Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Better Than a Car By Far

How would you get from Mexico to Utah fully self-supported?

Here is my racehorse of choice:

He's light. Lighter than my fatbike I played with all winter. Maybe I will find a scale today and weigh it all...

Erick Lord, you will appreciate this: There is a 29x20 Bontrager 29.3 on board. Not f-ing around this year in Patagonia and Tucson for over 6 hours. I have learned although I thrive as a minimalist, my bike does not.

Pictures, then the list:

The Escapist 20 from Osprey is truly an awesome pack. Light, compacts well and comfortable. I had plenty of room for the list of stuff I am carrying on my back below. Also a huge thanks to Ergon for gloves, grips and my illuminated alien friend shown here.

View from the command center...These NR lights put out 130 lumens for 50 hours each and run on two AA's!


So, if you remember from earlier this year, I had a problem with the literal bike "pack" being too big for my frame as you can see it sag off the back of my shoulders:

My roommate had a good idea a few weeks ago that involved a foam pad:

En route to Grand Canyon Post Office

Along with running shorts and tights, hiking shoes, webbing straps and food, the big pack got a makeover.

To quote a couple of past 750 finishers:

Scott Morris (post GC hike):

"When I first took my pack off my shoulders felt so bad that I was worried I had done permanent damage..."

Kurt Refsnider (referring to me):

"Someone who is very naive about how wide the canyon really is! Make sure your pack straps have a ton of padding.."

Among all the forum rats and bloggers, these are two guys whose words mean a lot. So, even though its pretty ghetto, I think the padding solved both the size issue and will help with comfort. Looking like a great addition to the big pack. The last push to the UT border is going to be tough with the added weight and bulk of the pack, but doable. A little HTFU mentality and a bunch of adrenaline will push me north...

My set up:

2012 Superfly 100 with 2010 components
2 Schwalbe Racing Ralphs Snakeskin Evo
2 Niterider Mako 2 watt 130 lumen handlebar lights
Etrex Vista

Stuff Sack on handlebars

29x2.0 Bontrager 29.3 tire (yep!!)

Mountain Hardware Goretex rain jacket

Osprey Escapist 20
Osprey 100oz Hydration system
Patagonia down jacket (for the northern trail and inherently cold people)
MSR filter
Water bottle
Coflex wrap (my toes are going to scream at me for 300 miles)
Air pump
Pack cover
chain lube
travel alarm
night lenses
cell phone
Ergon Alien light
Black Diamond head/helmet lamp--80 lumen
energy bars/food

Revelate Frame Pack

2 tubes
sewing kit
patch kits
tire levers
tiny knife
tweezers (NO CACTI this year)
derailleur hanger
valve stem
2 brake pads
chain links
chain lube
cues, maps
extra batteries

Sea Line 5L Dry Bag

Montbell Super Spiral Down Hugger Bag
Leg Warmers  
UA Baselayer
Warm Gloves
Trek Bibs
Emergency bivvy (aka my normal bivvy...3oz)
cell phone charger
extra battery powered cygolite
first aid kit


Team kit
PI X-Alps
Ergon Gloves

It is game time. I am packed and ready to leave for Arizona tomorrow morning with my partner in crime who is tackling the 300..GET IT!!

I enter this race with a humble attitude and a yearning for adventure. I will be adding extra miles at the end in order to get home, and I thank all those that are helping or have helped me out in the past so much!

If you want to watch me roll into Utah check out this site:


It will be live on Friday and there is always a good discussion brewing among the spectators online. The 300 will run simultaneously and there are some FAST boys and girls lining up at Parker Canyon Lake. Best of luck to all racers!

In signing off, I must digress a bit and give proper credit where its due:

My true strength and inner light comes from nowhere but here



Monday, April 9, 2012

That Word Again


A word so highly overused it is mocked by nearly everyone. The first time I heard the word “epic” I was probably in middle school and it was in reference to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. We have all read and forgotten them long ago. I wrote a lot of papers about them in college and as I sit here and think of where I will be in exactly seven days from this minute, my adventurous mind begins to compare the two epics to my upcoming bid to finish the AZT 750.

A stretch? Yeah, ok, probably. Some girl pedaling (and pushing and carrying) a mountain bike through Arizona is nowhere near the caliber of a tale of the events of the Trojan War and the ten years after, but the very definitions of the words ring loudly in my thoughts every day.

Iliad: A series of miseries or disastrous events, a series of exploits, a long narrative 

Odyssey: A long wandering or voyage marked by many changes of fortune, an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest

Wait. I am just riding a bike. Pedaling. Pushing. Carrying. Through an entire state. I am not a hero battling in an ancient war. My relative “miseries” and “disastrous events” will come in the form of exhausted legs, hot weather, chafed everything, sore shoulders, flat tires, slipped chains, hunger pangs, thirst, boredom, sleep deprivation and sore toes. I expect all these things. I have read other’s accounts on  the blogs, the trip reports and as much as I can stand of the constant chatter on the forums.

My “long, wandering voyage” will be absolutely amazing, uplifting, inspiring, spiritual and awesome at times and it will be absolute hell (on wheels) at times. The sun will be hot, the nights may be chilly, the trail will be lonely, rocky, steep and long, and it will be very hard to leave stores, towns, and my sleeping bag at times.

I will smile, laugh, shiver, sweat, cuss, sing the song stuck in my head when my ipod dies, complain, contemplate and probably shed a few tears between Mexico and Utah.

In short, I will write my own epic. I will define my own quest, wandering, race, adventure, voyage—whatever term is suitable at the moment—over 750 miles on a bike. I could talk about failing to finish the 300 mile version of this race last year and overanalyze and outline all my mistakes, but why? I have gone over it enough times in my head. I have taken the lessons learned, applied them to my strategy this year and let them go. I am still new, young and inexperienced among those in this game who have been everywhere and ridden everything. I am nobody in the bikepacking/mountain biking world. I am not as fast as Eszter yet. I have a small race resume and I haven’t accomplished anything of great merit on my bike yet.

But via the bike, I have set my life on fire. A fire that burns hot for a journey and its inherent challenge and adventure. Hmmmmm, sounds reckless, doesn’t it? Not really the safe, secure life prescribed by society, is it?

I contend that there is a big gap between reckless and courageous. Common sense and intellect is involved in the latter. The courage to live my dreams isn’t comprised of emotional whims and wild actions based on feelings. I have found the courage to face down my fears by refusing to be paralyzed by them. 

I am not the type of person who simply avoids something my heart is calling me to experience because of the things that may go wrong, fears or limits I place upon myself. Rather, I have chosen to stop limiting myself to doing the basic, and being basic, go for broke, really listen to my heart and just straight up believe.

In myself.
Sure, there are very real things that could keep me from reaching the Utah border—my bike may break out in the middle of nowhere and I may be unable to fix it or I may get hurt. The water situation, the hike across the Grand Canyon, the heat, the scorpions, the snakes, the massive amount of financial stress from time off work to train and race, the lack of anyone to pick me up at the finish and the physical fatigue that leads to subtle mental fatigue at times are all things I have had to take action to prepare for and face. The result? I am ready to tackle this race starting Friday.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy….
–Dale Carnegie

Live the epic. 





Setup rundown with some pictures, SPOT link and race information coming tomorrow if interested....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crime Spree

Saving most of my words for an AZT post so here is last week's crime spree in pictures:

The weapons and the getaway vehicle just after sunrise at Hartman campsite

Mug/Action shots of the usual suspects:

The crime scenes:

Some innocent bystanders caught up in the ploy:

Some cool shots in hopes of escaping apprehension:

A behind the scenes view of the alleged villians:

And the reward:

"Life does not suck" -J. Davis

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2PM Demons: 2012 Equinox Snow Challenge Race Report

I remember the first time I ever saw a "Fat" bike. I was at my third mountain bike race ever, the 2011 edition of 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo and I followed one for about a half mile through the cholla. The pilot was wearing a ripped cutoff shirt and pretty much grinning from ear to ear and chatting me up the whole time. I remember him bouncing along really not caring about much except the fact he was on his bike. I began giggling to myself as I passed by and kept snickering for about 5 minutes after.

I think this is when the seed was planted....

I saw one again about a month later in Telluride, CO and I remember saying out loud to my friend:

"I am going to have one of those someday..."

Someday came this winter.

I never thought I would ever RACE the fatty. Nah, I was really just intending  to play in the snow, get groceries and generally take it out to make myself continue to giggle at the fact that I am rolling on 4 psi and 4" tires. But when my buddy, Judd, (because his link NEVER works its backofthepackracing.com) sent me the link to the Equinox Snow Challenge in West Yellowstone, MT in January, I knew I was in for sure. I didn't have a fully functioning race machine frankenbiked together just yet, but I knew something would come together by race day.

If you follow my silly adventures, you will remember the first (ugly) edition with the 2.4 on the 1x1 frame...ok, stop laughing!!!

Which finally evolved into this hotty:

The fat SS: 36/20 with two Nates, a Fat Sheba and a Large Marge!!

So two days before raceday, I lubed the chain, threw it in the back of a New Mexico plated Yukon with a titanium sheep and headed north through the greater part of Utah to ride in circles on the snow for 24 hours.

Here is the course (image stolen from Judd):

We arrived on Thursday night, crashed out in the Holiday Inn a block (as you  can see above) from the start line and got up the next morning hungry for a good breakfast.

And some white hot chocolate:

We met up with Ken and Ben and pitched in with some trail building (read: playing) later that afternoon to help out race director, Sam:

The race started at 10AM on Saturday and our gang was ready:

And here is a video from Judd (also on his blog, which is a great read!) of the whole ordeal:

Video of ESC2012

I set a goal of 30 laps before the race. I brought light to ride all night and did so except for an hour I spent horizontal inside a down coat and sleeping bag around 12:30AM warming up. The course was short with really only four hills to climb. They hurt on 36/20 at about 2 AM, so I walked them.

The "demons" of 24 hour racing usually come out around 2 AM in normal races. Lap times get longer, wheels turn slower and we all long for sunrise and the added burst of everything it brings. This race however was exactly the opposite. At 10AM  the course was like riding asphalt but temperatures increasing to the upper 40's (F) made riding between about 12:30PM and 10:30PM brutal. Lap times for all the bikes increased by about 20 minutes (yeah, no kidding).The last 1/4 mile before the exchange tent was by far the worst. Imagine taking the lightest, skinniest road bike tires out there and riding them in the deepest sand possible. Yep, that was about how fast progress felt. At 5pm, that quarter mile of the course officially changed to the parallel paved road  give some relief. This definitely helped with demon warfare!

This race to me was a mental challenge more than anything. I pushed a huge gear for 120 miles. My goal was to find a sustainable pace, hold it and have fun. I reached my goal in 22 hours, stopped, laid my bike down by the fire and made some hot chocolate. I fought through the ten hours of slush with no more than some light-hearted, meaningless sarcastic jokes about my sanity for doing so. But most of all, I was just happy to be riding my fatbike in the mountains.....

I ended up 2nd place 24 hour solo female (skis and bikes were all in one division) and 7th overall 24 hr solo. It was no means a highly competitive event, but the only one of its kind in existence thus far (?). A huge thanks to the Forest Service in West Yellowstone for issuing permits that allowed the fat tires on the ski trails and the angel of a groomer, Jay Pape, who volunteered his time. He was my favorite person on the planet at about 11PM Saturday night.

Good times. Good people. Good views of the mountains in a beautiful corner of the world. Thanks to Judd, Kevin, Ben and Ken!

Good training for AZT which is now 10 days away....

I am admittedly way behind in the world of BLOG. (There is a direct correlation, however, between this and the time of year as we all know). I have a ton more pictures and stories from last week to post in the next couple of days. More snowbike summits, Hartman Rocks riding and camping, and some riding in Fruita.....Then a final wrap up on the whole AZT 750 prep (I promise a more introspective look) before I totally unplug from society (yeah!), jump on my bike with a few things at the border and head for Utah....

So stay tuned...its going to be one helluva ride!

Once the race starts, of course....