Monday, September 27, 2010

Chequamegon 2010: Cramping my style....

I've done the Chequamegon 40 mile mountain bike race 6 times now. I love all there is about it. My friends that race it. My friends that come to watch. The hundreds of people that watch all along the way. The feeling that you get when you come down that last hill and make the big "U" turn and climb back up the hill and cross the finish line. Even though I finish way in the back, I still can hear my buddies hollering my name as I pedal that last 50 yards or so to the finish. That is a simple joy that always makes me smile. Competition for some, but the joy of pedaling for most everyone else, myself included. So what drives me crazy is cramps. It doesn't matter how good or how bad I feel, I always get cramps around mile 32.

This year, my heart rate was too high the first 15 miles, but then it settled down and I felt great. My bike was performing fabulously. My full suspension bike loved the rocky, rutted out fire roads, and I found myself passing people on these rougher stretches. The week in Breckenride, CO was paying off in that respect. But, in the back of my mind I kept thinking, when are the cramps going to hit? As usual, after Firetower Hill, at about the 32 mi mark, I had my first spasm in my left quad. I stayed on the bike and massaged it out. Rode for another mile and they hit again. I got off the bike for a few minutes and rubbed it out. This seemed to be the pattern. Ride a mile, get cramps, massage, ride another mile, get cramps. I started walking up hills that I would have no problem pedaling, trying to keep them at bay. I finally thought I had it made, but, they hit again so bad I was off the bike about 2 mi from the finish. After they subsided, I pedaled until 1/2 mi left, all I had to do was ride down the hill and back up to the finish. They hit hard, again my left quad and then my left hamstring at the same time. I had thrown the bike down on the ground, and a spectator was holding my bike, encouraging to me "just throw your leg over and hop on, you'll be fine, only 1/2 mile left!" The guy obviously never had cramps before. Finally, I got on and made it the last 1/2 mi. I was so disappointed to see the time, 3:45. My slowest race ever, and 15 minutes slower then last year. At one point during the race, I felt so good, I was hoping for a personal best. Effing cramps. They have taken the joy out of the race for me. Part of me wants to quit doing the race, because the pain and frustration are so great, year after year.

But, then I think of all the things I love about the race, the things I listed earlier. I decided that I'm not going to let 15-20 minutes of cramps change my love of the race. Bastards! I'll just keep researching cramps and trying to find the right concoction of electrolytes or witch's brew that works. Here's something I found that I may try. Even though the company is in New Zealand, they have a distributor in Canada and the US. Maybe it'll be the Kiwi solution for 2011.

Anyway, here is a short pictorial of Chequamegon 2010. Leading off is Dave...

Dave finished 92nd overall, 82nd in his age group. GREAT RIDE!!
You made us all proud.

Loading up Friday.

This cabin beat the hell out of the one we stayed in last year!

John and Bob trying to figure out where all of our crap is going to go.

Dave is contemplating 2:30, Bill is contemplating his "own personal hell."

Matt making salad.

The group. Thanks to Madonna, Berger, Larry, and CJ for taking the time to ride up and support us!
Photo taken by Luke.

My email buddy, Scott. We finally got to meet face to face!

A little bit muddy.

Loading up Sunday morning. Four bikes and gear.

Sunday morning, just before we left.

The weekend was dedicated to our good friend, Larry Cain. One thing we always said about Larry, that guy could ride!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Breck 2010 or, picking up guys in a bar is a good thing...

Well, the bride and I arrived in Breckenridge on Sunday afternoon Aug 29. Got into our condo and headed off to the Breckenridge Brewery. This has been a tradition of sorts for several years, to go there on the first night. We've gotten to know a couple of the bartenders and we've had good conversations sitting at the bar meeting new people as well. This year was no different. I was speaking to a young couple on their honeymoon from Wisconsin. A few snippets of our conversation: "We got married in the spring, but, we're farmers and couldn't get away till now." "I was never in a plane before until last week." "Driving in the mountains is pretty scary." "It sucks that you have Brett Favre, ha, ha, ha!" Actually, they were very nice, and the fact that they made their own organic ice cream was interesting to me, since we were once in that business. I even managed to steer the conversation to mountain biking. Imagine that. Diane was engaged in a conversation with a couple on her side of the barstools. The husband came over to me and said he heard me talking bikes, and asked if we could ride together the next day. I said sure. Turned out he was from New Jersey, and had been out there a few days celebrating his wife's 50th birthday. Chris and I decided to meet the next morning and rent bikes. I knew where I wanted to go, and that was up the Burro trail, to a place called Crystal Lake. The elevation is over 12,000 feet.

Here's Chris and I after the ride. We never made it to Crystal Lake. It was drizzling and cold, with patchy fog. Neither of us were dressed for that type of weather. We decided it would be much smarter to head back down. We still managed to get well over 11,000 feet. Riding with Chris was fun. He's similar to me, more of a roadie then mtb, but likes both sports. He's also a veteren of the Mt. Washington Road Race in New Hampshire.
Chris had great legs for the climbs on the Burro trail, but the altitude was getting to him as well! After the ride, we went to Rasta Pasta with our wives and had the Natural Mystic, a curry pasta dish with chicken and pineapple. They had bananas added to it was well. Chris, it was great to ride with you, let's do it again next year!

The 2nd night, we went back to the Breckenridge Brewery, because I knew Dave was bartending. The picture above is from last year. He offered to take me out last year and I chickened out. This year, he asked me again, and I decided I better take him up on his offer. He took me on trails I hadn't ridden before, which was a welcome change. I don't have any pictures of our ride, because I was chasing him the whole time. He runs a single speed 32x18 gear, and he climbed every hill without a problem. He's a very strong rider (and patient as well). We ended up with about 20 miles. It was a lot of fun to have someone to ride with and to see new trails. A big thanks to Dave for taking me out.

On Friday, I decided to re-ride some of the trails that Dave took me out on. I wanted to get some photos of the trails. There are 3 Flume trails, Upper, Middle, and Lower. We rode all 3. We also went on the Colorado, and Blair Witch Trails. The photos below are all Flume trails.

Dave kept telling me I needed to rent a Santa Cruz "Tall Boy". It's a full carbon, full suspension, 29" bike.
It was comfortable and rode great. I'm not sure I like the 29r style bike for short, steep switch backs. It would be great here in the mid-west. I'll have to try it again next year.

On Thursday, I decided to try and climb to Crystal Lake again. As you can see by the photo above, it was a glorious day! I rented a Yeti ASR 5 full carbon, full suspension 26" bike. This bike was incredible! I rode it for two days and loved it. It would be my next bike.
This is part of the "road" to Crystal Lake. The lake is about 1/2 mile from this point. I was only able to ride about 1/3 that distance.

You can read the elevation, 12,015 feet. I started out at 9,608. It took me 2h 7m to go 6.3 miles! Now, I did stop and take many pictures and videos along the way, but, that probably accounted for 15 minutes. I have videos posted below this posting.
I love this spot! This is part of the Baker's Tank trail. It's interesting because the trail turns red after being gray, and it's only red for a short distance. That's the Yeti leaning on the rock, Beely style!
I took this shot on the Sallie Barber mine road. I missed the turn and had to double back. This is a valley and there are a few nice house back in there. I have no idea how they access their homes in the winter. The road isn't too bad, but, I can't imagine how much snow they must get.

It was a great trip again this year. I was able to ride a bike all 5 days we were there. Thanks to my wife for being so understanding! I also want to thank John, Rich, and Mark at Avalanche Sports. The kept me in bikes and gave me a fabulous deal on the rentals. Thanks guys!

I have several videos posted below, please check them out!