[contents] 24 HoursofM oab (Solo)Gallery by Rob Lu cas
ThePerfectEn d To A PerfectSum m erby Eszter H oran yi
X X C Interview :EszterHoranyiby Jason M ahokey
TheBig DealA boutLeadville by Jason M ahokey
Going U p OrN otDow n A tIron CrossVII by Jake D avidson
X X C Interview :Jerem iah Bishop by Jason M ahokey
TheN on Tourist by Jason M ahokey
TheScott24:Solo an d SingleatM t.Strom lo by Ed M cD on ald
TheSan Jacinto En duro by Allison M an n
Gravel& Gear by C orey “C orn bread” G odfrey
by Jason M ahokey
En duroN utCorn er by N am rita O ’D ea
Run .FatBoy.Run .by An drew
Produ ctsReview s& On Test.by Jason M ahokey
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
A rainy Saturday in the mountains of Western PA Photo by Jason Mahokey
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
[introduction] There seem s to be a co nsistentthem e w ith this m agazine.It’s no t so m u ch an issu e based them e, o r grandio se ‘70s pro g ro ck, do u ble L P, dru g indu ced, artistic co ncept, bu t a general u nderlying them e to the m ag.The them e o fexplo ratio n. O n the first level it’s pretty o bvio u s... explo ring the w o rld w e ride in. Seeking new trails, races, and adventu res. So m etim es yo u take a new trail o nly to realize it’s a dead end gam e path, resu lting in an ho u r bu shw hack thro u gh jagger bu shes and po iso n ivy.Bu t so m etim es that trail go es o n fo r m iles,has yo u grinning fro m ear to ear and ho ping that it’s no t go ing to end w hen yo u co m e aro u nd that next co rner. It’s the idea that the trailM IG H T go o n fo r m iles thatkeeps u s explo ring. The seco nd levelis the explo ratio n o f the m ind.M any tim es as yo u lo o k into and explo re yo u r m ind,itcan be like thatdead end gam e path,and start to play hideo u s tricks o n yo u .Yo u start to do u btyo u rselfo r think thata D N F is no tsu ch a bad thing. Bu t as yo u explo re yo u r m ind, yo u can also find m o tivatio n, fo cu s and the w illto pu sh yo u rselfto do things that yo u did no t think po ssible.So m etim es this explo ratio n do es no t co m e easy. So m etim es yo u have to endu re the tricks, do u bts, D N Fs and regret, befo re yo u find that part o f yo u r m ind that o pens and allow s yo u to keep go ing. In this issu e I had the chance to talk w ith M o navie/C anno ndale’s Jerem iah Bisho p abo u t endu rance racing,bikes,and the lo ve o f the all day ride.W hen talking abo u t endu rance racing,he said “let’s see how big,and ridicu lo u s,and aw eso m e w e can do this.” I fo u nd tho se w o rds no t o nly to be tru e abo u t w here endu rance racing co u ld go, bu t also abo u t w here I w ant to take X XC M agazine. Seaso n O ne o f X XC has been like that new ly explo red trail.It’s been a great ride,and o ften I have been grinning ear to ear as I read the w o rds and w o rk w ith the incredible pho to s fro m co ntribu to rs. Bu t I also have had m y fears the trail w ill end aro u nd thatnextco rner,o r qu estio n ifI’m stillo n the righttrail at all,o r a tho rny gam e path.Fo rtu nately,as I m entio ned above, the m ind also has the ability to keep o ne pu shing o n, keep trying,and keep explo ring. Thanks fo r reading X XC and fo r jo ining m e. Yo u r su ppo rt, sto ries, pho to s, races and rides, co ntinu e to m o tivate m e. To keep go ing and to keep explo ring.Seaso n O ne is at an end,bu t Seaso n Tw o is co m ing fastand I can’tw ait.L et’s see how big and aw eso m e w e can do this! Thanks, Jaso n M aho key
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Than ksto allthe gen erou scon tribu torsofXXC #5. W ithou tthem ,XXC w ou ld n otbe possible. Please visittheir blogsan d w eb siteslisted below . Rob Lu cas-u ltrarob.com Eszter H oran yi-goon eyriders.typepad.com Jason M ahokey -thesoiledcham ois.com Jake D avidson D on Pagan o -sin glespeeder.sm u gm u g.com . Jerem iah Bishop -jerem iahbishop.com N am rita O ’D ea -n am ritaodea.com Ed M cD on ald Tom Jan as-w w w .sportograf.com Allison M an n -pedalcircles.blogspot.com C orey “C orn bread” G odfrey -corn breadblog.blogspot.com Jason Bou cher -gn atlikes.com An drew Brau tigam -team sisyphu s.blogspot.com C hrisM iller & M ike C u bison -goon eyriders.typepad.com Specialthan ksto JoErin “W ifey” O ’Leary, an d Bren n an “B-M an ” M ahokey for love an d su pport. C over im age by Rob Lu cas.C heck ou thisw eb site, photo gallery,an d blog atu ltrarob.com for m ore photosasw ellas som e greatdealson ou tdoor equ ipm en tan d clothin g.
W an tto earn som e free m ag sw ag? C on tribu te som e w ordsor photosto an u pcom in g issu e ofXXC ! E m ailJason M ahokey atxxcm ag@ gm ail.com for m ore in form ation . © XXC M agazin e.En joy the w ordsan d pics,bu tplease don ’tcopy an d or passitoffasyou r ow n .Becau se like the son g says... “don ’tplagiarize or take ‘on loan ’,there’salw ayssom eon e,som ew here w ith a big n ose,w ho kn ow san d w ho tripsyou u p an d lau ghsw hen you fall.”
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
The 2009 Granny Gear 24 Hours of Moab was also USA Cyclings 24 Hour National Championship. Rob Lucas from ultrarob.com shares a few pics of this yearâ€™s Solo National Champions.
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Eszter Horanyi (Waltworks), won the Women’s Solo with 13 laps. See page 9 for more on Eszter’s win. Photo by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com.
Josh Tostado (Bach Builders/Santa Cruz) took the Men’s Solo National Championship with 17 laps Photo by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com. XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Legendary endurance freaks Dave Harris (left) and Lynda Wallenfels (above) took wins in the Men’s Solo and Women’s Solo Single Speed divisions Photos by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com.
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Photo by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com.
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
There are two reasons that I will sign up for any particular race. It either needs to have epic single track, or it needs to be a giant party. There was something about 4,000+ people congregated in the deserts of Moab that I just had to see. It’s maybe the biggest 24-hour race in the world, and hosted the US 24-hour National Championships this year. When 9 wonderful people came out to cheer and crew for me, I was hoping, at the very least, to put on a good show. My race plan was to have fun as long as possible, and when it stopped being fun, to put my head down and suffer. My support crew were absolute rock stars. I owe them more than I could ever repay. RC and I went through lap by lap details of what I needed that morning. What I was going to have to have forced down my throat, what I was going to argue about. From what I can tell, crewing for a 24-hour race is serious business not intended for hippies from Boulder. While I pedaled, they seemed to enjoy themselves. Every once in a while I’d finish a lap and come visit. Each lap I’d make a mental list of funny and cool things that I saw that I wanted to tell them all about. The cool little gray mouse I almost ran over, the epic sunset, the new line down one of the XXX Danger sections that I found. Each stop, I’d forget. I’d pick up two
bottles, some gels, argue like a 5-year old about not wanting to eat any more solid food, and head out for another lap. After 6 hours the sun started to go down. I watched the sunset from high atop a mesa, both marveling at the fact that I got to ride through such beautiful places, and at the same time, wondering what the heck I was doing. I had a killer set of lights I borrowed from Chris, who apparently knows a thing or two about this enduro-racing stuff. 1200 lumens made it daylight in front of me through the dark and lonely hours of the night. The first two night laps were wicked fun. Then I realized I had 4 to 5 more of them to go before the sun came up, and then I had the potential for 3-5 more laps depending on timing, and my spirits dropped. 2 am was the worst. The thought of 10 more hours was completely disheartening and I found myself pushing my bike up hills, not because I couldn’t pedal them, but because I was lonely, tired, and feeling like an idiot for signing up. Everyone else was pushing, I was going to push to. Welcome to the Eszter Pity-Party. These are the times you really really appreciate your support crew. While I was always sad to be pedaling out into the darkness, leaving the fire, food, and music behind, using their infectious energy definitely got me up the major climbs in the first half the course. I left the pity-party behind and got on to the job at hand: Actually racing my bike.
“From what I can tell, crewing for a 24-hour race is serious business not intended for hippies from Boulder. While I pedaled, they seemed to enjoy themselves.”
Photos by Mike Cubison
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
As the race wore on, pit stops got longer, motivational speeches got more frequent, and I started dreading more and more sections of the course. Then I’d get angry at a technical section and clear it just to spite it. I cleared every rideable (for me) technical section during my 4 am lap on sheer anger. Yes, 24-hour racing will mess with your head. Around 6:30 in the morning, I started doing the calculations. Running about 1:50 laps with Sarah Kaufmann within minutes of me, it dawned on me that I had the potential of having to do 4 more laps if we both managed to squeak under the noon cutoff for heading out. 60 more miles. 4 more hikes down Nosedive, 4 more times up the brutally rocky first climb, 4 more times through the nasty sand traps. I mentally prepared for three more laps and hoped for the best. Then the time gaps started to open up. While I was out on course calculating madly trying to figure out how much time Sarah (Kaufman) would have to lose per lap to miss the noon cutoff in order for me not to have to do 15 laps, the support crews were conferring. Sarah was done. She went out to finish her 13th lap to secure second, but she wasn’t going to head out to attempt number 14. That meant that as soon as I made it back, I could be done. The crew lined up on the finishing straight to tell me the news. I saw them from far away, I figured they were just out to try to lift my spirits. I honestly didn’t believe them when they told me. I was done? I didn’t have to do another lap with the potential for two more laps? Were the absolutely, positively sure? I’d actually pulled it off? Continued >
Photo by Mike Cubison
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
I went to talk to Sarah’s crew, just to quadruple check, and very happily signed myself off of the system for good when, through my not-so-coherent state, I realized no one else could catch me. At that time, I swore I’d never do another 24 again. This morning I found myself laying in bed thinking about what I’d do differently. It’s a strange sport we participate in. Sarah made the race what it was. Our crews were set up across from each other, and lap after lap, we’d come into the pits within sight of each other. In a race format that the winner is generally decided by laps not by minutes, having a race so close added to the excitement. And the stress. She’s a wicked strong bike rider, can ride the technical stuff with the best of them, and an amazingly nice person to boot. I’ve thought about getting to wear a stars and strips jersey of a national champion a good bit. I hadn’t really believed it was possible. I’d figured that I’d cashed in all my ‘Ride of my life’ tickets earlier this summer and this race was going to a good learning experience.
As I’m sitting here, doped up on plenty of Vitamin I, a half-eaten jar of Nutella next to me, and no plans to touch a bike for at least a week (except for commuting, of course), I feel an incredible sense of happiness, not because I won a bike race (because really, it’s bike racing, we’re not saving puppies from burning buildings) but because I got to spend a very special weekend with amazingly fun, supportive people who I owe at least several rounds of beer. I couldn’t have done it without them. What a perfect end to an absolutely perfect summer.
“At that time, I swore I’d never do another 24 again. This morning I found myself laying in bed thinking about what I’d do differently.”
Photo by Chris Miller
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
XXC: I think we all play mental games with ourselves to keep going and stay motivated during a race, did you do anything like that, or was just “racing” motivation enough to keep going?
You read about the race, now Eszter Horanyi talks to XXC about Moab, endurance racing, and being a National Champion. XXC: Congrats on the win in Moab, it must feel great? Eszter: Thanks! It did feel good. I always like the stories where the underdog comes out on top. XXC: How many 24 hour solos had you raced prior to winning the 2009 Women’s 24 Hour Solo National Championship? Eszter: Moab was my first. I’d never even been to a 24 hour race before and I was terrified of not knowing how to use the RFID cards to sign in and out on laps. XXC: Do you think that not knowing what to fully expect was actually a blessing? Eszter: A friend had told me that most people do really well on their first 24 because they don’t know how bad it’s going to suck. Even standing on the start line, I couldn’t wrap my head around pedaling my bike for 24 hours. I guess my suffering-meter needs to be recalibrated and from here on out, even long rides are going to seem short.
Eszter: After a really bad night lap where I couldn’t ride anything, I got angry at the course. I started daring it to make me crash or make me get off my bike. It was a very personal battle between me and the trail. XXC: From what I read and saw it seemed like you had a fun and supportive pit crew to keep you going, that had to play a part in your race sure? Eszter: I’m still not sure how I lucked out with such a great support crew. They’d send someone new down to the section before the check-in and I’d look for them from far up the hill to see if I could figure out who it was each lap. Every lap it was like coming back to a party and they made me feel like a superstar every time I went back out for another lap. XXC: What point in the race, if at all, did you think “This is really going to happen, I’m going to be the National Champion?” When I first was in the lead, I got a huge burst of adrenaline and I think I may have picked up the pace a little bit...from snail pace to slightly above snail pace. I knew that all I had to do was to stay on the gas, not have any mechanicals, and stay up right, and I had a chance. In my mind, it was my race to lose. Sarah was still close behind me at that time and I knew that once we both knew that we were fighting for the win instead of second, the intensity was only going to increase. Continued >
Photo by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com. XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
I didn’t believe it even when my crew told me I’d done it, and I didn’t have to go out for another lap. I had to go double check with Sarah’s crew and with the race officials. I don’t think it really hit until halfway through the celebratory beer. XXC: While you may have been a stranger to racing for 24 hours solo, you’re no stranger to endurance events, what are some of the other events that you did in 2009? Eszter: I did the entire Rocky Mountain Ultra Endurance Series, so the Front Range 50, Gunnison Growler, Breck 100, and the Laramie Enduro. I had my worst day ever on a bike for the Firecracker 50, and then I did the Vapor Trail 125 and Crested Butte Classic near the end of the season. And I did the Winter Park XC Series because I love those trails and the organizers do such nice job with the event. XXC: What draws you to the endurance events? I get to ride my bike a lot in cool places. I always try to create at least a 2:1 ratio for riding/driving for racing, and enduro racing makes that easy. XXC: Having done ultra endurance events like The Crested Butte Classic and Vapor Trail, how do the lap events like Moab or even the Firecracker 50 compare, and which ones are you more attracted to? Eszter: I definitely prefer the epics where you feel like you covered a lot of ground and saw some really beautiful places. Moab was neat because once I got all the lines worked out, it became a game of how smoothly I could ride them. I like that you don’t need a support crew for the longer epics with aid stations. It makes it logistically a lot easier to plan. XXC: It seems that “underground” type endurance events are getting more and more popular in the endurance community, what do you think it is that motivates folks to go out, and ride hundreds of miles, with no real prize or tangible award at the end of the race?
Photo by Chris Miller
to the Winter Park races this year. I think there’s been a shift from people looking to the national level races back to grassroots, local racing. XXC: What, if anything, should the industry be doing to encourage more women to ride and compete? Eszter: I’ve struggled with this question a lot because I’d love to see more women out there riding and racing mountain bikes. But when it comes down to it, it’s not an easy nor inexpensive sport to get into. I see a lot of couples out riding where the guy has some $5,000 Ti bike and his wife/girlfriend/soon-tobe-ex-girlfriend is riding some clunker from the early 90’s. Then he wonders why she doesn’t like riding. I think women’s clinics, charity rides, and events are steps in the right direction, but it’s not enough. I’ll let you know when I get a brilliant idea of how to do it. XXC: Along with your racing you do a lot of other outdoor activities, what are some of your favorites? And do you try to spend the off season doing these things to keep fit, oppose to spending time on the trainer or in the gym?
Eszter: I don’t think there’s really a tangible prize at the end of most endurance races, especially for women. With the exception of the Laramie Enduro, I was lucky to get my entry fee back. The underground racing attracts a different group of people. Since there’s no press, no prize money, no entry fee, it’s the people who really like to go and ride their bikes for the love of riding their bikes that show up. That, and bragging rights over beers at the end.
Eszter: I don’t own a trainer and I’m deathly afraid of germs in the gym. I back country ski a lot in the winter and run a good bit. We’re blessed with 300 days of sunshine in Boulder, so on the average week, there’s maybe one day where the weather is bad enough to make riding unpleasant. I’m spoiled rotten and I know it. I’ve taken up yoga and am determined to learn how to skate ski this winter, so we’ll see how those endeavors turn out.
XXC: Granted you sort of live in a “hotbed” of cycling (Boulder, CO), so The number of women racers you compete against is probably a bit higher than many parts of the country, but in your own experience have you seen the number of women on the increase or about the same at endurance events and mountain biking in general?
Eszter: I have a general plan mapped out of what I’d like to try to do each week during the season, but then I get invited on a hut trip, or it snows for 3 days straight, or there’s a group headed to Fruita to ride, and all my plans get tossed out the window. Flexibility is key.
Eszter: This was my first year racing ultra endurance events, so I’m not sure how numbers compare to previous years. I know that I’ve been blown away by the number of expert/pro women who’ve shown up
XXC: With Moab under your belt, and a Solo National Championship, will we see you looking to race more solos in the future?
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
XXC: Do you follow any sort of “training” plan, or do you just enjoy riding your bike as much as possible?
I ride my bike as much as I can, and when I get tired, I take some time off. I’ve gotten pretty good at listening to what my body needs.
Eszter: It’s an addiction. I’ll be back. PAGE 14
The Leadville 100 is one of the most popular, if not the most popular 100 mile mountain bike races in the world. Even with that, the race still has its occasional critics. Detractors say things like “It’s just dirt roads, what’s the big deal?”
what’s the big deal?
The “big deal” is a 100 mile mountain bike race that starts at 10,200 feet above sea level, reaches heights of over 12,000 feet, and has 14,000 feet of total elevation gain. A race that has thousands sending in postcards in the middle of winter in the hopes of being granted an entry. The Leadville 100 has 1000+ racers lining up at 6:30 a.m. in hopes of finishing in under 12 hours. A race that will have over 35% of those racers NOT doing so. For most the ultimate goal is to finish in under nine hours and receive the coveted gold and silver belt buckle. For many the goal is JUST to finish, and for a very select few the goal is to win and become part of Leadville’s history. The race even has the power to attract racers with nothing left to prove, other than to conquer Leadville. Racers like Lance Armstrong, 6 time Leadville winner Dave Wiens, and a host of others including Tinker Juarez and Travis Brown. Sure, there are longer races, harder races, races with larger pay outs, and races that are all single track. But the Leadville 100 has pretty much reached legendary status, inspired a documentary (Race Aross The Sky) and has brought world wide attention to endurance mountain bike racing along the way. And THAT is a BIG DEAL.
6 time Leadville winner Dave Wiens finished 2nd in 2009. Photo by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
2009 Leadville 100 winner Lance Armstrong nears the Powerline climb. Photo by Rob Lucas, ultrarob.com
“The race even has the power to attract racers with nothing left to prove...”
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
lap of the previous days Iron Cross Lite course. This year, 275 racers took off at 9:00AM in a chaotic lap of tight turns, sand pits, barriers and the spiral of death. If you were not on the front row, it was slow going, and once we hit the gravel rail trail which marked the beginning of the course speeds picked up instantaneously as racers formed pace lines on the flat road. I hitched a ride on one.
The run up to CP 2. Photo by by Don Pagano
The speed up the first climb of the day, Slate Quarry Road, was mind blowing. I don’t have much experience with road racing, but I imagine this is what it would be like. We were racing in a pack, exchanging pulls up the climb. I had attached myself to a group of about fifteen riders and we rolled over the top together. Coming down the other side, I overcooked a corner on a gravel road and went right into the ditch on the edge. I road it out unscathed, but lost contact with the group I was with. I spent the remainder of the way up to CP #1 riding solo, or with smaller groups. I was warm now, finally, and started noticing things. The first thing I noticed is how my standard cyclocross gearing (38/44 up front and a 12-27 cassette) was not meant for long climbs. I couldn’t seem that perfect gear that allowed me to climb efficiently, everything was either too high or too low. It took a while for my body to acclimate to this difference.
Iron Cross is advertised as the longest cyclocross race in the United States. I don’t know if this is exactly true, but with its 100 km track and nearly 7,000 ft of climbing within Michaux State Forest in south central Pennsylvania, it gives most mountain bike races a run for their money. The course is especially tasty because Michaux State Forest has some of the most beautiful and brutal terrain ever; light weight mountain bike parts come here to die so one wonders why you would even think of riding a ‘cross bike around the trails. Nonetheless, 2009 marked the seventh running of Iron Cross, and my first attempt at it. The day of the race started out bad. I had spent the night at the venue after placing fifth in the previous days Iron Cross Lite, a regular-type ‘cross race, and somehow my tent leaked for the first time. I woke up very cold, a bit wet, and very unenthused about getting on my bike and pedaling over 60 miles. The temperature that morning was probably hovering below 40 degrees, making for the first truly cold morning of the year. As I kitted up, my only thought was on riding as fast as possible to get warm. The start of the race, though, was not very conducive to that. Iron Cross traditionally starts with one XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
At CP#1, I shed my extra clothes and rode in earnest up the road. I knew the most challenging section of the course was ahead of me: Lippencott Trail. Lippencott is a typical stretch of Michaux singletrack: rocky and technical. No problem of mountain bikes, but on my ‘cross bike, with its 32c tires I was just asking for a flat. When we turned into the trail I entered my fun-bikeriding mode and began eating up my favorite type of trail. Once we began dropping down the ridge things got a little dicey. I found quickly that descending on the hoods was not comfortable, which forced me into the drops. The trail was still fun, even though the most technical part of the descent, a gully with a few hairy rock drop-offs, forced me off my bike. I rode on with a diverse group of riders, including the chasers in the women’s race. After Lippencott we rolled down a long paved road descent. We all quickly ran out of gears on our bikes, alternating from coasting to spinning like a singlespeeder. Once we found flat roads, we powered on towards our next challenge. There is a saying among us Michaux locals that goes something like this: In Michaux you’re either going up or not up. Since Iron Cross is, at heart, a cyclocross race the course designer treats riders to the biggest test in just about any bike race out there, the Wigwam Hill/ Power Line double run-up. XXCMAG.COM
This did nothing more than torture riders and give them a lesson in brute force navigation in Michaux. I’m fairly sure that when designing the course, the organizers thought process went something like this: So we now have the racers here, and check point two is here. How do we get them there? How about a straight line over these two ridges? OK! The first run-up, and I use that term very loosely, comes after a short, steep legbusting climb to the power line cut. Wigwam Hill is the type of trail that was most likely created by rocks tumbling down the cliff face. With bikes on our shoulders, a large group of us soldiered up the trail, using the rocks in front of us to balance. It’s that steep. After five or so minutes of dragging out tired bodies over Wigwam, we rode down a bit of doubletrack until the trail turned up again. The Power Line runup isn’t nearly as steep as Wigwam, but it is littered with loose baby-head sized rocks which shift as you trudge up them. At the top of the climb is the second check point. After a quick fuel stop I jumped back on my bike and headed down the road. From here on out I knew the course. I dropped the group I had been riding with since before Lippencott and struck out on my own. As I was descending down Ridge Road, I dove my bike in and out of corners. I must have hit one too hard because before I knew it I was riding on my front rim. I had no warning, heard no tell-tale “pssss” of a flat. I pulled off into the gully beside the road as gingerly as I could and went about fixing my tire. To tell the truth, I’m pretty awful at fixing flats, because I just don’t have much experience doing it. It took me about ten minutes of fiddling with my CO2 to get it to work, and in that time about thirty people passed me. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed. After getting myself back together I hit the road as hard as I could go. In the next few kilometers I managed to catch a few more people, and upon rolling down to the bottom of the course, I hitched on a train of riders heading towards check point three. I took on some fresh bottles and the check point and set out for probably the longest climb of the day, Hogshead Road. Hogshead is an interesting. The lower slopes are fairly steep, and the upper slopes have a few false summits punctuated by short, quick descents. Once you get to the top of Hogshead, you still have to climb up a bit of Woodrow Road before dropping hard and fast down to check point 4. I decided to take my time down Woodrow because its loose gravel switchbacks scare me on a mountain bike. No sense hurrying if it’s just going to get you hurt, right? XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
“The course designer treats riders to the biggest test in just about any bike race out there, the Wigamam/Power Line Double Run-Up.”
Continued > PAGE 21
Photos by Don Pagano
After check point 4 the fun really begins. The leg from the last check point to the finish is filled with the most fun singletrack of the course. I knew these trails like the back of my hand, so I picked up five or six more spots using the local lines over the rock gardens others were walking. I never thought I’d say it, but these trails were impressively fun on the ‘cross bike. One you drop down the final descent of Dynamite Shed, you climb up Old Shippensburg Road and cruise down Old Carlisle. Once you cross the creek on Old Carlisle, the road heads up again. Old Carlisle is the last major climb of the course, and most, if not all, hike it. It has a pretty steep middle section. Once I topped out on Old Carlisle, I knew I was only a few kilometers away from the finish. I hammered as hard as I could. The course designer set up the last few kilometers to be as fast as possible, so after running out Ridge Road, I dropped down the road descent of Rt. 233, then began hammering the last 3 km of Pine Road. The road rolls up and down,
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and on the last roller I was attacking so hard I almost cramped. It was a good feeling. After my lap of the short cyclocross course at the venue, I rolled over the finish line in 4:48, within my goal. Looking back now, Iron Cross is a real silly idea. After all, who in their right mind would want to ride a cross bike through the woods, up and down mountains, and over rocks for 100 kilometers? Well, apparently there are about 275 people out there who do. We are the crazy ones; those who like to spend long hours on their bikes exploring unknown areas and testing our personal limits. Congrats go to Jeremiah Bishop who tested his limits by setting a new course record of 3:41. Crazy fast. He must have actually run the run-ups. So the big question is, will I do this next year? I’m not sure yet. Only time will tell. *Special thanks to Don Pagano for the amazing photos. You can check these photos and many others, in their original state at singlespeeder.smugmug.com.
jeremiah bishop XXC talks to Jeremiah Bishop about his 2009 season, what 2010 has in store, and why he and so many of us are drawn to endurance racing >> XXC: First, your back. You screwed it up pretty bad at the Intermontane Challenge this summer. How is it? Given you results at the Shenandoah, Iron Cross and the Pisgah Stage Race, I guess you’re feeling well and recovered? Bishop: It’s definitely a lot better, and I just have the very slightest residual effects from it, and just maybe a little bit of soreness if I really twist my upper back almost like yoga or something like that, then it hurts a little bit. But I’m up to full strength on the bike and it’s durable. I’m really, really, very, lucky. XXC: Over the years you have competed and excelled in many mountain bike disciplines. Which do find the most challenging: Cross, XC, or endurance events? Bishop: That’s kind of a loaded question, everybody thinks what their weakness is, is the hardest type of racing in the world. If you asked a guy like Marty Nothstein (track racer) what he thinks is the hardest is, he’s probably going to say a technical mountain bike race in the mud. Endurance mountain bike racing, since it’s something I’ve always gravitated to, is definitely VERY hard... As far as comparing the disciplines apples to apples- the hardest. Especially stage race style mountain bike racing. Cross is EXTREMELY hard, but you can sort of brush off the pain and say “I’ll suck this up for another 8 minutes and I’m done.” And no matter how bad it hurts you can sort of just suck it up. But it takes a special level of perseverance to suffer through those long races, back to back, day in and day out. To wake up in the dark at the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race after an arduous, treacherous Stage One, and to look out the window and see it raining again, and you’re so sore you don’t even want to stand up, that was REALLY heart sinking! They’re (stage races) definitely extremely challenging.
XXC: Having said all that, which events do you ENJOY the most? Is there one that you really look forward to when you look at a coming season? Bishop: I look forward to the long events the most. The 100 mile races I think are really cool, in that they’re tactical and they’re kind of their own unique style of racing. This has sort of evolved because they want to make it so everybody can finish, so they put in a lot of dirt roads, jeep trails, and some faster sections in between the single track, and that creates some pack racing so those races seem to represent a really broad skill set in that you need to be able to race like a mountain bike racer, as smart as a road racer, and in some cases have a finishing kick, like a short tracker. The Shenandoah 100 this year was a great example of that. It took a little bit of everything. That’s what I like about those races in particular. They take everything you’ve got. They’re awesome. Continued > XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Bishop
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XXC: From what I’ve read, and heard you talk about in the past, it seems that along with natural ability, and hard training, you also just sorta love epic all day rides in the mountains. Do you think that the love of being out on the bike all day is what helps you excel at endurance events? Bishop: Absolutely. Some people like to go out and ride with their friends for an hour and a half and just hammer their brains out up every hill, I mean I like that, but it’s not my natural mode. My natural mode is if there was no race coming up in the next month, which will probably be the case in late November, I’ll find myself looking at the map deep into West Virginia at a trail I’ve never ridden and I’ll want to ride out there, up over Shenandoah Mountain, cross the state border, explore said trail and navigate my way back on an all day ride. Those missions capture the essence of what brought me to mountain biking- the adventure, the challenge and the new and exciting terrain. The cross country races I love, and I’ve found some good success in that, but they’re always lap races, and they actually become easier the more laps you do on those courses. In the endurance races you need to be able to sight read which is completely different. It’s when you’re descending a 2,000’ descent and you come around the corner and there’s an unrideable or barely rideable rock ledge, and you need to decide in seconds “am I going or am I stopping and walking around it?”, so it’s more more dangerous in some cases, but it’s also incredibly fun...it’s exciting. XXC: As far as bikes: Is there much or much difference, if any, in the way you set up your bike for XC opposed to an endurance event? Bishop: They’re similar, the Scalpel is an incredible all around bike. It’s super light and it pedals well out of the saddle. What I will do, for a long distance race like the Shenandoah 100, is I’ll put on a seat clamp mounted water bottle cage for a 2nd cage, sometimes I’ll run a riser bar if it’s more technical... It’s a pretty similar set up really. I’ll sometimes run a little bit faster tire for long distance races, because they have more road sections and connecting trails. When you’re racing a XC race you’re spending more time in the “red zone”, as far as bike handling and it’s sort of spread out in the long distance races. So you’re not always railing the corners at 100% speed. For the Shenandoah 100 I used a Kenda Kozmik Lite, a low rolling resistance tire specifically for that race, and it worked out great. The bike was rolling really fast and I had a really nice tire combination. I had the Kenda Karma on the front and a really light, a low rolling resistance tire on the back, and I ran a just a little bit higher pressure.
XXC: You were using a 650b wheel on the front of your race bike, right? Bishop: Yeah, it’s awesome. I just built up a new Scalpel for La Ruta and I’m trying to figure out if I should ride the 650b or the 26”. The 650b is really, really cool, because on the Scalpel it doesn’t really have any weight penalty, you don’t need a 29er fork that weighs four pounds, basically I can use a 650b wheel on the lightest production XC front suspension, and that’s incredible! This bike with a PowerTap, a 650b front wheel, full suspension, disc brakes, durable rock solid components, Stans wheels, Kenda tires... it’s a 100 mile worthy steed and it’s only 21 pounds! XXC: With 29ers getting lighter and getting some great results both on a National and World Cup levels, do you have any interest, or see any advantage in making the switch to a 29er, or do you think you’ll continue on with your set up? Bishop: I’m looking forward to trying the Flash 29er, hopefully I’ll get one of those very soon, and then I’ll be able to see how it rides. Typically though, I’ve found that for technical East Coast, back country riding, the larger rear wheel becomes a little bit of a hindrance, like when you’re trying to bunny hop knee high logs and through tight switchbacks, but with Stans wheels on the Flash it may reduce that. We’ll see. I’m really looking forward to trying it, and I’ll have an open mind when I do. XXC: How about nutrition for endurance racing, do you stick with all liquids and gels, or do you grab whatever is at the aid stations? Bishop: There is DEFINITELY not a lot of time at the aid stations, I don’t really stop at the aid stations, I just grab my bag, or in the case of Shenandoah 100, they actually handed it to me, so I didn’t even stop. I try to have a pretty simple nutrition layout for the races, it takes some thinking, but sometimes you can over think it. I do typically go mostly with liquid nutrition, I’ll probably just have a couple of solid items in a hundred mile race. It becomes more important probably in stage races to consume more solids. If they’re long stages, like at the Cape Epic where they’re a little on the long side, it becomes a little more important to have a steady energy source. You can do it on gels no problem- a 100 mile race, but you have to be very diligent about keeping on top of it, otherwise you could have a real gaping hole in your calories. XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
“...it takes a special level of perseverance to suffer through those long races, back to back, day in a day out.” Bishop’s Cannondale Scalpel weighs in at just 21 pounds. Photo courtesy of Jeremiah Bishop
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Jeremiah on his way to victory at Iron Cross VII. Photo by Don Pagano
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jeremiah bishop “I’m not afraid to invest in something I love, that’s part of why I’ve been so involved with endurance racing. I want to see where we can take it.”
4 laps was good enough for a win at the ‘09 Dirt, Sweat & Gears mud fest. Original photo courtesy of Jeremiah Bishop
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XXC: Earlier you mention stage racing, I believe you’ve competed in 3 stage races so far this year and La Ruta is approaching, right? Bishop: Yeah, I’ve done three this year, but I’ve dabbled in them quite a bit and actually won the Tour de Burg four times, which is a little known Harrisonburg underground stage race that quite possibly might be one of the coolest out there. It’s awesome. It’s the only dual format stage race in the world, so you have road stages and mountain bike stages. But really they’re mountain biker style road stages, so they’re like dirt roads with 20% grades, gnarly paved climbs and crazy ass dirt descents- it’s definitely mountain bike style. There’s only a couple of stages on the road, the rest is off road. So I’ve been dabbling in that sort of endurance stuff for a long time. I did the Trans Alps in 2003 with Chris Eatough, and this year I did Breck Epic, Intermontane, and Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race, and this (La Ruta) will be my fourth. XXC: How do the stage races stack up with how you build, train, compete and recover compared to a one day endurance event? Bishop: It varies from race to race, but Trans Aples was a huge learning experience for Chris (Eatough) and I, and is one that definitely catapulted my career into a whole other level for XC racing. It basically was a huge fitness booster and probably more importantly, it opened my eyes to what I’m really capable of. I didn’t know you could kill it for four hours a day for eight days in a row and actually get faster from it. I used to train for two days in a row really hard, three days in a row maybe, and then take a rest day, maybe two rest days, you know “chill days,” the longest I had gone before that of continuous training was probably four or five days, but it was mind blowing to see what I could do, and how hard I actually have to push my particular body to get as fast as I can. I think I digressed from the question [laughs]. Having to recover is the main difference. XXC: It seems that you plan on continuing to do more of the endurance events, does this mean you will have less focus on the UCI and National XC events? Bishop: They’re interchangeable to a degree, but once you get into the really ultra endurance stuff, 100 mile distance races for example, you’re looking at specific fitness, when you’re looking at 4.5 hour races you can have xc fitness and then kind of fake it in those races, that’s kinda why I’m a little disappointed that the “marathon” discipline is sort of “cross country and a half” races, not very challenging compared to a 100 mile race. 100 mile races are HARD! They’re really FREAKING HARD! I always forget how hard they are until I do one. I do plan on doing some of the Pro XC races next year, maybe the Wold Cup in New York, maybe Bromont, and then World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, would be pretty cool... I’ll definitely do a few and I did a few this year. But circumstances as much as our team focus was to do with that. We had a baby in March, so that was also a factor, to be a little closer to home I skipped some early xc events. But on the radar I’m really excited about maybe checking out Trans Andes in February, I think that would be pretty XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
sick to check out. There are few races out there on the horizon that I’m really stoked on. We’ll see what the direction from the team is and from Cannondale, Yes, they want to see me out there for some shorter stuff and I love to do it, but at some point you’re bringing a knife to a gun fight, once you start training for the really long stuff, you go out and try to race a short track and you just kind of make yourself look dumb. I kind of like it when the shorter distance guys will come out and do a long distance race, and I can return the favor [laughs]. XXC: Over the years you’ve surely seen the number of racers increase at endurance events, some of the races are just huge now, what do you think attracts folks to the long endurance events? Bishop: Well, they capture the essence of mountain biking. I think if you look at the XC races and the short track races, what they’re trying to do is, trying to distill a competitive spectator friendly sport out of mountain biking, you know what I mean? It’s sort of like if rock climbing wanted to be a spectator friendly sport and some promotion company said “hey lets package this in a way that we can sell it.” So they make a pro circuit at indoor climbing gyms in major cities, and they kind of tame it and contain it, there’s no wet rock involved, no threat of actually falling, you don’t have to deal with 35 degree conditions, your hands going numb, brittle stone, and all the real grit and fortitude kind of gets diluted, you know what I mean? And that’s sort of how the sport of mountain biking evolved, they wanted to package it and sell it, and it’s been mildly successful but you’re trying to tame a wild animal sort of-- and instead of trying to go against the grain, I’m saying let’s go with it! Let’s see how big, and ridiculous, and awesome we can do this. XXC: I know when I did my first hundred mile race four or five years ago I thought to myself that this was like the perfect mountain bike race because it was so much like what I would want to go out and do on a weekend. It had everything. Bishop: Epic courses capture what the “average Joe’ would want to do with his friends on the weekend. I mean Cross racing for example is really cool, I love it, it’s one of my favorite types of mountain biking [laughs], but it’s centered around competition. Ultra endurance mountain biking is about adventure AND racing, so it’s got something for everyone. As a professional though, it’s sort of a conundrum for me, honestly. Now the money’s in World Cup distance, cyclocross and spectator friendly parts of the sport. How many spectators were at the Cohutta 100? I could probably count them on two hands, so it’s really up to the promoters and the athletes to get the story, video material and media out to people so they can follow the excitement. It’s really just a creative problem solving connection that needs to be made for those races to be marketable, so I can do it as a job [laughs]. Because right now it’s a little tough to convince the Global Director of Sports Marketing for Cannondale that I’m going to get more impressions for him racing the Shenandoah 100 than I would at the Houffalize World Cup. Tough sell, you know? We’ll see-- it’s kind of a gamble, but I’m not afraid to invest in something I love, that’s part of why I’ve been so involved with endurance racing. I want to see where we can take it. * For more on Jeremiah Bishop, visit jeremiahbishop.com and monavie-cannondale.com
thenon tourist byjason m ahokey
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I recently read a co u ple excerpts fro m Spanish Philo so pher O rtega y G asset’s bo o k “M editatio ns o n H u nting,” and they so rt o fspo ke to m e. N o,no t abo u t hu nting,bu t abo u t the love o f m o u ntain biking.First let m e say that I ju st do n’t sit aro u nd reading bo o ks by Spanish philo so phers,I’m no tthatintellectu al,as anyo ne w ho know s m e w o u ld su rely tellyo u .The excerpts w ere in the bo o k “O m nivo res D ilem m a” by M ichaelPo llan (again,I’m no tthatbrainy).A nyw ay this is w hatO rtega w ro te o fhu nting... “W h en one is hu nting,th e air h as anoth er,m ore exqu isite feel as it glides over th e skin or enters th e lu ngs, th e rocks acqu ire a m ore expressive physiognom y,and th e vegetation becom es loaded w ith m eaning.Bu t all th is is du e to th e fact th at th e h u nter, w h ile h e advances or w aits crou ch ing,feels tied th rou ghth e earth to th e anim al h e pu rsu es,w h eth er th e anim al isin view ,hidden or absent.” The excerptthen w ento n to say“Th e tou rist sees broadly th e great spaces, bu t h is gaze glides, it seizes noth ing,it does not perceive th e role of each ingredient in th e dynam ic architectu re ofth e cou ntryside.” W hen I read this,even as a no n hu nter,I can identify w ith w hat he is saying. To m e, m o u ntain biking has tho se sam e co nnectio ns and em o tio ns. The air, the w eather, the ro cks and so il that m akes u p the trail cu tting thro u gh the w o o ds.They all take o n new m eaning w hen o ne rides.A s m o u ntain bikers I believe w e are allare “tied thro u gh the earth” no t to an anim al w hich w e pu rsu e, bu t instead to the trails in w hich w e ride. O rtega speaks o f “the to u rist.” H e m o st likely is referring to the no nhu nter, bu t I see them as “no n-riders.” I like to think that alm o st anyo ne can lo o k at natu re and see so m e beau ty in it, w hether it be a m o u ntain range, a fo rest, a m eado w o r ro lling hills. Bu t w hen yo u spend co u ntless ho u rs each w eek o u tside,experiencing it first hand,as m any o fu s do,the o u tdo o rs and its vario u s landscapes beco m e so m u ch m o re. To u s, a m o u ntain in the distance w ill have u s no t ju st seeing its aesthetic beau ty,bu t w illalso have u s lo nging to be o n that m o u ntain, to experience it,to be o n o u r bike.W e w illlo o k at the trees blanketing tho se m o u ntains and im agine trails cu tting thro u gh them ,thinking o f the ro o ts w hich su rely spider fro m their tru nks, and the skills it w ill take to glide o ver them . To see fields o f ro ck and sto ne has u s easily im agining o u rselves pow ering thro u gh the ro ck gardens o fo u r favo rite trails and w o ndering ifthatm o u ntain’s trails are bu tter sm o o th ribbo ns o fdirt,o r ro cky and technical.W e think o fthe endless trails thatco u ld be be ridden o n su ch a m o u ntain. To think these things, to be “tied thro u gh the earth”,to seize w hatithas to o ffer u s,and “each ingredient in the dynam ic architectu re o f the co u ntryside” via the trail o n o u r bikes is to be a “no n to u rist.” Itis to love no tju stthe spo rto fm o u ntain biking,bu tit’s spirit. M o u ntain biking’s spirit is w hat gu ides m any o f u s to w ards endu rance and u ltra rides o r events.Thinking that w ith each additio nal m ile w e w illexperience o r see so m ething in natu re o r in o u rselves thatw e never have befo re.These experiences are w hat fu els the passio n,the spirit o f the ride, the w ant to no t view the w o rld as to u rists, bu t to be the u ltim ate no n to u rist.
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Standing on the starting line of a 24 hour Solo race is always a surreal feeling. Aside from the expected nerves, worries and insecurities, there is an immense and somewhat wordless sensation of scale. Riding for 24 hours is a concept that seems somewhat beyond the limits of the human brain, and grasping this concept is mentally unendurable moments before the start. Some are gnawed by the intensity, and others (like me) choose denial and banter inanely about joking rivalries, innuendo about dangly bits on geared bikes, food choices and the like. Above us, the mountain looms. Mt Stromlo will play host to the 2010 World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenaline Championships. It served as the 2009 UCI MTB World Championships venue, and has played host for the past three years to the biggest 24 hour race in the world: The Scott 24 hour. On the 10th and 11th of October, 2009, over 2500 riders descended on the mountain, including 200 soloists. Stromlo is, in many ways, a strange venue that seems defined by devastation and destruction as much as anything else. A former pine forest, it was ravaged by the 2002-2003 bushfires and turned into something of a postapocalyptic, Elliot-like Wasteland. The soil acidity and continuous drought since have prevented substantial regrowth, so the trails are defined by powdery, yellow dust and occasional sections of slick rock. Canberra Off-Road Cyclists turned the smouldering ashes into a Worldstandard mountain bike venue, and frequently invoked the imagery of the “Phoenix” – the new mountain, arising from the ashes. It’s hard to shake that surreal feeling heading up to the top of the mountain the first time – especially watching the first few probing moves coming on the climb. The course climbed slowly and sinuously to the top of the mountain, before descending down a rocky, jagged descent. It was here that I flatted twice in the first three laps – and riding down on the other laps, the carnage was apparent with tyre changes on every available edge off the track. In the context of 24 hours, 15 minutes of punctures is not an irrevocable loss, but physically you can still see people ride away, and it takes a long time to close the gaps down. The usual reckless abandon of the first afternoon seemed lost normally the first four hours are a fun, casual roll around the trails. My mind was overwhelmed by other things – that uni essay that was due the next day (and not finished), approaching exams,
Photo by Tom Janas, sportograf.com.
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and the incredible congestion on the track. Most 24 hour riders go out far too fast and blow up in the first 6 hours – for me, the opposite was occurring. I was burying myself in a mental state of indifference, and my lap times reflected this mediocrity. I rolled slowly onwards, and waited for the darkness. I was riding a singlespeed – normally singlespeed categories are associated with the “even madder” and possibly insane approaches to 24 hour racing. Despite the fact that each lap featured a climb to the top of the mountain, the singlespeed was very well suited to the course. With very little to think about except pedaling and no mechanical issues, the only thing left to do was to turn the pedals around. The climb was the pleasant part of the course, and the descent something of a nightmare every lap. Treacherous rockgardens and loose dirt threatened crashes even in the earliest states of fatigue, and the usual wrist pain was all too apparent from even the first lap. It’s hard to suppress these ominous sensations early in the race – especially when extrapolating the current pain to that of the witching hours, or the second morning of the race. The setting sun cast an orange glow across the naked mountain, and gave it a kind of poignant beauty. Every lap, summiting the climb, I was treated to an amazing panorama of Canberra to the East, and the Brindabella mountains looming to the West. Although most would regard a 24 hour solo race as a kind of ascetic experience associated with pain and self-purification, there’s also some sort of aesthetic, romantic ideal at work: 24 hours of immersion in a natural, if controlled, microcosm of endurance. It’s hard not to reflect on this as the purple twilight settles on the mountain, which acquires an almost lunar glow, and is lit up by hundreds of little lights winding their way around. Immersion in the omnipresent darkness with a little cocoon of warm light is a strange sensation, and one that some can love, and others hate. The night laps hold a certain mystique for me – a raw intensity, a rush of adrenaline from the unknown around that corner and a heightened perception of the noises and sensations of the cold nighttime air. I was enjoying the night laps, but was still strongly buried in my bad mood from the previous afternoon. Mentally, I was attempting to rationalize ways of pulling out early, or taking ridiculously long breaks. As much as anything else, these races can be ways of tricking your brain into forgetting the task ahead, or somehow dismissing the gravity of it. These mental tricks are potentially also a massive betrayal – you always know that the regret will last a lot longer than the pain, and too much work has been done to give up. Emotionally, I was battered before midnight by thoughts of the upcoming uni exams and the lack of sleep that would follow for the next month. I idealized the classic image of lying on the couch watching TV – the very antithesis of endurance racing – as some form of idyllic rest I was depriving myself of. In reality, it’s bored nights in front of the TV that always beg the questions of “what if? Surely there is something more?” that make ordinary people pursue extraordinary feats of endurance time and time again. Wallowing in self pity, I was quite oblivious to the fact that my body was loving the cold nighttime weather, XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
and that I was riding well. My lap times were barely slower than my day laps, and I was consistently passing and lapping other solo riders. In some ways, this felt like the ticking time bomb of physical annihiliation – that the great implosion would happen, and the resulting hours would be unendurable. These thoughts sustained until somewhere around midnight, where caffeine and some quality tough love from an excellent support crew revived me. There’s a certain point where you’ve gone so far that you may as well finish, and quitting is unacceptable. Other mental games had to suffice – convincing myself that I’d be finishing early at 11am (the cutoff), and counting down laps to go, but removing one lap from that score on the basis of its being a “fun lap” at the end of the race. However, this emotional cruise was not to be. I was sitting in second place in singlespeed, around 40 minutes down on team mate, friend and single speed demigod, Brett Bellchambers. However, due to some timing errors, my pit crew reported that 3rd and 4th were only 40 minutes down themselves, and that by dawn, this gap had narrowed to 25 minutes. Having blown a second place in a 24 hour in the dying hours before, I was freaking out and kept a strong (if exhausted) pace through to the second morning. In reality, third was over a lap down and losing ground, and my fears were imaginary and unrealistic. Plodding on through the witching hours, I gradually approached the dawn and the drive to the finish.
Dawn is a strange experience – some racers find it immensely refreshing and empowering, while others find it to be a horrible reminder of reality. The witching hours are timeless and unchanging, and move by in a kind of deluded flux. With the rising sun, an awareness of time and space returns, as well as the crushing reality of having six more hours to race. The hours tick by at a slow pace, although I was still pushing hard to try and fend off the phantom third-placed rider. Surprisingly though, the physical explosion never happened, and nor did the annihilation. When I headed out for my last lap just before 11am, the “fun” lap point had been reached, and I could cruise to the finish with the knowledge of having completed something too immense to grasp. My 21 laps had covered around 380km with 8,500 vertical metres of climbing. The singlespeed had been able to ride the entire track every lap without missing a beat. I felt like I had turned into a fixie of sorts – my legs just kept rolling even when my head was wallowing in self-pity. In this way, I recall the race as something of a triumph of the body over a vulnerable mind, rather than the usual “mind over matter” mantra of endurance racing. Just like the trails of Mt Stromlo had emerged from the devastation of a raging inferno, I too had emerged from the emotional wastelands of endurance, stronger from the experience. PAGE 35
It’s easy to forget: it’s easy to forget the darkness (“I can see the big dipper!”); the cold (the rearview mirror flashed “ICE” as we pulled into the yellow post site just after 5:30 am); the pink tinges peaking over the mountains as the sun wakes up, chasing you across the sky… the heat, the sweat, the fatigue. I didn’t get into mountain biking for competition. I’d never competed in anything before, except maybe softball in middle school. I just wanted to get some exercise, and my husband, Justin, just wanted to be outside, in the dirt. One thing led to another, and eventually we got into riding our mountain bikes all day. Riding your mountain bike a lot gets you interested in the long timed events. I race XC. I put on my number plate at 10 am, pedal really fast for maybe 2 hours and call it a day. I like XC racing. But, I really like riding my mountain bike all day with friends (and strangers, too). My XC race season ended on September 27, after the California State XC race. After a few days off I had that tickle, the itch, to plan some long rides on trails that I normally didn’t get to hit up due to “training”. I had been eyeing the San Jacinto Enduro up in Idyllwild for a few days before I sent off the email to a few people asking if they were interested. 70+ miles. 11k of climbing. 6 am start time. Self-supported. How could we say no? The non-management neutrally rolled us out on their SS’s at 6:00 am. My “booze-cruise” light summarily died 3 pedal strokes in to the ride. Check the batteries much? XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Teeth chattered and fingers went numb. We cruised down the highway in a big pack, and as I looked to the east I saw a hint of light behind the distant mountains, lighting them up slightly, and making the sky look beautiful in the pre-dawn hour. The group of us hit “Mile 0”, hands frozen and fingers completely useless, and the climb and self-pacing was on! My biggest goal at that point was not getting caught in darkness. Luckily there were a few other riders with enough light here and there that I could take advantage until the sky was light enough. Oddly enough, the temperature went up about 15 degrees in the first quarter-mile and soon the distant rocky peaks were kissed with the pink light of early morning in the mountains. Sunrise was amazing on the climb. It was hard to contain my utter excitement and happy mood just from riding with my husband and a few really good friends as the day woke up. “I love riding my bike!”
and slowly turned the cranks over, fully utilizing my granny gear, and following my husband’s tire tracks up the 10% grade. We started to catch riders here and there. Once the grade leveled I felt like I was flying, and tried to cram in a few calories before we hit the steeper paved sections that were soon to come. Justin and I picked up two more riders and the four of us continued, riding through Idyllwild before we hit the next short fire road section, and we were surprised by an unadvertised aid station (wo)manned by Mary and Rachael complete with V8, pretzels, drink mix, and homemade brownies. I should’ve eaten more than I did, but after a quick snack we continued down to the first singletrack of the day. Continued >
I think our position in the pack was pretty good as we made the first turn-off, but Justin and I stopped to wait for our friends Steph and Dan before we descended down into Hemet. I quickly removed my vest, my arm warmers, and switched out my gloves. Ahh, much better. Stephanie caught up shortly, but Dan had stopped to fix a brake issue. We decided he’d catch up on the descent, and took off chasing about 20 people in front of us. The light over the mountains and looking down into the valleys was spectacular. I wanted to stop and soak it in, but I told myself to enjoy it and keep the feeling alive for the coming hours, when I knew I’d need something to pick me up. Over the next 10 or so miles the fire road undulated with sharp climbs and winding fire road descents. The lighting played tricks on my brain as I tried to find clean lines through rocks, ruts, or just around corners with shadows creeping here and there with the sun rising quickly behind us as we descended from over 5,000ft to 1950ft. Eventually we made it down to a bit of a neutral break area for water refills and plant “watering”, and the temperature was in full upswing. We all knew we had a bit of a long slog ahead of us since from here we’d be climbing up to nearly 6,000ft of elevation over about 10-11 miles. We set off on the highway in search of the fire road turn-off. The wind made the going a bit slow, but soon enough the fire road ascent called, and up we climbed. I’d finally found a bit of a groove, XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Idyllwild is full of sweet twisty, turny, tight singletrack meandering back and forth, and this trail didn’t disappoint. I started to feel a bit bonkish before we got back to the start/finish, so had to ask the group to wait up while I inhaled half of my PBJ before continuing. The sun was nearly overhead as we wound our way through the hills near Hurkey Creek, and my feet were inundated by the only creek crossing of the day. The cold water felt good, and next up was more singletrack descending down to finish lap 1 of the 2 lap event. We signed in at about 11:23, and I proceeded to take my time eating, drinking, and repacking for lap 2. It had been advertised as harder, mile for mile, than lap 1, despite being only just over half the distance. After about 30 minutes we set off down the road chasing daylight, chasing the miles, and the four riders who had set out 5 or so minutes before us. After a road TT we met up with them at a gate and all set out down the powerline doubletrack in search of climbing, and more singletrack. We found both soon enough. The climb up Fobes wasn’t particularly steep or long, but the 50 or so miles already in our bodies were definitely taking their toll. I slowed down considerably, and once we reached another doubletrack turn-off I had problems keeping my footing on a short hike-a-bike. The body was just ready to shut down. I kept the pedals cranking, and slowly descended a big rock mine-field, hoping I wouldn’t crash and break any bones.
light dancing on the high desert plants. We snaked our way down for our last journey along the powerline doubletrack. The miles ticked by, not slow and not fast, and eventually we were closing the gate and crossing the highway to finish off our last miles back to the start/finish at the yellow post site. There was no comfortable way for me to remain seated on the saddle, and standing was painful for my fatigued and travel-weary legs. I moved around uncomfortably, and eventually hit the last rise of the day on a short pavement section. I stood up to find some relief, which finally was found, at least a little, in the flats back to camp as we knew our long day was done. We signed in for the finish at 3:30, making it a 9.5 hour day with about 8:15 of ride time for me. It felt good to be done. We slowly got changed into some clean, dry clothes drove back to the market to pick up a sandwich and hopefully catch Steph and Dan heading up the last climb. They had already started their climb, and we silently wished them well as we headed back to camp to enjoy a cold adult beverage; a grand way to end such a ride. The remaining riders trickled in as the sun descended behind the mountain peaks west of us, the last sunbeams of the day streaking through the tall trees that dotted the site. Steph and Dan rolled in before sunset, with pink tinged clouds crossing the sky in homage to the morning’s sunrise. The temperature dropped quickly as the sunlight faded into memory. I was left fatigued and a little bit sore, but “full” in the way that only a long day on the bike can leave you. Full of memories, mental pictures, and stories to recap on the way home, yawning. Yet, that tickle was there again…my mind playing tricks on me already, wondering, tinkering, thinking, “What next?”
Once near the bottom, the final ascent of the day sitting stoically across the highway, Justin said, “One last mountain to climb.” Off we went, making slow progress of the flat highway and the paved ascent to the final fire road climb. The grade was pretty easy the first few miles, and it felt like we were making progress. Justin’s chain sucked up again for the 3rd and final time of the day, and I made the mistake of asking what the next way point was. 3.5 more miles of climbing. We were already about 60 miles in to the day, which officially made the ride my longest on dirt since the previous November where I’d raced 97 miles at the 12 Hours of Temecula. Needless to say, those 3.5 miles felt like they took 2 hours to complete. I’m not sure I’ve ever noticed before how agonizingly long it take can take for those tenths of a mile to tick over, but finally we made it. I celebrated by having half a sandwich and off we went on the singletrack descent, where we’d effectively lose all of the elevation we’d just labored up for nearly 8 miles in about 4. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the sometimes technical descending, my hands cramping and unable to effectively grip. It was really slow going for me, but we got near the bottom where Mary was hiding in the bushes taking photos of a switchback, the late afternoon XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
by Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey
If you’re a veteran of the endurance cycling scene and are looking for a new and different cycling challenge, look no further. I’ve got a great endurance event for you to try.
A gravel grinder! Yes, gravel. Miles and miles of gravel and dirt roads are waiting for your discovery. Fortunately, there are several well established grassroots events throughout the Midwest for folks to get their feet wet. These events are a wonderful way to spend a day or two on a bicycle with friends; some old, some new; in the vast and beautiful off-the-beaten path back roads of rural America. It has been said that gravel grinders can be a potentially life changing experience. Hopefully that’ll be the case for you. So what exactly are these events all about? The best way I can explain it is that these events are a hybrid between randonneuring, touring, and road racing, but on gravel and minimum maintenance or “B” roads for distances ranging from 100 to 340 miles. Now let me warn ya of a couple of things if you’re new to this kind of event: if you’re coming from the traditional cross country/marathon/ultra endurance racing scene, don’t be surprised when folks take long breaks at convenience stores/checkpoints and possibly crack open a cold adult beverage to refuel; or stop to take pictures of something bitchin’; or take a nap on top of a picnic table outside a gas station at 2:00 in the morning, and don’t really seem care if someone passes them. Hey, that’s the norm for most folks competing in these events. Most
folks are out to have a good time on their bike and challenge themselves to complete something they probably didn’t think they could do when they initially toed the line. Finishing one of these events is quite an accomplishment in itself. Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a select group of folks who show up to the grinders with ‘glory of the win’ on their minds. To be honest, I’m one of those fools, but most folks compete in these events in order to feel the joy of crossing the finish line for a very satisfying, personal victory.
Are you sold on the idea yet? Once you get past the obvious question of whether or not you have the fitness and mental fortitude to compete in and hopefully finish such an event, the next questions you should ask yourself revolve around your bike and equipment choices. Depending on your goals, picking the right machine and gear is vital to having a fun, safe, and successful grinder. Gravel grinder riders have all kinds of options for their machine and gear. I’ve seen folks compete on cross bikes, road bikes with puncture resistant tires, mountain bikes, including hardtails, softtails, full suspension rigs and even a few tandems have been spotted at the Midwestern events. If you can ride it, you can probably use it in a gravel grinder. In general, riders seem to pick the bike that is most comfortable for them at the time of the event. Riding a bike that feels good makes the most sense, but there are other factors that may help you decide which bike is the right choice. >>>
“picking theright m achineand gearisvitalto having a fu n,safe, and su ccessfu lgrinder.” XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
“Ifyou ’rein it to w in it, go w ith a crossbike.”
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Those factors include the terrain, comfort, gear carrying capacity, and finishing placement goals. The terrain in most grinders can vary dramatically depending on geography. The Midwest has a plethora of surfaces including rocky, sandy, and loose gravel, and white rock (about the size of a cherry tomato and the kind of stuff they use on driveways). There is also plain ole dirt, which can be loose like sand or hard packed like concrete, chert rock, with jagged, razor sharp edges ala Dirty Kanza infamy, and occasionally mud. From my experiences, all of the above mentioned gravel grinder surfaces can be easily handled by a cross bike with ample tire clearance coupled with tough durable tires. Some folks argue that mountain bikes are better suited for the long gravel events due to the cushier ride with the fatter tire, but I lean towards cross bikes for many reasons. Cross bikes are rugged and light; some are lighter than others, have more hand positions with the drop bar, and are generally much faster than most mountain bikes on a majority of the terrain encountered during a gravel grinder. All of the grinders that I have enjoyed have been on a cross bike. Please be aware that not all cross bikes are ideal for the grinders. Cross bikes specifically designed for cyclocross racing for an hour or less may not be well suited for riding all day on gravel. I’d recommend a comfortably fit cross bike, which typically means a small saddle to handlebar drop; a minimum of two bottle cages, preferably three or more if available; tire clearance for a 35c to 40c knobby cross tire and plenty of space for bags and accessories. One of the lessons that I learned during my first Trans Iowa experience was to get the weight off my back and on the bike. Having a bike that can accommodate all your gear is essential. Let the bike be your mule and carry all the gear. This lesson was learned the hard way after making the mistake of carrying a majority of my gear, food and clothing in a backpack. After a century on gravel with ten to fifteen pounds of junk on my back I was cooked and had some serious back lock-ups. Some folks might be able to do it, but not me. So get that backpack off your back and get the gear on the bike! Please be aware that your bike will handle a bit differently when weighed down with gear. So I’d recommend loading your bike up with all your gear prior to the event and riding it a few times to get acclimated. A list of the usual accessories that I take with me include: a saddle bag with tools and patch kit; sometimes a frame bag to carry clothing for the really long events when the weather is threatening; front and rear blinky lights with an additional light for illumination up front (AA battery powered and can be replenished at convenience stores); pump (frame or mini) that can fit on the bike; tubes which are usually strapped somewhere on the bike with Jandd reflective ankle straps (carry more than you think you need – better to be safe than sorry); cyclometer with fresh batteries; Epic Ride Research XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Mountain FeedBag (see issue #4 of XXC for a review of the ERR FeedBag) with snacks and goodies; cue sheet/map holder. Yeah, that’s a lot of crap to carry, but at least I’m not carrying it on my back. The Surly Cross Check and the Salsa Fargo come to mind as perfect bikes for these events. Both are relatively affordable, rugged, are equipped with drop bars, and are also readily available throughout most of the country. The Surly Long Haul Trucker is also a very good option. If money isn’t an option, a custom bike can meet all your needs. After several years of racing gravel grinders, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to acquire a custom gravel grinder bicycle. Cycle Works, my team shop and good friends, hooked me up with an Independent Fabrication frame and fork. The folks at Independent Fabrication were patient enough to humor my repeated design tweaks and built a beautiful and perfectly fit custom Planet Cross cyclocross bike designed for the long gravel grinders. It’s not a traditional cross bike that you’d race in a cross race. The differences include: saddle to handlebar drop is minimal to go easy on the lower back; three bottle cage mounts are available; and a heavier steel fork with steel steerer tube for dependability and durability. It rides like a dream and functions perfectly for all of the gravel events in the Midwest. Once you have your bike picked out another vital component is rubber. Picking the right rubber is also crucial to success regardless of what kind of bike you decide to ride. Durability and flat prevention are the number one priorities. Gravel will chew up all soft compound, mud specific cyclocross tires after a few hundred miles. These events aren’t the best venue for your Michelin Mud 2’s. I don’t know of any tire manufacturer who has designed and marketed a tire specifically for gravel events. So I’ve had to rely on trial and error to find good gravel tires. Schwalbe Marathon Cross or Kenda Kommando tires are great examples of the perfect cross tires for the gravel grinders. They’re both fast rolling and durable with plenty of puncture resistance. For mountain bike tires WTB Nanoraptors or Vulpines work great. Another point to consider regarding tires is to be sure to use fresh rubber. Don’t try squeezing out one more ride on an old tire. Once again, I made that mistake a couple of years ago at the Dirty Kanza and paid for it all day. I ended up with eight flats and lots of wasted time off the bike. Not fun. Folks that ran heavier, fresher, and more durable tires didn’t have one flat. Finally, if you’re in it to win it, go with a cross bike. Historically, all winners and most folks in the top five of the Trans Iowa, Dirty Kanza and The Good Life Gravel Adventure have ridden drop bar bicycles (cross or road). Maybe that’ll change someday. Maybe it’ll be you. I hope not ‘cuz you’ll make me look bad. Photo by Jason Boucher, gnatlikes.com
See you out on gravel! XXCMAG.COM
The number of official and underground gravel and endurance cross events seems to grow every year. Keep an eye out for one near you. When you do, don’t forget submit your story or photos to XXC and earn some swank mag-swag! For now check out these races coming up in 2010.
The Almanzo 100 takes place on May 15th in Rochester, MN, and is the self proclaimed “greatest gravel road race in the Nation.” Information on the Almanzo can be found at almanzo100.blogspot.com. The last two races of the AGRS: Race For The Cup will be The Gentlemen’s Ride on September 18th and end the series final is The Heck of The North. The Heck of The North’s race date is yet to be determined, but keep an eye on the Race for The Cup web site and on the XXC Blog for more info as it becomes available.
Southern Cross January 9, 2010 Dahlonega, GA www.55nine.com Southern Cross is the first endurance cross race in the Southeast. The course is a 50+ mile loop composed mostly of gravel roads and contains nearly 8,000’ of climbing! Sure the race is in Georgia, but it IS in the mountains... in JANUARY! So you could have great weather, or rain, sleet and snow. Be prepared for anything! The race is open to cyclocross and mountain bikes, but only racers on cross bikes will be eligible for the $500 first place prizes. Categories include: Open Women, Open Men, Singlespeed and Fixed Gear. The race is limited to 150 racers and is filling up fast, so register ASAP for this one. Barry-Roubaix: The Killer Gravel Road Race March, 27, 2010 Middleville, Michigan www.barry-roubaix.com Barry-Roubaix is 65 miles for Cat 1/2/Elites, and a 35 mile loop for Cat 3/4/5/Sport/Experts. The course is a mix of rolling gravel roads, pavement, and double track with 2,200’ of climbing per lap. Given that it’s late March in Michigan, don’t be surprised if you see some snow and ice too! Cyclocross, Mountain, Singlespeeds, Fixies and Tandems are all welcome. Looks to be “killer” indeed. Trans Iowa V6 April 24 & 25, 2010 Grinnell, Iowa www.transiowa.blogspot.com Legendary? Infamous? Both!!! Trans Iowa is a 300+ mile, self supported race on various states of dirt, rock, and gravel roads. The race is under the direction of 29” wheel and gravel loving zealot Guitar Ted (AKA Mark Stevenson). The TI web site bills the race as a “300+ mile hard training ride with prizes.” Classes include Open Men, Open Women and Open Singlespeed/Fixed Gear. The field is limited to 75 racers. Registration is already closed for TI 2010, but hey, maybe you’ll have a shot in ‘11! AGRS: Race For The Cup Throughout 2010 Midwest, USA www.raceforthecup.blogspot.com This event will have mid west gravel-heads geeked up beyond belief in 2010. A 5 race gravel racing point series! Oh yeah! Let’s review.... First there’s the CIRREM (Central Iowa Rock Road Enduro Metric). The date is TBD, but look for it in early spring 2010. It’s 100K of Iowa gravel with the usual categories: Men’s, Women’s Singlspeed, and Fixed. For more info check the CIRREM site (cirrem.blogspot.com). XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Up next is The Ragnarok 105 on April 10th in Red Wing, MN. It rolls 100+ miles through Minnesota bluff country and gives racers an estimated 8,000 feet of elevation gain by the race’s end. Check out ragnarok105.blogspot.com for more info.
The Dirty Kanza 200 June 10, 2010 Emporia, KS www.dirtykanza200.com The DK200 is another one of those legendary gravel races that many attempt, but few complete. Intense Kansas summer sun, wind, and “road” surfaces that eat tires and tubes for breakfast. Eessh! The DK web site say this about the race- “This is a ride intended to be fun but it is an extremely challenging ultra-endurance marathon. This event is about adventure and human will.” If you like the sound of that check out dirtykanza200.com. To get an idea of what the Dirty Kanza is all about, take a look at XXC issue #3 and read about Corey Godfrey’s 2009 DK200 experience. 3 Peaks Cyclocross Challenge Date TBD North Yorkshire, England www.3peakscyclocross.org.uk I guess you could call 3 Peaks the “original endurance cross race.” This race is the inspiration behind events like Southern Cross and Iron Cross here in the U.S. The first race was in 1961, but the first to conquer the course was a 14 year old boy named Kevin Watson in 1959! The 38 mile race has over 5,000 feet of climbing, some serious hike-a-bikes and of course Northern England’s infamous damp and misty weather. This race is open to Cross bikes ONLY. For more information go to 3peakscyclocross.org.uk or 3pcx.blogspot.com. You can also see more about this legendary race in issue #4 of XXC. Iron Cross VIII October 10, 2010 Michaux State Forest, PA www.yellowbreechesracing.blogspot.com 62 miles, and over 6,000’ of climbing. This is not your average cross races, this is Iron Cross! “America’s longest cross race.” Iron Cross is based on the 3 Peaks Cyclocross Challenge and takes racers up, down, over, and up again through Pennsylvania’s Michaux State Forest. The IC web site says “this isn’t a dirt road race nor a mountain bike race- it is a course that favors a cross rider on a cross bike.” The race is open to mountain bikes and cross bikes. For more information on this years’ race and on Iron Cross VIII check out the Yellow Breeches Racing blog. You can also check out Jake Davidson’s article on Iron Cross VII on page 18.
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
“vegetables with super powers” - ncsweetpotatoes.com
Get sweet on sweet potatoesAccording the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission (ncsweetpotatoes.com) and many health and nutrition experts, the sweet potato is a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. They are an excellent source of potassium and complex carbohydrates containing a low glycemic index, preventing dreaded spikes and drops in blood sugar. While I’m sure they are a tad biased, the NCSPC declares the sweet potato as the “vegetable with super powers.”
Sports Nutritionist and Topeak-Ergon endurance racer Namrita O’Dea, MS, RD, LD, shares another tasty and nutritious recipe to help fuel the long ride.
Red Curry Tofu and Sweet Potatoes Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 15 minutes Nutrition Info Per Serving: Calories: 250 Total Fat: 14 g Carbohydrates: 21 g Protein: 11 g Recipe makes four servings.
Ingredients: 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed 15 ounces firm Lite tofu 1 tbs minced garlic 1 tsp ginger 1 tbs brown sugar 2 tbs olive oil 1 tsp salt 2 tsp cumin 1 cup chopped shitake mushrooms 1 cup chopped kale 1/4 cup sliced almonds 1/3 cup Lite coconut milk 1 tsp red curry paste
DIRECTIONS: ONE: Cook sweet potatoes in microwave or in oven, then cube (skins on or off, optional)
FOUR: Add mushrooms, kale, and almonds and continue to saute
TWO: Drain and cube tofu
FIVE: Add ginger, brown sugar, red curry paste, and coconut milk to mixture
THREE: Saute tofu and garlic in olive oil until slightly browned
SIX: Add salt, cumin, and black pepper to taste
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
SEVEN: Add the cubes of sweet potato and mix. Serve warm in a bowl. Recipe makes 4 servings and it’s great for leftovers! Options: You can substitute soymilk for the lite coconut milk. You can also add more vegetable (mushrooms, kale, spinach) to add volume and nutrients.
Like many mediocre cyclists, I take my off season very seriously. Very, very seriously. This year, though, I’m determined to skip my typical off season, which usually involves blocks of cheddar, parmesean, and pepper-jack cheese, whole loaves of homemade bread, and lots of early morning screw the trainer hit the snooze button until my wife kicks me under the blankets sessions. So what is a mid-pack expert-class wannabe to do? Well, a “real racer” does it Belgian style – fenders, embrocation, craft beers, and suitcases of courage on the cobbles of truth. Or, you can do it “Tri style.” Buy a CompuTrainer, set it up so it faces a cinder-block wall in your basement, and grind out the intervals until your eyeballs bleed from boredom. I can’t do either of these things - I rode the trainer one time last winter. I did pack up my suitcases of courage and go out for some serious dirt road and snow bike stupidity, but those rides were few and far between. This winter, I am taking my first steps down a slippery slope...
2. Get off the road and into the woods. The softer surface will be easier on your feet and joints. Oh, and it will be at least three times as much fun, according to my very scientific, internal Fun-O-Meter. 3. Buy a decent pair of running shoes – go to your local running store and have them fit you to a pair of shoes. This will make a world of difference in your running step. Trust me. 4. Pay an entry fee. An outlay of cash is the great motivator. Trail ultra’s are awesome, with a laid back and positive vibe similar to XXC mountain bike races.
Now, for the important stuff – Keeping your identity as a cyclist: 1. Make it clear to everyone you talk to about your “running” that you are ONLY running to improve your cycling. Cyclocross, bone density, and weight loss are acceptable excuses. 2. Always mention how slow running is compared to cycling.
50K. Trail Run. Crap. I got all silly and signed up for the Holiday Lake 50k in mid February, 2010. Now that the entry fee is paid, I can’t get out of this. Even with the entry fee paid, I have two serious problems. The first problem is that running is hard, and I haven’t done it very much in a long time. The second, more serious problem, is that my chosen athletic identity is as a cyclist, and I don’t want to be associated with those dorky runners – or, horror of horrors – triathletes!
Practical tips for the running cyclist: 1.Find an attractive redhead (or brunette, or blonde, if you prefer) who likes to run and marry that woman. My wife is a very serious runner, who has run a bunch of marathons, and several 50k trail runs.
3. Run in cycling gear whenever possible. Those pockets come in handy. Plus, if any of your riding buddies see you running, they might think you got a flat, and are just running home. 4. Daydream about winning bike races the whole time that you run. This also counts as mental training, if anyone asks you what you’re doing. 5. Never, ever, EVER run in either short-shorts or with your shirt off. No one wants to see your cyclist hair-shorts (if you shave over the winter) or your skinny, emaciated bird-chest. See: Schleck, Frank, and Dillen, Rich. Following these steps will lead to decent winter fitness, recharged mental batteries, and, most importantly, no loss of all-important cycling “street cred.”
1A. (The lower-commitment option) Rescue some young, high energy dog from a local animal shelter. Our pup Stella has run up to 30 miles with my wife, and is always – and I mean ALWAYS – up for a run. XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
Ultra Marathon Man Confessions Of An All-Night Runner A look at the best book about endurance cycling, that’s not about endurance cycling. by Jason Mahokey Since Andrew brought up the subject of running on the previous page, and ways to enjoy actually not riding our bikes, I figured I’d add a little more to the subject by recommending one of my favorite books of the last few years. “Ultra Marathon Man, Confessions Of An AllNight Runner” by Dean Karnazes is one of the best books I’ve ever read about endurance cycling. As you might have guessed from both the title of this article and the book in which it is about, it has little, if ANYTHING, to do with cycling. But the book has everything to do with the mental, physical, and emotional aspects of endurance sports like Ultra Marathons, or in our case endurance mountain bike racing and epic adventures on two wheels. I can’t really say I’m “reviewing” this book, since I’m not really reviewing it at all. I’m “recommending” (OK, I’m telling) you get this book. NOW! Maybe you think I’m a little late to the party on this one. Almost all of my endurance mountain bike friends have already read it, so maybe you have too. I have to say I’ve yet to hear anyone say “uh, yeah, it was OK.” Everyone is pretty much in agreement that this is just a great book, that needs to be read by anyone who gets the perverse joy that comes from an endurance race or big ass, ride till you hurt type ride. From my perspective I am not much of a reader (odd that I would start a magazine, eh?) and I am in NO way, shape or form a runner (unless being chased), but I blew through this book like a Harry Potter obsessed nerd and found that every time I read the words running, run, or ran I was subconsciously thinking riding, ride, and rode. While I can’t say I was super motivated to run after reading Ultra Marathon Man, I can say I came away with a strong respect for the folks who DO run Ultras, a stronger love for the sport of endurance mountain biking and an even stronger respect for the riders who excel at it. The great thing about this book is that will motivate and inspire you without any “football coach or sales manager motivational rah-rah bull shit. It’s just a memoir of a guy who started riding, then, started riding further and further. Ooops! I mean RUNNING! Get the book. Trust me. More info on Dean Karnazes can be found at www.ultramarathonman.com.
The Warmfront is a chest warmer made of Malden Mills fleece that can be worn under a jacket or jersey to block the wind and help your chest and core stay warm on cold rides.
By Jason Mahokey
It easily attaches RipAway neck, and things start heating be easily removed pocket or pack.
with what they call a packs down small, so if up out on the trail, it can and stashed in a jersey
A couple months ago I received a Warmfront to try out, and of course Western Pennsylvania was then treated to some unusually warm late fall riding. So I’ve yet to really test it out. My only ride with it ended after 20 minutes due to mechanical issues and chain sucking mud. I can say the Warmfront was perfect to wear under a shell, and wasn’t as bulky as wearing a heavier winter riding jacket. On the downside the Warmfront does nothing to help one properly adjust a front derailleur or prevent chain suck. Look for a full review in the next XXC or on xxcmag.com in the coming weeks. Up close and personal with the Warmfront’s Malden Mills fleece and RipAway neck. For the record, the Warmfront does NOT include Western PA mud splatter.
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
The Warmfront retails for $24.99 U.S. For more info go to thewarmfront.com. XXCMAG.COM
By Jason Mahokey
Swiftwick Socks A couple months ago I got hold of a couple different pairs of Swiftwick socks. First up is the 4 Merino. As the sock’s name sort of indicates, the 4 Merino is made up of mostly Merino Wool (60%) with 30% Nylon and 10% Lycra thrown in, and it has a nice 4” cuff. I’m a huge fan of wool socks, but I have had good and bad experiences with them over the years. Some are too hot, some are too scratchy, and some are JUST right. I put the 4 Merino in the “just right” category. The sock is everything I love about a quality wool sock. They keep my piggies warm in cool temps and comfortable and dry in warmer temps. The sock is a little thicker than most true cycling socks, but for long days on the bike, I appreciated the added comfort of these socks.
If I had to find any fault with the sock, I would say that some may find that the 4” cuff is a bit too snug. But that is really pushing it, and I really only even noticed that because of some swelling I have in my right leg (see below for more on that). The Four Merino is the sort of sock that you will find yourself wanting to wear whether you’re riding, hiking, or sitting around the house. The socks retail for $16.95 and can be ordered direct from swiftwick.com.
“Do you know what the difference is between an $11 Wal Mart Pharmacy compression sock and the $18.95 Swiftwick Twelve Olefin? A WHOLE FREAKING LOT!!” Next up is the Swiftwick Twelve Olefin. I admit it, a few months ago on my blog (thesoiledchamois.com) I mocked the whole compression sock trend that seems to be happening amongst athletes. The whole thing was tongue in cheek of course, and boiled down to me claiming to have started the trend by getting myself a blood clot in my leg (DVT*) last year, and forced to be on blood thinners AND wear compression socks. I joked how my $11 Wal Mart socks were just fine, etc., etc., Now- fast forward, then rewind a bit... My DVT is gone, but I do still have some residual swelling in the leg and need to wear a compression sock every so often. The next thing you know I get hold of the Twelve Olefin compression sock from Swiftwick. Wow! I mean WOW!! Do you know what the difference is between an $11 Wal Mart Pharmacy compression sock and the $18.95 Swiftwick Twelve Olefin? A WHOLE FREAKING LOT!! The construction is top notch and the 12” neck is super snug. The best part of the socks is it’s compression. I’m no expert, but I have been wearing a few different compression socks over the past year, and I have to say this one is the best. It often feels like tiny little fingers are working your calves and keeping the blood flowing. I wish I would have had these a year ago! So can I retract a mock? I hope so! These socks are great to wear after a long ride (tiny little fingers!), traveling, or when I’m sitting for long periods in front of the computer. After one DVT* scare I’m all about keeping an eye out for swelling and keeping the blood moving in the legs. To order or for more information check out swiftwick.com.
Photo of two-tone sausage in Twelve Olefin compression sock by Jason Mahokey. 4 Merino sock photo courtesy of Swiftwick.com
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
*For more information on Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and endurance athletes visit these links: http://www.stoptheclot.org/News/article126.htm and http://www.active.com/cycling/Articles Hidden_danger__DVT_in_endurance_athletes.htm
One of the last epic rides of the year with friends in the Laurel Mountains of Western PA. Photo by Jason Mahokey.
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
XXC SEASON ONE: ISSUE FIVE
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