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Monday, June 18, 2012

Fun and Suffering at the Bailey Hundo

How do you know fun is coming?  Plan a mountain biking ride on the singletrack at Buffalo Creek.

How do you know that suffering is coming?  Take a whiff of Sportslick.

Macy, Tietzel, and Pearce, from left to right.

For me, at least, the smell of Sportslick is a tell-tale reminder that pain is on the way.  More pain, of course, would be present without Sportslick, which prevents chaffing on the feet and everywhere the sun don't shine, but the early morning application of my favorite product has become a certain signal of suffering to come.

Such was the case at the 2012 Bailey Hundo, which has quickly become one of my favorite mtb races.  I finished fourth at the Hundo last year in 7:07, and I was hoping to improve on my time and place this time around.

Supported by my dad and sister in the crew truck, I pedaled out with 250 others from Bailey at 6:00 a.m. on a beautiful morning.  We rode steady for seven miles on the road to spread the field before the singletrack, and six of us his the Colorado Trail with a gap to the others.

A few minutes later, I hit my pedal on a root and lost contact with Scott Tietzel and Colby Pearce.  So began my 90-mile time trial, which involved solo riding except for about 10 minutes with friend and competitor Stig Somme.

Tietzel and Pearce were just a touch faster than me on the singletrack--or maybe I lost time with too much focus pretending I was in a sweet mountain biking film as I cruised the best (literally) singletrack in the world--and they had two minutes on me when we hit the river road to Deckers.

The leaders, both excellent road riders, worked together on the flats, extending their lead.  I hammered it in as the climbs began, and I was happy to finish third in 6:44.  Somme hung tough through a completely useless front fork and finished a few minutes behind me.

The Bailey Hundo continues to be an awesome race and an incredible boost to important causes.  The event and its riders raised over $100,000 this year, which will be used to support causes like high school mountain biking.

Long live the Hundo!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Growled at by the Growler..Two's the Number at Teva

Josiah and I ended up in what seem to be our usual spots on the Teva Games Ultimate Mountain Challenge Podium.
Stories about the Teva Games:

Summer is in swing in Colorado!  School is out, the trails are dry (too dry?), forest fires are burning, and little boys (and their dads) are excited for camping trips.

Wyatt and I kicked things off over Memorial Day with a trip to Gunnison for the Original Growler mountain bike race.  We took the trailer for some camping, and enjoyed catching up with Jon Brown, Brian Wickenhauser, and other old friends in Gunni.  My informal study shows that New Zealand is probably about the only place in the world that has a higher world class athlete to general population ration than Gunnison, and it's always fun to go there.

Ten minutes into the Growler, when I got caught on a corner and fell to about 80th place and had to crank up a hill before taking on some of the most challenging singletrack around, I remembered just why the Growler is one of the most challenging mountain bike races in Colorado.  The terrain is unrelenting, with short, pumpy climbs peppered with technical, high-desert-style riding.

The first two hours felt like a shock to my body and riding "mind," and I was glad to finally feel a bit comfortable almost halfway into the race.  I moved up in the field for a few hours, and then held my spot to the finish, coming in around 5:57.  It was a real upper-body and back workout.

Wyatt and I had a great weekend!

A week later, Amy was back in town and we made the yearly family pilgrimage to Colorado's shrine of adventure sports, the Teva Mountain Games.  I usually compete in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge at the Games.  The event involves four separate races over two days: Downriver Paddle, Cross Country MTB, 10k Trail Run, and Road Bike Time Trial.  The event fits very well with Josiah's strengths, and I had finished second to him four times in a row going into this year.

The water level was very low in Gore Creek, and technical paddling conditions allowed me to gain about 45 seconds on Josiah after a 24-minute paddle.  Things went south quickly, however, on the mountain bike when Josiah cranked out an exceptional ride and I pedaled mediocre at best.  As Josiah moved impressively through the competitive pro field (we started two minutes after the full mtb field), I lost a few minutes to him on each of three laps.  By the end of the mtb race, I knew winning the overall title would require a minor miracle the next day.

Day Two brought the 10k Trail Run and Road Bike Time Trial.  I felt pretty good on the run, which ended up being more than 10k (probably helpful for me).  Josiah and I finished 5th and 6th, respectively, after two guys in front of us took a wrong turn and dropped out.  I was 13 seconds behind Josiah on the run, which is a pretty good finish.  Unfortunately, the new rules meant that we were out of the running for prize money in individual events.

The TT always brings a lactic acid-filled grind at the end of the weekend.  I felt decent and finished in just over 31 minutes, with which I was fairly happy.

Two was the number, again, at the Teva Games, and we had a good time.  In the women's race, Sari Anderson raced well to top Gretchen Reeves and Sara Tarkington.  All three are superb athletes and people, and it was fun to follow their racing.

I look forward to the Bailey Hundo in two weeks, followed by the Curt Gowdy XTERRA and Firecracker 50 MTB before heading to Brazil for the Brasilia Multisport on July 21.