On Saturday at 6:30 in the morning, 74 riders will line up at the start in Salida for the Big Friggin' Loop. This race is part of the Colorado Endurance Series and is being put on by Tom Purvis (of the Vapor Trail 125 fame). Any time Tom puts on an event, it seems to draw some real impressive riders. There are now actually two options for riders to take. Option A is about 88 miles and just a bit over 11,000' of climbing. Option B is 106 miles with just a bit over 13,000' of climbing. I'm not sure which route I will be doing yet and I plan on making that decision when the fork in the trail comes. If I had to
guess, I'd say a mere mortal could expect to be out there anywhere from 15-18 hours depending on the option they take. This does have me a bit concerned because the person that broke into my car recently and took my lights has not returned them yet so this could make the decision quite easy as I'd rather not try to find my way back to Salida in the dark with no light but we'll see (no pun intended).
Personally, I am not looking to race this route but to see how things are going thus far with my training and to see if perhaps I really can consider doing something even longer on my rigid singlespeed. We will leave town after the riders meeting and follow the VT125 course up to Blanks Cabin and then hop on the Colorado Trail and take that to the Mount Princeton Hot Springs and then continue on the CT to Cottonwood Pass Road where we will then bomb down to Buena Vista for ice cream. After leaving BV, we will jump on the Midland Trail and then climb up a couple of different gulches to the fork. The 106 mile route will continue on up towards Trout Creek Pass and have riders hiking up into the ghost town of Futurity where they can do a little scavenger hunt to look for a time bonus coin. Eventually, both loops will hookup on the Ute Trail (part of the official Tour Divide route which starts tomorrow) and make the loooooong downhill back into Salida for the finish.
I feel strange two days before this. I am not nervous but very excited. This is a big test for me. It's a long day of singletrack with a lot of climbing. This day very closely resembles any day in the Colorado Trail Race and it flirts with the overall VT125 course. The one thing that I always need to work on getting better at is not following others when the level of exertion starts getting higher than I can go. I could always manage this in cross country racing because we're talking about races that max out at 2 hours. With Ultras, when others start to leave me, I always know that if I just stick to what I know I can do, I will eventually see many of them come back to me later in the day but it is so hard for me to be complacent with getting dropped. What I really need to get through my head is the difference between getting dropped and choosing to let someone go up the trail for the time being. My primary focus will simply be sticking to my diet and hydration needs that I nailed down last year and the biggest thing will be sticking to my game plan and not being a jackass. I will have my SPOT tracker with me. I am testing it tonight on a shorter ride and then will throw up the track share page here before I take off. I don't think there is an official track page for the race but if I here from Tom that there is I'll throw that up as well. Below are some links to the topo maps that have the route in red so you can at least toggle back and forth between my track page and these and get a decent idea of where I'm at.