2008 Leadville Loppet Race Report

Here is the long awaited and just plain old long 2008 Leadville Loppet Race report.

Folks, this is the unexfoliated truth, unbecomberd by editing of any sort, dismisremembered by an otherwise unimpeachumble narrator! I unspeach and unplore you, bewared! It does go on!

Last Friday morning Paul and I drove up to the thin air of Leadville for the Loppet.

After a smooth drive and delicious coffee and sammiches at Bongo Billys in Buena Vista, we arrived in Leadville. We first stopped at the course at the Colorado Mountain College. We skated for about an hour through the soft yet pliable trail system and then up the well groomed mineral belt trail. Conditions: great! The sun was out, it was just above freezing. The air, she was clear and the trade winds were blowing.

Me up there on the mineral belt trail

We skated up and down and took pics and enjoyed the crazy downhill on the mineral belt trail followed by the step turn happy woods, a harbinger of things yet to come.

Me and then that Paul guy up at the Leadville overlook

Afterwards we checked into the residually smoky super eight motel just across from the mountain college, got some grub at the Tennessee Pass cafe, and then headed back to the race site to pick up the numbers race numbers.

Also at the hotel were the sled dog teams.

We turned in early and then had what probably should have been a predictably crappy nights sleep at 10,152 feet altitude. Clay and Dina perfidiously stayed in Buena Vista at a more oxygenated 8000ish feet. Fiendishly clever they.

Got up at 7 ish and headed into town for some breakfast at the exquisitely signed Golden Burro cafe. Our lovely moppet of a waitress used her well honed urchin charm to steal Paul's heart. Not me though, she looked like she had done some hard time in juvie and I was wary of getting shanked with a rusty butterknife, but we got our breakfast without incident. I should have ordered the miner's platter. The pancake platter was lacking promised hashbrowns. After breakfast I supplemented the watery burro coffee with a cuppa from the newly opened and quite excellent Proving Ground Cafe. Well caffeinated at last, we departed for the race site.

Best neon sign in leadville, an ominous harbinger of breakfasts to come

Got to the race and strapped on the gear and did the warm up skate about. I was in the 22k skate, Paul, Dina, Clay and Denny all in the 22k classic, Ken and Jessica in the 45k classic and John in the 44k skate. I think that makes 8 club members total all bespeckled with official club gear. Go team!

Your humblest scribe in full on prerace dork mode!

The 44k skate/classic started off at 10am. I skated over to watch and noticed that the old mountain guy standing next to me was holding a big ass rifle. It took me a while to figure out that he was the official starter. I backed off a safe distance away and watched the field set off. John B got an excellent start.

I warmed up a bit and discarded excess layers as the morning was relatively warm and got on the starting line. The race is an out and back, so there is some overlap where we will be skiing back on the racers behind us. I am a bit nervous about this as the return skiers will be heading down hill and the outbound skiers will be going up. I sense trouble. After extensive instruction that Paul missed completely our race started. The race was a combined start for the classic and skate skiers. Deviously, I lined up way on the left behind a couple of women I knew to be very fast skate skiers. I figured that I could skate around all the classic skiers who were stuck in their multiple sets of classic tracks and get a good start ahead of the crowds in the sketchy beginning of the race.

Nope. Mountain man fires the thirty/thirty rifle into the air and in the nanosecond it takes me to get across the start line, I realize half the classic field is up the road and ahead of me. Hot damn. I skate like mad trying to make up some ground and make a bit of progress before the course necks down into a series of downhills of ascending severity. The first two are OK, but I am stuck in the bunch losing ground to the fast people pretty quickly. Then there is a steep downhill with a sharp left turn. As we are in the midst of the hill, I note there are two skiers way off the course neck deep in snow trying to dig out as they completely missed the turn. I start snowplowing hard and manage to make it around the turn without crashing or swinging wide and taking out everyone around me.

We hit the first uphill and I start passing people. The trail is not wide. Classickers on the right in the tracks, skaters on the left and the passing lane seems to be a double pole sprint betwixt. I try it and quickly get maxed out, but I get by a bunch of slower skaters and classickers. The trail goes through some undulations before we hit the lower portion of the mineral belt trail. The Mineral Belt Trail is a nice multiuse paved bike path laid over the grades of a number of old mining railroads. In the winter it is snow covered and well groomed. As it is a rail grade it offers a slow steady climb, but it is one of those sneaky old rail grades that is pretty steep in places.

As we get into the steady climb I feel I am among my racing peers. There are a number of classic and skate skiers ahead of me. I note that the classic skiers, including clay up in the distance are kick-poling up the grade. The skaters around me are V2'ing. I try this and quickly hit my limit. I go back to a managable V1 and get into a groove. Things seem to be going well, or so I tell myself, until I try to pole to the right and do that amusing plant-the-pole-on-the-inside-of-the-ski-and-faceplant-hard thing that the girls find so cute. As I dig myself out of the crater I have created (crated?), a train of four skaters zoom by me. I get back up and my heart rate is pegged. The front of the race is out of sight up the road and I get my rhythm back. I note that the pesky little skaters ahead of me are still V2ing up the grade. Damn them and their little 150 lb bodies. I plow onward keeping them in sight.

John B with an excellent 44k skate

At some point which I can't remember, we get into the woods and do an insanely fast downhill section through tight twisty little turns, all alike. I manage to use my superior gravitational attraction to the earth and catch back on to the train. Two fellows fall off the pace and I follow a woman in pink who can descend like a demon. This part of the course is really quick. There is barely a chance for V2 alternate mostly just skating and step turning and powering out of turns. Whee. Anyone still reading? Uh oh, maybe another picture.

Clay pacing Dina toward the end of her 22k classic race

At some point the fun ends and we go up. And up and up, and then rolling hills with sharp downhills and sharp up hills. I am losing my focus. My group of skaters have left me behind a bit. But then, salvation, a 10k sign, that means I have 12k to go and only 1k to the turn around. Or so I thought...

We hit the mineral belt trail again and climb a steady grade for a bit, and then awhile, and then longer. I sort of catch up to the woman in pink and off in the distance, but getting a bit closer I see Clay skiing along. I get some momentum from that. Maybe, just maybe I can catch Clay?

As we skate along up what seemed like an easy grade the day before I am getting really tired and slightly unnerved that we have not hit the turnaround point yet. How long is 1k? We ski over a peak into a little valley and then begin to climb more on an endless railroad grade. I am starting to fade again, I feel the bonk coming on slowly and I am regretting the fact that I did not eat during the race. I feel around wildly for the ClifShot I stashed sticking out of my water pack but I can't find it. Damn. Why am I still climbing. Why are none of the faster skiers doubling back yet. Woe woe is me....

At this woeful point we are skiing past neat historical mining stuff like these trailside hopper cars

At this point a synapse fires in my oxygenless brain and I realize that perhaps the out is longer than the back, and maybe since we are climbing so much, the back could be mostly downhill? As if in answer to my febrile ruminations a purple cow tight clad skier is streaking down the hill. Directly at me. Uh oh. I move out of the track as the race leader whizzes by me. A short time later we ski around a turn and ahead of me is a long gentle slope followed by a little groomed cul-de-sac with skiers heading every which way. I am renewed. I V2 madly to the turning point.

As i arrive at the not mipoint turning point, coming out of the turn around is Clay. I'm like, "sup". And he is all, "nothin" and then he's like,"I am only skiing this slow as I was a bit over my max for a while, now I intend to hammer down and catch that guy way way in front of me just before the finish line" And I am all, "whatever" and he is like, "Oh and this will be the last time you see me until the finish line" and I am like, "whatever! be that way loser!" and he is like, "Oh yeahs, I am classicking and I am still torquing your slow skating monkey buttocks" and I just make the W symbol with my skis and poles and make that cool "cha" sound and skate on through the roundabout.

And sure enough, I get through the turnaround and Clay has vanished. Sneaky fast people. But the lady in pink is still there just ahead of me. We ski up and down the trail a bit passing the people behind us coming the other way. I am pleased to note that there is no one really that close behind me who is skating. We get to the last high point on the course and start the fast descent. Just as we are picking up speed, pink lady does that cool faceplant thing and I ski on by her. Now the tables have turned and gravity is on my side.

I use my skating prowess to power through the downhills at speed with explosive poling and strides coming out of turns. Despite my near bonked state I am having fun. The only issue is all the people behind me in the race who are going the other way up the course. Some are in the tracks classicking, some are classicking not in the tracks, some are skating in the lane, some are skating on the tracks. I am going really fast and most people are nice and yielding the lane to me. Except a few minutes down the hill, one skater will not move. He has his head down and is taking the entire skating lane. I yell "heads up" and he sort of moves over and says, "you are on the wrong side". I did not realize the idiots who don't yield the trail to you even though you were lapping them in a mountain bike race also ski. It is simple people. If someone much faster than you is passing you, get the hell out of the way. I am 10 minutes up on this guy and he gets all semantic on me. I hope one of the 30 skiers between him and me demonstrated the result of failing to yield to downhill traffic.

Ken skis like a tired tired man at the end of his race.

Anyway, I zip down the Mineral Belt Trail in quick order and enter the woods with its tight twisty little turns, all alike. I am feeling pretty good at this point. Poling hard in V2 alternate, V2ing the flats and having a blast. Then we hit a couple of short hills and I realize I am getting sucked back into the bonk with every uphill effort. I come off the uphill and in short order I am feeling OK and powering along. My quads are starting to really feel the effort of the V2 and I am concerned about cramping, but I can do well and I keep the hammer down worrying that the pink lady will catch me in the technical sections.

Paul G all casual at the finish

Finally I emerged from the woods and past the start line with a short 1km loop to go. I can see one skater and one classiker just ahead so I try to chase them down. The last loop has one mean nasty hill and a demoralizing uphill finish stretch. On the big hill I can see the two guys ahead of me at the top and I try to sprint up it. As I do so, I can feel my vision starting to tunnel and my quads twitch. I back off a bit and then boom, I am on the last hill watching the two in front of me finish just ahead.

As I cross the finish line I see clay cheering me on and I am all like whatever dude, fast and a good teammate too, who do you think you are Clay? this is a ski team, not the girl guides. Sheesh. It turns out I finish in 1:35 for an 11 minute half marathon PR. Although it could have been an even faster average time as the last half I did was a "21k" and this one was a "22k". I suspect some sort of rounding error.

I finished 15th overall in the 22k, 8th among skaters and 2nd in my age group. Unlike previous races my skis were appropriately waxed and the trail was really well groomed so I eschewed controversial skating techniques like drunk monkey and duckbutt and somehow managed to skate pretty smoothly and appropriately all the time. Take that drunkmonkeyduckbutt.

It was a banner day for the SWnordicski team as well. Clay took a hard fought 4th in the 22k classic, sure as his words, pipping another skier at the last bit. He won his age group. Dina took second in her age group. Paul took second in his as well. Denny missed third in his loaded age group by a handful of seconds. In the 44km classic, Jessica and Ken both won their age groups and finished very well overall, with Jessica in 4th among classic skiers closing fast on a fading Ken in third. Finally, John B. had an excellent 44km skate finishing 7th overall and third in his age group. Go team!

Dina, way too spry at the finish

After the race ended, we headed to the loyal order of water buffalo lodge for an excellent stew and soup feed and awards ceremony. There may have been 30 different crockpots of sweet nourishing stews donated by kindly miner folk. Delicious. There were nice prizes for the top three in each age group. I got a nice Mineral Belt Trail shirt with a map of leadville and the trail on it. Pesky nice fast guy Clay got a cool bowl for winning his age group. Then there was a raffle with really nice prizes. Pretty much everyone who stuck around won something, ranging from ski hats and waxes to ski passes for the local alpine and nordic areas. Good job organizers!
All in all it was a fun day up there in the ionosphere. The course was well groomed, the race well organized. The prizes and feed was great. I recommend the event.

After the awards we head back to the still excellent Proving Grounds cafe and caffinate for the long drive home. The drive is pretty uneventful. We saw some mountain goats, lots of elk and just outside of salida we saw a woman blow by us in a minivan get pulled over almost immediately by a cop. Well done cop sweeper.

Arch nemesis San Antonio mountain. Why? Damn you! Why?

When we hit Antonito we stopped at the dirty Shamrock gas station for some water and snacks for the last stretch home. As we get out of the cars a couple of NM staties pull up behind us. One of them asks me if we are heading down to NM on 285. I say yes. He warns us to be careful as the road conditions are bad. I think his exact words were, "its bad... bad bad bad bad bad". Apparently its blowing around San Antonio mountain and the roads are whited out, and he was right. It was bad. Bad bad bad bad bad. We were crawling along at 10-25mph for 15 miles almost all the way from the mountain to tres piedras. Why does the mountian hate me so. Last trip we hit white out drifting on the way up and 12 inches of unplowed snow amidst a blizzard on the way back.

Despite San Antonio mountains best efforts we made it home safely. The end.

The rest of my pictures and the race results here.


Sorry Guy.

So no foolin' there I was riding home from work. The immediate start of my homeward commute is a quick downhill followed by a long false flat that turns into a deceptively hard half mile climb. I was riding my raleigh twenty shod with studded tires. As a result I was out of the saddle on the false flat trying to maintain some semblance of momentum to start me on the way up the hill. I am sartorially splendid in exactly what I wore to work. Jeans and a couple of layers of wool and button shirts and a sweater. My overstuffed with god knows what messenger bag is resting in my sexy berkeley farms non-gbh milk crate ziptied to the rack on the raleigh twenty.

As I start grinding up the hill in gear four out of five, out of the saddle, thinking that I can probably get up to the fifth gear and get a bit of workout in on the brief ride home, I look across the wiiiiide breakdown lane and see a guy, a big guy, sort of slowly blow past me way over in the sand at crumbly margins of the road. When I say big guy, well, I am a big guy, he was a really big guy, maybe 50 pounds on me, maybe more, and I am doing OK in the weight class, hailing from los alamos neeeeeew mexico anda weighing in ata 195 poundsa.

So big guy is cruising on by on his skinny tired carbon trek looking bike. He is resplendent in lycra bike shorts and a neon yellow jersey. I shout out to him, as he is way over ten feet away on the here-be-dragons part of the pavement, "Hey! Howyadoing!"

I get no response, he does not even look at me. He is rocking the ipod in the bicep holster and is putting me away for good. He has a little pack on the back. It is dusk. I note he has a pretty good little blinky on there. He probably just big ringed it down the hill and coasted through the false flat and was hammering down about to blow by me.

This happens to me all the time. Right in that very spot. I am cruising home on a some flavor of dumb bike and someone blows by me in, say, aerobars in full on lycra pedaling like mad on a performance lugged tri bike that has not been overhauled since friction shifting was in vogue. Usually there is not much to do but watch them dust me. Occasionally, yeah performance bike guy this is you, joefastguy misunderestimates both the hill and me, the guy he just blew by, who is riding a girls bike with a huge basket, and perhaps I catch you while I am honking so hard on my three speed bike that the tires rub the fenders with each pedal stroke emits horrible pain noise. Not often do I take the bait, but I usually make exceptions for performance bike aerobar guy.

So big big guy blows by me the slow way and I am pretty content to let him go. At the top of the hill there are a series of rollers that I can't keep up with most roadies when I am on dumb bikes, so no need to engage. It is a nice evening, warmish for the first time in months. The mountains there over town are highlighted with pink. I can chill. I down shift and sit and spin and wait for big guy to keep on keeping on. But he doesn't. He slows. I can play this game too. I back off a bit and spin. It is probably his first day commuting, he probably is trying to get some exercise and maybe loose some weight. No need to blow by him on the dumb bike.

Except, he neither said hi nor looked at me. Nor did he keep on going. Nope. He popped like a balloon. And I caught him, while spinning in second, not even half way up the hill, that gets worse up toward the top. Crap. So I look over to see if he is in the hi-what-a-great-day-for-a-bike-ride mood yet. Nope. No eye contact. Nothing. Dammit, it is a great day for a bike ride.

Well then. I am not waiting. I gave him his chance to ride off or be sociable or even to grunt a hey. Laters pal, I can still get a bit of a workout in on the way home. I kind of ramp it up as the hill gets steeper, spinning, upshifting standing to spinning and then sitting. I hit the rollers and ride along at a good clip. About a half mile later I look back to see when he is going to blow by me as the low rollers favor the strong pedaler on the fast bike. And he is not there. Nope, he is about a quarter mile behind me. I will not see him again tonight. No indeed. I may not see him ever again in fact.

I kind of feel like an ass. I just rode a, to put it bluntly, really big fat guy off my wheel on what I guess was his first day commuting of the year and perhaps his first time ever as I have never seen him on the road before, I think I know all the other regular commuters pretty well.

Anyhow, I am sorry, guy. I tried to be sociable, I tried to let you go on your merry way. I hope you keep riding.

Loose the ipod and say hello to people you pass or when they pass you. Los Alamos is filled with aerobic freakazoids, so watch out who you decide to try and dust. Ride over by the white line, not over by the ditch. Maybe you had a bad day at work, maybe you were barely holding it together, maybe you needed to blow some other cyclists doors off. I hope I see you out there commuting again. But really man, sorry.


Surly Big Dummy Arrives

the bike is rolling, see here for first ride pics and vids, or big dummy for more recent posts tagged thusly...

It is army green and has 4 sets of water bottle bosses. I am a month behind in planning, I still need to figure out wheels and brakes and I only just ordered the xtracycle attachments, but I will get it rolling to see what is up.

68" long on the diagonal, frame only...

Provisional roll it around single speed stylee build, 7'2" back end to tip of front wheel:

Detailed closeups of the Big Dummy Frame on flickr...

I am pretty impressed. They thought about this a bunch. I was originally planning on buying a front end MTB from Kelly when they went out of buisness and then brazing on the long tail myself, but I quit that when they announced this bike coming along. I am really glad I waited. I am pretty sure I would still not be done with the DIY version.

See the CRC shop blog for pics of a built up one. Dammit.


Back from Leadville

My heart dinnae explode and I managed to bust out an 11 minute PR in the skating half marathon (22km) at the Leadville Loppet. Given that it was over 10,000 feet the whole way I am pretty psyched as well as pooped. Race report brewing in my fevered brainium. In the meantime enjoy this photo Leadville from the overlook point on the course. According to the t-shirt I won that has a map of the leadville environs on it, town is at 10,150 and the photo is taken at 10,440 or so:

All the photos are here. Stay tuned race fans.

Ok I can't resist. I love this photo of my buddy Ken finishing the 44km classic race. He was righteously pooped. Good job Ken:



I over did it last weekend with the skiing and somehow threw off my whole sleep schedule and metabolism for the week, so here I am eating Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese by the way too large chunk at 11 at night and wondering why I am still awake and how can I be this hungry. It is all a scam perpetrated by my sneaky body trying to fatten me up despite over doing it. I will go eat some more cheese now, I think I am up to 6 dollars worth in the last 24 hours...

In the meantime, go see the South West Nordic Ski Club Blog for photos and reports from last weeks time trial and my fantastical hair. Thanks Dina.


I am with Wink256

Last week I got a little gift in the mail from my not so local lbs. I just ordered a bike from them.

Today they emailed me to say that the bike will be here friday. I am up in leadville for the weekend making a good faith effort to explode my heart with skis at 10,000 feet, alas, alack. Stupid ski season, it is interfering with build up bikes for the thaw season and I am so very very tired. Thus no build reports for a while. I thought I had another month to figure this all out. I have bars and inadequate wheels to build it up with so far.

Wink256 will once again be velocipedically borne to locations hitherto unimagined by his tiny cat brain. Godspeed winky, godspeed.


The mad lazer pointer skillz

After my trip to Iowa to give my chinese bike talk, I got a nice little package of comic zines from Cody. Elena and I spend an enjoyable lunch eating fried tacos and reading Cody's Awkwardly Put zine. I am very honored to have been immortalized as follows:

Awesome! If you want some contact her and maybe get some comic zine goodness yourself you can email her at :awkwardlyput: at :gmail: dot :com:

Visit her blog too which is updated more than sporadically, guaranteed!


Salvaged rebuilt wheel, old spline drive review.

I broke all the rules on this one. In my frenzied wheel building, I realized I had a brand new specialized cup and cone front hub that I picked up for $5 at a swap. The hub was very tight and crusty, but a quick repacking and adjustulating and it was fine if not completely smoove. I noted that its 32 holes matched the very same 32 holes on my old MTB super light race rims. The Sun SubIV are very light rims that dent easily and have little or no business under someone of my girth. But a few minutes with a crescent wrench, et voila! no more dents in the rim. I looked in the spoke box and found 32 Tom Ritchey (?) spokes that once mated this rim to another hub. They were close enough!

Now nipples. A quick look around the box of nipples told me I did not have enough 14 gauge brass nipples. I had some aluminum ones, but no interested in using such beasties, but then, rattling around in the corner of my spoke and nipple box I saw a little baggie of Spline Drive spoke nipples that I got interbike in the midnineties as a sample. So I tried them. At least ten years later, sorry fellers. They work pretty well. Normal aluminum nipples round out pretty easily if you are not careful during wheel building, but these have splines instead of flats and a special spoke wrench that results in very positive engagement. The Spline Drive nipples I have are old and do not seem to have the beefed up spoke heads that the new ones have. I am guessing that means that they are prone to snapping off at the head with time. I noticed two other issues with these nipples. The first is that aluminum nipples in an aluminum rim need oil on the nipple head. I did not put enough, so they were a bit slow going. Secondly, the special spline drive tool was a bit small and angular so it was not too comfortable to build with, especially since the nipples were hard to turn. I remember a purple park shop tool maybe? Anyone want to sell me their old one?

I was a bit reluctant to take this to full tension due to the rims age and dentification, so I hope all will be well. I was planning on using this on one of the cruisers so I could have a third studded bike, but then the beater wheel on the mtb started failing so I think it will do duty on the Kelly.

Note too I laced in the special Livestrong hubcleaner, thanks Lance!

I may build up a matching rear wheel with a Bendix red band one speed coasterbrake, the other denty red Sub IV rim so I can have red hub and red rims on a red cruiser. Rimmatcher!


White industry eno disc wheel

I built a pretty nice white industry eno disc hub wheel for Carrie's super nice singlespeed Yeti. I was a bit apprehensive as there is alot that could go wrong with an eccentric wheel and an eccentric disc mount. But it was a really well engineered product and it went together really smoothly. It was a big relief as Carrie had an early morning ride hinging on my ability to finish the build.

The hub is beautifully finished and really solid. I built it up with 14/15/14 spokes and a velocity VXC disc rim. I love building with velocity rims as they are really true out of the box. I was able to get it up to really high even tension quickly and since it was so straight to start with it is by far the truest wheel I have ever built.

I am building up a matching front with a Paul Fhub disc and the same rim as Carrie is afflicted with blinglespeeditis. Her punishment? A 17 pound bike:


Plowing through wheels

I have built some serious wheels in the last couple months. I am not sure what my favorites of the ones I have built are, but lets start with these puckies:

Those are super wide Alesa 122b 650B rims, single wall no eyelets, 29mm wide on the outside of the rim. According to JP Weigle they are the same extrusion as the Weinmann 2120. I got them off an $10 schwinn mirada at the local thrift shop a few years back. I built them up with a campy gran sport HF front hub and a bendix redband kickback two speed rear. The tires are the fatty rumpkins. They measure out at a massive 43mm on this rim. They are a pleasure to look at. These are part of the winter push to get all the cruisers running by the summer. They will either go on the raleigh sport frame or on one of the three Schwinn Breezes we have in the collection.

They really look great and they are amazingly light, even the rear which has a million pound hub on it. I am pleased as punch! The tires took a bit to get seated right, but patience and 110 psi helped get them there.

As a sneak peak, here is an in process Project X wheelset to ponder:

More on wheels friday.

Creatures I saw last week

Due to the long drive up to Colorado and back I was able to see many a creature. In rough order of appearance:

On the way to Crested Butte:
1. Two Bald Eagles (individually, north of antonito)
2. A fox
3. Millions of fat telephone pole perching hawks
4. Mule Deer
5. Elk

In Crested Butte:
6. Fat mouse/kangaroo rat during the race

On the way Back:
7. Antelope
8. Big horn Sheep
9. Coyote

After a nighttime ski tuesday in Los Alamos:
10. Bobcat

As a bonus, Elena and I spotted another Bald eagle above the Rio Grande at Ottowi Bridge on Saturday.

Now all I need to see is a mountain lion, oryx, and a moose and I can retire.

Mule Deer seen south of gunnison:





Not the best day of commuting, but I rode them both home without walking.


The mighty mountain cruiser

Crested Butte was cruiser heaven.

So it really is not the NAHBS, but this is real bikes getting used hard.

Clicking photos takes you to the flickr page where you can view em big...

Outside the Nordic Ski Center

Nice Ski tube

Kelly cross fork on the motobecane fixie

Schwinn suburban(?)

Schwinn Excelsior hanging in the MTB hall of fame

Schwinn Typhoon reamed out for a 1" threadless mtb fork.

Front chains on this MTB, I could not tell whether the front brake actuated or if it was disabled for safety

Waiting for the thaw, I guess

Schwinn traveler outside the Chamber of commerce

The Schwinn Lil' Chick, note the older MTBs in the racks behind

This guy was on an old Ibis mountain bike, I also saw a woman cruing around on an early nineties Barracuda frame. I guess old race mountainbikes are the Schwinn Cruisers of the nineties.

Huffy outside out hotel, I think the night manager commuted on it.

Typhoon over the Bar

Typhoon of a million spokes

Two speed kick back Merlin Newsboy in the MTB hall of fame

The rested of the crested butte trip photos here. And the subset mountain bike hall of fame pictures here.


2008 Alley Loop xc ski race report

Here is a brief report from last weekends Alley Loop in Crested Butte, originally written for the South West Nordic Ski Club Blog, minorly edited for this blog, hence all the photos of other people in the club. I have lots of photos from the trip to share, including cruisers galore and a trip to the MTB hall of fame, more later...

Me heading to the race, allegedly a house behind:

Elena and I went up to CB last weekend with Paul, Dina and Clay.

Start of the 21k race, I did beat Richard Simmons, but lots of guys in drag beat me:

It snowed alot. There were death defying drifts on the NM/Co border going north on friday, and then is snowed the entire time we were in CB. There were 6-8' snowpiles lining the sidewalk. Snow was coming down in a fine sand most of the weekend and harder on sunday.

Well turned out ski bunnies in the 10k :

The race was saturday morning and the course was snowy. The main groomer for the CB nordic center was broken, so there was a wide course in the nordic area, with a narrow groomed skate lane with soft snow on either side and 4" of freshies on top. THe alleys were narrow, snow covered and fun.

I think they groomed elk avenue with this nightmare inducing monster:

I did the 21K race. The race started right up elk street and over the "pass" on the way out of town. Somehow I managed a great start and was in 5th place at the top of the hard climb. Cue the Ruh roh music. As we made our way through the soft slow nordic center I found myself unable to tap out a V2 on the soft snow as I was pretty much pegged. The entire nordic center was uphill near as I could tell.
About a kilometer into the race, a whole bunch of guys in drag blew by me never to be seen again. As the course looped about, the 21k racers got to take a shortcut that the 42 k racers did not. So I ended up in the middle of much faster 42 k racers which was very instructive.

Dina cornering hard in the 10K:

As I was at about 99% effort, I was doing my patented drunken monkey/duck skate technique, it was working pretty well, but it was nice to see that alot of the faster 42k racers that were streaming by me had their own unique techniques: Drunk sailor, hopfrog, lurchymcgoo, Frankenzombie among others. The soft conditions, blowing snow and short steep hills made the race pretty darn hard.

Clay powering through an alley

After a big nordic center loop we were routed down the steep pass and through the alley portion of the race. This was fun as heck. Narrow alleys with whoopdedoos and lots of 90 degree turns and bridges and the like. I ended up double poling alot of this as some sections were too narrow to skate and I was going through the back of the 10k field, so there was lots of passing.

Paul skating hard :

Next, the final loop around the nordic center. More of the same, all hills, my glasses were fogging up, I could not see the fast lane. At some point a racer came behind me and said, "I used to live in Los Alamos". It was former Los Alamos resident Lennard Zinn. All my hypoxic brain could say was, "duh, hello bike guy!". He is 8 feet tall and super smooth.

Richard cruising through in the 21k:

I did pass a few people in my race during the last 10k. My arms were cramping from all the poling I was doing through the alleys. I could feel the bonk coming on. Somewhat surreally toward the end of the nordic center loop near the mine head, I saw a fat mouse jump out of the snow and slowly amble across my path. I could have hit it with my ski if I wanted to. I was even thinking of catching it and eating it, but I decided against it as I had no fire making tools.

Dina looking fast:

As I finished the loop and went into town, minor bonk settled in and my already limited skills went to hell and I switched to the super duck butt modified stagger skate technique. I was covered in ice and I had finished at last, in 1:46! Through some statistical quirk I ended up 12th male in the 21k and 3rd in the 30-39 age group. Woo!

Me not looking too drunkmonkeylike at the finish:

SWnordic ski superstar Clay finished well in the 42k despite bonking out of a top ten finish. Dina took 2nd woman in the 10k, and Paul Graham and Richard finished well in the 21k.

Ice encrustations post race :

After the race, I took a looooong shower to thaw off. Elena and I met Dina and Clay to eat falafel. Elena and I spent some time walking around town and checking out the very cool Mountainbike Hall of fame/Crested Butte museum. We drank out body weight in coffee and then we headed to the super firehazard awards ceremony at the pizza joint. It was so loud and hot we bailed out early. I may never get my New Belgium brewing company 3rd place glass, but it was so worth bailing out of that and going to eat lamb at the Timberline resturaunt with Dina and Clay.

Race photographer Elena and I trying to stay warm post race :

Sunday morning we headed to the Nordic center for some last minute skiing before we headed home. It was somewhat disappointing to see that the trails had not been groomed that day and the skating was slow as crap on 6" of fresh powder. It probably snowed 2" while we were skiing. We quickly got some excellent mexican food at the Teocalli Tamale and boogered off for NM. The drive was a bit hairy through colorado, but it turned into an unplowed nightmare when we crossed the border south of antonito. 8-12" of unplowed mush awaited us from the border until tres piedras. Slow crappy driving indeed. Thanks NM!

No plow, no problems, thanks NM :

All and all it was a great weekend and a fun race. The rest of my pictures from the trip are here and the race results are here