Posts Tagged ‘Grand Targhee’

PH100
I arrived at Grand Targhee Resort late Thursday morning. The following photos of my ride that afternoon don’t do it justice.

30 miles later I got back to the trailer and Christian and Milissa had recently got in and were setting up camp. Later after eating and a couple of beers, Andy -PH100 event promoter and Christian’s brother stopped in to relax. I found out then that current road cycling World Champion and fresh off his Tour de France Green Jersey winner Peter Sagan would be arriving tomorrow to compete Saturday in the 1 lap 50km race.  He was using it in preparation for his Olympic mountain biking debut in a few weeks.

We all headed out on a short 9 mile loop up Action Jackson and Buffalo Soldier trails a bit later for them to stretch their legs and me just because.


Friday morning I slept in til 8.  Usually C&M are up and finishing their coffee by 8 but because of wind and the worry of their sun shelter blowing away, it appeared they were none too happy when I knocked at their door at 8:30.

We all later headed out on the second half of the course to check out the new additions that Andy had built. Towards the end of the loop last year was a fast singletrack section that brought you down the mountain through the berms and jumps, this year was different. The addition of the new Snowdrift section was twisty and bumpy. The twists continued again after flying down a road dropping you off at the bottom where you had the cruelness of one last uphill to the finish/lap line. Boy this is going to be fun.

I replaced my fixed seatpost with a dropper post to give me more control on the descents and switchbacks that adorned the race course.
Race Day
The alarm woke me at 5:45 for my 7am race start. Outside my window I noticed that rain had soaked everything not under the tent. It was a welcome sight after 2 days of riding on dirt that resembled moon dust from many days without moisture. I pulled up a muscle warmup program on my Compex Wireless EMS to jump-start my legs and had some Hammer Nutrition Race Caps+++ I dragged my cooler containing a full Camelbak and 3 extra bottles up to the trail above my campsite that would act as my resupply point. Dressed and on my bike I did one short uphill spin before heading to the line for the start. The race starts on a dirt access road to break everyone up before entering onto the singletrack I eyed Sten and Gary in front of me and relaxed knowing that it’s a long climb and there was no reason to put myself in the hurt locker this early into a 100 mile race. I made little jumps here and there when others seemed to slow down and when we neared the last steep uphill before the descent of 38 Special (switchback heaven and hell) I jumped pass a group of riders to really narrow the gap. Flying down the trail, I caught Gary first and he let me by after nearly ran him over a couple times. Quickly after that I caught Sten and I knew he wasn’t going to let me get by him. We chatted it up on the descent and flew through the lower singletrack that led to a 3 mile paved road climb. We pretty much were content to ride together and he would let me go first into descents knowing I was faster. He would eventually catch up after each one as I was clearly not trying to drop him that first lap knowing we had 2 more to go. We crossed the line together as we entered the second lap heading onto Action Jackson trail. It’s an hour long climb from the start to the descent and I settled into a comfortable pace keeping an eye on Sten as he rode away. I only needed to keep him in sight as I would probably catch him on the descent of 38 Special. As the trail started to ease off I picked up the pace and started to really hammer when the trail started dropping a bit. On the 2 track section prior to 38Special, I heard the sickening sound of air and tire sealant escaping from my rear tire. Somewhere I clipped a rock and punctured my sidewall. Adding some air from my only CO2 cylinder I attempted to get it to seal as I rotated the puncture down and kept pressure with my finger. It was much to large a hole to seal. A passing singlespeed rider asked if I needed anything and I asked if he could spare a CO2. He obliged by dropping 2 out of his pocket. As I pulled my wheel off to put in a tube, Gary (the eventual Masters winner) passed me by. Aired up with a tubed tire, I headed down 38 Special. This time I would be 4 minutes slower to the road climb as I took it much easier since I was now without a spare tube if something did happen again. In fact everytime I headed downhill now I was much slower than previous due to being overly cautious. Going into the last lap I calculated that in my tired state, giving it what I had left in the tank, I would finish in 10:20 5 minutes outside the time limit to get a finishers buckle. I decided that I would ride strong on the climbs and back off on any tire slashing descents so that I could finish. It was at the top of Action Jackson and Buffalo Soldier trails that I was greeted by Milissa and Christian.

 Christian cheered me on as only he could by stripping off his shirt while Milissa took photos. I told Christian I was in need a spare tube or I might be looking at a DNF if I flatted again. When I came through the intersection again he was waving a tube which I gladly took. I through caution to the wind knowing I had a spare that I could finish on if I needed it. My times reflected the same as the prior lap but I attributed that more to lack of precision handling as I was pretty tired and motor skills to corner smoothly were not quite there.  On that last lap I caught up with the rider that saved my race when he gave me his CO2 cylinders.  I thanked him and continued on my way.  With a half lap to go, it started raining and I decided to hit the Aid station and get some fluids in me. Stopping there was a small mistake that I would pay for later. I jumped on my bike for the last 15 miles. With ~6 miles to go I saw a rider in front of me wearing the team kit of Gary Gardiner. Was I seeing things I thought? Only one way to find out as I pushed my pace through the North Woods trail only to lose sight of him. I sped up the hill towards Snowdrift and caught a glimpse of him again. “is that Gary?”, I asked myself. I was now on a mission to catch the mystery rider. He was also pushing hard and through the closing mile of the race he was right there in front of me. By then time and race course had run out, I finished 23 seconds behind him only to find out he was Gary’s teammate John Lauck, another masters racer. He had passed me while I stood at the Aid station. The probably unnecessary stop had cost me 3rd place. And with a finishing time of 10:17:53 it probably cost me a Finishers Buckle awarded to the riders that finish under 10:15:00

Next time

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WordPress on my Android tablet has me baffled so I didn’t realize this wasn’t posted til a week ago when I had no internet to work with anyway.

So…  a Month ago I was enjoying perfect snow conditions for a Fat Bike race at Grand Targhee.  An awesome course on a dual use groomed XC ski trail at the resort. The race was in Wyoming but the only way to get there was through Idaho.  Everything was perfect, including the weather.

wpid-wp-1391127153032.jpegView of Grand Targhee from across the valley

I managed 2nd place in the 30k race, getting beat by some college kid half my age. I hope enough people get into this soon so they can start age grading results, this is getting harder the older I get.  Regardless, the whole experience was a blast for my first fat race.

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Yampa crew and one moonlander

wpid-20140118_131617.jpg2nd place smile

On to my second fat bike race.  Como Colorado, Colorado state Fat Bike Championships.
ER and I drove down the day before the race and all we saw was green.  Green as in grass.  Where the eff is the snow?  This went on all the way to 10000′ as we drove up to the race venue that had on-site accommodations.  I asked the caretaker that was out where all the snow was.  He assured me that there was plenty in the trees.  Erm, ok.
We unloaded our gear and dressed for a course inspection at night.  Within the first half mile we both agreed that the course was going to fall apart quickly under the tires of 80 riders.
Message to all fat bike race organizers… if you are planning on riders riding, GROOM THE EFFING COURSE WEEKLY IF NOT MORE ALL THE WAY UP TO RACE DAY. Nobody enjoys running with their bikes. Rant over
Even though the the course was “rideable” up to the first rider, the rest of us struggled.
I lined up on the front row, said hi to those around me and got ready to roll.  3,2,1 we’re off, uphill start to a hike a bike.  Immediately there was a problem with every rotation of my front wheel.  Something stuck in my brake rotor.  I pull off and stopped to fix whatever was stuck in it.  Rotating the wheel backwards cleared the problem and I was off again.  I hit the hill in 22nd place.  Upon exiting the trail maze I was greeted by a friendly voice informing me that I was in 8th place.  4 more laps to go.  It was a hard rest of the race in which the course deteriorated to the point that it was maybe 20% rideable.  All my friends thought better it better to dnf and egg me on than continue the dumbness.  Race was eventually shortened to 4 laps and I finished up in 6th place after trading places with Nat Ross (5th) for most of the last lap.  Not sure I’ll ever race on an unprepared snow course again.  Running just isn’t my favorite thing.

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Rocky Mountain Fat Bike series

Snowy Range race was a week later.  Held at the Snowy Range Ski Resort west of Laramie.

It was a night race so I was able to rest up and sleep in.  No early morning wakeups for this race.

Things started out wrong when I discovered my truck battery dead when I already was loaded and ready to head out.  Lucky for me I have an AWD Mini Countryman that has an aftermarket hitch mounted on it for my bike rack.  Not so lucky was the fact that I still had on my summer tires and the course was expecting more snow and colder temps that would nearly wreck me as I drove into the icy parking area dodging departing skier vehicles.

The course had  a huge climb to start every lap.  Fast downhill and then into singletrack for the second half of the course.  There would be some walking on the uphill as the combination of new snow conditions and the steepness of the climb  warranted it.  I was none too happy with my back brake as it was in need of a bleed (Avid Elixers of course)

Lights on, racers ready… bang.  3 laps of  this course to complete.  I rode moderately fast and eventually rode off most of the riders on the uphill.  Only the winner, Adam L, was able to out climb me on the first lap.  Descending controlled and smooth, I discovered I barely had any rear brake at all.  “uh-oh, this is not going to end well if I have to use only my front brake”, I thought to myself.  I got through the first lap and was being chased by Jesse S.  I put in another big effort on the climb to hold him off and threw caution to the wind on the descent.  I lost it on a steep left hander when I couldn’t slow down enough due to lack of brakes.  Flipping over off into the deeper off-piste snow, Jesse came roaring by as I stood up and took stock of everything and set off after him.  He easily got away as I was having to really be careful as to no pick up too much speed going the rest of the way down.  I crashed a few more times on the single-track trying to keep it close.

By now 4th place had closed in and we hit the final lap’s climb together.  I knew from all my training that this hill suited me and after getting a gap before the walking section, I drilled it upon hoping back on my bike.  I kept it upright and took it very conservative on the single-track knowing he would have to chase hard to catch me.  When I finally hit the open and was able to get a good look back I was relieved to see no headlights chasing.  1/2 mile later I was crossing the line to another podium finish for the year.

Next Race: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo