Salida’s Big Friggin Loop

This past Saturday I planned on racing in Salida’s Big Friggin Loop (SBFL). After the Original Growler, and my first race with Team GO I was super motivated. I wanted to get another race in before my busy non-bike schedule kicked in. Tom Purvis, the Salida local race organizer has done a fantastic job planning the 2 routes. The base loop is the shorter of the two at 90 miles and 10,500 feet of climbing, it follows the big loops route but takes a more direct route back to Salida. The Big loop consists of 107 miles with a mix of singletrack, dirt road, and very primitive trail. The course climbs roughly 12,500 feet through thick forest and wide open valleys.

If there was an option to ride a century I didn’t want to pass it up, I was in for the 107 mile loop. The previous day I rolled into Salida with hopes to get a good nights sleep at the Days Inn. First, Lindsay and myself went to Amicas for some pizza and salad, I would highly recommend it. They are also a microbrew with a tasty IPA. We went back to the hotel where it seemed to take me forever to fall asleep. I was not all that nervous but for some reason I had a lot going through my mind, making it difficlut to fall asleep.

I woke at 5:00am excited for the race. I made my way to Cafe Dawn to get all my gear and bike ready to roll. Racers started to trickle in and soon enough the place was packed. Tom stood up to give a brief overview of the day ahead and explained about the 45 minute time reduction ‘chip’ long loop riders could find in the ghost town of Futurity. 6:30am arrived quickly and 65 riders swarmed the streets of Salida. We made our way up the contry side of Salida and steadly climbed up towards the Mt. Shivano Trailhead. I biked with Matt Schiff for a bit as 6 other riders took off ahead. Matt gave me some beta on the trail that was very helpful. We chatted a bit about bikes then he eventually dropped me a little ways after we hit the singletrack.

I forgot how difficult this section of the Colorado Trail was. I remember it being rocky from riding the Colorado Trail the other direction last year. It was much more difficult then I had anticipated. What I did know was the climb out of Prinston Hot Springs would be tough, with 1,400 feet of elevation gain in less then 4 miles.  I passed two short loop riders and one long loop rider before I got to the long decent into Buena Vista. I knew there were at least 3 riders ahead of me, and I assumed they were all going for the long loop.

I cruised as fast as my 38 tooth chain ring would go down to Buena Vista, trying hard to catch up to anyone I could. I arrived at Boneshaker Cycles, they were kind enough to have water and electrolight set ouside their shop.  It was a perfect location as it was still on course. It was getting hot, I took off my base layer and purchased a few Honey Stingers waffels, filled up on fluids and got on my way. My refuel was brief and soon I was off to unfamiliar territory, the east side of the long loop.

Jens Nielson passed me while I was at Boneshaker Cycles, I caught up with him on the climb out of Buena Vista. He set a good pace and I just followed him on the super fun Midland Trail. We climbed up Co Road 315 and I eventually passed him before the downhill where the long loop seperates from the base loop. I later found out Jens took first overall on the base loop. I took the turn left on the long loop, the head wind was brutal. I slowly made my way up and across HWY 285 into the South Park Basin.

After 285 I didn’t see another soul, at least souls on bikes. The terrain was tough, lots of permitive roads that were rocky and steep. There is a lot of time to think when your in the saddle for hours and hours. I studied the tire tracks, I saw three, I figured I was in 4th because no one in their right mind would bring a bike out there for fun. The tail-wind was helping me a bit with it blowing at my back, it gave me a boost. Eventually after a few small climbs I ran into a locked cattle guard. It stated “No Tresspassing, No Hunting, No fishing.” I didn’t want to turn around as no one else did. I had no choice but to climb over and push on, hoping a rancher would not see me.

My willpower soon faded and cruise control set in. I had to dismount my bike numerous times because of locked cattle guards. I eventually got to the hike-a-bike section after passing the turn off, thank god for GPS. I knew my opportunity to pass someone was out of the question now. I was on and off my bike for a good half hour, hiking up to the ridge that would eventually lead me down to the Ghost Town of Futurity. In Futurity I found the 45 minute reduction chip quickly in a house on the right side of the trail. I also looked for a water stash that I secretly hoped was there, nope. I was conserving water pretty well but it was hot and I wanted to chug gallons upon gallons at that point.

I took off from the small little ghost town thinking it would only get eaiser. After descending down a road the long loop rejoined the base loop. I start to notice lots of tire tracks, I was thinking maybe I would have seen some one, nope. Better yet I would start the toughest climb of the day. It took forever, the loose rock and steep grade road was demoralizing, I wanted to just walk my bike. A jeep passes me, he says “your almost there” he saw the pain in my eys, those simple words were very uplifting. I finished off my last of my two water bottles. I had a little more then a half liter in my bladder left.

After making it to the summit of the climb my legs were beat. I was completely exhausted, I was just hoping for nothing but downhill the rest of the way. That’s what I got, a very fast 10 mile decent into Salida. I recognized the North Backbone Trailhead which is part of the Arkansas Hills Trail System. I chugged the rest of my water signling a personal victory. I walked across the 3 railroad crossing and hopped back on the saddle and weaved my way to Cafe Dawn. I had made it. 107 miles, with 13,000 feet of elevation gain. This was a true test of endurance. I finished In 4th place (9hr 27min) just as I had thought. However, Jessey Jakomait who finsihed first (8hr 47min) did not find the chip, which bumped me up to 3rd… if we’re playing that game.

Big Thanks to Team Griggs Orthopedics ( Team GO) and Rhett Grigss. I was the only GO rider in the field and it felt good to represent. I also want to thank the Alpineer for Calling SRAM multiple times this month regarding my broken Reba. The persistance eventually paid off with a generous upgrade to a 2013 Sid XX World Cup. The fork worked to perfection. Another big shout out to Rock and Roll sports where I spend far too much money. Acli-mate my go to endurance sports drink, and to the rest the sponsors: Go To GuidePike BuildersCrested Butte Mountain ResortRudy ProjectElk Mountain LodgeHigh Mountain ConceptsChucks Glass, and Squirt, thank you. Can’t wait for the Vapor Trail.

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.