Sunday, March 3, 2013

GMT and Power of 4

On February 16th, the Crested Butte Nordic Center hosted the Gothic Mountain Tour.  This event has typically been called the Super Tour.  This was a 2+ hour backcountry event that includes skate skiing or skinning north of Mt Crested Butte and climbs 2000 feet up 403 and descends Washington Gulch to WG trailhead.  This year the Super Tour upgraded to become the Gothic Mountain Tour, a Grand Traverse style event starting at 6am with headlamps.  We started at the Crested Butte school and climbed to the mountain and over Painterboy and Goldlink lifts.  We then took the valley floor north to Gothic and continued up 403.  At the top of 403 we took a gladed descent down to Pittsburg of Slate River drainage.  From there it was a 10K skate down Slate River road, connecting to Mike's Mile and the nordic trails, finishing at the yurt. 
At the start I followed a nordic skier that was unfamiliar with the course route and got lost.  Once on course I was about 5 minutes behind the leaders.  By the time I caught up with teammate Bryan Wickenhauser and Pat Oneil at the front we were at the top of Goldlink, about an hour in.   We all stayed together until 403 with Wick and Pat having skin issues along the way.  Wick and I pulled away on 403 and I started having a skin failure on 403.  I bridged back to Wick and we stayed together till Pittsburg.  Once it became a skate race, I pulled away from Wick and ended up 5 minutes up at the finish.  Pat was back about 8-10 minutes behind Wick.  My winning time was 4:01, 2:15 longer than my winning time in the Super Tour last year!  Everyone enjoyed the new course and the finish at the Yurt was a huge hit.

This past weekend we had the Power of 4 event from Snowmass to Aspen.  We ski all four Aspen Mountains: Snowmass, Buttermilk, Highlands and Aspen Mountain.  We cover over 23 miles and 11,000 vertical feet.  This is a teams race with the same requirements as most COSMIC races-beacon/probe/shovel.  Two years ago I won the event with my teammate Bryan Wickenhauser.  Last year we lost by two seconds.  This year we were looking for revenge from but needed to keep a flawless race to beat Aspen locals Max Tamm and John Gaston.  John is the national champion and Tamm and Gaston became the first Americans to place top 10 in the teams event at the world championships.  
Wick and I held the pace up Snowmass setting tempo for a lot of the climb.  Descending off the resort we kept in contact with some hairball off-camber and tight tree descending above Buttermilk.  About 5 minutes into the technical descent I went to pole plant and noticed 3/4 of my pole was missing.  I had caught a tree with my pole and the bottom half vaporized!  I was left with a single pole and had 5-10 minutes of skinning before descending to the TieHack lift.  Unable to double pole up the bike path I was forced to run most of the way to Highlands.  At the base area I was given a pole from lost and found, an alpine pole about 10 centimeters shorter than my other pole.  The strap was broken as well.  Having a pole gave me motivation and we pulled back 3 minutes we had lost from the pole break.  We all stayed together to the top of Highlands Bowl.  I caught a rock on the descent and crashed hard.  By the bottom I had caught up to Wick and we skied together to the skin transition and down the Congo Trail.  The Congo Trail is a luge type summer trail with fast switchbacks and tight 180 degree corners.  This section is typically unskied with good powder to slow speeds down.  This year it was tracked up with variable snow making slowing down difficult and the demands on the legs unforgiving.  Neither of us crashed but probably hit close to 30 mph on that trail alone!  We then had to ascend Midnight Mine road, a 5 mile long slog with an average grade of 5 percent-Ugh!  I had no purchase with the alpine pole so skating was not possible.  I had to skin up as Wick kept skiing away.  Once skining I was back close to 2 minutes behind Wick.  After about 20 minutes of plodding away by myself I made it back to Wick and we pushed our best to the top of Aspen.  I had one brief crash on the way down but managed to hold it together better than expected.  We ended up 6 minutes down and about 24 minutes ahead of 3rd place-teammate Jon Brown and Billy Laird.  It was tough to miss out on taking win when it was a possibility most of the race but we knew going in it was going to take a flawless race to beat Gaston and Tamm.  
So hear I sit on Sunday afternoon quite exhausted from yesterday's effort.  I feel quite satisfied that we pushed the fastest talent the sport has to offer in the US.  I feel confident in our form going into the Grand Traverse in 3 weeks.  We are going to have our work cut out for us with the Gaston brothers, the Dorais brothers, Marshall and Tom Goth as well as other  amazing talent we have here in the Gunnison Valley.  Thanks for reading and stay posted for the upcoming Grand Traverse.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

February 2013

January was a rough start to my ski mountaineering season.  The three races I did-(Sunlight, Powderhorn and Crested Butte) I had issues with skins/bindings.  I knew my fitness was good but couldn't put together a problem free race.  The second town series ski-mo race at Crested Butte on Tuesday January 29th went very well.  
I carried that confidence to the Alley Loop 42K nordic skate race on February 2nd.  I had only nordic skied about 6 times so far this season so I knew I needed to rely on my ski-mo fitness to have a great race.  Unlike last year ,when I got away with one other racer on the first lap, there were 3 other racers that were solid for the first two laps.  There were lots of accelerations but no one escaped.  It wasn't until the start of the third lap that Matt Hintz from Boulder put in a huge effort and got away on the Peanut Lake loop.  I made a move to bridge the gap but was unsuccessful.  Kevin Hoktl was keeping me in check from behind as well.  I settled in behind  Kevin for the last lap and waited to put pressure on at the Red Lady climb about 5 minutes from the finish.  I buried myself and held on for 2nd place with a 2:03 PR.  The effort left me blown for most of the following week.
The next event on my 2013 winter schedule was the Vail Winter Mountain Games presented by Eddie Bauer.  Last season I won the UMC (Ultimate Mountain Challenge).  This event consists of a 10K nordic skate race, a 17 mile backcountry ski-mountaineering event and finishes with the Vail Uphill (a 2500 foot climb~2 miles up Vail mountain).  Last year the event was decided by accumulated time.  This year the event would be determined by points placing for UMC competitors only.  The skate event was a rough start to the competition.  There were primes for the men and women on the start loop,  $100 cash for the first man/woman.  The pace was very high with Olympians/World Cup athletes toeing the line.  I was dropped immediately and never really got a rhythm throughout the event.  I was passed by a UMC competitor in the first half and was able to stay in second by the skin of my teeth.  Vail's Steve White took the lead with last year's bronze medalist Mike Kloser taking 3rd.  That evening I spent lots of time doing body work and resting for the big day of ski mountaineering the next morning.  The start was much more comfortable than last year and I was able to get off the front and establish a solid gap before the first transition.  I could see my teammate Bryan Wickenhauser holding a solid 2nd for most of the first half.  I made a transition error and was nearly caught by a hard charging Jan Koles.  With some aggressive skiing for the next 10 minutes I had a 1 minute lead heading into the climb up the backside of Vail Mountain.  We had a challenging boot pack up Rasputin bowl and had some incredibly intense snow and wind at the top.  There were many places were I couldn't see the skin track due to the flat light.  The descent down Vail was pretty wild with about 5 minutes of expert moguls and a final boot pack.  I made the bump run fine but had issues with my ski hook at the boot pack.  I kept loosing my hook and skis would fall out.  I managed to complete the boot pack and skied the final 12 gate course to the finish to win about 1:30 ahead of Jan.  Wick lost his pole on the first boot pack and had to  climb down 10 meters to retrieve it, ending up 3rd.  We had some new snow for the Vail uphill on Sunday.  This made for soft snow conditions.  Last year I ran the uphill with yak tracks and lost time to other competitors that used poles.  This year I opted for poles and loved the assistance they provided.  I was able to stay with 2nd and 3rd for most of the event and finished a strong 4th overall.  I ended up clinching the UMC title by 20 points.  Mike Kloser was second in the uphill UMC competition with Steve in third again.  Unfortunately it wasn't enough to beat Steve as he finished 1 point ahead of Mike at the end!  The Ultimate Mountain Challenge was again a huge test of strength and versatility.  I am proud to be able to pull off wins based on time as well as points.  I feel I am truely the UMC champion winning back to back years.
Next up is the Gothic Mountain Tour put on by the Crested Butte Nordic Center.  This event takes place Saturday February 16th.  Team Crested Butte should be well represented for this fun event.  Coming up in March are the big team events-The Power of 4 and the Grand Traverse.  Stay tuned for more results and podium finishes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter 2013

Since the end of summer racing: mountain bike racing and XTERRA, Jenny found out she was pregnant.  Just this past week we found out we are having a baby girl in mid May!  Needless to say Jenny has had an interesting time adjusting to being pregnant for the first time and dealing with Gunnison cold (-35F) in some cases. I did the New Year's Tour without Jenny for the first time in a few years.  I think she was glad to not have to ski off Beckwith and Ohio Passes.  Winter was slow to get here but that didn't deter Team Crested Butte from finding snow up high.  Wick and I made a couple efforts early season to Ruby/Owen above Irwin and found some great northern pow. 
Due to work commmitments with Fed Ex Express I was unable to make the first COSMIC event in Durango.  The Irwin event was cancelled due to lack of snow.  I had to miss yet another national at Jackson Hole as well due to travel.  My first big efforts at ski mountaineering was the Sunlight/Powderhorn double almost two weeks ago.  I somehow missed the start and had skin issues all day at Sunlight.  I made it on time to Powderhorn and was ready for battle but alas more skin problems.  Both events were sub zero making skin transitions very tricky.  There is a chance I put fluoronated wax on my Ski Trab World Cup skis and that could have caused problems with glue tackiness.  I have re-glued my race skin and re-waxed my skis with non-fluoronated wax.  Saturday was the Crested Butte Nordic Citizens series final-30K skate.  This was my test to see if I could hold up to 42K for the Alley Loop in two weeks time.  My skis were wax with a blend of Fast Wax High Flouronated Green and Extreme White.  I applied two layers and had amazingly fast skis for the entire race.  The sun came out and the fluorocarbons made the skis extremely fast.  Somehow I finished in 1hr 13minutes.  What a great event and motivation for the Alley Loop.  I spent the following afternoon and next day setting the CB ski-mountaineering course on Snodgrass Mountain and the resort.  No guide ridge this year but there are 5 transitions and 2 bootpacks.  The vertical has to be more than 5,000 feet.  Good technical skinning and amazing views if you get a chance to peek.
Looking forward to improving on my ski-mountaineering results.  The body feels good so just need to be smooth and not have problems. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's a wrap for the 2012 MTB and XTERRA season

The 2012 summer season was one of big changes for me.  I had a new bike sponsor in Breezer bikes who supplied a Cloud Nine Elite carbon 29er hardtail.  This was my first full season on the 29 inch platform.  The bike performed beyond my expectations, taking place of my 26 hardtail and full suspension.  Hands down the fastest and most stable race bike to date.  Stan's No-Tubes products came on-board, supplying the team with the best tubeless kits and sealants as well as racing and training wheels.  Maxxis signed me for individual sponsorship for my first season.  I rode new tread designs including the amazingly versitile Ikon and the incredibly light Maxxlite 29.  I always had great success with no flats and outstanding traction.
Alpine Orthopaedics provided title sponsorship and support for a second season.   Doctor Rhett Griggs provided medical support for all team members and well as coaching plans if desired.  Pearl Izumi provided team footwear again and supplied some of the sleakest race uniforms as well.  Rudy Project continued their individual sponsorship and extended this season to include team riders with the best glasses and helmets.

I continued to race the regional series events on the Mountain States Cup schedule as well as the marathon distance events in Colorado.  In addition to the mountain bike races I entered 2 XTERRA events to mix up the training program and provide alternative exposure for sponsors.  Unfortunately scheduling conflicts prevented me from participating in the national and world championships in XTERRA.  I plan to make these events a priority in 2013.  My results for 2012 are as follows:

  • 12 Hours of Mesa Verde-1st place Open Men Duo
  • 3rd Place Overall-Growler 64 mile MTB endurance event
  • 2X defending CB Classic Champion (11/12)
  • 3rd Place-Full Tilt in Telluride/3rd Overall in MSC series pro men XC
  • 5th Place- Fat Tire 40 Crested Butte
  • Undefeated in Growler/Pinnacle series 
  • Winner of the Pummeler's Butt 11 mile run/18 mile MTB
  • 2nd Overall-XTERRA Indian Peaks-Eldora, CO
  • 7th Place-XTERRA Mountain Championships-Beaver Creek, CO

A huge thanks to all my sponsors for their support this past season.  I could not have had the success I had without their assistance.  I hope to make a bigger splash in 2013 following more ski mountaineering this upcoming winter.  Stay tuned for more excitement when the COSMIC race series gets underway December 8th at the 3rd annual Irwin event just outside Crested Butte.  Adios summer racing, bring it on El Nino we need some snow!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Golden Fall Fun

These last 8 weeks I put in some good swim time and was feeling the improvement.  I had some local and regional mtb events to prime my bike and was hitting some fast run intervals on the tredmill as well.  I was really looking forward to returning to Snowbasin for a good result.  Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be as I was not given approval from FedEx to take Friday off to drive the trip to Ogden.  Ugh!  Two years in a row!
I decided to enter the CB classic for my third attempt as a fun long effort substitute.  90 miles and over 10K of vertical in the golden high country!  I felt awesome and kept a good fast tempo all day with a finish time of 7:59.  The Breezer Cloud 9 Elite was flawless with Stan's No Tubes Crest wheeset and Maxxis Ikon 2.2 rubber.  Great weather and no mechanicals makes for a great day of riding.
Next weekend is the Big Saturday event put on by Gunnison Trails at Hartman's Rocks.  There will be trail running and mountain biking on tap with longer distances than usual.  I hope to make it a double if I can pull it off!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Last phase of summer season 2012

This past weekend was the final event in the Mountain States Cup series.  Teammate Jari Kirkland and I made the trip to Telluride in her pimped out Toyota Previa minivan.  We stayed in a sweet little cabin located in the rear of Bryan Miller's parents' house in downtown Telluride.  There was an 11am start for the Pro XC so we had a nice leisure morning.  At the start line there was some young blood from Durango chomping for a win including Specialized rider Howard Grotts who has been racing world cups events this season and Peyson from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Sweet Elite Team.  Howard lead from the start and never looked back charging to a whopping 11 minute victory.  I had a good battle for second with Eddie from the Tokyo Joe's squad at the end of the first lap.  At the start of the second lap Eddie out climbed me to clinch 2nd just over a minute up by the finish.  I ended up getting 3rd for the MSC series with a strong finish on the day.  Alpine Orthopaedics teammate Jon Brown was battling Peyson on the first lap for 4th but was out ridden on the second lap and had to settle for 5th, one of Jon's best showings for the season.  Amy Biesel was second in the women's race behind Evelyn Dong with Jenae Pritchett and Jari Kirkland rounding out 3rd and 4th.  Amy took home the pro women's title for the MSC series as well.

In Leadville AO riders had solid placings as well.  My wife Jenny finished stong in 5th with a 7:56.  A slower time than last season due to the headwinds for the last 20 miles.  Bryan Dillon was 15th in the men's race with a 7:11 and Dave Ochs and Ethan Passant were competitive with the deep field as well.

Jenny is off to Snow Basin just outside of Ogden UT for a 100K MTB event this weekend.  She is sporting the Stan's No-Tubes van for her trip.  Jenny is confident of a strong result given her top form following Leadville.  I am hitting the pool with full force, training with the WSC/high school swim team at the WSC pool.  I am holding 3-4K in the pool 3 days and two days in the wetsuit in Blue Mesa.  Seems to be working out well at the moment.  I hope to be able to make it to XTERRA national at the end of September in Snow Basin as well.  If I can afford the trip I will make an attempt at XTERRA Worlds in Maui at the end of October.

I plan to race the local Growler events this coming fall as well as the CB Classic and possibly the Alpine Odessey Leadville Qualifier.  This weekend is the 24 Hours in the Sage.  I plan to assist with event logistics and help feed and do bike maintenance for AO riders when not working Six-Points.  JeThanks for reading and let's hope these fires get put out and we get some clean air soon!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Second Half of 2012 Summer Season

Since my last post, my computer crapped out for the last time.  Jenny's is on the fritz with a broken hinge as well.  Smith's are good with sporting goods but not so savvy with electronics!  Luckily our extremely generous friend Kirk Mueller gave us his backup laptop from Gunnison Shipping.  Huge thanks to Kirk for his generosity.  He is also one of my favorite swimming partners at the recreation center and Blue Mesa.  I now have a computer to post on my blog and have some awesome stories and photos to share.

I threw my hat in the ring at the XTERRA Mountain Championships in Beaver Creek for my first triathlon of the season.  In typical fashion I had a lack luster swim and the race continued to improve once out of the water.  I had the third fastest bike and came into T2 in 8th position and ran up to 7th for the final prize payout and fastest run of the day.  Ryan Ignatz had me running full out just in front and I managed all but 5 seconds at the finish.  Lots of work to do to improve my form for nationals and worlds but not a bad start.
Beaver Creek mountain Championships Xterra.

The Pinnacle races at Mt Crested Butte have resumed for the late summer series.  Alpine Orthopaedics has stepped up once again to support cycling in the valley by sponsoring the series.  All racers entering for the races on Wednesday evening have complimentary entries.  This includes food and a concert at the base area.  I was unable to make the hill climb event on July 11th but managed to make the July 18th cross-country event.  I had a great race with teammate Ethan Passant pushing me to my limits then nearly puking at 10,000+ feet.  We were less than 30 seconds apart as I managed to pull of the win.  Somehow I ended up with a Fullers Vintage Ale at the raffle.  Not too bad for a Wednesday night.

Sue Haywood made the trip from Virginia to participate in an enduro event at Winter Park.  She stopped in Gunnison for 3 days of riding.  Jenny showed her the figure 8 loop on Monarch pass-73 miles, 11,000 feet of climbing in over 8 hours of riding. Excellent effort for a low lander.  I took Sue on a tour of Hartman's most technical terrain and finished on the swoosh at around 8:30pm.  I think she was pretty pumped.  On Sunday I got all my honey do's done then made a quick and painful effort to Fossil Ridge via Willow Creek to Gold Creek Campground.  Got nearly 4,000 feet of climbing in in 75 minutes.  Even stopped to take a few solo pictures on the top.



The following weekend I hooked up with my Alpine Orthopeadics teammate, Jon Brown.  He is training for an adventure race in China and was keen for some multisport training so we got after it.  I pulled a swim, run, bike day on Friday that included a 3K swim, a treadmill run of 10x1min @ 12mph with 1min recovery @ 9mph and a 1:30 recovery road ride with Jon.  Saturday Jon and I hit the West Elk mountains for a Swampy to Lowline ride round trip from Mill Creek.  We managed to miss the big rain but the track was well saturated from heavy ran and we got good and dirty.  The Breezer's were over 50 lbs for sure and traction was non-existent.  The 3-4 hour ride was 4+ was a tough guy ride.
Breezers Pre West Elk mountains ride.

Lowline trail, West Elks.

Muddy Bikes

Post Swampy, Low line mudfest.

 Sunday was the big multisport day.  I met Jon Elm here in Gunnison and we drove out to Blue Mesa for a swim.  We'd been talking for a while about doing  a point to point swim from Dry Creek to the Blue Mesa Marina.  We dropped off the wetsuits at Dry Creek in a sage bush and drove to the marina where we parked and started running. Swim trunk running along hwy 50 on a Sunday morning must have beena sight for sure. e dove in at dry creek and  45 minutes later we were back at the marina after an adventurous swim with many water ski boats and lots of good swells.
Then it was on to stage two, Jon Elm took running shoes for Jon Brown and I and had them ready for us in Crested Butte.  Brown and I rode to CB in 1:18 with almost no headwind.  We transitioned to running shoes and ran the bike path to the base of Mt CB.  We ascended the West side trail and continued to straight line hike to Monument.  We then ran the road to the top of the Silver Queen and hike/jogged the peak trail to the summit.  We descended to the base area and caught the town shuttle to CB as our legs were blown up.  A proper refuel at Teocalli  Tamale with Mike's Mexicali burritos and some Mexican coke and we ripped back to Gunnison in 1 hour.  I was feeling much better by the time I got to Gunnison compared to after our peak run.  2:18 run time and 2:18 ride time at 8,000+ makes for some good training. 

I plan to participate in the Pinnacle race this coming Wednesday then the XTERRA India Peaks at Eldora on Saturday.  I hope to make the trip back to Gunnison for the Western State College's Coach Vandenbusche reunion dinner and slide presentation on Saturday night.  Thanks for reading and be sure to get out a ride.  Conditions are as good as they get!