Previewing the Leadville 100 MTB Course

by Arlyn on July 27, 2010

I was not going to preview the Leadville 100 course this year. I mean, I previewed it last July and raced it in August so I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what to expect. But when Marcos finally got his “Yippee!” card, it became a must-do event. Since we were already scheduled to ride the Triple Bypass in July, it made sense to head to Leadville and extend that trip a couple of days.

Mickey, Cecil, Marcos and Arlyn at Zichittella’s in Leadville.

Getting an idea of what to expect on race day will be a huge advantage for Marcos and I went along if just to share my experiences and maybe have the most epic bike trip ever with my Dirt Bros. I accomplished all that and still got something very valuable.

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB race is really hard.

The human mind has a funny way of forgetting the suffering and focusing on the glory. Over the past year, the Leadville course (in my mind) has gotten easier and easier, almost to the point of becoming “just a tough day in the saddle.” Our trip to Leadville two weeks ago was a much needed wake-up call.

Leadville is hard, not just because of the distance (103.4 miles) and not just because of the climbing (10,938’ by my Garmin). It’s hard because of the distance and the climbing and most importantly, because of the elevation. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to ride hard above 10,000’, especially for a flatlander like me – I can smell the ocean from my house!

I did not arrive in Leadville with the freshest legs, having ridden the Triple Bypass as hard as I could the day before. We started out early the next morning to ride the first and last 25 miles of the course, from 6th and Harrison to the bottom of the Powerline and back. The idea was to get as much of the 50 miles and 5,500’ of climbing in before the inevitable afternoon thunderstorm attacked. It can get pretty crazy at 11,000’ in the Rockies during a thunderstorm, even in July.

Mickey and Marcos approaching the St Kevins climb.

My legs felt pretty good as we rolled down 6th Avenue, from the race’s Start/Finish line. We took it easy on the early dirt roads and I pointed out where the cows were in the opening scenes of “Race Across the Sky”. We settled into a steady rhythm up St. Kevins where a pattern emerged that would often repeat itself on the two-day course preview. Mickey goes off the front with Marcos hanging on for as long as he can while I sit up and let them go. We’d arrive at the top, not far from each other, but almost always in that 1-2-3 order.

The course on Kevins was in really good condition. I remembered it being a lot more cut up last July. It should be super smooth by race day next month after hundreds more riders preview the course. We rounded the big left on St. Kevins and waited a few minutes for Cecil who was struggling with the impact of cycling at high altitude. We were already well above 10,000’.

We descended Turquoise Lake Road and the climb to Sugarloaf Pass went easily in the same 1-2-3 pattern. I was content with being third and had joked earlier that we would be awarding reverse-KOM points for the trip. You get more points for being last than first. It was my goal to get that reverse polka-dot jersey.

The Dirt Bros on Turquoise Lake Road.

I was riding a bike rented from the guys at Cycles of Life which I have to say might be the coolest bike shop ever. Brian was super helpful outfitting us and I was excited to try the hardtail 29’er I rented. Many people claim that a hardtail 29’er is the best riding platform for the Leadville 100 and I’ve been wondering if I could go faster on one. I quickly learned that the answer was a definite, “No.” Sure the hardtail was stiffer on climbs, which might translate to a small amount of additional power transfer, but it also required a LOT more control, even on relatively smooth sections. Getting bumped out of the saddle is not good on a long climb. And the descents are terrible compared to my full-travel bike. Maybe I just don’t have the proper bike-handling skills, but descending on a hardtail takes a lot more energy and focus. My legs got sore from holding myself off the saddle – on my Trek I can recover, sitting on the saddle as I descend. It was good to discover all this before buying a hardtail and regretting it later…

Looking up the Powerline with Marcos and Mickey walking.

We started down the Powerline and I remembered cold rain, buzzing transformers and acrid smell of brake pads from the race last year. We were lucky to be descending in warm sunshine. Even though I was careful on the descent, I still got “rutted out”, having to stop and walk my bike laterally to a new line. It was a good reminder to take my time and parse the trail for the best line. I certainly won’t win Leadville on this descent, but I sure could lose it by endo’ing into one of these caverns.

We stopped at the bottom to discuss race-day bridge strategies for the creek. Last year, a lot of fans shouted at racers to try and ride the creek, I just don’t think it’s a good idea to rinse your drivetrain and risk falling in the water at mile 25 of a 100 mile race. I showed Marcos the “alternate” bridge in case there is a backup on the planked crossing then we turned around to go back up the Powerline.

On race day last year, I had been exuberant at the bottom of the Powerline and charged up the lower sections only to blow up when it got steep and then freak out cause I was going so slow in the hike-a-bike section. Once the grade settled, I pushed too hard and blew up again on the upper parts because I hadn’t eaten properly. This year, I settled into a steady pace and walked the hike-a-bike at a normal clip. Again I let Mickey and Marcos go up the trail ahead of me. As a result, I climbed faster than race day and felt much, much better at the top. Last year, I was blown at the top of the Powerline and didn’t fully recover until the final Aid Station on St. Kevins. This year, I felt great and set a much faster pace back up Turquoise Lake Road, gaining time. I’d learned a valuable lesson – pacing and proper nutrition make the day.

At the bottom of the Powerline. The hard part is still ahead.

Soon we were back on St. Kevins again and I remembered hammering these final miles of the race last year. I was really wishing I had my Trek with me instead of the lumpy hardtail as I picked my way down. I caught up with Marcos and Mickey on the fire roads and I guided them to the Boulevard climb – that final kick in the ass at mile 100 when you’re still over three miles from the finish. It seemed a lot easier this year, but still fairly loose and rocky. Last year, I rode past many who were walking their bike and I vowed ride it this year again.

The final gravel roads back into Leadville are much longer than you’d expect and I had trouble holding Mickey back. That kid is on terrific form. Finally, we made the last right turn onto the pavement of 6th Avenue and rolled together to the finish line. I could see in my mind the hundreds of fans and the cheers from the crowds from last year’s race – I really can’t wait to be on that last half mile again this year.

Enjoying a delicious High Mountain Pie.

After an evening of focused recovery that included a delicious High Mountain Pie, some vino and a few beers, I found myself staring at the Fruit Loops in the breakfast room of the Super 8 – ah, what the heck. After kitting up, we drove out to Twin Lakes at the base of the Columbine climb and discussed feed zone strategy before saddling up and heading towards the high country again.

Letting Marcos and Mickey go up the road to Columbine Mine.

Based on what I had learned on the Powerline, I refined my strategy for the penultimate climb on the Leadville course. I will not attack Columbine, I will sneak by. It won’t even know I was there. I paced myself evenly, letting Mickey and Marcos go up the road, focusing on eating at regular intervals and not over-exerting on the steeper sections. I walked the steep, loose sections without worrying about losing time or falling back. The higher I climbed, the better I felt instead of bonking and needing to rest like last year. I ignored the voice in my head that said I was going too slow and instead slowly ate a GU and kept my hydration on track. In the end I climbed Columbine 5 minutes faster this year AND felt much better. All this after two really hard days in the mountains.

The view from Columbine Mine.

Miraculously, I arrived at the high point of 12,600’ on the Leadville course first. I came to a stop and turned back to see where Mickey and Marcos were. Small, colored dots in the distance told me they had taken the bonus spur on the GPS course I had loaned them to a spectacular overlook of Twin Lakes over 3,500 feet below. I waited a few minutes while their dots grew back into life-sized mountain bikers and then we rolled down to the turnaround point of the Leadville 100 MTB course together.

Dirt Bros on Columbine.

After rolling into the Columbine Mine turnaround point, Marcos, Mickey and I all stopped and got off our bikes. Marcos’ comment summed it up, “That was really hard.” Yeah, got it.


2010 Triple Bypass

by Arlyn on July 17, 2010

It was raining lightly as I dove into the sharp right hand turn under an overpass at mile 113. My tires struggled vainly to maintain purchase with the slick pavement and when they finally let go it was sudden and violent. I slammed into the pavement and began a long slide, finally coming to a halt 10 meters later.

My primary concern as I lay there on the ground was that Mickey was going to catch me and take the “Stage Win”. I had dropped him just minutes earlier on the run-in from Vail Pass where I somehow got max KOM points.

I was riding the Triple Bypass as hard as I could because I had something to prove. With the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race just over a month away it was time to give my fitness a real test. A 120-mile road ride to 11,000’ over three gigantic Rocky Mountain Passes seemed like just the thing.

Note: The Triple Bypass is a 120-mile road ride through the Colorado Rockies over three distinct mountain passes; Juniper Pass (11,140’), Loveland Pass (11,990’) and Vail Pass (10,560’). In total there is well over 10,000’ of climbing for the day at some serious altitude.

To be honest, coming into the Triple Bypass I was freaking out a little bit. I desperately needed to know I was on track – I needed to know that the innumerable hours and miles I was putting in on the bike were paying off. For the last several weeks my power levels had been off target. I had been struggling to achieve basic intervals and self-doubt was getting hard to control – was everything ok? Do I have the legs to even finish Leadville this year? What was going on?

DMoz, Marcos, Mickey, Arlyn, Ajay and Karydes from Team Climb On! Missing are Cecil and Erik.

The “race” began right at Kilometer Zero as my buddy Mickey separated from our group of eight friends to draft on a slightly faster rider. I knew that if I didn’t follow him, I’d never see him again so I went too. I was putting in exactly the right effort as rider number three in our group and we began the first climb over Juniper Pass to Echo Lake.

Gaining just 2,585’ over 13 miles meant I could spin easily upward as the altimeter quickly approached 11,000’. Within a few miles, Mickey and his lead-out man picked up the pace and I let them go, wary of blowing up to soon. As I watched them pace out of sight, I figured I wouldn’t see him again until the finish line. It was hard to think straight above 10,000’ and my power dropped by at least 10%. I focused on setting an even rhythm and eating on schedule to avoid The Bonk.

At some point, DMoz passed me. This guy is skinny enough for concern and just completed Ride the Rockies in great form. Combine that with the fact he lives at elevation and now you’ll understand how frustrating it is to have him pass you chatting the whole way. I watched him go figuring I’d never see him again either. He managed to beat Mickey to the top taking max KOM points for himself.

Some lake on the Triple Bypass course – sorry, I wasn’t paying much attention!

Skipping the Aid Station at Echo Lake, I tipped my bike over and began speeding downhill towards Idaho Springs at 50mph in some sections. The speed and roads were exhilarating, the inexperienced descenders were not. I warily passed many cyclists who need someone to show them how to keep a line through a corner.

Marcos caught me on the outskirts of Georgetown, at the base of the second pass where I was planning to stop at the Aid Station. We stopped together and chatted while we filled up bottles. I was a bit nervous because he looked strong and I really wanted to maintain my current 3rd place among the team. I mean, a podium is a podium, right?

DMoz caught up to us while we were stopped causing a brief moment of confusion. We thought he was ahead of us. I guess we rocketed downhill past him. Unfortunately, 140lb guys just don’t go downhill as fast at 195lb guys… He took off a few minutes ahead of us and again I figured that would be the last time I saw him.
After a 14-minute stop, we were off again across a 2-mile stretch of gravel road. Many riders were unnerved by the rocks, gravel and potholes, but for some reason reveled in it. After a little while I no longer heard Marcos behind me and figured he had slowed up to do his own pace. Smart. On a ride like the Triple Bypass, you have to ride your own pace. 120 miles is a loooong way to go.

The road tilted upwards, but never very sharply as we climbed towards Loveland Pass. At 11,990‘, this would be the high point of the day. Again, the extreme elevation took its toll on me and I began to dream/hallucinate the strangest things. I forced myself to eat and set an easy, steady pace as I got higher and higher. At some point on US-6, above 11,000’, I decided that it was more comfortable to pedal with my eyes closed. Of course, as I was passing a cyclist every few minutes, this was a bit of a hazard. Somehow I worked it out.

My trick to achieving long climbs is to watch my altimeter. If I know where the top is, I can have a little party in my head every 100 feet – “Yeah! Only 2,300 feet to go! Heck, it’s actually even LESS THAN 2,300 feet now!”

Karydes and Ajay on the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass

Eventually I reached Loveland Pass and rather than stop to shoot a photo of the sign, I bombed the descent directly. Again, speeds near 50mph were the order of the day as I shot down to warmer and slightly thicker air. Along the way I saw and passed DMoz again. This time I shouted as I went past. Technically, I was in second place – I thought he’d catch me on the final climb over Vail Pass, but it began to seem likely for me to catch him on the final descent into Avon. The second step of the podium sure seemed nicer than the third…

DMoz and I stopped at the school in Frisco and refilled bottles, chatting about our experiences so far. He left first as I searched for the porta-potties.

The elevation at the Aid Station was around 9,000’ and with Vail Pass only 10,500’, I knew this would be a relatively shallow climb over 12 miles. I was feeling really good as I left the Aid Station and decided to up my tempo a bit to see what was in the tank. If I blew up on the last climb, no problem.

I quickly caught DMoz on the lower parts of the climb. He started grumbling about my quicker pace and fell off a bit. We started to get sprinkled on and he passed me when I stopped to put on my vest, but I passed him back when he did the same.
I was going up and up on the bike trail now, passing other riders at a healthy clip. It was a bit dodgy as the trail was only really wide enough for three across (both directions) and there was a lot of blind turns. For some reason, many riders rode the centerline, making it dangerous to pass them. Maybe they were entranced by the yellow line or something, but it was a bit annoying.

One woman I passed had a radio blaring music in her jersey pocket. She stepped up her pace and passed me back, with “The Love Shack” going the whole time. I got perturbed and passed her again, but she hung onto my back wheel with some other top-40 drivel blasting out. I think they invented earbuds just for her. Feeling quite good now, I picked up the pace even more until I could no longer hear her.

Colorado was in full beauty for the race – and the weather was near perfect!

Rounding some corners near the top of Vail Pass I sighted a rider I recognized. Could that be Mickey? He had stopped, but was getting back on and pedaling again. I furiously chased and yes, it was Mickey! Instantly, I saw how I would beat him to the top of Vail Pass and then hammer alone to the finish. There was a slim chance it would work. I slowed as I passed him and asked if everything was ok. I got an unintelligible reply and took off for the top of the Pass, just about a half mile up. Later I found out he had no real idea where the top was and was just following me up. It was a bit confusing at the top and I made the mistake of going through the parking lot instead of straight to the top. Suddenly, I saw Mickey in front of me, just meters from the top and had to all-out sprint to get there first. Mickey gave me a funny look and asked, “Is this the top?”

We began coasting downhill together toward the finish, just 25 miles away. I asked him if we would share the top step or fight it out. Mickey had that twinkle in his eyes but admitted he didn’t have the legs to chase now. He was going to let me do all the pulling. Fine and fine.

We rocketed down the initial steep sections of bike path like two fighter jets, Mickey right on my wheel. He later told me it was one of the best descents of his life and I have to agree. We flew down the curvy bike path cooking some corners a bit too hot and diving into holes between riders to pass.

I had racing fever as we hammered the final miles into Avon. We picked up another rider who was willing to work and I started trading 30-second pulls with him. While in the draft I calculated how fast we’d have to go for me to take an hour off of last years’ time of 9:20. It began to seem possible.

At some point Mickey came to the front and did a terrific pull. I was next and knew what would happen – he went right off the back after his amazing effort. I kept the watts up, not waiting. The top step of the podium would be mine alone. Sorry, buddy. Down and down we went, rocketing through the roundabouts in Vail while the State Police stopped traffic for us.

Back on the bike path, we traded a few more pulls. With my turn over, I rested, knowing I only had a few seconds until it was my turn again. I looked up and saw bike path bend into the tunnel and prepared for a hard turn.

And that’s how I found myself sliding across the pavement wondering how far back Mickey was.

My collarbone was not broken. My arms were not broken. I had almost no pain – the rash hurts later. I checked for blood and even the rash didn’t look so bad. Something was wrong with my bike, but I couldn’t figure out what. It didn’t go or something. I told my new friend to go on without me – I was fine. He cruised on and I got back on my bike trying to figure it out. I really didn’t want Mickey to catch me – how stupid would that be? But there was some kind of odd clicking sound – I shifted and it went away. Perfect!

I cranked it up again and caught my friend, explaining everything was fine now. We started trading pulls again and I made sure mine were long and fast. I had a bit of a deficit to make up in order to keep to my schedule of arriving an hour faster. Suddenly, the finish line loomed in front of us. We had both set new PRs for the Triple and congratulated each other.

I came to a halt all by myself in the midst of a huge crowd, breathing hard, sweat dripping off me, feeling the sting of the fresh road rash and ache in my legs after a 120-mile ride through the mountains and let it all sink in…

Leadville, here I come!

Team Climb On! Race Results

Stage Podium
1st place: Arlyn (8hrs 17min)
2nd place: Mickey (8hrs 20min)
3rd place: DMoz (8hrs 24min)

King of the Mountains (KOM)
1st place: Mickey (14pts)
2nd place: DMoz (12pts)
3rd place: Arlyn (10pts)


I’m a Star!

by Arlyn on July 8, 2010

Ok, ok, I got a helmet cam. I really thought long and hard about whether this was a good idea. I’m not the most technically astute mountain-bike racer so I worried at first that the desire to make good-looking movies would outweigh my desire to be safe. And frankly, after the fourth movie, would I ever pick it up again?

In any case, here is a sample of some movies I’ve made. Have to say I’m rather proud of them. Note: If you’re viewing on an iPhone, click the links to see the videos.

The first one is my favorite section of the Northside trail in Rancho Penasquitos Regional Park.

This next one is the amazing descent of Lopez Canyon which is also a great technical climb…

I rode Sycamore Canyon with my DirtBro Andrew last Saturday.

And this is just a bit of local singletrack right outside my front door. Ahh, the zen…

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Getting Ready for the Big Event

by Arlyn on July 1, 2010

I’m riding the Triple Bypass in Colorado next Saturday. It’s an amazing 120-mile journey over three high passes in the Rocky Mountains – the 3,500 rider event sold out in just a few hours. I’m riding with a big group of friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in a year. We’ve all been looking forward to this ride for months.

The LAST thing I want to happen is for a mechanical problem to keep me from having a great time. So, now is the time to check everything while I still have time to order parts and most importantly to get in a couple of test rides before the big event. Here’s my checklist:


Have your tires worn flat instead of being rounded like when new? Is the rubber cracking a little, especially at the rims? Might be time for new tires. The more worn your tires are, the easier it is to get a flat. My Continental GP 4000’s have a wear dimples, when they disappear, it’s time for a new tire.


Diving into a hairpin corner at the top of a 5,000 foot descent is not the best time to find out your brake pads are worn out. Sometimes, when your brakes feel spongy you just tighten the cable a little, right? Well, you can do that only so many times before you run out of pad. Your pads should have wear marks on them – make sure you have plenty of pad left to slow you down.


Did you know your chain wears out? A worn chain is more likely to break on a ride and also increases wear on your cassette and chainrings. I’ve actually crashed when my chain broke; don’t let that happen to you.

I use this handy Park Tool Chain Wear Gauge to keep an eye on chain wear and end up replacing mine every 2,000 miles or so.


Does your bike shift properly? A lot of shifting problems come from too much friction in the cable housings. Especially problems shifting into higher gears in the back where the derailleur uses the spring to contract. If you ride in wet weather, that rear cable housing easily fills with gunk and rusts. You can test how much friction is in the system by disconnecting the cable from the derailleur and moving it by hand. It should slide easily from the shifter to the derailleur.

Even if everything is ok, it’s a good idea to change your cables every season. I once got up at dawn and drove over an hour to do an epic 100+mile ride only to have my derailleur cable snap in the parking lot.


When was the last time you looked at the bottom of your shoes? Yeah, same here. It’s a good idea to check out your cleats and pedals to make sure everything is in working order before starting off on that epic ride. I’ve had cleat bolts shear off leaving me pedaling home somewhat awkwardly.

Repair Kit

What’s in your repair kit? Did you replace the CO2 cartridge the last time you got a flat? I’ve heard several stories of people replacing their tube only to find the spare also had a hole in it.

All I need is a spare tube, a CO2 cartridge and nozzle, a single tire spoon (you only need one…) and a good multi-tool. Make sure the tool has a chain-tool on it. I also throw in a piece of rubber to plug large tears in a tire sidewall and a quick-link that I need for my specific type of SRAM chain. Personally, I hate carrying a pump (but am usually glad that you do) and can’t stand messing with tire patches. If you like that stuff, go for it.

Ok, everything ready? Good. Now go ride…


Opening a Can of Whoop Ass

by Arlyn on June 23, 2010

Note: As a general rule, telling your competitors how good you feel before a ride and how much you’d like to kick their asses is a bad idea.

After a week and a half resting after my dismal performance at Monster Climbs IV, I foreshadowed my improving form with this simple tweet.

I dug the hole even deeper, sealing my fate with this one.

Flash forward to 8:30am the next morning, a bright and sunny day in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. There was a lot of joking and “boys being boys” while Marcos, MickeyGow and I kitted up. We all agreed this was the best weather of the season so far and pedaled out into calm, cool sunshine.

As soon as we passed The Gate, MickeyGow was off the front. Where he was going? Didn’t he get the memo to neutralize the start so everyone could warm up? I chased with cold legs, the pain begging me to slow down, but I knew I had to keep him in sight. What if he doesn’t stop at the “Oak Tree” at the bottom of Soapstone as we always do? What if Mickey just keeps hammering up the singletrack to Sunrise Highway? I pedaled even faster to keep him in sight.

Mickey did not stop at The Oak Tree. I shouted out, probably louder than necessary, to hold up and choked down a GU and some Perpetuem while Marcos caught up. I tried to give Mickey a bad time, but all I got back was a smile and that twinkle in his eye telling me this was just the beginning.

He took off again before my heart rate settled and I cursed as I stuffed my half-eaten GU back into my pocket. I’m the one who’s supposed to be off the front today, what the hell is going on? I chased and chased to Sunrise Highway where Mickey mercifully stopped to wait. I had the urge to blast by, but I resolved to wait for Marcos who was just behind me.

Marcos called out, “Move out!” as he approached and I jumped on the front vowing to not let anyone pass on the downhill singletrack. The course was narrow and a little technical and Mickey could have gone faster, but screw that! He’d f’d up by not taking point, I wasn’t going to let anyone build a gap now. I didn’t stop when we got to Fages Monument either, just cranked up the watts a little.

A rider was behind me but the course ahead was too technical for me to look back. I figured it must be Mickey coming strong – his wheel was never more than five feet off mine. No matter how hard I pushed, I could not shake him. More than once, I overcooked a corner and had to go full power to get out of the bushes and maintain my lead. I hammered up the last bits to the top of Soapstone and found it was Marcos on my wheel. Where the heck was Mickey? Did they tag before trading off?

As soon as Mickey caught up, we were hammering down the wide sections to Hwy 79 and Middle Peak. Mickey passed me going balls out and barely in control on the sandy fire road. His grin was evident. He waited at the highway and I blew past to get whatever gap I could before the real climbing began. I got no more than 30 seconds.

I started up Middle Peak with Marcos on my wheel. And I mean “on my wheel”. Every so often he would buzz me, rubbing his front tire against my back, creating a ripping sound. If you asked him I’m sure he’d say it was accidental, but I’m certain it was on purpose – to show me how easy he was climbing. I was certainly not climbing easy. I was on the rivet, going as slow as I thought I could get away with. Mickey caught up and we became such a tight group that at one point I looked back and couldn’t tell who was who.

I heard the recognizable “ping!” of a spoke breaking followed by a “ding ding ding ding” of it spinning through the fork. I called back, “Broke a spoke?” and received a “Yeah” in reply. I asked if Marcos wanted to fix that and thankfully he did, giving me a moment’s rest, time to pee and choke down another GU. Far sooner than I’d have liked we started back up again.

I knew I was a goner and tried a little psychological warfare. “Just warming up, starting to feel good!” I said as positively as I could. “Almost halfway up!” I said at the three-quarters mark, trying to dishearten my chasers. I went wide on an inside corner near the top and Mickey saw his chance and took off. I could merely watch him go. Marcos hung back with me for a little longer then left me to the buzzards as well.

I was being schooled. Punished for bragging about my form. My plan was working perfectly.
I congratulated them at the top and then down we went through the maze of rocks and tangle of bushes that makes up “The Shortcut” off Middle Peak. I was glad that Marcos was behind me in case I crashed and broke something.

At the Hollow Oak Tree we regrouped and then began hammering up Azalea Springs fire road. MickeyGow went to the front and I chased desperately, knowing that I couldn’t let him gap me before the big descent of the day. Ahead was a five mile rocky downhill and as the best descender I’ve ever seen, MickeyGow could create quite the gap here. There was no sense in giving him more time.

We tipped over the crest and I watched Mickey zoom down. I passed Marcos to stay on Mickey’s wheel and down we went, me focusing on staying loose and light. For some reason, I was staying with Mickey instead of him going quickly out of sight. I focused on holding as much momentum as possible through each turn. I flew through sections where I used to come to almost a complete stop. My line was a blur and I was beaten mercilessly by the bushes and trees on either side of the trail. I was going faster than ever.

We came to a slight incline and I saw that Mickey was just cruising up it. I hammered full power, closing down the gap completely. As we crested, I tried desperately to buzz his back wheel and let him know I was “right there.” The trail tipped down and again we were at the mercy of gravity but this time Mickey started to pull away. I hammered all the flats and dead spots, but could not keep him in sight. My bike slid, rattled, jumped and jinked underneath me like a mechanical bull, to no avail.

Finally, I arrived at the singletrack; the last 2 miles of trail before beers under the trees. I hammered as best I could and once got a glimpse of Mickey through the trees, but I never caught him. I was about a minute behind at the end, not counting all the other times he waited for me.

After just 2 and a half hours of cycling, I’d had my butt thoroughly kicked. Very little zero-time, lots of desperate chasing and being chased. My plan had unfolded perfectly.

Idea: Before your next buddy ride, tell all your friends you’re going to kick their asses and see what happens…

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