Before CTR this year I found myself overcommitted, sick, and lacking on sleep. Generally not a good state to go to multi-day sleep deprieving mountain bike race, but I wanted it. While CTR is a self -supported race, it's friends and family that make it happen in the end. Eszter was incredibly supportive providing me with advice, gear, driving me to the Front Range, and simply moral support. Anna and Mihalyi allowed me to prep in there house in Boulder and fed me over the weekend. Jeny and Ed fed me in their beautiful house in Evergreen the night before the race and race day, Jeny drove me to the trailhead at 4 in the morning. Kep provided me with 'Balls' , Daniela gave me the flexibility from my day job, Riepe ordered some last minute parts for me, my parents sent me text of encouragement, Walt gave me some last minute parts, and Zach Guy gave me encouragement when I doubted my fitness this summer telling me, "Remember all of those massive ski tours we did? You are primed!" There are many more to thank, and it was really awesome to have people looking out for me.
Day 1: Waterton Canyon to Breckenridge
I went through a lot of self doubt, but rallied to the start line with my bike loaded and ready to go in South Denver.
I felt cruddy, slow compared to last year, but just kept it rolling. My shock blew out in Bailey and I called to Leadville to see if the local shop had any cheap rigid forks. I have to say, they were not helpful at all. The only option they gave me was a $700 fork and they would not let me use their tools to install it myself. I have heard good things about this shop, but they gave me attitude. I rode a flat fork until Kenosha where the first storm hit. Some random rider had a shock pump and I was able to air up. I high-fived him and told him he saved my life.
Topping out Georgia as the storm clears. Feeling the high finally.
I got a bit wishy-washy. I called Eszter thinking I was going to Frisco for a cheeseburger and a room. She told me in a a nice Eszter way to "Harden the Fuck Up". I would have gotten a room if it was not for my dirtbag principles of spending money where it is not needed. I realized I needed to sleep, and give her a go the next day.
Day 2 Breckenridge to Buena Vista
After a nice bivy with some spattering rain, I punched through the clouds over the ten-mile.
From here on out, the moisture messed up the photo function of my camera and I could only take video. All the rest of the images are lower-quality, video snapshots.
Felt good for once punching over Serle Pass and onto Leadville. In leadville I picked up a postal drop, got some food, and grabbed a shock pump from the grumpy counter-culture bike shop.
Then is was one of my favorite sections of CT... Twin Lakes. Drop the demons on the ripping descent, yea!
I was feeling tired and sick, so I decided I would pedal to the Avalanche Trail Head on Cottonwood Canyon and get some much needed sleep.
Day 3: Buena Vista to Cochetopa Hills
I awoke motivated but took me nearly and hour to get going.
Sunrise on the Collegiete Peaks.
I kept a good pace to South Fooses, and pushed up and over the Monarch Crest. I bought an Ipod nano when I was on the Front Range, which is another thing that saved me. I decided to play tunes, and push through the night on Sargents. For some reason, this section that everyone hates... I found my stride. Spooky high meadows with a full moon, and chundery downhills in the dark haunted woods.
The full moon had given me energy, and for some reason I felt like I was getting stronger.
After an awesome descent to Camp Apple, it was 4am. This is where I made my mistake . I chose to sleep next to the "Trail Magic" tent. Not only did I wake up shivering because of the cold, open valley, but ITTers, thru hikers, bikers where all moving about getting ready for their day and talking. I dare say I did not sleep much at all.
Day 4: La Garita Detour to Coney Summit.
I had to get up, I was shivering uncontrollably. Apple provides a stove, and snacks for thru hikers/bikers. It's pretty awesome. I heated my Starbucks Via instant coffee, and a freeze dried meal that I had packed along. Hot coffee and hot food lifted my spirits after a bad night sleep. Zach Guy showed up to encourage the racers, it was really good to see him. He said that I was on a sub-5 day pace. This motivated me for it was my original goal. Maybe I could still do it!
It was a very chilly morning. I blew a turn here taking in the scenery and had to back track.
There is some nice singletrack, and then a 60 mile dirt road section. I really struggled here. The storm clouds were building and I was uncertain about the high section. I arrived at Spring Creek Pass after a scary lighting show, and the black clouds were building again. I was moving slow tired, exhausted. I bumped into some bike-packers from Salt Lake, and Matt who was racing . The sky unleashed and dumped several inches of hail. Matt and I took shelter in the outhouse. I waited for about an hour or two before I decided I was heading for the sky after Matt and Dan left.
I felt terrible. I was moving slow. The skies were clearing though, and this took the stress of storms away. At 11pm I was weaving on my bike. I had to sleep NOW. I laid out my bivy at 12000 feet. I knew I would not be able to sleep long before I got cold.
Day 5: Coney Summit to Indian Ridge
I awoke a little after 12 am, ready to roll. The moon was out, and the fire was lit again. I topped out Coney Summit and moved on through Carson Saddle. It was amazing out with the full moon. To keep warm at 13000 feet, I stuffed my sleeping bag in my jacket to insulate my core. It worked great.
Sunrise. This section still blows my mind.
I got to Silverton after passing Matt and Dan while they were still in there bivy's. I got to Silverton a little later than I hoped, I think it was a little after 9 maybe. I bought a sandwich, burrito, king sized snickers, large coffee, 2 red bulls, coconut water, green smoothie, and a Dr Pepper. I chowed the burrito, put the snickers and sammy the frame bag, downed the coffee, Dr Pepper, packed the Redbull for later, and dumped the rest in my reservoir. I was actually in 5th place, and I got motivated. After cruising Molas Pass, I started up Bolam Pass. This is where Matt and Dan caught me. They were riding strong. I rode with them for a bit but then they simply dropped me. I could not push the pace any faster.
By 11 pm I had become delirious. I did not know what I was doing and I was down to minimal light b/c I burned through the big light. I realized if I tried to ride Indian Ridge, I would fall off a cliff, not to mention I was moving painfully slow.
I set my alarm for 1 hour, but slept 3. I was a little bummed I lost the two riders in front of me, but it was 230 am and the moon was bright. Indian Ridge was awesome under the moon, and the sun came up after I had descended to Junction Creek. I did not finish until 9am, absolutely crawling, crushed. Eszter could not make it, but a random fan who makes tortilla chips in Durango greeted me.
I pedaled to Durango absolutely shattered. I could not make a decison of where to get food, so I grabbed some beer and headed to the river. Matt came and rescued me with clothes and took me to Zia Taqueria and I loaded up on a burrito. We headed back to the Trailhead where we greeted finishers and waited for Cat. I had leap frogged with Cat quite a bit so I was really excited to see her. We were always pretty close on the course. She had similar struggles as me and she put in an awesome effort.
I have to say I was a little bummed at the end, I really wanted to go under 5. I finished 5 days, 2 hours and 49 minutes. I now know I can go faster. Regardless I pushed through a lot and came out the other end in 7th place, which is probably the best I have ever done in a race. I stopped racing a while back because I always was mid-pack. It does feel good to go top-10 on such a grueling race. It's 90% mental(I totally made up this number but you get the idea) and sometimes we need to get out there and push ourselves.
Last year I was 20ish hours behind this years time, and I was actually in better shape last year. This year I pulled out the suffer card. Was it worth it? I think so. The lows were pretty f'n low, but the highs were pretty f'n high. Sometimes you just have to give it and see what happens.
Thank you all for your support and love.