Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Hundo

Last weekend I got the opportunity to shoot the Bailey Hundo for Mountain Flyer Magazine.  This was a race that had started out as a group ride and exploded into a happening 100 mile endurance race with the racer limit set at 150 invitees.  Dave Weins, Travis Brown, JHK, Sonya Looney, Ezster Horanyi, and a host of other super fast folks spent the first half of the day ripping the killer single track around between Bailey, Buffalo Creek, and Deckers, and the second half of the day climbing back up to Bailey on a brutal climb up Stoney Pass Road.

Jason Bertolacci of Colorado Mountain Bike Association dialed me in on following the race in my car which was crucial, as I needed to know when the leaders would be coming through certain sections of the course.  I definitely felt like I needed to do some scouting too (read: ride single track) so I spent five hours on the clock the day before the race.  It was good: really good.  So Luckily, with a lot of hustling, I was able to catch the leaders in three or four places throughout the single track portion of the race.

After that, I drove to the long dirt road climb but the first four riders had already gone up the road and I wanted to shoot a bunch of stuff on the way up the climb. It was a pretty awesome sight to watch these guys and gals work their way up through the burned out wasteland and finally into the trees at the top of the pass.  I ended up shooting racers in about 5th thru 30th places as I leapfrogged them up the pass for a couple hours.  There were some epic battles going on as each rider struggled with the conditions in their own way.

I knew quite a few people in the race, and one of my oldest racing buddies, Jason Stubbe was sitting in 20th place or so though out the race.  40 miles into the single track section I had ridden my bike a few miles out onto the Colorado Trail to shoot.  Stubbe came by and I was screaming and yelling at him telling him he was doing great.  He stopped for a minute and I helped him refill his camelback and grab a bite to eat. He was off down the trail  "I feel good."

A couple hours later I'm half way up Stoney Pass Road and I know he should be coming up soon. I should have a cooler full of food but I literally have 1 small bottle of water and a cinnamon roll in my car.  Ill prepared for hand-ups and for shooting all day.  I'm parked at the top of a particularly steep section that climbs and turns into a stiff headwind, mile 85 or so.

Here comes Stubbe, I know the way he rides his bike, I've ridden with him for hundreds if not thousands of hours.   He's hurting, I can tell.  But he's still holding the same place he was 40 miles ago, sick.  I yell down the road to him, "Stubbe!!  I've got stuff for you!!."  Not really, that is besides the 12 ounces of water and most of a cinnamon roll.  He pulls up and gets off the bike and grabs a bit of shade from a tree.  After drinking the water he grabs the cinnamon roll and picks up his bike asking me were we are.  I don't know, maybe near the top?  He slowly pedals off eating the roll.

Turns out we aren't that close to the top.  After the finish he told me the cinnamon roll saved his life;  I believe it.  Stubbe ended up finishing 23rd overall, pretty damn fast for a guy that works his ass off building houses during the week!  Anyway, Good times and suffering were had by all.  Definitely check out the trail system in the Bailey area, lots of excellent single track!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Down for the Count; Groveling at the Growler

What a great weekend in good ole' Gunrack.  Wiensey was at it again, throwing 300 or more folks out into Hartman Rocks for some classic single track amongst the sage and rock.  It's a deceivingly brutal 64 miles that gives riders no quarter.  Up, down, around; with little time for physical or mental rest, the course is constantly dealing out another challenge.

My race was a race to implosion as I hammered my way into oblivion.  Some sort of volatile mixture in my stomach had me puking out at skull pass on the first lap, spraying myself all over my right arm and leg multiple times.  After this pleasant incident,  I could not hold down any food or water, specially at the pace I was riding.  I finished my first lap in about 3:15, too fast for my own good.  By the time I set out for my second lap I knew I was headed to a bad place.  I was getting goose bumps and chills yet it was 70 degrees and sunny.  I was getting some liquids down but things were not settling in the belly well.

After skull pass on the second lap I pulled into the aid station for some shade and a coke.  No sooner had I snapped open the pop top of the coke than up came all that I had drunk in the last hour or so.  Spraying of the sage commenced for a few minutes.  The aid station volunteers no doubt enjoyed my suffering.  Violent chills and uncontrollable shakes began.  Twenty minutes later I was no better off, and about to have one of the course workers check me out, when Sally, an EMT working the station came over.  She said she had been watching me and I didn't look so good.  I said I must look as bad as I feel.  She took my vitals and blood sugar count and told me I was done for the day.

Weinsey happened to be out at skull resupplying the water so he gave me a ride back to the front side where an ambulance met me to check my vitals once again.  Seeing some improvement and the fact that once I stopped riding, I was eventually able to get some liquids down, they set me free to wallow in my sorrow.

Regardless of this heinous experience, it was a great weekend for a great race.  I am looking forward to completing the Full Growler next year, after a trip back to the drawing board that is.