Saturday, December 24, 2011

Entrance of a Great Cavern

"Having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, I came to the entrance of a great cavern...two contrary emotions arose in me, fear and desire - fear of the threatening dark cavern, desire to see whether there were any marvelous things in it."
-Leonardo da Vinci

After what feels like quite some time, I still and often reflect on what exactly I want my future in racing to look like. I believe this thought to be in its adolescent stage. From my observation of others, I wouldn't be too far off by thinking it may be a moving target. I can say that I have become hooked on a particular racing style that lives up to every word of the quote above. 24 hour solo racing. I know there are more hooks than just this one and I'll have bigger fish to fry soon enough. Think stage races like La Ruta and earlier today I realized the inevitable of racing the Tour Divide in an upcoming year. Undeniably, I've been unintentionally training for this race for a while. In the meantime I'll stick with what's intoxicating for the 2012 season, the 24 Hour Solo World Championships in Canmore, Canada. The race location was very recently announced and coincidentally, I've been thinking a lot about the Worlds and when I would commit to it. I had no idea that I'd be so lucky to have it this soon. With a race of this caliber, I'm unsure of the qualification process and whether having four 24 hour solos under my belt by June will suffice for acceptance. All I can do is crush it at the next two 24s (see 2012 Tentative Race Plan) and increase my chances for selection.

A few nights ago, the Trek Bicycle Store Racing Team held its first meeting to congratulate each other on a great 2011 season and to meet its new members and the upcoming season. We also discussed our sponsors for the season which I am super excited about and is a vast improvement from 2011. To start, Trek and Bontrager are major sponsors for the team and will provide us with fantastic carbon bikes and components. Hopefully, I'll be racing on something like this in 2012! Trek Bicycle Store (Boulder and Louisville, Colorado) will be the team shops. Already, I've gained great confidence in their staff and team members for the upcoming season of racing, coaching, purchases, repair, friendships, camaraderie, you name it. Again, I'll be supported by Brad Keyes at CarboRocket and Honey Stinger out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado but this time it'll be at the team level instead of individual sponsorship support. Both of these company's products make up a very high percentage of nutrition during training and races. The combination of the CarboRocket 111 drink mix and Honey Stinger Waffles are my hands down favorites. I've still yet to have a Stinger Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich, soon! Coincidentally, I recently was accepted to the Maxxis grassroots program for individual riders but the Trek Bicycle Store Racing Team also has them as a new sponsor for 2012 as well. You'll see me rolling Maxxis Ikons all season without question. To add to the excitement, I've been accepted to Stan's NoTubes Pro Level Sponsorship Program. Stoke level is super high! I can't wait to rock a set of Race Golds! As for the most cycling specific products on the planet, Ergon is also sponsoring the team. I've been a huge fan of their ergonomic grips and bags and I can't wait to see how their saddles fit. Seeing that I plan on racing nearly 200 hours in 2012 (versus 120ish in 2011), saddle fit will be a critical piece of bike fit. As I've stated in previous race recaps, I've been racing on borrowed Radical Lights which have been a blessing and a must have for the upcoming season of training and 24 hour solos. Also, MTB Coach, owned by team member Curt Wilhelm, will also sponsor us this upcoming season with his knowledge of training and racing endurance events. Other sponsors also include Highpoint, a major player in deck & landscape lighting in the area, owned and operated by Jonathan Davis of the team. Another team member that has chosen to sponsor us is Adam Haid with his own company, Haid Consulting Enterprises. Last but not least, Avery Brewing of Boulder, Colorado is again on board to provide celebratory ales for great race results. I'll need to take a tour!

Speaking with Tim Miller about the upcoming season while Les Handy is caught in stare down with his cookie.
Trek Bicycle Store Boulder

Trek Bicycle Store Sprinter Van for races. Ummmm....awesome!
Trek Bicycle Store Racing Team uphill bicycle practice.

See you out there,


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

25 Hours in Frog Hollow Race Recap: 3rd Place

To start, I'm unsure if I'll ever be able to verbalize my gratitude for those that were critical toward my success at the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow, nor will I be able to express every lesson learned. But, I will try.

Sometimes half the battle is getting to the start line. And in that battle is where you find the strength to finish what you started. I facebooked this idea after rogue waves of adversity tested my patience and resilience in the week leading up to the race. Days before, I encountered mechanicals with my chronically ill and only mountain bike. Exhibit A: a taco'd rear wheel from a Moab trip had visited two bike shops before the hub body was dubbed the sole survivor and replaced with all new internals and laced to a new rim. B: the midnight before the Davis RV camper left for Virgin, Utah, the rear shock made noises I've never heard before. My fear was that my race was over before it started. I took it into Golden Bike Shop just hours prior to leaving Denver where Russ and Dane swiftly diagnosed and made the repair. In asking what was wrong, Russ stated that there was "almost no oil left in the shock." Hilarious and a classic move on my part. I refrained from telling them that my fork felt like peanut butter since I think it would've sent them over the edge! C: before realizing that my tire had a poorly constructed bead, I had stans'd up and seated it, placed it in the back seat of my car before it exploded off the rim. Stan's everywhere. Twice.
Just hours later, I met up with the Davis family for what came to be one of my favorite weekends of the year. Traveling and living in an RV for the weekend spoiled me beyond belief and set a new standard for race weekends, not only for the luxury but also for a family setting and support. After picking up Eszter Horanyi and Chris Miller in Grand Junction, we arrived the following day under a gorgeous sky and surroundings of Virgin, Utah, home of 25 Hours in Frog Hollow. I was in awe at the Zion National Park backdrop, which was most gorgeous at sunrise come Sunday. This race is where Eszter and Jonathan would compete in the duo category, I in the solo category, and Tanner, Jonathan and Kathy's son, would race solo as well. Keep in mind that Tanner is eleven years old and completed 8 laps for 102.5 miles. Insanity! My first hundo ever on a mountain bike was last year at the Breck 100 to add a little perspective. And, for more adversity, later that evening I rolled and sprained my inner ankle on the rutted out clayish terra before the course recon. I then got some RICE in, and not the kind that a Filipino mother force fed her son all throughout his youth :).

Weather wise, the following day was a different story. It was fairly chilly to start the race (see Garmin screenshots below), but a blanket of clouds and light precipitation passed, followed by a clear sky. The race began at 10am. Although, since it is considered the longest single day bike race in the world, the clocks were changed back an hour immediately after the Le Mans start to satisfy daylight savings.

The first three laps were spent at a much higher pace than anticipated. I continued lapping through the tent complaining that I was going out too fast yet I wouldn't slow down. In the middle of the fourth lap is when I had an unfortunate mechanical. Without much force to the rear derailleur, the spring snapped and rendered my shifter useless. No spring meant no counter tension to the derailleur cable, and no counter tension meant I was short on luck. On the return to the pit, I was spun out the entire time and made a poor attempt to regroup and instead, contemplated where to draw the line in adversity.
Chris shows no mercy.
We asked around for another spring or rear derailleur but to no avail. Lynda Wallenfels would bring another derailleur but that was hours away. We, more like Chris, tried everything but the best we could muster was manually placing the chain on the fourth largest cog and basically running a "triplespeed" or 3X1 drivetrain. There were times while I was riding where I had to give the derailleur a heel kick or pull to have the right gear. Joy. Not only did I have to manage mashing on pedals for the next three laps, but also deal with ghost shifting plus or minus two cogs for the next four hours until the derailleur showed up. For those three laps, my flow was disrupted, mentally I was breaking and visiting that "dark place" I had hoped for in my last blog post. I guess you can't pick and choose which dark place you're asking for! A terrible moment for me was when Bill Martin, eventual winner of the race with 20 laps, passed me only six-ish laps into the race. He steadily climbed while I felt like I was going in reverse. It crushed me and was a mental blow. I thought it was over. I wanted to compete and here I was displaying my amateur status and being passed this early in the race.

Where to draw the line was another riddle I had contemplated daily leading up to the race. How much money, time, patience, and resilience do I commit to even start this race before I pull the plug? It seemed like what could go wrong, did. More and more I engage in these experiences as if they are merely a test of my courage. I had contemplated where one draws the line when it's time to surrender to adversity. I'm not sure if Chris saw it on my face or if I had told him, but the image of him having a second and suitable rear derailleur in his hand made it easier to breathe. I had so many thoughts at that moment. I thought less about quitting and more about surging back up the ranks. But most of all, the thought that underscored everything, was hope. It felt like the first time in a while that something went more right than wrong. Granted, the "new" derailleur from Dave Harris was tweaked so I couldn't use the two large cogs of a 32 tooth cassette for the remainder of the race. This forced me to keep track of which gear I was in at all times and at every cog shift, I whispered what numbered cog I was pedaling for the remaining 15+ hours. Chris saved me, it wasn't the first time that weekend and it wasn't the last. Another time was when it was in the "witching hours" before sunrise. 13 hours is a long time of darkness no matter how you cut it. At one of the pits, I complained of having no energy, my legs were fine, but my nutrition was sinking and I couldn't tell why. Again, Chris was ahead of the game and had been frying the ultimate race superfood during my previous lap. Bacon. Topped with cheese and wrapped in a tortilla was another image of hope out of Chris's hand. I thought, "how could I ever stop with this much support?" Also, how could I ever stop with Lynda Wallenfels cheering me on and giving me advice along the way. I later had to tell Jonathan that a leading motivator was to have Lynda there in the pits. Just having her present by the campfire was plenty inspiration for me. I was determined that if I wanted Lynda to be my coach someday, then I didn't have a choice. I not only couldn't quit, I couldn't afford to give anything less than everything I had.

Once the 3X1 was turned into a 3X7, it was on. I asked Kathy if she could check the standings to see what I needed to do to get back to 3rd place. I then set off into the night with a bike, body, and spirits that felt brand new. When I returned, I was in seventh and smiling since power in my legs returned. Another lap or two and I was in sixth, then fifth. Towards the later part of the race, I was so brain dead that I couldn't tell how much time I had left to race or when I'd first see the sunrise. By then, it was the "witching hour" and I didn't believe that the darkness had an end. Eventually, I was proved wrong by the greatest sunrise of my entire life. I truly can't imagine a time where I was more happy to see the sun. Whether it's due to the disrupted circadian rhythms or not, I immediately found a new sense of energy and pushed hard for the remaining laps, so despite the fluctuating time in the pits, the last four laps had consecutively negative time splits down to a 1:12:17 split on the last lap. I was in position to return to the timing tent before the 25 hour mark which meant I had the opportunity to go for another lap and secure my placing. I missed it by one minute. Although, in the end I realized that I still would've placed 3rd despite the extra lap.

Bill Martin in 1st, Dave Byers in 2nd, and myself in 3rd.
At the time of the finish, I had raced 18 laps equal to 231 miles, 19,375 feet of climbing in 25 hours and 1 minute, good enough for 3rd place in the solo geared category and good enough for my first podium finish ever!

So, where do I draw the line? After this experience, I've learned that I'm even more uncertain. Maybe that's because the line is that much further away.

Here's a killer video by Chris Miller of the race...

So many thanks goes out to those who helped me make my first podium finish come alive. Anthony Thornton proactively offered his Radical Lights, not one, but two for this endeavor. Ben Welnak, of Twenty2 Cycles, who let me borrow his wheelset and yet another Radical Light while Amy was very encouraging as always and also donated tons of Halloween junk food calories and to my cause. Nom, nom, nom! Golden Bike Shop for their unwavering efforts to have my bike race ready when I need them most. Brad Keyes at CarboRocket for hooking me up with their fantastic product which was the only liquid carbohydrates I resorted to all race and experienced absolutely no GI Issues. Honey Stinger for their Waffles and Chews which I began and finished the race with. The Davis's for their wonderful family environment and for allowing me a piece of real estate in their RV for this very special trip. It was so motivating and supportive to be amongst the Davis family where Kathy was incredibly helpful in the pits, Berkley organizing the chaos in the timing tent, getting a high five of energy from Tanner out on course and Jonathan's advice before, during, and after the race. Eszter Horanyi for her racing wisdom and to travel with such a badass mountain biker was truly exciting. I also feel inclined to thank Dave Byers and Bill Martin for making their way down to Virgin, Utah despite the weather forecasts and pushing the pace so high. Without them, I wouldn't have learned what I did this weekend. I heard that Bill had an unfortunate fall so I hope he's ok. Given that he's one of the toughest enduro junkies around, I have no doubts that he's not letting this slow him down. I hope to race with and against these guys next year for another battle in the desert. Thanks to Lynda for her support and advice to get back on the bike when I'd linger in the pits. Also, thanks to Dave Harris for his endless support and for the second derailleur. I'm sure I wouldn't have podiumed with a triplespeed for the remainder of the race, although I would have tried! A big thank you to Cimarron Chacon and the Gro Promotions group and magnificent volunteers who helped organize an amazing 25 hour event. A special thanks goes to Chris Miller, who without his help, I'm not sure finishing what I started would've have been possible. He was clutch when my bike, my emotions, and my nutrition were in disarray. I seriously will never forget how much his help meant to me and made me realize that racing at this level cannot be done without the support of others.

Not only did Jonathan and Eszter win the Coed Duo, they also won the Duo Overall with a little encouragement from Lynda. 
Lynda with her students, Jonathan, Lynda, Eszter, and Dave. Unbelievable job everyone! 
Stoked to win some Ergon GS1's for 3rd place!
The first four breakfast plates were all mine. Nothing stands a chance the morning after a race.

I made the home page for! 

Tanner's clearly more focused on recovery than I am with his legs elevated.

Weather for the first 17 hours

Weather for the last 7 hours

Singletrack Competitor online news home page

XXC Magazine (pages 38-43)

Singletrack Competitor article

MTB Race News article

25 Hours in Frog Hollow home page

See you out there,


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some Call It Demons, Others Call It Justice

The simple formula has been my mission. Years ago as a passenger of a jet plane flying from somewhere I never wanted to return, I realized I wanted to simplify a life out of sorts. If feels like most things I do by bike has a deep seeded meaning like Justice.

Here's to those who have jet fueled my motivations, those poor experiences and of course those who are a wealth of motivation and inspiration. Family. Friends. Job. Music. Life. My current lifestyle includes making things once wrong, right. It's about seeking Justice for myself. To answer the question, "How do you keep pedaling?" This is how. Some call it demons, others call it Justice. It's the fire. It's looking down at your legs and seeing a 2 cylinder engine half a day into a race. It's kind of funny, I have to regulate the amount of Justice I tap into. For countless training rides and races I've overdone it at times. At the Gunnison Growler, PCP2P, and Vapor Trail 125, that wasn't windburn in my eyes in mid race, nor the tears of pain, but of joy, of Justice. Although, it cannot be welcomed for a lengthy stay, but kept at bay, since being choked up is literally suffocating. I'm hoping that for the next race at the 25 Hours in Frog Hollow, I'll be able to muster the strength to produce special numbers. Whether or not I hit those numbers is not what takes the cake, but that I visit a very dark place and hit my "ceiling of fitness" to see just how deep I can go and I know that Justice will be the ghost the drives me.


To transition to a lighter subject, below are pics of the recent Moab & Fruita trip with Brett Ebben that gave me more confidence than I imagined it would. Love that! The trip started with Amasa Back, one of my favorite areas in the universe! It was here where I first realized that I needed a much beefier bike since I managed to turn a trued rear rim into a frowning rim which swayed from seatstay to seatstay for the last few miles. Gladly, I was prepared and brought another rear wheel. It was then to the Sovereign Trail that same day which equated to more cheesy grins on cloud 9. The following day, Fred Wilkinson, a badass rider back in his hay day, joined us at City Market to ride up and around Slickrock. We were up for a big day of working for every mile at Slickrock and Porcupine Rim so I was stacked with 2500 calories, 7 water bottles, and body armor. Slickrock was a mountain biking playland and a physical test. I was able to minimize my dabs on the Navajo Slickrock to two during the entire ride, which I'm still stoked about. I plan on returning in a few weeks to make it a clean run! Brett and I then parted with Fred and climbed to begin my first try at Porcupine Rim. It was a long time coming and one of the best trails I've ever been on. I took it in that I've finally arrived at the trailhead after years of wanting to be right there. It was like climbing Navajo Slickrock stairs for miles and was right up my alley. I guess I'd call it cross country all mountain riding which is my favorite style of terra.

The next day we drove to Fruita for the Kokopelli Trail System for more spectacular riding over very different terrain that was still very challenging. I continued to think about how fortunate I was to be able to spend time on the bike and be fit enough to properly tackle a weekend like this. This weekend was a dream and a great time spent with Brett. The night was also a great time to take it all in by falling asleep to the stars. No tent, no bugs, just the peace and chill of the night and the ageless beauty of the stars.

Complete annihilation at Paradox Pizza owned and operated by Fred Wilkinson



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

24 Hour Nationals Race Report: 7th Place

First and foremost, I have to thank all those around me that helped me succeed at this race. Brett Ebben, Amy Welnak, Ben Welnak, Jari Kirkland, and the Trek Bicycle Store team members: Curt Wilhelm, Erick Erickson, and Jonathan Davis. Jonathan let me borrow an extra team jersey which I was psyched to wear for some extra mojo. I had so much amazing support I had no choice but to give it everything. Unfortunately, Ben had an untimely crash going into lap eight that forced him to pull the plug. He and others then dedicated their time in the wee hours of the night to tend to my bikes and my nutrition needs. They took shifts sleeping so that they could support Jonathan Davis and myself and for their effort, I am incredibly grateful and still totally blown away. You guys rocked, thank you so much!

The weekend got off to a great start when I made a course recon on Friday. I had already completed 45 minutes of openers before I ran into Jonathanimal who was about to preride. Sonya Looney, Rebecca Rusch, and Kelly Boniface then showed up for pointers and a ride led by Jonathan. How the hell could I have passed up the opportunity to ride with them?! I ended up riding for two and a half hours that day just so I could hang out with badass endurance heroes from Colorado and Idaho.

1st single digit plate!
That Friday evening I traveled back to Denver to pack and for a night's rest before returning in the morning with Brett Ebben. The twenty four hour race started at noon on Saturday and the course covered approximately 13.4 miles and 1100 feet of climbing per lap. The race was held at Palmer Park in the center of Colorado Springs and the course was incredibly well chosen. I heard it was one of the tougher 24 hour courses comprised of mostly singletrack with all mountain features. For the morning until the race start, it was a lot about setting up under the easy up tent, discussing logistics, soaking in my first 24 hour solo, maintaining my bike, and well...not eating enough which was my first mistake that I later paid for. Just prior to the race start, I was able to speak with Jari Kirkland who was the female winner for the nationals last year. She didn't hesitate at all to give me loads of advice that I held close throughout the race. That's what I love about this discipline in mountain biking, the enduro racers are so down to earth and supportive. Thank you Jari!

The race was underway with the typical and traditional, but completely unnecessary le mans start which fortunately was only a short dash on grass to our staged bikes. I'm not sure why this has to be but I'd rather not run in carbon soled shoes if I don't have to. At the time of the run, I noticed Jonathan's head on a swivel since he was keeping an eye on Josh Tostado, another down to earth champion who won last year's male 24 hour nationals. In mid run, my thought was "badass!" We're about to race for 24 hours and Jonathan has been focused for so long on making the podium, that in the first seconds of the race, he has a watchful eye on the competition. That's exactly what direction I'm heading with racing and I was inspired by what I witnessed.

Once in the saddle, I immediately found my rhythm which I seemed to settle into for the next three laps. Brett was killing it with great exchanges at the lap throughs regarding bottles and nutrition. Amy, as usual, was ultra helpful and made sure I got what else I needed in the pits, whether it be food, drink, or motivation. Due to not getting down enough grub before the race, I felt compelled to make up for it during the race and instead I paid the price on laps 6, 7, and 8 (lap times here). GI issues hit me intensely and gave me haunting episodes of time loss and terrible scenarios I won't discuss for the reader's benefit. I'll take the lessons and move forward. I did learn to trust what worked and discovered some trustworthy foods at least for this race. I ultimately minimized my "nutrition" to CarboRocket and Honey Stinger Waffles, amongst junk food options like Papa John's and hot bacon (yeahhh buddy!) which made for long lasting energy plus my typical products that I wouldn't race without. I later learned from from Mark Ruda at Golden Bike Shop that I should have been taking ammonia blockers to counter the pH spikes from animal proteins.

A gorgeous shot at the camp at night.
By the time the frustrating GI issues subsided, it was a few hours into the night and I was relieved to find my rhythm again and fortunate that it didn't sap energy from my legs. I continued to push through the night with only a few things in mind like "stay home" and "don't think." I knew I had to stay home by cycling through only a few principles throughout the entire race and primarily focus on the singletrack beneath me, not the singletrack ahead of me. I've never been more mindful of every moment in a single day and I'll never forget how that felt because it'll need to be exercised again in four weeks at the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow in Hurricane, Utah. I am so amped for this race and hopefully I'll be outfitted in a full Trek Bicycle Store kit!

I'll never forget one of the last corners of the race. I didn't anticipate Amy standing there, camera in hand, and screaming at me for the entire city of Colorado Springs to hear. I started cheesing out from her energy and the elation of finishing well at a race of this caliber and also because it wasn't just me I was racing for out there. It was also for my team of supporters.

Ultimately, I raced for 15 laps equaling 201 miles in 22:36, good enough for 7th place.
Garmin results here: Part I, Part II. Missing lap 13 due to being charged.

I am tremendously excited to ride with Trek Bicycle Store and it has been my secret goal to get on a team of this talent. As much as I enjoyed racing for Rocky Mountain Racing, it was time to transition to a team that would better suit my goals with the ultra endurance racing scene. Next year's races will look more like hundreds, 24's, and the Breck Epic. I've been warmly welcomed by its team members who are very family oriented and I'm excited to meet the rest of the team, shop, and sponsors. As for for the team's race results, Jonathan Davis rocked the course and made his goal by reaching the podium for 3rd place. Michael Scott and Jeremy Young were on fire and snagged second for the duo category. Jill Hueckman and Eric Lord also nailed second place in the coed category. Congrats team!

As I crested a corner, three chickens were meditating like Mr. Miyagi. I gave a "howdy" and they responded with silence. It was so eerie that I couldn't believe its randomness. Thanks for the heebie jeebies.
Four days after the race start and I'm already amped for 25 Hours of Frog Hollow!

XXC Magazine pre race article (pic of me in the Springs)

Cycling News

All Things EPIC (Jill Hueckman)

See you out there,