Sunday, June 23, 2013

MAD - Mt. Audubon Duathlon

I took this while approaching Brainard Lake, which can be barely seen. The big mountain in the background is Mt. Audubon, of course. It is 13,223 feet above sea-level.

This is a super fun, no hassle, bike/run outing that I've now done four times. My best was 5h08m and I thought my chances of every breaking five hours were behind me. I'm on the backside of the fitness curve now that I'm over 40+10 and I'm dealing with it really well. I pull out the age card as an excuse to go slower all the time, even with friends older than me! It doesn't work as well in those cases...

I tried to recruit some hardmen to come with me and only Stefan was in, but he invited Brady. Stefan Griebel needs no introduction to endurance feats, but here's two things about Brady Robinson. First, he and his partner (forgot his name) are the only people that have done the Longs Peak Triathlon (via the Diamond) completely unsupported. Second, he just beat Stefan in a mountain biking race! So, I wonder who the odd man out is...?

We met at the Lee Hill Trailhead on Lee Hill Road, just west of Broadway. This is the traditional start/finish for MAD. Bill Briggs was probably the first one to do this, or at least the first one I knew about. Bill loves biking to trailheads and dashing up peaks. The FKT for the course is at least ten years old and held by my brother in-law Kraig Koski at 4h38m. That's a firm time, but there are people around who could take it down. Not me. But maybe Stefan.

We started at 6:40 a.m. Stefan wore s small pack with his shoes and some food. Brady had a big seatpost bag with his gear in it. I just bungeed my shoes to my seatpost bag and put three gels and two Shot Blocks in my jersey pocket. I took one 24-ounce bottle with Gatorade in it and one 20-ounce bottle with just powered Gatorade and no water in it. I also took a tiny wind breaker and a hat.

Brady shot off the front as soon as things got steep on Lee Hill Road. He went by me and said, as a way of explanation, "I don't have a compact." What he meant was, "I see you riding that compact crank with the 26 in back. Bill, does your husband also ride?" Guilty! I need all the gearing help I can get. I used that 34x26 a lot today and I'm sure it saved my legs for my blistering 1.8 mph hiking speed up the mountain.

Stefan went by me next and he motored right on by Brady as well. I was pacing myself. I just wanted a solid effort today. I had done fifty miles of semi-mountain biking the previous day and just wanted to make sure I broke six hours. I spun away in my tiny gear and gradually closed on and passed Brady. That was weird, but Stefan would tell me later that Brady was just returning from a week at sea level. Going straight to 13,000 feet probably isn't optimal. That would be the last I'd see of Brady.

I caught Stefan at the top of the first crest on Lee Hill and led the descent. On the next steep section, Stefan went by again, but we stayed together. I took a turn in front and we rolled over the top together. I braked hard into the big switchback halfway down the other side and Stefan flew by, cornering like the turn was a banked berm.

Once in Lefthand Canyon Stefan almost immediately went off the front. I kept him in my sights for the next six or seven miles and then closed the gap. We rode together from there to the spigot below Ward, where I filled both of my bottles. Stefan dropped me once again above Ward, but the gap was probably less than a minute all the way to the trailhead. I got there at 2h05m on the clock. We transitioned to our running shoes, leaned our bikes against a tree (unlocked) and took off at a very slow trot. It was all I could do, but Stefan could do a lot more and went by one final time. He'd stretch the gap from here clear to the finish.

I shuffled for maybe 15 minutes before switching to a hike for the remainder of the ascent. Above treeline the trail veers to the right a bit to avoid a long-lasting snowfield, but Stefan made a beeline for the summit and I followed. This entails a bit of bushwhacking in the willows, but the willows aren't very tall as yet and we both only had to suffer for a couple of leg-trashing minutes.

The angled steepened and my pace got slower and slower until it felt like I was barely moving. Cresting each rise in the ridge was demoralizing as the next crest seemed so far away and so high. Nearly an hour into the run/hike I still had a thousand feet of climbing. I knew once I topped out that the return trip was almost completely downhill and that was my motivation. I hit the summit after 1h20m of hiking, which is actually a solid time for me. Stefan did 1h07m. I didn't see Stefan on the descent, which surprised me, but I was  way to the south, taking a lucky route directly to the summit. Usually you have to run a minute or two over to the real summit.

I never saw Brady, but Stefan did on the descent. Brady was wondering about the rules for the FKT, heckling Stefan for not revealing the shortcuts. That's a good point. Koski stuck strictly to the trail so if you want to take down that time, you'd have to do the same. Stefan and I went "open course". The Tour de Flatirons is strictly on the trails - to be good citizens in the crowded Boulder Open Space. The Longs Peak FKT is open course. So it just depends. There are only two hard, fast rules in my mind:

     1. Report what you did exactly
     2. Never stop your watch (you'd be surprised how often this is done by even some elite runners)

There is actually an even more direct route that heads up from the first switchback where the trail emerges from the trees. Bill Briggs showed me this route and I've used it a couple of times. The key with this route is the crossing of the willows as well. But when we went by that section, I figured we'd just stick to the trail. So, it wasn't a pre-planned shortcut. If that was the case I'd still tried to hide it from the others...Hey, I need some sort of edge for having done this thing four times... I'm not getting any stronger, but I think I can get sneakier.

Like Stefan, I was eyeing the big snowfield on the way up and made sure I hit it on the way down. That made for some easy running. Once off that I thrashed through the willows again and then made what might have been a mistake. Stefan reversed course back to the trail. I tried to descent the Bill Briggs Direct route. In the summer you can see this trail and it is even cairned. And by "summer" I mean August. Today it was buried beneath snow and I found no sign of it, but I was committed. I did some wandering around and some thrashing but eventually hit the trail, though a couple of switchbacks too high. I probably didn't lose any time going this way, but I did fall and bloody my leg doing it.

On the trail I knew I'd be getting back to the bike with a decent shot at breaking five hours! I didn't think I was fit enough to do that, but now I was supremely motivated. I hit the bike at 4h04m, doing the roundtrip on Audubon in 1h56m (Stefan was 1h42m for this). I had told Stefan that it was possible to ride from this trailhead to the Lee Hill lot in 45 minutes. I'd done it before. I knew I had a shot.

I transitioned back into biking shoes, stowed my running shoes, got out my last Shot Blocks and hopped on the bike. My legs had cramped switching shoes and I knew I was on the edge of cramping. I   drank most of the bottle that was left on my bike and started hammering.

The last three miles to Brainard Lake are still closed to traffic, but this makes the road a bit worse for high-speed cycling as I had to weave around tons of hikers on the road. I gave them a wide berth, but I was going pretty fast. I got stuck behind some law-abiding motorcycles going through Ward and it cost me a bit of time. Once through there, I opened it up...and fought a nasty headwind all the way down the canyon. I knew that wind could take sub-5 away from me and I raged against it with all I had.

I flew by a number of bikers, but I wasn't close to spinning out, which meant I was going slow. The wind was frustrating, but the goal was still possible. I'd check my watch every few minutes and it just didn't seem possible. With 30 minutes to go, I was still 11.5 miles away. I needed to average 23 mph and that included the brutally steep 8+ minute climb up the backside of Lee Hill. I was calculating how fast I could descend from the top of Lee Hill. Could I do it in 10 minutes? It had taken 26 or 27 minutes to ride up it.

I turned up Lee Hill with just under 17 minutes left. I climbed Lee Hill in 8h20s, not bad this late into a hard effort. I had nine minutes left and flew down the upper part. I rolled the climb between the two in the big chain ring and tucked for the descent. One on the flatter section of Lee Hill I had just over three minutes to spare. How far was it to the trailhead? A mile? I put my head down and suffered. And I got there in 4h58m28s. PR!

Stefan was relaxing on his tailgate and immediately offered me an icy cold Mountain Dew. He had done 4h42m - just four minutes off the FKT, though with using shortcuts. He'd been frustrated by the traffic and the wind as well. Also, he forgot his bottle on the hike section and had to stop 4 times on both the way up and down to drink from streams. This was his inaugural effort and with another chance, I think he'd have a great shot at it. I've probably reached the limit of my ability though. But I'm okay with that. Hey, I went under five hours. I know of only three people who have done that. But, as I've said, there are many in Boulder that could take down the FKT and I'm sure hundreds who could best my time. But for me, an athlete of modest abilities, it is about pushing my own limits.

We waited around for 45 minutes to see if Brady would show up, but then we both had to get going. Stefan did hear from Brady. His time was 6h07m. Brady reported that after his initial, imprudent surge, he got it together and had a good road ride. As he descended the trail from the summit, he lumbered along, feeling the effects of not even being able to remember the last time he went on a run!

This duathlon is almost exactly 50 miles long (8 miles of that is hiking) and has nearly 9000 feet of climbing. That's sizable for most people. Sure is for me.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

St. Vrain and Meadow Mountains

Running down the snowfield on St. Vrain Mountain
 Strava (Corey's track. I haven't uploaded yet)

Today was our Tendril "Dawn Patrol" Mountain Challenge hike and I was pleasantly surprised to have eight people in the Tendril parking lot by 4:30 a.m. Two more would meet us at the trailhead.

In my car (I drove) were Homie, Mark, and Corey. Kevin followed in his FJ with Marcel, George, and Seth. At the trailhead it didn't take long to select our gear, but it did run a wide range. George looked like he was ready to overnight on the summit up there, while Homie, Corey and I just had a single bottle in our hands.

Homie set a very hard pace from the start and blew up the group completely. Corey and I were together a little ways back and everyone else fell off after five minutes, Kevin after five seconds. Homie eased up a bit and started hiking. Corey and I closed on him and I was relishing the switch to hiking when Homie stepped to the side and I felt obligated to keep running. I led from there clear to the summit of St. Vrain Mountain. I hiked when it was too steep or rocky for me (often) and ran when it was not.

We got to the saddle (for Meadow Mountain) in 50 minutes and enjoyed some really nice running as we headed south toward the saddle for St. Vrain Mountain. The slopes leading up to the summit were mostly covered in snow and the snow we had encountered so far, on a few short sections of the trail, were very hard. We wondered it we'd have safe purchase on the ascent/descent. It turned out to be  nearly perfect conditions. The last 700 feet were mostly on perfect snow - not very steep and really grippy. It was like walking up slickrock in Zion

I really wanted to get both summits so pushed as hard as I could on the ascent here. I huffed and puffed, all the while listening to Homie and Corey chat away as if they weren't moving at all. We topped out after 1h15m, covering about 3300 vertical feet and 4.2-miles on the ascent.

We stayed less than 30 seconds on top before running down and over to Meadow Mountain, where we found Mark educating Seth on the awesome peaks to the west. We had passed Marcel earlier, as he came over to the base of St. Vrain, but did not continue to the summit, probably for time reasons - we had to be back at the trailhead by 8 a.m. Homie, Corey, and I once again left the others and did the 450-foot ascent to the summit of Meadow Mountain in 9 minutes. Once again, we quickly tagged teh summit and turned on our heels to catch the others

I was a little behind Homie and Corey by the time we got back to the trail. I decided not to try to catch them, as the trail is pretty rocky and I didn't want to trip and fall. I ran down, mostly alone, but eventually passing Dawn (Chad's woman - they were the two who did not meet at Tendril but at the trailhead) and Marcel. Mark came back up and ran the last third of a mile with me.

Everyone was back at the trailhead before 8 a.m. I made it back about 7:54 a.m. for a roundtrip of 2:19 for the 9.1 miles and 3700 vertical feet. Homie and Corey finished some time before me. Mark was the only other person to summit, tagging Meadow Mountain. The weather had been perfect! We ran in shorts and long sleeves, but needed no hat. I wore thin gloves, but didn't need those either. Gorgeous views. Super fun morning. I'll be back to this area.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fourth Flatiron Scramble

I was feeling super lazy this morning, but I'm trying to rotate between running, cycling and scrambling/climbing each morning, so I headed out from Chautauqua Park. I'm revisiting all of Gerry Roach's 53 Classic routes from his guidebook. The Fourth Flatiron was one I hadn't done in a long time and I headed there, slowly, walking the entire approach. I wore my Boulder X shoes for this outing. These are the right shoes for such a thing, but my high-volume, high-instep shoe isn't as happy in this shoe. But the shoe itself is sturdy and comfy with a nice, sticky sole.

I scrambled up the start and then traversed left, going past the cave and up steep, solid rock. This is Roach's classic route and it is a complicated one, though mostly due to the Fourth Flatiron being three separate pieces of rock. It took me forty minutes to climb it completely and there are a number of heads up scrambling sections for me. On the second piece this is an awesome stemming section up this gully. This would be considerably more challenging if I was much shorter. That or I'd have to be more flexible. But as it stands, this is some really engaging bridging.

The final section had a couple of crux moves that have me contemplating things. I even backed down from the upper one once. From the summit, which doesn't feel much like a summit since there are some rocks immediately west which are directly above, you have to make a leap down to these other rocks. I lowered myself as far as I could and then pushed off for the landing.

The descent from there back to the Royal Arch Trail is unpleasant. It's steep, loose, has some deadfall and there is no trail. I felt clumsy and went slowly. I marveled to myself how fast Anton does these things. He's a master on tricky terrain like this. I used to be better, but probably never very good. Once back down at the trail, I reluctantly trotted slowly back to the car. It was a fun morning despite my lack of pep. The climbing is engaging, just interesting enough to warrant the nasty descent.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mt. Thorodin Duathlon - the Easy Way

16-pound, carbon road bike, 23mm tires, smooth, paved roads. No pack, no crashing, no babyheads, no unrideable obstacles. Indeed, this is the easy way to do the Mt. Thorodin Duathlon.

My road racing mentor, Eric Coppock, asked me about the Longs Peak Duathlon earlier this week. While anything is doable the conditions on the North Face are still a bit dicey for a ropeless ascent/descent, so I told him about my plan to go back to Mt. Thorodin, this time via the roads - my original plan before Stefan turned it into a monster.

We started from my house just a bit after 5 a.m. It was Father's Day and we both needed to get back early so that our kids could take a few seconds to say "Happy Father's Day!" Just kidding. My boys got me a great Broncos shirt and took me out to breakfast (more like lunch) after this little adventure. We both wanted to spend the majority of the day with our families, so it was a Dawn Patrol ride.

Eric, ever the hardman and signed up for his first 100-mile run this September, elected to do this adventure on his mountain bike! He might not have opted for that choice if his road bike was functional, but I'd give him extra credit for it anyway. He certainly gets extra credit for riding a bike that weighed nearly double mine. Not having ridden at all wasn't a consideration either. Eric just wanted to suffer and he much care how. I tried to oblige.

We climbed up the Wall on McCaslin and then down Indiana to the new Candelas development, which is mostly houseless still, but the roads are wide, smooth, and deserted. We hit highway 72 and headed west, climbing into a headwind towards Coal Creek Canyon. Six miles up the canyon we took a left onto the relentlessly steep Twin Spruce Road. That merged with Gap road and continued to climb until it turned to dirt as we entered Golden Gate State Park.

I had been worried about the heat and wondered if just three bottles would be enough for the 50+ mile adventure. I needn't have worried. For the first two hours of this ride, despite climbing almost the entire time, I was cold. My feet and hands were painful cold. I built a little gap on Eric on the steep section and took that time to sit in the sun and try to warm my feet and hands. This worked nicely wasn't a problem the rest of the day, though I still did the entire roundtrip on just two bottles of liquid.

Once on the dirt road, it rolled a bit and climbed another 500 feet to where we'd ditch the bikes and hike up the final 1100 feet to the summit. We went in at a slightly different point, along a closed, dirt service road. That ended and we picked up an old service road that we followed until we found a bunch if cairns. We followed those a bit too long, as they led up to the same wrong summit that Stefan and I tagged last week. I was watching my GPS, but didn't go far enough right, reluctant to deviate so strongly from the cairns. We still had to descend a bit to the saddle between the summits. I guess maybe I'll get it right on my third try...

We summited after 3h40m of effort. After 5 minutes of resting, some eating and photos, we then just reversed the entire route back home. It is pretty much all downhill until we re-joined with Indiana and had to climb again. We got back home about 5.5 hours after leaving it. The total adventure was 53.5 miles (3 miles of hiking) and 6550 vertical feet.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

RMNP Glacier Lollipop

A glacier lollipop? Man, on a hot day, doesn't that sound so satisfying? It was...

Mark suggested we knock off a Gerry Roach Rocky Mountain National Park classic and suggested the Taylor Glacier climb. I'd never done it before and I wanted to test out Kahootla crampons on my new Xplorer Mid GTX - the boot I'm considering for the Mittellegi Ridge on the Eiger, which Homie and I will attempt the end of July, weather gods permitting, of course. I tried out these boots yesterday when I scrambled Seal Rock. They scrambled fine on this 5.2 slab and felt really nice running downhill. I was happy to have a more substantial sole under my wimpy feet and if made a mistake and stepped on a pointy rock, I didn't pay with pain.

Mountain Project seemed to think the route was pretty easy and I suggested two tools and no rope. Mark insisted on the rope and I demured, as he tends to be a more sober mind when it comes to gear. I let my overwhelming laziness rule my decisions instead of reasonable caution. To each his own, I guess, but Mark's call definitely saved the day.

We met in north Boulder and drove to the Glacier Gorge parking lot. We were hiking a bit after 6 a.m., already in shorts, which we'd be in all morning long. It is light by 5 a.m. these days so even though I was up at 4:15, it felt like we were getting a late start. We saw two others in the parking lot, but not a soul on the 4-mile hike into Sky Pond. Here we saw a party a couple of pitches up the Petit Grepon, but no one was on the Taylor Glacier.

We donned crampons and pulled out one axe at the start of the snow climbing that led to the upper bowl. Once there I stopped to shorten up my crampons one more notch and we pulled out our second tools. We kept the rope in the pack at this point.

The snow was nearly perfect. A bit soft, but just barely. At least until we got near the top. The climbing at the very top gets pretty steep 60+ degrees where we went - doing the direct finish. We heard a sluff-valanche to our right and I was glad we'd be off the snow soon. This glacier faces east and had been in the sun since nearly 5 a.m. I was glad it was a bit soft since my crampons didn't have front points and my boots were very soft, but I didn't want the slope to slide, obviously. I think we hit it nearly right, though an hour earlier might have been ideal.

I got to the 15-foot rock band at the top and was stymied a bit. There were no positive holds, though the rock was really solid. We could have stayed on snow all the way but, as I've said, it was getting just a touch too soft for my comfort level and I craved the rock. But I wanted handholds and footholds. I stowed my axes but couldn't pull off the crampons since I was still standing on the rapidly weakening snow. I had to be solid here or risk a 1500-foot fall down the face.

I backed off a couple of options, not feeling confident smearing my minimal crampons on the rock. Mark offerred a belay, but we didn't have any gear to anchor with. We had thought we'd just use boot-axe belays if needed, but now the snow was too unstable for that. I was literally ten feet from flat ground at this point. Mark found a way to jam his axes in the rock and I pulled out the rope, tied in, and tossed the rest down to him. With the security of a belay, granted twenty feet below me, I cranked the two hard moves to a good hold and was soon on flat tundra. Mark followed, concurring that not a rope added a lot to his enjoyment of this last section. Or at least greatly diminished the terror. Who was it that insisted on the rope again?

On the Divide the wind was chilly and I put on my jacket. The boots had performed very well, though my feet were quite cold now, having been soaked a bit by standing in wet snow for the last 30 minutes or so. They warmed up fast, though, as we made our way an additional 500 feet higher to the summit of Mt. Taylor. The weather was perfect with cloudless skies. Longs Peak is particularly impressive from the north and we marveled at this great mountain before continuing north on the Divide to the top of the Andrews Glacier.

At the top of the glacier we spotted some hikers headed our way from further north, probably from the Flattop Trail. We descended this super fun snow slope, via some boot skiing and some butt glissading, down to the Andrew Tarn, an extremely beautiful mountain lake, where we picked up the trail. But soon the trail was buried in snow. The snow was mostly still firm enough to stand on, though we did plunge in over our knees a few times. We lost the trail a couple of times, but footsteps directed us back on track and down to main Loch Vale trail, which we followed back to the car, passing more and more people out enjoying the beautiful day.

We did the 11.5-mile, 4500-vertical foot lollipop in 6h20m. We trotted a bit on the way out, at a really slow, conversational pace. We couldn't just hike out though. We are Minions after all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Return to South Boulder Peak

There wasn't a course for SBP in Strava (when I did this) and Homie just did 1:00:30. So...

I went over this morning to see how the new course is. It takes the new Towhee Trail, which hits the Mesa Trail and then descends a bit to where the old Towhee hit the Shadow Canyon Trail. Then the trail is the same until just below the saddle where there are two new switchbacks. The upper section is incredibly burnt out and you can see the summit (nearly) from below the saddle! Normally you can't see the summit until you about 1 minute away. A bit sad. It's harder to follow the trail from the saddle up since so many trees are gone...

I made the start of the canyon, at the shed, in just under 24 minutes. To go under an hour, you want to be here in 23 minutes or better to give you 30 minutes for the canyon and then 7 more minutes to the summit, so I was a bit behind. I worked hard in the canyon, but pretty much hiked everything. Amazingly two people passed me on their way down! Ugh. I was out too late - it was nearly 7 a.m. when I started and it already felt hot.

I made the saddle in just under 52 minutes and knew I could break an hour but it was going to hurt to break 59 minutes. I hurt and topped out in 58:58. Not bad. This is probably a minute longer than the previous route, so that is still 5 minutes off my PR, but anything under an hour is hard.

I came down really slow as the canyon is even more technical than before.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Mt. Thorodin Duathlon - The Hard Way

Gerry Roach is a huge peak bagger. He was the second person to do the seven summits and I think he might be the only person to climb the ten highest peaks in North America. He's taken that thirst for summits to the local counties and I think he's done every named summit in Boulder County and other nearby counties. Nowadays there are even more ambitious peak baggers - one woman has climbed all the Colorado 14ers, 13ers, and even 12ers. This is around 2000 peaks. Bill Briggs has taken that thinking it and extended it to duathlons - requiring a biking approach. He starts/finishes from his house in Boulder. One of the peaks he did was Mt. Thorodin in Gilpin County and I wanted to do it in this style as well.

This was motivated by Stefan wanting to do some peak in duathlon style. When I suggested the nice road-bike approach, he countered with the brutally technical White Ranch/Golden Gate Park mountain biking approach. We did the latter.

There are mountain bikers and there are mountain bikers. Stefan is the latter. He's the race director for the Colorado Trail Race and has done the 550-mile course in less than 5 days... I'm more of mountain biker do I put this? Prefers to ride roads. Or really easy trails. Really easy, wide trails. We are not a good match, even discounting Stefan's superior fitness.

We started at the lower parking lot of White Ranch State Park and climbed up Belcher and Mustang Trails. Stefan rode, of course, we were on bikes, right? I wasn't. At least that much of the time on the Mustang trail. I was off my bike pushing it. By the time I arrived at the top of the climb, having ridden/walked 4.5 miles in about 90 minutes I wasn't feeling too great about my fitness or skills. I felt like I had neither.

We descended down to the upper parking lot and got on the gloriously smooth and wide pavement of a street. At this point you might be wondering why I even own a mountain bike, if this is my attitude. I was wondering that as well.

We rode steeply uphill and then steeply downhill to the Mountain Lion trail in Golden Gate State Park. I think I rode a bit more of this trail, but it's all a blur of humiliation now and one's psyche tends to bury those memories. We popped out onto Gap Road and I was so happy once again, but already fearing the trip back. We found a good spot stash the bikes and happily, at least I was happy, dismounted and started hiking up through the woods, sans trail, roughly towards the summit of Mt. Thorodin.

Hiking along I was already plotting a safer way home. I'd ride Gap Road down to Coal Creek Canyon and out that to 93 and then south on that back to the parking lot - all roads! I knew Stefan would be having none of that, but I felt like such an anchor holding him back from just moving along. It wasn't like he was in a hurry, but having to stop so often and nursemaid his companion probably wasn't ideal either.

We chatted a lot on the ascent and I led us up to...the wrong summit. I checked my GPS and we figured out that the true summit was the rock outcropping further northeast. We descended to the saddle and up to the true summit. Another summit, Starr Peak, even further to the northeast, had a big building on top. I was glad we didn't have to go tag that summit, too.

The hiking through the woods wasn't too bad and we found an easier way back to the bikes, even finding a trail a bit before we arrived at the bikes. My topo maps had showed a trail leading partially up Mt. Thorodin, but it wasn't in the marked location. We wondered how far this trail would go, but left it for another time.

Back on the bikes we continued on, making a loop and entering Golden Gate Park again, at a different location. This time the trail was smooth and non-technical, lending itself to high-speed descending and for me, too-high-speed descending. In practically the only section that was very easy, I crashed. Hard. The trail was very smooth, but it was also very narrow and a somewhat deep trough. Going too fast, I made a mistake and went up the side of the trough. Heading for a couple of Aspen trees, I braked for all I was worth and eventually tumbled. Something, probably my bike, smacked my right shin hard, causing a rather nasty gash and some serious swelling. Beat up, humbled again, and now completely lacking any confidence that I could even ride a bike, I remounted and caught up to Stefan. He was on cloud nine about how beautiful that section was - how easy and smooth it was and how I must have surely, finally, enjoyed some mountain biking. Not so much.

We continued on, me at a much more cautious pace and eventually hit another road. We rode downhill for quite a bit before turning up the big climb that we had descended after White Ranch. It was grunt up this hill, but at least I was staying upright. When we entered White Ranch again, Stefan told me that he'd head down a more technical trail while I would take the Belcher Trail. Actually, he encouraged me to join him, but knew that wasn't going to happen. Even going down the amazingly rocky, baby-head strewn, but wide Belcher Trail, proved tiring, stressful, and challenging to me. That is just one nasty trail.

We finished back in the White Ranch parking lot after 7 hours. I was spent, bleeding, thirsty, and hungry. Stefan looked refreshed, and this was his third day of long rides in a row. I'm interested in doing Mt. Thorodin again, but I want to try it the easy way, via the roads, next time.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Three Peaks Run

Homie and I ran the three peaks today. South Boulder Peak had just opened up a few days ago and Homie had already tested himself on this, the biggest climb, near Boulder. He went up in just over an hour, but today we took it a lot easier, knowing we were going a lot longer. We both wore ultra-running packs and I carried two bottles; Homie just one. We topped out SBP in 1h15 and were on top of Bear Peak by 1h30.

We descended Bear's West Ridge trail and then ran up the Green-Bear trail, clear to the West Ridge of Green. I would not have run this entire way, even though it isn't very steep, if it were not for Homie setting the pace. It was already getting hot and I was already fading. We topped Green at 2h20m and ran back down the West Ridge to the Ranger Trail junction. Here we parted company. Homie continued over Flagstaff and Sanitas, headed for his kid's swim meet in north Boulder. I descended Bear Canyon to the Mesa Trail and ran that to the Bluestem Trail and down that back to my car at the South Mesa Trailhead. I got there at 3h35m, feeling really ready to be done. I walked the hill just south of Bear Canyon on the Mesa Trail and also the "Death Stairs" between the Shanahan trail junctions.

This run was 15 miles and just over 4000 vertical feet. It felt like more climbing than that to me. I guess I need more runs like this.