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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Race Report (Another one???) Signal Peak Challenge Lot's of [0]

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place><st1:placeName>Signal</st1:placeName><st1:placeType>Peak</st1:placeType></st1:place> Challenge / "Buddhas of the Gila" race report<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

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The New Mexico Off Road Series (NMORS) landed a 1-2 punch these past 2 weekends, with the Pajarito Punishment (see "Punishment" report) up in <st1:place>Los Alamos</st1:place> last weekend, and then the Signal Peak Challenge this past weekend, which took place just north of <st1:place><st1:placeName>Silver</st1:placeName><st1:placeType>City</st1:placeType></st1:place> in the south-western corner of the state. The region is littered with active and dormant mining sites, as is a lot of NM, and the reason it's called, um, <st1:place><st1:placeName>Silver</st1:placeName><st1:placeType>City</st1:placeType></st1:place>! <st1:place><st1:placeName>Silver</st1:placeName><st1:placeType>City</st1:placeType></st1:place> is also the main host town for the Tour of the Gila ("Hee-La"), one heck of a grueling road stage race of some repute each spring.<o:p></o:p>

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I've been doing battle in the regional Mountain States Cup series (MSC) this year, which is mainly in Colorado (1 race in Moab, 1 in Angle Fire, NM), so having a back-to-back pair of world class local races to attend in the area was awesome! I'm serious about the caliber of the venues here in NM. As if 9 MSC races weren't enough, I've got to do the local races when possible.... For those of you from other areas, NM does have hot, flat, dusty areas typical in the far southwest, but is more rocky and mountainous and at elevation (This weekends race was in the 7000-9000 ft. elev. range) than you'd figure. Think Colorado more than Arizona.<o:p></o:p>

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<o:p>Dogs have it rough, don't they?</o:p>
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The Signal Peak Challenge course is a mix of fire roads, singletrack, and silliness. There were 3 levels of hell: Short loop, (10 miles or so) Long Loop (20 miles or so), and Long Loop plus short loop (about 31 miles). Each year the thoughtful folks at/through Gila Hike & Bike put on a great event with this race, and this years was no exception. They seem to always have a theme, and this year it was Buddha's! No joke, they built a Pagoda for the finish line/awards area, dressed the volunteers in maroon & gold silk sashes for registration & course marshalling, had made prayer-wheels out of recycled bike wheels and corrugated metal and bells to accent key moments. There was also a pit BBQ, Fat Tire Ale on tap and more the night before out at the venue / start/finish area.

Setting up the Pagoda, one:


Topped out, or setting up the Pagoda two:

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The course took off on a 2 mile climb right out of camp, not too steep or technical, but a good anaerobic race start to be sure. The ?elite? route kept undulating with pretty moderate climbing for 7-8 miles until the top finally came, cumulatively thrashing most folks. There was still a LOT more to go to! After this initial climb came this incredible 2 mile or so, rocky, dense forested area that made you work despite the lack of sustained climbing. <o:p></o:p>

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<o:p>On the fly pre-ride pic:</o:p>


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From there, a quick descent turned us onto the Continental Divide Trail (!) which would be our friend for aprx. 6-8 miles of technical, steep at times, singletrack. I kept imagining the Great Divide racers coming through a few weeks ago, wondering how the hell they survived 2000+ miles of it! It's a relentlessly rocky/rough route that could easily shred tires. We then flew down a 3-4 mile stretch of fast & hairy fire road replete with huge puddles to splash/hydroplane across, joining us then with the shorter 10 mile loop. I pre-rode the big loop, but not the "smaller" one. I'd pay for that in the race, as it was hard and fast at times, but just kept climbing with few breaks. The elite (expert/pro) had us in for 1.5 of these, as the bigger loop tied into the mid-point of the smaller loop. Everyone finished coming up & through the Pagoda structure, which also was where we went through to start short lap #2.

Staged timer taken pre-ride pic (just made it back on the bike!):
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Race Report (cont.)

I had my wife & dog along, which was a treat, as a lot of the races I?ve done this year have been solo. Get's kind of lonely, you know? We stayed about 20 minutes away in the nearest motel (deluxe!) which was cool with having our pup with us. I think they forgot to charge the extra $10 for the dog too! Man, the bonus of having a bed, shower and a roof over one's head felt like a real advantage before the race!<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>

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Of course, I mis-timed the race/morning schedule and ended up with only about 20 minutes to warm up. I forgot to factor in the registration/waiver time. Oops. Hopped on the rollers and did a quick easy warm up with 2 LT pushes to get the muscles going, warmed down for a few, then hustled to the start. Boom! we're off in a flash. All the mens experts started together, which seemed like 25-30 people and I started off more mellow than usual, as I knew this would be a hell of a ride. My pre-ride for just the 20 mile loop alone was about 3 hours! I let most of the fellas go on ahead, slowly building up to my "pace". About 2-3 miles in, I started passing a lot of the somewhat over-zealous starters and kept on pushing. 1/2 way up the initial climb I was flying! I felt good, felt like I was at a sustainable pace, and kept on pedaling hard. Turned onto the top/ridge portion of singletrack and hammered away. Cleaned the whole thing, passing a few more folks up here, and headed for the initial descent. After the fun & fast single track descent we doubled back down a short stretch of fire road to link up with the Divide Trail. The folks climbing, heading the other direction (from where I had come) said I was the 6<SUP>th</SUP> rider through. This included some pro's, so I was getting closer to the front! Yow, kind of a surprise to me, but there's a LONG way to go! Entering the Continental Divide Trail section, I settle into a good rhythm and pedal on... on a nice tight descent along here I pass 2 guys who are having mechanical problems. Something about "losing a freewheel". I holler back to them my zip-tie trick (if you have some zip ties, you can tie your cassette to the spokes, but have to be careful as it becomes a fixie then!) and empathies (woohoo, 4<SUP>th</SUP> man back!) and press on. <o:p></o:p>

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By the time I reached the "short lap" I was still feeling good, so I turned it up a notch. The last section of the big loop was the fast cruiser on a dirt road, so I felt somewhat refreshed? I knew there was 5-6 miles until the 1<SUP>st</SUP> part was complete and figured I?d have enough juice to survive a 2<SUP>nd</SUP>. The mixed/relentless undulating technical climbs were way more demanding than I anticipated though, so by the time I rode beneath Buddha I was feeling a little weak; OK, but nearing my limits with 10 more hard miles ahead. I power up the start area climb, cruise on a little bit of relatively flat terrain, then focus the last bit of energy on cleaning the rest of the course. About 2/3<SUP>rd'</SUP>s of the way into this last lap a guy works his way by me and I encourage him on. Wait! He's in MY group! Umm, no gas in the tank, so he moves up and ahead slowly. He says he's been chasing me for 6-7 miles, and I congratulate him on the mission accomplished. I look down at my watch and see it's only been 2hrs 40 min. since we started and I?m 4-5 miles from the end. Holy sh1t! I'd been pushing hard and taken a huge amount of time off my projected course time(s)! Cool. Hang in there for the last climb, then I come up on a sport class racers wheel as we crest the top and descend together. I think he thought we were in the same group, as he didn't seem to want to let me by, but knowing he was not in my group, I let him blow up on the last little climb to the finish. Funny what the "heat of battle" and bonking can do to ones brain...

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<o:p>All praise to Buddha, finished (er, or something...!</o:p>


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Roll through the Pagoda and am done! Yow! <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:time Minute="58" Hour="14">2:58</st1:time> was my unofficial time. THAT was way faster than I thought I could do it. Hobble back to the car, change and drive back to the Motel for a hot shower, head back up to the venue. A short time thereafter the results are posted, and I got 3<SUP>rd</SUP>! The first place guy was a Pro lumped into our gang, as they do sometimes in smaller events sanctioned by the ACA, so I was ecstatic! The guy who passed me near the end managed to put a few minutes on me, but not too many.

Burnt post race pic:
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What was really cool is that I won $20 and qualified for NORBA Nationals (again). All told an awesome event, well run, good turnout, great people, delicious BBQ & Beer, and well worth the $25 entry fee! (included a t-shirt too) Now I need to work on endurance a bit more, so as to avoid the 2.5 hour slump I?ve noticed in the last few hard races. After 2.5 hrs, I start cracking pretty bad. The pace doesn't seem to matter too much, as in a race I can't slow down enough so that it's like a 6 hour ride type pace, as I?d be finishing in the dark 1/2 the time!

Prize? I've never won a prize as an expert! 'Till now....

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This race will stay in my annual schedule as long as I can make it! There was also a car show and fair in town. We were lucky and had great weather to boot. High 70's, sunny, clear. Gotta love it!<o:p></o:p>

Next stop: MSC Finals in Keystone, CO and then NORBA Nationals at Mammoth. *Whew*
 

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Looks pretty cool!

As always, sweet report. And major congrats for hitting the podium as an Expert! So are you tired yet? 11 races and how many more to go. I'm at 10, with 1 or 2 more. Durango nationals is out due to my lack of desire for this weekend, and a major bike issue. Took the Superlight in to install my new XTR shifters. Yeah!! As I'm tuning it is brought to my attention that I am missing the bolt for my pivot point. Second time this year, and Mojo's does not currently have any in stock. Provided I'm sure I could check around a few shops and get one... but my effort is lacking. Oh well.

I trust this is a rest weekend before Keystone next week. Should be a good time, however, I won't be there for that one either. Never could get a ticket back from Sac that woudn't cost me an extra $150. Which I plan on spending to fly out to Mammoth Lakes for the Championships. Hopefully the mother-in-law will let me take her sweet trailer down from reno! I trust I'll see a race report for that one as well.
-Ocky
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OdaNelli said:
As always, sweet report. So are you tired yet? 11 races and how many more to go. I'm at 10, with 1 or 2 more. Durango nationals is out due to my lack of desire for this weekend, and a major bike issue. Took the Superlight in to install my new XTR shifters. Yeah!! As I'm tuning it is brought to my attention that I am missing the bolt for my pivot point. Second time this year, and Mojo's does not currently have any in stock. Provided I'm sure I could check around a few shops and get one... but my effort is lacking. Oh well.

I trust this is a rest weekend before Keystone next week. Should be a good time, however, I won't be there for that one either. Never could get a ticket back from Sac that woudn't cost me an extra $150. Which I paln on spending to fly out to Mammoth Lakes for the Championships. Bummin. I trust I'll see a race report for that one as well.
-Ocky
Thanks Ocky! Too bad about Keystone, but sounds like you've had a busy season as well. I need to figure out just how many races I've done in fact.... 24 hrs. in Tucson in February, 2 races in April including Tour of the Canyonlands, a couple of road races, The Firecracker 50 miler in Breck..... sheesh. Seems like every week, or every other week usually. As for being tired... I actually feel better than I did mid-season. Better balance of riding/training & rest! I was flying on my tuesday a.m. team hammer road ride, actually PULLING for some strong guys for brief periods (then dying...). I'm just stoked to be in one piece after that crazy crash and a long season!

Where'd that bolt go anyhow? Sounds rather important.... doesn't the frame come apart then?

And yep, after Mammoth I'll post a huge season-review report (watch out!).

See you in Mammoth then!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jim Beam said:
Good job Glenn! So, are there any podium girls at these events?
Thanks Robert! LMAO! Podium girls? If there were, they'd probably kick my [email protected]@. Maybe the Tour of the Gila has 'em, as it's a big fancy road race and all.... mtbike races are another story all together. Had podium beer though! Almost as good....
 

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Discussion Starter #9
merlin said:
Great write up and big congratulations....good luck in durango
Thanks Merlin! I'll have to check out your RR story when I get a second. I'll be skipping Durango to "re-peak" next weekend at the Mountain States Cup finals at Keystone, and for the Champonships in Mammoth. 3 big races in 4 weeks would be a bit much! Even for me..... 2 A races are scary enough as it is. You venturing over to mammoth?.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
UCFJosh said:
cool report(s) man, congratulations on finding the podium! reading these and the others is a blast, keeps me motivated between seasons here (spring and fall- nobody races in a floridian summer).
Thanks Josh! I get overheated THINKING about what the summers are like there! Yow. Racing in July/August could be a whole new kind of torture I'd imagine. Unless it was on a pedal powered water contraption.....
 

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Glen,

Another great race report. Good luck in keystone, be ready for a long _steep_ climb, or 2, or 3 :D. I didn't see a course map posted yet. I did a race up there earlier this year and when they post the map I'll let you know about any of the trails.

If you are bonking at 2.5 hours, you might want to look at your nutrition. 2.5 hours is looking similar to the marathon wall. I can't give specific nutritional advise but I would look into the standard items, glucose, water, electrolytes etc.

I would like to do that race, but I'll be out of the state :)
 

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Very nice tale and result. Thanks.

The Gila was on my missed list while in NM. it's amazing how short 3 years really is. (or how much riding there is in NM.

For your little taste of the east...I rode Harlod Parker state forest, just south of Andover, tonight. I was impressed. I've heard that you can ride off road, almost einterly single track to Glouchester and the coast from HP. When I find the route I'll keep you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
jl said:
Glen,

Another great race report. Good luck in keystone, be ready for a long _steep_ climb, or 2, or 3 :D. I didn't see a course map posted yet. I did a race up there earlier this year and when they post the map I'll let you know about any of the trails.

If you are bonking at 2.5 hours, you might want to look at your nutrition. 2.5 hours is looking similar to the marathon wall. I can't give specific nutritional advise but I would look into the standard items, glucose, water, electrolytes etc.

I would like to do that race, but I'll be out of the state :)
Hey thanks jl! I'm figuring Keystone to be an asswhooper... My guess is that it'll be 3 laps at roughly 8 miles, and that each lap will bring people to near cracking. The pix I've seen and the reports I've heard make Keystone and environs out to be a great place for a race. Hopefully the promoters/organizers piece together a good course. Any of your insight to the course when available would be extremely helpful! I'll keep an eye out and holler when I see it.

I'm not quite bonking at 2.5 hours, but the "bonk alarm" has gone to defcon 4 (from an "all clear" 5) at that point.... it seems like I just need some more deep muscle endurance and to eat/drink better. I'll be throwing a few extra hours on the road bike in for the next few weeks. Not hard long rides, but moderate and long, to go with the other harder workouts. The nutrition is definately part of it though, and I can atest to the inadequacy of Gatorade now! I ran out of my prefered powdered mix and used old stand by Gatorade and regretted it. I found this consistent for 2 races now, and will adjust asap! The other problem was my GU flask wasn't flowing too well. I hadn't diluted the gu as much as I usually do, which makes it easy to down, so I only "ate" about 1/3rd of the flask! Normally I'd have finished it 1/2 to 2/3rd's of the way through a race like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
brianc said:
The Gila was on my missed list while in NM. it's amazing how short 3 years really is. (or how much riding there is in NM.

For your little taste of the east...I rode Harlod Parker state forest, just south of Andover, tonight. I was impressed. I've heard that you can ride off road, almost einterly single track to Glouchester and the coast from HP. When I find the route I'll keep you posted.
Brian! Sounds like a ride we'll have to do, HP to Gloucster! With my pops in Gloucster we'd have a terminus and ride to/from.....

As for the Gila, it is an amazing part of the state and would be worthy of an MTBR gathering all on it's own! Plus it has both awesome MTBike and Road riding for those who delve into the darkside....

GITA?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
AndyN said:
Great pictures and write up.
Thanks Andy! You'd have dug the awesome rocky trails that a lot of the race was on.... lot's of exploring to do down there some day!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
*rt* said:
very impressive performance! :)

rt
Thanks *rt*.

About that last signature quote.... that's not how you feel I assume? :) That just doesn't seem right! Far to fatal/self destructive.....

"...Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall."

Hadn't noticed before, or been able to read it as my monitor resolution is set so high...
 

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glenzx said:
Thanks *rt*.

About that last signature quote.... that's not how you feel I assume? :) That just doesn't seem right! Far to fatal/self destructive.....

"...Somewhere between her wanting to ride
And her certainty she will always fall."

Hadn't noticed before, or been able to read it as my monitor resolution is set so high...
hehe. feeling that way a little bit right now but generally no. i just liked the poem. :)

rt
 
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