5 miles. I certainly paid for it later on in the day, but I came here to have fun, and fun is what I had.

Cooler spectators than The Tour
Cooler spectators than The Tour

I was caught pretty quickly by some of the last riders I’d passed, but it took the leaders at least a little while to catch me given my head start. It was humbling to watch them pass by like I was standing still. Suck a wheel? Not likely with these cats. I was eventually caught on the road by Tyler, and was able to hang on to his wheel into the finish where I just nosed him at the line. The day ends with the steepest climb of the stage, after the finish line- typical Yak Attack!

Still looking fresh
Still looking fresh photo by: GuaravMan Serchan

We’re now getting in to parts of the race I didn’t get to see during the Trans-Nepal. Day three ends in Besi Sahar, the gateway to the Annapurna circuit. you can just start to get good glimpses of the high Himalaya. It was one of the easier days but still clocked in with a respectable mileage, and some decent climbing- even the easy days are hard in Yak Attack. One rider was claimed on the day when Johan, already suffering with a torn back muscle, broke his seat post and finally had drop the race. To his credit, he completed the rest of the stages on foot including the pass. This race brings in the tough ones for sure.

Stats: 37 miles, 3,545′, 3:21, 23rd 1:03 off lead

Finish line congrats
Finish line congrats photo by: GuaravMan Serchan 

2014 Yak Attack Stage 1

That's a lot of gear
That’s a lot of gear

The awesome Videographer was working his way among the racers, “What are your expectations for this year’s Yak Attack?” if I had been asked this a couple months ago, my answer would have been a lot different than this day. What are my goals- to finish. Of course, it’s a race, and once the pedals start turning, even knowing I have no shot of doing “well,” I can’t help but push myself as hard as I can.

Me and Raj Kumar with Yuki and Rob
Me and Raj Kumar with Yuki and Rob

That’s the real deal isn’t it? At the end of the day, will I feel like I did my best- did I push hard enough? Did I leave too much in the tank? Did I crumble mentally, or did I put in an effort I can be proud of. Podiums are awesome, don’t get me wrong, but the Yak Attack is a different sort of race save for the very few, extremely gifted riders at the front of the class. This is an adventure.

Stage 1 starts with a long “group ride” uphill to the start line at Shivapuri National Park. It is pretty common for Yak Attack days to either start, end, or both with an untimed stage, usually uphill. We reached the top and regrouped for a short few minutes before the whistle blew and we were off on the extremely steep rocky start that eased back to some great single-track.

Waiting game
Waiting game

Not the first or last of the mud

I had ridden a lot of stage 1 during the Trans-Nepal. The short but techy rock garden was as fun as I remembered, and there was some mud, rocks and then a fabulous first view of the mountains- absolutely stunning.

Once the Himalaya came into view, we deviated from previous courses. Instead of a fast sealed road descent, we climbed further up and right on muddy jeep road to a new, gigantic, brake burning descent. It was the kind of descent that starts to just destroy your hands and legs, even though you’re going downhill.

Leading Tobias
Leading Tobias

I was screaming down the descent with Thomas- a German living in the Yukon, and another German, Tobias. I had just started to open a gap on Thomas when I came up on Tyler (fellow Coloradan now living in Kathmandu) and Ram- of the Nepalese army riders. Ram had taken a big spill, was repeating himself a lot, and had some big contusions and scraps on his face and a broken helmet. Did I mention that Tyler was the one that found me after crashing out at the Breck 100 last year? Is this good or bad luck? Tobias and I stayed with Ram and Tyler for several minutes to make sure things weren’t desperate. We were a good 10 miles from either the start or the first water station, pretty much in the middle of a nowhere on the steep sides of the Kathmandu valley.

I eventually took off with a goal to update the docs at the first water station. It took longer than expected. My knees started to act up on the remaining downhill and I was actually looking forward to some flatness. We pedaled along cobbled, bouncy primitive roads until aid 1. I updated the docs, and gave some info on location and Ram’s state. There really wasn’t any easy way to get transport to where he was located, but I left the particulars to them before heading off. Keep this in mind, we were at the start, very close to Kathmandu and it was still a huge proposition to afford any reasonable care in the event of shit getting serious. This is no joke, and only gets more serious the further along the route one goes. This is committed.

The day finished with a horrendous, hot, and normally dusty hill climb to the finish. Last year my cranks were literally falling off on this climb due to a loose spindle, and I had to walk a few sections. This year I was determined to get it clean, which I did, but I lost a good amount of time to Tobias who pulled away from me near the bottom. This hill cracked more than a couple top riders in the heat- but the recent rains at least meant the dust was minimal. I crossed the line in 23rd that day- not stellar, but about where I belonged.

From the finish it’s a short, uphill march to the Famous Farm- the best accommodations in the entire race. At the entrance to the farm, I fell over when I failed to unclip from my pedals- mental note…

Stats: 30.3 miles, 2,907′, 3:15:32, 23rd

Well earned beers and Kind bars
Well earned beers and Kind bars
The Famous Farm
The Famous Farm
Chillaxin- Rajeev, Tyler, John and Rob
Chillaxin- Rajeev, Tyler, John and Rob
Race prep central
Race prep central
Mr Marcus strolling
Mr Marcus strolling
The bounty
The bounty
Best eating of the trip
Best eating of the trip
Awesome views everywhere
Awesome views everywhere

Raw Freshly Peeld Skin

Title

 

How does one describe a truly grand, epic adventure where the details are so fuzzy, where each day melds seamlessly, sometimes jarringly into another? Vague memories punctuated by crystal clear snapshots- a perfect view of a vast Himalayan icefall, ice-choked squat toilets at 6:00 am, breathless searing pain riding rough shod over rocky terrain… This is Yak Attack!

Gearing up at the Park Village
Gearing up at the Park Village
Tan and Wendy looking fresh
Tan and Wendy looking fresh

Over the next few days, I will try to capture some thoughts I wrote down for each stage, but as I sit here, 4 stories above the ever lovable chaos of Thamel nearly two weeks after we first set out on stage 1, after two days of lounging about the sleepy strip of Pokhara, I want to try to capture the essence of the experience. I know this is futile, but worth the effort.

Me and Raj Kumar with Yuki and Rob
Me and Raj Kumar with Yuki and Rob

I’ve been fortunate to have some pretty raw adventures in my time. Was this the hardest, most difficult thing I have done? Probably not, but maybe so- how does one really measure something like this? Time and memories are so fluid- a land where days can seem like weeks, and months like the briefest moments, even simultaneously. Reflection on an experience is never the same as in-the-moment. Without a doubt, there were moments where I was stretched to my limit, a rubber-band cracking and straining, yet I never fully broke. It was, however, the hardest, most raw, committing thing I have done on a bicycle without a doubt.

Valley Views
Valley Views

The sheer scale of the Himalaya is overwhelming. Sitting on a deck, sipping real Lavazza coffee and eating Black Forest Cake at 11,500′, the soaring Annapurna range loomed high above- I could not fathom the size, even sitting at the base. My familiar frames of reference are useless- even having spent so much time in the high mountains back at home.

Heading into the mountains
Heading into the mountains

Valley views of centuries old terraces as far as the eye can see- dug by hand into the steep unforgiving sides of the foothills- pass by almost daily. Bewildered stares, with a hasty “Namaste” greet a passing rider in every town. Stark, barren, and cold rooms dominate each night as you climb higher into the mountains. There is never enough sleep, enough food, enough time recover, enough beer…

Most of us are strangers to one another. There are the various couples that come to race together- life-long friends on a quest for adventure, fellow racers from “back home” or acquaintances from some brief moment in the near-distant past. We share similar experiences, but many different colored passports. There are the truly elite, world-class racers vying for the podium, along with the average Jane chasing the experience of a lifetime.

Then there is the riding- holy shit! The riding! ancient foot paths, blasted jeep road, ephemeral steeps through deep snow. Fast, techy, dusty, grinding track through the iconic Annapurna circuit. This is perhaps the most unique location to race a mountain bike. Tropical forests down low, to hypoxic altitudes up high- this race has it all- from sweating it out and barely escaping heat exhaustion in the opening days, to suffering from hypothermia well below Thong La on “Pass Day” wearing almost every stitch of clothing available. Every day presents a new challenge, a new type of terrain, a new chance to suffer or shine.

BOOM!
BOOM!

We all share the misery and pain that comes from pushing the limits in such an environment. This race is as much about luck- of staying healthy enough to keep turning the pedals, as it is about fitness, or capabilities on a mountain bike. It is a race that will test you- a race where you will have to dig deep in order to continue- beyond reason, or logic. Not all who show succeed. If it was easy, or guaranteed, it would not have near the meaning that it does. And yet, crossing the finish line is not the end. Riders continue to succumb to the punishment. It’s frightening to watch a friend faint from illness on the final return flight to Kathmandu, days after the official race has ended.

Some, many likely, of the people I spent the last two weeks with, I will never see again. But there are others I know I will not only see, but will share other, soon-to-be-known adventures with- in some far-way, or close locale. I will, once again, share a beer, a shot, and a good story with some of these fellow adventurers. That time cannot come soon enough.

The view from Manang
The view from Manang

This is an adventure that will last- that will continue to impact my day-to-day, my future experiences- a new yard-stick by which to measure other tests. The future is always uncertain, unwritten till the moment it is lived, but I do not think this will be my last time here- my last time to experience all that this wonderful, amazing country has and is. Nepal is a kingdom that has long held adventure for those willing to only to seek it out, and I look forward to my next chance to share a smile, an adventure, and a part of myself in the heart of the Himalaya.

Finish line!
Finish line!

If you want to take the test- sign up. I did a fair amount of things right, and a fair amount of things wrong. I had some great gear, and some of the wrong gear. But I made it. If you persevere, and can recover from the lowest depths of self-doubt (you will reach them for sure), then the finish line, the medal, the celebration, and the memories are there. Realize though this is not a luxe tour. The accommodations are sparse- the toilets are some of the most disgusting things on earth. Unless you like glacial temps, showers are pretty much non-existent- my last shower was on stage 2 before getting to Pokhara 8 days later. Due to logistics, porters can depart 3-4 hours before race time and they will have your sleeping bag unless you want to carry it while riding. This leaves you the option of shivering on your bed in below freezing temps in your lycra, scoring an often impossible “blanket” or sucking it up and heading to the common area (unheated) for some tea and shivering with fellow riders. There are few creature comforts in the Yak Attack though they do appear at random points. Schedules can be fluid in Nepal, and plans are always subject to change at will. If you’re looking for a catered event with detailed directions and schedules, look somewhere else. But if you are looking for adventure, there is plenty of that in spades.

This is Yak Attack!

At the terminus
At the terminus

My sincerest thanks to all of the support staff involved in this one of a kind event- Snow Monkey, and all of the porters do an incredible job getting supplies from point to point along the route. Phil Evans realized a dream of creating a truly great event in one of the most magical places on earth. Finally, the Nepali people are some of the warmest, most sincere people I have met- and some of the most talented athletes I have ever raced with- Namaste!

Ice Cream in Pokhara with Tyler
Ice Cream in Pokhara with Tyler

Eat Your Enchilada!

Desert Gnar
Desert Gnar

Ah… the Desert… I had my first taste of this alien landscape with two friends back in February 1997. A storm, and flu aborted winter attempt on The Diamond of Long’s Peak ended with a conciliatory trip to Moab- we slept under arches, we climbed the Hindu, and we endured a major snowstorm that dumped a good 8″ of the white stuff. It was love at first sight for sure. Over the years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in that part of the world, first climbing all around Indian Creek, Castle Valley, down by the Green River, and recently riding my bike across the moonscape slickrock-filled canyons and high-alpine wonderland of the Sierra La Sal.

I fucking LOVE the Desert!

Walls of Forever
Walls of Forever

I hit a dispersed camp site outside of town and quickly bedded down for the night. Temps were dropping fast and I closed the gate and topper to my truck to keep out the wind. I was up early in order to make the 8 am shuttle for a practice run down the Enchilada from Burro pass.

Stormy
Stormy
Cold high-country morning
Cold high-country morning
The Beast at home
The Beast at home

As we wended our way up the La Sal loop road, it quickly became clear Burro was a no-go. At the turn for Geyser Pass, we went left and headed towards the Hazard trailhead. There was just a dusting of snow, but it was cold. I shivered as I pulled on my lightweight storm jacket and decided to start pedaling to warm up. By the time I hit the top of Hazard, I was warm enough to ditch the jacket and my knee and elbow pads gave me enough warmth. Off I went.

I made great time all the way to the bottom of Porcupine and the River, even cleaning the big waterfall drop near the bottom. I slow pedaled my way back to the parking lot, cleaned up and checked in for the race.

Jackass Canyon
Jackass Canyon
MMMMMMmmm Single-Track
MMMMMMmmm Single-Track
The Not Suck
The Not Suck

Then I got restless and decided to pre-ride some of the stages for day 1 up in the Mag 7 area. The whole time I watched the storm continue to hammer the La Sal.

They're out there somewhere
They’re out there somewhere

I may have over done it a bit. I rode all the stages except for stage 1 down Bull Run. I was surprised at how much pedaling there was on stages 2 and 3. I’d only ridden Mag 7 once before, on a hard tail, with some significant snow cover. The race the next day would be interesting. After the pre-race meeting I set camp once again under a blustery cold sky.

Dawn came- I made my way to the start and cooked eggs and coffee in the staging area while feasting on a breakfast of views and warmth from a rising sun.

All the comforts of home
All the comforts of home
Desert Sunrise
Desert Sunrise
West of a View
West of a View

Satiated, I pedaled my way up the first transition to the top of Bull Run. The pros hadn’t even started yet. There was lots of milling about, standing around and eventual queuing up as the race got under way.

Nervous Anticipation
Nervous Anticipation
And... we're off
And… we’re off

Five- Four- Three-… I love the countdown with Enduro Events- Zero was reached and I sprinted out of the gate as much as I can sprint. The initial sandy track soon transitioned to the famous Moab slickrock and I struggled to keep a flow. I wished once again I had pre-ridden this stage. It was the longest of the day with a fair amount of pedaling and open running on slickrock. I squinted hard to keep the painted dots in view getting off-track a few times. I never found a flow on this stage, and my time showed as much. It was a longer stage at 16 minutes (for me) and I was in 20th place.

Stage 2 was shorter and a little more techy. Tight, twisty, a few drops and step-ups- I finished in 8 good enough for 16h. It was half way through stage 2 that my seatpost shit the bed. It was now working exactly opposite of how it should- lowering when weighted, and springy up to full-mast when I stood. There was nothign I could do for it and it was a real pain on the long transition to the final stage for the day. I took the “official” long way around to the top of the stage and leisurely walked a few of the sections I had easily ridden the day before- conserve energy. At the top, there was a long wait as they had to move the timing equipment from stage 1. It was a couple hours at least of standing around.

Not a bad view to have while waiting
Not a bad view to have while waiting
Waiting Game
Waiting Game
The standing part
The standing part

The equipment eventually showed, and the peanut gallery got to watch the pros rail the opening section across the slickrock. It amazes me just how much faster the pros lightning through these runs. The opening section was bumpy and had a few lines to take- some better than others. One particularly nasty hole almost sent a few riders ass-over, but no one crashed during the race (at least that I saw). This stage was the shortest of the race, and had some technical sections including a 4′ drop. At least, that’s what I was told- I didn’t remember any drop from the day before pre-riding it. Turns out I took the ride-around which was a dicey-ish narrow ledge to a rock step.

Flying
Flying

Eventually it was time to motor and I set to the cranks. I was immediately pinned and breathing hard and sucking up the bumpy terrain as best I could. I managed a relatively smooth line at the open and skirted the hole. I carried good speed down through the course and only got lost once or twice on some wide sweeping turns. Then I was at the drop and had way too much speed to negotiate the ride-around. Over the drop was the best course of action, and I rode it out smoothly carrying all my speed. I hit the bottom in 5 1/2 minutes and felt good about the run. It was definitely one that keeps a smile on your face the whole time. It was good enough for 15th.

The transition back to the staging area was brutal with my failed seatpost. I had to get this fixed by morning. I ended up finished the transition with Gavin from Elevation Cycles and he offered a seatpost (if they had one that worked) if I stopped by their tent at the sponsor village. I cleaned up and headed back to town. Unfortunately, I kept missing the folks at Elevation and eventually had to cut my losses and try my luck in town. The awesome folks at Chili Pepper bikes got me sorted with a Gravity Ti dropper post. I had to use a sleeve with it to fit my 31.6mm seat post and the cable routing was a little ghetto, but the thing worked. Fully-manual spring loaded action assured me this thing was unlikely to fail the next day. I sorted out the cable routing, swapped saddles and then headed to Thai food with friends. Gobble, gobble, gobble and it was time for bed again.

Despite the recent snow, the organizers were given the go-ahead to race from the top of Burro. The morning queues for a shuttle were a complete madhouse, and I held back with a small group as shuttles came and went. Eventually the crowds began to thin and I ended up on Speed Racer’s shuttle. This drive had a mission of getting to the top in the fasted time. We passed several shuttles on the way and I found myself very near the front on the slog up to the to of Burro.

This part sucked! It was a complete mudfest- thick, sticky, clay-ridden mud. But not to be outdone, word came down that as muddy as the front-side walk up was, the backside had some long stretches of scary black ice- JOY!

In retrospect- they should have canceled this portion of the rage, and broken the day’s 2nd stage into two sections- hazard to UPS and UPS down to the finish- my opinion.

I finally reached the top and found a stick to clean off my tires and drive train. and saddled up for the crazy train ride down Burro. The first few turns were fine, and then suddenly I was off my bike sliding on my ass. I did this two more times one of which sailed me a good 15′ down the side of the trail. Now I was fully sketched out. I slowed to a crawl and was caught by 2 or 3 riders behind me. I got out of their way as best I could. It was not a good run and towards the end, all I cared about was making the finish line. I rolled across at a dismal 13′ and 22nd for the stage.

I slow-pedaled my way through the next transition to the top of Hazard. It was warming slightly, but a bit windy. There was no more snow or ice and I sat for a few moments at the top and ate half a sandwich. I ended up in front of a few of the guys that passed me on Burro and I hung around not wanting to get in their way again on the final stage.

Hazard County start line
Hazard County start line

No one else seemed in a hurry to get going, and I don’t do well with just sitting around. I pulled my pads up and rolled up to the start. The final stage was awesome, and long. I rolled through the swooping, flowy Hazard trail and did my best to stay off the brakes. I kept waiting for someone to catch me, but no one ever did. Then I hit the long, wide open stretch of Kokepelli and pinned it knowing this was the only “rest” on the whole stage. A few day-riders appeared but everyone moved out of the way quickly to let me by. I hit UPS and still hadn’t been passed. I worked my way along UPS and tried to conserve a little energy knowing I still had a long way to go.

I think I finally got passed shortly before the snotch. I felt good I had managed to hold off the riders behind me as long as I did, but in reality- I have no idea how long they waited before starting. I reached the snotch and dismounted my bike cross-style. I had already mentally decided not to bother trying to ride the line. I figured I could likely make it, but there was always the chance of some real good carnage, and I’d likely be faster running it.

Of course, this was one of the few areas in the whole race with a healthy group of spectators. I ran as fast as I could, bike shouldered, hopping through the ledges.

“You run your bike *very* fast”

Why thank you… I remounted and got back up to speed. Fatigue was setting in once I hit Porcupine rim. I focused on keeping as much speed as I could. I gapped a few lines on the chunky road and dismounted again on a couple of short ups that were easier to run and saved just enough energy for the finish. Near the end another fast guy caught me and I tried to hold his wheel as long as possible. I managed to keep him close as we barreled through some of the biggest drops of the day- lines I don’t think I knew existed before. This was an absolute blast!

I rolled across the final finish in 1:14 and good enough for 16th again on the stage, 17th overall in the 40+ category. Sprinting, and pinning it are definitely not my strengths, though I do make up for that somewhat with some decent descending skills. Enduro racing was new for me this year, and it’s a completely different scene from the ultra-endurance circuit. It’s a nice mix, and I had a blast riding and racing my new Intense Carbine. I will definitely be racing some more Enduro events in 2014, and I might just have to focus on some short power conditioning to help with those pedally sections.

Searching for Louis Friend

Packed and ready
Packed and ready

Fool: 

1. One who is deficient in judgment, sense, or understanding.
2. One who acts unwisely on a given occasion: I was a fool to have quit my job.
3. One who has been tricked or made to appear ridiculous; a dupe: They made a fool of me by pretending I had won.
4. Informal A person with a talent or enthusiasm for a certain activity: a dancing fool; a fool for skiing.
5. A member of a royal or noble household who provided entertainment, as with jokes or antics; a jester.
6. One who subverts convention or orthodoxy or varies from social conformity in order to reveal spiritual or moral truth: a holy fool.
7. A dessert made of stewed or puréed fruit mixed with cream or custard and served cold.
8. Archaic A mentally deficient person; an idiot.

Gold:

1.

a. Symbol Au A soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element, the most malleable and ductile metal, occurring in veins and alluvial deposits and recovered by mining or by panning or sluicing. A good thermal and electrical conductor, gold is generally alloyed to increase its strength, and it is used as an international monetary standard, in jewelry, for decoration, and as a plated coating on a wide variety of electrical and mechanical components. Atomic number 79; atomic weight 196.967; melting point 1,063.0°C; boiling point 2,966.0°C; specific gravity 19.32; valence 1, 3. See Table at element.
b. Coinage made of this element.
c. A gold standard.
2. Money; riches.
3. A light olive-brown to dark yellow, or a moderate, strong to vivid yellow.
4. Something regarded as having great value or goodness: a heart of gold.
5.

a. A medal made of gold awarded to one placing first in a competition, as in the Olympics: won 9 golds in 13 events.
b. A gold record.

So many fitting definitions…

I’m going with An Idiot’s Riches, a Fool’s Gold

I was finally back on a plane. I’ve missed flying… I’ve gotten better at breaking down and packing my bike for air travel. I was packed and ready to go in time to grab some dinner out the night before. 4:00 am and I was up and on my way. I landed in ATL and grabbed my bags and made the long schlep to the rental car desk. I should have remembered the shoulder straps for my TNF bag…

Dahlonega bound…

Waiting for racer meeting
Waiting for racer meeting

Unpack and reassemble bike, wash up, head downtown for the racer meeting. Replace the CO2 cartridges TSA confiscated, realize I have a hole in my spare tube and pick up another one. Freak a bit about racing trails I’ve never been on. Get nervous that I have no go-juice for the morning just coming off the Point-to-Point. Finally, grab dinner and get to bed.

5:30 am coffee run
5:30 am coffee run

5:00 am Eastern time- 3:00 am mountain- up with the alarm. Funk my way out the door, to the car, coffee ’round the corner drive to race venue. It’s very dark- grab headlamp. Cool, Lee and Brenda are parked just a couple cars over. Nothing quite like traipsing across the country and racing with the same folks- whether in CO, UT, SD, GA… the NUE series has its regular players and it’s a blast racing with everyone even if I rarely see anyone on the trail as I sweep from the back.

I kept Lee and Brenda in my sites up the long opening climbs- in the end this was probably a mistake- they are much stronger riders than I. I hit the sabotaged course markings in front of them and made the (wrong) turn down the hill. I wasn’t too far along when I ran in to a group debating whether we should keep going. I turned around and pedaled back up to the intersection. Lee and Brenda and a few others were there debating as well. Everyone else standing around had raced Fool’s Gold before and knew the course yet we were all confused by the signage- a pox to the saboteurs.

What drives knuckleheads like this???

I double checked my Garmin (it was wonky the ENTIRE day) and decided I *should* go down the hill. I took off. Then about double the distance down as the first time, I thought better of it. No one else had followed me. I pedaled back up once again. I eventually bridged my way to the group I left and rolled in to the first aid feeling okay but a little spent from the effort.

The steep, loose road after Aid 1 was treacherous, more so because of the many blind corners and tales of cars and near misses from other racers. We finally hit some good single track and I continued to feel okay till I hit the next main climbing section. I was fading fast and let quite a few- too many- racers pass me. A couple caught me right near the top and forced me to do some epic passing on the next long stretch of downhill. Lost leaders were bridging and passing fast at this point. Some top folks took a LONG detour due to sabotaged course markings.

Drew Edsell came flying by on a long downhill and I shouted some words of encouragement. Holy hell he is fast on the down! I tried to at least keep his jersey in site but he was pulling away fast.

I rounded another tight corner and there were two cyclist hunched over in the middle of the trail- a large tree and a steep drop-off gave me no choice but to dismount, and that’s when I saw Drew a good 8-10 feet down the embankment, wrong way up, covered in forest litter and not looking or sounding good. The three of us got him upright and back on the trail. The two other riders took off and I stayed behind and tried to direct the masses piling down around us. I checked Drew’s pupils, had him track my finger, asked him a few questions to make sure he wasn’t completely out. After a few minutes he assured me he was good enough to walk the rest of the short distance to the next aid and that I should get on my way. I remounted and made quick work of the single-track and checked in at the aid to let them know there was an injured rider. The volunteers were already on top of it. It was the end of Drew’s day, but mine was just beginning.

Things start to get hazy here- pedal, pant, suffer, rolling up and down- some punchy short climbs, then the “half-way” point and cooler drop at 52 miles in (54 or so with the detour). I threw a CO2 canister to a fellow racer on his 2nd flat of the day just before the coolers where I had a spare. I was happy the 2nd lap cut out the big climb up the road and took a left near the ranger headquarters.

The trail markings got confusing again in this area- there were several lost 50 milers, and some of this track crosses back upon itself- I wasn’t 100% confident on was on course, and my Garmin wasn’t much help. I took a sharp right turn with a big arrow point up some single track. I soon passed a 50 miler going the other way- one of us was lost- me? him? I pedaled on, but cautiously. It cost me time as I hit some downhill and hadn’t seen tape for a long ways. I didn’t want to open the throttle just to have to pedal back up hill once again.

My pop was here in these same woods in 1964...
My pop was here in these same woods in 1964…

I wasn’t lost and soon hit the point where lap 1 and 2 meet up again. Then I got lost for real. I missed another sharp left and continued on up a road, some flat, some down, and a long stretch of up. At the apex I looked over and just knew this wasn’t right. I stood around for a minute or two hoping someone would appear on my heals. No dice. I turned around and retraced the road all the way back about 1.5 miles to the missed turn. I burned another good 20-25 minutes on this detour.

Back on course, I was definitely feeling it. I hit the Aid at mile 70 just hoping to hold on. My brain got fuzzy again and shortly after I was convinced I missed another turn. I doubled-back. Nope, I was on track. Back at it. I did this a few more times over the remaining 25 miles. I was definitely in the pain zone. I tried to remind myself I was having fun- the trails were awesome- the single track flowy, and I could really get some speed on the downs. There were a few loose/rutted sections, and overall I was being more cautious than usual. I didn’t want to get this close to bail hard and miss finishing just to make up a few minutes- minutes that didn’t matter one way or the next.

It wasn’t quite survival racing, but it was close. I did manage some faster downhill splits on lap 2, but the ups suffered. I eventually rolled across the line at about 96 miles- I think if you made every correct turn, mileage should have been right at 90. My official time was 10:44 and “good enough” for 20th out of 21 in the men’s open… ugh! Not at all the result I wanted.

However, it WAS my 4th NUE race of the year- and that was good enough to qualify me for final series points. Arbitrary for sure, but that was my major race goal of the year- qualify for NUE standing. Done, goal achieved. I even got a sweet grab bag of Kenda tires, a KMC chain, tons of Squirt lube, some sweet socks… I got to hang around and see the various series winners “crowned.” Top dogs get a free trip to La Ruta this year- that ain’t too shabby of a winners prize for sure!

No one needs to fear me threatening NUE podiums anytime soon. But I will continue to show up, and throw down as best I can. I’m not at all bad on the downhills, but it is clear I have about 0 climbing ability. It’s something I will need to work on. Why do I show up? These are pretty epic days, and I am often left “racing” alone on hot dusty trails, or through epic downpours, or lost in the woods. I could do all these rides on my own, at my leisure (proper Brit-pronunciation), but then it’s too easy to just bail when it gets too tough- to come back when the weather is more perfect, the trails more tacky, the stars better aligned.

Race day is race day, you show up, you finish, or you don’t. Blown tires, bad crashes, stomach revolt- push through or push on. The only real battle that matters is the one that happens in my head.

“I’m pretty sure if I take a right down that road, I can just bail and be back at the finish with a beer in about 10 minutes.”

“No way son, you have at least another 3 or 4, or 5 hours of hard effort before you’re done.”

That’s why I continue to show up for these things- to pay fees, pack the bags, replace the worn and broken bike bits… it’s not a cheap hobby. It’s not altogether a pleasant hobby… My ass still hurts- callouses on my callouses as they say. But I also get to meet and race with some awesome folks all across the US- and abroad (YAK ATTACK!), I get stellar views when I have the presence of mind to look, and I get to ride my bike on some bitchin’ trails, hear the hoops from the odd spectator that’s still around when I cross the line… and sometimes, in rare alignments, I surprise myself and surpass my goals.

Georgia Wine Country
Georgia Wine Country
Just might have to revisit in 2014
Just might have to revisit in 2014

One more enduro race for the season, then the real training begins, Yak Attack will be here before I know it. Time to start planning the rest of the 2014 calendar as well.

Point the Way

Heading towards the goods
Heading towards the goods across the High Plains

When I crossed the finish line in the 2011 Point-to-Point, I was so lame in my right knee due to IT Band Syndrome that I would have been shot on sight if I was a horse. I couldn’t walk without a limp for 6 weeks and it was over 8 weeks before I could ride my bike again. It was my first big race and I was just lucky to finish at 11:28. I knew the minute I crossed the line I’d be back.

2012 was better- or at least I felt better at the end of the race, but it was more apple than orange as heavy rain in the morning forced a postponed start and shaved the route down to only 68 or so miles. I placed better overall but not significantly. I couldn’t wait to sign up again for 2013.

Following my epic crash at the Breck 100, I was not able to do a whole lot of riding. I did manage a couple high-country days so all was hopefully not lost, but overall I had no idea where I was at when I jumped in line at the start. My “goal” was for a sub 10-hour race. Looking back at some pacing from the Breck and Tatanka, a 9-hour race was not completely out of the question. I set my Garmin for a 9-hour pace.

Trepidatious- always the same pre-race look...
Trepidatious- always the same pre-race look…
And they're off
And they’re off

This year I took a spot higher in the start order in order to reduce the usual cock-blocking on the Round Valley loop. It worked great as I had to deal with few, if any riders on the downhill sections (only a couple towards the end) and was able to easily let a few folks pass me unhindered on some of the opening climbs. I must have completely zoned out at one point because I was expecting another stiff climb in Round Valley when the end of the loop suddenly appeared- sweet! From there it was up Skidrow to Lost Prospector. I love Lost Prospector- such a fun trail. Last year it was as sloppy mess with rain and mud and chain-suck. This year was perfect tacky dirt. I was more hesitant than normal on the downhill to Solamere, but I was sticking remarkably close to my target pace.

Awesome volunteers at a road crossing- P2P volunteers are awesome!
Awesome volunteers at a road crossing- P2P volunteers are awesome!

Riding in to Aid 1 Riding in to Aid 1

Once into Deer Valley the new course changes started to appear. I really liked the 2013 edition. I hit the first Aid at Silver Lake still on target. However, once I hit Team Big Bear I started falling off pace. I’ve seen a few people lamenting the exclusion of Bow Hunter from this year’s race, though I was pretty happy. The views are stunning, but I have just never found my groove on this bumpy, hot, primitive trail.

What it is ALL about- Putting the Single in Singletrack
What it is ALL about- Putting the Single in Singletrack

The new TG to Corvair link-up was awesome. While I tried to make up some time on John’s, the shoulder was having none of it. I am not a fan of this trail. It’s a rooty, twisty, jarring trail that has me wishing for a full-suspension bike every time I ride it. I wouldn’t cry if this disappeared in the future either, but then, it probably wouldn’t feel like the p2p if it was cut. All races need some epic suffering to be worthwhile.

I swapped back and forth with a few riders I had seen throughout the day but then got dropped hard on the long climb to Shadow Lake. Once I crested the top though, I really opened up on the long descent back to Park City and finally felt comfortable at speed. I absolutely pinned it most of the way down. At the top of shadow lake I was a good 15 minutes off pace- by the time I rolled into the PCMR aid station, I was even again. I swapped out bladders and realized if I could continue pushing, sub-10 was all but guaranteed as long as I kept the rubber side down and didn’t completely blow up- 9 hours was still a remote possibility.

The new course in this area was another real improvement over past years. Climbing up Spiro was always an epic sufferest and while there was still plenty of climbing on the new route, overall I felt it was a better track. The chunky section of mid-mountain still did its best to loosen all of my fillings and fatigue was setting in hard. My pace continued to slack, but sub-10 was still looking good.

All day views
All day views

Up and over- Rob’s and Rosebud’s Heaven are so fast and flowy- the only worry is coming around a corner too hot and flattening some poor hiker or biker out for a leisurely holiday weekend stroll. All too soon I hit the soul crushing turn UP Ambush and away from the finish, the beer, the end. It was all I could do to keep turning the cranks- my legs were spent. Somewhere along Ambush my Garmin virtual partner finished and I knew 9 hours was out of the cards, but it gave me a bit of a charge to get to the top and I finally crested the last high-point. From there it was another burner run down Holly’s- my hands had gone numb and I wasn’t sure I could brake hard enough if I needed so I tried to put that thought out of my mind completely.

And just like that, I could see the finish. I polished off the last few turns into the grass, skipped the hollywood jump at the end and rolled across the finish line in 9:19:10. Goal achieved. Another p2p in the books and good enough for 26th (out of 89 starters) in 40+.

This was just about the best race I could have hoped for all things considered. I improved substantially over past years, and really had a blast out on the trails. I was cooked at the end, but not to the point of being unable to walk which is huge. The Fool’s Gold 100 is just 2 days away and after that is the Enchilada Enduro which should be an absolute blast. From there it’ll be time to start thinking about the Yak Attack- the start is a scant 6 months away. Giddy UP!

And oh yeah, seems I *just* missed seeing Gilly out on the trail- my teammate Nate got a dollar from him and was about 10 minutes in front of me most of the race. I was pretty bummed at the finish because well, I’ve ALWAYS dreamed of getting a Gilly dollar hand-up. As I sat sipping my beer… up through the crowd came the myth, the legend. I got me a dollar!

Gilly cash
Gilly cash
Homeward Bound (for now)
Homeward Bound (for now)

Stoopid Loop

Yonder Son
Yonder Son- French Pass from Georgia Pass

Time to get Epic. I love the riding over Georgia Pass. Last year I worked out a big loop from Como that included 10 miles of road along 285. There is another option that is evident from Stage 2 of the Breck Epic, and that is looping over the top of 12,049’ French Pass, but it involves going over the pass (duh)…

The pins in the pinky are no longer much of a problem, but the tear in the shoulder is another matter. With both Park City and Fool’s Gold right around the corner, it was time to put in a long(er) day to see if the body could hold up. I tried to get a few others to come and suffer with me- no dice. At 8:10 I headed out from the Kenosha trail head.

It has been a very active monsoon season here in Colorado and the roots all along this section of the CT were super slick. I spent most of the day riding very cautiously. Wet roots are likely what caused my current injuries and I have yet to overcome the hesitation that brings.

Sweet, sweet high-alpine single-track
Sweet, sweet high-alpine single-track

The long grind up to Georgia Pass came and went and soon I was zooming down the backside headed towards Breckenridge. This section was even wetter and the rocks became treacherous at several points. I opted to walk the short, very wet, uber-techy section near the bottom instead of risking a crash. I love this section and next time I have to hit this on my full-suspension rig!

At Tiger Road I had a couple of options; I could make a really big day by heading towards the West Ridge, or take a saner route up American Gulch. I’ve only ridden down the Gulch and found grinding up it rather demoralizing and involved a bit of hike-a-bike. Riding Little French Flume in the opposite direction was fun as was going down Little French Gulch. Up, down, up, down, rinse and repeat… Now it was time to head up towards French Pass.

Aspen Iridescence in a Field of Green
Aspen Iridescence in a Field of Green
There's a Storm A-Brewin'
There’s a Storm A-Brewin’
Funny What Appears When You Stop and Look
Funny What Appears When You Stop and Look

This is when the bonk hit- again. It is clear I have not been fueling right that last couple of rides- coupled with an injury induced lack of fitness. The long, slow slog up French Gulch took a lot out of me, but the new scenery was awesome. I had not been up this way before- few have really. I passed two hikers high-tailing it down due to the heavy thunder. The sucker holes right over the pass convinced me enough that I was going to be safe from lightning. It’s not like I had many choices- my truck was on the other side… one way or another I was going over the pass. It cleared up just enough as I hiked the last several hundred yards towards the top.

That Way
That Way
From
From
Storm-Born
Storm-Born
A Disappearing Sight
A Disappearing Sight

TwistedTwisted

The single-track down the other side was *awesome*; awesome enough to make the hike-a-bike to the top worth it. The skies opened up once again as I hit Michigan Creek and started climbing back to Georgia Pass. I was already 35 miles and 6,000’ of climbing into my day and knew there was still a lot more to come; I dropped my head and tried to keep a good cadence.

Monsoon Fruits
Monsoon Fruits
The Belles of the Forest
The Belles of the Forrest
Veritable Cornucopia
Veritable Cornucopia

The rain stopped as I crested Georgia for the second time and I railed my way down the ripping single-track back towards Kenosha. It had obviously rained a lot harder on this side of the pass and there were significant piles of hail, mud, and deep puddles. Soon enough it was time to drop the head once more for the final climb out. I reached my truck a muddy mess clocking 49 miles and 8,800’ of climbing.

Satisfaction
Satisfaction

It took me 7 hours- slower than I had hoped, but all-in-all it was a good, hard day. I seem to always face Park City hoping I was more prepared, but it is what it is. Whatever happens next week, I know I’m going to enjoy the sweet suffering only a big race like Park City brings.

 

Nail, Meet Hammer!

Room with a view
Room with a view

Ah… those moments leading up to being awake… the faint voices from the radio transition from cloudy fog into crystallized sharpness. This isn’t my bed… I’m talking but I can’t quite make out what I’m saying.

“Thank you” was definitely in there somewhere. I’m vaguely aware of moving my head back and forth- maybe I’m looking at multiple people- I don’t really know.

Oh… we’re in a car? Or is it an SUV? Are my eyes open? I should probably be more freaked out considering I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on. Roll with it. Or do I know what’s going on… I thank “them” once again. I think I crashed… I think I’m on my way back to Breckenridge- I could still be asleep back in my bed somewhere in Denver.

We continue to chat- about what, I still don’t know. Now we’re walking, we’re definitely outside- feels like Carter park. “I crashed hard.” Wait, who said that?

“We have you on file- is your current address still 120 Kohl St.?”

“Yes, yes it is- I guess I’ve been here before.” I finally notice I’m cold as I start to peel away my jersey and bibs. Maybe I’ve been shivering this whole time.

The hours in between my last memories of cresting Boreas Pass- hucking hard into the sweet downhill that starts The Gold Dust trail and this moment of finally realizing I am sitting in a bed in the ER in Frisco are gone. I have some snapshots of crossing some wet bridges, some initial pelting of rain, and *maybe* a brief sense of getting the wind knocked out of me- though this last “memory” could be entirely manufactured. I do not remember Tyler finding me back on my bike riding along the trail. I don’t remember how I got to Como and the aid station- I don’t remember getting in the SUV, and I don’t remember much about the conversation(s) I had along the way.

I do remember the trip up Wheeler Pass and absolutely loving the single track off the back side. I remember making great time in to Copper, grinding away on the Peaks Trail, and being a bit shocked to hear Larry Grossman call out that I was 8th in my age group as I passed through the pits in Carter Park after loop 1.

I remember a slow grind up to the top of Little French, a fair amount of B68-ers that were gracious enough to pull over to the side for me to pass on the flume trail off of Little French. I remember my back wheel losing traction on the fast corners down American Gulch, and the soul-sucking climb up West Ridge to more ripping fast downhill towards the Dredge Boat trailhead. I have vague recollections of pitting at the end of loop 2 and still being on target for a sub-12 hour finish (goal) for the day and feeling not altogether that bad. I remember thunder and suffering along Indiana Creek and finally Boreas Pass road.

From there it’s all a bit hazy. I do know it was wet, I do know that I was gunning to make up time down Gold Dust, I do know I eventually crashed and got KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT! This last bit I know like I know facts I’ve read in a book.

Pinky Swear
Pinky Swear

And I do remember that just like that, my race was done. After a couple CT scans, a few x-rays, and some general poking and prodding, the prognosis was: concussion, broken finger (mallet finger), deep bruising, and a very sore shoulder. Two days later, my shoulder is most problematic. It’s hard to sleep, and raising my arm above shoulder height is a no-go. The splint on my pinky prevents most of the pain however, and the headache is only very mild. The stiffness on the other hand, is pretty profound.

Yum-tastic
Yum-tastic

I want to get back on the bike. I know I need to take it slow and that a repeated head injury at this point is a serious risk- but I want to get back out- to pedal my bike- to get back on the horse, and make sure I’m ready once its time to line up at the next race (currently Steamboat Enduro-X on 8/17).

I was planning on Pierre’s Hole on 8/3 to secure official ranking in the 2013 NUE, but I don’t think I’ll be sufficiently healed by then. Instead, it looks like I’m going to have to suck it up and make my way to Georgia for the Fool’s Gold 100 the weekend after Park City. I know there is some irony in there somewhere…

 

BIG UPS and HUGE thanks to everyone that helped out- Tyler McMahon- a dude I met on the side of the road outside Kathmandu back in December- you saved my bacon! I know Lauren Constantini was on-site at some point- thanks. If anyone else helped along the trail- I’m sorry I don’t remember you, and thank you! Thanks to the SAR/med staff in Como for getting me safe and sound back in Breck. Thanks to Amber for driving me to the ER and eventually home. Thanks to Nate Collier for collecting my bike, and Jeremy Woolf for taking care of all my shit from the pits. Thanks to anyone else that helped out- I don’t remember you, but I thank you. And thanks to all the volunteers that staffed this awesome race, and the promoters that put this on every year. The Breckenridge 100 is a brutal race, and I know I will be back again next year- not just for redemption, but because it is that awesome.