Indian Creek

5 06 2013

Stuart crossing Indian Creek

Stuart crossing Indian Creek

Indian Peaks — RME Series Race #3

Team Alchemist had a nice showing at the third installment of the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series at Indian Peaks. This was the inaugural year of the race, and it didn’t disappoint.

Alex C. considers these trails his backyard stomping grounds.  He rides the single track around Sedalia regularly. His beta: really fun course, and really hard.  I threw on a 20 tooth cog for the climbs that were advertised as soul suckers.

Mike W. volunteered to load up Mabel with the Boulder crowd for the ride down.  One aging minivan, six guys, six bikes, and XM radio tuned to Brittany Spears. Don’t tell our wives.

The start of the race was pushed back because the registration line was as long as the race course. In Thane’s words, “We didn’t know it was going to be so popular.”  Nice to see such a good turnout and show of support for the race, which supports the local Search & Rescue service.  As the day unfolded, the rescue crews utilized every bit of every resource they had available.

Alex, Stuart, and I were on single speed, and we went off just after the pros.  Stuart and I trailed the pack in second to last, and last place, respectively.  The first lap was supposed to be a “half lap”, but as we pulled into Aid #1, it seemed like we had done nearly a full lap.  Turns out we did most of the full lap but skipped the best part of the course, Ringtail.  On lap two, we turned it loose on the windy, hard packed singletrack.  Ringtail is the signature piece of trail in the area, and is what keeps the locals grinning.  We descended about 3000′ along the buffed out, banked trail, hitting speeds over 30 mph in tight, treelined terrain.  We were eventually spit out onto an exposed trail that gave us views of some impressive red rock formations.  Ken later told me that we were riding next to the Arrowhead golf course, which is one of the coolest intergalactic golf courses in the universe.  I swear it was built by aliens.

What goes down, must come up. All that descending wasn’t free.  We had to climb back out to get back to the start.  I caught Stuart at the remote Aid on lap 2, and we rode together to finish the lap.  There were several sections of the climbs that were too steep and loose to ride.  They were even hard to walk.  This is the part of the course that broke many riders.  I think there were more DNF’s in this race than in all the other RME races combined.

The climb back out is broken up by one particularly fast, technical descent.  A number of “Slow” signs were scattered along the way to mark the 2′-3′ peaks that were placed in the trail.  You had to either commit to hit them at full speed and launch off of them, which could easily clear a 10′ gap, or slow down enough that you kept both wheels on the dirt and roll over them.  I’d like to say that I maintained my speed and gave my best shit-eating grin as I supermanned through the ether.  But after a couple close calls of landing front wheel first, I slowed way down and took the latter approach, dribbling one wheel after another, over each of the berms.  Anything in between fast and slow would buck your rear wheel upward and send you ass over apple bucket.

After crawling over the biggest of the bumps, I had to hit my brakes hard and veer off the trail.  A branch had been laid, apparently intentionally, across the trail, diverting traffic off to the right.  A racer asked if I had a cell phone, and I was sorry to say I didn’t.  Several yards down the trail, I could see why he asked.  A couple racers were off the trail to the left helping a third, who had obviously taken the last berm the wrong way.  The injured rider’s face had been split wide open from the upper lip through his nose and mid face.  It was gruesome, even for someone who has seen a lot of gruesome stuff.  He had a couple folks with him, but I felt like I should stop anyway.

Flashes of the Laramie Enduro went through my head.  Last year, I stopped for a racer who crashed and dislocated his shoulder.  I put it back in, but lost a handful of minutes and several places.  This time, there was an EMT there holding C-spine, and except for his face, everything else appeared to be okay.  I let them know I was an ER doc, but the two guys assured me there was nothing more that could be done at the moment.  I asked for the injured rider’s name and figured the best way I could help at that point was to ride my ass off and find help.  As it turned out, we were in the most remote part of the course, and I didn’t come across help for over half an hour.

Stuart and I pulled into the main aid after lap two and stuffed our faces.  To my surprise, he asked me if I was going to do another lap.  Uh, yes?  I didn’t know he was that deep in the hurt locker.  But we saddled up for lap three, if reluctantly.  I took two bottles with me for lap 3, but misplaced one of them in the cage on the climb out, and somehow ran it over with my rear wheel.  Ah, the humanity.  I backtracked to retrieve what was left of my crushed bottle.  I poured the rest of the contents out and stuffed the raisined thing into my bottle cage.  By that time, I lost contact with Stuart, who was feeling good again.  I finally saw him again after Ringtail as I was approaching the remote Aid station.  He had just pulled out.  Another rider was refilling his Camelback, and I wanted to catch Stuart, so I paused for half a second, and then skipped the Aid.  Big mistake. I was about half full (or empty depending on your outlook) in the remaining bottle, but not nearly enough to make it back home.

We stayed together for a while when we were stopped by a course official.  We weren’t the only ones.  There was a long line of riders stopped on the trail, some waiting for 15-20 minutes.  The injured rider was finally being evacuated out.  It had been over 2 hours from the time I had passed him the first time.  That’s a long time to be lying there bleeding with your face turned inside out.  I drank most of the rest of my bottle as we waited, and saved one last sip for that If-I-don’t-have-something-wet-in-my-mouth-right-now-I’m-going-to-shrivel-up-and-die moment.  After 10 minutes or so, we applauded the efforts of the search and rescue crew as they took Keith out on a stretcher, and then mounted our bikes for the rest of the climb out.  Ken caught us on that final climb.  He passed me and asked why I never acknowledged his calls.  That was when I realized he had been ever so close most of the race yelling ahead, “Wooooohooooooo!!!”  That whole time, I thought it was just some fella who was having a really wonderful time riding his bike.  Ken was on fire, he blew my me and took Stuart with him.  Damn.  Alone again.

I had cracked.  Dehydrated and spent, I just limped home from there.  I hurt about as much I’ve ever hurt on a bike.  Came in 8th SS, which I’ll take, all things considered.

We had a very nice Team turnout for the race.  Dice and Alex C. picked up big points for the Team competition with 4th place finishes in the Women’s Open and SS cats.  Stuart took 6th in SS., coming off the couch to crush me.  Ken finished 9th in a large 40-50 men’s field.   The way he was riding, he would have won the Clydesdale Cat, but this year he decided to stop eating ice cream.  WTF?  Mike S. brought home some much needed points in the Men’s 30-40 Half Marathon.  John A. and Noel rode like warriors, knocking out the Marathon in 7 hours-ish.  Sean and Kevin also rode well, grabbing points in the Men 40-50 Half.  I think Rich was riding well in the Marathon and was right on my tail at one point before snapping his derailleur off.  Rich, I think it’s time to put that new derailleur on now.  Mike W. hammered out the Half and figured that was fun enough.  He is wise beyond his years.  That was a tough course.  Nice work out there Team.  We are just 60 points out of fourth place.

Some race pics.  Missed a couple of the Team. The Yann site had copyright issues:

Dice rockin the Old School Team Jersey to 4th place

Dice rockin the Old School Team Jersey to 4th place

2013 Indian Creek Loc 2 (1365)-M

Alex C. out of the saddle and leading the Alchemist SS pack.

2013 Indian Creek Loc 2 (1491)-M

Wu making it look hard

Wu gettin wet

Wu gettin wet

Mike W. always smiling

Mike W. always smiling. He’s thinking about Cheeseburgers and listening to Britney Spears

Friend of Alchemist, Michele, on her way to winning the SS cat

Friend of Alchemist, Michele, on her way to winning the SS cat

Mike S. focused and riding hard

Mike S. focused and riding hard

Sean exiting the water and busting a move

Sean exiting the water and busting a move

John A. plunging in full speed

John A. plunging in full speed

Ken riding strong and airing it out

Ken riding strong and airing it out

Noel hammering up the climb

Noel hammering up the climb

Team Alchemist Kicks off the Racing Season

23 04 2013

Sean leading the Weld County Road Race

Sean leading the Weld County Road Race

With the Ridgeline Rampage mtb race snowed out, it was up to Sean to represent Team Alchemist this past weekend on the road.  He threw down at the Weld County Road Race.  Leading the pack for much of the race in his custom Alchemist Team attire.  The Pais-Mo kit got a lot of attention.  Nice work out there, Sean.

As bad as the weather has been for riding in Boulder, it’s still not as bad as the weather in Minnesota.  Steve has been holed up through a long Minnesota winter, but his little girl, Amelia, still finds a way to sport the Alchemist colors.  Good thing she gets her looks from her mother.

Amelia getting in some saddle time

Amelia getting in some saddle time, and looking mahvelous.

Alpine Odyssey. Team Alchemist throws down with Lance

15 09 2012

Ken and Tom at the Alpine Odyssey finish

Ken and Tom at the Alpine Odyssey finish

Ken and Tom went down to Crested Butte today for the Alpine Odyssey, which is a Leadville qualifier, and which recently got some press because a fella named, Lance, decided to enter. They were able to hang in the lead pack for about 6 miles, riding right beside Lance for much of it. According to Ken, he had his game face on, not (Jenn) Dice-style chatty Kathy.  Lance was ready to rumble, but so were the Alchemist boys. Ken finished just over 5 hours and in 14th place. Tom finished around 5:20, and took home 21st. Both were in the top quarter of their divisions.

During the race, Ruth, Grant and Max cruised around town on their bikes, sipped ice cream shakes, and enjoyed the fantastic weather. They did pause from their escapades when a tourist asked to get a photo with them.

Team Alchemist Jrs: Ruth, Grant, Max posing with Lance Armstrong

Alchemist U13 Team: Grant, Max, Ruth. The future stars were turning the heads of the CB Paparazzi all day. Here, they stop to pose with a rabid fan.

Catching up (some)

31 08 2012

Here’s a little of what Team Alchemist has been up to recently:

Nicole and Paul Sherwen

Nicole and Paul Sherwen. Paul begged and begged to get a pic with the Alchemist Wool Jersey. Stage 1 of the USAPC.

Heather winning the Xterra Lory

Heather winning the Xterra Lory. Heather is the Team Alchemist Tri representative and stud athlete. Going to World’s, Heather?

Paul on the home stretch at Leadville

Paul looking strong and comfy in an Alchemist Team Kit while bringing it home at the Leadville Trail 100 mtb race. Notice the phrase made famous by Jens Voigt in the background. Paul went on to complete the outrageous Leadman Competition, finishing in the top 5 of Leadmen. This year drew the strongest field of Leadmen in the race series’ history. Way to go Paul!

Paul representing on the 10k run.

Paul representing on the 10k run, the day after the 100 mile mtb bike.

Amy sporting the Alchemist Kit last spring

Amy rockin’ the Alchemist Kit last spring. El Diablo’s caption for this pic? “Woman with a killer bush.”

Team Alchemist on a winter ride

Team Alchemist on an early season ride. I’m a little late posting this one. From left: Ken, Disco, Travis, Wu.

Mat at the Leadville Trail 100 run

Team Alchemist athlete, Mat “Yes, I wore these Hawaiian board shorts for 100 f*ckin’ miles. You got a problem with that?” D. looking relaxed the Leadville Trail 100 run. Mat ran the whole race with no pacer and no support. Animal.


Voodoo Fire

28 04 2011

This is pretty early in the season to be racing.  But The Warriors Cycling folks managed to pop one off before my traditional first cramp-my-way-to-the-finish event, The Front Range 50 (now 60).  Jon, Ken and I made the trip south to Pueblo to check out the inaugural event.  I’ve never ridden in Pueblo, much less raced, but Jon had scouted out the terrain a week before, and he gave us the beta on it.  Lots of turns.  Rolling terrain.  Short, punchy climbs.  I brought the Bontrager SS since the Yeti’s been placed on the Craigslist chop block.  Geared it at 34×16, which is a rather stout gear for me.  At this point in the season, I’m generally still building base miles, which usually amounts to riding occasionally and with the amount of effort that would be necessary to not fall over, but still not hurt very much.  Turns out that the course is great for single speed.  No long flat roads to sing the single speed blues on (e.g. Leadville).

We rolled out on pavement for the neutral start. Despite Jon’s warning to get out to the front ASAP, I didn’t want to blow up or piss anyone off, so I didn’t get too crazy and kept a comfortable pace.  I should have listened to Jon because once we approached single track, the inevitable cluster f*ck of 100 riders cramming into a single file line resulted in a parking lot of metal and rubber.   Instead of attempting to track stand my way through the first technical climb, I walked, which turned out to be faster than riding.  Even once we got back in the saddle, the tight, fast trail didn’t lend itself to much passing.  Probably a good thing for me since I went into Zen mode and told myself to be a good boy and stay in the line to avoid blowing up early or slashing a side wall.   Deb told me she almost got sick when she pre-rode it because the course has so many turns and rolls (in fact, there was a section of trail named “rollercoaster”).  Lots of turns, most of them loose, none of them bermed.  You have to be able to handle a bike on that course though, or you’ll find yourself eating shit, or worse, cactus needles.  If you ride or race out there, make sure you run tubeless with lots of sealant.  Goatheads and pinch flats were the theme for the day.  There was tire carnage at every turn, and there were a lot of turns.  Our crew got lucky and managed to avoid any major mechanicals.

Because of the high water on the river crossing, the Park Service closed the far loop after which the race is named.  So instead of two 35 mile loops, we did three 23 mile loops.  Not sure what we missed, but what we did was great fun. Plenty of fast, swervy singletrack.  There was also really well built technical shale sections.  Much of which looked too technical or steep to ride until you got close enough to see that clever ramps or detours made it all ridable.   Some of the views would have been spectacular if I had time to enjoy them.  Occasionally, I’d look out over the bluff to check out the lake, only to find myself bushwhacking through the scrub to get back on the trail.

The first two laps felt great.  But the Perpetuum solids tucked into my cheek took a whole lap to dissolve, by which time I was in a big calorie hole.  I battled with two other single speeders for the entire third lap only to watch them pull away in the last few miles as my cramping legs wouldn’t allow me to make it up a couple of the last steep climbs.   I finished 11th, just out of the top ten.  No series points for 11th.   But it’s early in the season, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been at this point, so I’ll take it.

Dan and I made a pact to get serious about the Breck Epic.  He wants a mint green leader’s jersey.  I think we can get him one (if no one fast shows up).  Plus, Ken has a whole closet full of them from last year.  I’ll just steal a couple.  I plagiarized Drew’s training program from last year.  Time to get crackin’.

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