Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Delicate Ending

Just finishing up our MOAB trip here with two incredible days. We ended up getting a great nights sleep after the 24 hour race. We awoke Monday morning 10/13 to Utah Blue sky. It was pretty chilly in town, around 30 degrees. We got coffee and breakfast at Eklictica Cafe downtown Moab and the headed over to the Chili Pepper Bike Shop to meet our Coyote Shuttle Driver for our ride to the start of the days Mountain Bike Adventure! We had heard from a few people about the Hazard County ride to the Porcupine Rim and with what we heard, we knew we had to give it a go! I have posted a slide show on the blog to highlight the day, I'll keep this part brief.

This was and Steph would agree, probably THE best Mountain Bike ri
de we have ever done in our lives. As you can see in the photo above, we started right in the heart of the La Sal Mountains. Our shuttle drop was at 9800 ft and we climb gently from the parking lot to 10,000 ft where the picture was taken. Our shuttle driver Jesse, who ironically was the same driver we had on a shuttle ride back in 2001 on our first visit gave us a quick briefing on the ride ahead. I looked at one of the guys from Boise, Rich and said "Mountaineer's Rule" after Jesse asked us to stay together to make sure everyone made it down ok- Suggesting we would make new friends and have a great experience. Well that proved to be so true in the end.

The first section of the trail is called the Hazard County Trail. It is about 3.5 miles of some incredible single track with many switchback turns and technical rock garden sections, but nothing too terribly difficult. You cross the La Sal loop road (w
hich we actually drove the day before in the car) and then you continue on the Kokopelli trail which was just awesome....Super hard packed and fast with water bar style jumps that you could get some sky on. At one point coming into a corner, we lost the group and thought maybe we missed one of the critical sections or a turn....We had to brake hard, there were about 15 cows on the trail leaving little room for two tiny bike riders....The Cowboy guy rallying them gave them direction with a couple of quick Ya, Ya's and a crack of a whip. We ended up catching up with the group because someone got a flat tire. They were stopped right in a section that had been burned from a recent forest fire. The destruction was pretty amazing with a very unique fire line. Some how we ended up on the wrong trail than what was described to us. We rode over the green cattle guard and took a right on a trail that was just amazing, single track right along the rim of Castle Valley, eventually we ended up at the traditonal start of Porcupine Rim but, we did not have to do the nasty 3 mile climb to the rim view point. Not sure how that happened but, it was well worth it. In the end we rode 29 miles back to our car parked at Chili Pepper bike shop. 22 miles were on trail and we dropped 6400 feet from the start...We climbed very little. Our group mostly stuck together, the five the did had the best time with a lot of laughs and memories to last a life time. The slide show tells a good story but, we capped off the day with all you can eat pizza and salad, beer and drinks to celebrate a safe memorable day on the stellar trails of MOAB with newly aquired friendships, good people and good times.

Tuesday was to be our last day in town with also having to drive back to Denver. Steph suggested we start with smoothies from a place she saw during our stomps through town. We did that and then visited Rim Cyclery and a few gift type shops for some small presents. We had wanted to hike to the Delicate Arch on our last visit and we did not have the time, so this day we made time. The hike starts from the trail head about 13 miles on the road the goes into Arches National Park. It is a 3 mile round trip and a pretty mellow hike. Here are a few photos from our adventure to Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch with a delicate shadow

A delicate Lady...

The firey Furnace, Arches NP.

We got back to the car after the hike and had to disassemble our bikes and put them back in the hard cases for the flight home. Then we hit the road for the seven hour drive back to Denver. Steph snapped this next picture of the full moon as we were getting near Vail Pass in Colorado. We stopped at The Red Mountain Grill in Dillion, CO for dinner and then drove the rest of the way to our hotel near DIA. A great trip with memories to last a lifetime! Thanks for reading.



Friday, October 17, 2008

More MOAB

Steph and I can't seem to get enough of this place. We visited back in 2001 and loved it. Since then we've dreamed about a return someday. Thanks to my work relationship with the Cannondale Mona-Vie Pro Cycling team, we were fortunate to have this trip. I last mentioned we were heading out the hotel door to ride slick rock. With breakfast and coffee in our bellies, we were at the trailhead. It was a bit chilly with the higher wind gusts around town and even more so at the start of the trail. We dressed apropriatetly and knew we would probably be shedding layers as we were shredding sections of the trail. On our last visit, we had not done the "Practice Loop" which the guidebook says is a good introduction to the Slick Rock trail riding. Allowing amazing views of the canyons below and the La Sal mountains, we rode many off camber sections and steep descents into and on exposed little rock ridges to the next technical sections of the trail. No beginner riding by any means, at least in my humble opinion. After two miles of the practice loop, we merged onto the main trail. We opted for the "easier" direction at the junction of the official loop. We both commented that yes, Slick rock is cool and all but, we surely were more impressed with the previous days riding in Fruita on the fast hard packed dirt trails. We probably would not ride Slickrock again if we go back to MOAB...There is just too much to ride in that area. Don't get me wrong, we had a great ride. Here are a few more photos from that day...

Steph tearing across "Swiss Cheese Ridge"- The wind almost blew us off!

Steph at "Shrimp Rock"

Wheelie, Wheelie, Wheelie Fun!

After our ride we headed over to the 24 Hour race venue and it was perfect timing to meet up with our contact Matt, who was just heading out for a ride on the course. We got the lay of the land and then headed back into town for dinner. Both starving from the days effort, we decided to eat before a shower and call it an early night knowing full well the demands ahead of staying up all night charging lights for the Cannondale teams.

Saturday (race day) brought higher winds and dust all over the MOAB valley even up into the La Sal mountains...I never could have imagined how bad it was. I have experienced the wrath of the wind and a dry land at Sea Otter every year but, this was bad...We should have packed our ski goggles!

Gusty and Dusty!

We arrived two hours ahead of the start of the race and were instantly assulted by the desert sand in our faces and covering every inch of our clothes. There was a lot of down time in the first few hours of the race and Cannondale Mona-Vie was well on their way to a win right off the bat. German rider Ben Sontag set a blistering first lap time followed by Bart Gillespie who ended up setting the fastest time in lap two of the race, which actually he beat in lap six by one second and held that time throughout the rest of the race. No one even came close to beating it. As day light faded, I had the charge station set up a ready to ride. Working with a Pro Team is something I have dreamed about for many years working as a bike mechanic...My chance was now and I was organized and on my game.

Bike after bike, I set up bar mounts for lights and aimed them for maximum forward visibility. The riders, Ben, Bart, Alex, Bryan, Issac, Matt, and many more were really cool and into the Exposure Lights. They just make sense...No Cables, No external battery packs, No cord connections...Why would you want anything else? Ok- Work Plug installed....After all this was a work adventure more plugs to come! Exposure had sent us a special fleet of the new 2009 MaXxD lights for the team. They have actually been using the Enduro and Joystick all season.

Night time fell and the cold air set in. Cold to the bone!
Steph had an opportunity to go out for a ride on the course with Elena Hall who was on one of the Cannondale Mona-Vie Just For Fun Teams. Elena crashed about two miles in because of someone who fell in front of her. Well, she lost her light and sheered part of her clamp. She asked Steph, What am I going to do? Steph, who I must add was helping me with tech support for the race stepped up in fine style....She said "You are going to put my light on your bike and go on" She helped Elena get that set up and off Elena went. Steph back tracked on the course and found the light thanks to some very honest folks spectating. She came back into the pit and I got her a
new clamp and off she went back on the course. I started to worry about her around 11:30....Bad thoughts were going through my head about her breaking an arm or worse and then she rolled in with a smile ear to ear! No worries, it was wasted energy!

Cannondale Mona-Vie kept raising the bar for the other teams to chase them on. Bart Gillespie set the fastest night lap around mid-night and no one beat that either. These guys were very impressed with the MaXxD lights. They are extremely bright and allowed them to maintain a very fast race pace right on through the night. The only rider not on Exposure Lights due to a previous long standing contract with another light brand for 2008 was David "Tinker" Juarez who was racing this one in the Solo division. Tinker is an absolute machine! I was a silent observer of his pit stops. Rose, Tinker's mom was providing his support. When she anticipated his arrival, ther
e were two mechanics on his bike and changing his battery pack for his light, Rose would give him food that he had a couple of bites of and then he was back on his bike, not stopping for more than five minutes per lap for the whole race. He would at times get a new pair of shoes or a new helmet or a quick change of clothes. How he does it is just beyone me? Tinker is just an incerdible rider and a bike industry legend. I hung out with his Mom and the mechanics, Ryan and Carl around the space heater talking about his race. She is also amazed at how he does it. He is incerdibly driven and that was very obvious as he continued to storm on out back on the course.

Tinker at 7 am after a long cold night.

I am proud to say that the Cannondale Mona-Vie team (pro1) won the teams division and the pro2 team took third place. Mona-Vie pro1 was first overall and pro 2 was fifth overall. Tinker enden up second place after an incerdible solo effort. Bart Gillespie was crowned King of the race setting both the fastest day and night laps. That is great for Exposure Lights. We provided the team with top notch professional support and it was quite an honor.

Here are some stats on the race:
The Pro1 team completed 21 laps, traveled 313.11 miles and climbed 28,560 feet.
The Pro2 team completed 19 laps, traveled 283.29 miles and climbed 25,840
feet.
David "Tinker" Juarez completed 16 laps, traveled 238.56 miles and climbed 21,760 feet.

The Cannondale Mona-Vie/ Exposure Lights Pro Teams on the podium
Photo courtesy of- Matt Ohran.


Congratulations to all of them for this amazing effort....and a big Thanks goes out to my employer James and Exposure Lights USA for making this possible for me to be a part of. A special thanks goes out to my lovely wife for staying up all night with me and helping provide the support for the team. Being a small part of this event has helped me live out my dreams and make them reality.

Steph and I pretty "charged" at 3am in the Cannondale Mona-Vie pit.
Photo courtesy of- Matt Ohran.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Western Frontier

So, I actually thought I would be updating all week....HA! With running around Colorado's Front Range visiting Bike Shops, enjoying Boulder and driving west to MOAB, I have not been able to even make any time to update. I guess there will be TIME for that when I get back to Maine. Plus, we are having way to much fun to spend time on the computer updating the blog...But, quickly here goes. After three days of work, it was time to play. Here are a couple of photos from our bike ride in Fruita yesterday. WOW, WOW, WOW!!! It Kicked Ass!

The view of Horsethief Bench Trail from Rustlers Loop

Steph with the Colorado river below.

We rode about 12 miles and it was just amazing...Fast, flowy, dry dusty trails that were so much fun. We are now about to head out to the infamous Slick Rock trail and then to the 24 Hours of MOAB venue to meet up with the Cannondale Mona-Vie guys and check out our home for the race.

Jim Morrison said it pretty well..."The West is the Best"