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  1. #1
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    2018 Steamboat Stinger 50

    I just signed up for this race, never raced in CO before but I figured this was a good one to cut my teeth on due to lower elevation and distance when compared to races in Leadville or Breck. The closest thing I've done is ORAMM last year (61 miles and 13k+ of climbing in NC) , aside from that I've done a handful of 6 hour XCM races over the last couple years, generally finishing in the top half overall. Racing 6 hours in 95+ degrees and 100% humidity has forced me to get hydration, pace and nutrition in order, and mostly flat courses down here in FL means little opportunity to rest. Altitude is a wild card that I won't know till I get out there, but I've been to Steamboat to snowboard for several years and never had any issues.

    Running a Top Fuel with 11 speed SRAM and a RF power meter, bottle of Infinit custom mix in the frame and one in my jersey pocket on long lap races like this. I know my 36t ring ain't gonna work here so I'll be going smaller, reinforced Barzo/Mezcal combo working pretty good (might go barzo/barzo next), no remote lockouts just open and smooth unless I have to sprint.

    I'll be getting up there the week before and pre-riding the course, maybe ride in Breck one day or two, but I want to make sure this flat-lander has the right setup for a good race there (sub 5hr?).

    For those of you who've raced the Steamboat Stinger, what are your thoughts on the following:
    • camelback vs 2 bottles per lap
    • send items to sag or just refuel 1x per lap?
    • 28t vs 30t vs 32t
    • tire preference?
    • dropper or nah?
    • pacing strategy - flow the DH and smash the climbs? Blast the holeshot right?
    • drafting not really a factor, right?
    • what else?


    This looks like a super cool race but I can't find a ton of people who've done it compared to things like Leadville or Breck epic, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  2. #2
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    I don't think you'll "need" a dropper but the descent (I'm awful with trail names) off the top is kinda skinny, fast and can be loose in places so a dropper would be nice but this is mostly about climbing (IMO) and its a good one out of the gate. The climb back from the dirt road (on the "other side" is longer but more relaxed. for the most part there is ample opportunity to pass on the climbs especially.

    As for your strategy.... only you can answer that. It'd help to be a good climber (I'm mid-pack at best - or was, getting old "back in the day..."). You'll figure it out some on your pre-ride. It'll thin out on the second lap so you'll have more flow for sure.

    I tend to use a pack w/ water and a bottle for fuel (one per lap) and a 2x hardtail. 5hrs is a pretty legit time.

    I wouldn't compare this race to either (leadville? blech), it's just fun as it is. Haven't done it in a few years (3? I think) and not my "favorite" race but a good time nonetheless. Have fun!! i love the boat.

    edit - I fergot tires. I genuinely don't recall what I ran back then but it might've been the non-tubeless aspens? THey were pretty popular around then. Either that or Ikons. Regardless, there are some loamy sections but most of it (based off my fading memory) is (or can be) hardpack or loose over hard. I'd lean towards fast over everything else but wtf do I know anyways.

  3. #3
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    Great tips. I don't race with a dropper but I see more people using them when XC gets rowdy so I've thought about it. Maybe the next time I go to Pisgah, but I descend fine with my seat sky high.

    I'm a mediocre climber, learned that at ORAMM last year and have been working on w/kg over the last year. Definitely good gains there but a long way to go. Hard to simulate sustained climbing here when the biggest hill we have is an old landfill...

    Loose over hard is pretty familiar, I'll stick with XC tires I know handle that well. I like fast rolling rubber too, Mezcals and Barzos check that box for me, can't do Maxxis.

    5hrs flat is an aggressive target, sub 6 should be pretty doable. I only know one person who's done it that I've raced against before, she did a ~5:30 a few years back coming off the Breck Epic (Cat 1 racer who destroys me regardless).

    Steamboat is a fun town, have some good friends there, only been there in the winter but looking forward to having fun there for a week this summer. A long day of mostly singletrack shredding sounds like my kind of fun!
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  4. #4
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    What cassette are u running in the rear?


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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkpowa View Post
    I'll be getting up there the week before and pre-riding the course, maybe ride in Breck one day or two, but I want to make sure this flat-lander has the right setup for a good race there (sub 5hr?).
    Sub 5 hours would get you into the top half of the pro race, certainly make the podium of the Citizen's category.

    I've done it twice solo, once teamed with my son. I use the 2 bottle strategy -- morally opposed to camel backs. Just refueled using the aid stations -- they've never been overwhelmed and they're extremely helpful. 6 years ago I did it on a single speed 29er at 34x22 and had my best finish (6 hours 17 seconds) and walked a few pitches on the front side. Now I'm old and will be happy to be on a 32t chainring Eagle setup. So...30t if you're pushing a 42 cog? Actually, coming from sea level I'd go 28t if you have a 42 in the back. Fast rolling tires make sense, hard pack trails, some loose over hard. I will have a dropper and full suspension bike this year -- my first -- and will be happy to have both. Basically it's 4 long climbs, 4 long descents -- having the dropper for the descents will be worth the pound of weight. Similarly, the curvy descents will carve faster for me on the full suspension. I suck at downhills, so having those tools will help, probably more than the extra weight will hinder on the climbs. Someone who's good at descending might not need either -- it's not rough or (very) technical, more flowy. Definitely put your energy in to the uphills, but they're too long to "smash". I definitely have lost at least a dozen places due to my poor descending each time, but the race is mostly about the climbs. The only place drafting is really even possible is on the couple miles of gravel road on the back side, between the descent and the climb, and even that's uphill at not much more than 10 mph, so...no, drafting isn't a factor. The hardest part for me for in my two solo races there -- the second time up the front side (right out of the start/finish) -- it has some steep pitches and goes on (seemingly) forever. And hit the hole shot as the early singletrack is tough to impossible to pass on.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by claystrick View Post
    What cassette are u running in the rear?


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    10-42 xx1
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkpowa View Post
    10-42 xx1
    As mentioned above should be fine with 30 or 32 depending on how u feel at the higher elevation climbing.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptor View Post
    Sub 5 hours would get you into the top half of the pro race, certainly make the podium of the Citizen's category.

    I've done it twice solo, once teamed with my son. I use the 2 bottle strategy -- morally opposed to camel backs. Just refueled using the aid stations -- they've never been overwhelmed and they're extremely helpful. 6 years ago I did it on a single speed 29er at 34x22 and had my best finish (6 hours 17 seconds) and walked a few pitches on the front side. Now I'm old and will be happy to be on a 32t chainring Eagle setup. So...30t if you're pushing a 42 cog? Actually, coming from sea level I'd go 28t if you have a 42 in the back. Fast rolling tires make sense, hard pack trails, some loose over hard. I will have a dropper and full suspension bike this year -- my first -- and will be happy to have both. Basically it's 4 long climbs, 4 long descents -- having the dropper for the descents will be worth the pound of weight. Similarly, the curvy descents will carve faster for me on the full suspension. I suck at downhills, so having those tools will help, probably more than the extra weight will hinder on the climbs. Someone who's good at descending might not need either -- it's not rough or (very) technical, more flowy. Definitely put your energy in to the uphills, but they're too long to "smash". I definitely have lost at least a dozen places due to my poor descending each time, but the race is mostly about the climbs. The only place drafting is really even possible is on the couple miles of gravel road on the back side, between the descent and the climb, and even that's uphill at not much more than 10 mph, so...no, drafting isn't a factor. The hardest part for me for in my two solo races there -- the second time up the front side (right out of the start/finish) -- it has some steep pitches and goes on (seemingly) forever. And hit the hole shot as the early singletrack is tough to impossible to pass on.
    haha ok sub 6 is probably a more realistic goal. I saw the podium for pros was 4 flat so figured I'd be a good chunk slower than that. My friend did a ~5:30 on dead legs after the Breck stage race so that's a rough target. I tend to do a bobottle an hour so I'd have to stop and refill on a 6hr pace; can you send your own stuff up to sag or do you use what they give you? I dislike camelbaks too but if that's the only way then so be it.

    If there's no long gravel flat sections I'll err on the side of too small for the chainring, 28t oval most likely. Learned my lesson on Curtis Creek Road at ORAMM last year, 34t was a bad choice for a ~2hr sustained climb once you're 2-3 hours in. Looking at the course profile it seems like you're either going up or going down, not much flat.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by claystrick View Post
    As mentioned above should be fine with 30 or 32 depending on how u feel at the higher elevation climbing.
    As a flatlander who races at Breck once a year I'd caution you about that; I run 2x with a 22/36 small gear and I still end up walking some. But I'm old and fat so YMMV :-)

  10. #10
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    You sound well-prepped to me. The altitude might be tough, but you'll LOVE the dry air compared to your home turf.

    My only piece of advice not yet covered is at altitude, you don't dare stray into the "red" zone much, if at all. Recovery from that comes much more slowly than it does down in the flatlands.

    For example, in the Cascade Creampuff or Capitol Forest (low races) I've always felt like I could pin it for awhile if racing demanded, and recover pretty easily. At the Butte 100, bouncing around between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, not so much!
    Whining is not a strategy.

  11. #11
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    Did it last year on a 2x and some of the frontside pitches on a 32t 1x would be pretty rough on the second lap. Id go 30t especially with the elevation change for you. I did the race on a hardtail 100mm with 3.0 tires and never even thought I needed a dropper once. 2x bottles would be fine given how well the aid stations are run.

    It was deceptively hot given how cool the mornings are. Being from FL should help. Im slow but sub 6 should be doable if youíre used to these distances/climbing. I wasnt and popped on te final climb losing at least 10 minutes from the previous lap.

  12. #12
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    Iíve been in this event each years itís happened, and live here in steamboat. Iíve ridden this course many many times.
    You donít need a dropper post, nothing on the course is that severe. Lil Moab is rough, but itís literally a 25sec part of the course, Strava KOM is 12sec, Iíve done 13sec down it on my ybb.
    Use fast rolling xc tires, the trail is mostly hardpack dirt singletrack.
    The course is basically up one side of the mountain, down the back, up the back, and down the front. Up the front is a little steeper technical climb, down the back (Ridge) is a 20 min screaming fast non technical downhill, climbing up the backside(Beall) is a rolling fast climb thatís hard due to the speed of the climbing, down the frontside is more technical fast downhill singletrack with a couple of slight uphills to ďstingĒ the legs.

    I go for 2x LG bottles per lap, refueling at the start/lap. knowing where and when to drink is important, neither downhill has easy sections that allow for drinking except the frontside climbing bits, the backside dh has no place to drink. My wife uses her camelback so she can drink all the time, Iíll chug 1/2 a bottle when I can and deal with dry mouth. The aid stations are well manned and stocked, you could get all you need from aids.

    As for altitude, the entire course is below the elevation of the city of Brekenridge, and Emerald my top is lower than the top of Steamboatís gondola. The heat has always been a factor for me, shivering cold at the start, but the backside of the second lap itís pushing 80.

    Interesting that you mention it but the ďholeshotĒ is important. One of the issues I have with this event is the start is a total cluster f*$k. Starting line is 500 meters from an uphill pinch point that leaves all but those in the first 10-20 riders walking to the first switchback. After the first turn itís single file for another 500m before it opens back out onto Blackmier drive for more climbing, but get pushed off at the start, and youíll be fighting from off your back foot to regain the front group.


    Do you Strava? Hereís my lap of our duo effort last year, I went first. Iíve never been under 2:15 on this lap, pros do it in just 2 hrs.
    https://www.strava.com/activities/1130569507

    What else you want to know?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    Did it last year on a 2x and some of the frontside pitches on a 32t 1x would be pretty rough on the second lap. Id go 30t especially with the elevation change for you. I did the race on a hardtail 100mm with 3.0 tires and never even thought I needed a dropper once. 2x bottles would be fine given how well the aid stations are run.

    It was deceptively hot given how cool the mornings are. Being from FL should help. Im slow but sub 6 should be doable if youíre used to these distances/climbing. I wasnt and popped on te final climb losing at least 10 minutes from the previous lap.
    Riding in heat is something I'm conditioned for. Not saying I'm good at it, power definitely drops, but I know what it feels like and how to pace it. I always dress pretty light even if it's cool at the beginning because I get up to temp pretty quick. Probably wearing a Castelli San Remo which is pretty breathable, got a light weight climbers jersey if conditions dictate.

    I'm thinking 28t could be a better option than 30t for me, though at that point I'm probably walking. Ugh, I hate hike a bike in carbon shoes though...
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    You sound well-prepped to me. The altitude might be tough, but you'll LOVE the dry air compared to your home turf.

    My only piece of advice not yet covered is at altitude, you don't dare stray into the "red" zone much, if at all. Recovery from that comes much more slowly than it does down in the flatlands.

    For example, in the Cascade Creampuff or Capitol Forest (low races) I've always felt like I could pin it for awhile if racing demanded, and recover pretty easily. At the Butte 100, bouncing around between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, not so much!
    The altitude is definitely a variable I can't account for until that week. I'll try to go hard for a bit during the a few days out preride and see how the body responds.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbsbiker View Post
    Iíve been in this event each years itís happened, and live here in steamboat. Iíve ridden this course many many times.
    You donít need a dropper post, nothing on the course is that severe. Lil Moab is rough, but itís literally a 25sec part of the course, Strava KOM is 12sec, Iíve done 13sec down it on my ybb.
    I can't imagine bring a dropper for a 20 second section. Great advice.

    Use fast rolling xc tires, the trail is mostly hardpack dirt singletrack.
    The course is basically up one side of the mountain, down the back, up the back, and down the front. Up the front is a little steeper technical climb, down the back (Ridge) is a 20 min screaming fast non technical downhill, climbing up the backside(Beall) is a rolling fast climb thatís hard due to the speed of the climbing, down the frontside is more technical fast downhill singletrack with a couple of slight uphills to ďstingĒ the legs.
    Sounds/looks like a nice mix of tech vs speed. I'm sure those technical climbs up the front sting lap 2. Any sharp rocks or puncture concerns? I run the heavy Vittorias (TNT/G+/whatever) so it should be fine but a couple friends are coming that run lighter tires.

    I go for 2x LG bottles per lap, refueling at the start/lap. knowing where and when to drink is important, neither downhill has easy sections that allow for drinking except the frontside climbing bits, the backside dh has no place to drink. My wife uses her camelback so she can drink all the time, Iíll chug 1/2 a bottle when I can and deal with dry mouth. The aid stations are well manned and stocked, you could get all you need from aids.
    It's not a situation where you send your own nutrition to the aid station right? I'd prefer 2x 26oz bottles each lap with my calories and then have the aids there to fall back unless I can send a bottle up there. If it's really hot, like Florida in August hot, I'm budgeting 5-6 bottles for 5-6 hours. Do people send their own sag support out there?


    As for altitude, the entire course is below the elevation of the city of Brekenridge, and Emerald my top is lower than the top of Steamboatís gondola. The heat has always been a factor for me, shivering cold at the start, but the backside of the second lap itís pushing 80.
    That elevation is part of the reason I picked this for my first CO race. My buddies keep talking about Breck 100 or other high elevation races and I want to see how my body does in this first before I commit & train for 10k+ races. Don't think my wife would be cool with an elevation tent...

    Interesting that you mention it but the ďholeshotĒ is important. One of the issues I have with this event is the start is a total cluster f*$k. Starting line is 500 meters from an uphill pinch point that leaves all but those in the first 10-20 riders walking to the first switchback. After the first turn itís single file for another 500m before it opens back out onto Blackmier drive for more climbing, but get pushed off at the start, and youíll be fighting from off your back foot to regain the front group.
    I figured as much looking at the course. Doubt I'll be top 20 in Amateur but something to shoot for. Did a 50 mile down here a couple weeks back and if you weren't in the top ~20 going into the woods you were standing. Got lucky and made the group, then hit a tree half a mile later. Still stayed ahead of those guys stuck behind for quite some time. Not sure how deep I can dig for 30 seconds at altitude but we'll find out.

    You wanna see clusterf$*? Come down to sfla for Fakawi in May: 50 mile mtb/gravel race with ~2000 people, smashing 25mph+ then all funneling down to a single file gate about 10 minutes in. Bunch of macho non english speakers doped up makes it tons of fun...

    Do you Strava? Hereís my lap of our duo effort last year, I went first. Iíve never been under 2:15 on this lap, pros do it in just 2 hrs.
    https://www.strava.com/activities/1130569507
    That's great! I'm going to do a course breakdown and make a top tube sheet so I'll definitely use this data to help come up with a pace and plan. I'm bringing a couple of FL ladies to race in CO for the first time too, so it helps to have an idea of what to expect and when you're hitting the aid stations etc. Did that last year for ORAMM and it worked out well, was within 5 minutes of my estimates by sag 4 at 5 hours in.
    https://blog.bikeminded.com/the-anal...digital-recon/


    What else you want to know?
    Dude, I don't even know, but this is super helpful.
    Last edited by pinkpowa; 05-02-2018 at 07:56 AM.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  16. #16
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    Well I'm back in FL after tackling the Steamboat Stinger last week, tons of fun. Course was pretty dry and dusty but I was prepared with a cooler at the start/finish full of ice etc. 2 bottles per lap and grabbed water from the sag stops to drink and refill 1 bottle per lap with Infinit powder was plenty of calories and electrolytes to not cramp all day. Definitely left it all out there and got to pass people on the last DH into the finish which is always a nice way to end a race

    2018 Steamboat Stinger 50-2018-steamboat-stinger-1090-800x445.jpg

    Finish time was 6:29 , mid pack which was about what I'd expected, hit the start hard to clear traffic and went into the singletrack with the lead group. Dialed it back to try and get to my 220NP goal for first 1hr climb, got passed by everybody and their mother even though I was at 260NP for the first 50mins. Geez ya'll mountain people can climb, I ain't got those watts, paid for that later.

    Not super technical, definitely a hardtail-friendly course, no dropper required. Vittora Barzo 2.25 non G+ reinforced were plenty of tread for teh loose/dusty conditions, could have gotten away with a Renegade/Mezcal/Recon Race type pattern. Top Fuel with 28t ring and 10-42 cassette worked for me no problems there. A couple spots where the 160mm Ashima rotors and Hope Race brakes were making me question them, but overall they were fine.

    Two early crashes caused by coming up on the slower team relay traffic on the first DH down Ridge trail, nothing you can do but wait but that didn't stop some other guys in my class trying to press the issue and corking it all up. Heat started causing people to crack late, I saw a bunch of people cramping up in the shade lap 2.

    Overall a fun race if you like singletrack and are looking for something to do besides Leadville in early August. Good sag support from Honey Stinger, especially that one stop with bacon, whiskey and beer near the top of Beall. Just bring your climbing legs...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2018 Steamboat Stinger 50-2018-steamboat-stinger-1090.jpg  

    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  17. #17
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    Oh yeah I forgot to mention, getting up there 7 days early definitely helped, didn't really feel like the elevation was a problem breathing. Did a hike in the Flattops up to 11k+ the first day we were there to shock the system, then got to ride Emerald, Flash of Gold, and even caught a Wednesday night XC race on the big mountain (which I snagged a win). That was a great test of the legs and lungs, glad it worked out.
    https://blog.bikeminded.com/steamboa...own-challenge/
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

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    Great write up. Some good shots of some of my peeps too.

    Altitude affects most everyone differently but as you found out, if you don't do anything stupid (which often difficult) you'll be fine. Glad you had a good time!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    Great write up. Some good shots of some of my peeps too.

    Altitude affects most everyone differently but as you found out, if you don't do anything stupid (which often difficult) you'll be fine. Glad you had a good time!
    Thanks man! I was thinking "you're making a terrible mistake" when I was holding up front on that first 1/2 mile climb and saw power numbers I'd normally see in a sea level XC race start, but luckily they were brief and I pulled the chute quick enough to not burn me too badly. Definitely a locals race, I've got some great friends that live in town so I'm always looking for an excuse to visit.

    I just don't understand how they all climb so well. I'm no lightweight at ~78kg but I'd have had to be well over 300w for the first hour to stay top 20 in the Citizens group I'd wager. I knew where my limits were and stayed there but I know it was tempting to stay with the group especially early when you're feeling good. Finishing a little over an hour behind the podium seems about right, could have trimmed some time off that with a little better pacing maybe as I was pretty shattered on the last climb.
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

  20. #20
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    NICE!!! Sounds like you had a great time!
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaleinTexas View Post
    NICE!!! Sounds like you had a great time!
    yup it was fun, and really well supported by Honey Stinger. I went into the race planning on being self sufficient but ended up snagging bottles whenever possible as the day got warm. The only thing that would have been better is if they were icy cold, but beggars can't be choosers
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkpowa View Post
    I just don't understand how they all climb so well.
    All we have is hills out here Seriously, there's only a few flat routes for road rides, and all mountain bike trails have big elevation changes. The ride up to the top of Emerald mtn is about half the vertical vs. the ride to the top of the ski hill - so plenty for us to practice on!

    Did you take any beer or whiskey at the FM aid station? I declined and got heckled both laps. The heckling was way worse on the 2nd lap!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWheels7 View Post
    All we have is hills out here Seriously, there's only a few flat routes for road rides, and all mountain bike trails have big elevation changes. The ride up to the top of Emerald mtn is about half the vertical vs. the ride to the top of the ski hill - so plenty for us to practice on!

    Did you take any beer or whiskey at the FM aid station? I declined and got heckled both laps. The heckling was way worse on the 2nd lap!
    Definitely took whiskey both laps, and some beer along with a selfie lap 2 with one of the FM guys. I knew I was on target for over 6hrs at that point, so whiskey was only gonna help the cause

    I rode the ski hill (Mt Werner?) in the Sunshine XC Town Challenge race a couple days before the Stinger. It was absolutely hilarious to me to be battling with guys at 3mph for an hour. Coming from South FL where a 90 minute race will average 12mph+ of flat technical single track it was a whole different kind of racing. Having that kind of sustained climbing would certainly force you to be a better climber, best we got down here is an old landfill that might have 200' of climbing (yes, seriously).
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

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    I used to live in the Chicago area - I miss riding rolling trails at sea level!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWheels7 View Post
    I used to live in the Chicago area - I miss riding rolling trails at sea level!
    It's probably a nice change of pace, hard to simulate down here. 4 hours on sunday between road/gravel/singletrack and I didn't break 1k of total climbing
    https://www.strava.com/activities/1798991039
    -DC, just some XC Bum in Sfla...

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