July 24, 2008

Winter Park race report, Crested Butte trip

This is going to be a long one, folks. There will be some pictures from CB; I didn’t get any of the race (I was a bit busy, but Jay says he has some he’s going to forward over)

Saturday’s Winter Park series race was the dreaded “Valley Point to Point” – a race that’s short (19 miles, 1:15 for the pro men’s winner, which was not me) and relatively flat (for Colorado) with only 1500 feet or so of climbing. Needless to say, since I’m a geeky climber, and I’m riding a singlespeed, the course is decidedly sub-optimal. And things went about like I thought they would – I led the field out up the first 400 foot climb, got passed by 3 people on the first bigring-speed downhill, and then fought back and forth with 2 or 3 of the same folks for the entire remainder of the race – I’d drop them on the climbs and steeper descents, and they’d crush me like a bug on the flat and moderately downhill sections. C’est la vie. Unfortunately for me, the race ends with about 1.5 miles of flattish/slightly downhill rocky singletrack – the perfect terrain for, say, a geared, full suspension bike. Which of course, I had the opposite of. When all was said and done, I ended up 8th, a full 2:30 behind the winner. Since my goal in every race is to end up in the top 10, I felt ok about that, but I’m hoping for some better showings in the remaining races of the year (the next course has a nice solid 2000′ climb to start things off!)

Sarah had no energy for the climbs but apparently descended like a bat out of hell, and finished the race with nothing left in the tank. I think she was 5th in the expert women’s field.


And that was it – mechanicals, illness, a birthday, the Evans hillclimb, and a trip to Maine sidelined the rest of the WW team, so Sarah and I were the only finishers. Here’s a picture of Rusty’s “excuse”. Pathetic. Needless to say, the WW team is falling rapidly in the team standings…get off your duffs, you slackers!

The next day we both raced the new Super-D event (new for the WP series, that is). Things did not go well from the beginning – we arrived at the top of the lift at 9:20, which given that the course would take 25 minutes, and the lift ride back up would take 15, was not a lot of extra time for a practice run, since my race started at 10 sharp. The choice between 2 runs and doing poorly, or standing around for 45 minutes to do slightly less poorly seemed like an easy one, though. In the end, I only missed the start by about 5 seconds, so it was just fine.

Due to being talked into a ride after the race on Saturday by Rusty (worst of all, we got lost and ended up back on the bloody race course!), as well as consumption of a great deal of beer and pizza and icecream, I almost barfed on the 2 minute opening climb, and went into the singletrack dead last. But I managed to pass 4 people (and several people crashed or flatted) and I ended up a respectable 10th out of about 20 riders. Sarah raged the course in a smoking 24:17 and beat all but two of the women who came out to race – on a hardtail with a rigid fork, no less – she even beat a decent number of sport and expert men! Lots of fun, and I hope they do it again next year (heck, I’d do a super-D every weekend if they had one…)

Having finished racing, we hopped in the car and drove to Crested Butte to meet up with our friends Erik and Natalie (aloha!) We arrived over Cottonwood pass in time to sneak in a ride on the Upper/Upper Upper loop, which was a rocky, rooty good time. I didn’t take any pictures of this ride, as the light was fading and the bugs were pretty atrocious. We walked around in the little bouldering area on Upper as well, just near Tony’s, but we didn’t see much that we thought we could do – there was a lot of V10 looking craziness, but not much in the way of moderates. We’ll have to check more carefully another time, though – we certainly didn’t search exhaustively.

The next day (Monday) was the semi-epic. We rode up Gothic road to Snodgrass, across Snodgrass to Washington Gulch, up to 403, across 403, and then rode 401 and back down Gothic road into town. A solid 4.5 hours in the saddle (plus picture taking and snacking time) which finished with the mother of all hailstorms coming back on Gothic road. I was almost entirely coated in ice at once point, and we all narrowly avoided hypothermia, I think. But a hot shower and 4 beers cured my ailments. Here are some pictures from that ride:

Here’s the crew on Snodgrass. This was a trail I’d never bothered to ride due to the description in books (“easy beginner cruise”) but it proved to be a super fun classic!

Erik looks like the Crested Butte terminator, at least to me. Gotta love aspens!

Here’s Sarah, with a view of the mountains to the west on the start of the 403. This is at about 11,000 feet – very nice temperatures, though there’s not much O2 for breathing.

Looking south from the 403, Erik, Natalie, and yours truly.

Another shot looking south. This is about the highest point on the 403, from here it drops about 1,500′ into the Gothic campground site.

We had to tackle a few small snowdrifts – it’s good that we didn’t come a week earlier. Apparently Crested Butte had a record snowpack this year, and some trails up high are *still* not dry!

Here’s the descent into Gothic CG – yes, it’s very steep. The wildflowers were overgrowing the trail so much that it was hard to even see where it went in some places!

Sarah heated up her brake rotor quite nicely on the descent, and then made a bit of a tactical blunder. Can anyone guess what rotor it was?

Looking south from near the top of the climb on Teocali. At this point we had been riding (with no rest days) for something like 10 days, including 3 races, so the steep Teocali climb was quite a sufferfest.

Here’s Sarah, looking north from the start of the descent on Teocali. We were told that Teocali is VERY technical and challenging, and while I’d agree that it’s not a beginner trail, we weren’t too impressed with the difficulty of the descent – it was pretty steep, yes, but without much in the way of difficult drops or loose soil or what have you. Still very fun, though.