Monday, August 18, 2008

New CTR record

Congrats to Owen Murphy who just returned from an individual time trial along the CT. I checked it several times to make sure I was reading it correctly but it looks like he cruised through in about 4 days and 9 hours or so. I'm completely speechless.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Smokin' fast

The CTR is basically considered an individual time trial. Because of this...anyone could go out and do the route at any time. Every one assumes that each rider is being ethical and following all the correct routes and not getting support yadda yadda yadda.

Owen Murphy is riding the route right now. He is actually using someone's SPOT device. In short...he is smashing it. SPOT says he started at 5:26 a.m. on Monday morning and is currently heading towards Silverton as I type. That's 3 and a half days in. He's definitely on a mission.

You can check his progress here:

Leaderboard map

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Well I'm on meds now and hopefully it'll straighten things out. This sucks. I had this about 10 years ago and it sucked then too.

Stomach bug

It now appears that I picked up some bacterial/parasitic souvenirs along the Colorado Trail. Yesterday, of all days, the symptoms kicked in. Heather and I drove to Ft. Collins to check it out as we're considering another move and have heard excellent things about the town. I can report that the public bathroom in City Park is a lovely facility, as is the one in old downtown. The pits at Horsetooth Reservoir are...well...the pits.

We made it back to Woodland Park where I could have home field advantage. I had a horrible headache, fever, chills, stomach aches, and the dreaded diarrhea. I know some people drink right out of streams and rivers and I've heard that 25% of the population can do so with no issues. I'm the majority. I've had these issues before (although never this bad) after backpacking trips where I drank from rivers. I treated all my water but even if you think you're being careful, it only takes one mistake and there are no garauntees. I do remember filling up at Four Mile Creek and dropping my Camelback bite valve into the stream and had to chase it down. I did treat it separately but...who knows. This could also be a touch of the flu but I just don't think so.

Waiting for my doctor to get in.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I stole this picture from Marshal's site. He's another Woodland Park local that was in this years CTR. He was having a great ride until he had some trouble about 40 miles from the finish that resulted in about a 30 foot fall off a cliff. You can read about his fall, his call for help, and trying to stay calm and warm while SAR came for him. Glad you're ok Marshal. The CT isn't going anywhere. Heal up quick and proper.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cyclists killed

I just talked with Jayson before leaving for the CTR. We planned on doing some tough road riding together so I could get back in shape for Gateway Cup. What a tragedy.

Rest in peace EJ and Jayson. You will be missed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CTR pictures and write up

Well I spent the first part of the day cleaning my road bike up. I am going to shift gears (literally) and spend a good chunk of time on that thing now. Because Ghisallo Sports is based in St. Louis, they really don't see much benefit in helping me out as much as they did. So...I'm going to try and use what fitness I have to go back and race the Gateway Cup for them. For those that don't know, the Gateway Cup is probably the biggest road event in the midwest (next to Superweek). Friday night is the twilight crit in Lafayette Square. Saturday is Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. Sunday is the Giro della Montagna and Sunday is in U City. I was never a fabulous crit rider but I do believe I probably have more base mileage in that most will in my category. If I stay hidden in the field I might be able to wind up ok in the end.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on a new site that kind of documents the CTR. Check it out and let me know what you think. 

Write up

We recently got a new Macbook and the thing is amazing. I am currently working on a new website that is going to document the ride with all the photos I captured. It's taking a bit for me to learn the in's and out's of the new computer but the site is going to be really nice I think. I'll post the link here as soon as I'm done.

I forgot to tell anyone this and I should probably keep it to myself but...what the hell.

When I was in the middle of the Taryall detour, I realized I forgot something on my workbench at home. At this point I was already 50-60 miles or so into the race and had another 50-60 to go until I hit Frisco. I forgot my tire pump!! I made it all the way there without any flats. I picked up a new one at a shop but, amazingly, I didn't have one flat during the entire 346 miles that we covered!!


I was so happy that TK built my wheels because I knew I wouldn't have issues with them standing up to the abuse of the CT. He used Salsa rims, double butted spokes, alloy nipples, and WTB Laserdisc Lite hubs. The hubs are the same as American Classics and they're light and use a huge hub flange that helps make the wheel stiff. Plus they're black and that's always good. He even went as far as to use a wider rim on the back although I don't know my skinny ass needed it. After 346 miles of harsh trail, the wheels are true like an arrow. Now normally I'm a Shimano guy through and through particularly with hubs. Every other hub I've tried (Hugi and Hadley) have given me problems in the freehub area. I've been away from bikes for so long though that I didn't even blink when I was presented with such a beautiful bike from Ghisallo. TK's not an idiot and I trust him completely.

Things happen though and, obvioiusly, I had some issues in the rear hub department. Since I got back home I've been questioning whether or not the hub could have gotten me to Durango. Maybe it would have but maybe it would have left me with a long hike towards any kind of civilization. The bike sat on the roof rack for 2 days but yesterday I decided to take the hub apart and look at it. I removed the axle, freehub body and pawls. I cleaned everything (although it really didn't look bad after just 6 months of use) and lightly re-lubed it. There was no change when I put it all back together.

I contacted WTB yesterday and spoke with one of their techs named Chris. After listening to me, he wanted to hear the hub through the phone. He was pretty speechless afterwards but super great about helping. He sent out a new set of bearings and a freehub just to make sure we covered everything. I felt so much better after talking to him about the decision I had made. I should have the re-build kit on Firday and hopefully it will fix things. I actually really want to get back on my bike.

On a differnt note...I hooked up with Eddie near Frisco and we pretty much rode the rest of the trail together. I've kept tabs on him since saying goodbye on the Continental Divide. Yesterday he was marked as a DNF as he crashed out about 15 miles from the end. I'm so sorry Turk.

Another rider and Woodland Park local, Marshal Bird, was really putting in a good ride but he also suffered some ill fate a few days ago. It appears he fell off a 30' cliff and it resulted in an 8" laceration on his shin that exposed the bone. He was equipped with a SPOT and Search and Rescue successfully extracted him and delivered him to the ER in nearby Cortez where he was treated and is now recovering. I'm so glad you're ok Marshal. I know how crushed I was and I can't even fathom what's going through your head. Hang in there man.

Monday, August 4, 2008


My wife says the write up sounds like I didn't enjoy the ride. Quite the contrary. This was the coolest thing I've done. I saw some amazing things (you can see for yourself later). I had the opportunity to meet some incredibly inspiring people. I made new friends. Ethan Passant is the new record holder and he is simply amazing. I ran into one guy while I was climbing up Marshal Pass and he said he had seen Ethan doing the same hike 2 nights earlier at 10:30 at night!! What a freak.

Jason Shellman is a Salida boy. What a complete bad ass. He finished second on a gorgeous Mclung singlespeed. I'm still scratching my head. He lined up in a shorts, a button up shirt, platform pedals and a damn messenger bag. Ultra minimalist and he just rocked it from the start.

Chris Plesko is another Colorado guy that also has me tilting my head like my dog does when I whistle. Third place on a single speed and he looked fresh. Killer ride Pivvay!!

Tim is a guy from Boulder that I yo yo-ed with the first 2 days. I first rode up on him on the nasty downhill at the end of segment 1 (I counted 23 switchbacks). He was riding slow and he apologized as I breathed down his neck. I wasn't in any hurry to get around him. I noticed he was on a singlespeed but I watch him downhill. His styl ewas really funky. Then it dawned on me. He was on a fixed gear!! Completely unreal. Later I would tell him that of all the racers I had seen, he had impressed me the most. He's a class act. He made a big mistake on a detour and had the ethics to go back and make it right even though it meant climbing up the mountain into a headwind on that fixie. What a neat guy.

I hooked up with Chucky and Eddie for lulnch in Frisco. I rode with them for quite a while and we laughed a lot. Chucky would abandon in BV and we all drank a beer together to see him off. I was bummed to see him go as he was super fun. Eddie and I stayed together until I made the decision to turn around. As far as I know...he's still heading south. He asked if I thought he should continue and I told him if he didn't that I would beat his ass right there on the Divide.

I leap-frogged Curtis and Matt Fusco and some of the other Carolina crew for days. Each time we would laugh and ridicule each other.

Kyle and I hung together for a several hours the first night and the next day I didn't like his tone when he told me to go on while he stopped to make some adjustments. He dropped several hours later.

Allison is a woman that can really ride. I spoke with her and her beau Jason (who finished the race either third or fourth last year but didn't race this year) at the pre-race meeting. Both were super nice people tha I'll look up the next time I'm over in the Butter.

Marshal Bird was carrying all of his gear but was nice enough to carry some of mine as well. I stopped on Elk Ridge to take in the views and when I got down, I realized I had left my gloves on the ground. I looked back up and decided I could do with out gloves. Several hours later in Leadville, here comes Marshal in the door smiling and asking who's gloves they were. I wanted to hug him. Thanks dude.

It was an absolute pleasure and honor to hang with these folks. Thank you all for the memories. My mind is racing with all the events that have happened and the things I've seen the last week. My hands are swollen and I haven't been able to feel my pinky and ring finger on my leeft hadn for 4 days. My feet/ankles are swollen like a cartoon character. My smile is big when I close my eyes and see the trail and views.

What a ride

23 racers had the stones to line up for this ridiculous ride. I was a nervous wreck during the hours leading up to the race. It was extremely hot when we left Waterton Canyon at 12:04 on Monday. Later that night I would find out that someones computer (mounted on their bars) registered 108 degrees in the canyon. The pace started out really high. My max heart rate is right at 183 beats per minute and I didn't see below 179ish for the entire first hour. I even got off and sat down to try and make it come down but the adrenaline was silly. On the long downhill, it was slightly better but I still hovered in the high 160's.

It took me 2 hours longer than normal to make it to Wellington Lake (end of the 3rd segment). I ate a hot meal there and crawled in my bag for a 30 minute nap. I felt pretty good when I woke up and rode until 11:30 that night and camped. I got up at 4:30 in the morning and started again. The Taryall detour is stupid long and hot. I made it through and rode all day with no real breaks and camped at 10,2XXish just up from Kenosha Pass on the way to Georgia Pass. It was chilly that night. I got another early start and made it up to Georgia Pass (incredibly beautiful) and down to Breck. Once in Frisco I ate multiple meals in a nice brewery where the girl was nice enough to deal with my stench.

After a killer nap and a surreal conversation with an older gentlemen in the park, I moved on to Copper Mountain. The trail climbs hard there as it approaches Elk Ridge. I camped at about 10,500 that night and froze my ass off. I woke up with everything covered in thick frost. It's not so pleasant putting on wet/frozen cycling shorts at 4:30 in the morning. I cried out. When you make it to Elk Ridge and think you've got it made, the CTR kicks you in the teeth with Kokomo Pass. During the first 2 days, I hurt in places I didn't even know could hurt. It was painful to sit in a booth at a restaurant. After Kokomo I got to see the 10th Mountain Division huts. I had been wanting to see these for a year. It was incredible to stand there and think about all the soldiers that had trained there during WWII (let alone all the people that had visited and stood in the same spot as me through the years). This was easily one of the coolest parts of the ride for me.

Next up was Tennessee Pass and more climbing. Getting into Leadville really sucked and was one of the most painful days for me. Headwind...climbing...and the lights were completely out. I don't know how I got into town. Once in town I think I ate 3 burgers and three orders of hash browns. Each burger had bacon, chez, and I even had the cook throw an egg on for good measure. It was strange to ride through town and see things like ice cream and just know that it was an abolute emergency to stop and get it. Coffee was a huge priority. I had some minor concerns with my bike and let Brian and Chris at Cycles of Life look it over. They did a lot of work and only wanted a handshake for the effort. In Leadville, I even bought a giant Fosters beer and drank it as I rode the back roads towards Buena Vista and picked out my camping spot.

The beer must have done me good b/c the next day, I did 75 miles of mostly singletrack and just killed it. I made it into Buena right about lunch time and put a serious beat down on a large pizza while random people looked on and wondered who the dirty guy making all the eating noises was. BV is the last civilization until Lake City so after stocking up on enough food to last me 3 days, it was day one all over again. Super heavy load. From there riders climbed 10 miles up Cottonwood Pass to hit the trail again. I climbed at a snails pace up that and hurt like never before. I talked with people in town about how fun the singletrack had been coming into BV and they said I'd love the next section. THEY WERE WRONG AND I CURSED THEM FOR HOURS!!!! It was like Groundhog Day. The same stupid 1/4 mile of lame trail kept repeating over and over for 4 hours.

At maybe 7, I made it through that trail and hit pavement. I came to a T and studied the map for at least 20 minutes. Right or left? It's not a difficult decision when things are perfect. I made a left and before I knew it I could see the prison in BV. Wrong way. Once I realized this I yelled creative things that even I've never heard before as I turned around to ride back up hill and into a wicked headwind. I walked and think I even cried. Hours later, I finally made it to the intersection and proceeded on. It was dark, I was on a small highway and I was cooked. I made it to the Princeton Hot Springs. As luck would have it there were no rooms at all. The lady felt terrible for me and gave me a Coke and offered to give me a free soak in the hot springs. I so wanted to soak but I knew I'd pay for it in the morning if I had to put on wet bib shorts at 40 degrees. I rode up the mountain to find the trail again and was so exhausted, I just slept on the ground. It was a warm night and the sticks and pine cones felt wonderful. The cactus did hurt though.

The next morning I rode back down to the Hot Springs because there was a store there and I figured I'd gorge myself while I could. I ate 2 horrible faux egg mcmuffin sandwiches, a burrito, a huge ice cream sandwich, 2 bananas, an apple, and some donuts and downed countless bottles of fluids. The woman behind the counter was a real bitch and told me she didn't care for cyclists. I was really cranky and apparently had no control over my mouth. I told her I didn't give a shit what she liked and asked her to ring me out. She did. Then I asked if I could use her hose out back to clean up a bit and get more water. She said sure. It was a weird exchange for sure.

The trail climbs up and then eventually drops down to highway 50. This section was pretty cool but it was where I would encounter the first lightning storms of the trip. A small, isolated storm formed right over me and, try as I might, I just couldn't get away from it. The cold rain felt good and I handled the occassional lightning like half a man. I hit 50 feeling real good. I ate some Mac and Cheez and then started up the trail as it followed Fooses Creek. Here the trail climbs from 89XX up to 11,9XX in 8 miles as it approaches the Continental Divide. This was my favorite section of trail although it was probably the most difficult. The ecosystem was totally different. I had seen pine forests, aspen groves, desert-like sage brush conditions, but now I was in this very lush and green surrounding filled with tons and tons of incredible wild flowers. The bridges that crossed the ceek were all rustic. This night I camped at 11,2XX. For dinner I ate a raw potato. It seemed like a good idea that would get me through to Lake City. It wasn't too bad. If I would have had foil, I suppose I could have built a fire and had baked potato. Lesson learned.

Up early again and climbing this unreal hike a bike section to the top of the divide. Once I got up there, I watched the sun come up and it was here that I noticed my shoes as I changed socks. I had bought some super comfy Specialized shoes just for this race. Before the race, I had put on brand new toe spikes. They were gone. Completely worn down to nothing. Then I noticed the carbon soles. Due to all the hike a bike sections, I had actually worn through the carbon soles and could put my finger through to the inside of the shoe. I figured it was only a matter of time until the the soles became too weak to hold the cleat and I'd be stuck with no clipless pedals at all and doing the Fred Flinstone thing.

I started to ride down the other side of the Divide and noticed my rear brake was dragging a lot. I stopped and started to adjust it. I was happy with it and gave it one last spin to make sure and then I heard the rear hub grinding. I had mentioned to Brian in Leadville that I thought my freehub was acting up but he really thought the new chain I had installed before leaving home just needed to be stretched out a bit. The popping from the hub got worse. I then remembered that hy WTB hubs develop a bit of play in the bearings unless you really put the nuts to them and tighten them hard. Then I remembered that Brian had removed my rear wheel to check the dish and wondered if maybe he hadn't tightened as much as I do. The skewer was very loose and then I questioned whether or not the bearings had been loose since Leadville and maybe I wallowed them out a bit. When I tightened up the skewer and spun the wheel it was way worse and I knew it was trouble.

Sometimes I would talk to and cuss at the trail along the way. I told the trail that I still wasn't quitting. I figured that none of the people that donated to the LAF ever said no, nor did my wife when I had to put in the 8 hour days. Ghisallo Sports never knew that word existed anytime I asked for something. I don't know that I've ever quit any bike race or anything I've started. There are times when I sucked but I would always ride through it. I might have come in last but I am not a quitter. So I told the dirt in front of me that it was gonna have to do better than that. I started riding again. Now the front brake (which had been giving me some headaches for several months) started rearing it's ugly head. I worked on it for 30 minutes and just couldn't get it to stop dragging. I un-bolted the entire front caliper and taped it to the fork leg and flipped the trail the bird and carefully navigated the scree-filled downhill. The noise from the hub got worse and worse. At this time I started to get emotional and asked if this was the end of my ride. I screamed, cried out to the sky (like an Oscar winning performance) "NO!!!!!!!!......WHY!!!!!!!" It was quite dramatic. I even went as far as to throw my bike.

Then I ate and wiped my eyes and assessed my options. As I saw it...I could quit, try and make it as is, or head to the nearest town and hope to fix it and get back on. I was worried whether I had enough food to last me to Lake City while riding and I knew I didn't have enough to make it there hiking. A mechanical like the rear hub could really put me in a dangerous situation. So I decided to back track. I sent out a help signal to my wife and started on my way. I couldn't ride the downhill without a front brake. I removed the pads and pressed on the piston as hard as I could and finally got it to budge just a bit. Then I was able to force the caliper back on. It rubbed horribly but I figured it was downhill and didn't care.

When I finally made it back to 50, the front brake worked great but I didn't have anymore pads left. A truck happened to pull up just then and it had 3 downhill rigs in the back. I asked if I could use a cell phone but there was no service. It was amazing to me how many people during the last week would see me in towns and say, "Are you in that race?" After I explained the situation to these guys, they offered to give me a ride to Salida which was 15 miles away. I laughed and said I probably had tons of time before my wife would be there. At that point, I decided to find a bar in Salida and eat and drink til I was merry. The guy offered me a beer and I accepted. I sipped on the best Coors I've ever had as I pedaled towards Salida.

After I finished the beer, I actually felt great and made the decision to at least go to a shop and have them look at the hub. Then I realized it was Sunday and knew nothing would be open. Absolute Bikes is in Salida and they rock but they were closed. I found a shop that I didn't even know existed called Otero. They were open and I walked in mumbling. I knew I was outta luck when I saw they had about 10 Felt singlespeed bikes and gobs of frisbees of all things. They were definitely your Felt SS and disc golf headquarters. The guy was nice enough to let me use the shop area and when I pulled the wheel off, I could feel the carnage in the rear hub bearings as I spun the axle in my fingers. I considered greasing it but I figured it was pretty likely that it might sieze up on me in the middle of Sargents Mesa and that would be bad. The next several sections hovered at 10,500-11,000 and to be caught in those sections with little food and dodging afternoon storms while walking with a loaded bike seemed sketchy.

My wife pulled in then. She hugged me and kissed me without throwing up. Just then a guy rode up on a cruiser and asked if I was in the race. I said I had been until 5 minutes ago. He said, "I've seen that look before. I knew you were loaded up for a big ride but what gave it away was the empty Coors can sitting next to you."

So that's about it. My bike rocked...except for the hub of course. I learned a ton. I want to thank everyone that supported me for this event. I think I have everyone listed on this site. If I've forgotten anyone...forgive me. I want to apologize for not being able to make it to Durango. I have no doubt that I would have made it if the mechanical hadn't popped up. The trail is the toughest I've ridden...hands down. Just when you think it's as bad as it can get, the CT throws it at you twice as hard with climbing, heat, storms, hike a bike, whatever. I have walked away from this much more intelligent than before. I WILL do this again next year. I don't think I'll raise money for the LAF b/c it would be selfish to ask for you all to become involved again. However, your support will easily carry over from this year.

I did get some really great photos from the trip and I'll be putting together something so I can share those with you all. I'll probably play around with my new Macbook and see about putting another site together. I even have some videos to share. I'll work on that in the coming days. Thanks again and be safe.