Monday, December 19, 2011

Hut Hut

This past weekend I went up to the Peter Estin 10th Mountain hut.  Our group had 14 or so people, most of whom met Friday morning for the trek up to 11,200 ft.  The weather for hike was warm and sunny, which is quite a contrast to the previous three hut trips I have done.  I think the other three were very cold, and at least one was quite snowy.  A base layer and pullover were all that were needed to keep me warm this time.  We even found the hut before lunch, which is a first.  This allowed for plenty of lounging around.

Home for the past weekend, no electricity or water, but pretty sweet

View from the outside of the hut

Saturday I got off to a slow start, but rallied after breakfast.  Most of the group took off for Charles Peak, which sits at 12,050 ft.  Five of us motivated sorts chose to go on.  Eric and I set the pace and our destination was the highest peak in the center of the picture below.  We encountered some extended ups and downs and had to break trail in fairly deep snow.  The pitches we experienced proved to be the most difficult though.  Even with my MSR snowshoes, which have amazing crampons, I was sliding down quite a bit and I had to use my hands to balance and crawl up.  Once we reached the hump in the middle of the picture, the terrain after it and before the long ridge were a little to dicey to carry on.  A quick snack and the others decided to return back.  Eric and I had no desire to head to the hut early.  As long as the sun was up and the temperature was tolerable, we sat on some rocks to enjoy the view.

Taken from the top of Charles, which is higher than our turn around point
Our tracks to the top can be seen if you zoom in
 Evidence of hard work and unseasonably warm temperatures
 The trail back down

Monday, December 12, 2011


In January of 2009 a group of friends and I challenged ourselves to ride a century a month.  It became what we did.  Every month, we would get together, ride, stop for candy, cokes, and ice cream.  At first it was a challenge (not the eating part, the riding).  Can we get the ride in before it gets dark in the winter?  What about the winter, which Denver does get.  Early on, it was something I had to prep for quite a bit.  But it was fun.  I mean riding your bike all day with friends.  Its tough to beat. 

Chris, me, Brady, Erik, Jeremy
It also paved the way for bigger things.  Some of the rides were quite difficult.  I learned a lot while I was out there, wherever there might be.  What works well to keep me going.  How far can I push myself. 

36 months later the streak continues.  36 consecutive months with at least 1 100 mile bike ride.  How it goes down changed a bit.  People moved on and don't ride as much.  Unfortunately I rode a handful of them by myself this year.  Will it continue, I don't know.  I will still ride my bike and get big rides in, but the 100s, well its not quite the same doing this by myself. 

1999 Specialized M2Comp after its 1st 100 mile bike ride

Sundays ride, while not the most difficult (Mt. Evans from town?  WRIAD with lots of wind?  Wrist canyon with rain and maybe 50 degrees?) was up there.  I departed at 6:38 AM.  It was cold.  I turned back for more clothes.  The hose on my camelbak was frozen for at least the first two hours.  It was icy and snowy, which is why I chose the Specialized.  I certainly would have died had I tried to ride my road bike.  The ride itself was pretty uneventful.  Lots of bike paths, a few roads, some state parks, and a pretty fair headwind out of the south.  About the most exciting thing that happened was passing a pack of roadies as they were walking on ice and snow a few minutes after they blew by me.  I rode the snow.  They hiked it, ha.  Oh, and I had to get done by 1:50 or so so I could see the kickoff of the Packer game.  Almost 7 hours of pedal time, and I made it.  36 for 36.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Well I guess if its going to be winter.....

Snow and frigid temperatures hit the Front Range this weekend and this called for an activity change.  I have a few snowshoe trips planned, so I decided to get my winter gear dialed in.  Saturday I went up to Rogers Lake with some friends that will be going with me to the Peter Estin 10th Mountain division hut shortly.  4 hours of snowshoeing, 2,000ft plus of elevation gained to reach a max elevation of 11,300ft, and temps hovering around 8 at the car made for a good test. 

Sunday I rolled out the snowbike!  Few bikes give you more smiles per mile.  Tim actually rode with me to, and he was on his regular mountain bike.  I wasn't really sure how this "ride" would turn out as I've not ridden the Pugsley at Bear Creek State Park.  We rode around aimlessly for a while finding a lot of trails that had a little to much snow to roll consistently.  Then we found a fun loop consisting of 50% or more of wooded singletrack.  A few laps, and we had a small course that was getting good and packed down.  A little exploring and we were able to make a figure 8 that was quite fun.  My new winter shoes and Twin Six Metal jacket kept me quite warm.  Details here.  I will be heading back Monday for more laps, but this time it will be at night with lights.  Sick!  Will you be there?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Burning Turkeyday extra weight

Its been almost a month with no blog like activity.   Got out for a great ride today.  Rode mostly dirt from home to Bear Creek state park to Mt. Falcon to Lair O' Bear and back.  Info here.  It wasn't fast, but the legs are beginning to like to turn pedals again.

TwinSix and Honey Stinger will once again be on board for 2012!  I am hoping to hear from others shortly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Moab and Fruita

Things have been fairly quiet for me lately.  I fell flat on my face (not literally) at the end of September.  Most of October was spent being lazy.  A few easy bike rides here and there, but nothing to taxing.  It had been a long season, but a trip to the desert still was in order.  Tim and I put a few things in the E Thursday after work and drove to Moab.  We got to camp late and the stars were out in full force.  I never use a tent in Moab as I really like looking up at the stars from my sleeping bag.  Words can't describe a clear night in the desert.

I guess thats a few things in the E

Home for 3 days

Friday morning we got up to ride Amassa Back.  I had never ridden there, so it had to be done.  Its a shorter ride with many rocky features to ride.  We even rode Rockstacker, the wrong way mind you.  Rockstacker is an all mountain sort of trail well suited to short travel cross country bikes, I mean 6 inch travel bikes (we don't have these).  After Amassa Back, we packed up the E and drove to Sovereign Singletrack for another ride.  A wrong turn and my tired legs lead us to a little earlier quitting time than anticipated.  Saturdays totals hereParaxdox Pizza fueled us for the the next days rides.

Paradox Pizza, the best place in Moab for a Pizza Pie

Saturday's ride was a ride I wanted to link up for a while.  Moab-Slickrock-Porcupine Rim-Moab.  I thought this would be a fairly big ride.  Turned out it was fun too.  Fred joined us for the ride out of town and through Slickrock.  The crazy pitches at Slickrock were difficult for me as I had little to no pop in my legs.  The descending is fun though.  You can descend and climb (typically) pitches far steeper than you usually can due to the tackiness of the rock.  Quick lunch and it was on to the climb up Porcupine Rim.  This is one of the first times I actually really wanted a longer travel bike.  Porcupine Rim. Saturdays ride data here.
 Follow the white line
Me, Fred, and Tim overlooking the river below

Sunday it was on to the Kokopelli trailhead for some exploring.  Every previous ride here I had been on the same few trails.  The area is a nice mix of flowy technical trails.  But I wanted to ride more.  We rode the usual trails and then continued on to Steve's loop and then Troy Built. The new to me trails were great.  Its always good to get in new trails.  Sundays ride.
Rocky terrain

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday night mountain biking tradition

 The city, full moon, and me
Eric D.

It started a little over a year ago.  A handful of friends head out for a weekly night mountain bike ride almost every Wednesday starting in late August as the sun starts to set a little earlier.  Its turned into a pretty nice tradition.  We typically aim for 2 to 2.5 hours, and most of our rides take place at Buffalo Creek, one of my favorite close trails.  Riding at night adds a new element of fun to familiar trails.  Also very few riders are out, which is a nice change of pace compared to the weekends, which are especially crowded this time of year.  While there may be less people to see them, these night rides always bring plenty of smiles to my face.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chequamegon 2011

Saturday September 17 was the 29th annual Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival (8th in a row for me).  The "40" is the biggest race in the midwest and attracts riders from all over.  This year Christian Vande Velde (Cervelo Garmin) and Jason McCartney (Radio Shack) took the line. I made the journey to the Great North Woods of Wisconsin by myself this year, which gave me a little more flexibility so I took another day off of work. 

After the long drive I got to Eau Claire Wisconsin mid afternoon to spin out the legs and to meet Jim.  Perfect temperatures and dry ground made for a fun ride.  Afterwards we met up with my parents to find a place to stay and get some dinner.

Close trees and wide handlebars, I probably hit 3 trees between Thursday and Monday

Lowe's Creek Eau Claire-tight, twisty, fun

Friday morning the drive continued on to Hayward, Wisconsin to meet the other Fat Tire participants.  I pretty much parked across the street from the Angry Minnow where Nate, Kim, Paul, and Melinda happened to be eating lunch.  After lunch I found the cabin and got settled in until it was time for registration.  After a long season highlighted by finishing the CTR, my approach to this race was somewhat ho hum.  Its amazing what pinning a number on my bike did to my mentality.  As soon as #628 was on the Lev, there seemed to be a flip of the switch.  Baked Ziti, a visit from a couple friends fresh off the Boundary Waters trip, some time spent race strategizing, and it was off to bed.

The 4:20AM wake up seemed crazy, but row three staging was worth it.   Jesse, Erin, Justin, Jeremy Vogels, and I all had solid placing.  The 10AM start is unlike anything I have ever seen.  1,900 plus mountain bikers rolling down the crowded streets of Hayward makes for quite an experience.  Starting, slowing, turning, turning into roads with medians, and then finally the right hand turn to Hwy 77.  This is where the race truly opens up.  Speeds in the upper 20s on mountain bikes!  I ran into Jesse and Erin, and we picked the pace on 77.  I think this is the hardest I ever went off of the start, but I felt good.  I backed off a little before the turn into Rosie's field where the race hits dirt.  The trail is wide open and bumpy, but after the first decent, I turned it back on.  

Road race tactics on a mountain bike

 My turn to pull, going all out
Completely gased at the finish line
At this point Nate (preferred start), Jeremy, Jesse, and Erin were all in front of me, but I could see a couple of them from time to time.  I decided I would let the race come to me instead of attach them this early.  9.5 miles in I picked off Nate.  The next 15 miles would be pretty consistent.  Work the rollers, push it up the hills, work in groups when I could, and let if fly on the descents.  Mile 25 I passed Erin.  Mile 26 or so I passed Jesse on the false Firetower climb, which is the hardest point in the race.  I think the actual climb starts about mile 28 or so, which is where I passed Jeremy.  Its loose, rocky, and has 3 steep pitches (upper teens for grades).  I was weaving in and out of riders up this tight two track climb, often picking the worst lines because it was the only free area.  By the time I got to the top, I was with one other rider.  We passed many riders and put some distance on a group of 10 or so I began the climb with.  I typically redline up this climb as there is a nice recovery descent on the backside.  If I soft pedal down this I keep moving pretty well and usually open up gap on those surrounding me at the top.  Mile 32 I started to cramp and pop though.  I had gone pretty much flat out from the start.  My legs were not used to such an effort.  I was worried.  I did not really have the extra gear I had in years past as I spent the whole year training for 5hr plus races and really only had 2 weeks of solid training since recovering from the CTR.  

From mile 32 on I was frequently looking over my shoulders.  Mile 34 I stopped at an aid station and downed 6 cups of water, which helped a lot.  I began to regain my composure as a fast group flew by.  I latched on and even worked in a few times.  We were flying, and I even got a little recovery when I got to sit in.  A strong finish lead me to a time of 2:31:52.  Not a PR, but it was my best ever placing at 173 overall out of 1919 finishers (27/161 age category).  The coarse was in great shape, maybe even a little to dry and loose.  I was thankful that I used a Schwalbe Rocket Ron on the front.  The Stan's Raven I used last year would have made things a bit difficult with limited traction up front.

Race stats here.

 After the race I ran into a friend I had not seen since college.  We both noticed that we would be racing based on a post on Facebook, one of the actual real benefits of that.  It was his first race, and he had a blast.  Post race BBQ at the original Famous Dave's, fires, and drinks highlighted the evening.  

BBQ and flannel

Sunday after parting ways I met up with Jim again.  The plan was to ride bikes, but rain spoiled our fun.  We mulled around at a local bike shop for a while and then found a spot to watch the Packer game.  I think the record player stopped when we entered the bar.  Everyone there was huddled around the oval bar in the middle, no seats outside the bar area were filled.  The walls were covered with NASCAR signs and many signs for many sports teams.  After a long day, all I wanted was water.  I asked for a pitcher, and apparently there was not one behind the bar-the bartender had to go to a back room to get one.  I asked for a menu and was promptly given a strange look.  Guess the grill wasn't on today?  Oh, then I noticed it was a potluck lunch and everyone was to bring a dish.  Really, who does this?   Needless to say, as soon as the Packer game was over, we got out of there.  

Mondays weather was much better.  Jim had ridden the Hatchery Creek trail system and thought it would drain well, which was true.  The trail consisted of deep forest twisty fun rolling singletrack (need more adjectives?).  The trails also crossed the beginning of Saturdays race.  I saw the trails during previous races and always wondered about them.  I would definitely go back. We also rode a bit of the race course, which was kind of interesting since I was on my single speed mountain bike.

Eight Chequamegons in a row.  Its been a good tradition.  Its always nice to see my parents and friends I used to race with and against.  The Great North Woods of Wisconsin are always a good time, and I regret not exploring them more when I lived in Wisconsin. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The 2011 Colorado Trail Race

Like all seemingly great ideas, mountain biking the Colorado Trail came to Eric and I while sitting around a camp fire, this time in Twin Lakes, one of our favorite spots.  I am sure a beer or two was involved.  This adventure was out of the norm as Eric had never really even ridden a mountain bike at the time.  I had no concerns about his endurance, but we had to get him going on a mountain bike, and fast.  The idea of the ride turned into the idea of doing the Colorado Trail Race as Chris Plesko recommended that because there would at least be other riders out there.  And so the obsession began...

Months of planning, reading, and studying the route began long before my first bike race of 2011.  This ride (race!) has so many details you need to cover.  What type of equipment do you need?  Food?  Where do you get food?  How much does my setup weigh?  Can I knock 3 grams off of that, ha ha.

Race day seemed to be approaching fast as July came around.  Weeks turned into days and nerves grew.  There are so many things that can go wrong when riding a mountain bike 20 miles, let alone 500 miles through extremely remote wilderness.  We thought we were preparing well, but a series of attempted bikepacking trips went wrong.  Yes, trips that turned out to be less than 10 miles (a lot less than 500 miles).

CTR start line.  80ish bikepackers!

The start of the race was broken into waves due to the amount of people and how soon the trail bottlenecks.  Eric and I lined up in the 6-8 day wave.  I would guess 40 to 50 people started at the same time we did.  I took off and was sort of cautious.  As soon as we hit the trail, it was like a cross country race in that riders were wheel to wheel.  I knew this was make Eric jittery as this was his first mountain bike race (yes folks, thats right).  In the first 6 or so miles I saw one rider with a broken rear rack and all his gear strewn across the trail.  Another rider tried to ride a punchy rock feature.  As I called out "walking," the rider fell and broke his seat.  Game over for these two, and so soon.  I crested a climb about 7 miles into the race.  Eric was no where to be seen, so I waited.  15 minutes later he makes it up the climb and has a look of disbelief on his face.  Something was wrong with the free hub body and his cassette would barely turn.  He could ride it, but it was strange.  I calmed him down and said we have two options.  Limp in to Breck, or quit.  Simple choice, off to Breck it was.  As we rolled down Segment 1, his free hub seemed to be working ok.  I tried to complicate things by crashing on one of the switchbacks at the end of segment 1.  When I put my hand out to soften the blow, I smashed a rock and hurt the palm of my hand and thumb quite a bit,  It would be quite sore for 2-3 more days and very black.  

We experienced a little bit of rain and a closed gas station in Bailey, which was to be our first resupply point.  Neither was an issue though.  A quick stop for a hot dog and the fact that we carried a little more food than "needed" and this was not a problem.  Both of us agreed we would prefer to err on the side of to much food and water for this trip.  A road ride up 285 and it was on to Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass, one of my favorite trails.

Matt, me, and Eric.  The camaraderie of racers was amazing
First nights campsite about 7 miles up to Georgia pass after 72 miles

Day 2 we started with the remaining climb up to Georgia pass.  The ride down to Tiger road/Breckenridge was pretty fun.  There was rolling singletrack that lead to some rocky hike a bike sections for us.  I typically thought that I should ride at about 65% of my technical ability so I would not crash, end the journey, or break something.  A quick detour due to some forest service work lead us to a part of the CT that was new to me.  On to Breckenridge to resupply and to get Eric's free hub fixed.  Carver bikes was amazing.  They took care of the wheel and off we were.  The 10 mile range was our next obstacle.  Its a pretty burly climb with about 2,000 ft of hike a bike to get to the summit.  The reward was an amazing view of Breckenridge, Copper mountain, and the approaching storms....

The Lev on top of Georgia Pass

Summit of the 10 mile climb overlooking Copper mountain

We descended into Copper as the storm approached and pushed on in the rain and darkness.  After an hour or so of that we decided it was time to set up camp.  Night two was cold, rainy, and quite miserable.  I found out my tarp was not completely waterproof, and most of my stuff was sort of wet.  I was very thankful for my bivy for keeping my sleeping bag dry.   The cold and wet night lead to a miserable start to the next day.  Thankfully we got to climb off of the start and quickly warmed up.  
Marmot disappointed due to no snowmobiling

Our first obstacles on day 3 were Searle and Kokomo, two 12,000 plus peaks with amazing views and great weather.  The ride down from here was one of my favorites of the trip.  Lots of singletrack, some quite steep and rocky.  This descent seemed to go on forever through the lush forest.  It would make an amazing day trip.  It was also the first places I noticed myself bonking. I had nothing on the climb out and was starting to get agitated at stupid little things.  Eric noticed this too.  I started to force food down.  First it was a caffeinated gel, and went to a few other things.  A root beer at the top of Tennessee pass that we found in a container labeled "Trail Magic" courtesy of Leadville Hostel had me flying!  I felt great again and the trail down was sick.  I even rode into a segment we were not supposed to ride, and thankfully stopped before I got lost.  We hit the road into Leadville with visions of large burgers dancing in our heads.  On the way we came to a point where the road was one lane due to construction.  I warned the stop sign holder that she best let us through in a sarcastic tone because she was holding up our bike race and costing us about one minute on the way to Durango.
Pulling away to get that burger! 

We left Leadville happy after a large burger, fries, and many Cokes.  Segment 11 north of Twin lakes was a lot of fun and things were looking good.  Once at Twin lakes though, rain for the 3rd day in a row was imminent.  The crazy idea of pushing on into Buena Vista for a hotel room became the goal.  My mindset changed to mission mode as I pushed hard around the lake and into the next section of segment 11.  We rode through rain, lightning, and darkness for the next 4.5 hours.  Towards the end of segment 11, I could tell Eric was hitting the wall.  On the long descent I was periodically looking to the right to see if I could see the signs of the road 800 ft below.  Every time I turned my head to the right I noticed that he would too as I could see his headlamp a second or two after me.  After doing this several times, I half turned my light two consecutive times only to see him do the full turn.  I broke out laughing as I was messing with him, which we tended to do at times.  Seriously though, it was helpful for us to ride together to help each other through the bonks and to suggest things like eating, resting, or anything else that we needed to do to get though the adventure.  The rest of the night was road riding into Buena Vista.  We ended up arriving into town at about 11:30 PM, which made for an amazing push and a well deserved hotel where we each devoured breakfast twice in the morning.  

Taken before the ride down to Twin Lakes
Buena Vista hotel room destroyed by dirty bikepackers, sorry
Departing from Buena Vista happy, full, and well rested

A 10 mile road climb up from Buena Vista dumped us into segment 13, which had some pretty fun stuff to ride.  Another great meal at Princeton Hot Springs and it was on to segment 14, which I dreaded since riding it with Brad about 6 weeks ago.  An extended hike a bike climb, followed by a valley that we rode in while getting rained on and long rocky sections barely rideable with camping equipment pursued.  This section went on for what seemed like forever. We reached hwy 50 late and decided to camp about 30 ft from the road.  A RV site 1 mile east was our last resupply point until Silverton, some 150 miles away.  The RV place had Gatorade, breakfast Mountain Dew, more candy bars, and little packages of cereal.  After this, it was time to tackle Fooses creek trail.  

A little steep as you can see

Fooses Creek brought us to the iconic Monarch Crest trail.  Here we rolled past many day trippers while rocking our full setup.  It was great seeing faces of riders as we rolled past them with a loaded bike.  The occasional "are you guys in the race," which we got every so often throughout our ride was inspiring too.  It was pretty cool that people knew of the small underground race we were participating in.  If you have heard of the the Monarch Crest trail, you know the downhill and singletrack here rocked and was more than worth the effort to get to the top of Fooses Creek.  The next few segments flew by, as the adventure often times seemed to.  There was a long section with very limited water.  
 Local wildlife as seen in Segment 16
 "Apple's" camp, a Trail Angel after a tough Segment 17

We departed from Apple's camp with stomach's full of breakfast Oreo's and Cokes.  The trail after hwy114 started off with a fair singletrack climb but rolled into a long valley.  The long rolling valley was a nice treat after days of high mountain passes and burly terrain. 

At this point of the race we were literally in the middle of nowhere.  It was nice to have a pace dog for a couple miles.  He seemed pretty cool.  I only wish he would have been with us longer.  My pace dog and I were riding side by side and quickly approaching a cattle guard.  I was interested to see how a smaller dog at full speed would get past a cattle guard.  Poor dog attempted to hurtle the cattle guard and ended up a little short.  I did not see what happened, but Eric, who was riding a little ways behind me, said he appeared to hurt himself fairly good, but was still moving a bit.  

The day was coming together quite nicely and we were well on our way for setting ourselves up for the section that scared us the most-the Coney Cataract section.  We heard many tales of people getting stuck in afternoon storms there and it sounded as if it had its own climate.  Our campsite was the night before this section was just below treeline and we were primed for an early start.

Campsite just past Spring Creek at 11,600 ft
An early start to hopefully avoid storms above treeline

The first few hours had a mix of walking and really fun wooded singletrack, which was a fair surprise given how high up we were.  Then we hit some of the tough stuff.  I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about segments 22 and 23.  These segments were probably the most beautiful, but also the most difficult.  We probably pushed bikes more than 25 miles as we progressed through this area.  Here it was evident that I lack proper hiking fitness.  My body would never fully recover or feel strong after passing through this area.  Even Eric said he was beat after these sections.  He runs and walks a fair amount, so he was better prepared for this than I was.

 Pretty typical view during 22 and 23

Thats me pushing my bike up

The final pass before dropping into Silverton

Silverton was the final resupply point of the race.  We made the long stretch from Buena Vista to Silverton with some food left over, so we were confident we could make it from Silverton to Durango.  Dinner and another motel capped the night.  1/2 a box of family sized Raisin bran and a 1/4 gallon of Milk got us off to a fine start the next day.

Silverton the next day on our way back up

The day started off great 4 hours in or so there was even talk of an all night push to finish, which was 80ish tough miles from Silverton.  At about noon that all ended.  I fell apart.  I was hungry and tired, both physically and mentally and nothing I did could help me overcome this.  I dug deep though.  we carried on and probably got another 6-7 hours of moving time in, which is amazing when you think about it.  This whole ride/race we continued to find our limits and push them farther than ever before.  Monday I found a way to continue to move until 8PM or so even though I felt terrible.  

How down can you be when this is the view from your bed?

The next morning it was a lot of the same. My body struggled to find its rhythm.  The last four segments, 25-28 made for some pretty amazing riding.  It would make a very fun shuttle if you could get someone to pick you up or drop a car at the Junction creek trailhead.  

A "sign" the adventure is coming to a close

Shortly after seeing the above sign, we reached the high point for the day.  All that was in front of us was a 3,000ft descent, a 1,000ft climb, and a 2,500 ft descent.  It was hard to believe that we were so close after all we went through.  The initial descent above treeline was super sketchy.  I rode some and walked some.  Think a shoulder width path with nothing but loose shale below you and a really steep drop off to the right.  Once we hit treeline though, the smiles began.  The forested singletrack was amazing, and I could tell the temperature and humidity was going up.  We had been higher than 9,000 ft for days, and it was strange to see the lower elevations flora.  The final climb kicked me back to the reality that we were not quite done yet.  But the final descent was one hell of a way to wrap this up.  My mind and body felt much better with the feeling of accomplishment rising up inside me.  The final trail would have been a great way to end any ride, but it was an amazing way to end this ride.  

Departure time 6:42 AM on 8/1 from Indian Creek trail head/Arrival at Junction Creek 4:07 PM on 8/9

 Post ride beers, Steamworks, Durango
Cajun broil dinner, motivation for months and 500 miles of pedaling 

Final stats:  85.75 hours of moving time, 497 miles covered, 65,378 ft climbed

I would like to thank Chris Plesko, who motivated me through my progression as a biker and helped immensely with recommendations on equipment throughout the preparation process.  Thanks to Mark Hansen for picking us up at 4:30 AM on Monday morning and driving us to the trail to see us off.  Chad Behling for being our emergency contact should something have gone wrong on this journey.  And luck-we needed quite a bit of it to finish, and it was mostly on our side.

I would also like to thank Eric quite a bit.  He was an amazing person to go on this adventure with.  We helped each other overcome many things on this journey.  It was really cool seeing his progression as a mountain biker over the 500 miles.  I could not count the times he said something like "this is the best trail I have ridden."

What worked:
-Scwalbe Racing Ralphs with Snakeskin and Stans-durable, handled great, and never had to pump them up and no flats the whole trip
-Steripen classic when we both left, we were nervous about me bringing this and the thought was Eric's MSR water filter would be more reliable than this, the filter died though, and we relied on the Steripen for water purification
-Big Agnes Air Core sleeping pad-so comfortable, arguably my favorite item on the trip
-Mountain Feedbag-kept food at my fingertips
-Blackdiamond Storm headlamp- fairly bright and waterproof
-Pearl Izumi Enduro II-super comfortable and great for hiking PI makes a great shoe

What did not work
-Garmin Edge 705-great one day GPS/cycling computer, worthless for long navigation trips
-Solio Rocsta solar charger-took way to freaking long to charge, though woods and overcast weather did not help its cause
-MSR E-Wing tarp-supposedly waterproof-I got wet-enough said

What I ate:
Candy bars! Snickers, Almond Joy, but may favorite were 3 Musketeers
Pringles crushed in a ziplock bag-amazing
Honeystinger Ginsting gels, where I could find them, caffeine and carbs in a small packet