Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mountain Biking the White Rim Trail in One Day

white rim in a day, what can i say? let's start with what this trail is not.. it's not a "trail". well not in the conventional sense. it's not singletrack. it's a jeep road. having ridden hours and hours of dirt road in my life during races, when i am planning my non-racing adventures i tend to lean heavily towards singletrack. i was however intrigued by the fact that the white rim was a nice 100 mile loop in a beautiful place. roch and catherine really drove that home for me a couple weeks before this planned trip to the meca of moab. they said "it's prettier than the kokopelli!".

dj and i had been talking about trying to ride the white rim and whether we thought we could talk the singletrack minded seattleites into it. "how cool would it be to knock out the kokopelli and the white rim in the same week?" i kept thinking, and saying. after all was said and done, dj broke his wrist and couldn't ride; the singletrack seattleites didn't have the butt endurance; and mandy who hasn't ridden 80 miles total on a mtn bike in the last 5 years combined, jumped in.

dj was cool enough to help us avoid the very boring 20 miles of road section on top of the mesa. so at 6am, with light and motion bike lights blazing, mandy and i dropped into the cold dark abyss.

the first few hours were cold. we had barely enough gear to stay comfortable. i can't speak for mandy but i was uncomfortably cold for the first two hours. as the sun came up and the beauty unveiled itself we warmed up literally and figuratively to the white rim... wow. from our start at mineral bottom we dropped down to the green river and potato bottom. we didn't push the pace, we just stayed nice and steady with our effort and soaked it in. mandy having jumped in last minute was on a rented bike, using a rental helmet, rental shoes and a hodgepodge of extra gear from dj and myself. we knew we had to be done in 11 hours or risk not getting the bike back to the moab cyclery in time.

we were riding counterclockwise. dj and most everyone else suggested going the clockwise. however with our dark thirty start i decided to go the other direction simply to see the views on the shafer trail.

..and the views along the way were fantastic. mandy pointed out some of the rocks she's climbed, washerwoman and monster tower. having eaten loads of fake food at that point we took a sit down lunch on the edge near airport tower.

the climb out was tough after 70 miles, and it seemed to go about as steep as a road could possibly be without tipping cars over on their end. mandy did great, she's an amazing athlete and you wouldn't have known she's not technically a "cyclist". with the sun blazing as we climbed out i was starting to really feel it. a nice english couple driving down the road stopped to encourage me. i took it as an opportunity to beg for some water, which they happily gave mandy and i. the ride out was in fact amazing and gorgeous and well worth the effort. we were excited to have gotten it done in one shot. we returned to the car exhausted, but in time to return the bike... perfect.

i will say driving back to salt lake city was just awful and i have no idea how mandy did it. my legs and body ached and i could not get comfortable. mandy drove while i moaned from my 275 mtn bike miles in the previous 6 days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Running Kings Peak Videos

finally went through some of the footage i took of mandy, eddie and my run up kings peak (13,528 ft). here are two of my favorites - i'm working on a short video of the entire trip set to music.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

M-Bars: Mandy's Energy Bar Recipe

by Mandy Hosford

I'm not a baker, or a registered dietician, or an experienced concocter of energy foods. However, I modified an oatmeal bar-cookie recipe to come up with these and I think they're full of things that I both like and recognize as food. Plus, Matt ate 'em whilst riding a mountain bike for 142 miles and he didn't go bad. So that's a small experiment, but a good one. Any questions on the recipe...call my friend Shannon. She's the real baker.

Oatmeal bars disguised as performance food. Call 'em what you will....

Mix well until fluffly...
1/4 c veg oil
3/4 c ground flax meal
3/4 c brown sugar or cane sugar

Add the following...
1 egg (If you're vegan, you can leave out the egg. I doubt that it would be catastrophic)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt

Now for the rest...
1 c whole wheat flour
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 c granola (any kind, really) or 1/2 c toasted wheat germ for a slightly lower fat option
3/4 c rolled oats
3/4 c raisins
3/4 c chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans or toasted sunflower seeds

*You can pretty much add anything here including ginger pieces, coconut flakes, other nuts, banana chips, other dried fruit, etc...

And now to get it all ready for the oven...
By now it's probably sort of dry so add 1/4 up to 1/2 cups of apple sauce such that it gets moister and can be spread in a greased (non-stick spray or butter) baking dish (I opted for a glass baking dish).

Bake at 375 deg F
Keep em in the oven until the kitchen starts to smell really good and a knife (not a finger) inserted into the center comes out clean. Time in the oven depends on the size of the dish you've used and how thinly the batter's been spread.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kokopelli Trail - 142 Mile Two Day Mountain Bike Adventure from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT

pre-ride babble

if you've ever done any research for endurance mountain biking routes you've likely come across the famed kokopelli trail. at 142 miles it travels south west from fruita, colorado to moab, utah on singletrack, country road and a bit of pavement.

although i've made at least two trips to moab per year for the last 6 years, riding this entire trail has somehow alluded me. last september i had even arrived and planned on running it self supported. but the foot injury that subsequently took me out for all of 2009 wasn't ok with that plan.

fast forward to the end of this winter. my buddy, the quintessential weekend warrior, steve copson and a coaching client, endurance mtb studd and friend dj brooks had both mentioned a fall trip to the mountain bike meca. dj and i quickly hatched our plan to ride the kokopelli trail in two days.

we drove from seattle to salt lake city and my second home in the sugarhood. mandy helped us prepare for our two day mountain bike epic, which made it possible to actually leave with enough time on monday to get everything done. the logistics weren't pretty, but we figured out a reasonable plan. we drove to moab booked a hotel room for wed night and dropped some apre gear in the bike storage at the archway hotel. we then drove to dewey bridge where the kokopelli trail crosses the highway on 128. it's also a good mid point at mile 77 of the kokopelli trail heading south. we hid our camping gear and a cooler of food in the bushes here. we then drove to fruita, colorado for a quick bite to eat, then sleep.

Day 1 - Loma, CO to Dewey Bridge (77 miles with 7,000 ft of gain)

we started day one a bit later than planned at 8:06am. we assumed around 9hrs of casual riding for the 77 miles with 7,000ft of gain. the northern trailhead of the kokopelli starts in loma, colorado a few miles from fruita. for the day one ride to dewey bridge i brought 11 hrs of food (around 200 cals per hour), 122oz of water and 1 tube of nuun for the trip. with just 122oz of water i knew i'd be risking a bit of dehydration but the weather looked cloudy and not super hot. i also figured with the trail crossing the river some 50 miles in i'd be able to replenish if it was looking like i made a mistake and was at risk. i made sure to super-hydrated before the start as well. which i would never do before a race, but we weren't racing so i figured i'd be ok... and it did in fact work out perfectly.

after the climb up mack ridge from the trailhead/parking lot on the dirt road off i70 the trail turns onto mary's loop which runs on a shelf above the colorado river. this section of kokopelli trail was so amazingly beautiful we were quite literally stopped in our tracks every few miles or so to take photos and video.

after some fun downhill singletrack the trail then drops down crosses the river and has a few hundred feet of hike a bike. from westwater to the cisco takeout dj and i got our paceline on, or as mandy calls it our "kokapellaton". the wind was intense, pedal down hill type of intense. it was kind of fun to have to work hard to pull us through the nasty wind.

as you can see in the video the ride down to mcgraw bottom was beautiful with the vibrant fall colors lighting our way as night started to descend upon us. after crossing highway 128 we both said "we've only got 8.2 miles to go today!". well after 69 miles that last 8.2 to dewey bridge seemed to take forever. the climb was pretty tough and there were sections of soft sand that caused our bikes to get super squirrely. it required more walking than we were willing to admit, fighting for every inch through the sand. although we had lights just in case, we luckily made it to our camping gear at dewey bridge without having to use them in 10hrs 40mins.

one of our water jugs had drained overnight, so we had to boil a bit of water to assure we had enough for coffee, and i suppose for food and hydration reasons as well... but mostly coffee. i was pretty excited to get another night in my black diamond lightsaber bivy (it's only 1lbs 10oz!). it was however a restless night with hours of intense wind. i had totally irrational nightmares of the colorado swelling and gobbling me up as i lay helplessly in my bivy.

Day 2 - Dewey Bridge to Moab, Utah (66 miles with 11,000ft of gain)

we headed out into a light rain on the second day at 8:34am. my lack of bike training mean my biggest issue was how saddle sore my butt was. having done a few adventure races and 24hr mtn bike races in my day it was a familiar feeling really, but one i don't appreciate. we call it 'monkey butt' and i think that about says it all.

as you can see from this elevation profile of the entire trail, our second day started out with a climb and didn't let up a whole lot. i worried a bit about our finish time and pace so i made an effort to keep us moving with minimal breaks. the climb out of cottonwood canyon was sandy and steep at times. this section was ranked difficult to very difficult and felt really remote. like we were the only ones on earth and we were miles and miles from comfort, safety and civilization. the final drop into the valley was a super steep road with loose baby head rocks that i walked most of. the reward however was rolling the flat road through the sage into fischer valley . fischer valley was amazing. dead flat for miles and then bam! sheer cliff walls. stunning.

from there we climbed up and out to beaver mesa, our first big climb of the day. the second was castle valley road to mason draw. i'll be honest here, the end of the kokopelli is uneventful. first there is no trailhead for a finish photo, it just sort of ends at the slickrock trail parking lot or in town moab. second the ride down and out sand flats road sucks. it sucks even more when you do it in the dark. once we hit moab it was once again back to our kokapellaton for one final hammer sesh to archway hotel and the sweet relief of getting off the saddle and taking off my nasty bike shorts.

i feel like kokopelli, the god of fertility, blessed us with a great adventure (and quite possibly super-fertility). the ride was amazingly beautiful and i feel so fortunate to be healthy enough to do such a trip. thank you dj brooks for the great company and adventure of a lifetime. also thank you mandy hosford for all your help getting us to the trailhead ready to ride 142 miles.

wanna ride the kokopelli trail?

check out my coaching services if you want to get ready to mountain bike or run the kokopelli trail. i'm also available as a personal guide for the trail. email me - Matt@CoachingEndurance.com

my gear for the kokopelli trail

bike: turner nitrous mtn bike
bike shoes: northwave aerlite S.B.S. bike shoe
helmet: rudy project helmet
shades: rudy project kalyos photochromic glasses
energy gels: clif shots
energy bars: mandy's homemade energy bars (link to recipe) & clif bars
electrolytes: orange ginger nuun
watch and GPS: suunto t6 w/gps pod to track distance and elevation
tent/bivy: black diamond lightsaber bivy
map: this is the only map i needed. the trail is very well marked.