Tag Archives: Mountain biking

Emerald Lake Crested Butte

Crested Butte: So Many Trails, So Much Fun

There’s no need for me to tell you how much I like Crested Butte and how amazing the mountain biking is or how much trail there is. I’ve covered all of that before. For the Labor Day weekend we headed back to Crested Butte with friends for a what turned out to be a weekend packed full of amazing mountain biking. I’d done a lot of cross-country riding in Crested Butte, but Evan hadn’t done quite as much and some of our friends hadn’t done any. The options seemed endless. Thursday night we poured over the map in awe at all of our options. We decided on a couple of rides that were high on our “to-do” list and finally forced ourselves to put the map away.

Totally irrelevant to all of the biking we did in CB, but awesome still, there were tons of open range cattle on the way and on every trail we rode. I love open range cattle so much. I kind of just like cows I suppose.

Crested Butte Cows

I did not to get to cuddle any or slap any on the ass, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It is unfortunately but probably for the best.

Steph Cow Creeping

Anyhow, when we got to CB on Friday we settled in then hit the Alpineer for some trail beta. I wasn’t sure how we could need more trail beta after all of the map-looking and interneting we had done the night before, but it turned out to be extremely valuable information. Local bike shop knowledge is always valuable information, I’m not sure why I doubted it for even a millisecond.

Our Latitude 40 Map of Crested Butte and Taylor Park was spot on for every ride and all of trails in the area are extremely well signed. So, I’m not going to give detailed trail descriptions. Get a map, read signs.

Day 1: Green Lake Trail

Our “short” and “easy” ride.

With our newly acquired trail knowledge we headed out for our first ride.  The Green Lake Trail. It was a 4.5 mile out and back. The trail was really pretty and for the most part fairly smooth climbing gradually. There were some steep sections and the upper section of the trail got quite a bit rockier, but it was a pretty short section. On the way down we noticed that the leaves were starting to change and it made for some gorgeous views on all of our rides and some colorful trail decorations as well.

Green Lake Trail w/ Aspen leaves

We took our time knowing that we had a lot more riding ahead of us, but that didn’t stop us from zooming on the descent. It was a hoot and definitely a great way to start the weekend. The whole ride covered around 9 miles and took us probably just shy of 2 hours. My Garmin had died so I’m not 100% sure.

Post ride we had a hankering for margaritas. We wandered into Mexicali Grill and they had Beermargs on the menu! Well, they called them River Margs, but we prefer Beermarg or Cervesarita. Cheap beer + cheap tequila + limeade = surprisingly delicious. We agree.

Beermarg

Day 2: Reno/Flag/Bear/Doctor’s

The Big Ride.

Yea, shuttle logistics are a major pain in the ass. I hate shuttling, but I have made an exception for this ride not once, but twice and would do it again in a heartbeat. It is definitely in my top three most favorite rides in all of Colorado and after this weekend it might even be in the numero uno slot. I remembered the Doctor’s descent being fantastic, but I didn’t remember how insanely fun the descents before Doctor’s were too.

The climb up Reno Divide Road isn’t super fun, but totally tolerable and doable. Don’t drive it. Just ride it.

The Flag descent was way more fun than I remembered and I loved every second of it. There are a few rocky, rooty sections of climbing on Flag or Bear, not really sure where the trail switches, but most it is just beautiful rolling singletrack with cows.

Cows and Singletrack Crested Butte

The weather was crazy on us. The saying “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” could not have been more true this weekend. Coat on, coat off. Long sleeves on, long sleeves off. I think that means fall is in the air. Also, those fiery yellow aspen trees are a pretty strong sign of fall.

changing aspens crested butte

We pedaled and smiled and pedaled some more. Even with a big group we were moving right along and everyone was riding super strong.

group pedaling crested butte

The fun-factor on the descents of this ride builds. Flag is a hoot, the Bear Creek takes it up a notch. It traverses for a bit then heads into the woods and lets loose into fast fun trail on the edge of a gully with a few rocky sections a few sections of “root balls” and a whole lot of fast corners.

Bear Creek Trail Crested Butte

I remembered the climb up Doctor’s Gulch to Doctor’s Park being the worst climb ever. I was not looking forward to it, especially 20 or so miles in. Amazingly, it wasn’t that awful. It was steep and seemed long, but it was totally manageable. I’m not sure if my expectations were better or if I was riding stronger. Either way, it was worth every struggle of a pedal stroke.

The Doctor’s descent starts out rocky, rooty, and steep, but turns into the most perfect singletrack on the most perfect pitch with the most perfect turns through the most perfect aspen trees. I felt like I was flying, but I wanted to go faster. I giggled all the way down.

Doctor's Park descent

How do they make it so fun? I don’t think it could get any better.

GPS Route & Stats: Reno/Flag/Bear/Doctor’s (there was not 12,000+ feet of climbing, I’m not sure where Garmin got that. Probably 4,500 or so)

Day 3: The 401

The Classic Ride.

We had some Crested Butte newbies in our group so the 401 was a must. Last time I rode the 401 I really wasn’t all that impressed. This time, much more impressed.

We climbed the road. The climbing itself wasn’t that awful, but the cars and sheer amount of traffic on the road sucked pretty bad.

The views. Those didn’t suck.

Emerald Lake Crested Butte

We more than took our time on the road climb and enjoyed the outstanding vistas.

emerald lake girls

Once we hit the trail head we rested, fueled up and made the final push up the singletrack climb. All twelve or however many switchbacks. They were much easier than I remembered – steep, but nothing technical. My tired legs managed to get me up the hill pretty okay though.

401 crested butte

The day was clear and at the top of the climb the back of the Maroon Bells was in view. I never realized it was visible from the 401 so it was pretty cool to see.

Maroon Bells from 401

The beginning of the descent isn’t my favorite, but there are some ripping sections for sure. This time around the early turns and switch backs had a lot of brake bumps. Not that awesome. The traverse is really beautiful, but I’m afraid to look at anything because I might go crashing down the hillside since it is so exposed.

Once the trail isn’t so exposed and the descent through the aspens begins it was a hoot! I do not remember that at all from the last time we rode it. Give me aspen trees and a down hill and I’m stoked. Doesn’t matter if I’m on a bike, skis, or my feet. It rocks.

401 Aspens

The second climb was brutal. It was also covered in cow poo and eventually we were too. We mobbed through the descent and it was over way too quickly.

GPS Route & Stats: The 401

Day 4: 409.5

The new ride.

I was exhausted on Sunday. I wasn’t going to ride. Well, I wasn’t going to do a big ride, but somehow Evan convinced me. As always, I’m glad he did.

This was a new ride for the four of us that set-out on it. We didn’t want to shuttle which meant we had a lot of road to ride. More than we really thought. From what the map showed there were several ways to ride to the 409.5 trail, but from what we heard most were gruesome climbs and by climbs I mean hike-a-bikes. We opted for the longer ride with a lower suffer factor. I’m not sure that it was truly worth it. I might choose more suffering for a shorter duration next time around.

We parked on Brush Creek Road, zipped out to the highway and down to Cement Creek Road, up that for a bit then up Walrod trail, to 405 which is Warm Springs I believe, then to 402.5A which is also a segment of Doubletop, then to 409.5. It was about a 6 mile climb from the road much of which was traversy, but there were some steep climbs that were a bitch on the legs after four days of riding.

Where Walrod narrows down to singletrack was by far the worst. It was about 350 feet of vert over around .25 miles and it was loose and rocky. My legs would get up that on a good day!

After some more tough climbing and an amazing traverse around a valley, we made it to our destination – 409.5.

409.5 crested butte

It wasn’t my favorite descent, but it sure was good. There were more roots and rocks on this than any of our other descents and also some fun little jumps mixed in.

corner on 409.5

Overall the descent was a blast, but the ascent to descent ratio was a little off for my taste and the fun-factor of the trail wasn’t quite high enough to make up for it. Like I said, I’d consider the shorter ascent (hike-a-bike) next time. Also, with more time and fresher legs making the short climb to Strand Hill after the 409.5 descent would be worth it. It was tempting, but I don’t think my legs could have pedaled up another climb no matter how minimal.

We finished the ride at nearly 21 miles and I was 100% spent.

GPS Route & Stats: 409.5

After feeling like I haven’t been on my bike much, four amazing days and nearly 75 miles of riding has me itching for more high-country rides this fall and has made me a tiny bit less eager to ski for now.

What are your favorite mountain bike rides? 

Unplugged At Vagabond Ranch

I know I haven’t even finished my updates from the last trip we took, but this one is fresh on my mind and was a real treat.

Evan and I, both working in the outdoor industry, may not be bringing in the big bucks, but every once in a while we get some darn good perks. Evan has a buddy who owns a cable cam company, condorcam. Said friend happens to do some work for and up and coming guest ranch. When we received the email putting out the request for “talent” to come up to Vagabond Ranch to be filmed while hiking, biking, drinking coffee, relaxing and having fun for a few days we weren’t sure we fully understood. Evan clarified by responding with “So wait a minute… you’re basically looking for people to film while they shred bikes, hike, relax, and whatnot? Let me clear my calendar…”

And so we did. After a jam-packed weekend of wedding festivities for a couple of our friends, we packed our bags full of various outdoor clothing and gear and jumped in the truck. Monday we took our time heading up to Vagabond Ranch, which is north of Granby, CO and about two hours from Denver. We arrived midday and were delighted with the scenery and friendly welcome when we arrived. We had our pick of the rooms in Ranch House, so naturally we chose the one with the biggest bed.

Vagabond King Room

After settling in for a bit (um, and watching the end of Stage One of the US Pro Cycling Challenge), we threw on some bike clothes and headed out toward the trail where the cable cam was being set-up. We did a little helping, a little biking, a little exploring and a lot of taking in the amazing views and fresh mountain air. Eventually, the cable cam was set-up and we were ready to film a bit. Just as I started pedaling I felt a few tiny drops and they quickly got faster and harder until it was a complete downpour. The boys frantically got all of the gear covered and safe, while I went inside because I was cold. So helpful, I know.

That evening we made some dinner, did some hanging out and explored more of the buildings on the ranch property. Evan and I swore we’d be up early because we take our volunteer modeling very seriously. What do you know, the next morning we were the last ones up. Oops!

Our first task was to take a morning walk while drinking coffee. It was really tough, but we managed. We chatted and laughed as we leisurely walked over a bridge with a babbling creek below. Then it was off to the deck of River View which as the best view of the whole ranch to lounge in Adirondack style chairs and drink our coffee. Really rough life.

Once we finished our morning walk, we changed clothes for the next filming scene. On to hiking. We did a couple of laps of hiking with the cable cam following us. I like to think we only had to do it a couple of times because Evan and I nailed our parts.

Then it was on to biking! We did several laps with various groups of people, at different speeds, with dogs, without dogs. You know, to really show the diversity of options. Check out some of the still from the cable cam on Vagabond Ranch’s facebook page.

Vagabond Ranch Bike Ride

Once we had enough cable cam footage, it was time for a big trail ride. Evan and the owner of the ranch had planned out a crazy ride the night before. I wasn’t sure I was up for that ride, but I went with it. The three of us took off on the ride and the rest of the group, including the camera man, followed shortly after on dirt bikes. With GoPros rolling, we climbed up Illinois Pass Road which was a tough one, but doable. Then we took off on an amazing section of singletrack – Willow Creek. It was such an awesome trail and you could tell it wasn’t ridden as much as a lot of trail in Colorado. After 7-8 miles and some serious climbing we (well, I) was ready to start heading back. Just then the rest of the crew caught up with us. We did a bunch filming on some amazing singletrack descents and then the dirt bikes left us before our last (several) climbs of the day.

Rather than going back the way we came, we opted to climb up toward Illinois Pass further then connect into the Bill Creek trail which would bring us right back to the ranch and where we had been filming earlier in the day. The climb was brutal. There were definite hike-a-bike sections, but when we reached Bill Creek, which was part of the Continental Divide Tail, it was totally worth it. The trail was hardly ridden, loamy dirt, and had amazing views.

Bill Creek Trail

We definitely needed some rest after the final climb(s) yes, there were multiple. They probably were hardly climbs at all, but we’d been riding for a while. It wasn’t a high-mileage ride, but it was pretty intense, especially the climbing sections.

Bill Creek Top

I was getting cranky near the end of the ride, I’ll be honest. We had been riding for more than four and a half hours and I had no idea how much further it was. The fact that I haven’t done any big rides since the FT 40 really shows. Once we started descending, my crankiness disappeared. The descent was a ripping good time. It had a variety of terrain from steep and rocky to fast flowy corners. I immediately forgot about the dreadful climb. Soon, we were back at the ranch and greeted by the rest of the group on the porch recapping the excitement of the day.

We covered 15 miles. It sounds short, but believe me, it didn’t feel short! Look at all that climbing! [full ride]

We relaxed, prepared dinner, had a couple beers, and watched some of the day’s footage. It’s good. Believe me. And I promise to post some up when I get my hands on it. We finished off the evening with some glow in the dark Bocce ball. We didn’t want our time at Vagabond to end, so we decided to stay the night and get up super early to drive home for work. It was a painful drive home, but that will quickly fade and the memories of the great couple of days with no cell phones and only fun to focus on will remain.

Vagabond Ranch Sign

Our hosts were amazing and welcomed us back anytime. The ranch also has amazing winter opportunities and incredible access to backcountry skiing. We will be returning. Sooner than later.

 

 

Telluride: Day 2

So, I’m super slow on my updates from Telluride, but here’s day two. Day three should come a bit quicker as there isn’t as much to talk about. And incase you hadn’t ready or already forgot, here’s the day one recap.

Evan and I had a low-key Friday evening, which is usually the case on racing weekends and I’m totally fine with it. Since we were to bed early, we were up early even though we tried to stay asleep as long as possible. Before anyone else was really up Evan and I wandered town a little bit.

No wonder through town is complete without a visit to Baked In Telluride. Such freaking amazing baked goods. We both got morning sweet treats. A Buttermilk Bar for me and a Fruit and Cheese Danish for him.

baked in telluride

I  failed to mention that I also stopped by here the day before. I had a bagel, read the paper, and picked up some bread for lunch sandwiches also.

baked in telluride breakfast and bread

After our breakfast sweet treat we made and actual breakfast of eggs and sausage then it was time for riding bikes!

I jumped on the gondola and hit-up registration to register for Sunday morning’s super d, then got a few tips on a cross-country ride.

My ride was really mellow, but super fun. I hit the Jurassic trail, Meadow trail, Galloping Goose, and Valley Floor. None of these trails were very technical or even aerobically challenging, but boy were some of them turny, narrow, and fun!

I was headed back toward town on Valley Floor, but wasn’t really ready to be finished riding, so I pulled out my phone and looked up a ride that Evan had gotten from a buddy. I jumped off Valley Floor right near Mill Creek road and started climbing.It rained hard and the climb was extremely steep and rocky. I wasn’t making much progress, so I opted to turn around and head back toward town.

Post-ride I changed quick, did some work, then headed off to watch Evan race Super D. He did it on his downhill bike and killed it! We hung for a bit after and then returned to the condo for a late night dinner.

Where Is Summer Going? & Yoga Challenge Recap

Still a stranger over here. I’m hoping not to be though. I miss blogging for sure, but just have had tons of stuff going on. Like, seriously, it is August 8th? Where the eff did the summer go?

Here’s some recent whatnottery.

Yoga Challenge

Anyhow, my 30 days of yoga ended three days ago and I’m already missing it so much! If my wallet allowed I would still be going probably at least three days a week. I can and will still practice with videos or on my own, but I really feel like I focus more and get a deeper practice when I attend a class.

I don’t have much different to report since my mid-challenge check-in. I still was feeling great, very motivated, and was seeing definitely physical and mental benefits from my daily yoga practice. I was starting to feel tired and rundown near the end, but I don’t really think it was because of the yoga, except maybe the timing of the classes I chose. I was going to 6am classes 3-4 days a week and I think the early mornings were wearing me out.

I will find a way to keep up with yoga on a regular basis and think that I will eventually go through teacher training. If /when I complete teacher training I think I would try to teach some community classes just for the experience, but I would really utilize it to deepen my own practice.

So, anyone want to fund my yoga? LoL.

Mountain Biking

I honestly don’t feel like I’ve been on my mountain bike very much since the Fat Tire 40 and it isn’t because I wasn’t interested in biking after that long of a race. It is just because time slips away from me. Life is busy, but I’m not even sure with what. Does that ever happen to you?

I spent the last two weekends in the Aspen/Snowmass area and rode both weekends. It is gorgeous up there right now. Even though my rides weren’t super high altitude or epic in length, I totally enjoyed them. And yes, new helmet! Evan got me that for my birthday and I am in love with it. Unlike every other helmet I have ever had it sits straight on my head!

NewHelmetAtSnowmass

We went to the MSC Blast The Mass race in Snowmass this past weekend and I did do some xc riding and also some lift serve. I even ended up racing Super D on Sunday morning. It was Super FUN! Until I flatted that is. I cannot believe how much faster I went or at least felt like I went when I was surrounded by a group of gals all pushing it.

Snowmass Lift

Snowmass has a ton of new trails and I heard the views and descent from the very top were not to be missed, so I had to check it out. The views did not disappoint and the trail was pretty dang fun too. I took the new Vapor trail from the top all the way down the Vallhalla trail. It was a long ride with lots of turns and jumps. I think I heard rumor that just the Vapor trail is more than two miles long and had 70+ corners!

Vapor Trail Snowmass

I’m sure I’ve done tons of other stuff in the past month, but this the recent stuff that comes to mind. I’ll be posting about more adventures as they come!

Weekend Recap: Lazy Bones

Well, not so much lazy bones ALL weekend. Just part of it. Here’s the quick recap.

Friday

We met friends at Great Divide Brewery for happy hour(s!). The plan was a beer or two then home for dinner. The plan went by the wayside. Beers were delicious.

Great Divide Beers

We went out for dinner. I ate pizza again for I think the seventh day in a row. This time from a new place, Ignite!. It was decent.

It poured rain all night. It was glorious!

Saturday

Not surprisingly, since Friday’s plan went out the window, so did Saturday morning’s plan of getting up early to go ride bikes. Instead I was super freaking lazy. Finally by midday, I pulled myself together and headed out for a quick mountain bike ride. I demoed the carbon version of my current bike. It was love. But more on that some other time.

Following my bike ride, I headed to visit my Mom. We went shopping, but I didn’t buy anything. I did, however, get soaking wet. It is apparently Monsoon season here in CO now. Whatever that means. I’m fine with it as long as it isn’t in the triple digits again anytime soon.

hard rain

It was tough, but I drug myself off my Mom’s couch and headed home for a little yoga session.

yoga at home

Then Evan and I made a tasty dinner! I’ll post the recipe up sometime soon. It is worth making the quinoa for sure!

Cheesy Mexican Quinoa + Corn + Chili Lime Chicken.

quinoa, chicken, corn

Sunday

Sunday started off with much more motivation. Evan and I were both up and out the door early to ride bikes. Road for her, DH for him.

I met up with some girlfriends to go for a very damp, but super enjoyable ride. We had no particular route in mind, just kind of wandered. The fog was so thick that it felt like it was raining. We covered about 25 miles and about 2,000 feet of climbing.

road ride 07.08.2012

Immediately after our ride, I went to yoga. I thought it was the free beginner class. It was not. It was Yoga Sculpt. It was brutal. I was hungry and dehydrated and hot. In the end, good though.

I did some grocery shopping and started prepping food for the week and for dinner. It started downpouring. Again. This might have been the hardest rain I’ve ever seen.

downpour golden porch

Evan and I planned to have my Mom and Duke over for dinner since my Dad is out-of-town. On the menu was Heirloom Tomato and Peach Salad with Pork Tenderloin and Pineapple relish. Heirloom tomatoes are not easy to find and when you find them, they are not cheap.

Dinner was prepped and I braved the rain to grill the pork. Just on time, my Mom and Duke arrived. Duke had apparently been digging before the left home. Too cute.

duke dirt beard

Dinner was so good. The tomatoes were worth every penny and all of the running around. Recipe to come.

heirloom tomato salad and pork

The weekend drew to a rainy close and I slept like a baby to the sound of it. I do miss regular rain.

 

How was your weekend? Did you have any good eats? Go on any adventures? 

Steph Evan Creek July 4th

America’s Birthday

The fourth of July falling on a Wednesday seems a little strange, but we took advantage of the mid-week day off to go on a little adventure and celebrate my birthday a day early.

Cross Country Ride

Our plan was not much of a plan but more of an idea of what we may or may not do. We knew riding bikes was going to be part of it and it was decided pretty last-minute that it would be in the Winter Park/Fraser Valley area.

Not knowing what traffic would be like, we hit the road early, but still later than planned, of course. No traffic. So amazing. We rolled through Winter Park and into Fraser to stop into a local bike/coffee shop, Totally Wired/Rocky Mountain Roastery, and get some trail beta since our efforts to search out the route, directions or a map were unsuccessful.

When we mentioned that we were going to try to ride High Lonesome/Caribou/Strawberry the owner of the shop replied “Do you want me to draw you a map of something way better than that?” to which we responded, “hell yea!”

Directions were given, the map was draw. We were on our way with this guy in hand.

Ride Map From Wade

Afraid of getting lost, not in the least bit. Even though I’m a worry wart when it comes to getting lost on rides, I was more confident with this map than a real map because we had detailed markers and way-points. Also, this is not the first map like this we’ve gotten from the same person. He hasn’t failed us yet.

The ride was really incredible. Brand new, barely there trail, great views, and overall just really fun to ride.

4th ride 2012

The ride was fairly short, even with a minor detour at the beginning we were only riding for about 2.5 hours. When we hit the end of the descent, we opted to boogie to the car, eat, and head to Winter Park to ride DH rather than riding more XC.

Downhilling

At Winter Park we caught up with some friends for a few laps and finished off the day with a lap or two on our own. I am getting better and better each time I ride DH. Riding rougher terrain, going faster, cornering better, riding bigger features and building confidence on jumps.

Sleepy Monkey Batch #2 Tasting

I was getting anxious for a Sleepy Monkey near the end of the day, so we headed to the car. I was excited for my first full beer since the end of my 30-day challenge. Evan and been patiently waiting to have  Sleepy Monkey for my birthday. It was just as delicious as the first batch Evan brewed!

Sleepy Monkey Batch 2 Tasting

We took our Sleepy Monkeys down to the creek and chatted with some other folks that we’d met up with and enjoyed the cool fresh water. Please notice Evan’s new Chacos. He is very excited about them and I was jealous of them when he could walk through the water with them on and I had to go barefoot because my flip-flops weren’t up to the task.

Steph Evan Creek July 4th

Dinner: DeAntonio’s Pizza!

After a couple of beers, I had pizza on the brain (when don’t I though?). Not just any pizza. The best pizza in all of Colorado. We hit up DeAntonio’s for my somewhat traditional birthday meal.

We scarfed some super amazingly fresh garlic knots and an unpictured antipasto salad, which was a highlight of the meal.

garlic knots

We’ve never ordered a full pizza before so we gave it a shot and got a pepperoni pizza. It was delicious, but not as thin and doughy as the slices. Maybe if we ordered a larger size it would have been? Still no real complaints from me. I loved it.

deantonios pepperoni pizza

With full bellies and tired muscles we hit the road back home. Luckily, no traffic again! We were beat by the time we got home and could barely even change into our pajamas for bed.

Yesterday was a perfect day! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday, um, and America’s Birthday. Looking forward to continuing my birthday celebrations today!

How was your 4th of July? What did you do? Are you working the rest of the week? 

Wildflower Rush: Fat Tire 40 Recap

I did it! I completed my first ever mountain bike races! I finished the Fat Tire 40 cross country race on Saturday and was feeling good enough to race the downhill race on Sunday morning. Me tired. Still.

Fat Tire 40

This was by far the most challenging athletic event I have ever participated in. All of the marathons and training or the nearly twenty years of gymnastics I did do not compare to the challenge of this race.

I didn’t really train. I rode my bike. But I had no training plan, schedule, or goals.

I knew it would be difficult, but I had no idea how difficult or demanding.

I hadn’t ridden in a few days, so I definitely wanted to get a ride in before Saturday. We didn’t make it to Crested Butte in time for me to ride on Thursday night, so Friday morning I got after it. There was a bit of the course I hadn’t ridden and didn’t even know what to expect, so I figured I’d ride that. It was technical, steep, and mostly climbing. Probably not the best idea to put those kind of miles in the day before the biggest ride I’ve ever done in my life. I was trying to go easy though, I swear.

upper upper pre-ride

Saturday morning I was so nervous I could barely even make my oatmeal let alone eat it. I tried hard then attempted to eat an egg and a tortilla. I don’t think much actually made it down my gullet.

Evan was so awesome and supportive and escorted me to the start line, made sure I was warmed up, checked my tires (I had a little leak but he fixed it up!), and then when I freaked because I didn’t have my number plate he sprinted up to the condo to get it for me and put it on my bike while I made trip number 721 to the bathroom for the morning.

I asked Evan a million questions about how the start (and the whole race) would go. He’s never raced cross country, but he continued to provide what insight he could.

I was all lined up in the start coral and watched pro men go, pro women, cat 1s, wildcat men, then finally last wildcat ladies! Woohoo!

It was a neutral start so we followed a car up the road for about a mile and a half. Evan recommended that I get to the front of the pack before hitting single track, but that was definitely not happening. I was undoubtedly at the end of the pack when we hit dirt.

I fell into a good groove with some ladies right from the start. I was grateful to be behind someone so I didn’t push it too hard on the very first climb.

At some point after the climb to the top of the resort, I am pretty sure I got off course for like a quarter-mile. Don’t worry, it did not help me beat anyone. I rejoined the group just down a dirt road and continued zipping through the rolling sections and down the front side of the mountain to the Upper Loop.

Through the descent I followed another gal who kept asking if I wanted to pass since I was hot on her heels and I think she was quite surprised by my response of “you’re good, just keep on.”

Somewhere early in the upper loop I wasn’t prepared for a technical section and I crashed. I thought for sure my elbow was gushing blood, but it wasn’t.

I carried on. The climb was tough, but eventually it was over. The descent was pretty good. Then it was road time.

I chatted with another gal and a fella from Houston on the road and we were all in agreement that the race was going to be really tough.

The flat fast road ended too soon then we started climbing again. Up to Strand Hill. It got steeper and steeper and rockier and rockier. My legs were dead. I couldn’t get solid food down. Gu and gummies were my only option.

Finally we hit the top of the climb and ripped through the fast flowing descent of Strand Hill. I was following another gal and had no need to go any faster. The break from climbing was welcomed, but I knew it wasn’t over and I was already feeling exhausted.

We hit the canal trail and headed toward Brush Creek Road and Aid station 1, but not before crossing the canal. It was deep. Most people were carrying their bikes across. I attempted to just plow through. I made it within a foot of the bank and was wet up to my waist. My poor bike.

Covered in mud I hit the first aid station. I refilled my water, chomped some Shot Blocks and stashed some to go. I had already devoured a package of chews I brought and all of my Gu. I was also extremely grateful that the man at that aid station had sunscreen. In my nervous state, I had completely forgotten it and already felt like I was approaching lobster state by the midway point.

After the aid station I had a long haul up a dirt road. It seemed endless and increasingly steep. I was baking in the sun and the wind was whipping straight at my face. I was questioning whether or not I should have continued on.

With a tiny respite of rolling terrain I attempted to regain a positive outlook before what I knew was a bitch of a climb up Deer Creek.

The Deer Creek climb basically sucked my will to live. I was convinced that after that climb I would be calling it quits at the next aid station.

During the climb my legs were cramping, seizing, twitching, and any other negative thing muscles can do. Honestly, I was a bit scared that I just physically wouldn’t be able to continue. But what do you do? Go back? Nope, I was not going back nearly 6 miles.

Each time my legs cramped I just stopped on the side of the trail, gave them a minute, did a little massaging and chugged water and electrolytes.

Finally, the hike-a-bike was over. Rolling terrain with amazing views were the reward. I was so tired I could barely enjoy them.

The woman just in front of me kept me going. She happen to be a local and assured me that there wasn’t much more climbing. But there was. It was short and not technical, but after 28 miles it was still a hike-a-bike for me.

Granny gear was my best friend.

By the time I we (my local friend, and the fella from Houston) hit the second aid station I had regained my mental state and knew I was going to finish. Water, fuel, some chitchat and I was off again.

Climbing Gothic Road didn’t seem as terrible with another new buddy to chat with. I explained that this was the most challenging thing I’d ever done and she appreciated that so much. It also made me realize that this ride was tough for everyone. I wasn’t alone in my battle against the Fat Tire 40.

Once we hit singletrack again, climbing back up the resort, I let the ladies I was riding with go, so I could text Evan and let him know I was going to finish this race and it would hopefully be soon. He was such an amazing fan! I took out my phone to an awesome message and got another when I checked my phone after the finish.

evan texts FT40

The climb up the resort was kind of a kick in the pants, but it wasn’t technical or super steep. The descent was long and fun. I had done it last year when I was there. I was so tired though that the tiniest technical sections forced me off the bike for fear that I would hurt myself if I tried to ride them.

As I neared the finish I could see Evan in his neon pink jersey waiting for me. I couldn’t wait to get there and give him a hug.

I also couldn’t get chocolate milk off my mind.

I cross the finish line safely after 6 hours and 6 minutes. I cried for probably the tenth time during the race.

FT40 Finish

I was exhausted, but didn’t want to die. It was a weird feeling. Excited, relieved, whooped, sore, you name it.

It was a huge ride.

2012 FT40 Strava

I downed some chocolate milk and high-fived some of the gals that finished right before me.

The ride was amazing. I cannot express how wonderful the folks around me on the ride were. Every single one was so encouraging, positive, and friendly. I don’t think I would have been so confident in pushing through to the end without each and every one of them. I hope that I am lucky enough to cross paths with some of them again in the future.

I finally took off my shoes and headed back toward the condo. Evan pushed my bike. And his. He is awesome.

I was filthy. Shower was mandatory. ASAP.

Dirty Legs

I showered, I ice bathed, I ate, I foam rolled, I went back to the base area to watch Evan race Super D, I ate more, I went to bed.

Such a good tired.

Downhill Race Recap to come. I’m too wordy to write both up in one post.

 

What is the most challenging athletic event you’ve ever completed?

I’m Going To Race…Bikes

Obviously I ride my bikes (all of them) a lot, but it has always been purely for fun. No goals. No training. No racing. Just riding.

Well, that’s about to change this weekend. I have only done one bike race of any sort and it was a non-traditional format, but I had a blast. Finally, I have decided to give mountain bike racing a try. After proclaiming that I shouldn’t race because I’m too competitive, it just isn’t my thing, or any other reason that pours from my mouth when someone asks why I don’t race, I realized that if I don’t try it, I’ll never know.

Evan races in the Mountain States Cup series all summer long so I usually go to most of the races but head out on my own to do some sort of big cross-country ride. This weekend at the Wildflower Rush in Crested Butte I’ll be heading out on a big cross-country ride, but it won’t just be on my own. It will still be for fun though. I going to race the Fat Tire 40 in the open category. I love Crested Butte and the riding there is incredible, so I figured this would be a great way to challenge myself, ride new trails, and see more of what Crested Butte has to offer.

FT40 Map

That’s 40 miles on dirt with somewhere upwards of 5,000 feet of climbing. The website says 7,800 and that’s what I’ve been preparing for, but other maps and sources seem to show less. So that should explain some of the crazy climbing and extra miles I’ve been doing lately.

Start with an easier race you say? Nah, my first running race ever was a full marathon.

Oh and if I survive the 40-mile cross-country race, I’m going to race the downhill on Sunday.

I have ridden the downhill track at Crested Butte before and it is super fun. Nothing on it is super scary to me, so I thought it was a good first downhill race even if it is after the biggest cross-country ride I will have ever completed.

So now I’ve proclaimed it to the whole internet world that I’m going to race. I guess that means I really have to and I should probably register. Eeek!

Do you ease into racing/competition or dive right in?

Breakfast

I have been struggling with my smoothie making lately. This was the worst of them, but there were some others that weren’t that awesome either. This morning I finally got one right!

Berry Smoothie with Granola

Today’s mix included:

  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 scoop peanut butter protein powder (couldn’t taste peanut butter flavor)
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • 1 Tbs. flaxseed meal
  • 2-3 Tbs. rolled oats
  • Granola on top

It was super thick, but really tasty! I don’t normally add any toppings to my smoothies, but the crunch from the granola was a nice addition today.

berry smoothie with granola on top

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

Feeling Flat

I had an amazing weekend and Monday was, well, a Monday. I’ll recap the weekend which included a trip to Vail and a super fun mountain bike ride on Cougar ridge from Vail to Minturn, but I’m waiting on photos. I was a slacker and didn’t take any or have my GPS, so it would be a boring post if I wrote it now.

Lodge at Vail Pool View

In general, I’m feeling tired, sore, and in need of rest and the past few days have made that very apparent.

Workout – Monday

Yesterday morning I planned on heading to the gym to do some strength training, but when I opened the door to a cool morning I couldn’t resist running. Cool weather is hard to come by here in Colorado lately. We’ve had mid-90s temps for a few days now. It is kind of unbearable if you ask me.

I ran down to the park the stopped and did my strength circuits plus an extra just for fun.

outdoor workout station

Circuit 1

  • Front & back lunges – 6x each, each side
  • Incline push ups on low bar – 15x
  • Burpees – 15x
  • Repeat

Circuit 2 

  • Lateral pull-ups on medium bar – 15x
  • Hanging tucked leg lifts – alternating sides – 6x each
  • Squat jumps – 15x
  • Repeat

Circuit 3

  • Tricep dips – 15x
  • Reverse crunches on bench – 15x
  • Lunge jumps, alternating – 10x each side
  • Repeat

I ran home for a total of a little over 2 miles of running, but it felt like a lot more with those circuits mixed in!

Biking/Commute

Evan and I drove to work, but planned on riding home together. I love being able to commute with Evan. It is great to have a buddy and helps me push harder, slow down, spin more, support me or whatever it happens to be that I need on the particular day. Yesterday, it was just someone for support and to tell me to shift and spin instead of mashing my pedals.

I was tired. My legs weren’t burning or hurting, they  just wouldn’t go. I felt tired through my whole body and no matter how much I shifted, pedaling still wasn’t getting any easier.

We still made it home in reasonable time, about 53 minutes from my office, and I was thrilled to get off the bike.

The morning workout + uphill commute + nearly 100 degree temps beat me up.

Mountain Biking

Clearly, I needed some rest after yesterday’s ride home and this morning’s very sore legs, but I don’t take well to rest days, so I attempted a mountain bike ride this morning before work. It wasn’t my best ride, I didn’t make it far, I fell when I shouldn’t have, but ya know what, it was still awesome to be outdoors getting sweaty before a day in the office.

Bike Shadow

I only rode for about 30 minutes and kept it super easy to hopefully just get my legs moving enough to work out some of the tightness.