Happy New Year everybody!!
After hiking out of the Grand Canyon and a juicy Portobello mushroom burger at Jacob Lake Lodge I headed down to Stateline campground arriving after dark. This also happens to be the end of the Arizona Trail.
Lucky #6: I got the last campsite at Stateline campground. I was surprised it was nearly full. I have never seen more than one other group there!
Lucky #7: My neighbor camper invited me over to his camp fire already roaring away! Many people reached out to me on this trip, maybe because I was solo. He had driven all the way from Texas to hike The Wave but had not been able to secure a permit. He told me 10 permits to hike The Wave are given out online 4 months in advance and are scooped up immediately. 10 walk in permits are given out each morning in a lottery!
The lottery draw for The Wave sounded like something to witness so the next morning I attended! There were 101 people there for 10 slots!!
Lucky #8: My name was pulled and I got TWO permits for The Wave the following day!!
Lucky #9: I had plans to meet DH that day. We went to Grovesnor Arch. Another place I have seen on magazine covers and never been.
The next day we hiked to The Wave and it was everything hyped up to be and then a bit more amazing than that. Lucky me.
I had a kinder free week last week and some vacation time on the schedule. Originally I was going to race Coconino 250 but unfortunately the knee I thought I had rehabbed had different ideas and said no thanks. Pedaling drives my knee crazy but walking is fine.So I went on a lil walkabout in Northern Arizona/Southern Utah. There are many magnificent places I do not often visit near here because bikes are not allowed.
Due to my last minute change of plans I had no permits or reservations anywhere. I threw a bunch of maps and a variety of gear in my car and rolled solo with my fingers crossed.
Grand Canyon National Park North Rim was the first place I aimed for. There was an inch of snow on the ground, the sign on the entrance station said “north rim campground full” and the entrance station ranger was Mr Grumpy! Not a great start.
Lucky #1: 4pm at the back-country office I got the last back country permit for the following night at Cottonwood and the night after at Phantom Ranch. Super lucky to walk up and get those!! The ranger in the back-country office was Mrs Jolly.
Lucky #2: Mrs Jolly ranger at the back-country office called over to her buddy ranger at the “full” campground and hooked me up with a spot in the group site – score!! That saved me about 50 miles of driving.
Lucky #3: I was invited to join a roaring fire at the group site and had a great evening chatting with the group.
North Kaibab Trail down into the Grand Canyon is pretty much a highway. I think next time I am on this trail I will have a bicycle with me (if I am lucky enough).
Lucky #4: I hiked into the inner canyon. It has been a long time since I have done that. I love the Grand Canyon. It is perhaps my most favorite place in the whole world. Lucky me to be there.
Lucky #5: No wind, beautiful day. In fact weather was absent from my entire trip.
Cottonwood campground. The tarp was mostly to keep the full moonlight out of my eyes! Beautiful night.
Ribbon Falls is a side trip off the main Kaibab trail and worth it. I got wet taking this pic.
Cute cabins at Phantom Ranch. To sleep in a cabin here you need to apply 13 months in advance on the 1st of the month and be really lucky. Sounds like getting in to some bike races…
Black suspension bridge on Kaibab Trail crossing the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Self portrait pic to prove I was there!
I loved the hike out of the canyon the next day. Stowed my camera and motored up in a sweat. That felt great. My knee has hurt too much on a bike this year to build up much of a sweat but hiking seems fine for it – frustrating as riding my bike is really what I want to do most days and all day. I really like to ride my bike.
Lots more lucky ensued the rest of my week – more picslater.
I’ve never been a fan of racing into shape but that is exactly what I am doing this fall after my normal summer hiatus from training – and I’m having the time of my life doing it too!! Which is kinda surprising me and making me giggle. I like to giggle ;-)
My tag line for 11 years now (Wesley is 11) has been mom, coach, racer – not always in that order. Summertime mom and coach have had top billing and racer takes a back seat. With my athletes in their peak races I prefer to spend June and July focusing on their peaks and successes. Summer is kids out of school time and I prefer playing with them rather than spending my time out training. The final nail in the summer fitness here in St George is the fact it is too darn hot to pedal hard in July and August, effectively shelving quality training right there. I really enjoy my coach/mom mode in the summer except that I land in late August pretty much out of race shape when the really cool fall races are scheduled.
This year a new race series, The Utah State Championship series was established in Utah. It was a 4 race series and I missed the first 3 races while I was in mom/coach mode. I wanted to show and support at least one of their races as I think it is a really great new series. The final race was on August 20th. Yep I was not in race shape but August 20th is my birthday and I decided for my birthday I wanted to race, so I did :-) Not only was I out of race shape I had never ridden the course or the trails before – totally unprepared :-) No pressure, just a birthday race. A small but fast pro women field had me off the back, sucking wind immediately – gosh these ladies are fast!!! On lap 2 I was in last place!! Last place…and I was still giggling and having a good time :-) I was also pedaling as hard as I could! I managed to pull back one place by the end and finish not quite last.
I was psyched to support the last race of the USCS series. I experienced clock work registration, a fun course so well marked I was able to ride it at race speed sight unseen.
I was surprised how much fun I had racing. I had missed racing. I hadn’t raced since April. It felt good to ride fast even though my fast was not as fast as most everybody else’s. I looked at the calendar and next weekend was Mt Ogden 100k -ooooohhh. Another course I had not ridden and another race I would like to experience. I hooked up a ride with Bill and a place to stay with Sarah, entered and it was a go!!
It was hot and dusty
My legs were a little happier at race pace at Mt Ogden 100k and race pace was a little slower being a longer race. I don’t have race speed but I still have my diesel engine. I finished in 6:55, 3rd place,clocking 62 miles, 9100ft of elev gain and 400 TSS. Climby!! Also descendy!! ALL of the descending was on singletrack and there were some fun trails out there. Super awesome fun course. I deffo will go back and do that race again.
Great organization, really fun course and good vibes. The aid station volunteers were full of energy rushing to fill my camelback and getting everything I needed. Other stations I didn’t stop at I was cheered on or had shirtless cute guys running alongside me pouring icy water on my back. That made me giggle :-) Bill won his category in the 100k (congrats Bill!) so success for us!
…and then last week unfortunately one of my athletes pulled out of Park City Point to Point which was disappointing for Coach Lynda BUT not quite so disappointing for racer Lynda cause I got her slot (thanks MB ;-) !! There are 17 Pro women registered for Park City Point to Point!! I squeaked in on the last day to transfer. It is the biggest pro women field I have ever seen at an endurance race and it is also deep. I’m very excited to toe the line with these ladies continuing my surprise unplanned race into shape binge.
If you know me, you know I am (an over?) planner and ending up on a spontaneous race binge of this size is, well….making me giggle. The unplanned and unpreparedness of it all seems to have released any sort of performance expectations I had and allowed me just to relax and experience all the things I really enjoy about racing…and I do really like racing my mountain bike, tee hee hee :-)
DH and I did a 2 day bikepacking loop linking up Colorado Trail Coney’s segment 22, Cataract/Stoney Pass segment 23 with Cinnamon pass.
It was maybe the most amazing 2 days I have spent on a bike. The flowers were exploding, vistas eye popping, trails perfect, weather bluebird.
Altitude + flowers + blue sky + big vistas + bikes + sweet trail + DH = giddy Lynda :-) I’m still giddy.
I took 300 photos! Here is a slideshow of the best 30. Photos describe everything better than my words.
and on Strava
One of the best things about the Dixie’s is the people it attracts. A small, talented group toed the start. Everyone’s kit looked tight and pro. It’s amazing how far bikepacking has come in a few short years.
Left to right: Eszter, Ken, Sara, Taylor, Aaron.
Since I had to be back in St George Sat evening I chose different ride for the day – one that put me on top of Powell Point when the leaders arrived.
Aaron was first up:
Followed shortly by Eszter.
They were carrying spots – with bluedot I knew when they’d be up there, and who was coming next. It appeared nobody – so I rode the route to Tropic with Ez. What a blast! Super fun 2 hour descent, it throws a little of everything at you.
Ken and Sara on the way up Powell Point looking snappy (they don’t have a spot):
Ez on the Henderson Canyon descent
Looking the other direction on the trail…I finally discovered my droid was set on blue tint, doh!
Aaron about ready to roll south of Tropic
They are in the thick of the hardest part of the route. Very remote and the southern exposure can make it feel warmer than it actually is. It is gorgeous down there tho! We’ll see what the day brings, but I don’t think we’ll see any finishers before dark.
Follow the race progress at http://trackleaders.com/dixie200
We headed up to the Markagunt Plateau Saturday for a final check on conditions. According to the snow models it looked tight – too tight for comfort. I had to have on the ground intel. Here is what we saw.
The Virgin River Rim trail is at the top of that ridge – and as far as we could tell it was covered in 4-8 feet of snow. The area is saturated with runoff, the snow is still deep, and the downed trees are worse than ever. A ranger said 200 trees were cut out of a 1/4 stretch of a local trail.
That turned out to be a pretty big deal. I had anticipated several snow detours, but the VRRT via Woods ranch is the entrance to the Markagunt. With that access currently unavailable, it was time for some thinking.
I have so many GPS files for the region from scouring out the best routes for Trans Utah – thousands of miles of tracks in fact – I was confident of coming up with a good alternative, one that did not even include the Markagunt at all. C’est la vie…
Looking at paper maps for about an hour I came up with an idea. It did require some scouting for a key connector, and it panned out nicely. Great Western Trail to the rescue!
The new route gets more singletrack in the Red Canyon area, finishes with Thunder Mountain(!), has an optional out and back to Powell Point, a fantastic descent into Tropic, completely circumnavigates Bryce Canyon NP, and still maintains the Paunsaugunt as its core. Beyond Tropic it gets quite remote – it will be committing for riders leaving Tropic. There are no bailouts until the other side of the Paunsaugunt.
It doesn’t quite hit the 200 mile mark, but I guarantee you won’t feel cheated on distance by the end ;)
One of my favorite areas on the route is Henderson Canyon beneath Powell Point. The ride to Powell Point is optional since it could be a bit wet up there, and it makes refueling in Tropic problematic. 10 hour time bonus and the best view going for those that do it!
From the top southern Utah is in view, including Bryce in this pic.
The Paunsaugunt is wild and remote. There is awesome singletrack, steep atv track, and some forgotten trail. It’s slow going and the route’s crux. Plan water carefully leaving Tropic.
There’s a good hard core group making the trip. I’m really looking forward to meeting folks in Red Canyon for the start. Sadly, I can’t do the ride this year but will ride a good bit with folks on Saturday before I make my exit.