Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pat's Peak

Did you catch my race report from my recent 24hr race?
Click over to the Twin Six team page, and then link over to the Racer-X site.

Click, surf, ah!

Montana--Day 4, Part II

As I mentioned, after our day of driving and short hikes, I was eager to get back on the bike, even for a quick spin. My National Geographic Map showed a trail near the east entrance of Glacier that apparently allowed bikes. Cool, for VERY few national parks allow bikes on the trails.

I gathered my map, my bike, and headed off, leaving Jean near the visitor's center with her book(s).

The trail is called the Old Flathead River Ranger Station Trail, and it, like everywhere else in Glacier, was grizzly country.

I like to think of myself as brave, and I tend not to shy away from activities that have an element of danger, but while out on the trail, alone, the mind can wander, and you start to think exactly how you'd stack up in a fight against a bear.  I did some quick calculations, factoring in the few mixed martial arts classes that I had taken and determined that I'd be dead.

Of course, the number of bear attacks appears to be exceedingly low, and some bears simply break into people's houses in home invasions. Of course, this was just sent to me...But I was still probably more at risk by being attacked by a human. However, the mind, the mind does play tricks. As fully grown adult male, I'm not used to thinking of myself as prey in any situation, and when mountain biking, NONE of the trails I ride at home have predators that I need to watch for, unless you also count the ticks and mosquitoes.

be sure to let this video load...
Anyway, I followed the recommended precautions, used my bear-bell (which in bear-speak is known as the dinner bell), made lots of noise, and kept my eyes open.

It would make for a VERY cool story now, if I could say that I did see a bear, but I didn't. I saw nothing. It was still a good ride though, fairly buff singletrack, with the occasional tree down across the trail. I didn't make it to the end as I was hoping, because while I was watching for bears, I had to keep my eyes on yet another threat--a fast moving thunderstorm. After a few claps that seemed very close and a couple of flashes of lightening, I decided to head back to the visitor's center.

For what it's worth, the storm blew through and never really amounted to anything, but that's okay, even though there were no near death experiences, the post-ride beer (not bear) still tasted good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Montana--Day 4

As I was saying, I've waited too long to post, so now I forget some of the finer details from each day. Damn. Fortunately, I typically take hundreds of photos each day I'm on vacation, so I am able to piece most of the day together.

We woke to a pretty cool sky just after sunrise. Although it looked ominous, the sky actually cleared up pretty nicely and overall, the weather was great.

We decided to drive the whole Going to the Sun road, from West to East, to get the full experience. We did get stuck in the construction traffic again, but it was no real big deal, and we got to chat with some of the construction workers while waiting.

Our first real stop was Logan's Pass, our original destination for our ride the day before. There, at the top, there was still PLENTY of snow. In fact, the trails just out from the visitor's center, while open, were still buried under several feet of snow. In some spots, we were walking next to tree tops, with the rest of the trees buried below.

Anyway, in shorts and sneakers, we hiked out, through the snow, to the look-out by hidden lake. It was a fun, and *interesting* hike, slipping and sliding along. Jean had her trekking poles, so she had some more stability. We got to see some wildlife and some amazing panoramic views.

After making it back to the visitor's center, we continued on our drive to the East side, grabbed lunch, and drove back to the West side. I would have loved to have done the whole road on the bike, and I really wish there was a route something like this here near home to use for training... but alas...

We stopped along the drive and did several short hikes along the way. All in all, Glacier National Park is an incredible place, and our time there was barely enough to scratch the surface.

We have to go back, and there's even more to be found outside of the park. Anyway, after some hiking, some driving, some hiking and some driving, we finally arrived back at the West entrance of the park.

I knew there was a trail near the West entrance that actually DID allow mountain biking, so I left Jean to chillax in the car, while I geared up for a ride. I'll detail that ride shortly, but for now, here's some other pics from the day's driving and hiking:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Animals of Montana

One of the best parts of visiting other parts of the country is having a chance to see some different animals. Glacier National Park and Montana as a whole is home to bears (grizzly and black bears), mountain goats, rams, and so many other wonderful and wild creatures. We did see one black bear, but I didn't get a pic (amateur!). Here's a sampling of the animals I did get to shoot.

This deer followed me for about a hundred yards or so while riding up the Going to the Sun road...

Clearly, this guy is used to getting food from hikers...
 This guy didn't seem to shy either... he (she?) was losing his winter coat...

 ew... bugs...

Thanks for posing!

 Yikes... retirees driving RVs!

MORE to come!

Epic Ride for a Wild Cat Epic!

The Wild Cat Epic 100 is coming up. Gulp. Should I start training? Should I start to taper? Should I "carb up"? As an official certified USA Cycling Level 2 coach, you'd think I'd know the answers. And, well, I do know the answers, but it's much more fun to ignore logic and recommendations and just go out and ride. Maybe that's why I'm not pro. (Yeah, and that's the ONLY reason, right...)

Anyway, I got some good saddle time in while in Montana (more details coming by the way), but I needed more. My week off this week was a bit hectic, so I didn't get to ride as much as I was hoping, and I was still a bit sore from my part in my team's award winning performance at the 24 Hours of Pat's Peak mountain bike race.

So, the week flew by, and before I knew it, I was faced with one day left before heading back to the grind. I had to make my ride epic.

And what's more epic than heading out on a hot summer's day with not nearly enough water, a map, and $20? Answer--nothing.

The big race I'm *training* for is going to be mostly on fire roads, with not much technical singletrack. That's fine... I'm not such a mountain bike snob that fire roads are looked down upon. I love being on my bike--road, dirt road, singletrack--whatever.

Anyway, I really needed to get time/miles in, I'm not trying to learn how to ride roots and rocks. Got that.

So, I headed out with a plan to link some of my favorite trails together, obviously with long road sections. My goal was 50 miles, and I nailed it.

I started with some of the trails in Beverly Commons (Greenwood Ave). From there, I popped over to Gordon College Trails. From there, I hopped on the road and headed into Hamilton. I found some Discover Hamilton Trails which spit me back on to the road, I and found my way back to some trails at Appleton Farms Grass Rides.

I was back on the road for a bit and then in to Bradley Palmer. After hitting some of my favorite trails in there, it was time to cross the river and cross the road to get to Willowdale State Forest. Yeah, I LOVE riding in Willowdale. I picked up a good loop of fire road and single track--then I took a loose rocky downhill a bit too fast and pinch flatted. Damn. The bugs were psyched and I provided a delicious blood meal to what seemed like thousands of hungry insects.

I hit about the 3hr mark while in Willowdale and I was running low on water (i.e.--gone). I had originally planned on stopping along the way, but the stores were not as ubiquitous as I had anticipated.

I rolled out of WIllowdale--hot, sweaty, and depleted of fluids. Fortunately, I knew there was a Dunkin Donuts just down the road. I waited in line behind people getting disgusting "coffee" drinks (i.e. short on the coffee, tall on the flavors, sweeteners, and fat) to get waters, Gatorade and a bran muffin.

Bolstered by this, I headed back out into the blazing sun, up Rt 1 (good hills), down 97, and back towards Beverly.

I was planning on a mostly road ride back at this point, but at about mile 43, I passed a sign for some Essex County Greenbelt trails. Of course, what better time to explore new trails? I have an uncanny ability to find trails that look great at that start, only to head downhill, and then taper off into nothing. I did that twice, and each time I had to turn around and head back up. Argh. Jean will attest to this super power as she has fallen victim to it on occasion. Anyway, at one point, I even came across a park bench--in the middle of nowhere. I took an opportunity to sit and reflect, and then made my way back to some more prominent trails, and then ultimately back to the road.

I got home, cooled off with the garden hose and replenished more fluids. It was a good ride--50 miles of mixed road and trails. Ultimately, that's my favorite type of riding--I do hate driving to a trail, doing a loop, and driving home... and that's the one and only drawback, I think, to singlespeeds is that riding them on the road (at least when geared appropriately for of-road riding), is a chore. I gotta get me a Hammershmidt.

Anyway, I'm going to build on this loop, add in more trails, and ultimately make it a century. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Montana--Day 3

Well, this is what happens when I wait too long to post vacation pics & stories... I forget what happens. Forgive me if I leave out some of the more compelling details...

Here's what I DO remember. Jean and I wanted to ride the "Going to the Sun" road, which is the main road that goes from the western side of Glacier National Park to the east side. It's about 50 miles, one way, with a "good" climb in the middle. I didn't see us going out and back, so we planned on leaving from Lake McDonald and heading up to the high point, Logan's Pass. From there, we'd turn around and head back down.

Jean was initially taunting me to ride all the way to the east side, and then try to find a ride back to our starting point. After a few thousand feet of climbing, the taunting abated...

Anyway, you can see the GPS profile below:

Here's the spoiler though... we didn't get all the way to the top (visitor's center). Unfortunately, there's construction going on on the road, and there were road closures at a couple of different points. Of course, the road wasn't closed for the day, but there were delays of up to 30 minutes in either direction. Now, here's the problem. I knew that part of the road was actually closed to bikes during peak hours (11-4), but I thought that that was just the section down by Lake McDonald. When we began our ascent, there was another sign stating that this section of the road was also closed to cyclists during the same time. Long story short--we got about 1-2 miles from the top, were stuck at a traffic stop, and decided to turn back because we didn't want to be riding on the road when it was closed to cyclists (Jean LOVES to follow rules).

It turns out that the cyclist restriction only applied to one direction and that we would have been fine had we waited. D'oh!

Anyway, while we didn't get all the way to the top, we still ended up doing a total of about 3000ft of climbing and just under 40 miles total. Fun!

The scenery was simply amazing, and I had a hard time trying to both ride AND take photos, but I did it. I even took some video:

So, anyway... we rode up, we rode down, we had lunch, and that's really all I remember. I think we also cruised in to Whitefish, a nearby town, and checked out some shops including a great coffee shop, and Glacier Cyclery where we got some good info on trails in the area--but more on that later.

In the meantime, check out the photos. I'm sure Jean remembers more than I do (she's MUCH smarter than I am, though, that's no great feat), so I'll probably add some info later.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Montana--Day 2

So, if day 1 was all about travel, day 2 was all about figuring out what was where and what to do. First item on the agenda was bike assembly. I'm getting better at putting the bikes together quickly, and to be honest, I like working on bikes. Once we had our "steeds" set up, we scooted in to Glacier National Park to get the lay of the land. Our first impression was "wow."

GNP is huge with huge scenery.

We started at the visitor's center right near the entrance, which, paradoxically, was all about the Canadian side. I took a pic of the dinosaur (cuz, when you think about Canada, you think about dinosaurs, right?) and we made our way further in to the park.

Our next stop was Lake MacDonald, where there was a whole little village of shops, restaurants, hotels, and a visitor's center. We did our obligatory walk-through to see the touristy stuff, then got the 411 at the visitor's center. We wanted to do the "Going to the Sun," road on our bikes, and I needed to clarify some information about road closures, as part of the road is closed to bikes at peak tourist hours and there was some construction going on.

With those details worked out, Jean and I spent the rest of the day cruising around and hitting some short hikes.

I don't remember the details--we drove around, we hiked a bit, we drove around some more... 

We went through that whole "wow," thing a few more times and then ultimately headed back to the cabin to prepare for our early morning assault on Going to the Sun.

I'll leave you with a few more pics from Day 2: