27 June, 2016

The Fat Tire 40 experience

hardest and funnest XC marathon race yet!
'Twas a glorious campsite

June 25th was day of the Fat Tire 40. If you thought the mountainbike Colorado State Championships were hard (I accidentally/intentionally took the long course instead of the short), oooh buddy; you've never done The Fat Tire 40 in Crested Butte. The reasons for doing this event was two-fold: a) Crested Butte's the shiz-noid; and b) even though I hold The Firecracker 50 in very high esteem, I needed another quality race to break up the Firecracker 50 same-o, same-o years of back to back to back to back to back racing.

This range is behind our campsite!
Ain't it purty?
Thursday, we gather our camping stuff and headout past Crested Butte to a recreational trail/campsite called O Be Joyful with our bikes and our dog, Bianca. We were talking about the previous places we've camped near Crested Butte and Gothic. From the information we gathered and verified on the map, Karen's place seemed the closest and this was it! Albeit, back in the day she said it only consisted of three or four; now it spans the river and newer sites radiated outward. In fact, our site was so new, we broke in our fire ring for warmth and cooking our meals. Mosquitoes weren't too bad; they were as bad as the biting, metallic colored flies I suppose. We don't rough it as campers, we bring our arsenal of intoxicating, ethanolic beverages and our queen-sized air mattress that fits nicely into our giant tent. Unlike Karen, I am content to wear my clothes for several days (she'll recycle but for not as many days). That way, my odoriferousity discourages the aforementioned flies and mosquitoes from feasting from my complex, yet earthy infused O+ blood that has a floral bouquet and a bacon-like finish (odd because I'm a vegetarian) that pairs well with a tangy Havarti cheese courtesy of our Danish neighbors.
In the morn o' Friday, my bowels (and sometimes the letter "Y", aka Old Faithful) are telling me to shake a tail feather and before I walk the 200 or so meters to the Casa of Dueces, I grab my camera and Bianca. One of the more unique flora here is what the locals call Skunk Cabbage. Its scientific name is Veratrum californicum. It ain't so good for grazing but once it blooms it sure is aesthetically pleasing. I bring my parka because it's around 40-45°F in the morning. The Bonks and the parka-ed I, proceed to walk up to the entrance of our campsite.
The one and only...Bonks!
This is our dog, affectionately known as Bianca. Her various nicknames are (in no certain order): Poops, Pooper, Poopy, Poopsie, Punkin'-dookie (Karen came up with this moniker when she was suffering heat exhaustion somewhere in Nevada), Pooper-pot-pie, Squishy, Squish, Squishypants (from our eldest daughter), Lee Wobbly (auto correct from Siri when I voice texted, "Doggly-woggly"), der Bönks (like the ümlâüts?), Bonko, Poochie-woochie, Poochie-bear, Bootchie-bear, Bonk-bonk-BEE-bonks (Karen), Bonk-bonk-BEE-bongs (again, from Karen), Monkey Pants (courtesy of Karen) and Bing-bing (again from our eldest). We walk around main street Crested Butte and we pickup my packet for the Fat Tire 40 I preregistered for several weeks back. Swag was okay but the number plate sure was groovy. Our Friday plan is to have oatmeal on the ready Saturday morning for a pre-race meal then head out to the racer's meeting before our 0800H start time. Karen is my soigneur, director sportif, race director, and general race coordinator badass that if your significant other isn't this supportive, I feelz bad fo-ya.
Here's the damage inflicted from the 40!
Saturday's RACE DAY.  I don't take pictures during the race but it is BY FAR, the most intense, incredibly beautiful vistas, painful, rocky-rooty, tightest single track I've done mile-for-mile. Eagle County's single track is probably the most technical (due to the gnarly downhills) condensed into the least amount of surface area. The start had us rolling neutral-like up Mount Crested Butte then dropping into sum gnarly rock and root strewn single track. Climbing up road towards the mountain already broke up the peloton, why because the town's already sitting at eight thousand feet. If you're not a local you gotsta pace yourself. My fitness placed me climbing with a group of local pro women. We were climbing at tempo but not breathing like steam locomotive. Once we dropped down into the singletrack it was lights out. The flow had me respecting the trail because around blind corners there would be a bed of sharp, gnarly rocks ready to throw you off your line if you didn't unweight and bust out your anti-gravity skills. It seemed like I was already climbing when I ran into a racer I was climbing up the road on our neutral roll out. We commented on how gorgeous the scenery was when she broke my scenery hypnosis saying, "hope you have some legs left because the climbing begins now." Holee crap did it ever! I hit all the neutral support for nourishment. At mile thirty or so, my chain's squeaking to me, "Yo noob, I need earl!" due to all the creek crossings and dust as I roll like a novice in this otherworldly place called Crested Butte. Once we drop onto Gothic I trade pulls with a South African guy who calls Boulder home and we rip pass a grip of racers. One of them is a guy I dropped on the climbs whereas he drops me on the downs (I have a hard tail because I'm too purist and a scare-tee kat). On the last climb, I'm content to pull all the way back to the resort because he's no longer coming around nor do I expect him to because I can sustain this speed okay. Last single track on the ski resort and I'm expecting a full-on downhill. Hell no! We're climbing again. We're passing million dollar, ski in-ski-out mansions on the hill. They have the courses marked like ski runs. We're on Meander- a blue- and it's fairly feisty. I see an T-bone intersection with a Green diamond (turning left) and a Double-black diamond (going right) and I'm saying to myself, "We better be going left motha fu**a (I lose my internal filters when I'm hypoglycemic and in pain)!" The markers say 'right' and I swear there are more rocks than roots on the closing miles...

I interrupt the story for today's lesson: For you roadies, the difference between road racing (I started out as a road racer, in fact I'm a Cat III) and mountain biking is: burning matches vs rotating flywheel. There are so many attacks in road racing you burn metaphorical matches to stay with the attackers hoping to drop the group. The one with more matches to burn as the finish line approaches generally wins unless you have a sandbagger that made the final selection or your sprint can't be detected with current technology. With mtb racing, you hitch yourself with a group whose flywheel matches more or less the torque of the collective flywheel. Yeah you can attack but it's not very efficient in marathon XC events. The mtb bike winner has a combination of a very large (rotating) flywheel or is a savant on the downhills or weighs 135 lbs (61 kg) and climbs like a billy goat. Can I get an Amen (amen, brother!)? Now back to the story....

Ouch! Finally we drop back down to a service road where another racer grabs my wheel but I bury myself (turn you sumbitch flywheel, turn!) towards town and march the largest gear I have in my single chainring Intense in a breezy headwind and little by little a gap opens up in such a way I have time wave to my Karen as I cross the finish line. Did I finish respectably? Prolly not but finish I did, boi!!
Thank you Niky's!
Here's the nifty Garmin link to follow my lame arse on the racecourse. Before we take a nap back at our campsite, we replace our kilocalories with shakes (vanilla based ice cream with Strawberry syrup: Karen; vanilla based ice cream with Chocolate: me, both topped with whipping cream) and all-the-while sampling mini donuts like the Heisenberg, Mother of Dragons, Butterfinger, and Cinnamon Roll from Niky's Mini Donuts off Elk Ave. My Garmin said I burnt 2,585 Calories.
course profile and elevation gain/contour
Thankfully we have the wherewithal to book a hotel room after the race Saturday night so our weary bones can be supported by a nice King Sized bed with an unusually high Egyptian thread count after eating our weight in pizza provided by the Secret Stash and drinks from the Dr. of Pepper. We hit the hot tub and the pool that had random, light changes for ambience for some hydrotherapy and a general decompression of the day,  From our sun burnt, dehydrated, dull-aching joints, the water solicits a playful, nonsensical smile on our faces with full tummies and lifetime's worth of Vitamin D. Tomorrow we hit the Lupine Trail!
Karen trailblazing with our pooch faithfully following

The Lupine Trail: Bianca's a great trail dog. Karen's attempting to show Bianca how to drink out of a Camelbak spigot/bite; if she ever figures that out, Bianca'd be even greater. She'll follow whoever's up front faithfully but we go fairly slow in order to not wear out her pads or her.

We have to be careful when we cross cattle guards but Bianca's slowly figuring that out too. What's cool about this trail is when you're not bobbing and weaving through tight singletrack, it kind of reminds you that there are drop-offs that could really ruin your day. Here's Karen negotiating a lefty-loosey curvey-curve with a major drop-off should you fly off the single track.
flowing left with Crested Butte in the far, right distance.
Karen has skillz too and it shows as she climbs like Satan passing another couple. Sadly we're that couple that wears a matching race kit (but not all the time). As we hit the switchbacks, Karen's leaning and countersteering with her inside knee like a pro and I chase her back to car where our Bonko's completely cratered playing chase the humanoids on the church of rotational mass.
Our ride punctuated the end of a magical 4-day get away to dem dere hills with equally magical companions of the two and four legged variety.
To sum:
-Fat Tire 40=evil genius from the minds of Crested Butte.
-We ride/race so's we can eat.
-Karen's a unicorn.

PS: Karen just checked the results and I finished 4th out 14 in my division which is 50+ open men. Average, baby.