Wednesday, September 14, 2016

There Is No Judgment at Camp Tall Boy
It all started as a friday night ride, interupted by a large beer at the end.  It has evolved to meetings at breweries to talk about bikes, and eventually bike packing.  There are those of us that take bike packing very seriously and devise the most optimal gear set up as possible (Pit Boss), and then there is me.  My primary goal is to pack as much cold beer as possible for after the ride up the mountain.



Pit Boss and the Leader wouldn't make it for this outing as they had "goals" about some "race", or some shit like that.
Our story begins at LZ Pit Boss.  The picture below has been redacted for operational security (OPSEC) reasons.

From there a stop was made at a local watering hole for beers essential provisions.


From there the fun began.  For algorithm purposes it was 12 miles and 2210ft of up carrying gear and beer.  I always leave early as I am very slow deliberate in my pace.  I am in the Back of the Pack, the pack of one.  You figure it out.  After a couple of hours I arrived at the cut off for Camp Tall Boy.  For OPSEC reasons you don't ride the cut off, you carry your bike across the threshold like a virgin bride Bill Cosby on date night so as to not leave tracks.  For those same OPSEC reasons, cryptic code is left on the trail to indicate the proper turn off point.


There are advantages to being the first to arrive at camp.  You get to walk around in your minimum essential BPR uniform while letting things "air out".  (Right now Pit Boss is kicking himself for not being there to enjoy the GLORY).  If you haven't walked naked through a national forest, YOU SHOULD.  Trust me, I work for the government.


A fire was built.



 Whiskey was drank


And a good time was had by all, at the Back of the Pack.


There you go, words.  Patch me bitches!


Love,
Flounder





Saturday, July 23, 2016

Without wheels....

Sometimes the BPR-CO does things without wheels. Which gets confusing... How does the Chapter Charter apply when there are no wheels, no mechanical advantages and no dropper posts? And what about functional clothes? Running shorts are already pretty skimpy and revealing and Charter rules are pretty clear about that one. 

But I digress. Sometimes we here in Colorado like abandoning our bikes for a simpler method of travel. Exploring the world on foot can be a nice change of pace as well. With that in mind, Leader decided that it was time to tackle the distance she usually travels by bike on foot. Yes - 50 miles in the back woods of Fairplay, on the edge of South Park. It's something she's wanted to do since before becoming a cyclist. So last weekend, Leader toed the line for her race, ready to take the demons of distance. Without wheels, it was going to be a very long day for sure... 

This isn't just about Leader though. It's a tale of Pit Boss - and how you can take away the wheels but never take away the inherent awesomeness and organization that embodies Pit Poss. There were two crew points where Pit Boss could sprint into action and he nailed both of them. Since it was the first long distance running race for Leader, Pit Boss was hoping to learn a few tricks of the trade from the more experienced running crews. As is typical for any event with Pot Boss and Leader, there was plenty of course review, gear analysis and planning. Armed with Leaders plan, Pit Boss headed to the first crew point. He set up the awesome set up - chair with yoga mat, and her shoes set out, the cooler at the ready. And waited. And waited. After all, he was at mile 27. Over a marathon into the race. Just a few hours of warn for. He did make the best of it, with Chapter approved bike in tow, he was able to knock out a quick ride before Leader arrived. And when she did, all action. How quickly can you change shoes and socks, put a new bladder in the pack, drink an entire can of coke and inhale a waffle? As well as wash your face and soak your hat in ice? Yeah. Lots of stuff going on in not a lot of time! But that's what Pot Boss does. A whirlwind of getting shit done, but so organized about it. It didn't take long before Leader was back on her feet, heading out for the next few miles. It would be another 11 miles before Leader reached the next check point.

Mile 38 - as Leader emerged from the woods, her hunters orange hat shining bright in the afternoon sun. Time for Pit Boss to go to work again! This time he was forcing her to double fist a coke and a ginger ale, as well as yogurt and more food. But Leader knows Pit Boss well and wasn't going to argue. She actually asked for the yogurt! And for more Asher, and for her shirt to be soaked... But they are a team. And an awesome team given by the crowd that gathered to watch at the second crew point. No one believed that it was their first ultra - on foot that is. After all, there is such a difference between crew for running and cycling...

Either way, Pit Boss rocks. He's got it dialed and you'd be luck to have him on your team!

For the Data:
Leader is nuts. Just a little crazy. She was front of the front of the pack, but couldn't walk the minute she crossed the finish line. 
Distance: 54 miles or there about. 
Elevation gain: 9071 (it all depends on what GPS you used...)
Time: 11:55:00 (there was some rounding up...)

And there was a Ferris wheel at the finish... 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rules of interpretation?

One thing that BPR-CO prides itself on is preparation for any events - Chapter Events or otherwise. Just look at all the man-purses on Pit Boss's bike! If something breaks on the trail, I'm sure that he'll be able to fix it. Run out of water? Pit Boss usually has one if not two methods of treating water with him. Bonking? I'm always carrying way too much food and have been known to share on a few occasions. But to a limit - if someone has a flat tire, but was too much of a weight wienie to carry a tube, let alone a pump - the assistance might not be as forthcoming. We are always willing to help those who tried to help themselves. Someone who is unprepared for that they are facing? It's a little harder in that case. Obviously, I wouldn't want someone to get seriously hurt because I didn't give them a rice bar. At the same time, without that objective lesson of struggling home with no food, will that rider ever learn to prepare properly? Or will he head out the next time, carrying even less, because the "kindness of strangers" allowed him to succeed the first time?

It becomes even worse with racing. The minute a number plate is attached to the bike, common sense for most riders seems to go out the window, with the goal of only being light and fast. Pit Boss did help a rider with a mechanical at the Growler this year - a typical weight wienie who didn't even want to weight of the multi-tool he needed to slow him down. And after he'd offered the assistance to the rider? Pit Boss had to tell the rider to treat the tools with respect and not just chuck it back in the general direction of where he was standing. That's not how you respond to someone on the side of the road, willing to provide you assistance - with impatience and rudeness. Yet for some reason, that's how this rider was going the behave. Instead of wheeling his bike over to the van and fixing it away from the riders still on course, he was going to stand in the road, wait for Pit Boss to fetch him the tool and then toss it aside when finished. It's part of the reason why we are starting to do more big, limited support style races.

And then there are the rules of whatever race you are doing. I came from road running and triathlons. There was a racer meeting offered several times through the day before the race. Usually, I never learned anything as they just went over rules, common violations and allowed for time to ask questions. But I always went.  It was my responsibility as an athlete to attend the meeting. If I didn't go to the meeting and there was a change in the course or I didn't understand the drafting guidelines, it was my responsibility if I got a penalty or a DQ. Even in events as simple as a marathon, there were athlete meetings to go over course, athlete responsibilities and rules. Not knowing from not attending wasn't an excuse if I did something wrong. And if I did do something wrong, I accepted the penalty - and didn't climb on a soapbox protesting unfair treatment.

So where am I going with this? A racer was DQed from the Dirty Kanza this past weekend for taking support from a vehicle outside of the official checkpoints. Honestly, I wouldn't have even known about it despite watching DK closely this year if there hadn't been the resulting social media storm about the issue. Granted, I don't know both sides of the story - someone reading posts and articles will come away with an opinion, but it may not be completely based on all the facts. However, the rider initially admitted to being unprepared for the race,  that he hadn't attended the mandatory rider meeting, and that a friend/co-worker/teammate was driving a branded vehicle on course and had given him multiple bottle and food handups. Fine. Having a support vehicle on the course is strictly against the rules. Are some of the other top riders finding ways around that rule? Most likely. Are some of the back of the pack riders also getting help on course? Most likely. Do other top riders have full support staff at the checkpoints to help them? Yes they do - and that's completely legal. Do the back of the pack riders also have friends, family and random strangers helping them at checkpoints? Yes - it's a requirement of the race to have a support staff. It's also pretty clear that you need to roll out of the starting line and each of the checkpoints with everything that you would need to get to the next one about 50 miles later. This is a self supported event where the rider is responsible for the rider. When there is a finish rate of about 60%, the race organization cannot be everywhere at every time to pick up riders. Hence the need for a support crew and the instructions to look out for yourself as you are responsible for your safety and your actions.

But what really annoyed me, as an athlete, was that the rider then started condemning the race organization for the very thing that draws people to the event! Why do people attempt great challenges? Because there is the possibility of failure. Why do thousands flock to DK? Because it in it's very nature is an athlete against his mind, against his body and against nature. It is the challenge of preparing for something so unpredictable. To take that challenge and turn it into just another road event or triathlon because you didn't do your homework? A slap in the face of everyone who did - of every athlete that left the starting line with 150oz of water in a framebag or backpack, knowing the weight would slow them down, but that they would be able to finish. Water stations every 10 miles like in a triathlon? Where are you going to find the volunteers for 20 water stations, people who are willing to stand out in all kinds of weather for hours? And how will you keep them stocked and supplied? By driving vehicles on dusty roads, increasing the risk of accidents to participants? Last year the cyclists could barely get through the mud - and you want how many volunteers to risk getting stranded and destroying the roads? If you promise aid and then can't deliver because of conditions, then what happens? In all honesty, the bike water stations at the triathlons I've done were the scariest part of the race. Volunteers with no training on how to hand up bottles, riders more focused on speed then what they are doing and bottles scattered around like little land minds. To rail against the rules saying no support vehicles allowed on course - and then say that every person who took a drink from a hose or glass of lemonade was also guilty of violating the rules shows little regard for the history of the race and the support the locals have for the event. It also completely misses the beauty of trail magic in these self supported events. I've been racing for years - marathons, triathlons and mountain biking. At every race, there have been kids and family with un-official water stations set up on course. Maybe just a few Dixie cups of water, maybe something more. But they have always been there. Sometimes you take something, sometimes you don't. But those kids, the family - or in this case the farmer with his hose - are there for everyone. Even if the farmer goes inside, but leaves the hose out in plain sight - trail magic. The resources are available for everyone and it allows the residents who live along the course to become involved and feel like they are part of the event. Now, someone following me on their bike in the middle of a marathon, handing me water and gummy worms? That's a different story - and plenty of race winners have been DQ'ed for having that kind of outside support. How is that any different then a support van in the middle of a bike race? It's not. Both are clear violations of the rules - and much different then taking the gummy worms from a little kid on the side of the road.

People are always going to look for interpretations of the rules and to see the best way they can be bent to create advantages. It's just what we do in this society. Unfortunately, when we get caught now, instead of owning up to the mistakes, we air the dirty laundry of how "unfairly" we are being treated to social media, where the ego can be soothed by the condolences of "friends." Even worse, we decided that since we were treated "unfairly"  that the race needs to change. Not everything needs to be the homeogenic corporatized world of standards with little risk . A little challenge that requires preparation and going outside the expected is good. Don't take that away for the many who crave it and prepare for it just because you were unprepared and now unwilling to admit it.

Okay off my soapbox now!!
Leader

Monday, June 6, 2016

Grrr....

Growler weekend for Pit Boss and Leader meant campfires, rocks to play on and marshmallows for toasting. They are for sharing after all... The crew hung out with the Ascent Cyling gang, ensuring full pours for all - at least after the racing! 

Pit Boss took on the Half Growler, racing as he always does full squish and 34xYM. Leader took her turn as the bottle boss, piloting the Brown Bullet through out Hartmans Rocks. While her skills might not be as great as Pit Boss, she was able to cover the ground needed to ensure proper fluid delivery. Meanwhile, Pit Boss was turning the cranks, attempting to defend his single speed win from the year before. But the course is a different animal in each direction and it would not be tamed by him this year. Pit Boss finished back of the front of the back and is already making plans for next year. 
Data from Pit Boss's Half Growler. 
Distance: 37 miles (it's a full pour...)
Elevation gain: 4462 
Time: 3:23:12
Functional Clothes: absolutely - other team commitments and comfort as part of the Colorado Charter dictate it.
Gears - 34xYM. It's Pit Boss - need I say more?
Suspension - rocks are fun. And there are plenty out at Hartmans. 

The next day, Leader tackled the Full Growler - two laps of fun in Hartmans. Pit Boss resumed his namesake role, ensuring timely bottle exchanges, plenty of food and fresh bladders in Leaders pack. While all she had to do was pedal her bike, Pit Boss had lots of ground to cover to keep one step ahead of her. He did it fantastically, always being where he said he would be, with plenty of food and fluids. Leader did have to keep her head on her shoulder throughout the race, attempting to ensure that the ponytail factor would never be a factor. She was successful in that endeavor, treating plenty of guys to a nice view as she cleaned the rock gardens. In the racing venue, she also finished in the back of the front of the pack, joining some pretty quick company.
Data from Leader's Full Growler:
Distance: 69.7 miles (another full pour..)
Elevation Gain: 8652
Time: 6:58:50
Functional Clothes: comfort is key for a long day on the bike.
Gears: as allowed, although the bike wasn't happy with all the dust near the end...
Suspension - see above. Rocks are fun!

All photos by Matt Burt Photography -  http://www.mattb.net/

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Busy Weekend!

The Colorado Chapter of Back of the Pack Racing was super busy this weekend! Lots of events going on and chapter members were scattered across the state partaking in all the epic single track has to offer.

Duane stayed close to home, opting for the rocks of Palmer Park. He and Pit Boss had a late night the evening before, discussing Chapter details and other things at the best watering hole in town, Fieldhouse Brewing. All the extra hydration proved useful the next day in the heat of the race as he won the sprint finish at the end to finish Not Quite Back of the Pack in his class. It was a long day regardless with five laps of racing.


Duane.... Riding his bike
Photo - Pit Boss



Data from Ascent Cycling Race #1
Elevatioin Change - TBA
Distance - TBA
Functional Clothes - baggies and a jersey - there might have been some spandex in the jersey
Suspension - at least in the front...
Gears - probably

Pit Boss did his usual behind the scenes magic. There's nary a photo of him, but he was at the Ascent Race all day helping out. That might have meant course tear down, course marshal or just all around king heckler... Who knows with that one?

The Old Guy road tripped to Grand Junction for the Epic Rides Grand Junction Off Road. He took on the 30 Grand race and finished solidly in the middle of pack for the Masters Men. Hopefully, there will be some words and photos from him about that adventure later...

Leader also took a road trip to re-awaken her dormant multisport legs at the Original Meowler Duathlon in Gunnison. Quite the interesting race, that one. Held at Hartman Rocks, it's one lap of the Original Growler course - complete with all the fun backcountry, technical singletrack riding that race is known for. But wait - there's more! This is a duathlon, meaning there's got to be a second sport involved. In this case, it's a trail run around the Aberdeen Loop - about as far away from civilization as one can get and still be in Hartman Rocks. To make it more complicated, the run is in the middle of the ride. That means no easy transition area right at the start/finish - if you wanted it for the run, you'd better be carrying it with you... Leader was on her own since Pit Boss stayed home, but still managed a good race, finishing as the first loser in the woman's field in 5:12:15

Leader likes her rocks... Full squish all the way!!
Photo - Dave Kozlowski
http://www.davekozlowski.com
 
 
Looks like Leader pretending how to run....
Photo - Dave Kozlowski
http://www.davekozlowski.com
The Data from the Meowler:
Elevation Change (bike): 3625ft
Elevation Change (run): 1152ft
Distance (bike): 32.3m
Distance (run): 9.5m
Functional clothes: Yep. All the way. There might have been a tri-geek flashback
Suspension: Full Squish mode engaged...
Gears: Just one at a time, but 11 were available
Other notes - Who ever thought of a bike-run-bike duathlon on singletrack is brilliant!!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Break 2016

Spring Break 2016        
   
This year, Spring Break couldn’t come fast enough!  I was in need of a break and a chance to rejuvenate.  I had plenty of hopes to ride every day, but the unpredictable weather here in Colorado put a little kink in my big plans.  But the days that were nice enough to ride helped bring anticipation for the bike season.  To start out Spring Break was our traditional Tall Boy Ride on Friday afternoon.  But this week, because of the weather, we had to have a Tall Boy Sit at a local brewery.  Storybook Brewery was the location and is a great replacement for our usual Tall Boy destination of Palmer Park.  It is hard to complain about the weather here because the majority of year, we are able to get out and ride on Friday afternoons.  It is always hard to believe that Palmer Park is in the middle of a city and has the type of riding that is there.  Here is an example of one of the views we have in this city owned park. 




The weekend brought nicer weather and allowed me to get out for some longer rides.  And the cherry on top of the Sunday that is Spring Break, was the ride on a new trail in Colorado Springs.  The Park Ute Valley is a great place to ride, but is sometimes hard to access from the local bike paths.  The City built a new connector and paid a trail group to come in and build it this fall.  The connector is amazing, well built and has multiple line options as you go along.  Getting to ride this new outstanding trail into the park with some great friends made this the highlight of my Spring Break.   



Here’s to hoping that there are more days like these throughout the 2016 bike season! 


- Teach

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gritty

True Grit Epic - one of the races on the BPR-CO calendar where the Colorado Charter is in full effect. Why? Well, rocks are fun. Steep downhills with rocks are fun. And suspension makes it all that much more fun! So yes, plenty of mechanical advantages on the Two Wheeled Self Propelled devices AKA Bikes. True Grit really lives up to the motto "Long, Tough, Technical" - and that's just the 50 mile loop! For those hearty souls brave (nuts?) enough to step up to the 100... Yeah. Not happening for this Crew. But anyway... True Grit is a tail of four trail systems, which makes it one of the best endurance races around. There is the relentless double track and single track climbs and sharp, washy descents of Barrel Ride, with the waterfall descent as the exclamation point at the end. Next comes Zen - some of the most fun to be had in 6 miles of singletrack that requires the ability to ride both up and down. No free speed descents in Zen; it's all earned speed. After the Three Fingers of Death and the woops of BearClaw Poppy is the mind-numbing ascent of Stuki Springs. So easy to lose focus and start day dreaming about adult beverages during this section. Finally, a return to singletrack on the sometimes, somewhat techy Barrel Roll trail before the pavement spring to the finish.

After a night punctuated by a downpour that left both Leader and Pit Boss wondering if there would be a trail or peanut butter for riding, race morning dawned cool and cloudy, but with hints of sun. Both Leader and Pit Boss were racing in the Open class, as Pit Boss did not want to ruin the following vacation and trail riding with only one gear. They both lined up, ready to tackle some rocks and hopefully finishing higher then back of the pack. It was a fast "neutral start on blacktop that saw a flyer off the front, at least until the first dirt climb... Then it was business as usual, with Pit Boss and his faded orange helmet disappearing from view and Leader attempting to keep pace with the speedy women around her.

The results:
Pit Boss (3:50:46) - Middle of the Pack. The cooler weather favored him and he was able to knock nearly 10 minutes off his time from the prior year. The rocks were fun and the bigger the lines, the better - within reason as he was riding his race bike, not his trail bike.

Leader (4:23:32) - Middle of the Pack. While she was faster then last year and was quite pleased about riding everything but two little climbs on Zen, there was some pouting at the end. After all, the goal is always to move up in packs. However, the compliments from the guys around her made her day - several times... No ponytail factor here!!
 
The data:
Total Distance - 45 miles (It's an easy round up to 50 miles, right?)
Elevation gain - 4,806 (and since it was a loop course there was just as much descending...)
Suspension - 120mm of glorious squish both front and rear
Gears - there was a 30x(XI) and a 32x(XI)  Figure it out....
Droppers - always; seat up @$$ is not a pleasant feeling.
Functional Clothes - as allowed by CO Charter

And a nice scenery photo from after the race, just for kicks....