Category Archives: Race Reports

Coconino 250 race report

I raced the stage race format of Coconino 250 Oct 5th - 8th. Quite a bit off the back with this blog post but life has been moving fast since then!

I initially preferred the concept of the ITT (non-stop race format) over the stage race format (official stopping points on course for the night where the race clock stops ticking). I hadn't raced a bikepacking stage race before and by experiencing new things I learn things from the athlete perspective which makes me a better coach. The stage race format is flexible and each day you start when you decide. I put a few thoughts about the stage race format on bikepacking.net.

I am taking a motorcycle repair class at the local college. I didn't want to miss my Thursday evening class so I decided to drive to Flagstaff on Friday morning and start late on day 1. In retrospect I would make a bigger effort to make it to the recommended start time. I missed out on meeting and visiting with everybody before the start.

Stage 1, finish time 6:35. The 5 hour drive from home to the start plus the riding felt like a long day. About 5 hours into the stage I finally admitted I was feeling really bad. I felt like I had a fever and no power. I couldn't eat. The only calories I got in were some unflavored Tailwind sports drink I was testing. That stuff got me 5 hours in before I cracked. I got off my bike, sat down and quit the race. I was sick - bleh. DH had been sick most of the week and I hadn't been feeling well all the day before but was in denial. I was low on water so I got back on my bike and rode up still on course to the ADOT water spigot. I lay down there for a while contemplating my options. I could hitch hike back to Flagstaff and get a motel - bleh. I could ride up to camp 1 and sleep there as it wasn't far. I did that. I felt awful but was stoked to get to camp before sunset as it was tremendous.

Here is me feeling like I have the flu.

It was quite the view and I was so happy to be standing there in the fresh air feeling like crap looking at that fab view rather than in a motel in Flagstaff

The sun set over Mingus mountain which was the end destination for stage 2.

Stage 2, finish time 11:00: I slept hard all night and woke up after the sun had risen in the morning. I was really hungry and had a good chow down. I hadn't eaten much the day before and had a lot of food left. I felt pretty decent so decided to continue on with the race. I hadn't strayed off course so my quitting and unquitting was all in my head!

I bombed down to Sedona and skipped all the resupply points because I still had so much food left! Keps' Balls are my magic ride fuel.

Sedona was going to be a challenging day as my GPS was not working and I had been confident enough in it that I had not printed out any cue sheets - oops - lesson learned. I was slightly familiar with the route from prior riding in Sedona. I caught up to Michael Braun and had a blast riding with him for a couple of hours. Up to that point I had been riding lazily as I wasn't feeling very well. Michael was rocking the technical trails, he has skills! I picked up my pace to follow him. It was much faster than I had been riding, woke me up and was very fun.

We parted ways on the Lime Kiln trail when Michael decided to stop for a snack and I decided to hightail it to Cottonwood to find a bike shop before my rear tire exploded. I noticed in Sedona a missing knobby and a slash in the sidewall. This race was turning out to be a comedy of errors on my part! I had been riding this tire since early May and I raced Grand Loop on this very tire. Lesson learned - get some new tires before a 250 mile race - that was a lazy/cheap/dumb move for me to race on an old tire. At least I had refreshed the Stans and I made it to the bike shop without a hiccup.

However the bike shop was closed. Drats... I pondered my next move when a guy rolled up in a truck with a bike. He was a friend of the owner and called him - no answer. Then another gentleman rolled up on a bike. He had keys to the shop Sultana Cycles. He let me in and I helped myself to a new tire, stans, and their air compressor. I was stoked to get a WTB TCS tire which I have had good luck with in the past. I gave him all the cash I had and an IOU note to the owner. They were so nice to let me bust into their shop and help myself to what I needed!! Thanks Sultana Cycles.

Next up I hit Safeway, bought way too much food cause I was still hungry and rolled out of town with happy new rubber on my rear wheel.

The ride up Mingus mountain road was super and I looked forward to the single track part. The single track was unrideable and a stupid place to be with a bike. It was a drag. It was hard to hike even. Loose footing and big ledges led to my only crash of the race - a hiking crash! I heaved my front end up a ledge but the bike didn't stick on the ledge and rolled back down again. The momentum of catching my bike pushed me backwards down the trail. As I tried to stop it, my left foot slipped into the air, off the edge of the mountain, my ass quickly followed along with my head and bike. We tumbled down about 20 feet off the edge. I came to a stop sitting up looking down at a nice view of Cottonwood in the valley with my bike on top of me. I was grumpy getting my loaded bike and myself up out of that mess of scratchy bushes and back on to the trail. No real damage sustained other than a significant dent to my friendly demeanor.

I arrived at camp 2 at the top of Mingus mountain as the sun was in the tops of the trees and the air was starting to cool. Ray had a nice fire going already and it was very welcoming. I liked that a lot and the suffer of the hike-a-bike faded. I had a ton of food still with me so I decided to eat as much of it as I could because I was tired of carrying it. I think I ate 2 dinners before sleeping that night.

Stage 3, finish time 10:12. I felt the best of the race so far. No flu and good legs. I started after most everybody else so I had lots of tracks to follow. I was having fun following tracks and navigating using the "force" seeing as I didn't have maps, a working gps or cue sheets (that would be a triple dumb...). I missed out Coyote spring because of this however this turned out to be a dumb luck move as the spring was yuk green with a dead rat floating in it I was told later. I got a few Stans showers off my front wheel as it shed goat heads. I was glad I put in a double dose before the race and some extra at the bike shop in Cottonwood too. Stans is amazing stuff and it plugged up everything. Never ever ride in Arizona without it.

I filtered a full load of water at Verde River, visited with Jay, Keith, Les and Jill and left with a belly so full I was burping for an hour. I felt great on the climb out of the Verde river valley. I love to climb and it was hot - just how I like it. I went back and forth with with Keith a few times, then for a while our pace matched and it was nice to chat and ride. Keith stopped and I didn't. I only stopped one more time that day for a little sit down and snack before the finish. The trail up and down Bill Williams mountain was surprisingly rideable and enjoyable.

I rolled into Williams and ran into Dave See, Ernesto, Dave and Michael all checking into the hotel opposite Safeway. I did the same. Safeway deli served up a very nice dinner.

Stage 4, finish time 8:11. I thought staying in a hotel would make getting going the next day easier but it was quite the opposite. I was less efficient with my stuff spread all over the room and the bed was warm and comfy! I started out much later than I had planned. My GPS had started working again after I dropped it on the bathroom floor in the hotel. I put the cues on my iPhone and I had a map and track on there too. Things were looking up for me to actually finish this event!

After some flat roads out of Williams stage 4 hit Sycamore Canyon. Wow! This was the race highlight for me. So pretty.

Any remote semblance to racing vanished and I turned full tourist. I took photos and hiked out to every view point to look down into the canyon. The trail was super fun too. Tech enough to be interesting and easy enough to stay on the bike. Perfect.

On some flat roads after Sycamore canyon I caught up with the California crew of single speeders, Ernesto, Dave and Dave. We had a casual stop at the Texaco with Jay sitting in the shade chatting for a while. Jay set out then shortly after I rolled off while the CA boys were still relaxing. Then my GPS stopped working again and I rode off course again - gah. I made lots of wrong turns but figured most of them out thanks to a nice set of Specialized Captain tracks. When I couldn't see the Captains I knew I was off course. Having the cues this day helped a lot too.

Just before the final descent was a crew of Coco racers who had dropped out of the race for various reasons cheering - that was pretty cool. Rich Wolf took this great photo of me and caught me in my happy place. Just 5 miles of super sweet descending on the Arizona Trail and a few wrong turns were between me and the finish-line. I was actually going to finish this one despite my far from perfect execution.

Race results are here. I set a new female course record of 35 hours and 57 minutes.

I do recommend this route and race even though the hike-a-bike up Mingus mountain is ridiculous. Beautiful scenery the whole way and the final descent is such an incredible grand finale it is the best finish prize I could ask for.

LW’s 2011 Arizona Trail Race 300 Adventure

Last weekend I raced Arizona Trail Race 300. For me it wasn't as much a race as a personal adventure. No woman had ever finished it before. It was big, tough and intimidating and finishing looked to be a huge personal challenge. Finishing AZT is no gimme.

The short story is I had the race of my life, absolutely loved it and not only achieved my #1 goal of  finishing but was the first racer across the finish line to take the overall win in 3 days, 4 hours and 5 minutes. It was always about me and myself and doing the best I could at any given time on the course to ensure I finished. Every decision I made out there was based on the goal to finish, not the goal to win. This year on AZT the conditions were tougher than ever. We had the highest attrition rate in the history of the event with 22 starters, 4 finishers and 18 DNF's. Finishing turned out to be a winning strategy this year.

Now for the blow-by-blow long version:

In true Dave and Lynda fashion we were late to the start!! We arrived in time to see everyone else start and wave them off - oops. We got a ride to the start with Kurt and Caroline. Kurt somehow cruised out with the main group on time! Being a 2 time winner and course record holder he clearly had it together. I was feeling super nervous, not all that together and a little crazy before the start. My head was buzzing...did I have everything I needed...did I have too much stuff...all these little bits and pieces...did I really need waterproof pants...should I take my knife...do I have the track on my gps...is my head still attached...will my legs work...are my fingers really broken... I'd crashed hard 11 days prior and thought I might have 2 broken fingers on my right hand. I hadn't had them x-rayed as I really wanted to do AZT...they didn't work quite right...

(After the race I went to the Dr, nothing was broken but 2 fingers, right middle and pinkie, were dislocated, which explains why they were not working. They were ok riding for the most part. The hard part was stuffing my sleeping bag in a tight little bag).

Pic is of me checking over everything before we start and leave the "safe" parking lot. My full set up details are on Bikepacking.net


Big thanks to Caroline Soong for these start photos. I didn't pack a camera.

DH was ready to start before me. He waited for me and humored my pre-race frenetics. He has seen it 100 times and says the success of my race is directly proportional to how wound up I am before the start!! He smiles and pats my shoulder and says I'll be fine.

We rolled out together 18 mins late. It was perfect for me to start behind the main group so I had space to calm down and get in my ride groove.

I let DH ride on ahead and took about 30 very mellow minutes to get a feel for riding with the weight on my bike, calm my nerves and settle down into my happy place. I passed DH sitting under a tree with Marshall. Marshall looked flushed and hot. Not good so early in... I thought DH was just visiting with Marshall but later found out that was the start of his DNF causing blisters. Marshall pulled out with the start of heat stroke not long after. It was hot!!

Marshall snapped this shot of me as I cruised by his shady spot

I'd pre-ridden the Canello Hills with bigger gears and less fitness in December so they seemed much easier this time around. I started to catch and pass racers. I asked peoples names. I wanted to know who everyone was as I expected to be riding for 3-4 days with them, seeing them again and maybe camping with them. It was fun to check out all the bike set-ups as I went by.

Patagonia seemed to come up in a flash and I filled up my 29oz bottle with coke and ice for the ride in to Sonoita...mmm that was a treat after the heat in the Canello Hills. Before Sonoita at mile 43 my period started...bleh...what timing...stupid girl parts...I had to take extra time at Sonoita to change into my spare shorts, wash my old pair, wash me, buy tampons etc. I was annoyed to have another thing to manage while I was trying to keep it all as simple as possible. It was nice so early in the race to have a clean pair of shorts and a clean me tho!! Eric Foster was taking what looked to be a siesta in the shade outside the store. I was back on the road asap with another 29oz of ice cold coke in my bottle.

Next up was some easy cruising up to the Kentucky Camp mile 60 water refill spot where I visited with Brad Mattingly. The race seemed very social up to this point and I enjoyed meeting and chatting with folks. I filled up my 100 oz bladder, stuffed it in my pack and ripped the tube off the bladder. The water spurted out of the bladder and soaked everything. No tragedy as I was still at the sink to get more water and it was hot enough to dry everything out quickly. It was a big red flag for me. I had better be careful with that. If I spill water away from a water source in this heat it would be a costly mistake. It was a lesson I paid attention to.

I cruised off out of Kentucky Camp with Brad sure I'd be seeing lots more of him on course. I wondered where DH was. I was sure he would have caught and passed me by now. We had both planned to be independent for this race and ride together lots if it worked out and we were really lucky. DH is my favorite person to ride with.

After dark I passed where the 2011 course rejoined the old course above Box Canyon, climbed to the high point and stopped for dinner. Sweet n sour pork n rice...mmm. I sat for a while looking back on the course hoping to see DH's lights coming but never did so trucked on. Sometime later I started to see a set of lights catching me and was excited it was DH. I didn't stop but did slow down a little, just a little...The lights never did catch me but disappeared. I looked forward.

Under the I-10 culvert I got chilly enough to put on arm warmers, knee warmers and my jacket. I coasted down towards Three Bridges. There was a car there with lights on and people inside. I looked at my watch 12:26am. That's weird I thought. It looked like some kids partying late at night and I had to ride right passed them...red alert...As I got nearer someone ran out of the car towards me screaming....WTF...turns out it was Deanna Adams and her mom cheering for racers :-) ha, ha...I scare easy...they took some photos, gave me a couple of bananas and waved me off.

My goal was to ride until 1:30am or stop at La Sevilla picnic area for the night - whichever came first. When I got to La Sevilla it was a party zone! I backtracked up the course a little ways to a nice flat spot I'd seen and camped out there.

Next morning was a refuel in Tucson and haul up Reddington Rd with rallying  jeeps, motos and semi automatic guns firing off - just my scene. I hammered out of the saddle as fast as I could to get out of the redneck zone. The next 7 hours were hot and hard. The hike-a-bike up over Molino was a bitch. I struggled getting my heavy bike up some of the ledges. I was relieved to cross the Catalina Hwy only to be faced with another stretch of hike-a-bike that I had expected to be rideable. I got grumpy and started calling it Arizona hoof race.

Once on the pavement it got much easier and I spun up to Oracle Ridge. I had expected Oracle Ridge to be really hard. Everyone says it is hard and part of it is called the Traverse of Death. It was hard but not as hard as Molino hike-a-bike had been earlier in the day. I reckon it was the heat factor as Molino was late afternoon in full sun and Oracle Ridge was in the dark.

I bivvied up earlier than the night before because I knew the next day was forecast to be the hottest of all and we were headed for the lower Gila desert terrain. I wanted to bank some rest. I bivvied right next to the trail so if DH came down he would see me. I was still wondering where he was. I didn't carry a cell phone so had no coms. During the night a rider came by. It was Brad Kee. I asked if he had seen DH and was told about some ugly looking blisters. Brad thought DH would have had to quit by now....hmph... Brad motored on and I went back to sleep. That was the last time I saw another racer on course.

The next morning I zoomed down into Oracle, ate so much at the store I was burping it up and headed out to the big hot desert oven for the day with as much water as I could carry. I had Elete Tablytes with me. The label says take up to 12 Tablytes per day as needed - I needed a lot more than that!!! They were great.

Today was all about heat management. I moved slowly so my head didn't boil, hiked rideable hills, drank lots and chowed on Tablytes. In the heat of the day I had no power. It was like riding in molasses or like a man on the moon in a space suit, or like you see these guys at the top of Mount Everest!! I had all these visuals. I moved in slow motion and sang silly shark songs to my gummy sharks. 30 miles took me a never ending 7 hours!!

I started studying the ground on the gasline and could make out only one set of tracks. No way I thought - there were a bunch of guys in front of me. I knew for sure Brad was in front of me as I had seen him the night before and the gal at the Oracle store said he left an hour before I did. I double checked I was on course - all good.

The gasline road in the heat of the day was a place humans shouldn't have been that day on bikes - nutty hot. On the way down Bloodsucker wash with a tailwind I started hallucinating there were spiders crawling on the back of my hands...intense...I felt ok and was sure I was hydrated...just a little warped.... Wow this was right on the edge. I'd asked for some intense living and here it was for me.

There was a big tank of green water at Beehive Well with a thousand bees buzzing over it. I dipped my arm coolers in it and threw water over my head and got out of the bee zone asap. I was glad I had enough water and didn't have to drink from Beehive Well - plentiful but not appealing. My warped head feeling left after I cooled off at Beehive well and the spiders went home. The tracks in front of me were weaving around on the road. I wondered if I was doing that too?? I got off my bike and looked back and my tracks were straight - uh oh I thought...

A little while later I struggle to open and close a tight barbed wire gate on the road and ride on. Then I see I am off course and the gps route drops off the jeep road to the right. I go back bugged I am going to have to fight with the gate again but the gps track drops down before the gate (about mile 214). There is no trail visible and I wonder where to go. I zoom in my GPS and am right on top the gps route. I was aware my head was still too hot and my brain was processing slowly - things were not adding up. A little confused I push off the road into the untracked desert staying on top of the gps line.  A trail slowly appears and improves. As the trail improves I feel confident I am going the right way. Without a gps I would never have found that turn. It was tricky. A short while later I become aware there are no tire tracks on the trail! I look at my watch and it is 4:14pm. Oh no Brad I say, you only had one more hour until it cools off. I was watching and biding my time until 5pm when I thought the intense heat would abate some. Post race I found out these were Joe's tracks as I passed Brad earlier without knowing while he was riding some bonus miles off route.

I rode what felt like 3/4 of the way around Antelope Peak. It was soft desert trail with no tire tracks...no tire tracks...I felt vulnerable out there with no tire tracks in front of me. I was still moving in molasses...so slow. I kept saying to myself, it doesn't matter how slow you go you just have to finish. I was moving in slow motion. I was a deep sea diver.

I reach the water cache and notice tire tracks again. They confuse me but I don't pay them much attention. I rest, eat, water up and roll onto the Boulders section. Finally it had cooled off. The molasses had gone and my legs felt rockstar. I felt like I was flying through the Boulders after the slow motion day of molasses. Big fun. Whoohoo!! There were no tire tracks again.

The sun set and simultaneously the moon rose. I had a moment when there was exactly half a sun on the west horizon and half a moon on the east horizon. The low sun was deep orange and turned the air an orange/pink color and the full moon coming up was pure white and the biggest horizon moon I had ever seen. I stopped and absorbed that magical moment and breathed deep and slow like I could ingest it. The next 30 mins of twilight riding were effortless and fast and I flew.

We (me, my bike and my imagination) flew through the night  Ripsey - Gila River - Hwy 177 - Battle Axe Rd -Artisian Well - Walnut Canyon with the full moon echoing off cliffs and canyons. At 3:30am feeling a bit loopy I decided to lie down and sleep until dawn.

I'd been hoarding my last sweet n' sour pork n' rice and it made a delicious breakfast. Fueling up was a good thing as the Martinez canyons were complete ass kickers, one after another steep and bumpy. Box Canyon was kind and mild after the Martinez canyons.

The AZT300 ends with an 8 mile single track descent. I wanted to relish it so I stopped at the top to freshen up, ate some, drank some, relaxed some, lubed my chain and took a long break, about 45 mins I think (which drove my BlueDot watching and waiting DH batty!!). The last 8 miles were a screaming blast...giddy...euphoric...I was finishing AZT!!! Wow! Awesome!!! I was psyched.

DH was there at the end of the trail. My one man cheering squad and the man who is the most important to me in the world was there for me, to share my finish. Having DH cheering at the finish was the icing on a very big cake for me. I was giddy with glee and he laughed at my craziness while I told him all my race stories in a tangled endorphin hazed blurb. I was so amped it took me a while to be able to sit down and at least 3 days to metabolize my endorphins!!

DH took some pics of me finishing but it was so hot out there his camera overheated and lost the pics! It was blazing hot out there. He put his camera in the cooler and got pics later while I was still giddy.

Those arm coolers were white at the start!

I probably ate about 3,ooo calories worth of these sharks. That might have been why my tongue swelled up post race...

I'm tired now. But still thinking what might be next ;-)

AZT record amidst a trail of tears

There is often talk of what it takes to complete a multi-day ultra mountain bike race. Is it fitness? A simple mantra of eat, ride, sleep? Or, something more intangible like mental toughness and the ability to keep going when it gets really tough?

Naturally I have my own ideas. In my experience, the #1 prerequisite to finishing these events is stoke. Passion for a route and the experiences that await precede the start by half a year (or more) for the best rides I have had, and have seen others do. It is not so much about natural ability, it is all about positive projection, preparedness, and having the *finish* as the number one goal. Having stoke for an event well in advance of the start fuels a ton of research into the route, equipment required, conditions expected - consideration of thousands of little details that go into a great ride.

So, off we rolled last week for the AZT 300. Lynda carrying a huge bag of well-aged stoke, myself looking forward to a long ride in new terrain with the primary goal of testing my new BlueDot app. We both got what we went for and in the end it worked out to perfection.

The truth is I stopped racing in 2009. After the 24 hours of Moab I walked away with a "what now??" sort of sensation, and it never went away. So, "racing", when I partake these days, is some combination of a social outlet, or means to see new terrain, or to enjoy the work that others have done to create some interesting route. The thing that has really lit the passion fire for me this spring is Bluedot - and writing code is not particularly a fitness builder or foot toughening activity, doh!

Getting to the start is always an adventure...and usually involves some help from others. We stayed with Chad at his new place, and then met Kurt & Caroline in Superior for the final shuttle detail. It was a lot of fun driving to the start with the 2-time race winner/record setter. Of course we started talking race strategy...more amusing for me as I had no real race objective, and LW wanted nothing to do with it. Her clear goal was the finish.

LW and I left the start fashionably late at 9:18. LW started as the lanterne rouge, an unfamiliar spot for her but it wouldn't last long.

LW and DH start ATZ 300, photo by Caroline Soong

LW tells me to go first and says she'll see me at the finish. She had no intention of going fast and fully expected to be well behind me. "We can come back and race it next year!" Hmmm wonder what that looks like... I never believed that for a second, knowing how my fitness (and stoke!) compared to hers on this day...but I amused her anyway by leading out. A few minutes later I hear a "girl scream". Oh no, what is going on? Just a bobble on loose terrain...in the rush to get going we had forgot an important pre-race ritual: the HUG. I stop and grab her off her bike and give a good long squeeze. OK, time to get going....

The early riding has a good bit of hike a bike, especially for me on my singlespeed and in the heat. About 20 minutes in I come up to Marshal Bird in the shade of a tree and stop to chat and have a look at a developing hotspot on my left heel. To my huge surprise it was not a hotspot at all, but a blister that had developed, popped, and the skin was blown off. Inside of 20 minutes my ride was doomed....Marshal knew I was in trouble, moreso than I was willing to concede at the time.

Gorilla tape applied to heels, check. Onward. LW was in front of me know, and I eventually caught her - she pulled to the side to let me go by. A few minutes later I caught up with a big train of riders all hiking a section of marginally rideable trail. Walking was my speed here too and I settled in. LW rode it all and passed ~ 10 riders on that hike a bike, just like I've seen her do in Trans Rockies. I gave her a good shove as she went by and that's the last I saw of her until I picked her up at the finish. She had found her flow, settled down, and I knew she was going to have a great ride. I was so stoked for her at that point!

Shortly thereafter, the trail become much more rideable and Canelo hills more fun. I did some bonus miles, but for the most part enjoyed the rest of the ride to Patagonia. Prior to the last bit of hike a bike I started applying super glue to the gorilla tape on the heels to better hold it in place, and that made hiking a bit more bearable. But I had serious doubts about my ability to go beyond Tucson. There was at least 10 hours of hike a bike in that section by most accounts...

In Sonoita I took my first look at BlueDot. I have put more work into BlueDot this spring than I ever have put into riding in the same time period - so to have the first look at it mid-race was oh so cool! I could see that Kurt was off the front as expected, see where LW was, and a few other riders not far up the road towards Kentucky camp. And, it actually motivated me to see if I could catch LW so we could ride together a bit. It took awhile, but nearly worked. The Kentucky camp area was my favorite part of what I rode, and good for my SS gearing. LW came into sight shortly after sunset, but then when we hit a section of rugged terrain with many short hikes my heels did me in. I just couldn't make any headway with my heel situation.

I caved to the pain and rolled out the bivy for a few hours. Later when I got rolling again I was amused to learn I was right at the end of the hike a bike stuff anyway...and the trail turned instantly into a ripping, nicely carved, SS optimized super fun trail!!! Woohoo! And it stayed that way pretty much all the way to X9 road that led into Tucson.

The gal at the Rincon store said LW left about 30 minutes before I got there, and that briefly gave me some motivation to hustle on up the road. But my heels were screwed by then. Raw to the point I could not walk uphill. A bit of a problem when faced with 10k' vert in the next 30 miles...what good is a single speeder that can't walk? Exactly.

Brad Kee and Matt Fusco showed up at the store and Brad shared some moleskin. In return for the moleskin I put my droid in his hand with BlueDot running....and that was my favorite moment of the race. He was amazed at what he held in his hand and was deeply interested in the current state of the race. According to BlueDot only Kurt and LW were up the trail, but of course we knew Joe was also up ahead. Aaron Gulley we also expected was up ahead, thinking there was probably an issue with his SPOT (we later learned his GPS failed before Tucson). In any case, Brad's excitement over BlueDot in the middle of a race was tall validation for my idea and vision to bring real-time race info into the hands of racers.

The moleskin gave me a touch of confidence I might be able to get'r done, but 30 minutes after being on the bike (and not even doing any hiking yet) and the feet had said no go. So off to Scott Morris' house I rolled...I can see why it is so hard for a Tucson resident to finish this event.

Have I mentioned the heat yet? It was hot. Stupid hot. I hadn't really been overly aware of the heat until I rolled off course and through Tucson. What a gawd-awful experience to go from awesome trails to the noisy, diesel belching stench of busy super-heated Tucson roads. From highs to lows in a moment. The coolness of Scott's carport concrete was wonderful and I layed there for an hour until Paula came to the rescue...

From that time forward it was all about LW and BlueDot. BlueDot glued to my hand, staring at LWs dot. It moved oh so painfully slow all the way to Oracle. Meanwhile, the race was unraveling on all fronts. Kurt crashed and hurt his knee just before Oracle, ending his ride. News of Aaron's demise surfaced. Then, in a surprising twist of events, news that Joe Meiser (thought to be the current leader but his poorly reporting SPOT left plenty to the imagination) had to backtrack to Oracle due to lack of calories came from Facebook. Holy crap, that put LW in the lead! Although Brad Kee was very close to her, and at one point in front of her - so there was a race for the win. He rode all through the night after leaving Rincon to arrive at Oracle before LW.

I don't think either rider realized they were first and second...it had to be a confusing set of tracks out there. LW never passed anyone, the tracks just kept getting thinner, until finally disappearing altogether. She "passed" Brad Kee while riding the gasline section of the route while Brad rode a new section of dead end singletrack AZT. He said it was awesome trail but the dead-end was sub optimal ;)

Facebook to the rescue! LW's car was at the trailhead in Superior while I was stuck in Tucson. This new droid partner of mine, it is well connected. Via FB I learned Slyfox was in town. One quick email and I had a ride lined up to the trailhead with superstar Slyfox Gillie. That night was a beautiful night for riding. Full moon at the trailhead over picketpost really made me wish I was riding instead of waiting.

By the next morning most everyone's fate was sealed. The 2011 AZT 300 was a trail of tears with only 4 of the 22 starters making it to the finish. This BlueDot snapshot with last reported point for each rider tells the story:

While the 18 of us DNFs were still licking our wounds, the fab 4 soldiered on through yet another warm day in the desert with LW leading the charge. I could see that she had stopped for only ~ 2 hours that last night, and knew she only stopped because she cracked. That is the only thing that stops me on the last night of these things ;) But I also knew she was rolling with about 6 hours of sleep in 3 days. That is a helluva deficit for someone used to a steady 9-10 hours/night. I had all sorts of concerns about the reliability of the Freeman road water cache and nearly went out there to restock it...and then was convinced I should meet riders at the Gila with water. It is hard to be on the sidelines! In the end I didn't want to mess with anyone's experience out there and sat tight...

Finally...FINALLY...LW rolled down the trail to the finish. And, she was positively giddy! One of the first things out of her mouth was more a question than statement: "I don't see any tracks on the ground?!?" "It's all your's babe, roll on down to the finish, I'll meet you at the car". Ironically, I took some great pictures of her riding the last bit of trail, and shot a video of her giddiness, but they were all lost due to my phone overheating in the midday desert heat...

Smiling, happy, giddy, amazingly untouched by the sun, and probably under 100 lbs - the 2011 AZT 300 winner and first ever female finisher.

Part of the giddiness: fueling on seafood (sharks) in the desert.

We headed to town for a shower then came back out to meet Brad at his finish.

Somewhere on Mt Lemmon Brad's left shoe exploded.

Post event I could not be more stoked for how it turned out. BlueDot was generally a success, and I learned a few things I need to do to improve it. Racing is the best testbed. But the real story is LW. She has been planning, scheming, dreaming, breathing AZT for months. It has dominated her training since about September or October. When faced with what is undoubtedly the most difficult conditions ever for this event, she embraced the challenge, adapted to the conditions, and rode her own ride, paying little attention to others. A brilliant ride with few mistakes, in my opinion it is the most impressive ride she has put down (and there have been a few!). So good, in fact, that it resulted in the first (to my knowledge, anyway) time a woman has won the overall in a self-supported multi-day. I am so proud of her!

Redrock Rampage Tradition

I love the Redrock Rampage XC race here in St George. This year was its 16th year running. Before the race I chatted with its promoter Glen Ames. He mentioned maybe it was time to change up the course. I told him no way!! This race is a tradition and you don't mess with traditions.

This year Rampage was all about Wallenfels vs Binghams. Let me tell you this aint little league anymore this is big time ;-)

Joel flying the Bingham colors gives Emma a pre-race strategy talk on the start line

First off were the boys 10-12 yrs age group. Already stalking each other are Bryn Bingham #648 and Wesley #655

Go!! Bryn hammers off the start and Wes keeps an eye on him

Next up are the 9 and unders. #220 Lauren Bingham looks relaxed and confident smiling on the front row. Emma is staged in the second row.

Joel must have told Ems to start fast as she hammers off out of the saddle!!

The boys come through and go out for their second and last lap. Bryn and Wes are flying and have a massive gap on the rest of the field - no other boys are in sight when they come through. They are working it AND working together!! Strategy in the 10-12yr field - you bet there is.

Lauren Bingham takes the 9 and unders win AND she beats all the boys too!! Awesome ride from Lauren.

Ems rode hard and finished with the biggest smile I saw from any racer all day.

Flushed cheeks and finish elation

Bryn makes it into the finish chute chicane with a bike length lead on Wes and takes the win by 1 second in a sprint to the line

Two wins for the Binghams!!

I raced too! We had a strong Pro women's field who started FAST. Too fast for me for the first 10 minutes and I had to pedal hard to keep up! Then everybody slowed a little or my body kicked in and I pulled ahead to finish first. I am an endurance gal!

For Byrn and Wes their 18 minute race was a teeny tiny warm up for the next 24 hours of non-stop-play-sleepover-play more. They hyped it out relentlessly. It was amazing to watch. Those two boyz are a force when they get together!!

Kids were all the talk at this race. 17yr old Keegan Swenson and 15yr old Noah Talley raced with the PRO men finishing 2nd and 6th respectively - WOW!! We have young talent here in Utah!

There was much talk and activity too this weekend about Utahs bid for a High School Mountain Bike League being spearheaded by Lauren and Bryn's dad Chris Bingham, Lori &Dave Harward and Justin Thomas. They were at Rampage taking names and drumming up support. E mail loriharward@comcast.net if you can help on any level from sponsorship, logistics to coaching.

It feels good to see all these kids having fun with bikes!

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo with the JMM

5th time racing at Old Pueblo was as fun as ever. Friday night treated us with a sunset which was the calm before the storm. I spent Friday visiting folks. OP is like a big bike reunion after the winter. So fun to catch up and find out what everyone has planned out for the year.

I've raced at Old Pueblo solo geared twice, solo single speed and duo. This year I went for 5 person open co-ed and joined the infamous Jack Mormon Militia team. Matt Harding, Joshe Wolfe, Kenny Jones, Chucky Gibson and me.

I was a bit out of my element racing on a 5 person team - just a bit. More people to let down with a bad lap and more people to go do a slow lap themselves... More team members, less control. However the weather was mega challenging this year and made me say thanks I wasn't solo. We had wind/dust/wind/rain/wind and more wind.

Josh took the first lap and the running of the bulls - which was as crazy as ever

I went out on the 3rd lap and was blown off the trail a few times. It was WINDY. At one point I was blown into a huge barrel cacti and my foot, still in the pedal, got stapled to it! I yanked myself off it and pulled out a few spines back in the pit.

Our pit set up rocked. We had a huge tent with a 125,000 BTU/hour space heater. Luxury!

Overhead lights, a microwave which I used in anger and much banter. I don't know if having a lady in their midst mellowed out the JMM banter - probably a just a bit?

The weather got ugly for a while. My 1st lap was about 7 mins slower than I expected - ouch. The wind blew me all over the place and I was glad I had little wheels with me. I was the slowest team member. We were in second place after 5 laps but it was close - we had a race on our hands. The team in first place sent their fastest guy, Ben Sontag, out for 2 laps right away and we were chasing. We talked a little strategy. I offered to sit out a rotation. I didn't really want to sit out a rotation but the fact it was dark, pissing with rain and blowing a gale made it kinda attractive at the time!! That and I wanted to be a team player.

We agreed I would sit out a rotation to let the team catch up. Then Josh came in off his lap soaking wet and amped from killing it. We told him the strategy that I was going to sit out one rotation. He said - "I've never heard of that before" and called bullshit on the whole idea - so I was back in :-) :-)

Every one of us rode brilliantly with no mechanicals, mishaps or bad laps among us - we pulled into first place sometime in the morning and finished on the top of the podium. I got to take one of those cool OP bike trophy's home again -  Thanks JMM's  :-)

My duo partner from last year Scott Morris repeated his win with a new team mate Eszter Horanyi. At first I was jealous of their luxury pit set up until my team mates unpacked the microwave. Good stuff.

Another awesome 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo in the books. I do like that race and will be back again next year. Team, duo, solo, gears, SS?? I just don't know yet...

Blue Dome Racing

Kenny Jones and I have been chasing each other around for years, but usually just a bit too far apart to converse.  I've long admired his grit, quiet poise, and downright bike killing abilities.  Call it a man crush if you must.  Can you blame me?

So after the Park City shindig we cooked up a plan to race the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow on a 4 person SS with Heather and Lynda.

And then Heather stepped it up a notch.

"Let's go as missionaries of the Blue Dome!"

It all spun wildly out of control from there.  Name tags were made.

Deseret Industries received visits to acquire the proper kit.

Racing 25 hours in a tie?  Really?

As it turned out, everyone received the power of the Blue Dome with open arms and spinning legs.  It was such an easy sell at this crowd.  I think it was about a 50/50 split between folks that thought we were actual missionaries, and folks that got our little pun - but regardless, all seemed to love it.

The night is long in November - be prepared.

The days were warm which also took special preparation.

Appropriately, Zion was our constant backdrop.

The race was fantastic. The course was perfect: mixed dirt road/singletrack/wash climbs, down the rippin' Jem trail, then a few minutes of techy ledges on Hurricane Rim just to keep you honest. There was a new snack surprise every time I got off the bike in the timing tent. If you missed it this year don't miss it next year! Super fun, good vibe.

Post race meal rocked!

Oh, and we did make great bike race.

Kenny drilled it on his second lap trying to shake a persistent guy from the Idaho team and in the process nailed the fastest SS lap of all time on the course. Lynda drilled her first lap and got both the fastest female SS lap and fastest female overall lap (and only 2 min off Kenny's ripping lap to boot!).

Heather killed it on every lap. I went out after her...she told me she would be doing 1:15 laps and then turned a 1:02...guess who wasn't there in time? Doh! Didn't make that mistake again.

My last lap was nearly my fastest. I was locked an a duel with a geared rider and we were both loving it. It's been a loooooong time since I've had that much fun on a bike.

Lynda rode a lap inches off Greg Martin's wheel. She came in giggling about it, said it was sooo much easier cause it was a windy lap and Greg pushed it all out of the way for her (and also had some very kind things to say about his bike handling). Then Kenny came in off his lap was pissed that some dude wouldn't get off his wheel (it was the same team). LW and I busted into hysterics immediately ;)

In the end the Idaho boys opted to drink beer instead of get wrapped up in a drag race. They appropriately received beer mugs for their prize. Jon from Sabrosa captain'd a strong team for 2nd.

Look out for the Blue dome tour in 2011.

Park City Point2Point Race Report 2010

The Park City Point 2 Point race was a week ago - but better late than never to blog the report. I took very few pics so thanks mostly to Lyna Saffell and Dave for the pics, all of which I have borrowed without asking (hey they were on FB...)

My focus is on things other than racing my bike right now so the blog post was far down the weeks to-do list. My focus for Park City Point 2 Point race was to go and have a good time and worry not a squat about the peformance racing part (um.. because I am kinda chubby and I haven't been training mostly). I wrote my goals on my handlebars.

The course was incredibly fun and lots of bike love was made. In fact I forgot the chammy butter in the morning and my seat was feeling the hard tail bike love by the end. I finished it up in 8:47, 40th personage to finish and 4th woman.

Another goal was to get a dollar from the Gilly Cash Zone - check

The race was top notch. Chip timing. Beanie at sign up instead of the tired old size medium mens t-shirt (yawn). Top 5 women cash payout. Finisher socks that say "I did it", I love finisher awards at hard races - and this was a hard race. Cold drinks at the aid stations were delicious as it was a hot day. Coke at the aid stations - oh yeah! Volunteers at the aid stations swarmed to help and knew what to do. Brilliant fun course with so much single track the road sections were a relief at times. Fun vibe at the finish line.

Tight pro women field. The top 5 women were separated by only 23 minutes at the finish!

But most of all the best part of this race was a free burger at the finish line. I love me a burger (and have maybe loved me a few too many this summer...)

Another goal was to visit and see all my racing buddies I have missed this summer because I haven't been out racing. There are so many cool people in mountain bike racing and it was great to see everybody. Thanks a ton Brad and Jane for the weekend hospitality and laughs. Jane - go tubeless for sure.

Yet another huge highlight (have I mentioned it was a GREAT race!!) was to see Michelle Byers turn her crushing 2009 Point2Point missed time cut-off DNF into a crushed-it 2010 finish after training on one of my LW Coaching plans this summer. I love seeing my athletes collect their goals first hand.

Dave "raced" too. He had his new helmet cam and his goal was to film the heart of the race. He did an awesome job. Watch it to see Michelle's sweet finish.

PCP2P 2010 from Dave Harris on Vimeo.

My race blow-by-blow:

Pre-race I was enjoying the real live brick and mortar ladies only bathroom instead of the usual co-ed port-a-john situation and chatting over my stall with a couple of the other Pro women. I find out we are lining up at the front of the 8 hour wave of racers. I thought that was a good plan cause I was hoping to be in the 8-9 hour range. I finish my pre-race potty business, locate the 8 hour wave, go to the front and see no other Pro women - hmmmm. Next I find out they have already started...they had their own start wave and I missed it...WTF...where was that info distributed??  I head to the start chute and see the 7 hour wave start. The pro women are off up the course without me and the 7 hour wave is between me and them now....Frick... I look at my bars and see SMILE LOTS :-) so I start pedaling and smile.

Round Valley was pass, pass when you can. I catch a dude who is not moving smooth and fast and has a big gap in front of him to the Conga line. I'll call him Shouldnabeninthe7hourwavedude. "Please tell me when it is clear and I'll pass" I say. He shouts he is not moving off the trail and I will have to take it. Um...ok then. He blows the next corner, I carve  inside and pass cleanly, pedal smooth, close down the gap to the next guy,  get back on the Conga line  single-track tail. Shouldnabeninthe7hourwavedude passes me aggressively with elbows flying, I put on my brakes to avoid his sketchiness, he shouts at me not to pass him then slow down. I think bad words to say to him in my head but keep my mouth shut. This is not making bike love here and I am not smiling. I soft pedal and let a couple of guys pass me. Shouldnabeninthe7hourwavedude lets them by uncontested... Ha, I think, and smile. I let another guy pass me and get tight on his wheel and sneak passed Shouldnabeninthe7hourwavedude with him. I hope not to see him again.

Pedal, pedal, see Adam look strong and fly by me,get $1 in the Gilly cash zone, shweet, smile, yo-yo with Aaron, pedal, pedal, make-bike-love, smile lots, glow (it was hot) drink lots of coke at the Park City Aid station, burp my way up Spiro climb, pedal, pedal, finish, get my finisher socks, find Dave, eat my finisher burger, hang out for 3 hours at the finish line in my chammy, visit with peeps, stand on the women's podium still in my chammy, see Michelle finish, miss Brad finish, bonk on the ride back to the condo, eat more, lie on my back and watch the ceiling spin, eat more.

Very fun filled weekend. I hope I get a spot in the race next year. It is definitely a classic in my book.

CTR decompression chamber

This decompression is going to take awhile. Generally speaking I have not been interested in racing since Moab last year - how do you top stars and bars? - and have been moving back to basics, what started it all in the first place, using the mountain bike as a vehicle to roam the best parts of planet earth.

CTR was the lone exception. The Dixie 311 was a great training event, and a month in Crested Butte prior to race day was to be the antidote for my apparent weakness at altitude. After last years 6 day scouting mission of CTR I was ready to rumble. I came to race this year.

After a week of reflection post-event, I'm still clueless. The training, nutrition, gear - it was all spot on. The execution, as far as I can tell, was also bang on the money all things considered. A years worth of research on how to handle the altitude, special supplements and acclimatization, putting it all in a training plan to help others (particularly those coming from low elevations) and still, I found hard limitations that sent me bailing for lower terrain. I was acclimatized to altitude and had great power up high. Even Lynda, who doesn't mince words if I screw up, said I did everything right for this one. However, the recovery from the daily grind just didn't happen as normal and full body edema kicked my ass in the most remote part of the route.

That's the short version. Below is the rest of the story.

I took a total of 5 pictures during the event. The first is the most photographed pole in Colorado.

Georgia Pass

Running multi-playback in Topofusion for this year and last years tracks has me at Georgia pass about an hour faster than last year (starting the playback after the courses merged). The big difference this time? I was acclimatized! Riding the short tundra region to the pass was easy this year, no stress at all. Last year I was walking and wheezing it. Acclimatization in CB had done the job and I felt great.

The weather was a different story. The descent off Georgia featured the storm of the century. More rain than I have ever ridden in, it was a bit unnerving. Wet rocks, roots, flash floods in drainages - and will this new raingear really work? Chainsuck on the super granny (actiontech 20T front ring) was pretty tough to manage in the wet and lube was the only thing to prevent it. It all worked out fine though, and I decided to bivy before the 10 mile hike.

A good 5-6 hours of solid sleep later (in the rain no less! victory, yeah this desert rat can do this!) and I was crawling up 10 mile. I felt great. No need to detour to Copper, I just kept on moving up towards Searle. Last year I cracked hard on Searle, succumbing to the thin air. This year I floated up on a no-chain day. Effortless. Tom Jensen and Eddie Turkalay had camped near the top and were cheering riders on. They told me I was in 4th with Kerkove and Jefe about 90 minutes ahead. That was a surprise to me since I had taken a long bivy on night one, but all the same I was pretty stoked. Even Kokomo was nearly all rideable, just a couple of short pushes. I swear the trail got flattened in the last year...

Leadville to BV was fantastic in the daylight. Tons of flow, great trail, the descent to Twin Lakes was probably my favorite section of the route this year. Killer new trail, supa fast, great views, it had it all. A bit after Twin Lakes I caught up to Jefe and we'd more or less leapfrog and camp/hotel together the next 2 days. As soon as we hit the detour at the end of Segment 11 (clear creek res) ma nature unleashed on us again. After a day of wide open crack it was a real let-down. Both Jefe and I were suddenly uncertain about our willingness to keep this game up, and were for sure going to share a hotel in BV...

Segs 13/14 were brutal last year, this year they were super ridable (with my super granny everything but the nasty hikes were ridable) and plenty of new trail work especially on seg 14 was obvious. The trail was in great shape and what a shock to find flow here! Heading up to the crest, ma nature did her best to dampen spirits at Fooses lake. Some of these storms were pretty darn intense. Outhouses are great places to get the raingear on ;)

It mellowed out for most of the climb, at least until I got to treeline. Once in the open, exposed tundra faced with the insanely steep hike-a-crawl to the crest the storm intensified, lightning and thunder all around. It smelled electric. It was stupid but there was no way I was going to retreat back down fooses. Instead I was filled with adrenaline and charged up that hike that about killed me last year...

2 weeks prior the Crest trail was buff and flowy, in great shape. This time it was deeply rutted and gutted by water and motos, a bad combination. Bummer. I zipped by the lean-to, looked back, and saw bikes with gear on them - better go be sociable! There was my bunkmate Jefe and 2 others waiting out the storm. I had a secret shelter in mind and coaxed Jefe out of his hideout for a fully stormproof shelter complete with wood stove. Jefe had a fire going in minutes! We hung all our wet gear around the fire and tried to sleep until the weather improved.

With no expectations for improving weather for the next 2 days, it was time to go nocturnal. Bivy for a few random hours during storms and otherwise keep it rolling. I'd been front-loading rest intentionally to be able to push with less sleep in the Cataract to Durango sections.

In that cabin on the Crest I'd started to develop a cough. Harbinger of things to come. I hit the inhaler (had my own this year!) and it seemed to help....

Heading out to seg 16 in the wee hours it was really feeling like the race was getting started. The trail was getting difficult, the previous bivy gave but an hour or two of shuteye. It was hard, but it felt good. On a particularly steep and chunky descent I somehow managed to send my junk over the bars. Oops. Nothing seemed out of place, I kept rolling but a tad more cautiously. Jefe always left before I did and I had become accustomed to meeting up with him sometime after he left. So it was no surprise to find him trailside at 3AM. What was surprising was that he was in the midst of a big personal dilemma (otherwise known as a crack), with all the options to bail to gunny nearby his mental demons were running strong. We had a little chat about how and when to bail, and he seemed unwilling to get moving. It was uncomfortable. When riding with others these days, I always wish the best for them, and we'd spent a lot of time together the last 36 hours or so. He just needed an ignition spark. I did my best, and then left him to sort it out.

It wasn't long before I saw him again. I stopped for a short nap and breakfast, and he rolled on by saying "I got my mojo back!" That was the last of him I heard...I was really stoked for him.

That was the middle of Segment 17. Segment 17 is not a crowd favorite to say the least. Many call it soul sucking and even Stefan is not a fan. While it is rather tough on a bike, it has some charms. Like, the best best sunrise of the 2010 CTR! All of Seg 16 was intermittent fog in the dark, and as the sun came up I could see that the cloud level was roughly 10,800', about 500' below the sunrise location. I was surrounded by a sea of floating peaks, glowing in the orange morning light and it was breathtaking.

Apple saved the day once again at Lujan with his trail magic tent, putting racers in easy chairs and handing out food and beverages. He insisted on serving me and would take no donations. Shortly after I arrived at the magic place about 8 thru hikers (that I had passed on the trail) came in and it was suddenly a crowd. CTR never feels as remote as the Dixie 311...

The easy miles of Seg 18 and the La Garita route detour is where my body started to give me some really bad feedback. It came on fast and was merciless. I had reached Lujan nearly 24 hours faster than last year and still felt good...but for whatever reason, after Lujan I started to swell at the extremities, face, and joints. In particular, both of my knees (which had taken some knocks in the fall on Seg 16) were swelling to the point that my kneecaps felt out of place and I was getting shooting pains in both knees. So, from feeling good and rested to nearly unable to pedal in about 4-5 hours. On the approach to Los Pinos pass things went far south and I struggled to move forward at all, and even stopped for an hour or so to see if that would help. It didn't...so I gingerly rolled on until getting to a dispersed campsite on Cebolla creek. I set up camp, making it a bit more comfy than usual (ground contouring + tarp) and took stock of the situation.

At least 9k calories remained in the larder I'd been hauling around Colorado. No lack of calories, that's for sure. Swelling was everywhere though. Removing shoes and socks gave me a start - my feet were balloons, and the two broken pinky toes especially painful. My hands were swollen enough that it was hard to bend my fingers and the Pearl Izumi rain gloves (which BTW are nothing but sponges) were now too tight to wear. My kneecaps were gone in a layer of fluid. Coughing was pretty regular now and not relieved with the inhaler. It was more like an allergic reaction to something as it came on so fast, but it was full body too....these ultra races always have a new twist, but this turned out to be a challenge I had no answer for.

Game over. Thank you for playing. Maybe I could have gutted it out for a 6 day finish, but I had already done that. TBH, finishing was not a goal. A sub 5 day finish was the goal, and looking at my bloated body it was apparent that ship had sailed. I certainly didn't want to be "that guy", the one that hits the 911 SPOT button from Cataract.

So I slept...slept long! 12-13 hours, would have slept more but this damn gray squirrel would have none of it. He was after my 9k calorie larder and wouldn't take no for an answer.

Cebolla creek has loads of wild raspberries next to it. I spent a good hour eating at least a pound of them.

Fresh fruit in the midst of the most remote section of CTR, yum. I was probably stalling the ride out of there - no easy way out of that spot exists. Even to get to Silverton, the easiest bail spot, includes a climb up Slumgullion and Cinnamon passes. A cakewalk compared to the race route, but still full of climbing and not quite so easy with compromised joints and lungs.  Near the top of Cinnamon pass some severe breathing issues convinced me the decision to pull the plug was the right call.

There was some wildlife I had never seen in CO before just outside of Silverton. Moose!

And thus ends my CTR obsession. For the past couple of years I've considered it *the* multi-day race. The sad truth is though, in terms of seeking the front of the race - it's a locals event. If you don't live at altitude the deck is more than stacked against you. Looking at race results over the last 4 years of the event tells the story. And, there's more to it than that too. Scott Morris, who lives in Tuscon at the same elevation as I, positively thrived at the highest parts of the course last year. Genetics play a large role in altitude capabilities. Presumably he chose his parents more wisely than I did ;)

I'm all for banging my head against immovable walls, but I do like to change the wall now and then.

Next!