It doesn't happen often, but I got to sleep in my own bed for the first running of the Firebird 40 here in Eagle, CO. The Firebird 40 was part of the Eagle Outside Festival, a 2-day outdoor festival located in the Brush Creek area of Eagle. FYI, don't miss it in 2014! In addition of the high dollar prize purse mtb races, there was a massive bike demo and expo. So, once again, I got to mix work and pleasure.....racing first, then working the 2-day expo.
Due to the long winter and BLM permitting issue, the organizers didn't get to use the single backcountry 40-mile loop to race on. Instead, we were forced onto a 7-mile loop in the Eagle Ranch area on the east side of Eagle. This was a great mix of singletrack, double track, and rec path. Going into the race, I just wanted to feel good from start to finish. I wanted to ride hard. Take risks. Empty the tank.
The lead out was neutral on a narrow rec path for about 2 miles before we turned onto a road to sprint for the single track. I stayed at the front for the duration. I wanted to be one of the first riders out of the 90 rider field into the singletrack. Our field was staked with the Wells brothers, Hoke, Cares, Henry, Sonntag, etc. I found myself at the front chasing the leadout vehicle. Surprisingly, I felt good. About 100 yards from the singletrack I let up to see who would roll past. I had Todd Wells and 4 other go floating by. I was 5th into the singletrack with a pegged HR. I had nothing to loose.
I remained in 5th until the doubletrack. At this point, I started to gas out on Lap 1 of 5. It was a long race and I knew I would get my legs again. Just a question of when. I drifted back to 25th or so, back riding with the guys I typically see while racing; Jon Davis, Jason Hilimire, Travis Sheefer, Matt Schiff, etc. The pecking order was set for the day. We would battle all race. Living in Eagle, it was a huge help to know the course. Riders were over shooting corners and crashing in the twisty blind corners. I was able to keep a smooth race.
Bailey's Climb proved to be the toughest part of the race. This short steep climb crushed riders. Riding aboard the new SRAM XX1, which kicks ass by the way, I was at the limit riding the 32 x 42 gear combo. I was at XC pace. No time to recover. Full gas from the gun! Surprisingly it felt good.
For the remainder of the laps, myself and the riders in sight would battle. It was a good healthy race. In the end, I finished in 21st place out of the 90 or so that started.
Next up, I get to race on this course again in a few weeks time for the Vail Rec. District XC Series. But, before that is the 64-mile Gunnison Growler. I haven't taken part in this race for a few years. Looking forward to putting rubber back on Hartman Rocks.
In the meantime, the trails are perfect here in Eagle. Going to load up on miles Friday-Sunday before chilling out heading into the Growler. If you need your dirt fix, come to Eagle. Trail map here: http://eagleoutside.com/activity-overview/#/mountain-bike/
Release from the team below. On a side note, sign up for an enduro event! Super fun riding and racing in a chill environment. Egos and attitudes checked at the door. Amazing day of riding hard on trails with 120+ of your best friends! All you need is a 5"-6" travel bike and willingness to ride amazing trails!
Kerkove gets a taste of enduro racing in Moab
May 4, 2013 Moab, UT
This past weekend on the Magnificent 7 trail system west of Moab, UT marked the opening round of the Enduro Cup Series, a three race enduro series in Utah. Enduro racing is a rapidly growing racing format that combines downhill riding skills with XC like fitness on a series of timed stages. Racing aboard a 6” travel Canyon Strive, Jeff Kerkove of Team Topeak-Ergon threw himself into the mix of the Enduro Cup – Mag 7 event.
The event at the Mag 7 trails was a very pedaling heavy event. The course favored the rider who had great fitness as well as superior bike handling skills. Jeff was introduced to the course and format quickly with the opening stage. While the stages were only 2-3 miles long and took 5-7 minutes to complete, the effort level is that of XC racing. “I was pinned at max effort right from the start!”, said Jeff after the event. Racers would mimic this effort over similar timed stages 4 times during the day.
Jeff following the event, “The racing was super hard….harder than I thought. I crashed early in Stage 2 with a front tire wash out on a sandy corner, which cost me some time. Enduro racing is racing on the verge of in control and out of control. Every second counts! While the competition is intense, the vibe is super chill and all the athletes competing are on the same page about having a great bike experience. After trying this Moab event, it has sparked interest to try more enduro racing.”
Jeff would finish consistently in the top 20 on all stages. “I had no idea of my results after each stage until the event was done. It was full-gas on each stage until the finish. I am happy with 19th place for my first time trying this format and a racing against a very talented Pro Mens field.”
Sorry! Long time no update. Been busy with travel for work and getting the Topeak-Ergon USA partner product aligned in time for the riding and racing season.
Good news is Spring is finally here, but it came to Eagle, CO while on a 2 week road trip to California and Arizona for work. Two great events Ergon and the team was part of; Sea Otter and the Whiskey Off-Road. Throw in some riding and racing and it makes for an amazing 2 weeks!
Sea Otter was 100% work, so no racing. We used the MTB Gran Fondo to get away from the booth and to network with our core customers. Was one of the best Sea Otter in recent members with perfect weather, huge crowds, and massive stoke from the riding public.
There was no high expectations with the Whiskey Off-Road as far as the racing goes. The Ergon booth in the expo was busy for the 2-days prior to the event and I used the free time I had to get out on the trails and get miles in the legs.
First up was the MTB Fat Tire Crit! As always, it's a hard fast fun few laps for me. Only a hand full of guys survive this thing. Impressive the speed and depth of talent in the mens Pro field. I had the Epic Cam on the back of my saddle for the duration of the crit. Here is a sample of one of the laps.
Saturday was spent working the Ergon booth in the expo and getting out with Yuki to check out the course some more. As you can see, super fun course!
Sunday was race day! Was excited to actually race for the 2nd time this year. I didn't expect anything great just from the sheer lack of time on the bike this Spring, but still felt good and motivated. Race started with drama for me, as I couldn't find my Garmin Edge 500. So, no data during the race. Oh well, just ride based on perceived exertion.
Race started with 80+ pro men. All fast. All great riders in our sport. We rolled out of town as a group and it wasn't until about 15 minutes in that the group split. Before we even hit the dirt, the groups were made for the day. I found myself near the back with heavy sluggish legs. It was early and I just kept pushing hoping that the legs would loosen up. I wasn't laboring in my breathing, just heavy legs. I found myself alone for the most part. I had riders behind me...and a few up front. We all played cat-n-mouse all day. I didn't get caught up in any racing drama and only did what I could do.
The climb up Skull Valley this year was warm! Temps topped out near 90F at the lower elevations. I climbed feeling like I was dragging a boat anchor. I passed a few riders, but was also passed. There was not gas in my tank. I had one speed; slow.
I crested Skull Valley with a few other riders in sight. We duked it out in the remaining miles of singletrack. The last 20 miles of this race are the best! Some ripping singletrack followed by 7 miles of pavement back to town.
I rolled into town at 3 hrs 40 minutes.....which is the same pace as last year, surprisingly. The course this year was longer with an additional 10-15 minutes of dirt road and singletrack. My placing? 58th. Ouch. Seems everyone I talked to this year improved their race times, but not their placings. The talent this thick at this event.
As for the sluggish legs. I thought it was from the 2 weeks of travel and days working the expo. Which, I am sure contributed a bit to it, but the reality of it was 2 pedal spindles that were nearly 100% seized. Lesson learned.
Glad to be back in Colorado! Riding here is getting damn good at 7000 ft! I have 3 races over the next 4 weeks I am looking forward to.... Enduro Cup - Moab, UT Firebird 40 - Eagle, CO Gunnison Growler - Gunnison, CO
Spring is not far away! I admit, I have Spring fever. Ready to get out in the warmth of the Colorado sun here at the higher elevations. Reality is, that won't hit until April/May. Last week KJ had a week off from work so we packed up the van and headed west to St. George where we were greeted with temps in the low 70fs and dry dusty trails!
Day 1 was spent pedaling out East of St. George on some flowy trail. Day 2 we headed over to Green Valley side of St. George to get in a mix of techy and flowy trails....and to pre-ride the Intermountain Cup XC course. With the race in town on Saturday, I threw my hat into the XC ring to test the fitness. As expected it hurt, but was a blast. High end speed isn't there, but really didn't expect it to be. I rode a solid race for me finishing 7th overall. Great course combined with great competition! XC racing is alive and well in Utah!
After the race, KJ and I went our for another 2 hours to keep banking the miles.
St. George has a great mix of terrain. Pick your poison. After logging miles for 4 days, plus the XC, the body is in that tired state that I miss so much. In 2 weeks there is a 50 and/or 100 mile mtb race in St. George on these same trails, called the True Grit 100. Weather pending, might head back out for one of those 2 events. Right now, the body is more suited for 50 miles, but the 100 miler would be ideal for building the engine for the season. Time will tell!
In the meantime back in Eagle, I am working on getting all the Topeak-Ergon USA 2013 team bikes to the USA. Over the last week I have been working with SRAM to finalize the team XX1 order. The new 1x11 set up has me intrigued and I feel very fortunate to be back with SRAM for 2013 to help promote and test this new groupo. XX treated us well, so curious to see how going from 2x10 to 1x11 will change how we ride.
Eye is to the sky! Moab is finally dry. Weather holding, might make the quick drive to Moab this weekend to ride. Looking snowy here in the Vail Valley!
Winter is beastly this year, at least that is what the locals are saying. More snow. Colder temps. While we finally seem to be on the upswing here at 6600 ft in Eagle, CO, a retreat to warmer and drier conditions was needed for a big 3-day riding block.
St. George, UT came calling! While the original plan was to go 2 weeks ago, we got rained out. This week was perfect! Dry trails, sunny skies, and temps sitting at about 60F! Not familiar with St. George? Lots of trails from smooth and flowy to burly and chunky.
The only goal for the weekend was to log 5 hour days for 3 days. Kyle from Fairplay, CO joined me for the 7 hr drive to southwest Utah where we met up with a bunch of riders from Salt Lake City, Idaho, and points further. Below are the highlights from the mecca of St. George, UT!
Heard the word many times in regards to my new found backcountry nordic skiing habit. Honestly, it's a blast and I am addicted....a good break from the bike. If I can't log the big hours on the bike, might as well get them on the skis.
Bike time is still happening, just on the trainer for 60-90 minutes a day, super specific and to the point. Aside from the bike, this is why the skiing is good....
Lots of snow up above 11,000 ft south east of Eagle, CO....good snow at that. Here is the highlights from the last few 4-6 hour tours....
Skiing on hold this weekend. Heading to the warmth of the Front Range to get in some hours on the bike. The following weekend? A 3-day riding binge in St. George, UT with like minded folks. Can't wait!!
The new residence in Eagle, CO sits at a moderate height of 6600 ft. Not too high....but also not very low. It's at the west end of the Vail Valley, so that means we are surrounded by mountains and only a stones throw from places like Vail and Leadville. Even though sitting at only 6600 ft, winter is here. Cold air pools in the valley at night keeping temps below zero mostly every night. During the day, temps creep to freezing or just above.
Bike time is minimal and I am OK with that. 95% of any bike time over the last 2 months has been between 1-2 hours on the trainer. Short and too the point and very specific. There is plenty of time to come on the bike. With that said, I finally decided to get on skis. 3 weeks ago I got my first ski lesson at the Vail Nordic Center. It was a humbling experience. Something that seemed so simple had me not moving very fast or covering mush ground. But, it only took a 4 hour day on nordic skis for my to put my addictive personality towards skiing. 2 weeks later I had a set of nordic backcountry skis sitting at my from door; Fischer E109 skis, Fischer BC poles, and Salomon boots and bindings.
Adventure mode: ON
I look at it as mountain biking on skis. With my ski set up I can virtually hit all the mtb trails and forest service roads in and around Eagle. The up is a blast....my down needs some work for sure as I tend to be on the ground more than upright, especially on steep singletrack. It's all new to me, so think about it all the time now.
It is amazing to ski the same terrain that is biked in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. In winter is looks different and with the slower speeds of BC nordic skiing you see things you normally miss while zooming by on 2 bicycle wheels. Doesn't take long either to rack up a 3-6 hour day on the skis. By the time that is said and done my legs feel the same as they did after a 4-5 hr road ride. Worked over. Jelly. Curled up on couch in a ball with warm tea.
Image above, a duo tour with Summit County mountain biker, Kyle Stamp. The trail is located at Yeoman Park, which is southeast of Eagle.
So, for the time being it is a mix of bike and ski. In some cases I get both in one day. Time to enjoy the new surrounding while doing something else than specifically pedaling a bike and staring at numbers on the SRM powermeter.
Image above, pillows of snow at 9,800 feet outside of Eagle.
The Colorado Based Cycling Apparel Manufacturer Will Provide Elite Cycling Apparel For the USA Topeak-Ergon Mountain Bike Team.
DENVER – December 20th, 2012 – Primal, a leading designer and manufacturer of branded and custom cycling apparel, announced it will be Sponsoring Team Topeak-Ergon USA.
Primal will be outfitting the team with their elite line of custom cycling and multi-sport apparel. The 6 member team will be provided with the newest offering from Primal, the Helix Kit. The two organizations will also look to collaborate at events throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“Topeak-Ergon Racing Team has an amazing history and track record in the sport of mountain bike racing,” said Dave Edwards, Primal founder and CEO. “The riders are also incredible ambassadors for the entire industry of cycling. This aligns with our mission to support cycling through competition, community, and advocacy.”
For 2013, The USA roster will consist of, Dave Wiens, Jeff Kerkove, Sonya Looney, Yuki Ikeda, Eddie O’Dea and Namrita O’Dea. The focus for the team in 2013 will be various XC, mtb marathons, the Bailey Hundo, Mtb Stage Races, and XTERRA events around the World.
“We are excited to have Primal as a new sponsor and partner,” said USA Team Manager Jeff Kerkove. “Primal has been a long time supporter of mountain bike racing and we are proud to be a part of their community.”
For more information about Topeak-Ergon Racing Team visit www.topeak-ergon-racing.com
About Primal Primal, founded in 1992, has emerged as the leading designer and manufacturer of premier cycling apparel for teams, clubs and events around the world. Primal is committed to the progression of cycling for all abilities and is dedicated to promoting and sponsoring events that benefit people's lives.
Our mission is to provide the highest-quality cycling apparel available while fostering the growth of cycling through competition, community, and advocacy. We believe in cycling as a positive influence globally and are dedicated to increasing the number of people that choose cycling as a means of recreation, environmental conservation, and health.
To learn more about Primal visit www.primalwear.com
Overlook on the Western Rim. This was about the 1/2 point of what would be a 5 hour day in the saddle riding some slow going chunky trail out of Rabbit Valley on Saturday. Needless to say not being on the bike on a regular basis since the end of September had me searching for flow and comfortable riding. I was worked over at the end of the day! My riding crew; Jonathan Davis, Karen Jarchow, John Todd Mallow, Shane DeMars, and Sinjin Eberle added to the fun and keep the spirits high. Looking forward to starting the 2013 training program on November 19th! The camp mascot, Dukers.
Sunday was a 2 hour day in Grand Junction on a trail called Butter Knife. Good old fashion fun aboard the 6 inch travel Canyon Strive. Love that bike!
Structured bike miles start next weekend! Weekend rides can be seen on Strava.
Xcorps PIVOTHEAD Mountain Bike Action with BLACK OXYGEN – This Xcorps TV special release is all about great new music live on stage from a Kansas City rock band named Black Oxygen along with some scenic and wild downhill mountain bike action from Big Bear California shot with the very cool new PIVOTHEAD sunglass POV HD video camera system!
Xcorps guest host Buck Star reports from Moonlight Beach Encinitas Ca - Xcorps home base - wearing a pair of the brand new PIVOTHEAD sunglasses that also function as a super fun and easy to use pro-spec HD video camera system! Buck, also a pro mountain biker, tested out this killer new POV camera ripping trails at Snow Summit mountain resort up at Big Bear Ca. In this Xcorps show segment Buck’s POV bike footage rolls with RIVE promoted band Black Oxygen live at a KC outdoor concert jamming their song “Escape The Pain” to the mega crowd! This concert took place at this years 2012 ROCKFEST music gig in Kansas City Mo USA.
I decided to call my season after the trip to CA for Levi's Gran Fondo and the Tamarancho XC. It has been a looooooong year with some amazing times on the bike at a competitive level. I started my 2012 season in November of 2011, getting ready for the Yak-Attack which happened in early March. My body has had enough for 2012, at least with structured training and extensive travel. La Ruta was planned, but with the associated costs and the my move to Eagle, CO in a few days, I decided to pull the plug on the racing season. I am still pedaling around a bit, but mostly for 1-2 hours on the 6" travel Canyon Strive. For example....
Yeah, the bike is a blast! Along with the light spins on the Strive, getting out for some foot power. This past weekend was an amazing hike up to 14,440 ft on Mt. Elbert. For late October, the weather was too good to be true. Virtually no wind at the summit and temps from 40-60F.
Next weekend "Operation: Relocation to Eagle, CO" starts!
With a trip to the San Francisco area for the 100-mile Levi’s Gran Fondo, team rider Jeff Kerkove took advantage of the 4-day trip to get in some solid training in the Bay Area. The plan was to ride the 100-mile Levi’s Gran Fondo on Saturday and then race the Tamarancho Dirt Classic XC in Fairfax, CA on Sunday. The Tamarancho race was a fundraiser for the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League.
With record heat in the Bay Area and a punchy course, the Tamarancho XC would be a tough test. The Pro and Expert fields would race together and do 3 laps on the 7-mile course. Jeff would have a slow start carrying fatigue from the 100-mile effort the day prior. “The local racers went off hard! I couldn’t go their pace on their home trails.” stated Jeff after the race. Settling into a conservative pace, Jeff would ride consistent laps all day.
On the third and final lap, Jeff would pass the 2nd place rider, who was fixing multiple flat tires after the opening descent. Later in the lap, Jeff would connect up with the lead rider from Jamis on the very steep Dead Heifer climb. Jeff following his finish, “He was walking and I still had some juice to pedal up the climb. I was able to get a small gap and keep it.”
Jeff would take the victory after chasing the leaders all afternoon. Jeff in the post race interview, “It wasn’t easy at all! The local riders are very strong and stuck it to me all day on their home trails. I got lucky with pacing and mechanicals!”
First things first! Hands down, one of my favorite events I do every year. The Vapor Trail 125 encompasses everything I like about mountain biking: great terrain, high alpine trails, hike-a-bike, the people, night riding, sunrise riding, technical trails, ripping descents, and much much more!
This year was my 4th racing the Vapor Trail 125. The previous years set me up to do well this year and in the future. Knowledge of the course is a huge advantage in this event. With so many places to ruin a good day on the bike, it pays to know where to conserve and where to go hard....as well as where to turn. When you look at this route as a whole, it is you vs. the course. Yes, you are racing other athletes, but in reality, they don't dictate the outcome here. You are on your own out there. You have to ride your race, and play super close attention to this. I learned my lesson the first 2 years, getting caught up in the 'racing'. The last 2 times it paid off to ride my own pace.
One thing I learned the first 2 years is carry only what you need to get from aid station to aid station, which is about 3 hours max at the longest point. You can travel light for the Vapor Trail. By wearing 2 jerseys at night that gave me 6 pockets to fill with extra items like: warm gloves, skull cap, repair tools, light batteries, SPOT tracker, food, etc. I had plenty of room.
The VT125 started at 10 PM from downtown Salida, CO. This year it was evident of the town support for the event as everyone poured out into the streets to cheer us off into the night. This year, as in the past, the field was a strong ones. A lot of familiar names and a lot of new names. The first 10 miles were a neutral roll-out of town. So, we all chatted and took this time to warm up the legs and lighten the mood. Once we turned off the pavement onto a dirt road, the "race" was on. Immediately, Josh Tostado hit the front. Behind him was Aaron Gulley, myself, Sonya Looney, and a few others. It wasn't long, and the race field was spread out. I settled into my pace as Josh pulled away. This is the last anyone would see of him, other than his lights off in the distance later in the event. Chasing Josh was 3 of us. Myself, Aaron, and Miguel Arias. We traded time at the front pulling down the dirt road. We even took turns running our lights. The light of one rider was enough to let 3-4 people pedal down the road.
With about 1 mile left until the chunky singletrack of the Colorado Trail , I went to the front. I hit the singletrack first with the other behind me. It wasn't long and I was riding alone. No lights in front of me or behind me. I was comfortable and not taking any risks on this technical and loose trail. The only thing I had to do was settle into my rhythm for the event. I made it to the Cascade Aid Station in good time, faster that I thought I would. I filled by 3 bottles and asked how far Josh was ahead. The aid station workers said "Only a few minutes".
The next section of trail leading up to the Snowblind Campground Aid Station is pretty burly. It climbs over and descends the Continental Divide twice. The railroad grade road to the Alpine Tunnel is a good road to get a good pace going. It was here I would see Josh's read tail light briefly, but I would not catch. After that the course is littered with big rocks, big climbs, and techy trails. I would have a good ride through this section. The hour long hike up to the Canyon Creek descent was my most comfortable ever. Climbing up to nearly 13k, I expected to face wind and cold temps. Instead, I was greeted with a frosty ground, clear skies, and above-freezing temps. This was a first in my 4 attempts. I made a quick descent into the Snowbling Campground Aid Station where Dave Wiens was manning the station. He said Josh came through about 45 minutes ago. I had a doughnut, a 1/2 can of Coke, refilled my 3 bottles, then pushed onward to climb up to Monarch Pass.
The climb up to Monarch Pass on Old Monarch Pass Rd is not too bad. It's a dirt road that's in good shape. It just a matter of turning off the brain and spinning it out. I definitely wasn't breaking any speed records up this climb. Legs were getting tired. I was climbing this road in the dark this year. Something I have never done in my previous attempts. It was a reminder I was putting in a good time on the race course. I got up to Monarch Pass at sunrise. The Aid Station workers were still setting up. They were startled as how fast Josh got to them, an were now working to get things in line for me. At Monarch Pass I dropped my lights, and all my warm clothing. I grabbed 3 fresh FRS bottles and asked how long ago Josh came through. They responded with "45 minute." It didn't take long and I was on my way.
The next section of trail is the best of the entire race! The Monarch Crest Trail traverses at over 11k feet for many miles. I was a little quick in dropping my clothes at the previous aid station, but I needed to. The Crest Trail was COLD! By far the cold I had seen since we left town. The entire ground was white with frost. I was riding white singletrack while following brown tire marks left by Josh Tostado. My legs were super sluggish. While this trail screams speed, I had everything but it. My hands were sore from being cold. My legs and arms were pink. I just needed the sun to hit me, but it was still very low in the early AM sky.
At the end of the Crest Trail is another aid station, Marshall Pass Aid Station. It was here the workers were cheering for me saying "Go! Go! Go! You're in first place!" Obviously Josh had gone through before they got there. I told them that, and they were in disbelief! From here the race rides down the Starvation Creek singletrack, which is super fun! After that, riders climb back out on a steep life sucking jeep road climb to the Marshall Pass Aid Station before continuing on to the rest of the race course. Josh got back out of Starvation Creek about 45 minutes ahead of me. This time the aid station workers were ready for him. I stopped quick to fill 2 bottles, eat some Fig Newtons, and a 1/2 can of Coke.
From this point on, the course is pretty easy, compared to what we have faced. It was a lot of singletrack descending back below 10k feet. We would finish off on the fast/buff singletrack of the Rainbow Trail before a 10 mile paved road ride back to Salida and Absolute Bikes. I would pull into the finish line at 11:35 AM on Sunday for 2nd place overall. Josh would wait about 45 minutes for me.
Overall, my race time was 13 hours and 37 minutes. This was 45 minutes faster than my record setting time back in 2010! I was super stoked on the finish, and to have felt good all race except for a 30 minute moment on the Crest Trail. The race file can be seen on Strava. I can't wait for the next years Vapor Trail 125!
This year was my 3rd attempt at the Colorado Trail Race. The previous attempts plagued with body issues. Year 1, my feet from the wet weather. Year 2, illness likely caused from being over trained/prepared for CTR. For my 3rd attempt I changed it up a bit. I went in more fresh with less miles in the legs. Also, I changed my outlook on the race. While it is a "race" I simply just wanted to finish....and in 6 days or less. In reality, a good overall result would be nice, but not the driving force of why I attempt CTR. For me it is about completing a competitive goal and having a shared experience with other talented riders on this amazing route winding through Colorado.
Here is how my 2012 CTR experience played out.....
Monday The race went off at 6 AM from Denver. It was a mellow roll out from the Junction Creek Trailhead up the dirt road to the opening singletrack of the Colorado Trail. We had a lead group of about 8 riders....just spinning and chatting. The mood was fun and light with all the usual CTR freaks: Jesse, Eathan, Jefe, Kevin Thomas, Carr, etc, etc. We spun along just feeling the flow of the opening miles. For me the pace was just right, ride all week kind or pace. It wasn't until about 3 hours in the group got smaller. It was just 4 of us: Ethan, Jesse, Kevin, and myself. Ethan was surging and then returning to the group. Jesse was stuck to my wheel...Kevin to his. It wasn't until a bit later that Ethan and Kevin surged away riding a pace I was not going to ride. I was riding solo with Jesse not far behind. We arrive in Bailey and refueled at the gas station for the push to Leadville. Jesse and I left Bailey and rode up Hwy 285 to Kenosha Pass. Jesse surged and got away. This would be the last I would see of him. I rode Hwy 285 solo, then put on the rain gear for the first of many times. Storms were all around...thunder....lightening...heavy rain. I pushed on keeping an eye and ear to the sky, as I was climbing up to nearly 12,000 ft with no cover. I came across Kevin Thomas sitting on the side of the trail. He said he was in no hurry, lightening scared him the most. While he sat, I pushed on. Riding a 1x9 Kona HT, Kevin soon caught up. We pushed on together...chatting....passing the miles while discussing the weather, gear, CTR 2011, etc. Kevin and I crested the summit of Georgia Pass together. Soon after we started the descent we came across some "Trail Magic". It was a white cooler stocked with tons of candy bars and sodas. I took 2 soda and a candy bar and pushed on to Breckenridge. Kevin sat and ate/drank....said his stomach was bothering him a bit. This was the last I saw of Kevin. He ended up breaking his frame on the way to Breckenridge. The ride from Georgia Pass to Breck was good for me....felt good! At the Gold Hill Trailhead it was 6 PM, where I put on some clothing for the ride/push up and over the Ten Mile Range. It was an amazing view above treeline with massive lightening shows going on in the distances all around. The push started well, then got worse. After 2 hours of pushing my stomach shut down, likely from too much sugar earlier in the day. I tried eating and drinking, but would throw it up.
Ten Mile Range hike-a-bike, the early sections.
The push over the mountain range took me 5 painful hours with lots of stopping. 3-4 riders would walk by me, asking if I was OK, including Jefe. I was in a dark place....the first of many we CTR racers experience while "racing" this route. When I dropped off the backside to Copper Mountain it was 11:30 PM. At the bottom waiting and watching the riders come through was Karen. What a needed and awesome surprise! She offered words of encouragements to me then went on her way. I crossed the road to Copper Mountain and set up camp for the night.
Tuesday I was back on the bike at 4:30 AM. I told myself I was going to sleep this year. While I got some needed sleep, legs were still sluggish from the push over the Ten Mile Range and not eating for nearly 5-6 hrs. It took 3 hours to get to Searle Pass. After that it was onto Kokomo Pass.
Searle Pass between Copper Mountain and Leadville
It was a good ride. Sluggish, but good. The terrain was littered with the marmots and pikas sunning themselves in the AM light. Next it was the push onto Leadville. Coming off Kokomo Pass I crashed twice not being able to focus. The fun fast ripping descent was anything but that. The later miles of trail were slow going, but this was CTR. The riding is anything but super fast. I pedaled into Leadville, just blown. I needed real food! I stocked up on food for the Buena Vista push. I also just sat and rested at the gas station while eating 1/2 a pizza and Gatorade. It was much needed and I was now recharged! I left Leadville with plan to get to BV by 6 PM. When I got back to the CO Trail I was met by Karen again who said she wanted to pedal along with me from the Mt Elbert trailhead to Twin Lakes.
Between Leadville and Twin Lakes, with company from Karen
It was nice to have company, especially after riding solo since 4:30 AM. We parted ways at Twin Lakes after an amazing section of single track. I crossed over the Twin Lake dam and the clouds began to build again. It wasn't long and it began to pour rain and hail. Rain gear went back on. The trail was a river of water and hail. The ground around the trail was white from the hail. It was pretty amazing to see! I soon began to see tire tracks in from of me. I knew I was close to someone, but who? I would follow these tracks until I hit Hwy 24 for the spin into BV. Just outside BV I came upon Dan from Ft Collins. He was killing it on a singlespeed! We stopped for burgers at K's as well as stocked up on food at the City Market for the 2 day push to Silverton with no resupplies.
Matt(L) and Dan(R) at K's getting burgers before rolling out for 200 miles of nothing but trail. We discussed calories to carry; 10,000? 15,000? More?
We also ran into Matt, also of Fort Collins. I knew what I needed for food and calories. I got into town and got out. I rolled out of BV up Cottonwood pass just at dusk. By the time on the trail it was dark and I was pushing to get to the Chalk Creek trailhead for sleep. The next hours were slow terrain...lots of pushing up super rocky trail. I was solo, no sign of Dan raging on his SS. I got to the trailhead and set up camp.
Wednesday I woke around 6:30 to a light sky. I set no alarm, I let my body make the decision of when it was ready. This section of trail from Chalk Creek to Hwy 50 I knew well from all the Vapor Trail 125 efforts. Once again, lots of pushing at the start. Once up to around 10,000 ft the trail rolls along some rocky chunky singletrack to Hwy 50. I felt good this AM, better than Tuesday AM. My body was getting into the mode of what CTR is. The next big effort was gaining the Crest Trail by pushing up Fooses Creek. This trail sucks to go up! It is a 1.5 hour hike with the final 300 yards being some of the steepest terrain seen since we left Denver. In my attempt to gain the ridge, Dan caught me. We rode and pushed together. It was nice to have company....chatting...sharing the misery, ha! Dan beat me to the Crest Trail and soon pedaling along at 12,000 ft with storms rolling in. Once I got up to the Crest Trail I put on the rain jacket as it was cool and light rain falling. With lightening and thunder close, I pushed as hard as I could across the exposed Crest Trail to beat any incoming weather. Dan and I got lucky! Little rain and not struck by lightening. The next few miles were a mix of rocky, rooty, and muddy trails. Dan and I switched places off and on. He wasn't feeling super, mentioned fever-like symptoms. We would ride together for the remainder of the day. Little would I know the coming miles would be the demise of my CTR yet again. While descending a super rocky trail I burped my tire loosing some air, or so I thought. Tire was soft by not too bad. As we rode on it got softer and softer. I stopped and filled it....then continued. With conditions wet and muddy, my tire, which had a small hole in the sidewall would not seal. I didn't want to put a tube in just yet. So, I rode....then filled. Rode....then filled. This went on for hours. Sometime it would hold. Other times it wouldn't. With skies clearing, we began the push up to Sargents Mesa. It was here I got fed up with the Stan's not stopping the sidewall cut, and i decided to put a tube in. When I stopped to change the tire Dan pushed on and said he'd see me in a bit, which I thought I would for sure. With the tube installed I continued to ride the rocky trail. After 20 minutes or so of riding, pssssssssss. F! The rear tire now had a pinch flat. Seriously!?!?!?! I brought 2 spare tubes in my kit. With one tube left, this is all I had to get to Silverton. In an attempt to change the flat, the worse thing happened. It wouldn't hold air. The new tube had a hole in it. F me! With no patch kit, an oversight on my part, I was screwed! I was in the boonies of CO.....likely 40 miles from any town.....80 miles from any bike shop. I filled the tire with grass and tried riding, but the tire rolled off the rim. It was right at the entrance to Sargents Mesa I decided to bag the CTR.....again....with no more option to fix the flat. I looked at my GPS and devised a route to Saguache, CO. It was a 40 mile downhill ride that took me over 5 hrs to complete while pedaling on the rim. It was around midnight that I contact Sonya and Karen to get me the next AM. That night I slept in the city park, my last night out on CTR.
Thursday Woke up around 7 AM and had a good warm breakfast of eggs, coffee, bacon, french toast, etc. At 10:30 AM I was picked up and on my way home. The goal of riding/racing/competing in CTR has eluded me once again. This is how my 2012 experience played out. Lots of highs and lows. Hoping it would finish on a high with the task of just finishing. But not this year.
Congrats to all who attempted and finished! Tip of the helmet to Ethan, Jesse, and Jefe for the blazing fast times and new course record. You guys are freaks among freaks! Once again, as in the years past, I learned even more. The more I work to complete this route, the more simplified and refined I become. As with everything in life and racing/riding, I keep learning and learn from these mistakes and errors. At some point down the road it will all come together. The drive is still there.
OK, so the Colorado Trail Race (CTR) starts on Monday. This year will be attempt number 3. I am hoping the third time is a charm. Only time will tell. Nothing is guaranteed in this event....or any multi-day event. My goals are the same as the last 2 years, but the plan of attack has changed. Not only has that changed, so has my equipment. Previous years I was on a 4" travel 26er. This year, a hardtail 29er with 2.4 tires. The Canyon 29er I am riding with the 2.4 tires feels comfy like my 4" travel 26er, but with more efficiency. Below is my bike set up for the duration of the event. Only thing not pictured is the Ergon BX3 pack I will be wearing.
The bike in fully-loaded mode.
Front end of the bike with the Topeak Fuel Tank - Large for food. A Revelate Designs fuel tank is attached to the seatpost, which carries misc. items.
A Black Diamond headlamp to be used for night vision. I removed the head strap and zip-tied it to the handlebar. The battery back is velcro strapped to the downtube.
This past weekend was the 12 Hours of Snowmass, which benefited the Aspen Youth Center. Topeak-Ergon member, Jeff Kerkove, was recruited to race in the 3-Person Junior Pro category. This category takes local mountain bike pro riders and teams them up with High School and/or Junior level racers. This is great opportunity for the junior riders to race along side and hang out with these elite level riders for the day.
The formed team was named Ergon-Yeti and featured Nick Truitt from the Yeti Factory Team, Jeff Kerkove of Team Topeak-Ergon, and junior racer Josh Gallen from Crested Butte, CO.
The race would run from 7 AM to 7 PM. The course was 9 miles long and featured 1,900 ft of climbing. Jeff Kerkove started the race for the team setting a sub-hour lap time on the slightly greasy course. Second was Josh, who also went sub-1 hour. Nick was the final rider, and set a blistering pace to go sub-50 minutes. Through out the day the course would dry out and the team would alternate laps. Being very consistent, the riders would turn nearly identical laps times for 12 hours.
“Nick and I were impressed with Josh, he was flying! We thought we would get a fun easy weekend of racing, but instead it was fun and filled with hot laps for 12 hours. Josh was a key ingredient to our success in this event and he will be one to watch in the future,” Jeff stated following the 12-hour race.
Results Jeff Kerkove, Nick Truitt, Josh Gallen, 3-Person Junior Pro Team, 1st Place
This past weekend was the Breckenridge 68 Marathon, which runs in conjunction with the Breckenridge 100. While the 100-mile race features 3 different loops, the 68-mile race only completes 2 of these loops. Looping in and out of Breckenridge, CO the 68-mile race covers terrain between 9,600-11,500 ft and nets the racers 9,200 ft of climbing for the day.
I am no stranger to this event having finished 1st and 5th in previous attempts. This time around, I would have to battle rain, hail, and some fast competition during the nearly 6 hours on the bike.
I know this course well, so I just rode my pace early and let guys attack early on. After the 1st loop on the Colorado Trail I was about 1 min back from the leaders, they were in sight for a majority of the day, but couldn't close the gap. I got lucky late in the race with the leaders taking a wrong turn...missing the Gold Dust Trail turn off. I heard they may have missed the turn, but it could not be confirmed. So, I chased what I thought was 3rd place all the way back to Breckenridge and the finish. When I came in I was told I was 2nd as the 2 previous leaders DQ'd their ride and did not ride the entire course.
July 4th Holiday is big in Colorado, especially in the racing and riding scene. 2 fun mountain bike events over the span of a few days. First, the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge. Secondly, the Durango Dirty Century. For me, this is a good racing/riding/training block. I get to toe the start line with tons of cool people as well as go out and suffer. This year, the Firecracker 50 course was altered a bit. Less road climbing and descending, replaced with more singletrack.
This year was like my 8th time racing this event. The day went really well for me. I felt good all day and the new Canyon 29er was a blast to pedal. By the end of the day, I finished 18th in the Pro Men and turned my fastest race time ever at this event. While not monumental by any means, to PR my placing and time at this event had me looking forward to the 100 miles in Durango in a few days.
While Colorado has been very dry for months, the weather man was calling for the monsoonal pattern to return to Colorado this weekend. Yes, it did. The Durango Dirty Century (DDC) is a 100 mile backcountry loop north of Durango. It has everything from steep climbs, hike-a-bike, super high altitude, and much much more. Last year I went out a bit too hot in my pacing, and paid for it dearly later in the race. This year, I rode conservative and it paid off. While I ended up finishing 7th overall, my time was over 1 hr faster than last year. This year we dealt with torrental rains at 12k. I was head to toe in gore-tex. Others were not and were forced out with near hypothermic conditions. For the most part I felt good, but a little sluggish. No doubt from the Firecracker 50 effort.
We had roughly 50 riders start at 6 AM for the 100 mile route.
Lead group heading up to the Hermosa Creek Trailhead, about 12 miles outside of Durango.
Hermosa Creek Trail, the opening miles of singletrack. Pure mtb awesomeness!
Climbing up Bolam Pass Rd. switchbacks with rain clouds moving in.
Climbing on the Colorado Trail with light rain falling.
Shortly after this pic was taken, the skis opened up. Pouring rain at over 11,000 ft on the Colorado Trail. It was freezing, and I was dress in gore-tex from head to toe. The trails became running rivers.
The rain eventually stopped, and the sun came back out. Speeds were slow for the most part, so pics were easy as well as a distraction from the 100 mile effort.
The most worrisome spot for me, or what I thought would be, was the Indian Ridge area. This section is above 12,000 ft and totally exposed. I wanted to complete this section before the next storm moved in. Lightening was the biggest concern.
100% exposed with no quick way down.
The sun eventually broke the clouds. I got lucky. Riders behind be, not so much. As the clouds redeveloped and came with rain, thunder, and lightening.
This section of the Colorado Trail is AMAZING! The video does a good job of showing what these late miles in the race were like. Enjoy! Excuse the condensation on the lens from the wetness early in the race.
Just got the Canyon Grand Canyon AL 29er built up for riding and racing. Yes, there has been a huge delay in getting the 2012 team bikes from Germany. Too complicated to get into here on the blog. But with that now behind us, I did get a quick 2 hr ride on the local trails which I have been riding a 26er on since 2007. Got to say, the fun level was elevated! More to come after weekend! Need to see if this might be the bike choice for the 2012 Colorado Trail Race. 29er, bout time, right?
This weekend marked the third running of the Bailey 100....and my 2nd time racing. Going into the event my goals were simple: execute a good race from start to finish, improve my finishing time from last year, and improve my finishing place. The course is straight forward; 50 miles of singletrack followed by 50 miles of forest service roads.
My start was good....riding with the top 5 leaders. I fell off the pace just prior to the Colorado Trail, but I was OK with that as it would be a 7+ hr day in the saddle. I settled into my pace for the day. But there would be issues. For some reason my front wheel would not hold air. So, every 30 minutes or so I would have to stop and refill the wheel with the CO2. Eventually the CO2 ran out, but was able to get to the 50 mile aid station to grab my mini hand pump. At the half way point I utilized neutral support and pumped up the tires higher than normal for the remaining 50 miles of pavement and dirt roads. This year, this 50 mile section went much better for me. I settled into a good groove and rode solo down the road. Managed to catch a few riders and better my placing.
With 10 miles to go until the finish, the skies blackened and the lightening, rain, and hail hit the ground with authority! I don't think I have ridden in that hard of rain or hail in Colorado to date. The roads were flooded and the hail....the size of marbles....was fierce! While descending at 30 plus miles per hour, the hail felt like I was being blasted with marbles. My arms had welt marks...face was stinging....riding with my eyes nearly closed from the pain. Lucky for us riders it was short lived, but the temps dropped with the storm.
After finishing I snapped a quick photo before stripping down and jumping in my sleeping bag in the Ergon sprinter to warm up. It has been a long time since I have been that cold! As for the race, I finished 11th in the Pro Mens field. My placing was 6 better than last year....my time, 15 minutes faster. Overall, a good day on the bike with a clean solid energy burn. Check the race file on Strava
On Saturday night I camped at the Bailey 100 venue again. The next AM before heading back to the smokey Front Range, I opted to get in a 14er. This one happened to be Mt Bierstadt. It was the easy option on the trip home and the views didn't disappoint. Because of its close proximity to Denver and easy access, this 14er sees a lot of people, mostly tourists looking for their first 14er. This day was no different. Here are the images from the journey....
Another Sunday, another day spent pedaling and pushing the bike at 11,000 ft and higher. Got to Montezuma, CO. Yes that Montezuma....from Montezuma's Revenge fame. Lots of good high alpine riding here. Granted most is jeep road, it's burly, steep, loose, and super challenging at this altitude. I was out for nearly 5 hours....covered only 30 miles and climbed just shy of 6,000 ft. It was either up or down, the good stuff! Tough, just how I wanted it. Take a look!
Sunday was spent riding trails around Breckenridge, CO with Sonya. Scary things is what we rode in relationship to the time of year. Pretty much all the singletrack in the video shouldn't be rideable for another 3-4 weeks. A low snow year and warm temps have a lot of the mountain trails riding like July. Good, but scary....especially for the fire danger. As always, the Epic Cam was along for the ride.
On the Monday Holiday, I did a early mission to Trail Ridge Rd in Rocky Mountain National Park. Once again, not much snow. This was by far the windiest and coldest ride I have had up there. Winds were blowing at 30+ mph and the temps were in the low 40fs. Hands got a little numb.....almost too numb. Had to stop twice on the descent back to Estes Park to warm the hands. The views? AMAZING!!!
Great weekend of riding in and around Vail, CO with Karen, Gretchen, and Tyler! Always good to ride with new people on "new to me" trails. Got to say, I was totally impressed with the riding outside Eagle, CO!
Not that my life is a secret, but if you want to know what is up...how I got my start...day to day with Ergon, check out the interview below I did on Wednesday AM with Ben Welnak of Mountain Bike Radio.
It was a momentous year for the athletes who ride Giant. They stepped onto podiums and won world championships. They pushed themselves, and their bikes, to new heights. In the dirt and on the road. Against the competition, the clock and the terrain.
We're proud to work with all of the road, triathlon, mountain bike and cyclocross athletes that make up our global family of competitive cyclists. Enjoy this look back at some of the moments that made 2011 a year to remember.
The first-ever round of the Patrick UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup raced on the muddy slopes of the citadel in Namur (BEL) offered a great spectacle.
Belgian veteran Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) captured a hard-fought win over Belgian Champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in the Elite Men category. The 35 year-old is the new leader in the World Cup rankings. Dutch star Marianne Vos (Nederland Bloeit) dominated in the women's race, which was raced in snowy conditions. Her compatriot Daphny van den Brand (AA Drink -- Nederland Bloeit) remains overall leader in the World Cup standings.
French Champion Francis Mourey (FDJ), Aurélien Duval (France), Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) led a large group through the first laps on the muddy course in chilly Namur. During the fourth of eight laps, Albert accelerated. Nys followed his example with an attack on the fifth lap. Only Vantornout remained on Nys' wheel. A little later Nys flatted and was caught by an unleashed Stybar. The Czech soon steamed through to neutralize Vantornout's advantage. For a brief moment there were six riders in the group, but Pauwels punctured and lost time. Nys seized his moment to take the lead and set the pace up front. Pauwels didn't bridge back up and in the last lap it seemed like Albert was heading for the win. Nevertheless Nys closed the small gap on the Belgian Champion and with a last effort he reached the finish area solo. Albert was runner-up at 5s ahead of Vantornout, Pauwels, Stybar and Meeusen. The fourth place for Pauwels was just not enough to keep his World Cup leader's jersey, which is now in Nys' possession.
At age 19, Danny Hart started his second pro season with the Giant Factory Off-Road Team hoping to maybe crack the top 5. He did more than that. At Round 2 of the World Cup, in front of a capacity crowd at his "home" venue in Scotland, Danny shocked the world with one of the most exciting DH runs ever seen—and he didn't stop there. Danny scored two more podium finishes on the World Cup and finished the season fourth overall. And he followed that with a jaw-dropping win at the World Championships in Champery, Switzerland. That run has been viewed more than 1 million times and, well, that's still not enough.