Nov 24, 2014

The Colorado Trail Race 2014 No end to up part 2

No end to up

Part 2

The Colorado Trail Race 2014


Pre race

This is my second attempt at this race. The first was in 2012 when I got as far a Buena Vista and bailed there. That year we took the Bailey Detour for the first detour on the course which is over 50 miles shorter than the Terryall detour that we took this year. Otherwise the course is the same.

Since this is a point to point race Rich and I drove separately out to Durango CO. where we had made arraignments to leave his car at a guy’s house. We got a hotel there than took my car back to Denver the next morning, and spent another night in a hotel, the next morning we parked my car at the starting trailhead for the duration of the race.


Day 1

6AM Sunday August 10th

Rich and I arrived at Waterton Canyon Trailhead, Littleton CO at about 5:30 AM, picked up our “Spot” trackers and got ready to go. At the last minute I had a brain fart and forgot where I put my car keys and had to search for them so we were actually about 5 minutes late starting.

The first 3 segments went as expected as I had ridden it before. For Rich and other rookies the first segment is an eye opener because it gives you a taste of how much climbing there is in this race. We got some rain and hail but were able to take cover in the trees and wait it out. About 4:30 PM we got to the start of the first detour in a light rain. This was a different detour than I had done 2 years ago, it was much longer. The Terryall detour is 70 miles long with over 8000 feet of climbing! (Info: It is illegal to ride a bicycle in wilderness areas in the U.S. so there are 5 bicycle detours on the Colorado Trail around wilderness areas) We made it about ½ ways thru the detour before night fall and camped at a forest service campground called Goose Creek. Gabe was with us most of the day. And 3 others joined us soon after we arrived including John and Jill H. We had hoped to get water from the pump but it was broken so we ended up filtering water from the creek.

Total for the day 62 miles and 14 hours.


Day 2

We awoke at 6 AM and were on our way by 7 AM.

We had about 20 miles of dirt road and than 10 more miles of pavement before getting back to the trail just before Kenosha Pass.

About noon we got to the Stage Coach bar and had a great hamburger for lunch. There were several other CTR riders there also and we got a chance to visit with our fellow racers. I got a chance to talk to Jill H from Colorado who I had first met at the Arrowhead 135 in 2013.

A few more miles of gravel and we were back on the trail and than just a few more miles and we were at Kenosha Pass where we talked with several riders again while we refilled our water at the campground pump. We continued on for about 6  more miles of trail and camped at Jefferson Creek with Gabe and
John at about 8 PM. Rich suffered a broken chain about 2 miles before we camped. We were able to repair it easily by removing a couple of links.

Totals: 62 miles and 13 hours


Day 3

Georgia Pass

We awoke at 6 AM and were on the trail by 7. Up and over Georgia Pass and a secondary pass. The secondary pass is actually harder than Georgia Pass, the trail is much worse. About ¾ of the way thru we ran into the leaders of the “Brek Epic” a multi-stage professional mtn bike race that runs out of Breck. I saw about 4 or 5 of the top riders go by.

This segment ends by descending into Tiger Run in Breckenridge. At the base of the trail I ran into Gabe and John taking a break. After a little bit they took off and a few minutes later Rich showed up (he was behind me) In Breck we got food (subway) and Rich had almost everything replaced in his drive train, i.e. small chain ring, chain, and gear cluster. Up until this point he had not been able to use the small chain ring! I replaced my rear brakes.

Mid afternoon we started up Gold hill out of Breckenridge and the “Ten Mile Range” segment. We camped at about 7 PM, 4.8 miles into the segment at the end of a jeep trail and an old log cabin. A place I had camped at 2 years ago.

28 Miles Total


Day 4

Ten Mile Range thru Copper to Tennesse Pass
We awoke again at about 6 AM and were on the trail about 7 AM. The trail again here is very rocky and tough. We got to Copper before noon and ran into Ko.  He was  another racer that we would see many times during the CTR. He said he had passed us during the night and had gone all the way thru to Copper. He later told us he liked to sleep late and ride late into the night. Not a very good strategy if you ask me!
We had lunch in Copper and then it was on to Tennessee Pass. This is one of the first segments that spends a long time above tree line and up to 12300 feet.  Leaving Copper we ran into Gab again he and John had gone ahead of us last night and rode into Copper after dark. He was coming back into Copper, he said he had broken his shoe and wasn’t feeling 100% physically so he was dropping. A few miles further we ran into John and he was also heading back into Copper and he also said he was dropping because he wouldn’t be able to make his timeline.
The trail goes over Searle Pass than the high point of Elk Ridge than over Kokomo Pass all of them above tree line. Once over Kokomo Pass it’s a nice downhill for many miles. Down to Camp Hale where the Army trained it’s special forces during WWII. We got lucky and didn’t hit any thunder storms while above tree line, we did get rained on though. Saw our first herd of domestic sheep out on the open range near Kokomo Pass. At camp Hale Rich talked me into to pushing on to Tennessee Pass in the dark and later the rain. When we arrived at Tennessee Pass about 10:30 PM we were thoroughly exhausted and cold and wet and it was still raining. At the pass there is a highway rest stop with large concrete out houses, these were actually very
We awoke again at about 6 AM and were on the trail about 7 AM. The trail again here is very rocky and tough. We got to Copper before noon and ran into Ko.  He was  another racer that we would see many times during the CTR. He said he had passed us during the night and had gone all the way thru to Copper. He later told us he liked to sleep late and ride late into the night. Not a very good strategy if you ask me!
We had lunch in Copper and then it was on to Tennessee Pass. This is one of the first segments that spends a long time above tree line and up to 12300 feet.  Leaving Copper we ran into Gab again he and John had gone ahead of us last night and rode into Copper after dark. He was coming back into Copper, he said he had broken his shoe and wasn’t feeling 100% physically so he was dropping. A few miles further we ran into John and he was also heading back into Copper and he also said he was dropping because he wouldn’t be able to make his timeline.
The trail goes over Searle Pass than the high point of Elk Ridge than over Kokomo Pass all of them above tree line. Once over Kokomo Pass it’s a nice downhill for many miles. Down to Camp Hale where the Army trained it’s special forces during WWII. We got lucky and didn’t hit any thunder storms while above tree line, we did get rained on though. Saw our first herd of domestic sheep out on the open range near Kokomo Pass. At camp Hale Rich talked me into to pushing on to Tennessee Pass in the dark and later the rain. When we arrived at Tennessee Pass about 10:30 PM we were thoroughly exhausted and cold and wet and it was still raining. At the pass there is a highway rest stop with large concrete out houses, these were actually very
clean so we ended spending the night camped in the outhouses. We later dubbed these the Tennessee Pass Hilton.
33 Miles Total and 15.5 Hours
Day 5
Tennessee Pass thru Leadville to Buena Vista
We rose at 6 AM and were again on the trail about 7 AM. There’s only about 2.5 miles of trail than you start the detour around Holy Cross and Mount Massive Wildernesses. 14 road miles to Leadville where we had a late breakfast at the Golden Burro. We picked up a few supplies (Me a pair of rain pants and Rich a part for his camelback). Hosed our bikes down at a gas station and bought a can of silicone spray and lubed up our bikes, and were on our way again. 7.5 more miles of road and then back onto the trail. The weather forecast for this afternoon was 100% chance of torrential flooding rains and thunder storms. Well we got a few showers and that was it.
We did the Twin Lakes Segment with a little rain but no other problems. During the segment we ran into a guy who was marking the trail for the Leadville 100 trail run. We also caught up to Ko again. He told me he had ridden into Leadville thru the rain and night and gotten there about 1 AM the only thing open was a bar and a gas station. He searched for a hotel and they were all full because of the upcoming Leadville 100. He also tried to find a city park to camp in and that was already full of campers, so he ended up riding up the road a few miles further and camped. I rode with him into Twin Lakes where he called a relative in the area for a ride home.
We continued on to the end of the segment and then started the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Detour into Buena Vista. This detour is very nice and scenic and almost all downhill, it’s many miles riding alongside the Arkansas River, so its lots of fun. After some searching we got a room at a nice mom and pop hotel next store to the grocery store. We had a good meal at a Mexican restaurant and then did some grocery shopping.
47 miles
Day 6
Buena Vista to the ponds
The next section is 4 to 5 days without resupply so it involves some serious planning. I was awake most of the night worrying if I had enough food and supplies etc. In the morning we went out for breakfast and also ordered a burrito for lunch on the trail. The waitress couldn’t grasp the idea that we were bikepacking and she brought out this burrito to go that was in a huge Styrofoam container and covered with gravy. We explained to her that we were traveling on bikes and could she just wrap the burritos in cellophane, so she took them and when she brought them back she had wrapped the huge Styrofoam container in cellophane. We took them back to our room and tossed the Styrofoam container and wrapped the burrito in the cellophane and tucked them into our food packs.
I had screwed up in Breckenridge by not buying more than 1 pair of brake pads so I wanted to visit the bike shop in town before we left to buy more brake pads, the bike shop didn’t open till 9 so I made another run to the grocery store than rode to the bike shop. I got there about 15 mins to 9 and the guy was just setting up and I was able to ask him for brake pads and he checked and he was all out, bummer. He directed me to a second bike shop in town (Bone Shaker Bikes) and I got there about 5 mins to 9 and waited a couple of minutes till the owner showed up and he was able to fix me up with 2 more sets of brake pads.
I made a call to Rich to let him know where I was but got no answer so I left him a message and waited for about 15 minutes and then headed out of town. I found out later that he was having a hell of a time packing for the next half of the CTR. He decided (and rightly so) to down size his gear and left a huge box of stuff at the hotel to be picked up on our way back home,
The CTR really gets serious starting here. The easy part is behind you (the easy part being you pass thru
resupply). It’s a little scary.
Leaving BV there is 10 miles of detour on the road (all climbing of course) to get back onto the trail. I had a little trouble finding the trail again but not too bad. Rich was behind me but caught up in a few hours. A great part of the trip is the other trail users you run into. At the hotel we had talked to an older couple with a dog who were thru hiking the CT they said they were only doing about 10 miles a day and it would take them about 60 days to complete. Most thru hikers were doing about 20 miles a day and it would take them 30 days to complete. Well I saw this couple again as we were leaving town, I was riding and they were hitch hiking. Than a couple of hours later I again passed them on the trail, obviously they had gotten a ride and passed me up.
We finished up segment 13 and started on segment 14. Got 17.5 miles into segment 14 and made camp near a couple of ponds after dark.
44 miles total and about 12 hours
Day 7
The ponds to Sargents Mesa
Again we got up about 6 and were on the trail about 7 AM. We finished segment 14 and started on the grand daddy of all climbs Fosses Creek. Almost 4000 feet of climbing in 8 miles. The lower half wasn’t too bad, about 1100 feet of climbing in 4 miles a lot of it was rideable, the next 4 miles were a bear, all up hill and it got steeper as you went, ending up at the Continental Divide at just under 12000 feet. We ran into lots of other riders at the top of Fosses, it’s a popular route to be driven up to Monarch pass and then ride down to Marshall Pass about half of which is on the Colorado trail.
A few miles beyond the top there is a pipe stuck in the hillside with water flowing out of it, so we stopped and filled up with water and were on our way. We finished the segment at Marshall Pass and started into the next segment to Sargents Mesa. We ran into lots of free range cattle in this segment. Cameroon Park was very pretty except for the cattle. We camped at the base of Sargents Mesa right at tree line about 11700 feet. Early in the morning we were woken by a coyote howling, he ran off when I shined my light on him. It was a cool night.
33 miles
Day 8
Start of Sargents Mesa to half way thru LaGarita Detour
Not much of a trail head at the end of segment 16 start of 17, just a 4x4 trail at the start of Sargents Mesa
Sargents Mesa was great to see in the early morning.
12 miles into segment 18 we started the LaGarita Wilderness Detour. We got about ½ ways thru the detour by dark and camped between the road and the river just over Los Pinos Pass.
62 miles.
Day 9
La Garita Detour to Cataract Lake
We finished up the Detour, did segment 22 which includes the highest point of the CT at 13371 feet. I’ve wanted to climb some of Colorado’s 14’ers this is as close as I got. A couple of miles before the high point there is another bear of a climb that is of course hike-a-bike, rocky switch backs. This is where we ran into another flock of free range sheep complete with guard dogs, which were 2 huge white Great Pyrennes. They came at us barking but settled down after a little bit. Rich tried to give them a treat, one of his energy bars (I won’t mention the brand) and even the dogs wouldn’t eat it!  On the way down we ran into 3 thru riders going the opposite direction all on rigid frame bikes, hard core.  5.7 miles into segment 23 we camped at Cataract Lake at nightfall.
47 miles
 Day 10
Cataract Lake thru Silverton to 8 miles into Segment 25
It rained during the night and into the morning so we were a little late getting moving. 10 miles of trail and then it was supposed to be 10 miles of downhill road riding to Silverton.
Well it was 10 miles of trail to the end of the segment than we started the Weminuche Detour into Silverton. We were looking forward to an easy ride into town. But the first 4 miles was a very steep downhill on a very rough and rocky jeep trail. We stopped ½ ways down to change Rich’s rear brake pads, both of our rear brake rotors were discolored from the heat of braking.
Well we made it to Silverton which is a huge milestone because you are probably going to make it to the finish if you make it this far.
We had lunch in a local restaurant and also ordered a Philly cheese steak sandwich to go, than we stopped at a grocery store to stock up again on groceries and headed out of town. 7.5 miles up the highway to Molas pass and we pick up the CT again. We rode 8 miles of trail on segment 25 than camped on the side of a mountain at a dry campsite.
35 miles.
Day 11
Dry camp on Segment 25 to 4 miles into Segment 27 along the ridge.
The trail as you got further south improved drastically. It seemed better designed, less erosion etc. We ran into several other riders and hikers the next two days. The trail for a long ways followed along the edge of ridges so it was nice riding and very scenic.
A nice day of riding and we even quit a little early and had a nice camp along the ridge 4 miles into Segment 27.
28 miles.
Day 12
Ridge camp to the finish
Again the trail thru the first part of Segment 27 was along the ridge. Well the great trail can’t last forever and the trail went up above the tree line for 7 miles on Indian Trail Ridge and two summits above 12000 feet. The last of the high summits.
Than it was down to Taylor Lake for lunch and on to the last segment.
Segment 28 was 20 miles long and over 6500 feet of down. There was a little of climbing of course but it was mostly down. This segment also had a long portion on a scree slope, that was interesting. Rich and I both were having a little bit of a hard time concentrating on our riding and we both had slow speed crashes off of the side of the trail. I guess we were both thinking of beer and pizza and the finish.
Well we crossed the finish line at 6:30 PM. 11 days 12 ½ hours since the start. 560 trail miles.
38 miles for the day
We took a few pictures, I was just too tired and beat to feel anything but relief that we had made it.
We rode the 4 miles into town and the same hotel we had stayed in before the start of the race. We got cleaned up and we just couldn’t ride the 4 miles to pick up the car, so Rich took a cab to Andy’s house where his car was parked. We went out to a local pizza place for pizza and beer, ended up meeting a guy and his family who had just moved to Durango from Duluth,
small world. We got a good nights rest and started the long drive home the next day.
We got delayed in Fairplay CO by a professional road bike race so we got to see the pelethon go by.
Overall it was a great ride. We got to see parts of Colorado that most people will never see.
The weather was ok the whole time we were out there, we never got the torrential flooding rains that they had predicted when we were going thru Leadville. We did have thunder storms and hail on the first three days but were below tree line every time. It wasn’t till about the 6th day that we had a day with no rain. After that it seemed that we had a dryer air mass move thru because there was a lot less dew in the morning and a lot less condensation inside the tent. All of the nights were pretty cool. Low 40’s to high 30’s. I had a 30 degree sleeping bag and was a little cool at night even wearing all of my clothes.
My feet really took a beating out on the trail with all of the hike-a-bike (HIB). My cycling shoes are a little big and the Velcro closures make it hard to close them up really tight so while hiking my feet would move around a lot inside my shoes and it just rubbed my toes raw and top that off with having wet feet most of the time. I ended up wrapping most of my toes in duct tape after about day 7, which helped a lot. The good thing about the big shoes is that they still fit after my feet swelled. When I went to put on my regular running shoes after the race I could hardly get them on because my feet were swollen. I had to drive home without wearing shoes.
I did not have any mechanicals, the closet thing was I should have brought along 2 pair of spare brake pads. I did have a tire go flat leaving Silverton but after adding air to it a few times it was fine. (I was running tubeless) There were a few bruises in the sidewall from hitting rocks but it did hold air.
Rich had a few problems, I mentioned his drivetrain malfunctions and also on the morning of day 7 he decided to check the air in his tires with the new fangled hybrid pump he had brought which advertised that it could be used for air shocks and tires. When he tried to put some air in his back tire he broke off his valve stem, and he had left behind his spare tube in Buena Vista. Luckily I had brought along 2 spare tubes so we got him going with 1 of my spares. He also broke his rear rack on day 6 so he moved all of his gear to his backpack and handlebars which made for a front heavy bike, I don’t know how he handled that front bike on those rough down hills but he did.
For clothes I brought:
1 short sleeve cycling jersey which I wore the first couple of days and most nights
1 long sleeve T-shirt which I wore the rest of the time including at night
1 pair of cycling shorts
1 pair of medium wt wool socks (I wish I had brought 2 pairs since the 1 pair was wet most of the time.)
1 pair of long running pants “Sport Hill” which I wore the start of every day and every night
1 Medium wt cycling jacket which I wore the start of every day and every night
Rain jacket top, which got used most days….. I bought a pair of rain pants in Leadville, (It was really cold    cycling in the rain)
Hat and gloves
1 pair of arm covers which I never used.
Cycling gloves …..Cycling shoes
My sleeping gear consisted of:
Small 2 person tent, I prefer a tent over a bivy and/or a tarp
30 degree sleeping bag, which was barely warm enough
Z-rest sleeping pad…Not terribly comfortable for a side sleeper but I haven’t found anything better.
Inflatable pillow

Mar 14, 2014

ARROWHEAD 135 1/27/14


JANUARY 27, 2014

After a giant snowstorm last year while on the trail I was ready to try the AHU again on a skinny tire 29er.

The weather forecast was calling for clear and cold. Looking back on my other attempts at the AHU 135 I realized that I seemed to do better in the cold years. We’ll see if that holds true this year. I also had my new TI 29er so maybe that will help also.

Gear List: -20 degree sleeping bag (synthetic) with a double layer bivy on the handle bars. My sleeping pad was in the triangle. On the rear rack I had the bike bag with down jacket, Lined wind pants, spare gloves, 2 pair of spare socks, a few tools, spare parts and heat packs.  I carried a fanny pack with some food in it and I wore a 2 liter camel back under my layers for water. I carried a bar mount flashlight and a head lamp plus a blinky light front and back. I believe my sleeping rig and spare clothes, tools, and parts weighed about 16 lbs. This did not include my water or food.

For clothes I wore a pair of tri shorts than a medium weight pair of running tights than my pair of Sport Hill pants and finally a pair of bike shorts. On my feet I had on 2 pair of heavy socks and my Solomon boots. On top I first put on a vapor barrier which was an old full zip wind breaker, than I wore 3 layers of medium weight full zip synthetic jackets. On my head I wore a light balaclava, than my DXC cap, than a face mask that covered my cheeks and nose, than a medium weight fleece balaclava with a draw string face opening. And a heavy pair of snomo mitts for the hands. And of course I have a pair of bar end gauntlets on the bike.

The event always starts with check in and then the racers meeting and dinner the night before the start. Saw lots of old friends and even won a blinky tail light which ended up dying on me 20 hours into the race. The race director Ken’s words held true that you were much more likely to win a prize at the pre race meeting than you are of finishing the race! Ken also showed us a graphic that showed the historical chances of finishing the race fell at exactly 50%. That number will be a little lower after this year’s race is added in.

The weather at the start was no surprise, about 25 below zero with a light wind. Luckily the prevailing winds are from the North West and the trail goes mostly south east. I almost missed the start, I was taking my time in the warming house adjusting my gear and at about 5 mins to 7 headed out to the starting line, I had just got up onto the trail when the start signal was given. I think they were a little early with the start.

The trail early on was hard packed as expected with these temps and the riding was good. When we made the turn at mile 9 we hit freshly groomed trail (it must have been groomed the night before because it was set up hard) so the going got even better. A quick stop to eat and drink and back at it. The trail continued to be in good shape all day although it was deceiving that it wasn’t especially fast.

 I was about 15 minutes faster than last year getting into check point 1.Arriving at 12:26.  My problem? I thought it would be a good idea to try and dry some of my clothes so I spent the time waiting for my clothes to come out of the dryer and in the process lost my balaclava, luckily I was able to buy a new one, and then the clothes really hadn’t dried much they were just warm and wet. I spent 1 hour and 45 minutes here where as last year I had spent 30 minutes.

I left chp #1 at 2:13 the next section is where the hills start, nothing really big but lots of rollers, it’s a very scenic trail and I really enjoyed it. I stayed pretty warm, at chp 1 I had put 2 heat packs in each boot rather than just 1 and that really made a difference. I rode most of the day with my hands out of the gauntlets because they were getting to warm. Sometime during the afternoon my front shock collapsed (I knew it would because I was having troubles with it) this caused my sleeping bag which was hanging from my front handle bars to drag on the front tire. Luckily I was able to reposition things so that it wouldn’t drag. I also lost my back brake, but again I knew that was coming, I think I got some air in the lines or the pads are just worn down, any how ya don’t need brakes much on the Arrowhead.

I pulled into chp #2 the halfway point at 8:53 PM about 40 minutes behind last year’s pace. Last year when I was here the place was nearly empty but this year it was nearly full. Where last year it was fairly warm outside and I stayed for 2 ½ hours, this year it was headed for 30 below so my plan was to get my clothes good and dry and rest and head out in the morning. I accomplished all of the above. It is kinda interesting at this check point because you finally get to meet and talk to some of the other competitors instead seeing them as you pass one another on the trail.

 I tried to sleep twice while there and both times I only slept for about 15 minutes. The first time I snagged one of the beds but it was so hot up in that loft I couldn’t stand it so I had to go down stairs. The second time I laid on the floor and it was a little cooler but less comfortable. I did get a little to eat here but wasn’t terribly hungry.

As planned I got out of checkpoint 2 at just before 5 AM. I was cool outside to say the least but the trail was nice and firm and I felt good. The next leg of the race is the longest and the hilliest at about 40 miles and some of the biggest hills. I walked a lot of the hills but not all of them. Passed and got passed by several other riders. A few of the riders had left about 2 AM and ended up getting so cold that they ended up bivying along the trail till it warmed up a bit and I passed these guys just as they were getting moving again.

It’s a long haul getting to chkpt 3 but then all of a sudden it appears out of nowhere right in the middle of the trail. All chkpt 3 consists of is 2 ice fishing shelters set up on the edge of the trail. There is room for about 6 people there and if they get overcrowded they start kicking out the ones who have been there the longest. They do serve ya hot chocolate and you can fill up on water .I arrived at 12:45 and left at 1:52.

The next obstacle is “Wake’um up hill” The biggest hill and the highest point on the trail. All of the other years I had done this part of the trail at night so it was nice to see it during the day. Wake’um up hill is a lot less daunting during the daylight. It also is getting a lot more tree cover over the years. The first couple of times I went over the top it was a bald knob but now there’s quite a few trees up there.

After descending Wake’um up the trail crosses the highway goes thru the woods for a couple more miles and then enters the giant black spruce swamp which goes on flat as a pancake with no trees taller than 20 feet for over 20 miles. I kind of enjoyed this area in other years but this year it was drudgery. The trail was starting to get soft, the wind was blowing causing drifting and I was tired. There was a biker just a few minutes ahead of me and their tracks would disappear under the drifting snow before I got there. There were a few more snowmobiles here which also made the trail softer.

Well I did make it to the end. I crossed the finish line just before sunset at 5:27 PM for a total time of 34 hours and 27 minutes

Total time at the checkpoints equaled about 11 hours so a riding time of 23 ½ hours divided by 135 miles equals an average speed of just 5 ¾ MPH. Ya that sounds about right. The winner averaged about 6 ¾ MPH and the record holder from last year (who this year was pulled from the race at the first checkpoint because of frost bite) averaged under 10MPH.

Aug 10, 2013


Time to catch up on the summers adventures. I had planned on taking another stab at the Colorado Trail Race again this year but they moved it up a week which lead to some conflicts with some other races I had signed up for. So instead I decided to make up my own adventure and do a ride in the Black Hills of South Dakota and maybe if time allowed a little riding in North Dakota.
I left home about mid morning on Friday and got to Rapid City late that same day. I needed to do a few things in Rapid City so I spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. I've slept in a lot of odd places over the years but that's the first time I slept in a Walmart parking lot. I got up and had a good breakfast and headed over to the visitors center to pickup some maps and info on the trails. Since I started planning this trip I had been having trouble finding info on the Centennial Trail. I could find basic info but there wasn't a lot of specific info like is available on the Colorado Trail and this held true at the visitors center also. After the visitors center I headed over to a local bike shop. I got there about a half hour before they opened and while waiting for them to open I was talking to another customer also waiting, this guy was a true conspiracy theory guy who was sure the government was going to bomb and kill all but the upper class and he was going to be a survivor. Quite the guy. Well the bike shop guy said the Centennial trail was in good shape to ride, and they have been improving the northern part so that it got better as you go north. Well that fit my plan as I had intended to start at the southern end of the Centennial Trail and go north than ride on over to the Michaelson Trail and head south back to the truck. I headed out to the north end of Wind Cave Nat Park and the Highland T.H. for the start.
I arrived at the trail head about 11:30 and had the bike all packed and started riding about noon.
The trail was very reminiscent of the Colorado Trail. It was built with hikers in mind but they do allow bikers and horse riders. This trail looked like it had a lot of horse traffic. The trail was typical mountain single track. It started heading up immediately but was very rideable. After a few hours I hit the first section of hike a bike (HIB) several miles of very steep trail just full of bowling ball size boulders. It was quite a hike I don't know how a horse would make it up here. I was moving along at a steady pace getting much further than I had thought. I got to the first big detour late in the afternoon. The area where Mount Rushmore is is called the Black Elk Wilderness and bikers are not allowed. You can circle around it to the east or west and I decided to go west. This involved a 20 mile section of Needles highway. The first 10 miles were up hill but the second 10 miles were down hill and what a blast, going around the switch backs and hairpin turns at 30 MPH was great. I got around the wilderness by mid evening and went a couple of miles north on the trail and made camp for the night in a big open field.
Totals for the day: 42 miles and 8 hours. Camp 1 just north of Big Pine TH.
Day 2 started about 8 AM I got up packed up and hit the trail.The trail was typical up and down all day, mostly single track with an occasional dirt road. I saw very few people on the trail, only the occasional day hiker. One problem is that the trail did not seem to pass thru any towns so resupply was difficult. about mid afternoon as it was beginning to rain I was near Pactola Reservoir and made a detour to the marina get a meal. The only thing there was a convience store that also sold pizza and chicken so I ordered a pizza and got a pop and had a good meal. After eating I hit the trail again for a few hours till I got to Pilot Knob TH and camped near there at the edge of a field near a creek. Washed up in the creek and hit the hay for the night.
Totals for day 2: 40 miles and 11 hours
Day 3 started at 7 AM I packed up and hit the trail. The trail from where I was at (Pilot KnobTH) and north to Dalton TH was open to motorized vehicles so I didn't think navigation would be a problem. The trail was easy to follow but ya had to pay attention to the signs because there were a lot intersecting trails and the trail was very rocky and rutted from erosion. Detoured into the little town of Nemo for a meal only to find the only restaurant was closed for the day so convience store food would have to do. I did see a few more people in this area mostly on ATV's. Nemo was a nice little town with a cute looking campground but not much else. I continued on to Dalton TH. The trail was along a ridge above the TH and I saw the sign directing the motorized vehicles down the hill to the TH but missed the second turn down the hill and continued on till I came to an intersection where I knew I was off the trail but I thought I could still find the TH by continuing down the dirt road and when I came across some ATV'ers I asked for directions and they told me I was headed for the TH just up the road. I reached the TH about noon but I could not find the Centennial trail going north from the TH. I found 2 trails at the TH and knew the motorizes trail ended here so I picked the non-motorizes trail out of the TH and it climbed a huge hill that was about 45 minutes of HIB and when I got to the top I recognized the ridge trail I had just been on so I headed back down the same trail to Dalton TH and than tried the other trail leading out of the TH and again after about 45 minutes of HIB up the hill again I came to the same ridge trail and had to turn around and go back down. I checked the road about a mile in each direction and could not find the trail out of there. All of this had taken me about 2 hours and now I was at a total of 102 miles into the trip so I decided to call it quites for the Centennial trail and head for Deadwood and the start of the Michaelson Trail.
The ride to Deadwood was mostly dirt road and it was a great scenic ride. It took some concentration to navigate but I didn't have any problems. The last few miles were on pavement and than a few miles on the Michaelson trail into Deadwood. I got the last hotel room in Deadwood because the motorcyclers were starting to arrive for the rally.
Totals for day 3: 40 miles and 9 hours
Day 4
The Michaelson Trail
Started from deadwood early in the morning. The Michaelson is an old RR grade that has been converted to a bike trail. The first miles, about 15 were all up hill. but because it is a RR grade it is a slight grade. Than the next 20 or so miles are all down hill and it was a blst to ride. There are several short tunnels along this section also. After about 50 miles the trail flattens out and you are nearly out of the mountains. Stoped in a little diner in Hill City for lunch. Rode on to the little town of Pringle, It was starting to rain a little and this was directly west of where I left the truck. So I left the trial and rode the roads for about 20 miles back to the truck. Near the entrance to Wind Cave  Park I ran into a herd of buffalo on the road had to shoo them out of the way than I sat and watched them for awhile. I was going to ride up to a lookout tower but the buffalo had road blocked. So I continued on towards the truck. About 2 miles from the truck I came across another herd of buffalo who had the road blocked. I yelled and tried to move them along for about half an hour but they weren't moving out of the road and it was a remote road so there were no cars to push them out of the way. I finally ended up riding about a quarter mile cross country to the buffalo fence and than followed the buffalo fence around the herd (The buffalo fence  is a 10 or 12 foot tall fence that runs for miles along the border between Wind Cave Park and Custer Park. Apparently they don't want the wind cave buffalo mixing with the custer buffalo.) I figured if the buffalo charged me I could toss the bike at them and climb the fence. But I got around them ok and back to the truck about 7 or 8 PM. Enough time to throw the bike in the back and than I drove a few miles further into Wind Cave Park and dry camped for the night.
Total miles about 80 and 12 hours on the trail.
Day 5
Black Hills hiking
Spent the day hiking. Specifically to Harney peak the highest point in the Black Hills. Took a swim in Sylvan Lake to clean up.Than headed for Medora North Dakota and the southern end of the Maa Daa Hey Trail.
Day 6
Maa Daa Hey Trail.
After breakfast in a diner in Medora headed out on the Maa Daa Hey Trail south to North. The plan was to just have an easy day ride. The start is right along the Little Missouri River in fact you have to walk across the river within the first mile. It was only knee deep but the trail in the area is very sandy. After a few miles the trail became very nice. It seemed to be well maintained very ridable. Unfortunately I was unpreppared and was supposed to take the Buffalo Gap detour around the Theodore Roosevelt Nat Park but It wasn't posted and I continued on thru Theodore Roosevelt which was a big mistake. The trail turned to crap in the park The trail was over grown with a scratchy brush which tore the hell out of my bare shins. I rode about 10 miles in and turned around and headed back. Stopped a couple of times to talk to other bikers, saw a few rattle snakes and had my only flat of the trip about 2 miles from the end.
Total miles for the day about 25 and about 5 hours riding.

Mar 29, 2013

Probably the last day of skiing. It was a great day warm and sunny.

Mar 23, 2013

A little skiing and a little biking. (The gravel is a little sloppy)
Life is good

Feb 9, 2013

Feb 3, 2013

Arrowhead 135 V2013

Arrowhead 135 V2013
After all the hours spent preparing for really cold weather the forecast calls for temps near freezing and snow on Monday night.
The Arrowhead begins with the gear check on Sunday afternoon, a great time to visit with old friends that you may only see at the race than a short time later it’s on to the racers meeting and the spaghetti dinner. Saw Mike S, Tim E, and Jeremy K. At the dinner along with a lot of other familiar faces. And after a good night’s sleep the race starts not so bright but early at 7 AM Monday morning. The temps were in the mid 20’s for the start. Got off to a good start, the trail was soft as expected but was able to ride pretty well. The beginning was uneventful for the most part, was pushing it a little and had several low speed crashes. The front tire would get off the track and sink down to the hub than I would usually go over the handlebars. This happened several times, jammed my thumb one time. Made good time to Gateway store which is the first checkpoint at 35 miles, pulled in and had some food (which was free this year thanks to the sponsors). I only had 1 can of pop to drink which I regretted later, I should have drunk more. I left the checkpoint at about 1:30 in the afternoon, great time. After this first checkpoint the trail becomes very hilly so it is a little slower going but the trail was actually better, I still made good time, saw John K and Chris W out on the trail and we leap frogged each other several times. With a lot of concentration on finding the best line to ride I still was able to ride most of it. We got a little snow and sleet but not much and I was hoping we were going to luck out and not get any more. Things went well and I pulled into Melgeorges the ½ way check point at a little after 8 PM which was 12 hours of pedaling or 13 hours into the race, right about on plan.
Got some food and drink and tried to sleep but couldn’t so I packed up and left at 10:41 PM.
Chris and John had left about 40 minutes before me so their tracks were out there and a few others but by now there was 3 to 4 inches of new snow on the trail. I could see from the tracks of the others that they were riding some I was walking the whole way since leaving Melgeorges. And eventually all the tracks ahead of me were walking. When somebody had broken trail ahead of me I could walk at about 2 MPH. At about 2 or 3 in the morning I passed John and Chris and 1 other person(Sam H) bivied alongside the trail at the same time I saw the light of 1 other biker ahead of me. Within ½ hour I had caught up to Jill from CO, we stopped and talked for a minute and then continued on taking turns breaking trail since there was now about 6 inches of new snow. Well I ended up walking a lot faster than Jill and got well ahead of her, and after a couple of hours of breaking trail at the amazing speed of 1.5 MPH I was beat and at 5 AM decided to bivy for awhile. So I stomped out a depression in the snow, rolled out my sleeping outfit and as soon as I was inside of it I was asleep. I slept fitfully for 2 and ½ hours and by 8 AM was out on the trail again.
When I got out on the trail again I saw a skier (Mark Scotch) had passed me during the night and Jill had also passed me. A few miles down the trail I passed a shelter and I could see by the tracks that several bikers had bivied there and now they were out on the trail ahead of me also.
About 9 AM I reached the Hwy 23 crossing and Jill was there loading her bike up into a truck. She told me she had walked all night and now was pulling out of the race. She said she had seen the 3 bikers who had bivied at the shelter and they had also withdrawn at Hwy 23 and ridden into town. She also had seen the skier Mark Scotch during the night. When she had gotten to Hwy 23 the film crew that was following Mark was just leaving and they had given her a ride into the town of Orr where she had called for a ride. She offered me a ride but I said no, I was going to continue on.
Well now I was back to breaking trail thru 8 inches of new snow again. Even though there were ski tracks ahead of me they weren’t much help in breaking trail so I was back to moving along at about 1.5 MPH. I was hoping all along that trail conditions would improve i.e. a snowmobiler would come along or I would come across the tracks of some other bikers but things didn’t improve so after another hour of this trudging along I figured I was not making fast enough forward progress, and the next place ahead of me that I could withdraw from the race was 20 miles, so I decided to drop and I turned around and headed back to Hwy 23. It took me about another hour to get back to Hwy 23 and when I arrived there were 4 other bikers there contemplating whether to drop. Well we all decided to withdraw there and ride into the town of Orr. Myself, Chris W, John K, Sam H, and Kory. Kory’s ride arrived before we got to Orr but the rest of us rode into Orr and sat at the only bar in town till our rides arrived. I hitched a ride with Sam and his wife back to the finish line at Fortune Bay and from there caught a shuttle the next day back to I Falls where my car was.
I really would have liked to finish this year and completed the trifacta (run,ski,bike) but it wasn’t to be. It probably was a good idea to withdraw when I did because by the time I got to Orr my feet were really raw and blistered from all the walking in wet boots.
Maybe another time.

Jan 7, 2013

I've gotten a few opportunities to get out on the trails lately. Mostly the North Shore Trail.  Its amazing who you run into out there. Last weekend I went out for a ride and ran into Jay who was on foot pulling a sled, we stopped and talked for a bit. A hour or so later I ran into a biker going the opposite direction an it was Todd M. so we stopped and talked for awhile. Than this weekend I drove to the Normana Rd trailhead and biked north from there. When I was at the trailhead I noticed Steve K's truck. A few miles down the trail I run into Jay again, He tells me Steve and others are a few miles back, he had gotten a head start back to the cars because he was on foot. So a couple of minutes later I see Steve K with Chris W, John K and 1 other. They had gone in last night and camped at the Sucker River shelter and were now on their way out. Getting to stop and talk to other bikers and runners is a great break from the long rides. I also noticed I see a lot more walkers, runners and bikers out on the snomo trails than snowmobiles.

Dec 17, 2012

December 2012

Got a chance to do a few trail rides the last couple of days.
A few pictures from the North Shore Trail