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The Paul Mach Blog - July 2011

Living life on the edge... of the road
Photo by Musa Zaid

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Friday, July 29, 2011 - Race Reports
Sorry about slacking on the blogging, but here is what happened to me last weekend at the Leadville Qualifier up at Northstar.

First, I'm not a mountain biker. At the time of this race I'd had my Cannondale for about 2 weeks. So, the week before I preroad the course to make sure it really was as "roadie friendly" as the organizers claimed. They were right, it was a fun, non-technical course, even for my weak skills.

So, I get to the race expecting a totally different culture than a road race. All the rock music blasting was a little weird. But I was set at ease when I saw the guy warming up on his road bike attached to a trainer.

The race started bright and early at 6:30am with a sharp uphill climb. My plan was to be the first person to the single track at the top of the hill and then laugh as they couldn't pass me.

That pretty much happened for me as Jesse Miller-Smith rocked the climb and dropped everybody. I clawed my way back later and we rode together for most of the race. I put in a surge somewhere on the second lap and didn't look back. Well, until I started cramping and then I was looking back a lot. I got lucky and managed to hold him off.

As for Leadville, I'm not doing it this year. Mainly because it's stupid hard, also it's the same weekend as Utah, so...

Sunday, July 17, 2011 - Race Reports
Crushing The wife pointed out an ad for Fakt during Men's Volleyball on Versus. She LOLed and I realized it perfectly described how I felt having just finished the inaugural Crusher in the Tushar.

The event was great, beautiful course, well ran and the competition was excellent. However, I think it would've been better to just ride so I could enjoy the views and the great food at the rest stops.

Unfortunately I was racing, so I was watching hubs and blowing through rest stops. After a long day of suffering, I finished 5th, a bunch of minutes back. I'm pretty happy with that, but it wasn't a perfect race for me.

Mainly, I didn't eat nearly enough for the 4.5 hour ride. When do you eat during a mountain bike race? I was never comfortable enough to take my hands off the bars and not get dropped or crash.

For two, I think my bike wasn't ideal. My Cannondale Flash 29er was fun to ride, but not to win. I didn't have the gears to keep up on the false flats and I wasn't experienced enough to take full advantage on the decent. I recommend a cross bike. Any time you'd lose on the gravel decent you'll make up on the road section right after.

I finished up the last 15 miles solo and was totally spent. The problem is you finish at 10,200 ft and you're supposed to recover. I sat at the finish line in a half daze for a while before my wife convinced me to get moving and get some lunch.

The catered lunch at Eagle Point was gourmet, but the mood was mellow. There wasn't a whole lot of extra energy in the room. I'm guessing that makes Burke a very happy man.

Overall, the Crusher was a challenging event that offered a bit of everything. Plus it's great prep for Leadville, if you're into that sort of thing. I hope to make it back next year.

Credit: Thanks to Chris See for the awesome photos.

Friday, July 15, 2011 - General
Nice Lawn So, the Swindlehurst Granfondo, no it's not a big group ride sponsored by a discount mortuary. It's the Tushar Crusher in Beaver, Utah run by Burke Swindlehurst. And that's where I am right now.

This event is a big deal and I went all in for it. I got a mountain bike with the help of Cannondale. Then I got the shoes, pedals and went tubeless, so I'm all set.

Let me clarify, when I said I'm going all in, what I meant is that I bought a bunch of stuff. The training hasn't really happened. My second ride on the bike, Wednesday, was supposed to be a 3+ hour Crusher simulator. Unfortunately, it ended with a broken derailleur hanger after 15 minutes. Long story, but I didn't crash, I just dropped my chain, WTF?

Whatever, if the views are as great as the Facebook page advertises this thing will be the next Leadville.

Saturday, July 9, 2011 - Race Reports
Nice After a 4 day work week, it was back to racing at the Death Ride. Well, it's not a race, but there were numbers and stickers.

What I don't get about this ride is why people start so early. 5:30am is the recommended start, but there were plenty of people that start earlier. People that would have finished at a reasonable hour anyway.

So I started at 5:30 like everyone else. I saw a few people I knew, but mostly I rode alone. A couple passes later and I was ahead of the big group. That's when it got lonely. A few hours and a couple of cokes later I was done.

When I got back to the start, it was dead (no pun intended). I'd forgot my ice cream ticket at home so I missed out on that. I was also 2 hours early for the dinner so skipped that too. But what I can say is that I've completed the full, 5 pass, Death Ride.

Overall, I had a good time. I didn't spend much time at the rest stops, but seeing all those people attempting the ride was kind of inspiring.

Would I do it again? Maybe if I had someone to ride with. What I will be doing is heading out that way for some training because the roads and view were awesome.

Update: For those looking to keep score at home, my ride time was 6:56 with a total time of 7:06. View it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011 - Race Reports
Someone told me that South Lake Tahoe adds 100,000 residents during the 4th of July Weekend. I said, "Holy s*it," and thanked the bike gods for low land racing this weekend.

So, today I tried out Leesville Gap for the first time and it was highlighted by flat tires. The first flat happened at the base of the climb. That sucked, but I had a tube.

I took the decent with reckless abandon and caught a chase group. I was surprised to find a motivated group of riders willing to work. That's unusual and it was fun to be a part of.

We eventually caught the lead group. Soon after I followed Jesse Miller-Smith as he attacked up the next climb. Unfortunately, he flatted after the decent and I started to get a slow leak a few miles later. I prayed it was a super slow leak, but it was not.

To be fair, I did check my tires and put a new one on the back before the race. Well actually, I swapped it out with one from my wife's bike (did I forget to tell you about that honey?).

I tried to nurse it home while hallucinating in the hot sun. At one point I thought I could hear Dave Towle talking about runway models.

That's about when the cat 3 follow car passed me and Musa was there to offer me a wheel. I asked what happened to him and he said, "You got two flats, what do you think happened?"

And that was Leesville Flat, err, I mean Gap.

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