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This place needs an enema
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
It's still 8 months away, but in the interest of getting more people informed and prepared, here's the 411.

This is, mile for mile, the most challenging time trial I've ever done. It took me three tries to finish it. The first time I had mechanical failures that forced me to quit. The second time I overestimated my ability to deal with brutal conditions, and ended up a shivering lump beside the trail. Shortly after, I bailed and hitchhiked home. The third time I finished. Barely.

In today's ultra-racing environment, where a 'hard race' requires you to complete multiple loops of the same flagged and sanitized course, The Grand Loop stands out as another animal entirely. One 360-mile loop. One chance to resupply on-course. Lots of climbing. Lots of trail. Very, very few people. No one knows where you are for the duration of the race. No cell phone service. No sag wagons. You're on your own.

If, after reading this far, you're wondering if this event is for you, it is most definitely NOT.

There aren't many people who've completed this event, mostly because it's very difficult to plan for in a self-supported mode. Until some mega-bucks promoter comes along and tries to put in aid stations, that's unlikely to change. The route is @ 360 miles, with 1 tiny store (Bedrock) on the route, and 1 small community (Nucla) a few miles off-route. In 2001 Gary Dye set the course record at 3 days, 3 hours, and 3 minutes. In 2003 I bettered that record by a scant 26 minutes. Gary has promised to return to reclaim the record this year.

The GL starts from the Tabeguache Trailhead (on the Monument Road just west of GJ), Friday, June 2nd, at 6pm. We do an untimed (all together, spinning easily) 20-mile prologue on pavement out to the Mary's Trailhead at Loma, where we regroup briefly before taking off on the 'official' start, heading west towards Moab. We then ride west on the Kokopelli Trail towards Moab.

About 120 miles from the start, we intersect the Paradox Trail, high up in the La Sals, and turn southeast onto it. We ride that trail through the LaSals, down into the Paradox Valley, and then up onto the Uncompahgre Plateau, topping out at 10,000'.

There we intersect the Tabeguache Trail, which we ride back N to GJ. Total distance on trail is 340 miles, plus the 20 miles of pavement at the start.

A wild guess at the breakdown would be:
30 miles paved (including the 20 mile prologue at the start)
50 miles singletrack
100 miles dirt/gravel road
100 miles doubletrack
80 miles "other": slickrock, sand, chip seal (maybe, maybe not), bushwhacking, or some weird combo of all the above.

The evening start happens for two reasons:
1) We'll get the "hot stinkin' desert" stretch done with before sunrise on Saturday.
2) We'll be more likely to make it to the Bedrock Store (@165 miles into the race, and the only resupply on the route) before they close for the night at 6pm.

'02 was about the worst year one could ask for, as far as the conditions. Check it out here: http://www.zipp.com/athletes/adventures/greatexpectations.shtml

The year before (when Gary set the record) is chronicled here: http://mtbike.mountainzone.com/2001/story/html/grandloop_index.html

I carry BLM and USFS maps for this race. All can be purchased locally. Anyone that's coming into town to race, I'll be happy to have copies (of the exact maps I carry) here waiting for you.

Some helpful links:

http://www.co.blm.gov/
http://www.ut.blm.gov
http://www.desertusa.com/placestogo/du_utah.html
http://www.moab-utah.com/
http://www.trails.com/explore/tcatalog_trail.asp?TrailID=MGS045-038
http://www.recreation.gov/detail.cfm?ID=(1254)
http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=81503
http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=moab,+ut

I dug these out last year--some may be outdated.

A few pics of the route below.

Hope that helps. Don't hesitate if you have questions.

MC
 

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Scouting

Hey MC-

All this talk about the Grand Loop has me salivating, even though i know it's a granddaddy of a ride....so was wondering about scouting....how long into the fall/how early in the spring is it usually accessible? I have the preprinted maps from Copmoba, and will acquire the appropriate detailed maps, but.....

OR....are those sections on the Plateau etc. accessible with skis...ie: established snowmobile trails?

We'll see what ends up happening, but thought it might be wise to give it a look-see.....

EVM

PS. ya, waxin' the nordic skis....busy mind is multi-tasking!
 

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This place needs an enema
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Discussion Starter #4
EVM said:
Hey MC-

All this talk about the Grand Loop has me salivating, even though i know it's a granddaddy of a ride....so was wondering about scouting....how long into the fall/how early in the spring is it usually accessible? I have the preprinted maps from Copmoba, and will acquire the appropriate detailed maps, but.....

OR....are those sections on the Plateau etc. accessible with skis...ie: established snowmobile trails?

We'll see what ends up happening, but thought it might be wise to give it a look-see.....

EVM

PS. ya, waxin' the nordic skis....busy mind is multi-tasking!
EVM-

With the recent cool temps and precip, I'm guessing that the higher stuff is effectively closed out for the winter. Unless we get a month of warm, dry weather over the next four weeks. It could happen--it has before. I don't think the high stuff on the Plateau sees much snowmobile traffic--there's a lot of one-track on the route that I don't think they get to, and I'm not truly sure about ski scouting. Possible, sure. Just not sure how to help you begin it.

Having said that, you could still scout half of the course: both ends of each of the three trails are low enough and dry enough to be rideable. That's worth a lot, and will save you much time next spring.

Keep us posted.

MC
 

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Words nearly fail...

Read all the GL info & links.

Any sane person would just have to say that you GL riders are vastly ill. 'twixt the ears, that is.

Not like I don't understand (sort of), when folk question my state of mind, based on some of the things that my passion for riding leads me into, I just reply "What's your point?"

29erchico
 

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This place needs an enema
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Discussion Starter #9
dRjOn said:
who is the geezer in the photo
http://greatdividerace.com/_wsn/page4.html
not you?
good photo--is there a bigger one?
That "geezer" is John Weirath. The photo was taken on KTR race-day 2005--also his 30th birthday.

He had a very bad day in the race last year--ended up pulling the plug before halfway. Smart decision on his part--live to race another day.

There is a bigger version of that photo, but it's not mine to do with as I please. Sorry.

Weirath is also a cycling coach, with mucho experience in ultra-distance races of all sorts. His site is: www.thresholdsport.com

MC
 

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Mc-

Loved The Website.....especially The Links And Photos....talk About Some Serious Dedication!!!! I Can't Wait To Get On The Trail!

Hey, Question For Ya-

Gps....do You Think It Would Be Worth It For The Loop, Or Is The Traditional Navagational Methods Be Preferable....(i Don't Know How To Use One Yet, But If It Would Be Super Valuable, I Will Learn.)

Also, I Was Talking To A Guy About The Paradox, And He Said Copmoba Changed The Route So You Would End Up Bypassing Bedrock.....have You Heard That Too?

Evm
 

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my palms get sweaty just reading about it and looking at it. Yet, it's on my list to do. Of course it'll be almost 2 1/2 years until I try. Next year KTR, then Grand Loop, then if I get the balls, the GDR. I fully admire anyone who even attempts this race. Believe it or not, it's aspiring (sp?)....
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Pedals said:
What size of field would you expect in a race like this?
thks J.
I expect fewer than 10 racers. Consider that the GDR (~2465 miles) has only had 7 the last two years.

But that's just a guess--this style of racing is experiencing explosive growth right now.

I'll let you know for sure around 6/10/06...

MC
 

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This place needs an enema
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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
EVM said:
Mc-

Loved The Website.....especially The Links And Photos....talk About Some Serious Dedication!!!! I Can't Wait To Get On The Trail!

Hey, Question For Ya-

Gps....do You Think It Would Be Worth It For The Loop, Or Is The Traditional Navagational Methods Be Preferable....(i Don't Know How To Use One Yet, But If It Would Be Super Valuable, I Will Learn.)

Also, I Was Talking To A Guy About The Paradox, And He Said Copmoba Changed The Route So You Would End Up Bypassing Bedrock.....have You Heard That Too?

Evm
Erika-

No idea on the GPS, as I've just now gotten one and don't know enough about it to comment.

I heard that COPMOBA had designed a reroute, but I did not hear that it had been done (or even marked) yet. I'll find out ASAP. You could do the GL without hitting Bedrock (or Nucla), but it'd certainly be more difficult to carry all that food.

MC
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Inspiring indeed

sherpaxc said:
my palms get sweaty just reading about it and looking at it. I fully admire anyone who even attempts this race. Believe it or not, it's aspiring (sp?)....
Sounds like you're an ideal candidate...
 

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Well, Walts building me a bike with these endurance rides in mind, so I'm ready to try it (when I'm ready). Here's the kicker, my wife thinks A) I'm crazy and B) It's cool! How's that for motiviation....
 

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I'm how far behind?
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Time for the first public resolution declaration

I'm in for this one. Mike I told you I was interested, and now that I live a couple hours away, I'm in. Should be a fun few days on the trail.

Has anyone done this one on a singlespeed? My guess is that finding the right gear would be the challenge.

Jim

EVM- shoot me an email if you want to do some pre riding. I'm living summit county now.
 

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couple gear questions

Howdy

What types of lighting systems are recommended or necessary for a ride like this?

What kind of bivy/sleeping bag setup would keep someone comfortable on the overnights? I am reading about temps ranging from upper 90's to lower 50's.. ?

Thanks
 

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That is one hell of a race. For the folks actually entering that race, you've got some major brass. You have my respect. Gimme a couple years, and I'll think about it.:D
 
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