I'm writing this from the Sun Valley airport as I prepare to miss a connection in
Salt Lake City. I'm in Sun Valley because my brother is out here (I've done this before) and I had this funny idea that a bunch of endurance rides at altitude were gonna somehow save my cross season. Am I right? Probably not, but I'm not even sure it needs saving. Talk to me after Gloucester.
But let's back up. I did the Treasure Valley Rally a few weeks back, and didn't write it up. GOSH, I WONDER WHY??
TVR is the hardest mountain bike course I've raced this year, possibly ever. It's as technical as the Gloucester Grind, but on the side of a hill. Being an EFTA race, the elite race was 3 hours long. This might have contributed to why we had a (very) modest turnout of 6 elite riders. For 40 minutes I was somewhat
competitive. I was riding with B2C2 cohort Will Crissman, with Jon Bernhard and Mike Rowell just ahead. Everything seemed pretty normal. Then, I went down a super technical descent and was suddenly unable to control my bike. Apparently this is what happens when you run out of glycogen because you didn't eat dinner the night before. Will passed me, the trail pitched back up, and suddenly I was DONE.
The next 2 hours were probably the feeblest racing performance of my life. Kevin Hines and Mike Rowell DNFed with flats, so I soldiered on in the hope that they would pay 4 deep. I eventually finished 10 minutes out of third in 2:54. I did not get paid, which is exactly what I deserved. I did manage to hold Linnea off by 11 minutes, so at least the ride home was tolerable.
And thus ended my 2010 MTB campaign! A pro contract is forthcoming, I expect.
Originally, I thought that the Landmine MTB race was on Labor Day Weekend, so I made plans to hit my Sun Valley altitude camp the weekend after. After all, with Quad cross on that Sunday drawing over 400 racers, surely no one would put a MTB race on the same day, right? Right.
So that's how I ended up missing Landmine. Too bad, because it's a great race, but
come on mountain bike organizers -- stop trying to fight 'cross, and start taking OPEN weekends for your events. The fact that Quad and Landmine were the same day, while there were zero races over Labor Day weekend, is evidence that the MTB and CX calendars don't talk to each other. But they should!
While everyone else was gluing tubulars and practicing cross (it's like riding a bike! you never forget!) I headed to Idaho to ride with my brother. But first, for the first time in my life, I talked to someone on a plane for more than 3 sentences. Let me tell you the epically nerdy tale:
So this girl sits down next to me, about my age, and I'm like "ewwww girls" and I
ignore her. I get my laptop out and start crossresultsing it up. So far, normal.
Girl opens her laptop, starts playing Warcraft 3. A nerd eyebrow is raised.
Girl gets sick of Warcraft 3, starts playing Heroes 3, a game from 1999. ELEVEN YEARS AGO. She gets a message saying "the CD is required to play."
I HAVE A HEROES 3 CD IN MY LAPTOP BECAUSE I WAS PLAYING IT YESTERDAY
This coincidence is so incredible that even I feel compelled to talk to a stranger.
She ended up being a Mormon (NTTAWWT), but still, I have now talked to exactly one girl in my life due to my video game habit, which is one more than almost every other nerd out there. I win, suckers!
Anyway. Back to the trip. I was flying directly into Sun Valley (like a boss) and the only airline that goes there is Delta. How much does Delta charge for a bike? $200 each way. Unacceptable. ENTER THE AIRPORT NINJA.
After some failed attempts to find a giant suitcase I could put my frame (sans fork) in, with the clock ticking down, I realized that Trek Top Fuel 9.8 is actually a folding bike in disguise. Take the crank off, front derailleur off, four linkage bolts out, and BOOM.
You can fold the rear triangle onto the main triangle, and you've got a remarkably tiny pile of parts that fits "easily" into a suitcase. The downside? Strip a bolt during the process and you just killed your bike. Not that suspension linkage bolts have a torque spec of 70in-lbs or anything...
|This is a Trek 9.8, I swear.|
Despite my reputation for incompetent mechanical abilities, I was able to turn this back into a mountain bike in only 45 minutes or so at the other end. I had one mechanical during the entire trip, and that was a chainring bolt loosening up. I'd like to point out that I did not remove my chainrings during the packing process, and therefore can claim it worked "perfectly."
Sun Valley might be one of the more underrated MTB destinations out there. At 6000 feet, you have a chance of breathing (so of course, we rode at 9000 feet, just to ensure I got my ass kicked), there's semi-smooth flowing trails all over the place, and for the first time in my life I saw more women on the trails than men. Seriously, it seems as though the non-working Sun Valley mom LOVES mountain biking. Being rich is cool. I could dig it.
I'm gonna assume you don't actually need to know about every ride I did out there, so we'll gloss over that. I did 7 in 5 days and it rocked. Apparently MTB Nationals is in Sun Valley next year, which should be cool, but it's at Dollar Mountain, and there aren't any trails there yet(?!) -- or at least that's what the locals told me. In any case, I'd plan on sticking around for a few days after Nats to ride, if I were you. Email me and I'll tell you where to go.
Let's wrap it up with some pics:
|Standard Sun Valley ride -- 45 minutes of climbing and then 1000 foot descent back to town.|
|I got a GoPro HD in preparation for cross season. It's also good for capturing the F-ING GORGEOUS VIEW, not that we don't have those in Boston.|
|4 inches of snow at 9000 feet on day 1. On September 6th. A snowline at 8000 feet did not save my lungs as much as I'd hoped.|