I've read a few articles by both you, Joel Friel and a few others about training and racing at altitude. This year I'm racing Leadville and have access to a place in Frisco for training. My plan is to do all of my higher intensity workouts here in Fort Collins and do longer, steady training rides on the weekends in Breckenridge and up around Leadville. I've found discussions of benefits for >4 weeks and your suggestions for racing at >8500 ft:
Utilizing Altitude Training for Racing at Altitudes Above 8,500 Feet
Live at an altitude between 5,000 and 8,500 feet for three to four weeks.
Drive to higher altitudes for some training days and consider occasional overnight stays prior to training days. Keep recovery periods at lower altitudes.
Keep power output high by doing high-intensity work intervals at 5,000 to 8,500 feet or lower. Or, consider using supplemental oxygen during workouts.
But do you get the benefits of living at high altitude by spending weekends at ~9000 ft or is it just not a large enough percentage of time to matter? I've even dug around on a few Everest web sites that seem to indicate that a couple of extra days at higher camps is enough to help while spending the majority of time at base camp (although that might be too extreme of an example to make sense).
Anyway - thanks and I hope to see you at somerides/races this summer,
Hi A.J. ~
First, congrats on your Leadville entry. I am entered in Leadville this year as well, so maybe I’ll see you there – or training on the great trails in Northern Colorado.
For your question, “But do you get the benefits of living at high altitude by spending weekends at ~9000 ft or is it just not a large enough percentage of time to matter? “
In my opinion, yes, you do get benefits from spending weekends or perhaps every three weekends at altitude. I live on the Front Range close to you, as you know from the group ride listing. Here is a blog that I wrote about intermittent altitude exposure.
I too have access to training around Frisco and I continue to collect one-person data on oxygen saturation. I do a mix of alpine and Nordic skiing through the winter and I’ve found the oxygen saturation data stays consistent. If I can get to Summit County roughly every three weeks, I can maintain higher oxygen saturation levels. Like you, I do most of my training at ~5,000 feet which I believe keeps power output high. I may know more about that (real data) this season.
Hope this helps. See you on the trails (or the road) ~
Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and triathlon plans are found here.
Q. Hey Gale ~ I just read an article about training like the pros. The column was basically about high volume and high intensity training. I read another column that emphased high volume and low intensity. Finally, I read another column about time-crunched athletes doing low volume and very high intensity. I’m so confused. Can you help? I trust your advice because of your long track record of working with all types of athletes. Thanks ~ B. F.
A. Hello B. F. ~ I’ve used the different types of training formats you describe in your note. The short answer is the type of training you should use depends on your athlete profile which includes sport experience, available time to train, recovery time available and your endurance goals to name a few key areas. The mix of workouts within any training plan should be aimed at achieving your goals – not a random mix of workouts tossed together for fun. That is, unless your primary training goal is fun and variety.
With two to four key or stressful workouts in the mix each week aimed at improving your performance limitors, the remaining workouts need to be recovery and/or technique oriented.
Then you need some patience. Stick with the training strategy for at least three to six weeks to see if you are making progress. If progress is not being made, make plan adjustments. Generally, most people associate plan adjustments with more volume and/or intensity when they really need more recovery.
Recently I wrote a column on how to prevent thigh muscle cramping. After doing a good amount of research – on the research – on muscle cramping, I experienced muscle cramping myself. It isn’t the first time I’ve experienced muscle cramps, but I will say that I don’t have a family history of muscle cramps nor do I have a history of tendon or ligament injuries. All three of these items were found to be associated with cramping in one research paper.
In my opinion, based only on my personal race experience, cramps are related to intensity. That is intensity and volume of intensity in a race situation, compared to training.
In short, the mainstay of my training over the summer was directed at doing mountain bike races between 8 and 11 hours long and at altitudes between 9,000 and 12,600 feet. I live at roughly 5000 feet.
In September I had an unexpected opportunity to do a race that I thought might take me between 5.5 and 6 hours. This particular race was at altitudes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet. Unlike my longer races in the season, this race had short, poppy climbs inserted in within an event where most of the altitude gains were in the first half of the race. My longer races had long, sustained climbs for the majority of elevation gains.
Before the September race I decided I was going to ride as many of the short, steep hills as possible and I was going to press the intensity.
Below you can see a chart that displays the heart rate time spent in various zones (using the same heart rate zones for all races) for three of my races. For those of you familiar with the training zones I use, you’ll notice that in the September race I spent two hours and forty-six minutes (2:46) in a zone considered lactate threshold. This was 50-percent of the race time.
(Click on the chart to see a larger image.)
What? How is that possible?
I’ll tell you how that is possible in the next post.
For this post, know that my aggressive approach to the race came with a price. The first charge was a hamstring cramp when I was in the process of quickly dismounting the bike on a steep climb. The second charge was an inner thigh (adductor) cramp on a steep hill that was around two minutes long.
How did I get rid of the cramps?
For the hamstring, I stopped and stretched the hamstring while pressing my fingers into the belly of the muscle right where it hurt the most. Once the cramp was gone, I got back on the bike and started pedaling again at an easy pace. If the hamstring felt like it might cramp again, I changed my position on the bike until I could pedal without threat of cramping. Once the easy pace was doable without cramping, I ramped the speed back up.
No drinking lots of water. No popping electrolyte tablets. (Which I wasn’t carrying.)
Some 30 to 45 minutes later in the race when my adductor on the other leg cramped, I kept pedaling but slowed down. I massaged the muscle that was cramping. I changed positions on the bike so the cramp wasn’t aggravated. Once the easy pace was doable without cramping, I ramped the speed back up.
No drinking lots of water. No popping electrolyte tablets. I continued consuming my electrolyte drink and eating normally, as I had done in other races this season and within the race previous to the cramps.
So why did I cramp?
Intensity. In my opinion, the cause of my cramps - and I suspect many other athletes as well - is high intensity and high volume of intensity. This is intensity that was not adequately trained.
I pushed the intensity at this event much more than in the longer races. As you can see on the chart, I had a 100+ mile race in August, roughly three weeks prior to the September event. I had plenty of endurance.
Though my muscular endurance was well trained, my anaerobic endurance was not well trained. Ouch.
I was able to work my way through the cramps knowing that:
it is possible for me to make them go away, I’ve done it before.
my overall fitness was solid.
hydration and fueling was dialed in.
I used self-talk to say, “no cramping, legs, pedal now”, “shut up legs” (stolen from Jens Voigt), “cramps are temporary, speed will return.”
I knew I hadn’t pushed this hard, for this long in any training or racing sessions – and that’s okay.
Next post…how the heck can anyone spend near three hours at lactate threshold?
Back in mid-June I mentioned that I had my first experience with a chiropractor. What initiated my trip to the chiro was an endo. The endo was a direct result of becoming a better technical rider on the mountain bike. This year I made an effort to improve my technical mountain bike skills, and I did. I can still improve more, but I made some headway.
As I improved technical skills, I should have been making equipment adjustments along the way. More specifically, I needed to run more air in my tires when doing trails that involved drops at higher speeds or larger drops. (No, I’m not catching air or hucking myself off of gnarly sections.)
I came off of a drop that was probably some 18 inches or so and the drop was part of a rocky section. My front tire belched some air out on the drop – which I didn’t notice at the time it happened. Not more than 50 yards later on the trail, I was going around a corner and my front tire slipped off the edge of the trail (normally a completely benign section of trail). When I tried to correct and get the tire back onto the trail, over the 1-inch lip, the squishy tire (low on air from the belch) caught the trail lip and promptly turned 90 degrees.
Over the handlebars I went, and I landed on my right scapula area – low on the scapula, including ribs. Dang.
Deciding I wasn’t hurt that bad, I continued the ride. Isn’t sharp pain in your ribcage area to be expected after a crash?
Later that day and into the next, I was sore. The worst of it was pain in my ribcage, mostly on the back but sometimes radiating around the front. This only happened when I sneezed, laughed (a huge problem as I like to laugh a lot – and often at myself), coughed or tried to roll over in bed. Breathing, thankfully, wasn’t an issue.
With a bike tour looming a mere 10 days away, I wanted to speed healing as quickly as possible. The shotgun approach wasn’t out of the question, so I decided on my first trip to a chiro (recommended action by a couple of friends), massage and my first trip to acupuncture (also recommended by friends).
I saw the chiro first, two days after the endo. He did an examination and asked if I had any pain in my left leg. I told him no, but I was considering lowering my road bike saddle because it felt like my left leg had more trouble reaching the pedals recently (well before the endo). He told me that there was an alignment issue that he could address with the adjustment. He also located the rib that was bothering me and said it wasn’t correctly aligned.
I was face down on the table, and he told me he would press on my spine in certain areas and I might hear or feel popping. The table beneath me would breakaway a small amount, limiting the range of adjustment motion.
I have to tell you, I absolutely hate the feeling and idea of someone making adjustments to my spine.
I didn’t feel any instant relief from the adjustment and in fact, that night I was more miserable than I was before the appointment. I was in more pain than before. Is it normal to be in so much pain after a chiro appointment?
My appointment was on a Friday and I took Saturday completely off of any endurance exercise. On Sunday I felt better and decided to go for a bike ride. Interestingly, the rib was not painful at all riding the bike – but any fast motions steering the bike, coughing, sneezing or laughing was still very painful.
Most interesting is that my left leg felt like it could easily reach the pedal and deliver power to the bike again. I nearly made adjustments to bike fit for what was a physical root cause.
When I returned for a follow-up appointment on Monday, I told the doctor that I could have strangled him on Friday night and Saturday as well. I asked if I should have expected so much pain after the adjustment.
He thought he had let me know that some people do experience more initial pain, but that pain should subside within a few days as the body heals and gets back to normal. Some people have instant relief from pain (I didn’t). Individual reactions to chiropractic treatments depend on the nature of the injury and the amount of time between the injury and the appointment.
The short answer is, yes some people do experience a good deal of pain after a chiro appointment, but not everyone does.
Last blog I wrote to technical guru Lennard Zinn to ask the best tire pressure to avoid slit tires. Boiled down, my question was:
Q: If I ride a course that is littered with shale and I want to avoid getting a slit in my tire, does tire pressure make a difference one way or the other? Using a balloon and pin theory – if I poke a fully inflated balloon with a pin, it pops almost immediately. If I poke a half inflated balloon with the pin, the balloon gives quite a bit before failure. One argument is that I should keep running my low tire pressure. Another theory is that more air in the tire may have deflected the shale not allowing it to sink into and slice my sidewall.
So, when running tires on a shale and rocky course do I run more air than normal, less air or run “normal” pressure. (“Normal” being what I would run for a rocky course, sans patches of shale.)
Also, is there any scientific evidence anywhere (that I couldn’t find)?
Here is Lennard’s reply:
A: Wow. Good question! Unfortunately, I don't know the answer. My guess would be that the lower pressure would probably reduce punctures more over the long term, but I have no scientific data to back that up; it is only a hunch.
Often, mountain bike racers are concerned with the optimal tire pressure to run to decrease rolling resistance or to improve traction on particular courses. But, what is the optimal pressure to avoid slits and punctures?
My recent experience at a race got me wondering about tire puncture theory. I couldn’t find anything online, so I sent the following note to technical guru Lennard Zinn:
Hey Lennard ~
Hope this note findsyou doing great.
I’m having a debate with myself – and others – about mountain bike tire pressure. Not regarding speed and power output – but puncture resistance. Over the weekend I did a race at Pueblo Reservoir, the Voodoo Fire. Rolling through a benign section of trail (non-technical, relatively flat, no big obstacles) I kicked up a piece of shale and it sliced the sidewall of my tire – near the tread.
Though I think it was simply bad luck the way I hit the piece of shale – does tire pressure make adifference one way or the other? Using a balloon and pin theory – if I poke a fully inflated balloon with a pin, it pops almost immediately. If I poke a half-inflated balloon with the pin, the balloon gives quite a bit before failure.One argument is that I should keep running my low tire pressure. Another theory is that more air in the tire may have deflected the shale not allowing it to sink into and slice my sidewall.
So, when running tires on a shale and rocky course do I run more air than normal, less air or run “normal” pressure. (“Normal” being what I would run for a rocky course, sans patches of shale.)
Also, is there any scientific evidence anywhere on this subject (that I couldn’t find)?
In advance, thanks for the answer/theory.
I’ll let you know what Lennard has to say. In the meantime, what do you think? Higher pressure or lower pressure? Let me know your opinion on my Facebook page.
Q. I’m using your advanced level 100-mile mountain bike training plan in Training Plans for Cyclists. I want to run two days per week. How can I add running into the plan?
A. If you’re not strength training, I suggest moving the day off to Monday and run Tuesday and Thursday. (Substituting one run for strength training and the second run for form work or speed skills on the bike.) If you’re strength training and need a day off, I’d put a short run before strength training and substitute the second run for the form or speed workout on the bike. If you’re strength training and don’t need a day off, substitute the running days for the workouts shown on Tuesday and Thursday.
I mentioned in a blogthat I'd post some fall mountain biking photos. The photos below are courtesy of Scott Ellis, who takes much better photos than I do. I keep telling myself I must take more photos. Left to right in the first picture is Josh (only know his first name), Bill Frielingsdorf, me, Scott Ellis.
Scott and Bill.
Peaks Trail on the last day of riding. Fun, fun, fun...
On Friday I took my LOOK to the Peloton Cycles bike spa for an end of the season visit. The short story is that Stewart Pomeroy found several issues that required more TLC, so I left it at Peloton for all necessary repairs and adjustments.
As luck would have it, the Specialized demo truck was in town for some test-ride opportunities. Lucky me, because Steve Marshall (Peloton manager) coordinated a deal with Scott (last name?), the demo truck driver, that allowed me to take the Specialized 2011 Epic Carbon 29er (aluminum rear triangle) for a couple of rides.
I’ve wanted to try a 29er for awhile now and this was a great opportunity. Here are the things I noticed:
What I liked
One of the best advertised features of a 29er is the ability to roll over rocky, technical sections with greater ease – when compared to a 26-inch wheel. Without a doubt, it delivered in this category.
With the longer wheel base, bigger tires and longer cranks (compared to the LOOK), I felt I had more time to view a section of the trail before picking a line. (Yeah, I know some people will say “just tank over everything with those big wheels,” but I prefer to be more selective)
With those longer cranks, wheel base and bigger tires I was able to power my way (standing and seated) over obstacles. The LOOK would have shown me more action and in some cases popped me off.
It was easier to balance and I felt stable. Not once did I feel I would pitch over the handlebars.
I did ride some rocky sections I haven’t been over on the LOOK.
Sometimes the LOOK is a little twitchy. There is no twitchy in a 9er.
What surprised me
I didn’t think I’d have enough low-end gears with the 2 x 10; but for as much as I rode (on the bike some 6 hours in two days) I was fine.
I’ve been told 29ers were hard to handle tight corners; but I didn’t find it any more difficult than on my LOOK. In fact, there is one tight right corner that I’m 50-50 on the LOOK. I made it on the 29er.
The rear tire had very low profile tread. For the trails near my house, I thought I’d be spinning out a lot with this tire selection. I didn’t. Some small adjustments in body weighting on the bike and I was able to ride the sections I normally ride. Perhaps with a more aggressive rear tire, I could ride sections that I haven’t rode on the LOOK?
The last time I rode a bike with “the brain” technology, I didn’t like it. I could feel it switching on and off and there were times I thought it switched one way or the other and I didn’t like the switch. Specialized has improved this technology in the past few years.
What I wasn’t crazy about
With longer cranks, it seems like I was pedal striking a lot. I think this could be worked out over time and just learning a new riding style. (It also requires a new level of trust in the equipment. I wasn’t sure I could ride the 29er through some sections. With hindsight, I think learning the bike’s capabilities would allow me to ride more sections.)
At 2.84 pounds heavier than my LOOK, at 27.92 pounds, on the longer climbs I felt the extra weight. (I know, I know, just lose 3 pounds of a$$-fat and it is a break-even deal.)
There were some parts of the trail that the bike didn’t feel responsive and light. I’m accustomed to a light and responsive feel to the ride.
It was a great couple of days on the trails and fun to try a new bike. There were lots of people were out today. We started with eight of us (see more photos below) at the Coyote Ridge trailhead and we met another five people we knew out riding.
Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend ~
Below, Steve and Paul Douglas.
Left to right: Eric Houck, Todd Singiser, Ryan Lewandowski, Bill Danielson
It was definitely the worst road conditions and the coldest ride start for me. It also ranks in my top two toughest rides to Estes Park.
Those of you that have followed the blog for awhile know that a few riders in our Sunday ride group have a goal of riding from Loveland to Estes Park once per month, year round. (From the Colorado Front Range of ~5000ft. to the mountain town of Estes at ~7500 ft., often taking the route that pops you up to 8000ft. before dropping into the Estes valley.) If you achieve the once-per-month goal, you receive the coveted Turd Trophy Award. And who would not want lacquered elk droppings glued to a fine, hand crafted, award?
As you might imagine, the months of December, January and February are the toughest to accomplish. Winter storms can make the road dangerous to ride on a road bike. Because the 32 mile trip from Loveland to Estes is mostly uphill, it is possible to dress warm and ride a mountain bike up; but not back down (due to sand and ice). Sometimes it’s not safe to ride the canyon at all, so ride timing becomes critical.
Yesterday there was some scrambling to organize a road ride to Estes. After road reports came back that the road shoulders were snowy, we decided to abandon the road ride idea. Several phone calls back and forth; looking at the upcoming forecast for snow and cold; the thought of riding indoors; trying to bag the December Estes; and some hand-wringing lead to two of us planning to ride to the top of the switchbacks with an 8:00 am departure time. Oddly, this same scenario is how the once-per-month Estes ride began a few years ago.
At 8:00am this morning, Todd Singiser showed up at my house. He commented, “Gee, the thermometer read 8 degrees when I got up.” This resulted in us laughing, making fun of ourselves and also convincing ourselves that it certainly warmed up since he got out of bed, pre-dawn. (Read: denial)
As we rolled out of town, it was definitely cold. It was colder than I remember at the start of any Estes ride. As we rolled west, I imagined what people in cars were saying about us. I suspect the word “idiot” was used more than once.
Remarkably, two of the toes on my right foot were the only thing that was cold after about 45 minutes of riding. Not bad considering we were riding in a shaded canyon, ice-capped river next to us and had a head wind to boot. Granted it wasn’t a stiff headwind, but headwind nonetheless.
After riding about 1:20 I tried to get a drink from my hydration pack. Even though I filled it with hot water and it has a neoprene cover for the drinking tube, I couldn’t get a single drop out. I did manage to dislodge the pea-sized ice chunk in the mouth piece, but the line was frozen. No water.
I had to take the entire line and wrap it inside the pack to thaw it out. After about 15 minutes I had water. Ah…
Del, my husband, agreed to sag for us. The plan was for him to leave the house roughly 1:45 after we left so he would meet us after about 2:30 ride time.
Worth mention is when the clock was at 1:20, I was wishing Del was there with us. There is a good chance I would have gotten into the car and called it a day. It’s only the 5th of the month, plenty of time to try another ride. Just keep pedaling, push the sag demons away. (As if I had a choice at this point anyway.) I was pathetically slow, unable to get out of my own way. Thankfully, Todd was willing to wait and ride with me.
At just over two hours of ride time, we saw Del and sag-dog Meeka. Wahoo! Though the road has gone from snowy shoulder to mostly snow packed, we’ve gone too far to quit now. Must keep pedaling…
Near the town of Glen Haven, head winds picked up. Perfect. Wouldn’t want this to be too easy.
Just west of Glen Haven are the notorious switchbacks. My computer has logged the grades of the switchbacks between 13 and 18 percent. I’ve gotten a couple of 20 percent readings, but I suspect those readings happened to come at the steepest part of the corner, which only lasts for a few feet. Below is our approach to the second set of switchbacks.
There is no doubt, this was a tough ride for me. The last two miles were the toughest. I was tired, it was windy and my left inner thigh was threatening to seize-up on me. It took us 2:53 to make it to the celebration point at the top. In the summer on road bikes, we can usually ride this distance in right around 2:00.
With Longs Peak over our shoulders, Del offered to snap a photo before we headed to Estes for something warm to drink.
The first thing I did was hit the hot tub when we made it back to Loveland.
After a shower and reviewing the photos, I decided to check WeatherUnderground to see what the morning temperature was when we rolled out. I’m glad I didn’t know before we left, because I might not have started.
Sometimes it’s better not to know it’s 10.9 degrees at ride start.
In the last month I received three requests for a listing of the columns I've written, by category. I figured three requests was some sort of signal that people needed information in a way that I wasn't providing, so I went to work. Below, you'll find a listing of most of the columns I've written for the Active Network organized by category and title to make it easier for you to find the information you need. Every few months I'll update this blog with new links. I believe if you are a column subscriber you should get notice when the blog is updated.
Athletes ~ Thanks for reading and thanks for asking ~
Before telling you the results, first I have to let you know the type of riding that I do and what is important to me for performance. The trail I ride most often is “Devil’s Backbone” located just at the western edge of town. It has loose sections, multiple rock gardens, smooth trail, some small drops (I don’t think anything is over a couple of feet), a short steep climb (Heart Attack Hill) and a few sections I find perfectly walkable. My suspension gets a workout on this trail.
Though “bump sensitivity” is important to me, the key races I do include sections where I want to be able to lock the fork and shock out. I won’t sacrifice this feature for more bump sensitivity.
When I went out on ride #1, post-PUSH, I found that many of the bumpy sections where I’d get tossed around some, were now smooth. The fork and shock took all of the bumps and I have to say the ride was remarkably smoother and it was easier to navigate the rock gardens. Yahoo!
I did find on my first ride out that when I went down one of the drops I used nearly all of the front fork and had a feeling of nearly going over the bars. Unfortunately, I did not bring my shock pump with me and couldn’t play with the air pressure while I was on the ride. (Rookie move.)
Prior to ride #2, I added 5 psi to the fork and did the same to the rear shock (still within the pressure ranges PUSH recommended). I didn’t feel like I lost any of the plush ride on the bumps, due to the increased pressure. On this ride, there is a long, steep service road climb and descent. (The Towers Road at Horsetooth… fyi to locals.) I was able to descend at a decent rate of speed without using the brakes due to chatter and the bike feeling like it would slide out from under me. In fact, I could have gone faster if the road wouldn’t have been a little wet, tossing mud and sand into my glasses and eyes. The bike felt stable underneath me. Sweet!
I am still able to lock the fork and the shock out for riding on pavement and hard dirt surfaces. Seems like the custom blend they did is perfect for me. I would never have guessed that customizing the suspension would have made such a difference, but it does.
Now I’m hoping the snow melts quickly and the trails dry so I can get out and play some more. Darren tells me it takes some 4 to 6 hours to fully break in the new parts (I’ve got about 4.5 hours on it now) and I will need to make minor adjustments when the weather gets warmer (the last two rides have been in the mid to high 30s).
(BTW - notice the link at the end of the column. PUSH will be offering December specials.)
Continuing from the post yesterday, the first day that the five of us were together, we didn't do a great job of taking photos. We don't have a single photo of the Sovereign Trail and that's too bad because it's a cool trail. On the Sovereign day, we ended up riding 4:00 hours, but we were out 6:20. There were NUMEROUS occasions of map checking.
The second ride day was the Flat Pass loop. This trail includes several large and small ledge sections. (Photo 1 I am on the left and Dennis Andersen on the right.) In addition to the ledges, there is loose sand and rocks. Maintaining a certain, relatively high, speed is critical so you can float over the terrain. Going too slow leads to augering the front wheel in the sand. The LOOK full suspension bike just floated over the rock gardens. Fun! To see how deep the sand is on these sections, double-click on the second photo.
One of the nice things about the trail/jeep road is there are usually options to ride an easy side or a more difficult side of most sections. This helps minimize walking by tired or less-skilled riders.
Back to the ledges, double click on the third photo of Todd Singiser. Look at how compressed his front tire and shock are. Though not easy to see in the third photo, this was a good-sized ledge he climbed.
The fourth shot is a view of the La Salle mountains from Flat Pass.
The final shot in this post is a timer-shot taken on the overlook of the last big rocky drop on Flat Pass. Left to right is Dennis, Bill Frielingsdorf, Todd, me and Scott Ellis.
As I mentioned in my last blog, a group of us headed west to do some mountain biking in Fruita, Colorado and Moab, Utah. Today is my first day back in the office, so I'm a little jammed for time; but I did want to post a couple of photos and a cool link.
Day 1, my buddy Scott Ellis and I rode some trails just outside of Fruita, Colorado. Below is a shot of Scott on either Mary's Loop, or Horsethief Bench. (I can't remember which trail we were on when I took the photo.) If you want to check out a cool video, see this link and select the Horsethief Bench option. Watch half of the video if you're pinched for time.
No, I didn't ride down (or back up) the hairy descent to get to Horsethief, I considered it perfectly walkable. Once down that section, it's a cool trail. On the link I sent you, one guy does make it down the entire section.
For anyone that's tried to video or take a photo of a hairy section of trail, you know it never looks as scary on photo or video.
Day 2, the rest of our crew (Todd Singiser, Dennis Andersen and Bill Frielingsdorf) were still stuck in Colorado due to the nasty snowstorm. They began driving late Friday afternoon and got turned around by a closed Vail Pass and horrible driving conditions in the mountains. Vail Pass remained closed from about 4:30 pm on Friday night until late Saturday morning. While they were en route to Moab, Scott and I rode with Todd's friend, Sam Walls, and his gang.
We rode Porcupine Rim (which remains my favorite Moab trail) as a loop from our condo in downtown Moab. Below is a shot of Sam on the rock that hangs out over the rim at the overlook spot. Sam was the king of cleaning and descending tough obstacles that day.
A couple of weeks ago several of us met at the Stove Prairie School, just west of Ft. Collins, Colorado and headed out for one of my favorite rides - the Old Flowers Road. It is indeed a road and there's no single track; but that doesn't make this an easy ride.
A good sized group of Steve, Michael, Ron, Dave, Mike, Todd, Scott, Mike, Bill, Mike and me started the ride. Yes, you read correctly, a four-Mike ride.
I didn't get a start photo and unfortunately, three of the guys - three Mikes to be exact - had to head back early. The sort of half-way photo is below with Bill F., Michael, Dave, Steve, me, Todd, Ron and Scott.
The spot where the photo was taken is the intersection of Old Flowers and Monument Gulch Road. We did some exploring in the Monument Gulch area before heading back.
Ron logged the ride and you can view it if you have Google Earth. (If you don't have Google Earth, it's a free download on the left side of the hot link in the last sentence.)
The file is attached to this blog. If you don't see the file, click on the title for the blog and look at the bottom of the blog.
If you haven't played with Google Earth, it is really fun. You can zoom in, pan the view and a host of other fun stuff.
On this particular ride, I was consumed by learning how to operate a new camera and didn't bring any gadgets along - other than the camera.
So...I'm going to ask for some help from the other riders. Mike - you collected climbing data, right? Can you post how many feet we climbed in how many miles on that first section?
Others, how would you describe the ride? Can we get descriptions from both experienced Flowers riders and first timers?
On this ride, I remember Bill F. saying something about the second section of climbs, "You know it's steep when you can't keep your front wheel on the ground."
On a past ride, a new Flowers rider (Bill Beyers) turned to the group after climbing the toughest hill triplet and said, "Don is the devil." (Don was the guy that talked Bill Beyers into doing the ride. Don is also the moto specialist from a few blogs ago.)
Steve Douglas posted some comments in his blog. (Notice Scott trying to push me out of the camera shot? He is such a photo-ham.)
Dave took more photos too. Dave can you post a group photo at the beginning in the comment box? I think that's possible.
In advance, thanks for the help...
PS...Mark Kuusick: This is the ride we finished last year when we met you and your buddies on your self-designed bike trip.