2013 Colorado Trail Race Prep

Ok, I guess there is a pretty big race coming up on Sunday morning, big for my standards and its time to start talking preparation.  It has been a very interesting bike season for me. In short, the spring offered early biking which helped prepare for the Arizona Trail Race, Kokopelli Trail Race, and Gunnison Growler. Then summer arrived, with only one race in the books since then with Salidas Big Friggin Loop. In between all that was the opportunity to ride for Griggs Orthopedics, Crested Buttes premier cycling team. One of my goals this bike season was to be apart of something, be on a team, experience support, and ride with sponsors on my back. I feel like I have an opportunity and more drive to cycle for a cause. I’m young, and this is an experience I could not pass up.

Since Salidas Big Friggin Loop cycling took a back seat to “life.” In June I accepted a job as the accounts manager for a super cool PR firm in Seattle that works with outdoor brands, and hopefully bike brands soon. The best part….I work from home. Bottom line, with two jobs, roughly 70 hours of work a week and a summer full of fun its time to get my butt back on the saddle……for a very long time.

Thats what the Colorado Trail Race is for. To be honest, I have been avoiding the preparation, but now that I’m talking about it more and more it is getting me excited. July 21st at 4:00am a few other nut cases and I will set off on a 500+ mile journey from Durango to Denver to experience the best that Colorado has to offer. Now as far as my preparation goes, I have not had much time, so I’m going to keep it very similar to the Arizona Trail Race. I learned a lot in Arizona and my system seemed to work well, but there is always room for improvement. Still with these improvements, I have plans for next year when I have more funding to support them.

I have a goal in mind as far as a finish time, but I would rather not do any jinxing. I do however want want to finish in under a week, not get rained on (like that will happen), and push my self harder then ever. It is more of a mental challenge then anything, and I need to make sure I stay as positive as possible.

Here is my 2013 Colorado Trail Race gear list

Revelate Design Front Bag:

  • Sleeping Bag 25 Degree Big Agnes
  • Arm/Knee warmers
  • Lightweight down jacket
  • Buff
  • Smart Wool cap
  • Important Items that need to stay dry (when need be)

Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks Saddle Bag

  • Big Agnes Clearview pad
  • Marmot bivy sac
  • Rain pants
  • Rain jacket
  • Long johns
  • Long sleeve thermal
  • Long sleeve t-shirt
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Warm Gloves
  • Spot Device in mesh pocket. (thanks Dave, finally a good place for my spot)

Revelate Design frame Bag

  • Food (Start with 14,000 calories, just incase something happens and I cant get to Silverton.)
    • Dried Fruit
    • Peanut butter
    • Honey stinger waffles
    • Trail Mix
    • Apple (one to start)
    • Jerky
    • And some other food that looks good when I head to city market on Saturday.
  • Aquamira tablets (water Purification)
  • Replacement Lenses (clear/lowlight)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Shoe covers (small toe caps)
  • PI ear warmers
  • Spare tube
  • CTR Databook
  • Maps
  • Cue sheet

Revelate Design Gas Tank

  • Emergen-C
  • Trail Mix
  • Cliff Bars
  • Cliff Gu’s/shots
  • Cliff Protein Bars
  • Aclimate
  • Snickers
Revelate Design Jerry Can
  • Batteries
  • I-pod and headphones
  • Chapstick
  • Sun screen.
  • Arnica gel
  • Organic pain cream/chamois butter

Camelbak Octane

  • 2L bladder
  • Pump and Co2
  • Repair Kit
    • Tape Stick
      • Athletic
      • Duck
      • electrical
      • industrial thread
    • Shifter cable
    • Zip Ties
    • Park boots
    • Extra Stans Sealant
    • Break pads
    • Multi Tool
    • Small Knife
    • Small towel
    • Super glue
    • Squirt Lube (2 small bottles)

On Bike Bars

  • Garmin Etrex 30
  • Cat Eye bike computer
  • Fenix LD20 mounted

On Me

  • PI P.R.O. bibs
  • Pearl Izumi base shirt
  • PI Elite Jersey (Griggs Ortho)
  • Smart Wool Socks
  • Giro DND bike gloves
  • Pearl Izumi Alp Enduro Shoes
  • Giro Aeon Helmet with Fenix LD20 mounted
  • Pearl Izumi under cap
  • Smith Eco shades
  • Hope and confidence
  • And a dash of luck
If you are bored at work, or just chilling on the couch after work go to this link: http://trackleaders.com/ctr13
Here you will be able to fine my little blue dot and watch my progress.

I really would like to thank my support team, even though you will not be able to support me. I can not thank Rhett Griggs, and the whole Griggs Orthopedic team enough for giving me the opportunity to join an amazing team with amazing people. It means the world to me and I’m so excited to represent team GO. I want to keep this brief but big thanks to, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) for the support and the awesome trails on the mountain. I cant believe the trail system upgrades. I was blown away on Wednesday with the Pinnacle series. To be able to have a cross country race and a downhill race at the same time is a dream come true. Huge props to the trail crew and the whole team at CBMR. Also a big thanks to Acli-Mate, Stans No Tubes, Rudy Project, Squirt, Sram, Rock & Roll Sports, The Alpineer, Pikes Builders, The beautiful The Elk Mountain Lodge, Chucks Glass, High Mountain Builders, and the Go To Guide. This would not be possible with out all the support for some fantastic people, much love.

Gunnison Growler 2013

This past Memorial Day weekend, 700 racers filled the Gunnison Valley for the Gunnison Growler. The Growler has been around for 6 years now and every year becomes more and more popular. The race is held at Hartman’s Rocks, and is sure to test anyone’s ability. There are two races, the 32 mile race, which was held on Saturday, and the 64 mile race held on Sunday. Each year the tough course rotates directions from clockwise to counter-clockwise. This year happened to be the faster (clockwise) direction.

This was my first race on Team GO (Griggs Orthopedics).  I felt the pressure in the days leading up to the race, but that was expected. Not only that, but my legs were not feeling 100 percent after I raced the Kokopelli Trail the previous weekend.

I woke to my alarm at 5:00am, after a decent night sleep. For breakfast I made some bacon and eggs. Stew Gross and I made our way down to Gunnison shortly after eating. I was pretty nervous. I knew I would feel better once on the trail. After getting changed and packing my food in my jersey, I was ready. We all piled in on the street in downtown Gunnison just waiting for the shotgun start, singling the neutral roll out to Hartman’s.

It was cold but I knew I would heat up fast. Bikers were rubbing tires jocking for a good position on the road. Once we reached the entrance to Hartman’s, everyone took off and it was complete chaos. The narrow road created a bottle neck. I wanted to keep to the left as there were no washboards on that part of “Kill Hill.” Later in the race Troy kept saying local knowledge is to our benefit. This was one example of that. I got up “Kill Hill” and noticed not many riders behind me. I was at the tail end of the leaders group.

I was thinking my pace was too hard, but I just kept pushing. Josho’s, Sea of sage, Skyline, and down to Bambis. After completing the difficult Skull Pass section, I made my way back up to the first feed zone. I was greeted with a platter of food, bacon, bananas and Honey Stinger gummies. The support crews were overwhelmingly helpful. Rhett was all over the place… Skull Pass-Base Area-Skull Pass…that is true dedication. I changed out my bottles grabbed some bacon and got going toward Enchanted Forest. Ochs would soon pass and eventually Troy as I rode solo through Dave Moes, Josies, and Gateway.  I reached the Top Of The World/Ridge intersection when I noticed Evan pumping up his tire that was giving him some issues. I rode through the Ridge like a sloth and made my way down Collarbone.

I reached the second GO feed tent. I knew there were a bunch of GO riders ahead of me so we all must have kept the the support crew pretty busy. I was in and out quickly, knowing one of the hardest climbs lie ahead, Backbone to The Notch. This is when my legs succumbed to the pain for the first time. I got off my bike on the sandy Backbone climb and hopped back on for The Notch. There were some fun spectators at the Beck’s junction which gave me a bit of a boost. It wasn’t over yet as we then had to climb up Rattle Snake, brutal.

By this point everyone was a good distance apart, which was nice. Josho’s, Broken Shovel, Skyline, and back down to Bambi’s. The course was pretty beat up and dusty after the race on Saturday and the first lap of Sunday. The climb out of Bambi’s was tough and Evan passed me. I was determined to stay on his wheel. I again made it to Skull Pass as the heat of the day started to crank up. The climb from the bottom was painful and I started to cramp up. I reached the feed zone and had to get off my bike and get some fluids in me. The support crew, again, was super helpful and made sure I didn’t stay too long.

I felt refreshed, I downed a banana, some gummies and had two fresh bottles for the finish.  Evan was still in sight which was my driving force not to let go. I reached the Josie’s climb when I saw Jefe. He was behind me as my legs started to fade fast. He caught me at the Gateway trail junction. I knew it was the final stretch but when he mentioned it I picked up my pace a little bit. The Cokes our supporters were handing out were adding up and giving me an extra boost.

I saw some other riders ahead and passed them just before The Ridge, that was such a confidence booster. The finish line was near as I suffered up The Ridge, exhausted and cramping. My legs wanted to stop as I started to climb out of Tailpipe. The cramping got worse and worse, but I was so close. I made it to the top and cruised down Collarbone with feelings of joy running through me, I had finished.

Team GO killed it. Brian Smith took 3rd (5:02:15) and only 7 seconds back from the winner Kalan Beisel. Brian Dillon took 4th (5:07:52) and 1st in the 20-29 class. Dave Ochs crushed the single speed class and was 13th overall with a time of 5:37:27 . Troy Hiatte placed 12th at 5:36:50 and Stew Gross rounded up the top 15 with a time of 5:43:07. The rest of the men placed in the top 25 with Jefe Branham in 21st (5:47:54), Evan Ross at 23rd (5:48:55), and myself at 24th (5:49:59). The women slayed the course with Janae Pritchette winning the ladies class at 6:14:05 and Jari Kirkland right behind her at 6:15:55. Sarah Stubbe was also in the mix at 6th place for the ladies at 7:12:23.

Overall, Team GO did a wonderful job on Sunday, with the help of Rhett and the whole support team. A big shout out to the whole team at Griggs Orthopedics, thanks for what you guys do. Acli-mate you guys rock thanks for the boost. Rock n’ Roll Sports and Dave Moe, thanks for having such a rad shop. Stan’s No Tubes thanks for keeping them tires rolling, by far the greatest invention ever! I’m new to this and I have a lot of more people to meet but to the rest of our sponsors, thanks for everything. This would not be at all possible with out you! Go To Guide, Pike Builders, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Rudy Project, Elk Mountain Lodge, High Mountain Concepts, The Alpineer, SRAM, Chucks Glass, and Squirt. Finally, thanks to Gunnison Trails and Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association for having trails for us to ride, with out them we would be nowhere. YOU. GUYS. ROCK! Thanks again and have a wonderful summer, until next time.

A Mind Changer

First and foremost my name is Neil Beltchenko. I’m 24 and reside in Crested Butte, Colorado. I love mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. This spring I made a goal for myself to thru-bike the Colorado Trail. I’ve only mountain biked for around 2 years now, but the idea to travel on my bike through the Colorado mountains by way of singletrack kind of blew my mind! As I wrote a few articles for websites about my trip, I realized I enjoy sharing my adventures and thought I should create my own blog. Here are the links to the articles I wrote. Hope you enjoy.

Thanks to Singletracks.com for publishing my first article.
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Days 1-3
Part 3: Days 4-6
Part 3: Days 7-10

I wrote a more visual friendly article for Crested Butte local Frank Konsellas and 14erskieres.com.
Part 1: Denver to Buena Vista
Part 2: Buena Vista to Durango

We also carried a spot device and you can check out our progression on Trackleaders.com

Here is Mike (right) and myself (left) in Durango, Colorado at the finish with a Happy Camper IPA from Santa Fe Brewing Co.