• Race Report: 2012 Colorado Trail Race

    This year was my 3rd attempt at the Colorado Trail Race. The previous attempts plagued with body issues. Year 1, my feet from the wet weather. Year 2, illness likely caused from being over trained/prepared for CTR. For my 3rd attempt I changed it up a bit. I went in more fresh with less miles in the legs. Also, I changed my outlook on the race. While it is a "race" I simply just wanted to finish....and in 6 days or less. In reality, a good overall result would be nice, but not the driving force of why I attempt CTR. For me it is about completing a competitive goal and having a shared experience with other talented riders on this amazing route winding through Colorado.

    Here is how my 2012 CTR experience played out.....


    The race went off at 6 AM from Denver. It was a mellow roll out from the Junction Creek Trailhead up the dirt road to the opening singletrack of the Colorado Trail. We had a lead group of about 8 riders....just spinning and chatting. The mood was fun and light with all the usual CTR freaks: Jesse, Eathan, Jefe, Kevin Thomas, Carr, etc, etc. We spun along just feeling the flow of the opening miles. For me the pace was just right, ride all week kind or pace. It wasn't until about 3 hours in the group got smaller. It was just 4 of us: Ethan, Jesse, Kevin, and myself. Ethan was surging and then returning to the group. Jesse was stuck to my wheel...Kevin to his.  It wasn't until a bit later that Ethan and Kevin surged away riding a pace I was not going to ride.  I was riding solo with Jesse not far behind.  We arrive in Bailey and refueled at the gas station for the push to Leadville.  Jesse and I left Bailey and rode up Hwy 285 to Kenosha Pass.  Jesse surged and got away.  This would be the last I would see of him.  I rode Hwy 285 solo, then put on the rain gear for the first of many times.  Storms were all around...thunder....lightening...heavy rain.  I pushed on keeping an eye and ear to the sky, as I was climbing up to nearly 12,000 ft with no cover.  I came across Kevin Thomas sitting on the side of the trail.  He said he was in no hurry, lightening scared him the most.  While he sat, I pushed on.  Riding a 1x9 Kona HT, Kevin soon caught up.  We pushed on together...chatting....passing the miles while discussing the weather, gear, CTR 2011, etc.  Kevin and I crested the summit of Georgia Pass together.  Soon after we started the descent we came across some "Trail Magic".  It was a white cooler stocked with tons of candy bars and sodas.  I took 2 soda and a candy bar and pushed on to Breckenridge.  Kevin sat and ate/drank....said his stomach was bothering him a bit.  This was the last I saw of Kevin.  He ended up breaking his frame on the way to Breckenridge.  The ride from Georgia Pass to Breck was good for me....felt good!  At the Gold Hill Trailhead it was 6 PM, where I put on some clothing for the ride/push up and over the Ten Mile Range.  It was an amazing view above treeline with massive lightening shows going on in the distances all around. The push started well, then got worse.  After 2 hours of pushing my stomach shut down, likely from too much sugar earlier in the day.  I tried eating and drinking, but would throw it up.

    2012 Colorado Trail RaceTen Mile Range hike-a-bike, the early sections.

    The push over the mountain range took me 5 painful hours with lots of stopping.  3-4 riders would walk by me, asking if I was OK, including Jefe. I was in a dark place....the first of many we CTR racers experience while "racing" this route.  When I dropped off the backside to Copper Mountain it was 11:30 PM.  At the bottom waiting and watching the riders come through was Karen.  What a needed and awesome surprise!  She offered words of encouragements to me then went on her way.  I crossed the road to Copper Mountain and set up camp for the night.

    I was back on the bike at 4:30 AM.  I told myself I was going to sleep this year.  While I got some needed sleep, legs were still sluggish from the push over the Ten Mile Range and not eating for nearly 5-6 hrs.  It took 3 hours to get to Searle Pass.  After that it was onto Kokomo Pass. 

    2012 Colorado Trail Race
    Searle Pass between Copper Mountain and Leadville

    It was a good ride.  Sluggish, but good.  The terrain was littered with the marmots and pikas sunning themselves in the AM light.  Next it was the push onto Leadville.  Coming off Kokomo Pass I crashed twice not being able to focus.  The fun fast ripping descent was anything but that. The later miles of trail were slow going, but this was CTR.  The riding is anything but super fast.  I pedaled into Leadville, just blown.  I needed real food!  I stocked up on food for the Buena Vista push.  I also just sat and rested at the gas station while eating 1/2 a pizza and Gatorade.  It was much needed and I was now recharged!  I left Leadville with plan to get to BV by 6 PM.  When I got back to the CO Trail I was met by Karen again who said she wanted to pedal along with me from the Mt Elbert trailhead to Twin Lakes. 

    2012 Colorado Trail RaceBetween Leadville and Twin Lakes, with company from Karen

    It was nice to have company, especially after riding solo since 4:30 AM.  We parted ways at Twin Lakes after an amazing section of single track.  I crossed over the Twin Lake dam and the clouds began to build again.  It wasn't long and it began to pour rain and hail.  Rain gear went back on.  The trail was a river of water and hail.  The ground around the trail was white from the hail.  It was pretty amazing to see!  I soon began to see tire tracks in from of me.  I knew I was close to someone, but who?  I would follow these tracks until I hit Hwy 24 for the spin into BV.  Just outside BV I came upon Dan from Ft Collins.  He was killing it on a singlespeed!  We stopped for burgers at K's as well as stocked up on food at the City Market for the 2 day push to Silverton with no resupplies. 

    2012 Colorado Trail RaceMatt(L) and Dan(R) at K's getting burgers before rolling out for 200 miles of nothing but trail. We discussed calories to carry; 10,000? 15,000?  More?

    We also ran into Matt, also of Fort Collins. I knew what I needed for food and calories.  I got into town and got out.  I rolled out of BV up Cottonwood pass just at dusk.  By the time on the trail it was dark and I was pushing to get to the Chalk Creek trailhead for sleep.  The next hours were slow terrain...lots of pushing up super rocky trail.  I was solo, no sign of Dan raging on his SS.  I got to the trailhead and set up camp.

    I woke around 6:30 to a light sky.  I set no alarm, I let my body make the decision of when it was ready.  This section of trail from Chalk Creek to Hwy 50 I knew well from all the Vapor Trail 125 efforts.  Once again, lots of pushing at the start.  Once up to around 10,000 ft the trail rolls along some rocky chunky singletrack to Hwy 50.  I felt good this AM, better than Tuesday AM.  My body was getting into the mode of what CTR is.  The next big effort was gaining the Crest Trail by pushing up Fooses Creek.  This trail sucks to go up!  It is a 1.5 hour hike with the final 300 yards being some of the steepest terrain seen since we left Denver.  In my attempt to gain the ridge, Dan caught me.  We rode and pushed together.  It was nice to have company....chatting...sharing the misery, ha!  Dan beat me to the Crest Trail and soon pedaling along at 12,000 ft with storms rolling in.  Once I got up to the Crest Trail I put on the rain jacket as it was cool and light rain falling.  With lightening and thunder close, I pushed as hard as I could across the exposed Crest Trail to beat any incoming weather.  Dan and I got lucky!  Little rain and not struck by lightening.  The next few miles were a mix of rocky, rooty, and muddy trails.  Dan and I switched places off and on.  He wasn't feeling super, mentioned fever-like symptoms.  We would ride together for the remainder of the day.  Little would I know the coming miles would be the demise of my CTR yet again.  While descending a super rocky trail I burped my tire loosing some air, or so I thought.  Tire was soft by not too bad.  As we rode on it got softer and softer.  I stopped and filled it....then continued.  With conditions wet and muddy, my tire, which had a small hole in the sidewall would not seal.  I didn't want to put a tube in just yet.  So, I rode....then filled.  Rode....then filled.  This went on for hours.  Sometime it would hold.  Other times it wouldn't.  With skies clearing, we began the push up to Sargents Mesa.  It was here I got fed up with the Stan's not stopping the sidewall cut, and i decided to put a tube in.  When I stopped to change the tire Dan pushed on and said he'd see me in a bit, which I thought I would for sure.  With the tube installed I continued to ride the rocky trail.  After 20 minutes or so of riding, pssssssssss.  F!  The rear tire now had a pinch flat.  Seriously!?!?!?!  I brought 2 spare tubes in my kit.  With one tube left, this is all I had to get to Silverton.  In an attempt to change the flat, the worse thing happened.  It wouldn't hold air.  The new tube had a hole in it.  F me!  With no patch kit, an oversight on my part, I was screwed!  I was in the boonies of CO.....likely 40 miles from any town.....80 miles from any bike shop.  I filled the tire with grass and tried riding, but the tire rolled off the rim.  It was right at the entrance to Sargents Mesa I decided to bag the CTR.....again....with no more option to fix the flat.  I looked at my GPS and devised a route to Saguache, CO.  It was a 40 mile downhill ride that took me over 5 hrs to complete while pedaling on the rim.  It was around midnight that I contact Sonya and Karen to get me the next AM.  That night I slept in the city park, my last night out on CTR.

    Woke up around 7 AM and had a good warm breakfast of eggs, coffee, bacon, french toast, etc.  At 10:30 AM I was picked up and on my way home.  The goal of riding/racing/competing in CTR has eluded me once again.  This is how my 2012 experience played out.  Lots of highs and lows.  Hoping it would finish on a high with the task of just finishing.  But not this year.


    Congrats to all who attempted and finished! Tip of the helmet to Ethan, Jesse, and Jefe for the blazing fast times and new course record.  You guys are freaks among freaks!  Once again, as in the years past, I learned even more.  The more I work to complete this route, the more simplified and refined I become.  As with everything in life and racing/riding, I keep learning and learn from these mistakes and errors. At some point down the road it will all come together.  The drive is still there.