Category Archives: Race Reports

Rampage Race Report 2009

I didn't race the Rampage. I was in full on mom/coach mode. I'm not so social in racer mode (eh Chad?;-) so it was fun to chat with everybody and get to watch the races while in mom/coach mode.

There were 35 kids in the 9 and unders class!! I think it was the largest class of the day.

Wesley got a mid pack start

and drilled his way to the front by the first half of lap one

He rode brilliantly

Here he is still in the lead on lap 2. He said he was getting tired by this time but held on for 1st place in 17:38.

Lots of potential in this pic on every step. 2nd place was a Bingham boy (what's his name?) and only 7 years old. Wes is 9 yrs now.

Emma wanted to stage 1st, front and dead center (this was her first race ever!!) but I made her go to the very back which she wasn't pleased about.

She had a few start line nerves

She was looking at this on the start line and couldn't figure out how it was all gonna get out of her way so she could race.

I got to follow Emma in the race. It was fun to see it all unfold. She started out sooooo fast. I told her it was 2 laps and to slow down a little and she shouted out "no mommy, it is a race!"

and race it she did. She ended up yo-yoing with this little gal

Emma was faster on the descent and this gal was faster on the climbs. Well it finished after a descent. Emma totally drilled it, reeled her in and made the pass on the last descent rolling it in for 31st place.

So if 6 year old girls, in their first race ever are *racing* for 31st place that means everybody in any race everywhere must be racing no matter their position or category - everybody!!

My little racers. I'm so proud of them. They both have game.

Dave had a solid day despite being a little flu sick.

Pro men start (photo credit Emma)

Pro women start. Again photo credit to Emma. She took the best race shots.

2009 Old Pueblo race report

I'm tired but wired. I can't think in a straight line but my head is buzzing with random thoughts. OP was good to me this year. Not so much for Dave. He'll blog his story later perhaps.

I finished first female solo single speed with 16 laps. At 16 mile laps that adds up to 256 miles which is the furthest I have ever ridden a bike in one sitting. Any kind of bike... I got back to my pit at 11:30am and had time to go out for a 17th lap. Lying down in the tent sounded like a much better idea at that point tho.

I finished a lap up on the female geared winner and the male SS winner. Passing 1st place SS solo male about 6am I waved and gave a thumbs up cause I feared any words that might have come out of my mouth at that point :-0

Here was my steed set up:

29er with a 32x18 and 26er with a 34x17 both coming out at 52 gear inches. I had a whole library of other cogs at my disposal and was willing to use any of them but ended up keeping the gear the same the entire 24. I rode the first 4 laps on the 29er, 1 lap on the 26er and then 11 laps on the 29er.

Random thoughts:

Rebecca Tomaszewski and I had a neck and neck race for the first 12 hours. That was fun. We rode together a little and yo-yoed with the lead a few times. She finished with 14 laps which would have put her on the men's podium too. Most often the women's single speed class is either non-existent or a sideshow but at this one to me it was the main show and that was really cool.

On the pre-ride I visited the ditch I crashed into in 2007 and shattered my collar bone. It is a sleeper. It is inside corner of the second turn in a right-left "S" turn before you hit the 7-bitches. If you overcook the first one you swing out into the ditch. I lined up small logs and wrapped them in orange flagging. Dave said he still saw a racer go head first into it. Unless you are overcooking the pace it is a completely insignificant feature.

Every single one of my LW Coaching athletes who attended Old Pueblo finished 1st in their category. That made me super proud and happy. They rocked it.

Dave and I had a mechanic during the race and self supported all the food and clothing. I didn't change clothes - wash or toss that chammy now?? The self support thing turned out ok.

Pit at sunset

I love Ergon grips. I ran the GE1's with carbon bar ends. My hands were 100% happy 100% of the race and I have no post race hand soreness. That is a tall order for 24 hours on a hard tail. My rear end did not come off the race quite as happy...

The OP course is full of fun single track and wads and wads of cacti. On every lap I guess I passed about 20 racers and was passed by about 10. Multiply that by 16 laps and it comes out to about 480 passes. Probably 90% were good passes. I apologize to the 10% involved in the not so perfect ones... Out of those 48 bad passes I never hit a cacti and saw only one dude full on nail a Cholla - he was an overeager passer. Some places you just sit and wait...

Other weekend highlights include meeting new folks and learning more about World Bicycle Relief. I hope to put some of my energy into World Bicycle Relief in the future. Helping the world with bikes is a cause I can get behind. Their mission statement is Providing access to independence and livelihood through the power of bicycles.

TU denial

Make no mistake:  the TU route is a monster.  With limited time, knowing storms were coming in quick, I gave it what I had left for '08.  Somehow, after 242 miles and 32,000' climbing, it still feels like a whopper of a ride.  And...I only just started the really fun stuff.  The late addition of the Cedar City section really changes the nature of the event on many levels.

All I can say right now - if you are interested in this event come with game.  It is physically demanding, moreso than GLR.  Based on info from my GPS ride file, the shared track under-represents both mileage and elevation gain.  The StG - Escalante section will play out closer to 400 miles and 60k vert.  Yea, no kiddin'.

 That said, it isn't as remote.  There are 2 restaurants about a mile off-route in Virgin, everything you could need in Cedar City, a good general store and some restaurants in Brian Head - then things get spotty.

For those areas with spotty services, you may need a bucket to haul enough stuff.

Let it be known that Dave Nice came prepared with a GPS and a cycling computer.  Gears and freehub can't be far behind.

Moving this thing up a day stressed me to no end.  With the last minute course changes and a busy work schedule I had more than I could handle.  Getting out the door in the right frame of mind was not easy.  Funny things happened in the first hour on the bike.  Things didn't look familiar.  A picture of a coyote laying on the ground, mocking me with his big howling laugh....shortly followed by a sea of bleached carcass remains was more than unsettling in the darkness.  Where was I??  Only a few miles from home, I hadn't been looking at the GPS track cause I knew the route like the back of my hand. On top of this weirdness, my legs had no PE whatsoever.  It was too easy to punch big power on the short rollers.  I've been here before - a bizarre mental state combined with no PE - and it's dangerous.  This is the first time I'd recognized it mid-ride though.  I started following that GPS track and kept it super chill.

The AZ strip went by in a blur.

Coyote springs was in fine form.  I still had plenty of fluids so kept it rolling.

The climb up the Hurricane Cliffs via the Honeymoon trail was exhilarating as always.  It started to feel a bit warm here.

Some fast cruising roads between the Hurricane Cliffs and Little Creek Mesa head to the Goulds/Jem trail section.  Starting Goulds I got that empty camelback slurp - dangit, only one bottle left.  Water conservation mode notwithstanding, Goulds and Jem were awesome.  I did pack a bit more gear given the weather forecast, so this gave a good feel for how the bike would handle in the tight twisty stuff from Brian Head and beyond.

40 oz. Coke, ice cream, and iced bottles/bladders and the climbing started in earnest. 

Smith Mesa and Kolob roads held no surprises.  With 80 miles in the legs and on a loaded bike, it was slow going uphill.  Darn nice views all the way though.

Just N of Kolob Res I ran into Marshal.  He was setting up camp for the night.  I had secret hopes of catching up with him a bit later so we could tag team a hotel in Cedar...all morning through the AZ strip I'd notice we always took the same lines through rocky/tech sections.  A few times my mind would wander and I'd find myself following his tracks on auto-pilot.

Next up:  the big new section of the course.  I'd heard of the C trail but never ridden it.  I think it drops 2400' in 4.7 miles, super fun stuff and even better at night!  I hit Cedar at 11 PM, rolled right up to Albertsons (blind luck), got a room and slept for 3 hours then moseyed on along.

The climb from Summit is steep.

What that sign really means is mixed grades of 10-20% for the next 4 miles ;)  You do get the elevation quickly though.  It wasn't long before I was up in the aspens.  It's peak color time right now.

I never called in from Cedar cause I got in late and left early.  Brian Head, so far as I can tell, has only this one pitiful pay phone.  This has got to be a big issue on GDR - crappy, failing pay phones as everyone on the planet now uses cell phones.  Anyway, I called Lynda.  We couldn't hear each other, all I could make out was "1-3 inches"  then the line went dead.

Was it game over already?  I wasn't sure what to do.  The route stays high for the next good long while and I was not in the mood to get stuck in snow.  Taking a nap is never wasted time...

Tried Lynda again after a nap and a quart of coffee - she said it was moving in tomorrow so go giv'r.  Sweet!  I was really wanting to do the Marathon trail section.  I'd never seen it.  Tough initially, from the middle of Color country to Louder ponds was pure bliss.  Singletrack heaven.

A long section was used in the BH Epic 100 route and also the recent American Mountain Classic.  There was still a lot of crap left by both racers and promoters.  TBB left like they weren't coming back ;) 

The Marathon trail ends at Navajo lake with a wonderful plunge down steep, wooded singletrack.  It was so unexpectedly bitchin!

Wild country.  I scared up some big elk, a skunk with tail raised high, smelled (but didn't see) a bear, and then almost nailed this on the trail:

Next up was the Virgin River Rim trail, just as the sun was setting.  Didn't it just rise??  Days are so short in October.  I was really hoping to make it to Tropic.  I had 4-5 hours to reach the entrance to the Paunsaugunt, then would have to cover the next 60 miles in the dark and wee hours of the next day to make it - assuming the forecast for rain/snow at noon to be correct.  Well sheet.  Even in my addled state it was obvious pushing into the Paunsaugunt was a recipe for SAR.  I would get so pinned down up there and bailouts from there are not simple, easy, like they are from VRRT.  So, I camped near the end of the VRRT section.

It was a damn fine descision as the storm moved in a few hours later.  It came in fast, howling winds, and surface conditions became unrideable in short order.

I had my bailout plan already figured out before I slept - it didn't phase me.  I just zipped up the bivvy a little tighter ;)

After a relaxing breakfast, copius coffee, hot soup and other goodies

it was time to make the escape.  The show was over and it was time to bail.  It wasn't bad really.  I wore motorcycle goggles (honest!) for night riding and they worked a charm in the wet and muck.  It took about 90 minutes to get from camp on the VRRT to the Long Valley store.  A heaven on earth with Krispy Cremes and warmth.  Lynda braved her way over the snowy roads to haul my stinky butt home.

So, 3 starters and zero finishers - but the stats are weather impacted.  It's doable.  It's tough to imagine a sub 4 day finish, that's for sure.  Tour pace is a week or better.

How about timing?  Late June is the earliest potential date, but conflicts with GLR and/or CTR.  August, we'd die in the deserts.  It cools off to 80 at night for about 10 minutes.  Sept is 24 hour natz (which I will target next year) so that's a no-go.  2 possibilities come to mind:  July 4 or early Oct.  If in July, we'd want a GLR style evening start.

How about the route?  Well, there will be no Escalante - Moab route revealed until somebody finishes the first part!  Next year, same route.  The long term TU schedule just got delayed.  Missed it?  You get another chance.  Abundant pain and pleasure to be experienced. 

Start training.

2008 Payson Stampede race report

My main goal for Payson was a scouting mission to preview the race site for the 2009 and 2010 24 hour Nationals. That was a success. We saw the course, rode the course, sweated in the pits, churned out power files and logged gps files.

The guys down in Payson love their Stampede. They put the race on with mucho enthusiasm and did everything they could to cater to the racers. After they asked for any feedback to make their race better for next year. That was cool. I have a few things to send them.

My race didn't go as planned and I was disappointed not to have it on the day. I started with a bad GI, fueled poorly in the heat and stopped on fumes near midnight. I was and am very grumpy about this. I love racing and I really didn't get to race. It was a show stopper for me. I rode one more lap about 2am and a couple more in the morning to test different pace, IF's VI's and Pn's on the course and to GPS a clean lap.

The course is cool. It will be a super test and produce a true National Champion. It has a bit of everything. The Stampede guys claim it is the hardest 24 hour course in the US - I'm not sure I can back up that claim but it is hard. It is all road with no single track but most of the roads have only one good line and ride very much like single track. The big descent, Rocky Bitch lived up to its name. After Rocky Bitch there are rollers, steep climbs, gradual climbs and some pavement. Really a bit of everything. The winner of this one will be a rider who can do it all.

I got to pre ride the course on Friday with Danielle and Sarah which was super fun. That is a lot of estrogen power ;-)

Sarah and Kong ran our pit and did a fantastic job. It is a treat to have such great help in the pit. While I was still running good laps I was in and out of the pits in 10 seconds according to my power files - cool. Thanks guys.

This is Dave and Kong pre-race!!

I was really pathetic at taking photos this weekend - so here is the latest Emma ride style shot. I love the knee high socks. I'm needing a pair of them for myself I reckon. Her new helmet has red flashing lights that fire off when she shakes her head. I thought about borrowing it for the night at Payson - but didn't... She is such the style queen. She chooses her own outfits every day. Goes off into her bedroom and shuts the door to get dressed. I wait with anticipation every morning to see the outfits that she comes out with. I didn't embrace pink until Emma came along into my life.

Payson Plums

Payson, AZ is smack dab in the middle of my old stomping grounds.  Way back when - before I rode bicycles in earnest (think disco and polyester) - I lived on the NE side of the Phoenix metro blob and escaped to the Tonto national forest on a weekly basis, sometimes to the 4 Peaks area, sometimes The Rim, sometimes places in between.  Payson was always the watering/feeding hole amidst it all.  So when I learned the Payson course was to become the 24 hour natz in '09/'10 I just had to go check it out.  There's mojo in them thar hills.

 After Moab last year I'm pretty sure I swore off lappers for life but never say never.  I was fried from attempting to regain a season's fitness in 6 weeks and still injured to boot.  It was one of the dumber things I've done to do that race last year.  This time around I'm healthy, rested, and excited for some laps on a new course!

As much fun as it is to do big epics, traveling cross country or state without hitting the same trail twice, lappers have strong appeal still - so long as I am rested, strong, and hungry.  It's a good feeling to work the course over, learning it's flow, getting smoother by the lap.  It's more internal than external. 

We had an awesome pit crew.  Sarah absolutely nailed the pit boss routine on the first try, and Kong kept us rolling smoothly.  We've been so preoccupied with SS riding this year that our geared stable had gotten really tired, so Kong had his work cut out for him.  I rode my 5 year old Trek Fuel for the entire race.  I had a backup bike but he wouldn't let me ride it, said something about it not being safe??  Lynda's fork blew on her FS in the first half of the race so she got to ride a hardtail for most of the race. 

The course is short but has distinct sections.  The first little bit flows nicely up a gradual climb with a kicker at the end - that takes you to rocky bitch.  RB is exactly that, steep, rubbly, embedded rocks shaped like spears...good stuff.  A rolling section takes you to the base of the climbing where there are a series of steep climbs.  In the middle of the course there are big views over to the Mazatzal mountains and wilderness areas - awesome sunrise over there!

The race.  I came with an analytical approach (big surprise, eh?) and a power meter.  I was pretty happy Nat Ross was there as he always schools me in 24s...kind of like Tinker, he'd be a good yardstick to see if I could still do this thing - and if the new ideas were working.  One big surprise was the heat.  The forecast I saw said mid 80s which is warm, but I swear it was 95+ on those steep climbs with the ever so slight tailwind.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe I ate some bad stuff in Payson...but I had gut issues galore.  It was hard to manage, and no solids would go down, period.  At one point Sarah, who had been trying to get things I'd eat, put some plums in a dixie cup and I went nutz over them.  The next pit there were about 6 dixie cups full of plums ;)  That is a cool magic trick Sarah!

Nat lapped me not long after nightfall.  I expected this and it didn't bother me at all.  What I didn't expect - and what did bother me - is when he passed me again about 4 hours later.  OMG he must be an alien!  But no, Kong told me we'd been playing leapfrog in the pits.  Whew, now I felt better. 

At some point Sologoat was in his pit not feeling so hot and I had a chat with him.  Just like Moab last year he was feeling the effects of hammering a dry climate with a touch of elevation.  Asthma sucks...it hounded me for the first few years of racing and I felt bad for him.  He was remarkably calm and unbothered by it though, at least outwardly.

The night was sweet.  The temps dropped, as did my HR finally (but not power ;) and I was getting the flow of the course down nicely.  The night actually seemed to help clarify some of the trickier sections of the course.  At Moab the dark seems to obscure them. 

As I started lap 16 Nat was right in front of me, so I slowed a bit as he got rolling out of his pit.  Stalking ;)  He was still riding damn strong, slowly pulling away in the first climb to rocky bitch.  I closed the gap on the descent, then fell back again in the fast rolling section.  He was cooking!  We finished that lap up together chatting a bit....in the pit I recall mentioning that when you ride the paved section with Nat you don't get to eat LOL.

I left the pit about 20 seconds before he did on lap 17 and he closed that gap by the top of the first climb.  I'd been working this descent over for awhile, and felt super confident so let it all hang out this time around.  By the bottom I was on my own so I kept on the gas for that lap.  It was time to race!  There was a lap to pull back ;)

After 2 hot laps I knew I had to back off, so did and kept it right at that manageable pace.  Could I do this for 6 more hours?  Could Nat?  I was slowly pulling that lap back on Nat, and we were both starting to suffer a lot from all accounts.  I know I was.  Trans Utah crept into the back of my head, then the front of my head.  The mental and physical cost of continuing on into the pre-noon heat was crushing my soul.  I flat out did not want this race badly enough.  I wanted to have fun in TU in 2 weeks time.  So I grabbed a chair in the pit.  When Nat came in he was most happy to see this "David Harris, how much longer do you want to ride?!!" was his booming voice.  He may have been suffering on the bike but was still full of swagger on his feet.  The elite men's field was 3 deep and we were all done for various reasons.  We walked over to Dan & John (promoters) and told them our intentions to make this a 19 hour race and they were completely fine with that.  We sat in the shade and chatted about things like Cross Vegas and twisting throttles.  Dan has a monster of a KTM I was drooling over.

24 hour Natz next year has strong appeal.  It will be hard.  Brutal.  I like the Eatough plan of old - do the stuff you really like most of the time, and one bitchin nut buster 24 hour race per year.  Payson will be my nut buster next year and I'll be bringing plums!

About face

I love my Siren SS.  The bike feels as good and natural as anything I've ever ridden.  Bike and rider blur on this steed.

 Yet, racing it in a geared class is a losing proposition.  If there's one thing I learned racing TransRockies on a SS, it's that going with one gear is a major disadvantage.  It was fun and honestly we didn't walk much more than those near us but when it came to flats and descents we got waxed.  Soooo waxed.  We could climb with the lead teams no problem, but riding with faster open men teams was not an option on the flats.  Pat Doyle even tried to pull us into the draft of a fast train a few times but it was not happening at 200 rpm.

 Never say never - like when I said I'd never need gears on the Siren so buzzed one of the big ring arms off the XTR crank - but I'll never race a SS in a geared class again.  That's stupid.  We have a phrase for that:  "taking a knife to a gunfight."  That's what we did at TR and we got shot ;)

There was an enormous amusement factor.  Like day 2, when we were passed by the entire field on a 20k downhill tailwind paved section.  We literally got to see everyone on course that day as the leaders came hiking back down from that missed turn in the avalanche chute...on the first climb we clawed back through the back half of the field.  It was as if they were standing still.  One guy says quietly to his partner "we just got passed by a dude on a single speed", then LW rolls up and says "it get's better!"  There were a lot of moments like that days 1 and 2.  Drew Bragg, announcer extraordanaire, was astonished day 4 when we came in ahead of the Luna team and only 5 min down on the leaders.  At the awards he called up the Luna team saying they must have had a mechanical to finish behind a SS team, LOL.  Earlier in the day someone asked Katerina Nash how her day went and she grunted "we got beat by the single speeders." 

Amusing for sure.

What doesn't settle so well is putting a number plate on and showing up with a limiting bike.  So we are gonna fix that.  VT125 doesn't quite fit the bill, Payson Stampede does, and doubles as a preview of next years 24 nationals course.

We'll have plenty of competition.  And this time around, gears.

Stage racing in our backyard

Lots of riding was done the past 4 days just up the road from us.  A 4 day stage race at BrianHead drew some fast riders.  Maybe payouts really do attract riders?

Top 3 of Elite Men's and Elite Women's Pro field will have equal pay:
                                              
  Elite Payout as follows:

                     Elite Men’s Top 5 Payout: $2,500/$1,500/$1,000/$750/$600.  
                                    $500 bonus to the Winner of each Stage!
  

                      Elite Master’s 40+ Top 5 Payout: $1,500/$1,000/$750/$600/$500.  
                                    $250 bonus to Winner of each Stage!  
                      

Elite Women’s Top 5 Payout: $2,500/$1500/$1000/$550/$400.  
                                    $500 bonus to Winner of each Stage!

 

JHK, Bishop, Irmiger, Pua to name just a few.  Uh, yea 1 week before the NMBS finals race they are doing a 4 day stage race?  Trebon dnf'd day 4 with blood running down the bridge of his nose. 

 

A most interesting testament to the current state of XC racing at the top level - and how much these big dawgs care about their NMBS race next weekend ;)

 

Here they are hitting the first singletrack yesterday (day 4) near 11,000' after 20 minutes of road climbing.

 

 

Not an easy race by any stretch, the route day 2 included all of VRRT (which will also be featured in TU), and yesterday had a couple of trips around next weekends XC course, the techy Dark Hollow and Scout Camp trails.  Next year....

Manny leading the pack

Mario charging hard.  He rode minus rear brakes today.  Down Dark Hollow.  Twice (!).

Heather Irmiger topped the first climb ahead of Pua.

Ernie rocking on.  Nice job for a sea level guy!

Pua.  She has found the magic combo this year.

Fergy!

Miles!

Aaron

Tinker in the 40+ Elite leaders jersey

Sue Butler looking lean and mean

Most everybody who raced was pumped after the finish. Looks like this race formant is a hit - too much fun to miss out on. Next year we'll have to do this one.