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January 11, 2011

Another year has passed… (part II)

Filed under: General MTBGuru stuff,Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 8:47 am

In late summer 2010 I started to experiment more with gear and practice some bikepacking – so many exciting adventures out there that are luring – and getting your feet wet slowly seems to be the recommended course of action before diving into these bigger things. I’ve done my share of night rides, but a solo night ride in Coe last August will stand out as creepiest one to date.

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There were many after work rides in summer to fondly remember; nothing like dragging your tired ass out of the office and up the mountain, to then watch a brilliant sunset and dive back down the fog blanketed slopes… I even found some new trails where I didn’t expect them.

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In fall, my previously vague plans had finally started to crystallize, and a feverish obsession took hold of me… at last, was it going to happen, pull off that 100 miler in Coe? Many a long solo ride was undertaken to scout out trails and routes. The great thing, Coe being Coe, were the many chance (as well as intended) encounters with the regulars: Roy, Patrick, Jeff, Charlie, Paul(s), Mei and Eric, Jay, Bryan etc. I even managed to convince some of them to join in the madness. A nice side effect of my training regimen was that I was able to shatter my PR on Kennedy trail (another minor obsession of mine).

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Our first shot at the Hard COEre 100 was very respectable on its own but left us hungry; I think all three of us knew we’d be back here in no time, for another attempt, now that we knew some bugs needed ironing out. I was grateful to still have the fitness and stamina required (it was mid-November), and was impressed by everyones resolve.

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Few moments felt so good as the time this shot was taken – Roy, Patrick and I had just wrapped it up and tamed the monster, and found a merry Paul and shivering Bryan greeting us at Hunting Hollow – priceless!

There wasn’t much time to do a lot of exploring out of the familiar areas this year, luckily with one noteable exception; a lava ride on the Big Island – as well as some excursions through the jungle.
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Before we realized it, the holidays were there again; this time I made it to the traditional Thanksgiving Turkey ride on Kennedy – what a crowd, and what fun!
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Meanwhile, I had turned again to my road bike, which had slowly morphed into a ‘psyclocross’ bike… getting ready for new adventures in new places; such as Titus Canyon, in a gorgeous wintery Death Valley.

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It also brought new excitement to familiar trails, and think it will continue to do so.

Looking back, there was a lot to be happy with and thankful for in 2010 – and I’m hoping 2011 will get even better; I’m wishing everyone a great, healthy, injury-free and accident-free year. Cheers!
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January 9, 2011

Another year has passed… (part I)

Filed under: General MTBGuru stuff,Riding and racing — mtbguru @ 8:47 am

…which means it’s year-in-review and list season. So below, my list of most-memorable-2010-riding-experiences, with accompanying photographs. Of course, almost by definition these photos helped make the rides memorable, but they may not necessarily represent the best ones. Sometimes, the best rides are those that go unnoticed, don’t leave photographic evidence, but are great because everything just felt right at the time, I was fully in the zone or in harmony with the environment and the universe at large.

But first: it’s 2011 now, with hopefully lots of new rides and some new challenges. How about some resolutions or goals perhaps?

- learning to use the ‘lap’ button on my GPS (this does have its benefits)
- growing the Hard COEre 100 into something much bigger (and perhaps even badder; I have a whole new and additional challenge in mind)
- some bikepacking; in particular, to get ready for this; a ridiculously hard challenge but oh so luring and it would feel so good to pull it off; and most of the route is awesome: in scenery, technicality and fun-ity. The ‘race’ is actually planned for 2012 but it doesn’t hurt to prepare oneself.
- roadie stuff: Climb to Kaiser, Terrible Two? Another clean sub-20 on OLH would be nice too.
- Xterra Tahoe? (requires learning to swim properly) A ‘hard’ hundie? (Breckenridge 100 comes to mind once again; Tahoe-Sierra 100 as well but I don’t like the vibe around it so much nor the qualifier stuff)

With regards to MTBGuru.com: I’m not in danger of overstating anything if I say 2010 has been a quiet year. Aside from minor changes and maintenance, the major new effort was the integration of Google’s Fusion Tables, something which proved to be a very useful feature. Otherwise, ‘steady as she goes’ remains our motto; since it doesn’t look like Tom or I will have a lot of time to develop new things, probably more of the same in 2011; perhaps a redesign (css) if we feel ambitious.

Now back to the program. I want to use photos that I haven’t shown here before so let’s start with this:

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Jeff beautifully expresses his sense of wonder about those adventurous early spring Coe rides. Or is he re-enacting that time when he ran into a raging bull on the trail? Those rides, through lush blankets of wildflowers, the land teeming with wildlife, seem like vague memories now, but soon their time will come again.

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Coe was a bit of a theme, obviously, the Hard COEre 100 being without contest the most memorable riding experience of the year; but the great thing is that Coe lets you explore a lot of new stuff, anytime you’re up for it – I think there may be still a few years left before I’ve touched everything, at the current rate. During winter and spring, Santa Teresa was another fine riding theatre – Rocky Ridge and Stiles Ranch trails being the main poles of attraction.

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It was late spring when I focused on the ‘road’ ahead: the Wildflower tri, with my bike-challenged coworker (resulting in a near win), and more memorably, the Alta Alpina double century, which I sort of haphazardly tackled, together with Jeff and Peter. I learned how also the road bike can dish out formidable levels of suffering, though most of it was probably of my own doing (next time: do not leave the cold gear at home).

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Then summer came by, and I tasted some more Tahoe, but now on dirt. This is highly addictive, so I didn’t think I got enough, but the rides on the Tahoe Rim trail, and the Hole-in-the-Ground + Donner Rim trails certainly made a mental mark, even with mechanical mishaps and all (Tom’s improvised ‘hard tail’ was a McGyverian highlight).
And the trip with Ria on a gorgeous day to the Flume was unforgettable.

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The past year, I’ve become a happier practicioner of mountain bike swimming – or is that swim mountain biking? My favorite places to perform this refreshing endeavour are alpine lakes such as Marlette, Star Lake or Dardanelles Lake – it is of course really great in the summer heat, but even when it’s cooler I found it to rejuvenate mind and body quite well, in particular when half-wasted deep into a tough ride. Maybe next year I will graduate to swimming in Coe lakes?