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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Mountain States Cup #4 - Eldora Escape, Nederland, CO
Hardcore Racing, Pretty Ladies, and cold beer - SWEET!

If there could be an as-close-to-perfect cycling weekend as a guy can get, this was it! After exactly 2 (yes, two) rides in almost 5 (FIVE!) weeks, I was ready to hop back in the saddle. The location, Eldora Mountain Resort just outside of Boulder Colorado, would be the spot. No week of building or tapering or prepping, nor anything on the bike (though lot's more manual labor on house renovation project) - just drive up Friday night, pre-ride the XC course Saturday and then BLAM! Race the 30-39 expert Short Track (STXC) event that afternoon, head back to town, recover - then race the XC on Sunday. Booya! It's on. Er, sort of. What all would happen to a sore 30-something out of shape and tired fella would soon be known. Picking an event like the Eldora Escape, part of regional level Mountain States Cup Series, as a "training race", specifically while not training AND in the heart of one of the most hardcore, fast, fit, and talented cycling centers in the country could prove to be pure idiocy. Surely I'd know just where I stood PRONTO, at the very least. Grave humiliation was on my mind the whole time though, wondering if my race days were coming to an end, what with a new family member on the way and said crazy house renovations, I was really out for fun - whether or not that meant bringin' up the rear. So, with little expectation and lots of lactic acid (and perhaps a bit too much upper body strength - an odd by-product of manual labor...) in all sorts of weird non-cycling muscles, my biking bud and I from Albuquerque, Mike, headed north.

Tom's Yard (what is that green stuff?):


Arriving in Boulder on a Friday right at 2AM on a holiday weekend proved entertaining, as our host, Tom, aka RapsWithTom, lives smack in the middle of downtown - making our approach path through the heart of a vibrant bar/night scene and the requisite stumbling youths heading home. Ah, I remember those days! Boulder looked amazing. We were tired but impressed, got parked and settled in for a few hours rest before we had to head up to the venue - 30 minutes or so away - for the races. Seems I was able to sneak into Tom's house, unfold the sleeper sofa and get ready for bed without disturbing him too much, so he awoke to some strangers squatting in and around his house, but took it in stride. Anyhow, Mike races Sport Class, and had earlier start times than I, so we shook Tom out of bed and made him lead us to thy sacred coffee. Yes, back off the wagon and on the go-juice, I admit. Whoa. He lives in an amazing downtown historic neighborhood all of a 3-4 minute walk down tree-lined streets bracketed by incredible homes. Cool. A good friend in great neighborhood made for a fantastic morning, despite quite a bit of lingering road weariness and fatigue. Due to unforeseen medical reasons, Tom would be relegated to spectator and photographer - duties he wasn't so thrilled about. So instead on Saturday he watched Brazil lose their Cup match while sipping latte's in town, while Mike and I went to throw down in the STXC. Tom had the right idea!

Pro lady racer friend climbing hard!


We got to the venue in time to get registered and warmed up, and Mike made good going through the pre-race rituals while I wandered around bumping into some of the usual suspects, some locals, and other race-community pals. Oh great, Mr. I won both Sugar Showdown and Mt. Snow Nationals (in my group) was there - said hi to him (Fokker!) and his pro-racer wife. Ran into some good friends from Taos - another expert racer guy in my group and another pro-racer S.O. - looks like all the classes were well represented and typically well-stocked with fast talented racers. Ran into MTBFool - a local 30 something hammer and fellow mtbr.com guy (looks all skinny / sick-fast too, darnitall!). Maybe Tom had the right idea indeed. I started warming up very early, as a 26-28 minute anaerobic effort from my no-top-end-outta-shape-ass was going to take a LOT of preparation, especially with a 2 hour +/- XC event the next day. Forgot half the pre-race ritual and felt generally discombobulated. Helmet. Gloves. Water/feed stuff (not much needed for STXC - but for warm-up). Trainer. Bleach.... Started spinning easy for a while, and man! It was getting hot out. Did the first hard push for 3 minutes and eased up. Wow. Feels weird - better do a few intense efforts to wake everything up prior to the start.... then do so and start to remember this racing stuff. After about 50 minutes on the trainer, I start spinning around the venue. It vacillates from hot to cloudy/cool, and rain looks possible all of a sudden - in that typical monsoonal rocky mountain way. I go to get a jacket and feel some drops. Head to the lodge / staging area and the skies open up, DUMPING rain. I take cover inside and try to stay warm, feet up leaning against a wall - and just about doze off! Wow, I'm tired. 15 minutes later everyone's scrambling to pre-ride the drenched loop now and get out of the Single Speed guys' way for their race. In the 2 1/2 minute pre-ride, my Taos buddy Sean and I get thoroughly soaked and sloppy - but it'd pay off.

Meanwhile, back at the bat mobile, the sport guys & expert ladies race - cheered my buddy on as well as a couple pro/expert lady friends (go Jeny, go girl - get 'em!). Looks like everyone was in the hurt locker out there. Somehow the ladies endure pain looking a lot more graceful than the fellas. Of course, just looking better than the guys in general helps! Did I mention that already? Probably goes without saying...

A bit later, as soon as the rain quits they run the SS STXC and then stage us up QUICK, no "parade lap" - the typical few-minutes-long easy-spin course inspection time they sometimes do. Oh, this is gonna hurt! The strategy in STXC, like road crits, is to survive with the lead group at the blistering start pace and settle in for the race, then survive for a strong, sometimes sprinting, finish. I was sure I'd come unhitched right away and be dangling, get lapped, then "pulled" which is the typical method of keeping scoring clear when there are riders all over the course, spread out towards the end. The STXC was intended to be a warm-up for the next day, but it is a race - and I'd try my damndest anyhow!

Pain & suffering in the STXC:


They count us down 3-2-1-GO!!!!! Immediately punching it at red-lined pace after standing around is a uniquely brutal exercise in torture, so I was thankful that we went up a bit, turned, and then down through the chicane they'd set-up through the venue. Round an outbuilding on a fast right sweeper, and then a left, and a quick right up the next dirt road climb. The course was all about line choice, as coming around this right turn to the climb it was easy to overcook it and have to struggle in some loose gravel and rocks. I learned a good line was to splash through a puddle in the middle of the approach to the turn, cut it tight inside, and conserve momentum up the climb. Every time I rounded the building smooth and hit this part clean, I was able to either pass or keep pace with considerably less effort than my peers. The course wove left, then right, and left again, then down a quick dirt road descent to the open parking lot area and back up a painful false-flat through the start / finish area. We were clocking about 2 1/2 minute laps and had to go 20 minutes plus three laps. The first few laps there was a loose lead pack which I hung onto for a short while, but after three laps was spit out of, not able to sustain quite the pace across the flattish part. I was working with two other guys who'd come off as well, and we were more together than not. Surprisingly, I was "pulling" a lot of the time and would feel better yet when I'd ease off and another fella would come around and lead the way. We traded spots for a few laps, and with 3 to go, I tried to bridge up to a few other guys, but ended up flailing out in no-mans land. It was fun to hear the P.A. dude - who we're pretty sure was Nat Ross, egg us on calling out bib numbers and names. Got regrouped with the 2 guys from before, then they both came around me strong leading into the last lap, so I tucked in behind them and tried to recover from my failed bridge attempt. After 30 seconds or so - as we approached the aforementioned sweeper turn into the left-right-climb, I focused on hitting as clean a line as I could, nailed it, shot by the two guys on the steep little kick of a climb and buried myself - managing to finish the backside of the lap ahead of them. Amazingly we had hung on for the same lap count as the winners - down by about a minute - and I snagged 5th place. I was ecstatic! I had no idea we had been that high up, and was so excited to not be forced into early retirement just yet.... cool. Hose off bike and self, head back to town for a nice big pasta dinner and a couple of glasses of wine. Got called a motherfocker by a homeless/beggar dude in a wheelchair, who was positioned perfectly to hassle all passers-by. I almost turned around and gave him a buck for being so forthright! Almost.

XC racing can in fact be spectator friendly:


I was worried about how much damage I may have done during the STXC, so I had two glasses of wine and a beer. Ha! Recovery Chianti indeed. Lot's of water too. I was here for racing - but wanted to have some fun too, ya know. Hit the hay early, slept great and Mike and I were up and at 'em again bright and early Sunday morning. Mike made some oatmeal with fresh strawberries and we made the requisite coffee run as well. Felt pretty good - but had the sneaking suspicion that deep down, my legs were a bit cooked. Another good warm up would be critical, as would be pacing and nutrition. The Eldora XC course is one nice collection of trails; dirt road at the start/finish area, two-track next, wide singletrack next, then a nice, long climb on some moderately technical singletrack, that then went DOWN first sort of rolling, then a hard left dumped you down a fast loose rocky bump-launch fest, to a hard right into the woods and onto the "mud bog" sections of trail, that alternated between middle/big ring buff wide XC ski trails and gnarly muddy sections with techy alternate go-around lines. Winding back through some more fun XC ski trails to the base area and up the same false-flat across the dirt parking lot to the start / finish area. Roughly 6 miles and 30 minutes a lap - and we were in for four laps of it. Wahoo! This was some pristine stuff that's only rideable the week of the event - so it was a real treat to be out there.

Mike setting a solid pace:


While fussing about the venue before my race, I ran into local mtbr.com / Boulder local Cynthia aka brg. She was entertaining family AND racing the mighty Firecracker 50 on the 4th, so was at the Eldora race checking in, supporting her friends, and maybe sneaking away from said family for a few hours. Jeny - her friend and fellow racer who seems to be able to smile despite all odds and immense pain, was out racing expert women's XC and having a tough day apparently. I had the chance to cheer her on the day before and figured she looked just fine out there, but learned that as a Sport racer at a previous race had so stomped the competition she was allowed to move up to expert right away. Cool! They'd not let her race expert right off the bat previously, so she was now out with her peers taking all the expert abuse one can on course. She must have been at more of a substantial physical debt than she ever let on and ended up pulling out. The weather was cycling through the same cloudy / cool, sunny / hot stuff and threatening rain again. My buddy Mike was throwing down consistent laps and looking good, but later ended up further back than he'd have liked. After a few hard weeks of speed work outlined by my former coach and good friend, he was paying the price but making a valuable investment in future success, as a relatively new racer he's making improvements by leaps and bounds, and will have his day(s) soon - hopefully at the National Championships out in California in a week or two. Anyhow - I was able to run around the course and snap the shots of Mike and Jeny, and socialize some more before I needed to slip into my own pre-race preparation. The atmosphere was more charged than on Saturday - as way more people were coming to race the XC than the STXC, and it was the Colorado State SS Championship race as well. Needles to say, the Dales Pale Ale was flowing freely (literally - they were a race sponsor!).

At this point there weren't as many smiles out on course, except here:


Got dressed and started spinning only to see the weather get more and more threatening and zoned out while punching it through LT+ efforts on the trainer. These are invaluable as they prepare your body for race level efforts and I'll admit they were helping, as the first one makes me almost see stars and flush up, usually causing a need to pee (and wonder just WTF I think I'm doing in that existential sorta way), but then after that (and a pee break if needed) I'll be as good-to-go as can be. It's awful to have that feeling at the start of the race, and makes it harder to recover as you don't get to ease off like you do on the trainer or outside the race, so these make it way easier to give it 100% off the line. Most of the time - at least it'd help my body remember the pain and be ready for it!

Our field looked huge - but they did break us up into 5 year age groups, so it wasn't too bad. MTBFool went off with the younger 30-somethings while we qued up behind their group. 2 minutes later and we're off..... and man! Right off the line I could see the lead group (hell, most of the group) gap me. I simply could not punch it like I normally would without completely exploding, so I hit the first climb mid/back of the pack and had already determined to ride this one at my pace as strong and consistently as I could - eating and drinking as best I could. Wow! The course was even more fun at race pace, and flowed beautifully. I kept my Taos buddy Sean in sight when I could, but he pulled away after a while and I was definitely back-of-the pack now. Felt good, but just not able to accelerate those hard efforts and survive them, so the pace was "tempo" pretty much the whole time. At the end of Lap 1 I saw a sight to behold! Cynthia, Jeny, and another lady-friend were at trail-side cheering and whistling as I came through! That'll make a guy feel alrighty, and I think I was able to crack a smile as I came by this time... must pedal harder (ahem, not showing off either at all, nope - like it mattered).

Start the lap 2 dirt-road climb and actually do it middle ring standing the whole way to stretch out. This has become a new thing of late - the standing and pedaling efficiently. All the manual labor I've put in has made my core stronger so that both road and mtbike standing/climbing feels better. I sit back down and settle into a good 2nd lap - still sort of status quo, but OK. I pass 1 or 2 guys in my group and AHA! I see Sean ahead and focus on his red/green/white outfit like a target and slowly reel him in. After what seems like eons, I'm on his wheel and THEN muster the oompf to come around. Now Sean is a hell of racer, built like a roadie climber, can race mtbikes like a pro, has been coming on STRONG these last few seasons, AND can climb like a billy goat. He'd been on a week-long backpacking trip which had taken its toll on his usually spry climbing legs so I was able to slowly pull away, and saw him behind me for a long time. As I headed out for lap three, he was still close though, and I figured I'd blown it and he'd muster the later race endurance and pass me by. Ah, but not today! Mid-lap on lap three, he was no longer in sight, so when I crested the long singletrack climb and couldn't see him, I was reinvigorated some and stepped it up a bit - downing GU and drinking as best I could. Of course it started raining and hailing this lap too - making a lot of the course greasy and fun, and hard to see as well - great mix!

Descending (OK, at Angel Fire - but same Yeti "kit")


Hit the party-atmosphere of the base area for the start of lap 4 and he was no where in sight. I was feeling it though, and the rain had chilled me down enough to need a few minutes to get my climbing tempo back. Now things were starting to change. The leaders were long gone, but I was picking off, in slow-motion at first, some of the stragglers in my group who'd "popped" or bonked. I kept pushing my own tempo, but was now reeling in these guys once in a while, and by the top of the last singletrack climb had passed maybe 2 or 3 of them. Hitting the fun techy descent came naturally, and I took the fastest line I'd found yet, headed into the woods, the mud, and the rest of the course staying as efficient as possible. The end of the lap, where the course rolled up and down a bit, it was getting tough. The classic "ah - no problem, I'll hammer these hills in the big ring" bravado was long gone, and I pecked my way up some of the short but hard stuff, crested, and kept pushing. Staying focused and strong at the end is important to me - even if just to maintain position. Seems like the second you back off, someone catapults by. As I descended into the wide-open meadow approaching the far end of the venue / gravel lot, I was pretty sure no one was in sight. Good thing too - as my right hamstring was just about to spring a nasty feeling cramp on me! I see Tom; he hollers something about THREE GUYS RIGHT ON MY ASS! Shiit! I immediately drop down on the bars a bit and suffer, dumping everything I've got left into mashing the pedals. Oh, just in time to hear him yell "Just Kidding!!!" GadDarnitMuthaFluckinHooligan. OK - it was funny, just not at that moment. We've got to get Tom back on bike, as he's a cruel spectator. Seems he thought I'd DNF'd as my new Yeti Kit was throwing him off, and he'd not seen me until then...

Late Breaking photo-add; end of the last lap - DONE! (thanks Tom)


After a solid if not peppy race - I had no idea where I'd ended up. Chatted with Sean - and he'd in fact pulled himself he was feeling so cruddy. There was a bit of a delay with the expert results, so I grabbed a can of Dales Pale Ale and mulled around for a while. I was amazed at how many Yeti's I saw at the race! I guess being so close to the factory had something to do with it - sort of like being around Phoenix, AZ and the Titus Phenomenon. Ran into the Yeti sponsor coordinator fella - another (sigh) sick-fast 30 something expert and chatted a bit - tried to let him know I had in fact not vaporized and had a few good races left this season. After a little more time, the results were posted. Of the 20 or so of us 35-39 year olds, I placed 8th. Wow! I thought I'd made up some time, but not top-10. That felt great and we could now cruise back to town for food and beer and some pool lessons from Cynthia and her S.O. Dave aka FreeRangeChicken (so many strong cyclists / fellow mtbr folks in the area!). Mike and I were pretty cooked and not terribly social, and I kept knocking Toms gimpy leg with the pool cue, so we called it a night fairly early, but not before downing some Java Porter and burgers, then heading to the Foundry (I think) to get schooled in 9-ball. All that geometry, ritual, terminology and method were challenging my feeble brain, but Cynthia made it look so easy, and was a helpful patient instructor.

Boulder rocks. What an amazing place! Racing the two days and hanging out with good company was just the thing a tired stressed out fella needed. I got back to Santa Fe with a loose plan in mind for putting in a strong late season, but have been thwarted by RAIN thus far! Yikes. A lot - and just in time as our forests are parched. Might be good timing, as my recovery feels extra-slow. Thankfully the roof is doing great and the remaining work is relatively easy, and can be broken up into smaller tasks that will allow for some training/riding in coming weeks. Seems that the monster endurance base paid back in full, as did the core strength "training" the house work has demanded. Time now to tune the top end with a few weeks of interval block training and some real climbing.

Next Stop: Telluride XC and Hill Climb Time Trial
 

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sounds like you've found the right ballence between life and racing. in the prcess you might have found you new secret weapon for real racing. Beer and Wine!

or maybe it's just the relaxed have fun attitude that is letting you find unexpected sucess. I'd hate to be one of your competitors when you're actually able to ride your bike before the race *and* show up with this new attitiude.

thanks for the story.
 

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Linoleum Knife
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Nice Glen. Very Nice. Good to see you out sporting the team kit. Good to read a write up too.

Nice work on the roof - I remember how excited I was the first time it rained after I finished mine.

Here's my race report:
Alien Run. 2 months later in the year than normal. 20 degrees hotter than normal, 5 minutes slower than last year. Sand, Scrub oak, dehydration, 600 miles on the legs in the last 2 weeks, and a dried out hamburger.

Fill in the blanks.

I have a long version, but I'm not posting it here. It's too depressing.

But our Jul 4th Kennebec Loop was fantastic.
When's Gita?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
*rt* said:
you go glen!! nice job on the top 10 finish despite extended time off the bike.

:thumbsup:

rt
Thanks crazy girl! It was really, really fun. Boulder is cool and funky and it's own 'thang for sure (hmm, as is Tom!). Wish I was on the same ascension curve as you are this season - but absolutely no complaints here.

glen
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
MavSports said:
...you should put it on the www.racemsc.com site in the cross country forum. People would be stoked!

MM
Thanks (Mike, I think - right?)! I've been missing racing for a while here, and when I heard Bigfoot took over / is helping / whatever the MSC series I was stoked! Maverick Sports has a most stellar race promoion track record, so the MSC racers will surely benefit. Firecracker, Fall Classic, and all the Youth stuff you all do absolutely booty-kickin'. The friends I've made - from racers to parents (and racer-parents!) in Breck are all so bike/outdoors positive it's an inspiration - and Mav is always mentioned as the reason / a big part of the reason. This is a whole other topic (MSC, CycleCyndicate, Bigfoot, etc...), and I'll have to search the Front Range Forum to see if it's been kicked around, but again - nice work and THANKS!

PS I posted a link in the MSC forums too.

glen
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
brianc said:
sounds like you've found the right ballence between life and racing. in the prcess you might have found you new secret weapon for real racing. Beer and Wine!

or maybe it's just the relaxed have fun attitude that is letting you find unexpected sucess. I'd hate to be one of your competitors when you're actually able to ride your bike before the race *and* show up with this new attitiude.

thanks for the story.
Hey Brian! Too funny..... real racing secrets according to Brian and Glen: More booze! Ha. The relaxed & fun attitude was the deciding factor, to be sure. And luck. And cute girls, of course. :D

Striking a balance that includes a little riding so as not to go totally stale ought to keep the events fun in the furture. Having done dozens of them in the past helps stay calm and prepared - so those crazy experiences helped contribute to life/biking in this unexpected way. Cool!

Anyhow - thanks for the feedback, and my pleasure - I miss generating these write-ups like you likely do your photography, if you get stuck not able to shoot for a while...

glen
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
SeanL said:
Ahh, the Glenzx race report...I've missed them. Congrats on the good results. Great write up, as usual.:)
Hey Sean! Thanks much - and I know, I have been the racer (write-up) slacker. Must race and post more! :) Ha.

glen
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
forkboy said:
Nice Glen. Very Nice. Good to see you out sporting the team kit. Good to read a write up too.

Nice work on the roof - I remember how excited I was the first time it rained after I finished mine.

Here's my race report:
Alien Run. 2 months later in the year than normal. 20 degrees hotter than normal, 5 minutes slower than last year. Sand, Scrub oak, dehydration, 600 miles on the legs in the last 2 weeks, and a dried out hamburger.

Fill in the blanks.

I have a long version, but I'm not posting it here. It's too depressing.

But our Jul 4th Kennebec Loop was fantastic.
When's Gita?
Thanks Mark!

All I can say re: Alien Run is owww.... rough day/week/weeks indeed. Oh, and ewww re: dried out hamburger (?). Huh.

Kennebec sounds good - any pix?

As for GITA - see Sportsman for this one :) . It is in the works, though I'll be a secondary helper since our due-date is very close to GITA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
SSweetleaf said:
That looked like a nice weekend.Another place i need to get to soon. That was a maple beer? I thought it was for pancakes. You are a hammer.
Thanks Tim! Too much awesome Rocky Mtn Terrian indeed. It's tough out here, eh? LOL at the hammer - as I feel like I know how to USE one, as opposed to being one anymore.... haha, lame, I know. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
jenamin said:
Hey Nutter-Butter!!! GOOD JOB on the race ... and the report. Thanks for MAKING me smile on the course. Legs were so wasted I couldn't even pedal hard enough to breathe hard. Or something like that. Thanks for making my whole weekend fun.
Jeny
Ah Jeny - great to see you out there throwin' down! I'd argue that YOU made the whole weekend fun, but then it could get embarassing. I'll stop there though, as this is a g-rated internet forum and all :D . (oh lordy, where the minds may go...)

Wish you could have joined us for Cynthia's pool lessons & drinks - it was nice to unwind sans bike-gear for a little while, and she was outnumbered by the (albeit nice) fellas. Not that it mattered as she commands a far larger presence with her coolness and ass-kickin'-ness to take it in stride. Plus we're all as threatening as a box of puppies! It was a lot of fun in a little time, and hope to see you and the other crazies at T-Ride and beyond.

glen
 

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glenzx said:
Thanks crazy girl! It was really, really fun. Boulder is cool and funky and it's own 'thang for sure (hmm, as is Tom!). Wish I was on the same ascension curve as you are this season - but absolutely no complaints here.

glen
LOL! "ascension curve"? pffth! you know what i've done recently? a whole lotta nuthin! :D haven't done a race in over a month and have only been riding for kicks. might not race for the rest of the season. haven't decided yet. no, i'd definitely call it more of a DEscension curve! hee hee hee hee

rt
 

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Linoleum Knife
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glenzx said:
and ewww re: dried out hamburger (?). Huh.
When you're as slow as me, sometimes that's all that is left.

glenzx said:
Kennebec sounds good - any pix?
Maybe - I lost my digicam, so I've been running on a disposable for the last couple weeks. (new Canon S3 in the mail) I've got 3 more to take before I can develop it... it feels so archaic.

For kicks, you can just take some of Anthony or Rich's pix and put me in them. Similar scenery - green and steep. I'd forgotten how great that trail is, but hadn't forgotten why I only ride it once a year. Ouch.
 
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