Photo Cred

Friday, August 23, 2013

Iron Pyrite, 2013

What?  Fool's Gold?


There are a few steps between here and there, but I now have an official entry into the NUE Series championship race, the Fool's Gold 100 in Dahlonega, Georgia.

I also have a plane ticket (thanks Missy!) and a room reservation at a cute little hostel just outside of town.  And, thanks to the eternal support of my parents and Gary Faris, we even have a plane ticket for Erica to join me.

Georgia in September--sounds humid.  (Sorry about your hair, E.)  But the temps look reasonable and I hear the riding is damn fine.  Word is it's 100 miles of fast riding on a great singlespeed course through the Chattahoochee National Forest, with what appears to be a fast singlespeed field.

The steps to getting there?  Primarily the Point2Point.  See, this whole racing-in-Georgia thing is predicated on the idea that I might be in contention for the NUE singlespeed championship.  The Pfluginator has taken the title for something like the last 5 years--it's time to give him a fight.  We've faced off twice so far this season; he took first at the True Grit 100, and I finished first at the Tatanka 100.  Now we're both riding strong at this point in the season, and set up for a good showdown at the series finale.

But first I need to win the singlespeed division at the P2P in order to be in contention.

No pressure, right?

With a history of flatting and course errors, I have unfinished business to take care of in Park City this year.  Training has gone as well as can be expected, and I've kicked my own ass at a couple of local races in the last couple of weekends.  (Racing is the best training, right?)  Now I just need to drop the hammer at the P2P, and then rest up quickly to be ready to compete with Gerry for the Fool's Gold a week later.


Towards that end, I added some inspiration to the LESter's toptube:

(By the way, if you're looking for some late-season competition and you're interested in traveling, there are still entries available for the Fool's Gold--let's get out there and crush ourselves!)  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Seeking Zen at the Pierre's Hole 100

The Stats:
  • 90 Miles
  • 14, 300' of climbing
  • 1st-Place Singlespeed, 2nd Overall
  • 8:28:59 to the finish

This.                Race.              Rocked!

Unbelievable.  I've gotten to compete at some great events this year, but Pierre's Hole takes the cake.  (And to have it at home makes it that much sweeter!)  Super well-run, gorgeous podium prizes, and a really well-built course that required technical riding skills, comfort with flat-out speed, lungs and legs for long climbs, and the ability to spin a high cadence while climbing pavement.  Massive fun.

Yep, loving the LESter.  It just fits so well, and the ride?!  Damn.
Photo: Tony Jewell

We started at dawn on a gorgeous morning in the Tetons, climbing immediately out of the start and spreading the pack nicely on our first foray out to Peaked Peak.  By the time we turned onto the new Peaked Trail singletrack I was hanging right behind Carey Smith and Nate Miller in the lead, with a few other geared riders spread behind us.

Winding up superbly-built switchbacks through alpine fields of wildflowers in the pre-sunrise light was spectacular.  Almost enough to make one forget that we were racing.

I followed those two into our first descent of 38-Special to Mill Creek which would drop us down to Teton Canyon--that's a long damn descent, and we were slated to do it 3 times!  They were able to open a gap on me by the time I arrived at the bottom but I could see them a few minutes up the road, so I figured they might still be within reach.

I shared that first Ski Hill Road climb with the three geared riders from the Peaked climb, swapping leads into a light early-morning breeze.  We spaced out a bit for the dusty descent of Bustle Creek but re-grouped for the dreaded crank up the Dry Creek climb.  (Word is that the Bustle-Dry Creek loop will be removed from the course next year, pending Andy Williams' ability to build-out the rest of the singletrack he has envisioned up at Targhee.)

Despite the steep, loose nastiness of Dry Creek I was able to put in a burst and get out ahead of the other guys, and continued opening my gap as the climb progressed.  That climb usually sucks the life out of my legs, but something clicked today and I was able to ride it continuously all three laps.  
Not without fatigue, mind you--I was pretty worked by the time I topped-out, and thankful for a chance to recover on the short pavement spin back up to Targhee.

By the time I got out to Rick's Basin I was feeling good again and had a blast romping around the fast and flowy singletrack up there, once again in the midst of fields of wildflowers.

Through the wildflowers heading out for Lap 2.

Heading out into Lap 2 my body started reminding me that I was 1/3 of the way through a 100-mile race and might want to think about tempering my pace a bit.  I argued back that it was hurting just about right, and continued having a ball rolling around the Lightning Loop.  Then the second climb up Peaked began and my attitude changed.

Carey was one switchback above me, but my body forced me to realize that if I wanted to make it up the remaining 9000' or so of climbing in the race I was going to have to ride smarter.  Less balls-out charging up the climbs, more mindful spinning.  So I found a pace that would keep me from losing ground to Carey but would also allow me to "float" up the climb rather than grunting.

Which worked great, until the descent.  Then he disappeared into the ether and I spent the rest of the race chasing a ghost.

Regardless, my new approach to climbing worked out great--spinning up the pavement portions felt smooth, and even Dry Creek was manageable.  Once I let go of the need to hammer uphill and focused on my breathing and on riding smoothly and efficiently, everything felt achievable.  No need to walk, no gasping for air, minimal burning quads.  Zen riding?  Sure.

Rolling out to the final descent of Bustle Creek...

I rolled into Lap 3 feeling tired but feeling good, stoked in the knowledge that I would finish the race this year.  Erica was feeding me updates on how the race around me was progressing--Carey was going to stay out in front, and I had enough of a lead over Trevor Rockwell (the next singlespeeder) that I just needed to ride smart to win.

Woohoo!  The last trip up Dry Creek done!

So I stuck with the Zen riding plan for the climbs, and had a ball pinning it on the descents.  That last lap was hard (just a few twinges of cramping) and hot--the Garmin hit 95 degrees--but it was also really damn fun.  I loved spinning up the pavement; 34x21 gearing made it feel just about like being on a road bike.  Flying downhill was a blast, and the last lap around Rick's Basin rocked!  So fast, so fun.  Although I admit that I didn't really notice the wildflowers--I was focused on finishing.


Look baby--I won!

And then there I was, 1st Singlespeeder and 2nd Overall to Carey, with a big hug from Erica, really glad that I wasn't heading out for another lap.

Sharing the podium with Trevor once again, along with Jason Brown, Tim Lucking, and Loren Gard.

The Teton area riders had a great showing overall--Carey and myself at the front of the 100, Gabe Klamer 3rd in the 100 Open, and Dave Byers 2nd in the 100-Mile 40+.  In the 50-mile event Amanda Carey stomped the women's field with Amy Fulwyler coming in 2nd, Mike Piker and Mark Llinares went 1-2 in the 40+ and Dave Saurman and Mark Hershberger went 1-2 in the 50+.  Then in the 50km race Ben Aufderheide won big with Garth Kaufman, Chris Owen, and Ian Miller in 2nd-4th, and Dan Streubel and Rick LaBelle went 1-2 in the 40+.  Yeah local crew--way to make it happen!

I've said it already, but I loved this race.  With the planned course changes, next year's event will be even better--I will be back.

For now, it's time to focus back on training in preparation for the Park City Point-to-Point, and hopefully the NUE championship tie-breaker at the Fool's Gold 100 in Georgia the following weekend!  

Just have to figure out a way to get myself there...