The 3:45 AM wake up call was tough, but the excitement and coffee got me going. Quick breakfast and packing up the E and it was off to Carter park.
A snow covered Wheeler pass, the first climb
The race started at 6 with a moderate procession out of town to Peak 9 to start the 2,750 ft climb up to Wheeler Pass. I started out at a moderate pace after getting a decent position at the line. My goal again was to keep a moderate pace up the climb, which was pretty uneventful. Brad passed me maybe a 1/3 of the way up and based on our times, we were probably no more than a few minutes apart during the race, but he was never to be seen again. I reached the first snowfield and carried my bike for about 200 yards. The next snowfield was just before the summit. The group ended up dropping down to bypass the snow. This ended up with a climb with pitches of about 50 to 60 degrees on scree while carrying a bike. The backside of Wheeler pass is really fun when dry and I was looking forward to this descent. The river flowing down trail made it sketchy though. The Peaks trail was quite muddy as well. I was not sure how I was pacing at this point. I lapped through about 13 minutes faster through then last year. A quick bite to eat and I was on to loop 2.
Loop 2 is arguably the hardest of the three loops. The second climb is where I started to fall apart last year. I felt good climbing the wooded switchback climb at the beginning. French Gulch is the second climb and with loose rock, steep pitches, and stream crossings, its easy to redline. By this time the fast Breck68 riders began passing me offering words of encouragement for the 100 mile racers. I was able to ride almost all the way up to the hight point and creek crossing, where I passed a rider who crashed in the freezing cold stream (yes, he was ok). The Colorado Trail is where I was starting to feel the effort. Even the climb in this area is fun. The descent down to Tiger Rd always puts a smile on my face. Aside from a little rain, the rest of the loop was pretty uneventful.
Entering the Colorado Trail on Loop two, can't wait to see this again!
My stomach was kind of upset going into loop three. Consuming nutrition through my waterbottles was difficult and thoughts of my previous years collapse were on my mind. I grabbedd bottles with water instead so that I would continue to drink though. By the time I started off for lap three, I knew I was a solid hour ahead of last years pace. I had a few missteps on the singletrack up, but again was able to clear most of the climb. Pre riding some of the trails helped quite abit, but my conditioning this year was way better, and it was noticable on the climbs. I got to Boreas Pass (11,444ft) an 1hr18min faster than last year and treated myself with a coke, some enduralites, and orange slices. The way down the Gold Dust trail to Como was quite wet again with rain and recent weather. I rode by myself for the better part of 10 miles down. I grabbed a couple slices of watermelon at the Como aid station and off for the 10 mile climb back to Boreas. Once I got to the top I started doing some time estimations. I was all smiles at the summit. I knew I would destroy my 2010 time. All I had to do was hang on for the remaining 9 miles which was almost all downhill. The continued descent and drive to beat 12hrs kept me going regardless of the exhaustion I was feeling. I crossed the finish line at 12hrs 7 minutes beating my previous time by 1hr 47 minutes!! I was 21st in my age category out of about 69 racers, 37 of which did not finish, which is an indicator of just how difficult this race truly is.
At the top of Boreas Pass
I exceeded my expectations for my finish. Amy Welnak and her sister Denise were very helpful and kept me going as they were there to help with bottles and cleaning my chain between laps. Carver bike shop was amazing. They happened to have a set of XTR bottom bracket cups and stayed past close to fix my bike! I think the difficult early season racing schedule is paying off as I learned and expirimented a lot with nutrition, how to keep going, and how far I can push myself. 8/1 is the next test, which I am both very nervous about and very excited, though I don't think that feeling ever goes away with a big challenge on the horizon.
Garmin stats here. I had 22 minutes of non moving time in 12 plus hours!