March 30, 2009

Folsom Xterra REAL Race Report

The first Xterra and triathlon of the year was sure to prove a few things...early season cold water and a humbling highlight to any weakness that I have been slacking on in the past few months. The first race is also a great reminder of just how much love there is for racing in the dirt. Its Xterra time!

There are only about 2 or 3 races I have done three times in my three years of racing and I am stoked to say that the Xterra REAL is one of them. Awesome course, TFB organization that hosts the race is top notch and there is plenty of cool things to do around the area. The water might be a bit on the cold side but the single track and views of the lake are like nowhere else I have raced. Worth the drive and then some. . . Last year, we raced Folsom, it was Monique's first Xterra and she was worried about just making the distance. This year she got to "race it" and dropped about 30min off of her time while rolling her first race in on her 29 wheels.

The official results are not yet posted and TBF does not have the splits yet so I am making some guesses on my time/place here. All a good learning lesson for the first tri of the year and a reminder of why I am racing(love ;-)

Swim -
Brutal - Cold, blender, mass start crazy mess. Nothing that we all do not expect but somehow forget until the next starts. It keeps it REAL. I got a good start and clean water to the first buoy but with my 1-2 swims a week at just around 1-2K yards a session I was lacking the volume to keep a "good" pace. No worries. I slowed it down to my pace that I could manage and just kept it going. My left hand was going numb (I noticed this at the last tri of 08) and it started freaking me out a bit. Was my suit too tight? I am swimming more than 2x this distance this weekend at the 70.3 so hopefully I can get it worked out. Any suggestions??

I think I was somewhere near 25-30th overall out of the water. Today my legs are fine but my back feels like I got beat with a pole. Swimming was my biggest limiter of the race for sure. . . BUT I was stoked that I held back and didn't blow up. Get me on that bike ;-)

Bike -
Although I would not get the feeling back into my feet until I had mile one behind me on the run my legs were with me from the first pedal stroke. Stoked! I love this bike course and me and the Moots were getting pretty intimate on the course...we were one and rockin it. I am not sure how many people I passed but I was railing the turns and hammering without a care in the world of going out too hard. They cut the bike course by about 3 miles this year so there was no room to hold back.

I rode most of the 2nd loop with Tom Lyons and it was the highlight of my race. He truly embodies the spirit of Xterra and is a reminder of what we are all out there "suffering" about. At 48 years young, a family and a real job Tom keeps it all REAL for Xterra. On one road section as we were switching back and forth and ended riding next to eachother...gasping for air he looked over at me and muddered out the words with a smile. . . "I . . love this" Ha!! Awesome! We finished up the 2nd lap moving to the top 10 overall and made quick work of the transition.

Run -
I was not sure how my legs or lungs were going to hold up for the run. My run has been getting there and I was stoked the race was limited to just a four mile run. I could manage. After hurting my foot just a month or two ago I was stoked to be running injury free and I just tried to keep pace with Tom as we started out. Somewhere around mile 2ish I started feeling my feet and form so I slowly turned it up. Up the hill and down to the finish to hold it with no competition in front or behind me. It was a nice finish strong and wrapped up a killer day.

I finished 7th place overall and 2nd for my age group. ..but the prelim results include the pros so because Damian Gonzalas is a pro I believe I will get the 1st place points for the series??? Eric also made the podium for our age group and had a killer race! He dropped 4 minutes off his run split from last year and it was great to see him and his bro out there racing.

I was on to the recovery drink and then out to snap some pics of Monique on her way to a 5th place finish. Go girl!

Really stoked about the results and how the race came together. Sean has been telling me for months about frequency and I am just starting to get it! The next three weeks will be a huge swim and run focus which were my obvious limiters to me as my bike is spot on at the moment. I am looking forward to some more time in some open water sessions and maybe even another Xterra sometime soon - See ya out there!

the recovery time after podiumfest

Driving back from Folsom the txt messages were flying around...Then Sean hit the key word for the weekend.... PodiumFest!! I don't know if I have ever had a weekend where I knew more people on the podium... The 2nd US CUP at Fontana this weekend, the time trial, and the first Xterra of the year landed over a dozen of our friends on a podium.

Full race report from the Folsom Xterra on the way but Monique, Eric and I made the podium. Congrats to Paul & Karen, Lisa, Alison, Justin who made it up top at Fontana and Sean, Keevin and Jason who crushed it at the Time Trial in OC this weekend. Great weekend all around and first race on the Moots. I love it!

2x9 setup and it was the ticket for Folsom!

Monique and I had a full weekend for sure and it worked out quite nicely so far... After we drove up to Folsom on Friday, banged out some rides and after the race we headed back to Bako to clean up our house and hand over the keys to our new renters. Thank the Lord we got new renters right away...Perfect timing and we got a good weed wackin' workout too!

After that we were back on the road and landed in Big Bear last night and are hangin with Paul, Karen and Jordan today in PERFECT conditions. This is just about the best place to recover at altitude hangin with friends in front of a fireplace with plenty food and is good.

March 24, 2009


While most people have their schedules and training plans ironed out months before this time of year, I am just starting to get a feel for what I want to be racing this year. . . I know that I want to focus on off-road multisport but the door is still pretty open as far as what "series" or specific events I am setting the priority on. I wont even get into my "non-structured training". Managing a spreadsheet of "options" is a bit crazy I guess....Its 2:30am now and I cannot sleep so here it goes!

I just added a bunch of mountain bike races and I have wanted to do a complete season of Xterra races for the last two years now. Variety is a good thing but I know I need some focus this year to accomplish some of my race specific goals. Too extremes it seams. I had several people strongly encouraging me to give a cross country race a shot after VQ and maybe next year I will just focus on the bike.

This year, however, I am signed up for and stoked to have my priority events all under the "Conquer the Bear" multi-event series. This will let me get in some additional new experiences as part of the series like my first snowshoe race, my first paddle race, my fist road marathon and my first cross country race. This frames most of my races for the season and should be an awesome lineup!

Feb 7th - Showshoe the Bear Race (2nd place overall)
May 31st - Big Bear Shootout (Cross Country Race)
July 11th - Paddle Fest Race (10K paddle)
July 19th - California Multisport #2 (Run,Paddle,Mt Bike)
Sept 12th - Big Bear Marathon -(26.2 @ Elevation)

Next up is an obvious priority for me because it pushed me to a new level last year and has to be the best type of racing I have experienced so far (I even made the homepage pic!). The California Multisport Series has an amazing line up of event directors that put everything into these races and it shows! The atmosphere, the courses and challenge is top notch and I am looking forward to taking it to a new level this year.

June 7th - California Multisport Vail Lake
July 19th - California Multisport Big Bear (doubles as Conquer the Bear too)
Sept 27th - California Multisport San Luis Obispo

My first race ever was an Xterra at Snow Valley. I really did not know what I was getting myself into at the time but I have wanted to do the series for the last two years but never seem to make it out to enough races to make it happen. This year I have a wedding on the date of our West Cup race and the final CalMultisport is the day of Xterra Nationals. With James not racing Xterra triathlons this year I just moved up one place in the standings at every race so I am trying to make the most of it ;-)

Here is what I am planning on racing now and we will see how it looks after Folsom (this weekend).

March 29th - Xterra REAL - Folsom, CA
May 10th - Xterra Del Valle - Livermore, CA

So with the series in place I have a handful of other races I am keeping an eye on. . . I would love to do another endurance mountain bike event but finding the "right" event is proving to be tough. Laps and road just are not the same as a point to point adventure. I also did my first Crit race last Tuesday and I was blown away by how INTENSE it was. Wow. Road bikes can be fun too! I need more weekends!

In two weeks Monique, Keevin, Chuck and I are all racing the Oceanside 70.3 (Half Ironman) and will be our longest triathlon to date. We all did the Santa Barbara triathlon last year (which was our longest tri at the time) and it was only natural that when we saw St. George full Ironman distance triathlon posted last week we all signed up. Yep. Ironman 2010! Yikes! It is awesome to be able to do all of these races with the crew.

Sean Clancy my buddy and coach is also racing Oceanside with us and I have been so impressed with watching his progress in his training. WHEN he qualifies for Kona and races this year Monique and I are going with him and Lisa to watch it all go down. I know after being there and watching that I will HAVE to do an Ironman in 2010. Ha! Sean is also signed up for the St. George next year and a ton of other friends so I am sure it will be a good time before, during and after the race.

So the next two weeks I will see some results of what Xterra will look like this year and then build a block of training right into the Oceanside race. I am not planning on "racing" Oceanside as much as taking in the experience and building for the series of races later in the year. I am still wide awake with anticipation!

March 22, 2009


So I have had a pretty good build going from a little rest after VQ. I am still keeping the variety pretty wide before focusing in on "race sim" training and have started to get out for some paddle time again. The weather is getting so nice here in SoCal.

In the 16 days ending 2009-03-22: (VQ to today)

activity # timemileskm+ft

Road Bike10 19:11:30 312.08(3:41) 502.24(2:17) 12730

Mt Bike2 8:00:00 74.7(6:25) 120.22(3:59) 14700

Swim5 3:45:00 5.0(45:00) 8.05(27:57)

Trek/Walk5 3:31:00 18.75(11:15) 30.18(6:59)(SanFran)

Trail Running2 2:30:00 14.5(10:20) 23.34(6:25) 2550

Paddle2 2:06:00 8.51(14:48) 13.7(9:11)

Road Running3 1:49:00 12.42(8:46) 19.99(5:27) 400

Weights2 1:05:00

Total31 41:57:30 445.96

I have been slowly building up the Moots and switching over parts from the Orbea. . . Something tells me this MootoX is going to last a lot longer.

By Sunday I had moved over everything and got my first ride in on it...First ride since VQ on the dirt! Monique and I headed over to watch the San Dimas Sage Race and then did a couple of laps at Bonelli after. This was the final stage of the race and they were charging full force in the pissing rain.

When we got to Bonelli the dirt was in PRIME condition and the YBB suspension of the Moots was a surprise. I had a feeling that it would descends better but I had no idea how efficient it would be on the climbs. Much smoother, faster, funner!! I will still have some adjustments to make but I am pretty happy with it after just one ride. An all day (and night) race machine.

March 19, 2009

the new rig. . .

I have yet to get back on the mountain bike since VQ and mostly because my Orbea Alma 29er still has a busted bottom bracket, cracked headset, etc, etc. It is time for that frame tor rest and I am SO STOKED to be rockin my new frame!!!

Rolling big wheels with just a tad squish in the back and titanium tubes is just about the best of all wolds for durability and all day jibbability in my mind. I was looking at a ton of frames and I believe the Mooto X should be a great balance for endurance rides, adventure races and even some cross country races if I find myself at the starting line.... My idea was to turn the Alma into a single speed and build this up with some white highlights like some of this
and this
and this
however, seeing that I really didn't have the $ to even get the frame in the first place it looks like I will be moving over the parts and just swapping frames....for now. Building this baby up should be just as fun as riding it ;-)

March 16, 2009

Keeping it rollin'

Spending the week in San Francisco sitting through a training class was tough. It was cold on the city streets but a good time to recover and hang out with some friends that I have not seen in quite some time. Looking back...snacking all day on that "crap" in class was probably a good thing and I am more stoked than ever to be living in SoCal...We are all so blessed here! My weekend plans proved this to me even more as I tried to keep it rolling with another good block of training.

I managed to get back in time to get in a good swim and ride Friday night in the dark and then meet up with Luke and Trevor on Saturday morning for my first ride up Palomar. These guys are so cool and strong on the bike... I was stoked for Luke to lead us out on such a cool loop. There was still chalk on the ground from when the Tour came by just a few weeks ago...pretty motivating to know how fast the pro's were climbing this mountain. We had a cold start but we warmed up quick!

I had could not hang with them on the climb up and had some strange issues going on with my feet. Totally numb! I later found out it was from my new saddle and it looks to be resolved. I can say it was a real pleasure to hang with such nice guys and it was a memorable day. We lost Luke on the decent and we were sure he had a flat until more than 30min went by and then we saw a fire truck heading up the hill...AHHH!!

We started climbing back up and soon enough saw Luke heading down with his pockets full of tubes. Just when we got back to the cars and I was out out of food and water... I realized I locked my keys in the car. I could hear Corby saying, "classic Slater move". We headed for some food while we waited for AAA and Luke got got me a burrito. Thanks Luke! We were all SO hungry at that point! I cant wait to get back to conquer Palomar someday.

While I was in SF I still had the VQ race rumbling through my mind and I was itching to do another Endurance mountain bike race. I was planning on doing the Hurkey Creek 8hr solo this year but when I found out it was going to cost me over $200 I started looking around at some other Endurance MTB events. I have done Hurkey Creek 24 Hours of Adrenaline on a team for the last two years so I also wanted to try out something new....laps are also a great practice but there is just something about a point to point race that adds so much more adventure...minutes later I found myself registered for the Julian Death March race in just a few weeks. Looks like a killer race!

Without a "formal training plan" or race schedule I was planning on just learning the Julian course and meeting some new people this weekend. It was a perfect time to meet up with Kevin and pre-ride the course on Sunday. . . but after getting up at 4:30am only to face many "issues" on Sunday morning I ended up going back to bed at 6am and just sleeping in. Bummer!

When I woke up I realized how much I needed the rest and decided to go for a paddle....That was nice! Jason and Seth were going for a local ride on the trails but my legs were just wanting easy spin so when Sean told me he was going to take out his new Rocket for a PCH spin I was all over it! Coach Clancy is going to be dominating the dojo in a couple of weeks at our Oceanside 70.3 race and now has the rocket to drop a few more MPH's on his bike split too... There is just some guilty feeling about spinning down PCH at near 30mph with a low heart rate...TT bikes are fun!

Somehow my body came around and I managed to join Sean for a transition run after our ride. He was putting in a solid 13miler and I was running in a new element. I set my HR watch to only display my HR and ran at a very, very easy pace. It was awesome!! No pain in my foot and a super fun run. Maybe I can run more than 2-3 times a week now ;-)

Learning slowly and keeping it rollin...

March 09, 2009

Vision Quest Race Report - 2009

I have had a crazy schedule since race day and I am just getting back to my hotel in San Francisco. Following up the Vision Quest with my “recovery ride” and then jumping on a plane this morning was not the best recovery protocol but I am still so pumped up from the race that I can't sleep anyways. Ha!

It was an exciting race this year but can honestly say after three years of racing the Vision Quest that each experience was just as challenging and rewarding.That is one thing that I love about endurance racing! Just like Luke says there is a ton of respect for everyone out there because everyone has to overcome "problems" throughout the day. . .Nobody signs up for an easy day. I was lucky enough to race in the top five for most of the day and witness some pretty polished riders but I saw just as many flats, mechanicals and crashes . . . it is all about keeping it going and everyone who finishes has shares that experience.

Point to Point races offer so much more "adventure"

That “race pace” was what was unique about this year’s experience and it was intense from start to finish. When the race started at 5:30am in the black of night I saw the lead pack flying down the road. A break away started and I instinctively sprinted to catch the wheel in front of me. I did not want to start out that fast but I knew that if I didn’t get into the draft it would take twice as much work later to catch up. I felt like I was pushing too fast of a pace but I just went with it… a theme that would continue throughout the day.

Just a short time into the climb up Blackstar I heard a familiar voice rolling up next to me. It was Luke and I was so stoked to be riding with him! We were pushing a strong pace to stay with the lead pack and I didn’t notice until we were nearing the top that we were in the group that broke away from everyone else. Exciting! We were almost at Beeks place when Luke reached in his pocket and the balla’ dropped a wad of cash out on the trail and he stopped to pick it up. I kept rolling and told him I would see him in a few… and I would see him again just a bit later. A couple more turns and we reached Beeks place where they were calling out our numbers. “number six” the guy says to me... I looked around and said, “Are you sure?”

After I reached the ball I started looking up front and counting places back to me. Manny Prado and Dana Weber were already putting on a good gap on everyone and then there was another pack of three guys pulling away from everyone else. I stopped holding back after the ball but was still pushing “my pace”. As we worked our way into the rollers on the way to the first major downhill we all began swapping places and holding a brutal pace. Was I going out too fast? I was attacking the climbs like it was a cross country race but somehow I was able to recover in time to do it again…and again….and again.

We started our decent down motorway and I got passed about half way down on the inside of a switchback. I am not even sure who that was but it was such a smooth pass! I was stoked to be racing and just watching these guys descending, climbing and powering the trails all day… I must have been a little shocked because the next turn I ended up sliding out around the corner. Those trails demand all of your concentration! It was not really even a crash but I laid it down on my drive train side and instinctively started screaming, no, no no! I knew my fragile Alma did not take much for the derailleur hanger to snap and when I looked down my rear derailleur had folded into my spokes. Aghh…. I was able to bend it back and ride down motorway but was not sure how long it would hold up. I didn’t even try to shift…I rolled into the first aid station in 1:52.

Check out HighRev Photography for more photos

Just as I started getting into a climb up Maple Springs my shifting started to jump around….. I should have known better. My chain got stuck between my cassette and spokes two times before my hanger had enough, folded over and died on me. I was nearly 500 yards from when my derailleur hanger broke on a training ride with Luke just about a month ago. Luke passed me by and said something like “again Slater?” I was pretty bummed out and told Luke to “have a good race bro” because I was not sure if I was going to be able to keep going. I had about four guys pass me while I made the change and time felt like it was standing still but I knew that it wasn’t!! I made quick work of slapping on a new hanger and the time it took was not as bad as I thought looking back. I have had plenty of practice!

I pushed on up Maple Springs now at “my pace” and before I knew it I started reeling in people again. At one of the switchbacks I saw James, Melissa, Jeff and Josiah who had come out to cheer us on and it sparked a new fire in me. I was so stoked to see them and honored that they would head out in the dirt just to cheer us on. Awesome! I pressed on and again and passed another guy and then caught back up to Luke. He was charging it and I was possibly blowing my race at the pace I was pushing but I just went with it and just kept pushing to the peak. I was in the zone! I passed a few more people and rode with Doug Andrews for a while on the last part of the climb. He told me we were at a sub 6 hour pace and I was trying to keep the excitement down. I remember seeing Dougs name in the results and was still kind of shocked that I was in the lead pack and feeling so good.

After some tricky snow navigation through the fire road we dropped into Upper Holy Jim Trail. This marked a big milestone in the race with the majority of the climbing and miles behind us and a rest before the last push up the hike a bike. Most people would consider Holy Jim either a super fun trail . . . or scary. I absolutely loved it ;-)

Three or so turns into the trail and I rolled up on two riders ahead of me fixing flats. I took a bit more caution for my tires and worked my way down. Before long I had Nate Whitman on my tail so I let him by around a wider section of the trail and was stoked to follow. This was probably my favorite part of the race! We had now reached Lower Holy Jim Trail and were floating around the corners and whipping through tight singletrack foliage. The conditions were perfect! Nate and I got hung up on a few rocky corners and he offered me a pass but I told him "you got it bro". There were plenty of hikers heading up the trail and Nate was doing a superb job of clearing the way for us. It was just under 4 hours when we rolled into the next aid station.

Keevin was supporting me all day and I was so grateful for all my friends out there! He handed me my "BOMB" bottle, shoved a GU flask in my pocket and I was off. I didn't even have to stop peddling! Heading out from the aid station, I was in third place but I was headed for the most grueling part of the course. Somewhere on the climb I started cramping. Crap! I was not taking any E-Caps and only had one bottle of nuun up Blackstar. I was likely low on electrolytes so I started searching though my pockets for something, anything. I found another nuun wafer and thought I would just chew on it and try to keep riding. Big mistake! My tongue and entire mouth felt like it was on fire... I spit it out into my water bottle (where it should have gone in the first place) and tried to stretch out my cramping hamstrings. I had two riders pass me but there was not much I could do about it...

By the time I reached the hike-o-bike section I was beat. It is quite the kick in the nuts after racing for hours to climb, push, grit up a 25% incline. I ripped a hole in my sidewall of my front tire on the approach and had a continuing leak spitting stans juice. My cramps were manageable and I was trying to stay positive. The hike was actually a good time to be able to hold my front tire sideways and try to plug the leak...So glad I dumped some extra sealant in my tires before the race! By the time I reached the main divide it was holding air and I could see Nate again up in front of me.

The final push. Cranking up Main Divide to Trabucco I was giving it all that I had left in me. This is what it is all about...snot running down my face, fatigue deep in my lower back and the taste of the finish line. ha!! I saw Alison and Justin who had rode up to cheer us on and that was a huge lift for me. I dont even remember what I said or what they said...but I will never forget them being out there.

I made record time down Trabucco. I held back for about 20 seconds to feel out my front tire and then just let go. . . I was right back on Nate's tire about half way down and was back in that place of feeling like a weekend ride with my buddy ripping through singletrack. After all VQ is not a race right? Nate was once again clearing our way as we had racers now heading up the trial to us and I was content to follow him in to the finish. He had done an awesome job all day and I must say I had the best time following him on the downhills. I didn't want him to think I was going to draft him and try to make a pass at the finish line so I was going to tell him I would follow him in....but then I didn't have to. Just as I reached to pull out my ear plug from my ipod I caught a rock, twisted my bars up and went over them. Ha ha... See you need 100% concentration on these trails!

I picked it up and headed down the fire road to the finish and by bike was on its last leg. When I went over the bars my rear tire landed on a rock that snapped one spoke and bent two others. My bike was making a whack, whack, whack from every revolution of my rear wheel where the spoke was slapping the frame. My bottom bracket busted and was clunking with every pedal stroke. My front tire was swooshing like a marshmallow and I was just trying to land this thing across the finish line! That fire road felt so long... I made it across in 5:54 and was so stoked to finish in 5th place!

Monique made all the cut offs and finished the biggest race of her life (yet) and I am so proud of her! watching her and Marius (who rode his cyclocross bike!) at the finish was just as rewarding as crushing myself ;-P

Luke had an amazing race also and dropped 2 hours off his time from last year! I know he has some big races this year and he is going to be charging it! James crushed it at the Counting Coup taking a 4th place overall finish and that was following a 4th place finish at the US CUP last week and some major training during the week! I am looking forward to some future training rides with these guys.

Next year? The only thing I know for sure is that I will not be riding the Alma next year....or even next week. It is going to be stripped of all but one gear so I dont have to worry about that derailleur hanger anymore and now I am on the hunt for a reliable ride. Until then I have some time to rest up and take it all in...It was a long fun day!

March 08, 2009

The Day After

Vision Quest 2009 was SICK! I am totally stoked about the experience and like the last two years, it was a unique experience for sure. I have a full race report on the way but I just wanted to get some quick "log" stuff down...

Food -
1 powerbar, 3 GU flasks (1200cal), 2 bottles Vitargo, 1 BOM bottle(Vitargo), 3 E-caps, 1.5 Nuun

DrainBramage -
4 crashes, 1 broken derailleur hanger, 1 broken/3 bent spokes, busted bottom bracket, dented fork and 1 flat.

Times -
Motorway Aid 1:52, Holy Jim Aid - 3:58, Trabucco Peak 5:20, Finish 5:54
With my GPS I can calculate my "virtual Counting Coup time" with my Holy Jim aid station time (3:58) and the fire road out (14min) of 4:12. Good enough for a 1st place finish and at VQ pace. cool.
It was a long fun day and the memories have been swooming my head since then. Monique cleared the entire course with room to spare on the cut offs and I am so proud of her that words just cannot describe... It was great to see so many friends out racing and supporting and I dont ever want to forget that... I am so grateful for everyone's support and company on race day! Racing in the top field all day and finishing 5th place overall was a bit above my expectations. I dropped just under an hour off my time from the previous year and finished in 5:54. Stoked!

So what do you do the day after an effort like vision quest? Well, our plan was to head up to Monique's parents for her sisters baby shower but I knew that Jason and Seth had their bikes packed for an assault on GMR. I was inspired by Coach Clancy's weekend madness and I have been kicking around the idea about what it would be like to do a stage race. This would be a good opportunity to hammer the hills two days in a row so I thought I would pack up my bike too... "just in case"

That was all I needed to get me out the door. I didn't feel as bad as I thought that I would and after a little warm up I was actually feeling pretty good! The start of the Glendora Mountain Road has a good 10+ mile climb out of the gate so I though I would push it a bit...Check my watts on tired legs.

To my surprise they responded and Jason, Seth and I kept that up for the next three plus hours, 5,600 feet of climbing and 43 miles. I totally forgot that I even raced yesterday! I have been averaging about 100 miles a week so to put away that much (at "race pace" intensity) this weekend felt so good. Its amazing what you can do when you are not held back by injuries or the worries of the world ;-)

Super fun ride with the guys and Jason is freakishly strong for just starting to ride. We were slingshoting eachother with drafts all the way down the Baldy ski resort road...I topped out a 49.3 miles per hour. SICK! Road riding is fun too.

In the AM I am catching a flight to San Francisco for some Riverbed training all next week. Perfect time for some recovery and reflection while I am learning it up!

March 05, 2009

Hike-o-Bike Vision

The last few days have been pretty crazy for me...Life stress I guess. I had a few blows financially in the last few days and I am just trying to roll it over to some goodness. . he he.. I am stoked that my foot is 100% and I am totally rested. Taper? I am not sure but I have done very little in the last couple of weeks as far as training. Sometimes life just gets in the way ;-)

This will be my third time going into "The Vision Quest" and I can say that each time has been unique and challenging in its own way. The first time I got to the starting line I did not know what I was getting myself into... Marius had talked me into signing up and I approached it as a journey for the day and I think the race was the hardest effort I experienced on the bike or anywhere up to that point. The most miles and time I have ever spent on the bike for sure! I would have never imagined that just three years later my hundred pounder wife would be attempting the same journey. I learned the most from that race and the "fun" from the experience has kept me coming back for more.

the steeeps of the hike o bike sections

So that is what is so key about this year for me. Monique is going big! No County Coup race for her...She stepped right up to VQ and is going for it! The pressure of the cut off times and all is a threat but it keeps it exciting!! Somehow this gets me more stoked than completing the race myself. Seeing her enjoy, progress and push to a new level has been awesome and I am so proud of her. She has rode all the sections except for Upper Holy Jim trail and the last West Horse Thief/Trabbucco trail sections so today we made a trip to take care of the later trails. Probably not the best ride just days before the race but it was awesome to get out and ride with my best friend. We both needed it...

Why do they call West Horse Thief a hike-a-bike? Reaching this point in the Vision Quest is about 35 miles and 4-5hours into the race. From where Monique is standing you climb approximately 1500 feet in just over a mile. Humbling. Even in a rested body the grade just brings you to a crawl. You can see the switchbacks in the background of the picture working up to the main divide road. This is the part of the race where it takes your passion to push on and the downhill of Trabucco is your reward!

Last year I made some improvements and was surprised how good I felt after the race. My time dropped from 8:05 to 6:49 without changing much in my training from the year before. I know I could have pushed myself a lot more and I plan on going beyond this year...Even if I backed off in the last few weeks I have a few harder efforts to use as experience now. I am turning all this "life stress" into fuel and fully plan on crushing myself like never before! Its going to be interesting.

I am grateful for the job, friends and the opportunity to challenge myself with these little races. . . At the end of the day it is and always will be about "fun" for me and I am stoked that God has given Monique and me a passion that we can share on the trails. . . I am looking forward to the next 10-15 years of us crushing eachother with training and racing together. HA!!

See ya out there friends!

March 03, 2009


I am almost there... The foot is feeling better and I am almost back to normal (physically not mentally). I almost did my first cross country race this weekend at Bonelli and now it is almost time for Vision Quest.

For the second weekend in a row... I watched, took some pictures and tried to help out some friends with support while they raced. I am actually pretty stoked about it and it offers some interesting perspectives about racing. Just like being in the race I have learned something new about myself and what motivates me. Good stuff.

Bonelli park was the first lineup for the US CUP race series and there were about 700 people crowding the park with enthusiasm. I had no idea that mountain bike races were so big! I decided to sit this one out until my foot is 100% and with my crazy schedule I don't think I could make many of the races in the series anyways. Perhaps next year?

Monique and I drove out with Dez and Jason to watch and take it all in with the summer heat...Yes, 80's feeling like 90's and we were not pushing up the hills. Mike and the Vegas crew drove out after racing a TT and a 80 mile road race the day before. Mike still placed 2nd in Cat 1 (and running a 1x9 setup!) and I am sure he will take the series again... Need to train with him more ;-)

The course was just under 8 miles and had a few good climbs in it... Just enough to keep separate the packs of riders before the descents. It was pretty cool seeing how close and fast these guys were getting round the course at that intensity. The only thing I can compare it to is the first few laps of Temecula . . . much more crowded than the bike on an Xterra where the swim manages to keep some space by the time you get on the bike.

Monique and I (mostly Monique) was handing out bottles while I was zipping around the course trying to get some pictures. Funny how the ones that turned out were just last minute shots...(more pics over here)

Melanie McQuaid
Eric railing the turns

Little Casey hangin with the big boys!

The Mann Show is in town!

snake in the grass!! -ok.. i got a little bored...

Justin, Alison, Luke, James and Eric all drove up from down south and all had a great race. I am sure they will have race reports up shortly. They all put in some major volume and I hope to be training/hanging with them more this season. Somehow I thought that standing around all day would cause my foot to flare up but I think the stiff bike shoes actually helped. Today was the first day with ZERO pain, pressure swelling in my foot. STOKED!

My bike, however, continues to keep the "fragile alma" tag. After the race we rode a loop and I had another derailleur hanger bend and stopped it just as my chain got stuck between my cassette. This is the 7th derailleur hanger!! SEVEN! My dropouts have melted away and the carbon around the rear chainstays is on its last leg... Justin offered to let me use a frame for VQ but I didnt want to change it out this soon to the race if I did not have to... Paul also was working on a deal for me from Intense but I am not sure what I am going to do at this point. "Its now all about the bike" right? he he he....I am just stoked that I am recovered, rested and its almost VQ Time!