Sunday, March 27, 2011

Over the Hill?

June 14th we head west to check the next item off our bucket list: a five day point-to-point mountain bike ride from Durango Colorado to Moab Utah. This trip will be an adventure loaded with surprises and with a sense of accomplishment for a bunch of middle-age east coast flat-landers. We put a lot of work into selecting this particular trip, so I thought I'd share the details for anyone else who might be considering something similar.

We started by recognizing that certain bucket-list items will be more difficult to pull off than others in another 5-10 years, primarily due to physical demands. So we prioritized this trip over some other bucket-list items (e.g., offshore sailing).

Last fall, with some consultation, I developed selection criteria:

  1. All singletrack all the time
  2. Private tour for our group of 6-8 riders (all good friends, compatible group)
  3. Point to point - the sense of accomplishment is appealing
  4. A destination with epic scenery and world class vistas
  5. NO HOTELS - looking for full immersion with no distractions
  6. All play and no work - we focus on riding not logistics
  7. Accommodate a variety of skills and abilities
  8. Excellent food, and lots of it

A few evenings with Google and I had list of candidate trips. Over a few beers we shortened the list to:
  • Hermosa Tours - great fit with tour operator, "luxury" camping a big draw
  • Sacred Rides - great fit with tour operator, ability to hit all the best rides
  • San Juan Hut to Hut - big sense of adventure, provisioned cabins
  • Boreale Biking - Yukon very appealing, great chow, Yurt with bike powered blender was a big draw
Our criteria were very demanding so each option entailed some compromise, but after contacting some of the operators we proceeded with building a five day itinerary for June '11 with Hermosa. We then locked six riders and settled back to enjoy the holidays. On New Years day '11 we began training for our custom Colorado to Moab trip:

  • Day One:  Advanced singletrack on the Colorado Trail, Intermediate on Hermosa Creek Trail, standard route on dirt road.  These options give you anywhere from 30-50 miles the first day.  The day ends with a downhill to the camp.
  • Day Two: A very pretty 40-ish miles past the Lizard Head Wilderness into Uncompahgre National Forest and our camp at Miramonte Reservoir.
  • Day Three: We work our way along the rim of Paradox Valley and then into Utah near day’s end.  As we enter Utah we’re be making our way up the east side of the La Sal Mountains.  Mileage today is about 35.
  • Day Four: we continue climbing up the east side of the La Sal Mountains toward Geyser Pass.  It’s good to take our time today and not push it too hard.  This is an underrated part of the route for no other reason that people just don’t go here!  True solitude.  We end the day high in the La Sals ready for a big day 6.  About 30 miles.
  • Day Five: The Whole Enchilada.  28 miles of some of the best mountain biking in the world.  High alpine singletrack all the way to the Colorado River 7000 feet below.  Must be ridden to be believed.  Shuttle back to Durango after the ride.
Like any event of this magnitude, the training and the run-up are great fun. We're just getting started!


"Just remember, when you’re over the hill, you begin to pick up speed." — Charles Schultz

Fair Hill Bliss

 14 miles of Fair Hill bliss. Temps in mid-30s. Sunny. Fast trails.

I rode the old Iron Horse.  It is quick and nimble, but beats the tar out of me. I think we'll be switching to the Turner Burner for the next ViFRaDD ride. Kirk brought out the old-school Klein (great to see him back), Mike on the Trek Fuel (no longer squeaking), and Antonio on the new 1x10 Specialized. Doble tore it up on his all-rigid Niner with a 19T on the back. We're gonna need to flatten his tires in Durango.

Ride capped off with post-ride soak in Kirk's 104º hot tub. Oh my god.

Feeling pretty strong for this time of year. Training is going well, but most importantly having fun being on the dirt after a long winter...

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Breaking" News

Another mountain bike rider
cheats death as his MRDBS
maintained ride disintegrates
beneath him.
Another Local Mountain Biker Cheats Death on MRDBS Maintained Bicycle!

You know the story. Bike needs some work. Mike offers to help. He's an avid rider, talks a good game, and has a really nice workshop. Surely he knows what he's doing. "That would be great, I'll drop it off tonight with a six pack."

And everything looks right once he's finished. The crank arm is connected to the spindle. The fork goes up and down. The bike has a seat. "Thanks Mike."

It might be a day, a week, or a month later when it happens. But it generally happens. The crank arm comes off during an uphill grind. The fork starts spewing oil while riding up the sole trail. You're driving down route 30 at 70mph a bike wheel flies off the top of car. Or your seat simply falls apart mid-ride.

This could be painful, but it wasn't.
It's just funny.
You can't get your money back, and the beer is long gone (it was gone before a wrench even touched the bike).  And you can't get mad. Why would you? This is the stuff that legends are made of, and it's why you'll see a discrete sign out on the Bonus Loop marking the beginning of MRDBS' ascent into immortality.

You can't make this stuff up! 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

HD Glory

The birthday cam came out today. 

The birthday cam is a Contour GPS high definition helmet mounted web cam that my biking buddies bought for me for my 50th birthday. You see I am a mountain biker and a geek and they knew it would be the perfect gift...and they were right.

So today when seven of us headed to White Clay for a nice spring ride, I strapped on the helmet cam to document the fun. These guys have no idea how much I appreciate their thoughtfulness. Seriously.

But they also have no idea how much they (should) appreciate my thoughtfulness for skillfully editing the video before posting it to YouTube. Because you see I forgot I had the camera on. And I went into the woods to, well, relieve myself. And the camera caught everything - and I mean everything - in it's high definition glory.

You won't see that part in this video.

But you will see seven grown men having a hell of a time riding bikes in the dirt.

I am so lucky in so many ways.

Thanks guys.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Old Girlfriend

She was like an old girlfriend. Familiar but different somehow. No more pitchers and the jukebox had more of a hip-hop edge to it. But the crowd was friendly (at least at the beginning) a Nate the Bartender was his old gregarious self.

The inbound leg was memorable for the sprint down the Champs-Élysées (a.k.a. the Duck Ponds) and the multiple breakaways during the dash through town to the hitching post in front of Chelsy's. "You guys are going in there?" said the 14 year old couple hanging out with their infant child in front of the tavern. I guess we were an unusual sight down there - seven mountain bikers with all our gear and dressed in assortments of spandex and baggy pants.

Fine Art
But once we got through the awkwardness of it all and shoved the birthday boy (Sebastian) and the Chelsy's newbie (Antonio) through the door, it all felt very familiar again. The private back room was available for us to stash all our gear (helmets, camelbacks, lights, gloves, jackets, etc). The beer was cold. The air was smokey. The bathrooms were disgusting. The Chelsy's crowd was blue collar and friendly. And so we settled in for couple hours of easy conversation and  laughter.

But once we killed the Flying Fish draught (yum, and yes we killed it) we noticed the hour was getting late and the crowd was turning a little ugly so we ordered our traditional round of parting shots, toasted the birthday boy, and cashed out our $88 tab. We were a little flabbergasted by the amount (seven guys, two hours, beer, shots, and only $88?) so we left Nate like a 50% tip and made our exit.

And so began the MTBUI phase of our evening (thanks Antonio). It starts with the getting on the bike part. After 3-4 beers and a round of shots, it always feels odd to be climbing aboard a mountain bike. At night. But once back on the Struble the pace line formed quickly which is ironic because at this point we are the last people that belong on a bike, much less a wheel-to-wheel pace line hurtling down the Struble in the dark at almost 20mph.

Once off the Struble and back on the dirt in MCSP, we lined up for the traditional soapbox derby race from the top of Dorlan Mill road. Seven riders wide, and full contact, this is always a barrel of laughs and generally a win for Sebastian. This time was no different. The return leg was also punctuated too many breakaways to count - near the end of the Struble, up Dorlan Mill road, up the backside of the dam, and the obligatory sprint for the Peterson Mailbox (BTW I am resurrecting the Peterson Mailbox Talley on the blog).

Home by 11pm and I presume we all stuck to our pinkie-shake-promise outside of Chelsy's to NOT take a shower when we got home (although I will admit I did put on a long-sleeve t-shirt and long pants before climbing into bed).

All in all a great night, I rated it a 148:
       43 (minutes each way)
     +17 (mph on the pace line)
     +88 (tab at Chelsy's)

See you on Sunday...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's In YOUR Seatbag?

For the record, here is my essential gear if anyone really cares:

  • Spare tube
  • Zip ties (MacGyver material)
  • Tire levers (you should be able to remove tire without them, but sometimes...)
  • Adhesive patches in case you flat the spare tube
  • Missing link for SS where shortening chain is not an option
  • Multi-tool with chain break (don't cheap out, you will depend on this tool)
  • Pump (I prefer to CO2 since problems are rarely "one and done")
  • Cleat bolt because if you lose a cleat bolt you are hosed
  • Toilet paper (about 10' in baggy, not pictured)
  • I probably should also wrap some duct tape around the pump shaft (more MacGyver material)
There you have it. Now what I am missing, really?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fund Raiser Dinner Dance

South Shore ice and fog
Today's recipe for an incredibly peaceful morning: solo ride in a slow warm Sunday drizzle. But that's not how it was supposed to be. Here's how it got started:

UNNAMED RIDE COORDINATOR (Tuesday March 1st at 12:40pm):
"Every Sunday 9:00am meet at my house, driveway, cul-de-sac.  Rides TBD around Thursday (local or road trip).  Key here is the ride is always on, same time, place, whomever can make it.  Rain, shine, heat, storms we ride (Moab will not guarantee good weather either).  Every Sunday, always at 9am, no questions."
UNNAMED RIDER (Sunday March 6th at 8:04am):
See you at 9:00am."
UNNAMED RIDE COORDINATOR (Sunday March 6th @ 8:43am):
"Way too banged up from villa fund raiser dinner dance"
Durango to Moab is going to throw a lot of shit at us.  Mountains with 11k foot altitudes, consecutive 30+ mile rides, weather, injuries, mountain lions, mechanical breakdowns, and more. But thankfully there will be no fund raiser dinner dances on the itinerary or else we'd be in real trouble!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wake Up Call

Rode Harmony Hill today. First real hills I have seen in probably two months of hotel fitness centers and an occasional milk run at Marsh Creek.


There is something to be said about "bike" fitness. I didn't have it. I rode the technical uphill sections like a 3rd grade schoolgirl, caught a pedal and almost went down on the black trail, and was totally gassed after barely an hour of riding. Granted it was 100% anaerobic and I've been focused entirely on aerobic training, but still it was very alarming. Not discouraging (I know I'll get it back) but alarming because I don't have much time...June and the rocky mountains will be here (or more precisely I will be there) in three short months.

It's on.