Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Endurance Series’

July 15 2014, the Classic took on a new date slot moving from late September/October to July to avoid cancellation due to snow (like last years race) and to let riders enjoy more daylight and a warmer start. 2 out of 3 isn’t bad as there was still some snow on trail 403 supposedly that caused a last minute change in the course. I, for one, was fine with the trails north off Gothic left out. The brake smoking decent off 403 to Gothic road will wait for another classic. I did miss the ascent of Slate d’Huez though.

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This years starting field was relatively small compared to previous editions where a waiting list starts filling soon after the first 74 entrants have listed their intentions to commit to the Classic. The first 74 usually fills in February shortly after race date announcement, tentative or not. It’s that fun of a race. Many riders only attempt the first loop, it’s that hard.
This years race totaled ~108 miles +12500′ of climbing. I ended up getting 115 miles due to a few miscues.
My bike of choice for this year was my beautiful Black Sheep Phat Speedster SS

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The race starts at Brick Oven Pizzeria downtown CB. The 30-40 riders were dressed fairly light as the morning temps were in the upper 50s. Much nicer than previous years where temps have been as low as the mid 20s.

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My bottles packed with Hammer Perpetuem and HEED we rolled out of town to the first loop, Strand-Teocalli Ridge-Canal. I opted to take the first loop easy by riding along with another rider from Cheyenne on his first attempt at a Classic Epic.

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The first loop was a blast, big mountains, long climbs/descents, epic views, and big and little water crossings.

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if you zoom in you might just see Mike in the middle of the photo

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After the start of Teocalli, I pushed on knowing Mike would indeed finish the first loop. Racing down the sweet descent off Teo I came up on a rider with a torn sidewall at the bead. Life was going to be sucking for him. He was on a 26er, no spare tube, no sewing kit or anyway to patch it up to keep on riding. He had none of this stuff yet his pack was twice the size of mine. Go figure. At least it was all downhill to the road.
I completed the lap and said hi to Mike’s girlfriend, telling her he was doing great and that he could stop and enjoy the day (like so many others were doing). He already had an epic in the books as far as I could tell.
Perpetuem bottles and a few gels replenished, I headed out on the next loop with Dominic L. This guy has a motor that just runs forever. He just pedals on and hardly anything bothers him (from what I can tell). We take to the highway that leads us to an area I’ve wanted to ride at but have yet to, South Crested Butte (South CB for short). When we start up Cement Creek rd I bid adieu to Dom as I’m riding a singlespeed and uphill is much easier at my pace. The road goes on forever. I even get to see the leader, Kelly Magelky as he is rolling downhill enroute back to CB. Eventually I hit dirt and the road gets steeper. I come across a guy in a meticulously clean 4×4 that I move over for and wave by. But he just stops on the road and jumps out of the driver side. Uh-oh I think. Then he asks me if I’m in the Classic.
Relieved I reply yes, and he starts snapping photos. I wish I knew who it was because I’d like to get a copy of them pics. Another mile or so and I reach the top of Reno. There is a group of motos and a couple cyclists that aren’t in the Classic standing around. I ride forward to a trail sign that says Flag. That’s all I needed to go straight down an insane multi-use trail that drops a bunch of elevation. I rip it on my Fatbike eventually catching another rider. We rode together flying along the sweet singletrack. Eventually coming across a trail intersection. I had no gps track of the area and for whatever reason, incorrectly assumed we should continue downhill. A couple or so miles later he slashes a sidewall in a muddy crossing, his second flat of the day. A couple of moto riders come through a gate and we ask how far to the road. This is when we discover that we should not have continued downhill. He pulls out his map, and I do a quick assessment and realize our turn was “way back up there”. There wasn’t much I could do for him as my fat tube was not going to fit his 29er. He said he was ok and I pressed on back onto the course. Interesting was that I passed a sign indicating I was on course now and 6 miles from the road. Lies, all lies; it was 10 miles to the road and after the climb (it was turning slick from a slight precipitation that had been going on for bit now) there was a steep switchback decent that led to the biggest water crossing of the race. Thank God there was a rope to hold onto. As with several previous crossings, I removed my shoes and socks. It was pretty fast and the bike floated due to the 4″ tires, pulling me downstream. I was relieved when I finally got to the other side.
Shoes on, I motored down the descent to the highway back to CB.
Now the whole while I had only intended on riding the first 2 laps, but the conversation with Dom was that I have to finish. I was the only Singlespeeder. I still felt relatively good when I rolled up to my truck and decided that I would go on and finish. ~25 miles left and 3 hours of daylight, how hard could it be? The check-in even asked if I had lights. I did, but had figured I could ride the last loop w/out the need for them.
It started thundering and eventually drizzling as I made my way up the pass enroute to Dyke trail. I had ridden this loop in the past but in a group and was not remembering much after I turned onto the road to the lake. By now I had put on my rain jacket as the rain had increased. Encountering the lake I headed around the SW corner on the road looking for the trail. After some climbing on the road, I decided that I must have missed the TH and with the increasing rain and no lights decided it best to head home for the dnf. On the descent I came across Dom again. I flipped a U and asked if he knew where the trail was and if he had lights that I could follow. Yes on both, we proceeded back up from where I came…all the way. 100′ past where I had previously turned around was a TH sign showing Dyke trail. A couple expletives later I join Dom on the slick trail. So slick was the traIl at times that riding uphill was not possible and walking even less. Slog and cussing later we eventually made it to the road. The uphill to the pass was much longer than we had remembered. I was suffering a bit by this time. And was only thinking of getting over the pass, down the other side and getting warm. Shivering is not fun, especially when you have a 9 mile descent in the cold. We rolled into the Brick Oven as the last 2 finishers.
14 hours 43 minutes, 115 miles. I was shivering uncontrollably and needed warmth. Mike brings me a heavy jacket and someone from the Oven got me a hot chocolate. I eventually warmed up enough to have a beer and someone offered me his leftover pizza. Life was better now.

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My bike in dire need of a wash.
On Sunday, my dogs got full attention for their patience in letting me ride all day Saturday.

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We went on an easy ride after I washed the bike up to a beautiful cirque off Slate road. Paradise

The race is part of the Colorado Endurance Series, a series of self-supported, on your own, no assistance provided other than what you can find along the way races. Fully decked out in my Hammer kit, I did the Bigger Loop, consisting of 106 miles and ~13000′ climbing. This race takes in the Colorado Trail from near Salida Colorado to Buena Vista then heads east and rides up and down the Arkansas Hills before returning to the start. 64 of us met early at Cafe Dawn in downtown Salida. We signed in and Tom P gave us last minute instructions and we were off.

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This year I decided to do the race on gears and suspension versus last years rigid Blacksheep Fatbike, it was a hard decision.

The roll out was fast and I found myself in the back watching the top dogs roll away, most of them were doing the “shorter” race (89miles) and this old dog needed to ride sensible and warm up proper before “throwing down”. On the 8.8 miles of pavement before we hit dirt I warmed up quickly in the rising sun. I left the group I was in and began to ride my own pace which would have me riding solo all the way to Buena Vista. On the horizon was the first objective the climb to the Shavano TH on the Colorado Trail.

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Of the ~13000′ of climbing, the course climbs 3400′ in the first 15 miles alone.

I didn’t go crazy hard, I kept it real and rode smooth.  The beauty of the Colorado Trail and the podcasts of NPRs Snap Judgement loaded on my IPod kept me in good spirits.  With Hammer Nutrition gels/bars and Perpetuem, I knew that only a mechanical or crash would delay me arriving in BV in around 5 hours. 

Halfway to Princeton Hot Springs I had my only crash, it was on an off camber washed out section of the CT.  It wasn’t bad as I was able to jump off my bike, but the rear derailleur smacked something hard enough to bend it or the hanger out of whack.  I figured this out pretty quickly when I shifted into my spokes on the next steep climb.  

The rest of the trail was fairly uneventful, with the exception that I got to watch a rider go over the bars on a section that I figured was safer to walk than ride.  He was OK by the way.

With a resupply at 47 miles in Buena Vista I was able to carry a ziplock bag of Perpetuem to refill my food bottles and thanks to the bike shop, Boneshaker Cycles, having cold Heed available was able to fill my 3ltr water bladder full for the heat i would encounter over the next 60 miles.

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They also had Bacon and Whiskey

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I deserved bonus points as I couldn’t resist a small shot.  It was so smooth and tasty I had to hold myself back from having another.

This was my only stop of the day.  The finish-line beer awaits.

Crossing the Arkansas river I had gained the company of Joe S on my wheel.  I try to keep it as Solo as possible at times and until I took a wrong turn on the Midland trail I kept pretty much to myself and Snap Judgement.  After that SNAFU we rode mostly side by side on the way out to Chub Park (where does that name come from?) I let him roll away hoping to catch him on the climbs after Trout Creek pass. It was warm and I knew what was lying ahead.

Casually descending to Chub Park I was caught by Tom and Robert and I decided to get my act together if I didn’t want to get passed by anyone else.  We rode the windless dirt roads together, which was a nice change from last years stiff headwinds, until after a short rise I found myself alone again. Crossing Hwy 285 I eventually caught up to Raphael from Sub Culture Cycles in Salida.  He had been up with the front group at the start and was showing fatigue on the hills.  He was good company and I slowed to his pace and turned the podcast off in my ears for the last time.  Eventually Robert rejoins us saying that Tom had stopped but would probably catch up.  He would not catch us as we rode together up the long climb interspersed with some short downhill sections.  It was here that another rider came flying by us.  nice Second Wind we remarked.  

After missing the turn to Futurity and being alerted by my GPS, we found ourselves riding back uphill to the hidden turn.  It was here we came back across Second Wind coming towards us remarking that this can’t be the trail with all the down trees.  I assured him the it was and the trees were for walking over. Eventually we would be able to remount our bikes and ride out the rough singletrack.  By now Raphael had faded back and it was just Robert and myself.  We stopped at Futurity and picked up some SBFL chips (rocks) that Tom P had placed in an abandon building.  The chip removes 45 minutes from your finishing time but it doesn’t hurt any less.  

The race was almost over now.  We decended to rejoin the short loop and with one last big climb, a fast descent, another shorter climb, and a faster descent we were back in Salida.  The temps had dropped quickly with a passing shower that we had avoided.  It was enough for my hands to be suffering from a pretty bad case of Reynauds.  I could only tell how hard I was braking into corners by the momentum I felt when slowing down from the high speed descent.

It was a new long course and I was super stoked to finish the 106 miles under 11 hours and in 10th place. 

Colorado Endurance Series SBFL

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