Monday, September 17, 2007

24 Hours of Grand Targhee

24 Hours of Targhee - Pro Men's Podium (L-R: Dave Byers, Jay Petervary, Forest Dramis)

With a season's worth of training and a week's worth of logistical preparation, all for this race, I thought the hardest part of the weekend would be just getting over my nervousness. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The 4 star accommodations of our pit area.

Twenty-four hours races all begin with a Le Mans Start. This means the bikes are set up in the start gate, racers walk behind a line and everyone runs to their machine for the start. Organizers love this and think it creates drama and excitement for spectators. Racers hate this. Hate this. Bikers don't run...we bike. The start was uneventful, as with 24 hrs in the saddle ahead of us, no one really ran. One notable exception was the enthusiastic guy from Colorado who jumped on his bike, got out of the saddle, took two pedal strokes and promptly broke his chain 5 meters from the start line. That kept the mood light.

Relay team members went straight to the front on the first climb, as did Jay P., and from there rode off the front of the group of solo racers. We were in no hurry, and rode together, chatting, for the first few laps. We were all surprised to see that Rebecca Rusch was at the race since it was just last weekend she won the 24 Hr World Championships. We were also later surprised to see that a "pro" setup includes a massage table and personal rub down after every few laps. We were not surprised to see her passing us. Often. After a half dozen or so laps the solo guys seemed to separate out and I think we all started thinking about actually "racing".

It's hard to think about going a bit harder, knowing you have 18 hrs left to ride, but my personal strategy became "go fast on the flats and downhills, and as slow as possible on the climbs". I saw my main competition as Dave Byers, Kris Quandt and Rob McCall and I tried to keep track of where they were throughout the race. Unfortunately, Kris had some knee issues and was forced out in the night, but he was able to tough it out for another lap the next day and finish. Rob, it seemed, chose the unorthodox method of riding a few laps super fast, then resting. I thought this tactic a little crazy until I noticed he posted 20 laps and ended up in 4th or 5th. This left Dave Byers as my main threat. Strangly, Dave and I never crossed paths, it seems we were riding pretty much the same lap times but on opposite ends of the course.

I rode from noon until 6:30pm without coming off the course, figuring then would be a good time to eat real food, get the lights set up, lube the chain and sit for a bit. A bunch of friends stopped by throughout the day, to help out and cheer. A big thanks goes out to Amy, Lauren, Dennis and Cheryl. And a HUGE thank you to Paul who drove over to take the midnight to 4am shift!!

The night was....interesting. In a race as long this, anything new, any change, is good. Riding at night, it must be said, is a blast. Lap times went up slightly because descending got slower, but the climbs were the same. I was still passed by Rebecca often, once I think she passed me twice during the same lap, but I may have been hallucinating. I saw a porcupine, a herd of deer and almost hit a deer on a descent. One would think they'd move when bright lights approached, but one would be wrong. The forecast was for rain and snow, but all night we were treated to cloudless skies and just a light breeze. Shooting stars were fairly common and the temperature stayed reasonable, with the exception of the low lying "bridge area". All the racers were shocked by the change in temp there. If I had to guess I would say it was 25°F within a 1oo meter circle of that bridge. Frost on all the vegetation and the bridge itself. Quite slippery. I came in again around midnight to eat, warm up and have Paul adjust my brakes. Surprisingly I felt quite good. I've always done well without sleep and my legs were feeling pretty good considering I'd been riding for 12 hrs.

The worst moment of the race occurred around 5am when, for the first time since I was about 12, I had a very bad asthma attack. Unfortunately I was only about half-way through the lap leaving about 3.5 miles to ride before I could get my inhaler. I rode slowly, walked a couple of the hills and finally got back to the start line where Aly then ran back to the pit and came back to find me sitting in the dirt, wheezing. My inhaler didn't really work very well, but I thought maybe it would pass and headed out for another lap. Sadly, it never really went away, though I will admit, it made no difference in my speed over the next 7 hrs. I had only one speed. Slow.

The best moment of the race, for me, came when Jay P passed me around dawn and we stopped at the side of the course to watch the sun rise over the Tetons. It was a beautiful sunrise and just a great moment. One of my favorite things about races like this, is that even though you are trying your best to beat the guy next to you, the guy next to you is still your friend. Around 7am I came back into the pit for more real food, a change of jerseys and to get an update on the standings.

At that point I was 1 lap behind Dave and 2 laps behind Jay. With a lap averaging around an hour now, I knew I'd never catch Jay, but I had hopes of catching Dave. However, my body decided that going faster really wasn't an option and all I could hope for was that Dave was feeling as poorly as I was. Turns out he was feeling as poorly, he was just feeling poorly at a little faster speed then I was. On the second to last lap Dave passed me with a word of encouragement and a pat on the back, thus increasing his lead over me to 2 laps.

Two hours later I crossed the finish line, very happy to be finished, very proud of my effort and very empty.

Final results, 1st Jay - 26 laps :: 2nd Dave - 25 laps :: 3rd Forest - 23 laps.

Aly C. in charge of the nerve center of the operation.

One last thing that needs to said, "Thank you", to Aly for such huge support. None of the solo racers could have done this race without a great crew, and mine was outstanding. Not only during the race, but though all the weeks and months of training that went into this. Whether it be making great food, giving massage, giving up nights out or just providing encouragement; this was a team effort and I never could have done it without Aly. Thank you.

Thanks again to: Amy, Lauren, Dennis, Cheryl, Paul for cheering and race day encouragement. Cary for training rides, training plan help, mechanic duty, wisdom and encouragement. Stenlight for providing the lightest, brightest and longest lasting lights in the race. And thanks to Twinsix, Gu and OR for season long support.

Some numbers that you may find interesting:

Total laps: 23
Total elevation climbed: 24,656 ft
Total miles ridden: 161 miles

Fastest lap: 39 min 45sec
Slowest lap: 1hr 20 min
Average lap: 1hr 3min
Average speed: 6.7 mph

Average HR: 145
Maximum HR: 177
(Max attainable Hr during the last 5 laps: 141)

Approximate calories in: 8,950
Approximate calories expended: 11,300

Food consumed during race:
22 Water bottles with Perpetuem and Gu2o - 3300 calories
5 Honey Stinger Protein bars - 1500 calories
22 Gu packets - 2200 calories
3 Packages of Clif Shots - 600 calories
2 Cans of stew - 300 calories
2 Turkey sandwiches - 600 calories
1 Banana - 150 calories
2 Handfuls of potato chips - 300 calories

Time for sleep.....

Friday, September 14, 2007

24 Hours of Targhee - PreRace

Gear is ready. Bikes are ready. Food is ready. Crew is ready.
We'll see if I am. One day until race day....

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Big Hole Duathlon

Last weekend was the Big Hole Duathlon in Driggs, ID. Having run about 2 days in the last 2 months, Cary and I decided we'd drive over and do it. Multisport races are always a lot of fun and it makes it easy to get a hard day in. Attendance was fair, hopefully more people will come out next year.

As you can clearly see, I immediately had a lead on Cary; a lead I would hold for at least the next 10 meters. My goals quickly changed from keeping Cary in sight until the top of the first climb, to keeping "Z" in sight until the top of the first climb.

I was the 3rd person into the transition behind Cary and Z, but with Z competing in the co-ed team division, that put me in 2nd place in the individual race. I pushed as hard as I could on the bike which mostly involved two long climbs and a long descent.

I ended up passing Z's rider while they had a mechanical on the first climb and came in at 2nd place overall. A good day for me, and a good reminder that I always enjoy a running race when I make it to the start line. Also a good reminder that 3 miles of steep downhill, when one is not a runner, does not feel good the next day.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A$$holes in SUVs

Last Wednesday, while riding my bike on Snow King Avenue, I was passed by a rather large pickup truck, the driver of which thought it necessary to scream at me through the window as he passed dangerously close. "Why don't you grow up and buy a car!" Ashamedly, I returned him the requisite finger gesture and then forgot the encounter until later.

That was June 6th, a date that has always been very special to me. Sixty-three years ago, on that day, my grandfather was running along the beach in Normandy on D-Day. Each year on June 6th I call my grandfather and never say a word about the war or D-Day, but it’s a day when I’m sure we both think about our country and what it means to be at war. I understand
that was a different era and a different war, but it struck me as strange that this particular truck driver had a giant American flag and "Support our Troops" sticker on his tailgate. In a war dependent on our unquestionable need for oil, it seems ironic that self-proclaimed patriots in gas guzzling monster trucks think it “childish” or stupid that I might want to ride a bike instead of driving a car.

During WWII, it would have been unthinkable to throw out a can or a piece of rubber that was usable in the war effort. Entire communities walked to work to save fuel, women filled factories to take over production while their male counterparts went off to war. In 1941
General Motors, who at the time controlled 45% of car sales in America, completely retooled its manufacturing to produce everything from airplanes to guns.

Yet now, with our country at war, it seems people don't sacrifice anything for the good of the war effort. In fact, I’d bet most people never give it a thought during the day. Yes, it's true that me riding my bike may never bring one soldier home, but it's my symbolic gesture. I believe that if you really support the troops, then perhaps a little sacrifice in your personal life is more patriotic than a $3 sticker on your tailgate.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Grand Teton Ascent

Yesterday I ran up the Grand Teton. Parking lot to summit in 2:59:27. First time I've ever broken 3 hrs. Beautiful day, but quite warm. Windy on the summit.

Middle Teton from below the Meadows

Looking down into Valhalla Canyon


WYDAHO mtb race at Grand Targhee Resort - Great course at 8,000 ft. Three laps of 7 miles for the expert class. Start temperature? 97°. I was doing great for the first 2 laps. Unfortunately at the top of the first climb on the last lap I flatted while in 5th place. Rather than using common sense and turning back to the start, I proceeded to run with my bike the next 5 miles and finish.

Turns out my running shoes are WAY more comfortable than my cycling shoes. Also turns out that when running with your bike, there's no way to out pace the horses flies. At least I didn't finish last.

Tough Weekend

Saturday I woke up at 6am, ate and headed out for the Cache-Game Trail Race. The race consists of 11.5 miles of trail running beginning with a 5 mile uphill section followed by a 6 mile downhill, rolling finish. I finished in 1:27 with an average heart rate of 175 and a max of 194.

Sunday I woke up at 5am to ride Jackson-Targhee-Jackson. 90 miles with 6,000 ft of climbing on 3 passes; the first and third of which averages 10%. Average heart rate 160, max 187.

I'm taking a nap.

Monday, June 04, 2007

2007 Teva Mountain Games

2007 Teva Mountain Games

This weekend Cary and I travelled to Vail, Co for the Teva Mountain Games. We competed ini the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, which is an event comprised of four races over two days. As I can't paddle, I had to opt out of the first event and received last place points. But that's probably better than drowning in an icy river, so it seemed like a good decision.

The second event was a mountain bike race. Normally I race Sport, however, today would be my first race as a Pro. Lining up on the front line were: Floyd Landis, Ned Overend and Michael White (former US Postal Service rider). Yeah, I got my ass kicked. The course was really good, but also very difficult. Lots of climbing, both on double track and on tight, steep singletrack. The descents were steep, narrow, root filled and slick. After counting 5 crashes on one lap,I quit keeping track. Not only was the course really hard, but being used to only 2 laps and then having to throw and extra 8 miles in made it a royal spanking. I will say, I didn't get lapped...

Funny MTB tidbit: On the first real downhill, 250 meters of downhill fireroad. Probably doing 35 mph at the bottom, a little washboardy. Cary was right behind Ned Overend and noticed that Ned had both hands off the bars trying to get his gel flask out of his jersey pocket. Sick.

The next day was a 10K trail running race on a version of the mtb course. I thought this would be ok until I got to the first deviation. Coming around a corner I realized we were about to run straight up the side of a ski run. No switchbacks. How steep? Let's just say they had installed 4x4 pieces of wood to act as stairs. And there were a lot of them. Hey, #350. Me and everyone in our group saw you cut out all the steep switchbacks before the first feedzone, so why don't you add that 7 minutes to your "official time". I didn't protest you, 'cause I still beat you and was too tired at the finish to care about anything except resting before my next event. Thankfully the race was only 10k and I finished with a pretty good time, for me.

After the race we went back to the condo, ate, readied out road bikes, layed out clothes and gear for the hillclimb and then tried to sleep for a little bit. We had 2 hrs before we needed to leave to warm up. Just enough time to lay on the bed with my legs up and listen to Real Time with Bill Mahre on my ipod.

Two hrs later: The hillclimb TT. This I felt was my real chance at putting in a good performance. The climb wasn't terribly steep. 6% for 11 miles. After the first 3 miles I was kicking myself for not having TT bars on the bike, but oh well. Hindsight is 20/20. Bob Roll did start a few guys in front of me, and if you're wondering if I beat him.....please, he may be fat, but he's still got a huge engine. There were tns of people on the climb, cowbells, names painted on the road, full-on Tour style. There was even about 20 meters at the top where the crowd was narrowing the road. Totally cool and it definitely helps you go faster. I finished in 39 minutes, just 6 minutes off Cary's time. I was psyched.

I ended up 19th overall and Cary, of course, finished 4th overall, just a half point out of the money. Truly a great event, really well run, great courses, great volunteers and a memorable weekend.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Lava Rama - Bike and Running Race

Somehow it was decided that just doing the 20k mtb race would be too easy. So I woke up at 5am and drove the 2.5 hrs to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho with Cary and Erich Wilbrecht. Erich competed in the '88 Olympics on the US Biathlon Team. Cary is a just an athletic freak. I was sleepy.

The trail running race would start at 9am and be 9.4 miles long. It was hot, it was dusty and there was a lot of uphill. No breeze and to make matters worse not all that many course markers. My group of 6 all got lost, to the point that at one point we fanned out in the woods and when one person found the correct trail, he yelled, we all came over, and started racing again. My race came down to a 50m sprint to the line. I lost by .1 seconds and the guy that beat me had a good laugh afterwards. My heartrate hit 196.

After standing in the cold river for a while to cool down, it was time to eat, drink as much as I could, and then get the bike ready for the mtb race that would start in an hour. My legs were tired, but didn't feel too bad until the first climb. I was out of gears quickly and just resigned myself to slowly picking off whomever I could. 1hr 45min later I finished, cooled my head and sat in the shade.

Not only had Cary won the running race (Erich finishing 2nd), Cary also won the mtb race. Freak. Luckily, Erich convinced him to stop at A&W on the way home and I was rewarded for my effort with a root beer float and 1 onion ring..

Good times.

Not only

Africa Trip - Mt. Kenya

Where to begin? Perhaps in London where I was privy
to a "crayfish and rocket" sandwich. Rocket...good

Upon arriving in Nairobi, me and 250 other
passengers were greeted with the news that the cargo door on
our British Airways 747 was jammed and that no one in
Nairobi could get it open. Please. Like a bunch of
Africans can't get a cargo door open on a plane...with
a screwdriver and a hammer. So no one got luggage, I
waited in a line for 2 hrs to have BA customer service
say they didn't know when the bags would arrive and
the plane flew back to London to have its door opened.
Next morning, BA told us the bag would be there that
night, so we hung out in Nairobi, postponed Mt Kenya
and waited for my bag. Of course, the next day BA
told us the bag was lost and they couldn't track it, so
we decided to go on safari and leave Mt Kenya until the
end of our trip.

Renting a car in Kenya is not like renting a car in
the civilized world. Of note: Tires in Africa are
not tubeless and so the car rental agency gives you a
tube to keep in the glove compartment. (How I could
change a tube without tools was beyond me) Also, one
doesn't just turn a car on in Kenya. One first has to reach
under the dashboard to find a small, hidden button
that when pushed, allows the ignition to turn on. I
was then shown how to circumvent this switch by
slicing two wires together under the hood.

Then, in our Suzuki Maruti, we left for Hell's Gate
National Park. Driving on the wrong side of the road
is the easy part. Shifting with the left hand, while
driving through rush hour Nairobi, that's hard. In
Hell's Gate we saw baboons, giraffes, elephants,
zebras. Very few people go to Hell's Gate and there
is definitely the feeling of of being "out there". We
camped above a plain filled with zebras and some
gazelles. Next day we hiked into some canyons, drove
looking for animals and enjoyed some fine mangos we
purchased for ten cents.

After a couple days, we headed back to Nairobi,
hoping my bags would arrive and we could head to Mt Kenya.
At this point I'm still wearing the same clothes I flew
over in. Of course BA still has no idea where the
bags are, so we decide to head to the Masai Mara for our
second safari and hope the bag arrives later. The
Mara is a simply stunning place. It's one of the few
places I've been to that lives up to its reputation. There
really are animals everywhere. A few brief
highlights: In Yellowstone, when people see a moose or a bear,
they like to get out of their cars for a closer look.
In the Mara, when people see a lion, they roll up
their windows and cower. Lions are big. Really,
really big. We saw lions mating from 10 feet away, and when
they roared I felt small and helpless. When one of
the lions walked by our car and looked at me, I almost
shit myself. We saw hippos battling in a river,
jackals on the prowl, gazelles playing and were
engulfed in an elephant herd.

We would camp at night. The first night we were
offered an "ascari". (guard) This was a Masai
warrior with a spear who would keep us safe from animals. I
thought it was overkill until a flash of lightning
illuminated a pack of hyenas crossing the road.
After that, $5 for a guy with a spear seemed quite

On our last day in the Mara, our first piece of bad
luck befell us. After filling up on petrol, Aly
turned the key to turn the car on and snapped the key off
in the ignition. Not a good thing to happen in Nairobi,
much less in the middle of nowhere Masai Mara. We
thought we were screwed. Various workers from the
filling station tried to help, but to no avail. By
this time it's raining again and we're starting to
thing we're going to be stuck. Just then a short,
stocky Kenyan wearing brown, stained coveralls,
emerged from the rain carrying a screwdriver and a
pair of pliers. It was then that I knew we'd be ok.
This guy had game. It took him 10 minutes. Price for
having your car hotwired in Kenya? $20.

So it was back to Nairobi to find that BA still
couldn't find my bag, and that I was still wearing
the same clothes I flew over in. Luckily at 3am our
hotel phone rang and it was BA saying they had the bag. So
with that, we left for Mt Kenya.

Mt Kenya is a long walk in. Starting in a rainforest
with bamboo and monkeys, ending in a rockscape with
small marmots called hyraxes, 25km and 11,000 feet
of elevation gain later, we found ourselves at high
camp, hanging out, waiting for the next morning's summit
attempt. Up until this point, I'd been feeling
great. Elevation was no problem. I was even carrying water
in 10 gallon jugs for the porters. 8 hrs later, I was a
cripple. I awoke to acute mountain sickness, and it
ain't fun. Splitting headache, severe nausea,
diarrhea......lovely. So we decide to leave high
camp at 16,000 for camp 2 at 14,000, hoping to feel
better. Unfortunately, I never felt better and we ran out of
time to try again.

So what did we learn in Kenya? African TV has no
commercials. They have the best mangos on earth and
the cost a dime. Everyone in Kenya is incredibly
nice and friendly. All Kenyans think Bush is an idiot and
they all love Barack Obama. If you're gonna be
trapped in a hut on Mt Kenya during a deluge, be trapped
with a Brit. We laughed the whole time and now I
understand cricket. In Kenya, you can play soccer with 30
people on a side. Road repair in Kenya consists of 10 guys
shoveling dirt from the side of the road into
potholes. Kenyans carry everything on the back of a
bike. Everything...including an entire bed frame.

Africa may in fact be the coolest place on earth.

For more pics of my Africa trip:

Moab Climbing Trip

I spent the last week climbing in Moab with Sam. Weather was great and we climbed a few towers we'd been long remiss in bagging. "Infra Red" on Big Bend Butte is highly deserving of its reputation as one of the best towers in Moab. We also did "Lightning Bolt Cracks" on the North Sixshooter which was quite excellant. All in all a great trip down.

Cyclocross Season

The 2006 'cross season was a short one for me. With most of the races 5 hrs away in SLC and my new goal of running a marathon in 4 short weeks, I only did one race. The Teton Village 'cross race is always fun. 45 min of going as hard as you can, everyone laughing and having a great time. I finished in the middle somwhere.

2007 LOTOJA - Harder Than I Thought for Longer Than I Thought

2007 Logan to Jackson Road Race
Last year this was a 12 hour epic race through 206 miles of snow, freezing rain and just plain suffering. You can read about it below. This year was hardr as well, but in a different way.

This year I rode the race with team mate and friend Cary Smith. Cary is much stronger than I, but decided to act as my domestique and have a hard training day for himself. Subsequently, I went harder than I ever thoght I could. At the top of the first climb, with still 160 miles to go my heart rate was 185. I averaged 175bpm for 9 hrs and ended up winning my age group.

Big props to cary for so much hard work, encouragement and motivation. Like I've said before...I owe it all to my dentist.