Tour of the White Mountains Ride (not race) Report-
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  1. #1
    Another Broken Spoke
    Reputation: sdbelt's Avatar
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    Jan 2004

    Tour of the White Mountains Ride (not race) Report

    For the last 2 months I had waffled between the 41 and 52 mile lengths. The 52-miler scared me, due to the added climb up and over Blue Ridge Mountain. I was rather concerned that this climb would take too much out of me, and then I wouldn't be able to finish.

    Well, all of my riding buddies bailed on this event, so I decided what the heck, and on Friday night finally signed up for the 52.

    Getting my bike ready for the event, I noticed something was very wrong. A major vibration was coming through with every peddle stroke. In the last 2 weeks I had replaced the bottom bracket, chain, middle chain ring, and cassette. I suspected the bottom bracket had simply loosened up.

    So, with the Bionicon team staying at the house, we gave my bike a look. Nope the bottom bracket was fine...but the rear hub was not. We were able to adjust it a tad, and most of the vibration went away, but I'll be needing some new wheels soon.

    A good night's sleep and some coffee, and I arrived at the venue about 20 minutes before the start, just in time to see the 66's go off.

    I made my way to the start/finish line and snapped this photo of the front of the pack. I figured this would be the last time I ever saw them:

    Todd yelled go, and we all took off, myself within 20 riders of the rear...I was in no hurry. The wind was up, it was cold, and I wanted to save my energy for the climb. Riders spread out, and all went well over the first 5 miles of the course. Then I missed my first turn. Fortunately, only by a few hundred yards. Back on the course we hit Country Club, and before I knew it we were at the base of Blue Ridge, and I was feeling good.

    The climb up Blue Ridge was definitely a grunt. The majority of the climb is done on an old jeep road, that's pretty rough. Finally, you make a left hander onto single track to finish the climb. As I approached this turn, a number of poeple were coming back at me. It seems they had missed the turn (this would be a common theme). Their misfortune saved me, for sure.

    Once I got to the top, I felt pretty wasn't as hard as I had feared. Then came the decent. During the decent we got onto this really rugged Jeep road. And at some point we were supposed to turn off the Jeep road...but no one around me did. We all decended completely to the bottom of the road, finishing on a well maintained forest road.

    A group of 20 riders were gathered at the bottom trying to decide what to do. A few turned back and went up. I decided frick that, and headed on the forest road in the direction I knew that checkpoint 1 surely was. Along the road I ran into a rider who was walking his bike. He'd gone through his one and only tube on the rugged Jeep road, but had a second flat. I gave him my only tube and figured if I needed it, I could hopefully bum one. A bit further down the road, an event guy came driving down the road, and confirmed I was off course, but if I turned right at the stop sign ahead, I'd get to checkpoint 1. So that's what I did.

    I'm pretty sure I saved some time with this alternate route, but who knows how much...5 minutes? 10 minutes? Who knows. It does go back to highlight a very consistent problem with the course markings: major turns were not marked well enough. There should have been arrows pointing out the turns. Instead there would be a couple of tiny pink flags you had to notice...if they were even still there. I don't doubt that some locals had removed some pink flags over the last few days.

    Anyway, I arrived at checkpoint 1, looking a bit like this:

    Although I wished I'd looked like this:

    Here some other riders were refueling:

    I did the same, and headed out. Immediately after crossing the road from checkpoint 1, there was a major intersection of trails, and the 2 guys in front of me went right. Straight seemed like the correct way to me, but there were no pink flags or arrows to within site. I waited 30 seconds, and the next group behind me noticed a pink flag 50 yard down the trail straight ahead. least this only cost me some time.

    From this point, having ridden some of these trails before, I knew how to get to checkpoint 2. It was a good 8 or 10 miles of steady climbing, relatively boring trail, but I knew all of the turns, and just set to going at a steady, pace, confident I wouldn't go off-route. I arrived at checkpoint 2 feeling pretty good. These riders were chatting it up:

    From checkpoint 2, the next most difficult task is before you: Making it to the top of Los Burros. The meadow section of Los Burros is really a beautiful bit of singletrack. The steep climb afterword got me off the bike for 50 or 100 yrds, but that would be all of the walking I did on Los Burros, and I was able to pass a number of riders on this portion of the route, feeling a bit better, it seems, than those that had been faster in earlier stages.

    On Los Burros, there was a major road crossing that had no flags at all. Fortunately, my familiarity with the trail suggested we weren't supposed to get off Los Burros just yet, so I kept going, and eventually found some flags about 200 yrds from the road crossing.

    Rolling into checkpoint 3, I knew I would finish the ride. I was basically spent, but it was primarily downhill from here and unless my rear hub gave out, I was going to finish. I also assessed that completing the 66 would be darned near impossible for me. I had definitely picked the correct distance.

    At this point, I don't have any more pics...I think I was just too tired. The folks at checkpoint 3, however, were really nice.

    The ride from checkpoint 3 to 4 was 50/50 forest road and single track. The single track was primarily downhill, fortunately, but it was definitely primitive. I liked the trail, just wished I wasn't so tired, so I could better enjoy it. One climb on this section was silly steep, and had everyone walking, but at least it was only the second walk for me of the day.

    Once I hit the road again, the ferocity of the wind really showed. Some of the short uphills, into the wind, were just brutal. Of particular note, was the strong side wind just before the finish line. I felt the bike sliding out from under me a number of times as the wind gusted up hard.

    Alas I finished after around 6 hrs 45 mins. Results aren't posted yet, so I could be off that time a bit...and who knows what place that result is. We'll call it a top 100 finish.

    This 66 mile finisher finished 15 minutes after me. My hats off to all of the 66 mile finishers:

  2. #2
    Tucson, AZ
    Reputation: chadfbrown's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Great write-up. The course had some very nice singletrack.

    The volunteers at the race were amazing. I heard rumors of some brownies at the last aid station that I flew by. Mmmmmmm... brownies after 60+ miles would have been good. Had to settle for a Fat Tire at the finish line instead.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: katanick's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    It was a great time... I think that arrows pointing out the turns would have been really helpful though.

    I went over the bars twice on the 52 miler and once was while I was off track. I officially did the 56 miler! yay!

    Both Nick and I had a great time!

    Hardest ride of my life! Also the most rewarding as I came into the finish and heard all my friends cheering! My hats off to Todd for always challenging us and making it so much fun at the same time!

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by chadfbrown
    Great write-up. The course had some very nice singletrack.

    The volunteers at the race were amazing. I heard rumors of some brownies at the last aid station that I flew by. Mmmmmmm... brownies after 60+ miles would have been good. Had to settle for a Fat Tire at the finish line instead.
    The brownies were delish! So were the Fat Tires!
    You COULD do it on a geared bike, but I wouldn't reccomend it!

    Derailleurs are for failures!

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Ever had a brownie/chocolate chip cookie sandwich? That's what saved me at the aid station on the 66 course. I was signed up for the 41, and hadn't packed fuel for longer than that...

    First I want to say that I had a great time. I had toyed with the idea of riding the 66, but was talked into riding the 41 so we could work together in the wind, for as long as I could keep up with my friend Chewy, at least. As far as rides go, it was definitely an epic.

    I could have downloaded the GPS track and loaded it, but since the announcements seemed so confident about the course markings, I didn't feel the need.

    Chewy and I took several wrong turns, and we and others had to stop in intersections trying to figure out which one to go down.... a few times we split up and went different directions and yelled back when one of us saw a flag. Things like that were pretty frustrating.

    I'm not sure if my being partially colorblind contributed, but there was certainly no shortage of confusion and frustration on the course. The arrows seemed to be used inconsistently. Many intersections were only marked with pink flags, and several times, you could not see the pink flag on the intersection exit until you were fully stopped in the intersection, and searching hard.

    Adding to that, pink flags in shade were nearly invisible, while pink flags in sunlight were much easier to see.

    I got separated from other riders, didn't see anyone ahead, and followed the only course markings I could find. Soon after I came to a course volunteer at a gate, and she didn't know if this was part of the 41 course. Same with the next volunteer. And the next. It wasn't until the aid station that somebody could actually tell me I was on the 66 course, and that it was about 20 miles to the finish. I had already ridden 38 miles. That's where the chocolate chip cookie/brownie sandwich came in!

    I decided to just keep enjoying the single track, and finish the rest of the 66 course. But even then it wasn't clearly marked. I took a wrong turn with another 66 rider, and we doubled back and forth a few times trying to figure out where to go. Flags were nowhere to be seen.

    From my GPS track I rode 56.62 miles in 5:34 (on Motionbased at
    ). I spent two hours on the extra loop, so I'm guessing about 3:34 would have been my time for the 41, had I stayed on course.

    Most of the extra single track I did made me wish I had signed up for the 66, and had the course loaded into the GPS. It was a fun section for sure! Frustrations aside, it was definitely epic, and definitely a good time. - Bionicon USA - Over the Bars MTB Club - CORBA

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Toxic's Avatar
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    Jun 2005

    ... and if we just ... Thank You Epic Rides!!

    Major props to Todd S., and the rest of the Epic staff/volunteers for a great event!!

    I consider myself to be the lucky one for not making wrong turns or getting lost. That's not to say the course wasn't well marked(sometimes, it wasn't), but I did manage to fininsh without going off course more than just a few yards.

    That said, it was an excellent course. Very challenging and beautiful!! Heck, even without the wind it would have been challenging! I did the 41, one of my bro's did the 56, and two others did the 35. All had a great time and we'll all be back again next year.

    We all stayed the night Saturday and cheered the riders coming in afetr 9+ hours to finish. I even recall seeing one over the 10 hour mark. 10 hours in that wind? Unflippinbelievable. I am not worthy...

    In closing, yes I think things could have been better. What event can't be better?
    That's why you can count on me from now on to volunteer to do what I can to help. I am very grateful to Todd and the rest of the staff for sacrificing for my benefit and enjoyment, its time I gave something back. Epic Rides rules!! Let's keep it that way!


  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: hikerdave's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    The results are up on the web page. I finished DFL in the Men's Masters 52 (54) mile category. (I think that I was last because most people just quit when they see me pass.)

    I did have a good ride in the pines and Aspens, got to go camping with my family and am ready to ride again.

    Check it out. There are some pretty fast riders out here in Arizona.
    "Thank you, God, for letting me have another day"
    The Milagro Beanfield War

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