Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013_09_22 Cyclocross Race (Dwaine Trummert's Short Account)

Author:  Dwaine Trummert


Hi Les,

Thanks for the kind words.

I can't comment on the CX world's reaction to my race finishes. I don't
expect much. If I were placing in the cat 1/2 race that might be different.

This race was a bunch tougher than the last. In the power sections of the
course I was falling out of the lead group of 5. I'd close the gap in the
technical sections but it was clear I was outgunned in this group. I was
running fifth half way through the last lap and didn't feel like I'd be
visiting the podium. Then the guy in fourth stepped off in an off camber
corner which allowed me to get just a little closer to the front. When we
exited that technical section I made the only move I had. I passed two
riders (I planned to get all three!) on a downhill paved section and
challenged the leader. I knew I needed to lead the race into the woods
section but the leader held me back over the next five corners which
preceded the woods section. Then he bobbled in the first corner of the
woods section and I snuck by to lead through the trees and into the last of
the power sections. Only one rider powered past and I held onto second at
the finish.

In my opinion, I played my only card (leading in the woods) at exactly the
right time and earned my best possible finish.


p.s. Just so it is clear let me state for the record: The Cyclopaths
jersey was worn with reverence and witnessed the level of suffering
expected of it's bearer.

Photo by: 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2013_09_25 Puyallup Herald Newspaper Article About Conor Collins

Cycling: Rogers High School student working to rise up in competitive racing
Conor Collins had never participated in competitive cycling before August 2012. Now the 16-year-old Rogers High School student is one of the premier cyclists in the Pacific Northwest.

Top of Mauna Loa Road, 11,010 feet of climbing in 45 miles
Collins competed in the Everest Challenge on Aug. 25 in Bishop, Calif., where he placed eighth — the best of anyone younger than 18.  Collins said he biked 88 miles on the first day, when he finished in six hours, 15 minutes. His 71-mile second day was an hour faster.  “Just finishing the race is an accomplishment,” Collins said. “ I was the fastest junior, so I was happy about that, but I wanted do better.”


Collins wanted to find a better way to get around Puyallup two summers ago, so he visited Tacoma Bike and purchased a bicycle.  “I was just looking for a bike to ride around town and ride on the streets,” he said. “I really didn’t expect much out of it. I wasn’t looking to do it competitively. Once I got the bike and started riding it, I just kind of fell in love with it. I just started riding more and more and more.”

Collins began to ride with his grandfather on the Orting trail and eventually tackled Camp 1 road in Kapowsin.  “It was a really nice climb, and I wanted to see what I could do,” he said. “I got the bike out of my truck and decided to do it.  “Before I went on the ride, I plugged in my Strava device. It is a social-media tool and GPS for cyclists and shows how your times and statistics match up with other people across the country. I plugged it in, and after my ride, I found out that I did pretty good.”
Just two weeks after he bought his bike, Collins contacted the Puyallup Cyclopaths, a group dedicated to biking. He began to train rigorously, and the rest is history.


While most of his Rogers High classmates were on spring break, Collins decided to see just how good he could be after he trained with the Cyclopaths for six months. He flew to Hawaii in March, and he rode on Maui’s Mt. Haleakala and Hilo’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.  “I knew in the back of my mind I wanted to try the Everest Challenge in California,” Collins said. “I knew if I could do these rides in Hawaii that I could do the Everest Challenge, too.  “It was for training, not only physically but mentally,” he said. “I knew it would give me the confidence I needed.”
Collins said the climbs in Hawaii were excruciatingly difficult.  “The Haleakala climbed 10,000 feet in 35 miles,” he said. “The second one I did two days later at Mauna Loa is considered the world’s longest hill climb at 45 miles with a 4.5 percent grade that climbs up to 11,100 feet.”
Mauna Kea had a steep grade, too.  “The last seven miles were a 7 to 8 percent grade, and the last mile had a 13 percent grade,” Collins said.


Collins doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. While cycling isn’t the only sport in which he competes — he also swims for Rogers High — he’s dedicated to see how good he can become.
“I have gone from a Category 5 cyclist when I first started to a Category 3 cyclist,” he said. “I want to continue to train hard and get to the highest category I can. I’m hoping to get on a really good developmental team in the future.”

Click on the following link to see the original newspaper article:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


LOTOJA (which stands for Logan to Jackson) is the longest one-day USAC-sanctioned race in the United States.  This year marked its 20th anniversary.  The race was created by two avid cyclists in Logan, Utah to mimic the one-day European classic races.  The race starts in Logan Utah, passes through Idaho, and finishes in Jackson Hole, Wyoming after 206 miles.

It has grown over the years to include riders of all abilities.  There are more people that want to participate in LOTOJA than are able to ride so the organizers use a lottery system to choose who gets to ride.  I was lucky enough to get selected to do the ride my first year of applying in 2011.  I loved my 2011 experience, and I could not wait to participate again.  I applied again in 2012 but was not selected.  So, when I was selected for this year’s ride, I couldn’t wait. 

Overview of the Ride

As mentioned above, the race begins in Logan, Utah.  The first 33 miles are flat and usually very fast, while you ride to Preston, Idaho.  From Preston, Idaho you ride approximately 8 miles or so until you turn off the main road.  At the turn off, it basically starts a 22 mile climb up and through a canyon called Strawberry Canyon.  After the summit of Strawberry Canyon, you ride another 18 miles to Montpelier, Idaho, 10 of which is a screaming downhill.  From Montpelier, you ride 45 miles to Afton, Wyoming climbing over two mountain passes (the Geneva Summit and Salt River Pass).  From Afton, you ride 33 miles through Star Valley, Wyoming to Alpine, Wyoming.  Then you ride 47 miles to the finish, much of which is through the Snake River canyon.  The following is a general map of the ride with elevation.  The ride starts out at an elevation just under 5,000 feet and the highest point of the ride is approximately 7,800 feet.

2013 LOTOJA had 16 separate race categories (Men’s and Women’s categories) and 17 different Grand Fondo type categories (which LOTOJA calls its cyclosportive groups).  The registration process for LOTOJA is similar to RAMROD.  You sign up in April and are notified by early May if you have been selected in the lottery.  In order to ride with teammates, you all have to sign up for the same category.  There were four of us that signed up on a team from Puyallup, myself, Rex Batson (who some of you have met), John Rushton, and Kevin Dunn.  We entered one of the cyclosportive categories.  Most of these categories are gender and age specific.  The only one we all could sign up for together was the Men’s/Women’s Open group.  When we signed up, our start time was set for 6:30 a.m.

The race organizers alternate the race start times and the cyclosportive start times every three minutes.  The race and cyclosportive groups follow the same route out of Logan for approximately 6 miles then they split-up with the cyclosportive group riding approximately 3 miles longer.  The two courses join back together just after Preston, Idaho.  There were over 2,000 riders that participated.

Each race is a self-contained race.  For example, there were five Category 5 races.  Each one of those races was a race unto itself.  This means the race leaders in one Category 5 race cannot draft or work with any other riders who are not in that race.  This of course goes out the window for any rider who gets dropped out of contention for a podium position.  Once you lose contact with the main group, you have very little chance of reconnecting with them on this course.  So, what happens is after the first half of the race, many race riders have been dropped from their groups for whatever reason.  At this point, race riders and cyclosportive riders work together traveling through Star Valley, known for its cross/head winds, and finish the race.  I thought the 6:30 a.m. start time was a good time because it would put us in the middle of all of the other riders.  I thought our chances of picking up a good group to work with would be increased going out at that time.  Unfortunately, our start time was bumped back to 7:30 a.m. and we would be one of the last groups to leave.

In 2011, I finished the ride in 11 hours 30 minutes.  There is also a race within the race on the last big climb.  The 3.4 mile climb is timed for the king/queen of the mountain contest.  I climbed the last climb in 21 minutes 15 seconds in 2011.  To give you some perspective, the Cat 1 racers finish the race just under or over 9 hours.  The king/queen of the mountain records time is under 13 or 14 minutes.

I hoped to improve on my 2011 times this year.  I also wanted to finish the ride in less than 10 hours, and I wanted my king of the mountain time to be under 19 minutes. 

One of the things I like about cycling is learning how to train and ride better.  In 2011, I had trained really well but was still relatively new to cycling training.  My taper for the ride went well.  Unfortunately, things did not go as well for me this year.  I tried to mimic the taper I did in 2011 but my schedule did not allow me to do things exactly the same.  Accordingly, my training was not as consistent the last month or so, and I probably should have allowed more recovery time than what I did.  In addition, a week or so leading up to the ride, I started developing a cough.  Going into the ride I did not feel as strong as I had felt earlier this summer, and I was not too confident. 

My confidence was not helped the day before the event when I did a light ride to stretch out my legs.  I really didn’t ride very hard but I started to feel awful.  I was starting to feel flu like symptoms and a chest cold developing, and I began to wonder if I would be able to ride the next day.  Fortunately, Saturday morning I woke up not feeling my best, but good enough to ride.

There were approximately 2,000 riders who participated in this event.  Roughly half of them raced it and the other half were in the cyclosportive group.  In the Men’s/Women’s Open Class, there were total of 221 riders, consisting of three groups.  Our group was the last of the three to leave and we had 57 people in it.  The other two members of Rex and my team missed our start time and left with the group after us, so Rex and I did not see them the entire ride.

The following is a picture of Rex just before we started.

The weather was warm for Logan.  It was in the mid 60’s.  For the most part, we had overcast skies (except of course for the hardest climb of the day when the sun was beating down on us).  Thunderstorms were threatening throughout the day, but never materialized.  The weather was very northwest like the whole day.  In other words, we had great weather.

I knew the change from our originally scheduled start time of 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. would be a significant change.  It meant we would have less chance to find good groups to work with later in the race.  We had a decision to make.  We could sit in our group the first half of the race and hope to find a good group or hope Rex and I were strong enough to work together the second half of the ride or we could push our pace early in the race hoping to catch up with some better groups and hope we didn’t burn ourselves out.  I decided that if I was going to have any chance to ride under 10 hours, I needed to create my own opportunities.  So, I decided I would push the pace early.  Rex followed my lead.

First 33 Miles to Preston

We started promptly at 7:30 a.m.  The first 6 miles of the ride to Preston, Idaho was a neutral start.  We had a pace car that was supposed to go 20 miles per hour lead us through Logan.  I was the lead rider with Rex drafting right behind me.  I got close to the pace car in order to draft.  I think this made the pace car driver a little nervous because he kept speeding up.  We probably averaged closer to 23 miles an hour instead of the 20 we were supposed to be going.  This start was nice as the Logan Police had stopped traffic at the cross streets and we had an unimpeded ride out of Logan.  The rest of our group was drafting behind Rex and I.  When the pace car left us, Rex and I started riding comfortably.  We quickly left the group behind.  We were working together alternating pulls.  I kept wondering whether we should sit up and get back in the group.  After a mile or two, we came upon some riders in a group that had left before us.  One of them had a mechanical problem, which is why we caught them.  The four of us started to work together and then were joined by a couple of riders who rode up to us from the main group.  With six of us, I thought we had a strong enough group to push the pace a little. 

We were working as a group at about 25 miles per hour.  This only lasted a mile or so when two of the other riders decided the pace was too quick and dropped back.  The four of us that remained decided it wasn’t worth the energy expenditure so we sat up and waited for the group to catch us.  When we got back into the group, there was a team of eight riders on the front of the group who did not want anyone else to pull.  Their reasoning was that they didn’t know the rest of us and did not want an accident.  As a result, Rex and I drafted the last 10 to 15 miles to Preston.  We were probably averaging about 22 miles per hour.  It felt like to me we were going much slower than when I had ridden that same stretch in 2011.  However, our pushing the pace must have done something because in checking our split times compared to the other groups it looks like our group had one of the fastest times to Preston.

There are feed stops along the way.  Some of the feed stops are supported by the LOTOJA organizers.  Other feed stops are supported by rider crews.  Preston was the first feed stop, and it was supported by our crew.  My brother-in-law was nice enough to provide support for us.  We stopped just to get some water bottles.  When we stopped there was a group of about 10 riders from our group who did not stop at the first feed stop.  I was only stopped for 30 seconds or so and I took off to catch the group that did not stop.  It was my misfortune to get stopped by traffic and I had to wait seconds more to let the traffic clear.  I rode hard to gain the group and was gaining on them.   I looked behind me and I could see Rex about half a mile behind me doing the same thing.  I decided to sit up and wait for Rex to catch me. When I do this ride again, I will not stop at the Preston feed stop in the future.

Rex and I started working together again, and we started pushing the pace.  Just outside of Preston, there is a very small climb, which is probably more accurately more of a large roller instead of a hill.  What you can’t see from the front side is the backside of the little hill is a steep downhill that takes you into a river valley.  At the end of the downhill, you turn toward Strawberry Canyon and the first big climb of the day.  Rex followed me up the uphill and then I followed Rex down the downhill.  We easily topped 40 miles per hour and passed many riders.  We made up quite a bit of ground on the group that did not stop at Preston.  We then carried our momentum into the turn that takes you to the Strawberry Canyon Climb.

Strawberry Canyon Climb

We turned towards Strawberry Canyon and the longest climb of the day.  The first few miles after the turn are relatively flat to a slight incline (think slightly tougher then the Orting trail.  You then start climbing.  I would compare this part of the climb to riding towards Carbonado ranger station after the one lane bridge.  There were a lot of long rollers but you are constantly gaining in elevation with many false flats.  After a couple of miles, Rex and I caught the group who didn’t stop in Preston.  Soon, due to the pace, the group thinned out to five of us, and we were passing many groups of people.  All of these people were riding in the cyclosportive class.  All of the race groups had left before us, or just after us.  Because their route was three miles shorter, the main groups were out ahead of us.  We did not see a main race group all day.

The five of us were riding quickly toward the mouth of the canyon and the last nine miles where the real climbing starts.  I am not sure if it was my fitness (likely), the elevation, not feeling well, or all of them combined, but I started to feel terrible.  I became a little alarmed because it was a pace I should have been able to keep.  I realized I just wasn’t at my best.  I told Rex that I needed to back off the pace (we were only into the ride about 47 miles at this point).  Rex looked strong so I told him to have a nice ride.  He smiled and followed the other three riders up the canyon, slowly pulling away from me.  I did not think I would see Rex again the rest of the day because it was a strong group I dropped off. 

I backed off the power and spun a little bit for the next couple of miles; I quickly recovered and then started to put together a really good climb up the canyon.  I must be a Cyclopath when a climb can help me recover.  This is a great climb because the canyon is closed to traffic during LOTOJA so you can use the whole lane.  I was weaving through riders as I passed quite a few of them. 

This climb reminds me a lot of Skate Creek road except that there are a couple of sections where the incline ticks up to 7% for 2 to 3 miles, which is similar to the last couple miles of The Climb.

For those of you who are reading this and have not ridden with me, I am larger than a typical cyclist.  I’m 6’ 3” tall, and in 2011, I rode LOTOJA at about 210-215 pounds.  This year, I was not able to get down to my lower riding weight, and I rode LOTOJA at 230 to 235 pounds.  Most cyclists do not like being passed.  They especially do not like to get passed by a Clydesdale like me.  As I rode by, I got a lot of surprised and disgusted looks my way.  I love that.

All of the time I spent doing the long climbs with the Cyclopaths and those I did on my own really paid off.  Even though I wasn’t feeling my best, it still felt good to climb.  About a mile from the summit, there is the second feed stop supported by the LOTOJA crew.  I pulled up to the feed stop and saw Rex.  He had just finished filling his water bottles when I rode up, so he waited for me to fill my water bottles and we were off again.  Rex had followed the other three riders up the canyon.  The other three riders did not stop at the feed stop like Rex did.  We would find out at the end of the day that those riders were really strong.

We rode the last mile to the summit and crested it with two other strong cyclists.  Rex led the way on the fast descent.  We were consistently traveling at speeds between 47-50 miles per hour.  We picked up another cyclist on the way down.  The main descent lasts about 5 miles.  You are then kicked out into a valley and some larger rollers, which eventually take you into a flat stretch.  We were traveling so fast the rollers seem to flatten out.  When we hit the valley floor, we soon picked up several more riders as we rode pass them.  We had a group of about 10 riders as we headed toward Montpelier.  This is a really flat part of the ride.  We had a little wind to deal with, but with 10 people trading off pulls, we moved fast without having to work too hard.  We were holding approximately 26-27 miles per hour.

When Rex and I arrived at Montpelier, we were on schedule to complete the ride in less than 10 hours.  Pushing the pace had gotten us with a strong group of riders and we were both feeling good at this point.  And then, things fell apart.

Montpelier was another feed stop.  For the bike racers, they had their own support teams.  For the other riders, the support was provided by the LOTOJA team.  When you pull into these feed stops, there are numbered stations (like pit stops) where a rider has prearranged for his or her support to be.  There are dozens of riders and hundreds of spectators.  It is controlled chaos. 

Rex had to use the bathroom.  I told him I was going to fill my water bottles and asked him to come get me when he was done.  I didn’t realize that he did not hear me.  The place for me to fill my water bottles was around the corner from the honey buckets Rex was using.  I filled my water bottles and waited for Rex.  After several minutes, I went to look for him.  I didn’t see him anywhere.  I rode by the honey buckets calling out his name.  When I did not hear a response, I decided he must have left.  This took more time than I had wanted to be at the stop. 

After leaving Montpelier, the course puts you on highway 89, which takes you through the Salt River canyon.  There are two big climbs in this canyon.  One climb is the Geneva Summit climb (about a 7% climb for 2 miles); the other climb is the Salt River pass climb.  Much of the time, the canyon is gradually climbing.  Again, most of this ride is comparable to riding to the Carbonado Ranger Station with gradual climbs, the occasional rollers, and plenty of false flats. 

My wait in Montpelier also meant I missed the group of riders Rex and I had ridden in to town with.  I latched on to a new group of two to three riders.  We worked well together and were riding strong through the canyon.  After about 10 miles, we came to the Geneva Summit climb.  This climb is similar to climbing White Pass, but the main part of the climb is only 2 to 3 miles long.  I was feeling better, and I really climbed this well.  I probably passed a couple of hundred riders (I mention this not to brag.  Most of the racers and the stronger climbers would have been in groups that left before me.  Accordingly, those I was passing were likely not the strongest climbers participating in LOTOJA.  I mention it to give you the visual of this large guy motoring up the climb.  Again, the looks I got were priceless).  About half-way up the climb, I caught up to Rex.  I should have stopped and ridden with him, but I had such a good rhythm going, I told him I would wait for him down the road. 

Rex was really feeling the mishap of our Montpelier stop.  When Rex didn’t hear me tell him I was going to fill-up my water bottles, he came out of the honey bucket and thought I had left him.  So, he took off to try and catch me.  He burned some energy trying to do so.  So, when I caught up with him, he wasn’t feeling so good.

The Geneva descent is fast.  I remember briefly looking down at my computer at one point and when I saw I was going over 51 miles per hour, I quickly decided I had better not look down any more and watch the road.  After the very fast descent, you are again traveling through the Canyon toward the Salt River pass climb.  As mentioned above, the whole time you are climbing in elevation, but the elevation is gradual.

As I left the descent, I sat up and waited for Rex.  He wasn’t too far behind me.  Once Rex caught up to me, we latched on to a group, which was not particularly strong.  We rode with this group for several miles.  There were a couple of riders in the group that worried me.  They were weaving a little too much for my taste.  So, when I had the opportunity to jump on another group I took it.  Rex was right behind me, but I didn’t realize he was still suffering from trying to catch me.  He chose not to make the jump.  I was up the road quite a bit before I realized he was not with me.  That was the last time I saw Rex the whole ride.

After leaving Montpelier, the next feed stop is on top of the Salt River Summit.  In 2011, I badly managed my drink and food.  I was drinking my calories in a concentrated drink mix.  This did not work well for me, and I had started to have stomach issues.  I had reached the start of the climb out of water on a very hot day, and my 2011 climb was miserable.   

I did not want to repeat that this year.  But, I am not very smart because I again misjudged how far away the climb was from the Geneva Summit decent.  I drank too much of my drink thinking the climb was closer than what it was.  So, again, I came into this climb not quite as strong as I could have.  However, I felt a whole lot better this year than I did in 2011. 

My main nutrition this year were homemade rolls that I made (the receipt I got out of the book Feed Zone Portables  The rolls did a great job, but after 100 miles I get sick of them.  My nutrition was quite good the whole day, but about this time, I was ready for some different food.

At this point in the ride, we were about at mile 100.  I had another decision to make.  I could either take this climb easy and recover again getting ready for the last half of the ride or ride the hill for the best time I could get.  The smarter thing was to climb easy and recover, but I am not that smart.  I decided to give what I had on the climb.  

I rode with the group that I had jumped on after leaving Rex for some time.  I jumped off that group onto a slower group in hopes that Rex could catch up to me.  After riding with this new group for a several miles, I saw the sign that said 1km to the king of the mountain climb—The Salt River Pass Climb. 

King of the Mountain Climb

For those of you who have ridden Cayuse on RAMROD or even the Triple Bypass Ride, the Salt River climb reminds me a lot like Cayuse.  The difference is the Salt River Climb is much shorter, only about 3.4 miles.  We reached the Salt River climb at about 105 miles into the ride.  The climb is totally exposed to the sun.  Most riders are low on water and food because the next feed stop is on top of the climb.  The Salt River climb is the highest point of the ride at about 7,600 feet.  The climb is hot and there is a lot of suffering that takes place on this climb. 

I started dropping off the back of the group I was with.  I think the last rider in the group thought I was dropping off the back because I could not keep the pace.  He was trying to be nice and was joking with me and said something like, so you are not going to be Lance Armstrong up this climb.  I told him probably not.  What he didn’t know was that I was dropping off the back to provide some space between me and the group before crossing the timing mechanism.  The course funnels the groups over the timing mechanism in sort of a chute where you can only go one rider at a time.  I wanted to make sure I was not slowed down by the riders in front of me. 

I took off climbing fast powering my way up the climb.  Many of the riders were gearing down getting ready to survive the climb.  The lower part of this climb initially climbs for a short time then flattens out for a stretch.  Then it starts getting steep.  I wanted to go really hard on the lower flatter section before my weight started working against me on the steeper part of the climb.  I can’t describe the look on the face of the rider who was joking with me as I dropped off the back when I went by him.  It was pretty funny.

I really pushed hard on the lower climb.  The race organizers claim that the grade on this climb gets to be 7-9%.  Later in the ride, one rider would tell me his Garmin registered 13% in places.  After the first part of the climb, the rest of the climb is steeper.  It is not necessarily the grade that makes this climb difficult, but all of the circumstances described above.  I was surprised to see several riders stopped gasping for air near the top.

Just like the Geneva Pass climb, I passed dozens of riders.  I really climbed the bottom of this climb well.  I started fading the last mile to mile in a half when the grade ticked up and my legs were really feeling the prior 100 miles.  Towards the top, I was passed by a relay rider, which means he was only riding a section of the whole ride and was fresher, so I didn’t feel too bad.  It did motivate me, so I kept pace with the relay rider and eventually passed him back before the top.  I had no idea how fast I was climbing because I didn’t check my time before I started.  I thought it was probably slow, but I finished the last 1 km of the climb fairly strong.  My time turned out to be 19 minutes 46 seconds, a little better than my 2011 time.

I waited on top of the Salt River Pass for Rex for a few minutes, but then decided my legs would start to cramp up if I didn’t start moving again.  So, I took off towards Afton.  What I didn’t know was that Rex almost caught up to me when I sat on the slower group waiting for him before the last climb.  He was only about a minute behind me before I started the Salt River Pass Climb.  It took him a little longer than me to finish the climb, but I probably just missed him at the top.  Once he was on top, he had a flat tire issue, so he lost a half hour or so at this feed zone. 

After the Salt River descent, I joined a few other riders and we headed toward Afton.  The other two riders could not hold more than 20-22 miles per hour when they were on the front pulling.  I was able to hold closer to 26-28 miles per hour.  This stretch was similar to the stretch we did on the triple bypass ride just before reaching the cut off to highway 12.  Slightly down hill and fast.  The only difference was we had more of a head wind in LOTOJA and I think we had a tail wind the day of the triple bypass ride.  I took some longer pulls just to help us move a little faster. 

This was the beginning of Star Valley.  Star Valley is a long valley that has strong cross winds and head winds.  If you are lucky, sometimes you get a tail wind.  We were not that lucky.  The problem with Star Valley is that it is difficult to ride it yourself.  You are often better off sitting in a large group even if they don’t go as fast as you would like because it is better than trying to do it on your own.  This is really where you determine how fast you will finish.  If you can get with a group that can maintain a fast pace, you do well.  If not, you are sort of the mercy of the group.

Afton to Alpine—Star Valley

Afton was the next feed stop.  My brother, who lives in Afton, was there to give me my support.  I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that tasted really good.  I chatted for a minute or two, and then took off again.  I would later learn, due to Rex’s tire issues, that I reached Afton about 45 minutes before him.

There were cross winds and at times head winds through Star Valley.  I caught a group in Star Valley and rode most of the way with them.  It was a group of about 10 to 12 riders.  Instead of a normal pace line, most of the riders were attempting a pace line to combat the cross winds.  The problem is that the shoulder on the road through this stretch becomes narrow due to rumble strips.  I definitely need to improve my pace line riding, but I thought what the group was trying to do was counterproductive.  I would have rather had a normal pace line where I could have put some of my power to use.  Instead, I thought what was happening neutralized my power.  We ended up traveling about 22 miles per hour.  I thought that I remember riding this at more like 24-26 miles per hour in 2011.  I believe we also had a tail wind in 2011, which we definitely didn’t have this year.

For me, riding through Star Valley is my least favorite part of this ride.  Star Valley is a rural farming community.  It is beautiful country, but because you are in a pace line, you have to pay attention to the person in front of you and really can only look around once you get on the front. 

This part of the ride is all about the group you ride with.  When your group works well together, it can be a lot of fun.  If your group is not that strong or if you get stuck riding by yourself, it can be a long ride especially when the winds are strong. 

For whatever reason, probably because I enjoy the climbing in the first half of the ride, Star Valley seems to go on forever for me.  It is really only 34 miles long, but it seems much longer.  I was happy to see the sign for the city of Alpine knowing my ride through Star Valley was coming to an end.  It was a great feeling to reach Alpine knowing I only had approximately 46 miles to go.  This is like a trip to South Prairie and back from my house.  I later found out that I would reach Alpine 50 minutes ahead of Rex. 

Alpine to Finish

After refueling, I started up the Snake River canyon.  This part of the ride is breathtaking.  You follow the Snake River, which is 100 feet or so down in the canyon from the road.  This canyon is much more scenic than the prior canyons we had passed through.  Traffic is not stopped in this canyon for the riders, but it has one of the best shoulders we would ride on all day.  If you are not careful, the scenic nature of the canyon can lull you into forgetting what you are doing.  The ride itself reminds me of riding the Gig Harbor area.  It has a lot of long rollers and you are slowly climbing your way towards Jackson Hole.

I hooked up with another rider, Dan, who was part of the group I travelled through Star Valley with.  We were worked well together and were making good time.  We were passing many riders until I had bad luck again.  I felt my back tire get squirrely and knew I had a flat.  It appeared to be a slow leak.  Dan talked me into hitting it with some CO2 in hopes of getting to the last feed station where he thought they would have bike support, which was about 20 miles away.  Dan said he had done this earlier in the ride.  I took his advice and we met up with some more riders. 

We started a pretty good group and were working well together.  The air was holding in the tire, but after about 8 miles, I had to stop to hit the tire again with CO2 and lost the group.  I made a push to catch them, and did, but only could hang on for 5 minutes or so after catching them until I had to fill my tire up again.  I was unable to catch the group gain.  I made it to Hoback Junction, the last feed zone, but there was no bike support, so I had to change the tire myself.  I wasted quite a bit of time messing around with my tire instead of just stopping and changing it in the first place.  Another lesson learned for a future ride.

From the last feed stop in Hoback junction, you ride into Jackson and have approximately 26 miles left to go.  This part of the ride was uneventful.  I kept a steady pace and hooked on to another group.  The best part about this ride is a few miles from the finish.  If you look up on the horizon, you can usually see the Grand Teton Mountains in the distance, which is really an impressive sight.  It is quite scenic and provides a good reminder of how close the finish line is.  Unfortunately, we were not able to see the mountains this year due to the cloudy weather.

The last several miles you weave through some back roads and neighborhoods.  Finally, you come out on the last road to the finish.  This road is long and the finish line is counted down by signs starting at 5k. 


The finish for me was bitter sweet.  I finished the ride in 10 hours 56 minutes about an hour after my goal.  It is always an accomplishment to finish this ride.  However, I would have liked to have done a little better.  I really look forward to this ride, and was disappointed I was not at my best.  But, it is also what I enjoy about cycling.  I know I won’t always be at my best.  I also learn things about myself when faced with some adversity.  It is also what I enjoy about training.  Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t work, which makes riding and training for me fun. 

It was also fun to do the ride with my good friend Rex.  I wish we would have done better at communicating with each other.  The one thing I didn’t think we needed to worry about was communicating with each other.  Rex and I have spent many hours riding together.  Rex finished it in 11 hours 28 minutes.  Overall, Rex was happy with his performance.  Other than bonking and struggling through the Salt River canyon, most of the ride went well for him. 

How I did really depends upon who you compare me with.  Only 2% of the cyclosportive class finish under 10 hours but about 40% of those who race it finish under 10 hours.  If you compare my results with other cyclosportive class riders, I was a better than average.  If you compare my results with those who raced it, I was below average.  In the group that I left Logan with, I was 4th out of 57.  In the mixed participant’s group I was 25th out of 221 (although 9 of those that finished ahead of me were part of relay groups).  In all of the riders who were in the cylosportive class, I was 110th out of 862.  To give further perspective, if you look at my time compared with all those who raced it, about 64% of them finished faster than I did. 

I did a little better on my climbing.  I was in the top 8% of the cyclosprtive riders for my King of the Mountain time (63rd out of 804).  If you compared my time with all of those who raced LOTOJA, I would have been in the top 1/3rd of them.  If only LOTOJA had weight classes, I might have won something-:). 

I think I enjoy LOTOJA so much because it has something of everything.  You really need to be a well-rounded cyclist with plenty of endurance to do well.  It is also just a very scenic ride without much interruption.  You basically clip in at the start and really don’t clip out unless you stop at a feed stop. 

I hope to be able to participate in LOTOJA in the future and improve on my time.  I learned more about this ride this year and ways I need to improve.  The group of three riders that Rex and I caught up to and Rex followed up the Strawberry Canyon climb finished the ride in 9 hours and 37 minutes.  The irony is we found the group we were looking for, but could not stay with them early. 

LOTOJA is a great road race/ride.  I have already started thinking how I might train a little different and places where I need to reduce my time to ride it under 10 hours.  I can’t wait to ride it again.

Rob Critchfield

Sunday, September 8, 2013

2013_09_08 Backbone Ridge_Paradise Ride

Author:  Mike Hassur


Wow, perfect weather and great ride. 

I was up at 4:25 AM.  I had packed my bike and gear in the van the night before, so it was just a matter of getting dressed, kissing Kathy goodbye, and heading out.  By 4:55, I was filling the van up with gas; and, by 5:15 AM we were leaving Conor Collins’ home and heading for Buckley to meet the rest of the guys.

We arrived at Wally’s Drive In to find Nick Iverson waiting for us.  We loaded Nick’s bike and gear in the van and followed Nick while he parked his car on a side street.  By the time we got back, Leon and Jurgen were waiting in Wally’s parking lot and David Garate arrived a minute later.  Leon loaded David’s bike, and we were off.

We arrived at the top of Cayuse Pass a little before 7:00 AM.  The temperature was in the low 40’s, so the decision was made to drive to the bottom of Cayuse (south side) and head up toward Backbone Ridge and Paradise first.  The rationale being that we would be climbing during the colder part of the day and descending after it had warmed up a bit. 

After parking the cars about two miles from the Steven’s Canyon Entrance to Mt Rainier, we headed
past the ranger station (still closed at that hour) and started the climb up to Backbone Ridge.  It was still pretty chilly; but, as soon as the climbing began, we started to warm up.  As usual, Conor was off on his own as soon as we started to climb.  The rest of us visited and rode at a steady pace.  Probably because of the “group effect”, we found ourselves at the top of Backbone Ridge in no time.

We descended the west side of Backbone Ridge and started climbing up past Box Canyon to the lower portion of Steven’s Canyon.  We stopped at a viewpoint at the beginning of Steven’s Canyon and took some photos.  It was pretty spectacular.  As we proceeded up through Steven’s Canyon, we were early enough that there was very little traffic.  Soon, we found ourselves at the hairpin turn above Steven’s Canyon; and, not long after that, at Reflection Lake. 

We cruised up to Paradise where we stopped to take a couple of photos.  Leon was cold and wanted to keep moving, so he headed down to find Nick who was somewhere behind us.  We were to meet Leon at the bottom of the Paradise Meadows Road.  After a few minutes we (Jurgen, David, Conor,
and Mike) headed down.  When we got to the aforementioned meeting place, NO LEON OR NICK.  We waited for a few minutes and decided to ride back up to Paradise looking for them.  We rode back up to the visitors’ center, but still no Leon or Nick.  This time, we split up with two of taking the west road down from Paradise and two of us taking the east road.  We arrived at the bottom and regrouped, but still hadn’t found our two missing riders.  As we headed back toward Reflection Lake, we finally found them. 

After comparing notes to figure out how we had missed each other, we headed back past Reflection Lake and began the descent down through Steven’s Canyon.  That descent has always been one of the best descents that we do (both in terms of riding and scenery).  Now that they are resurfacing it, the descent will be even better. 

We negotiated Steven’s Canyon in no time and soon found ourselves climbing the three miles up the east side of Backbone Ridge.  Again, this went by quickly.  We flew down Backbone Ridge (east side) to the Ranger Station and out of the park.

We had planned to do Cayuse Pass after replenishing our supplies at the cars, but we were running a little short on time and decided to forego Cayuse.  This proved to be a good choice as we had the opportunity to listen to the end of the Seahawks game on the way back to Buckley. 

At Buckley, we split up and headed home.  As has been the case for most of our rides this summer; the weather was great, the scenery was great, and the riders were great.

click on the following link to view all the pictures from this ride:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Labor Day Cyclocross Championships at JBLM

Author:   Dwaine Trummert

Last November it seems I was inflicted with the Cyclocross bug. It is not news that I have an internal defect that drives me to race. For years it was motorcycles. Then small sailboats. Now it is Cross.

Last fall I sampled Cyclocross by outfitting my 1970’s Raleigh Grand Prix with cross tires. That bike was not ideal for Cyclocross racing. This year I put myself aboard a proper Cyclocross machine; a Norcross SP from Blue Competition Cycles.

For Cyclocross it is important to get the tires and their pressures just right. On race day I chose 30 psi. front and 32 psi. rear. I switched to 30/33 after my three warm up laps. I still felt a rear wheel ‘ding’ at one point in the race. Maybe the best choice was 30/34. The 1x8 gearing (38 front, 12-28 rear) easily covered my needs with neither top nor bottom gear being used during the race.
This event was held on land controlled by Joint Base Lewis McChord but not inside the military base. The event promoters, Team Double Check, set a fastish course with little elevation gain. It contained one tallish barrier at the bottom of the only run up. About 1/3 of the course was laid out under trees with many technical corners. Off camber, decreasing radius, double apex. There was a test for every skill. The other 2/3 was laid out on a more or less flat area that had few trees. This flatter portion of the course was definitely faster. There had been little to no rain in the preceding 4 days so the soil was pretty dry.

I arrived a couple hours early to walk and pre ride some of the course. I invested some time examining the ditch preceding the first corner and the best lines through the trees that made up the first 9 corners. By chance those corners were also the last 9 corners before riders crossed the finish line when completing a lap.

The barrier and run up felt like my weakest point of the course. My practice with low barriers on level ground now appeared somewhat short sighted. On the plus side I felt my cornering speeds were equal or superior to the riders around me.

After meandering around the course three times I headed to the start line. Riders were already filling the third row of the 35+ cat 4 mens so that is where I parked. Then I noticed that the guys next to me didn’t take an open slot in the second row so, with their permission, I did.
Category 4 Mens Masters 35+ start

The start was a straight gravel road for 200 yards to the ditch, into the trees, and the first turn. As soon as they waived us off I was surprised that there wasn’t that much competition for position. With just a little extra effort I was able to move up to third before the ditch and hold that position into the first corner.

I knew I wanted to stay in the lead group. But I was clueless on what the best race pace should be. My cornering speed was competetive which helped me stay with the leaders. There were just three riders in the lead group by the end of the first lap. We were not racing against each other. Just trying to stay fast without burning up. But if one of use took a corner poorly or got stuck behind a slower rider the positions would get rearranged. This went on for about two laps. During this time I hesitated taking the lead as I still wasn’t sure what the best pace was.

At about the half way point the lead group thinned to just myself and Adam Cramer. He encouraged me to lead for a while and I did so. I imagine he did that to size me up before the last lap. I already knew that I wasn’t likely to win a sprint against Adam as he seemed stronger than me any time he wanted to be.
Cyclocrossing through the trees

When the scorer announced ‘one more lap’ it looked like it would come down to Adam or I. Despite his strength he was letting me set the pace. I upped my cornering speeds a bit but did not put much extra energy into the pedals. This pace was no problem for either of us. Near the end of that last lap Adam passed me to take the lead on the run up. He looked strong and put 50 feet into me on the next three straights and through the two fast corners that joined them. Fortunately a technical section followed and I was able to close the gap with about one minute to go.

With about 30 seconds left to race we entered the section of 9 corners that I knew well. At this point I was using some energy, confident of my lines, and glued to Adams rear wheel. On the third to last right hander (a sharp turn with an uphill entry and gravel patch at the exit) I set up wide to exit tight. This line had worked well all race and it was through this corner that I regained the lead. I put some extra effort into the pedals for the next five corners and crossed the line just two seconds ahead.
The runup at Labor Day Cyclocross Championships
At the Cyclocross finish line

I felt pretty giddy afterwards. I had won races in other disciplines before. But succeeding in a Cyclocross race left me with a validation that all the suffering on the bike before the race translates to a stronger sense of accomplishment after the race.

A few interesting notes:
Credit for some of the action images goes to Woodinville Bicycle. Many more images available at their Smugmug account. Credit for the remainder of the action images goes to the promoter's Facebook account Labor Day Cyclocross Championships.

During the race a number of riders took a dangerous wrong turn after some course tape was knocked down. This happened near the scoring booth and the scorer missed some riders as he made emergency repairs. I was told official scores wouldn’t be posted for a few days and had not been posted at the time of this writing.

I also discovered that Adam, the ‘really strong’ rider, really is. He raced, and nearly won, a second race just 25 minutes after we crossed the finish line.

Summary: Years of racing motorcycles taught me how to make a bike turn. Tens of thousands of vertical feet of climbing with the Cyclopaths conditioned my body to make a bike go. And for this racer on one particular Labor Day that turned into a winning combination.