Friday I drove down to RAWROD with Jesse, Cori and Steve. We arrived around 8 PM, just in time for fresh brats off the grill - very tasty (thanks all who made the brat dinner possible). After the campfire fun (good stories dug) I bunked in Jesse's mega-van and slept pretty good.

Saturday morning was warmer than last year. After I slathered myself with sunscreen, checked the bike and packed food, water and the usual gear I pedaled onto the road to get started. Heather Gilbert joined me and after a waiting a bit, we headed up the Horsethief road.

It was a nice morning. In only jersey and shorts I was comfortably cool. I saw a bunny. Heather and I talked a bit, then other groups caught us and we got separated. Other riders would come and go and it was fun to make new and old acquaintances.

There was some wind on Horsethief road, but it was more of a head wind on the paved road. Riders fell into pacelines. I tried hanging onto dug's wheel but couldn't hold the pace and fell off. Kenny and Elden came by and Elden invited me to jump on, which I did until Kenny alerted me to a low rear tire and I pulled off to take care of it. My pump didn't work well, but luckily anotehr rider was pulled off nearby and his pump worked great. (The tire held air the rest of the day - my guess is I had a slow leak that hadn't sealed completely from mounting the tires and adding sealant 2 days ago.)

The paved road is bland riding and I was glad when the fee booth came into sight because the dirt starts just after it. The ride down Shafer was better than last year, not so much loose rock. The rumor was it had been graded recently.

Last year I was on my full suspension Prophet, but this year I decided to mix it up with the hard tail X-Caliber. (By "decided" I mean I went back and forth 20-30 times.) Shafer let me know right away I was in for a rougher ride this year, but the 29" wheels and low-ish air pressure in the Crossmark tires running tubless helped.

The day was sunny with big, white, poofy clouds. The only mar was the nearly constant 10-15 mph headwind coming out of the south. I tried to keep a sustainable effort and not worry about speed (not having a cyclocomputer made this easier). I hooked onto a train dug was pulling, but the lively pace was wearing me out so I dropped after a while. A few times, usually around corners or going through passes, the wind would gust hard.

The first stop is White Crack and I rolled in and took a rest and refilled my Camelbak. My food was in the other truck an hour or more back, but riders who had extra were sharing their food - enough to fill me up (thanks for sharing!).

Since White Crack is the southernmost point of the White Rim I was hopefully we'd have a nice tail wind as we made our way generally north. But the front was moving in from the north resulting in north winds - not welcome.

I hoped to at least match my effort last year of climbing Murphy Hogback with only one walked section, but it was not to be. At the first pitch, way before the harder stuff, I got a cramp in my left hamstring. I walked it off, but when the next pitch got steep I cramped again. So I would ride until I cramped then walk all the way up. I was confused by these cramps - I didn't feel that worked. Then I figured it out - I'm on a hard tail this year and standing more, and when I stand I always put my left leg forward and have a bad habit of tensing my legs. This was overworking my left hamstring. After Murphy Hogback I focused on staying in the saddle more and relaxing my legs when I stood. I didn't have any more cramps the rest of the day.

While resting and waiting for the rest of our riders atop Murphy Hog back, the weather turned. The wind picked up, it turned cold and started raining. I was glad I had my windbreaker - it kept me just warm enough. We usually take a group shot here, but the weather was getting worse and riders had to get going to stay warm. As I headed off Murphy the wind was gusting so hard I got pushed sideways 1-2 feet a few times. I got hit by a gust just as my front wheel went over a rock and the wind took it - I thought I was going down, but somehow stayed upright. And it was raining pretty good - and a little hail, just for fun. I was glad to get off Murphy.

The rain stopped, but the wind stayed for the rest of the ride. It was stronger than before, I'd guess in the 20 mph range [Fisher said it averaged 30 mph] with gusts hitting 40 or even 50 mph. At times the wind would pick up sand and dust and blast me. When the road would head east I'd have a nice tail wind, but mostly it goes west and north which meant head wind. Mikey at UMB once told me of a White Rim ride where the wind always changed to be coming at them - now I know what he means.

I rode with Elden for a while, until we got separated. I caught Fisher's group and rode with them for a while. With such a large group (somewhere around 70 riders), even on a 100 mile ride you'll either catch up to someone to ride with, or they'll catch you. I felt strong in this section, even with the wind. And while I didn't push the pace I was at a fairly strong effort I felt I could maintain.

I gave Hardscrabble a not-very-determined effort. Climbed some slopes, but walked the steepest 2-3. The good thing about Hardscrabble is you know there are only 15 miles to go.

This year I didn't feel so drained after Hardscrabble. Partly because I ate better (thanks for the reminder, Andy). I even made it through all the sand sections (I made every sand trap of the ride) - the 29er wheels really do handle sand better. I soldiered on alone most of the time, which I enjoyed.

I was looking for the climb back up to the rim, where our camp was, but it's tough to spot and I only knew I was there when the road started to climb. I met Steve there and after a short rest I headed up - determined to make it without stopping. dug told Steve the key to long, steep climbs is to pedal as slowly as possible. Steve passed this advice onto me and it was a good reminder (as I have a habit of charging climbs and burning out).

I started up in 2nd gear and shifted into granny as the road turned left heading to the first switchback. The road is pretty steep, but nothing like the steep pitches on Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble. I prepared myself mentally to push through the 1-2 steepest sections and I did. I arrived at the top and was happy to make at least one big climb.

Jesse and Cori had arrived (much) earlier. When Steve came up with his brother Mark, we loaded up and headed home. But we stopped at Ray's Tavern in Green River for a burger. More rain on the drive home, and even light snow at Soldier Summit. I arrived home around 12:45 AM, took a shower to wash all the wind-blown sand/dirt off me and went to bed.

Another RAWROD in the books, and on video:


oilcanracer said...

thanks kris, as many riders survivied the winter looking at my pics of riding, i now am surviving looking at others. but my knee is slowly feeling better!

Grizzly Adam said...
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Ski Bike Junkie said...
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chtrich said...

Nice write up and thanks for the pull and small talk between Murphy and Hard Scrabble. I'm still wondering how I made it.

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

Wow, you guys had it all - wind/rain/sleet. I'm impressed! Looks like fun.

dug said...
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KanyonKris said...
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KP said...

Great write up! I have never spent so much time in a headwind. If PeTR asks any questions just tell them it was "mechanical weathering."

South County Ciclista said...

Great pics and video. Not sure how I missed meeting you and talking on the ride. Maybe the 70+ people. Maybe we will meet up on the trail sometime.