Race Report: 24 Hours of Rapelje June 21 – 22, 2014

What a weekend! Joel Gerhart rallied a bunch of GDC team members and a couple of extras (myself included) to form a Carnival Class team for the 24 Hours of Rapelje mountain bike race over the weekend of the summer solstice. Friday night, Joel, Leah and John Tietz, Josh Quarles, Jennifer and Brad Murfitt, Dave Dalthorp, and I (Christine Eckel) arrived at the event site pretty late at night – just as the sun was going down. Even so, we had a nice evening hanging out in Joel’s camper talking about bike racing and other fun stuff. We retired to our respective tents/campers for a good night’s sleep in anticipation of a very fun weekend. Saturday Morning: everyone was up early. We hung around the campsite and had a leisurely morning drinking coffee and eating breakfast (photos). We had to wait until 11 am before anything got started, so I decided to check out the showers. Wow! What a treat! They have a trailer with 6 shower stalls and three sinks for the event. Not only did it have warm water, but they also supplied clean, dry towels. This was going to be a good weekend: camping out, riding bikes, and getting warm showers? Doesn’t get much better than that. Dave Dalthorp drew the short straw (read: wasn’t there when decision was made) and got voted in as the guy to start the race. Thus, around 10:45 he and John Tietz (riding solo) got ready for the Le Mans style start. The rest of us gathered around to cheer them on and take photos of the start. After a bit of a long delay, they were off! I was up next for the team. As I was getting ready to ride, I said to Brad Murfitt, “We are doing this for fun, yes? Thus, I don’t have to ride so hard it hurts, right?” Brad’s response, “Oh no. This is a race. You must ride hard!” Ohhhh…. Thus, when I started out on the course for my first lap I found myself suddenly breathing very hard and putting the hurt on myself. I have not done this for a LONG time (the last bike race I entered was sometime around 2002). Yep – it was on! The course was thrilling to ride, to say the least. Most of the course was very fast, although the technical sections made my heart skip a beat or two. Trying to ride fast over technical stuff is always fodder for a potential wipe out. That said, the slightly downhill section through a field about 2/3 of the way through the course was the most thrilling and scary of them all. I think I hit something like 36 mph on that section. I kept telling myself, “Please let there be no obstacles that will make me wipe out, please let there be no obstacles that will make me wipe out . . . “ Whew! No obstacles that made me wipe out! Shortly thereafter, another woman passed me. After she passed me, I thought, “ What are you thinking? Speed up and draft off of her!” I did, and what a ride it was! After a bit, we rode side by side and I complimented her on her riding and told her how much fun it was to ride behind her. Turns out she was riding the race solo and won the women’s solo class. She was very nice – and a very good bike handler as well. Fun! Josh Quarles was up after me. He had planned to ride 2 laps – and was unlucky enough to be out there riding when all the inclement weather arrived (see it in the background?). Back in camp we had a hailstorm and a few HARD rain showers come in. Out on the course, Josh ended up riding in the rain and through the GOOP that formed. When he came in, he and his bike were in need of a good washing. He made me take some photos of his bike as proof that even though he is meticulous about having a spotless bike at all times; there are times when it is dirty. That didn’t last long, however, as I’m sure he had that puppy cleaned up within an hour after finishing his ride. After Josh, Joel and Leah ended up with stellar weather and ambiance for their respective rides as they were able to ride as the skies were clearing and showing their brilliant colors. Ahhhh… both rode great rides and came back in beaming from ear to ear! Meanwhile, in Tietzville . . . John Tietz was KILLING it! I think he passed every one of us on the Carnival Class team every time each of us was on the course. He just kept it steady and smooth and fast . . . very impressive! Like Josh, John got caught out on the course when it was raining and muddy, but was still smiling when he arrived back at the start. Joel showed what a great teammate and overall good guy he was as he worked hard to help John clean and lube his bike as he readied it for night riding. The hours between 9 pm and 6 am are a bit of a blur – consisting of riding and eating and drinking and cheering and sleeping, although not a lot of the sleeping part… One of the best things about being with this group of people was how supportive everyone was of each other. No matter what time of day or night (ok, there may have been a couple of exceptions between 12 and 4 am), the whole gang got up and went over to the start/finish area to meet the rider coming in and cheer on the next rider as he/she went back out. We were always a bit of a sight too – what with Jennifer having to be wheeled over from the campsite. We got very good at getting her over there lickety-split though! Her perpetual cheeriness was such a wonderful thing. I doubt the rest of us could maintain such cheeriness in light of not being able to ride our bikes for weeks to months because of a broken hip! One of the other highlights of the weekend was the sheer number of kids out and about riding bikes through the mud puddles and playing with dogs and the like. So many kids! If I had kids I would want them to be out having a blast like that too. What a wonderful place to bring the kids for the weekend. It was really sweet to watch many of them as they met their mom or dad coming in or going out to ride the course. You could tell they were excited and impressed – and maybe thinking that one day that might be them. Speaking of kids, Josh wore his Cat in the Hat jersey that his daughter got him for Father’s Day on his second outing. What a sweet gift! Sunday morning: John Tietz was STILL killing it! I was lucky enough to be passed by him on my last and final lap, which I started at 6 am. In fact, he passed me at the perfect time. You see, there was this field full of cows; very, very big cows…. I was just coming upon the cows, which were sauntering about in the single track, and wondering how I was going to get by them without being trampled. No worries! John passed me just as we were going into that section. I sped up to try and hang on John’s wheel a little bit (Ha! As if that was even remotely possible…) – and ended up being just far enough behind him to witness a miracle. It was like the parting of the Red Sea. He rode by, yelling at the cows, and they ran and ran and ran! Thus, the track in front of me was left wide open and I didn’t have to worry about scary cows! Thanks, John! 9 am Sunday: John finished his 16th and final lap and decided to call it a day. He was 3 laps ahead of second place in the solo category and thought the record was 18 (and didn’t think he’d be able to surpass that). Thus, he had the win in the bag so decided to take a well-deserved rest. John Tietz for the win! You should have seen the look on his face a few hours later when Dave pointed out that the previous course record was also 16 laps… D’oh! His ride was really, really impressive. Way to go, John! Just for fun – before and after pics of John. Meanwhile, Joel was representing Team Blackfoot Blunder out on the course. Joel had to be back at the start/finish by 10 am if we were to send another rider (Brad) out. Brad got ready, but kind of didn’t want to go… Lo and behold, mere minutes before 10 am, Joel came bursting in after posting a very impressive third lap! Brad: “Oh, crap!” Out Brad went for another lap while Joel was met with exuberant cheersfrom the rest of us. And so, Brad got to ride 3 laps like the rest of us (except Josh, who rode 6)! In truth, he was happy he got to ride that last lap. Who wouldn’t be? What a fun course! Joel, ever the great teammate,met Brad with a nice cold Coldsmoke at the finish of Brad’s last lap. Yay! Overall, Team Blackfoot Blunder ended up third. Not bad for a motley crew of folks just out to have fun! Here are the lap times. Could there be a better way to spend a weekend? I think not! Thank you, everyone, for an absolutely fabulous time. Let’s do it again next year! ~Christine

Hell Ride Report 5/14/2013

Another Tuesday, another Hell Ride!
Other than a 9 MPH headwind up Birdseye, Monday was a perfect evening for the Hell ride.
Not long after departing Spring Meadow, we were passed by an officer of the law that was clearly impressed by our tight, single-file line . . . good thing he didn’t see us later on Lincoln.  It was an uneventful ride for most of the Birdseye hill.  As we approached the last rise, John took the initiative to push the group and I was the lone rider to jump, subsequently riding his draft until 500 meters before the finish, at which point I pushed ahead and took the win, followed by John and Joe.
The group collected at the fire station – the porta-potty is back – and prepared for the second leg.  This too was a fairly uneventful section until 750 yards out when I decided to push the pace and head out into the cross wind alone . . . in retrospect, I was a bit too ambitious, allowing John to catch up just before the line.  I didn’t see who followed John because I was gasping for air  – and didn’t expect to have to write this summary.
The final section was fast and quiet with the wind behind us.  Randall accelerated away about half way down the third leg and the rest of us watched him go.  John decided to sprint the gap and I did my best to catch the two of them.  Not long after, the group was back together.  As we approached the short hill at the end of the leg, I took advantage of Steve’s draft and accelerated around his left side and took the win with Joe following.  Again, the need for oxygen was greater than my curiosity about who came in third.
The ride from there to the Libation Station, which is normally at a “conversational pace” seemed more like a fourth leg.  We regrouped at the Libation and took a nice relaxing ride back into town.  The wind was calm the whole way back and it turned out to be a fabulous evening for a “Spring” ride.  You really should be there next week!
Riders this week included John, Randall, Steve, Drew, Mark, Paul, Byron, Joe, Chris, and me.
Have a great week,

Hell ride report for 5/7/13

Hell ride report for 5/7/13

With slightly warmer weather in the forecast for this week’s Hell ride 🙂 I decided to indulge in the fun.  I arrived and Robert Ray, Joe Hamilton, Jesus Salazar, Byron Deford, Randall Green, Buck Rea, and Drew Malany joined me to be the brave ones for a ride in some good old wind.

We headed out with a head wind.  A little confusion insued with our inability to rotate in a paceline or understand what clockwise means.  We got that figured out and started to rotate just in time to wait 5 or 10 minutes for a train.  We waited for some cars to pass us and off we were again.  Tempo was set up Birds Eye.  Several riders took turns with pulls including a huge effort by Drew.  Near the end Buck set down a good effort into the wind to nearly get the sprint.  I came around him with 100m to go and nipped him on the line.  It looked like Randall brought up the rear with third.

We regrouped at the top for the dash down the hill.  We had some difficulty figuring out we did not own the road and nearly had an incident with a vehicle when someone did not hear car back.  We all survived though.  Pulls were shared between Robert, Jesus, Drew, and Joe.  Drew made a great effort for the uphill sprint into the wind but I came around him with 100 to go to nip him on the line.  I believe Joe came in for a very nice third on that one.?

We rolled out almost immediately for our third segment.  I attacked soon after the railroad tracks and soloed off the front.  I could not tell who brought me back in but it looked like a good group effort.  They got me about a mile before the sprint where Randall immediately launched a counter attack.  Good effort was put forth in chasing him down. I launched another counter attack at the base of the hill where I won the third sprint, Drew in second, and third to Buck I think.  Help me out on that one.

We met at Libation station and put one more Hell ride in the books.  Thanks for coming out.





Hell (froze over) Ride report: First Hell Ride of 2013

Seven hardy souls kicked off the 2013 Hell Ride Tuesday on a cold and windy evening.  Randall, Joe H., Robert, Mark S., Chris, John, and Josh set off from Green Meadow Lake promptly at 6:00 into a hardy headwind blowing in from the northwest.  Temperature was something south of 38 degrees, and looking west, it appeared we were headed into a blizzard.  The group developed a nice rotating paceline after the first tracks, which made the wind tolerable.  After the second set of track, Josh decided the best way to warm up was to attack off the front.  Apparently he was the only one who thought that was a good idea, and everyone else sat in and let him go.  With the wind, it wasn’t long before the group was together again.  At the base of the Birdseye climb, Josh and Joe decided to turn the screw a bit, and the group started to come apart.  Joe, Josh, Randall, Mark, and John stuck together.  At some point Randall popped off the back while  Mark and John were happy to sit back and let Joe and Josh battle the wind.  At the top, having done no work, John jumped and took the sprint, with Joe second, and Josh third.


After a short respite, the group headed out on the second leg.  The wind seemed to be building.  John, feeling guilty for having taken advantage on the first leg paced the group down to the Silver Creek crossing, where Joe, Josh, and Randall took off.  From the distance, it looked like Josh took Joe on the sprint, with Randall third.  Randall tried to explain what happened, but his cheeks were too frozen to talk.


After regrouping, it was time to head downwind for a change.  After hammering into the wind for two legs, it was almost silent (and warm) do run with the wind.  The group stayed together and sailed down the third leg with Robert doing most of the pace setting.  At the finishing hill,  Josh started his sprint a little too early, and John was able to come around him at the finish.


The group spun into town with snow squalls all around.  While it was cold and windy, the snow stayed away for the entire ride.  All in all, it was a pretty nice evening.  Hopefully it will be a little warmer and calmer next week, and we will get more of the team out there.


Happy trails.



Winter Party 2013

The Team Great Divide Winter party for 2013 will be held on January 25th from 6pm to 9pm at the Garage. Byron and the Social Committee are planning a fun get-together for the entire team and our sponsors. Music, drinks and space provided by the team, please plan to bring a dish to share.  Look forward to seeing everyone!


Last Hell Ride Report: 8-28-2012

Last Tuesday was the final Hell Ride of the season. I made it that close to not having to do a report all year, and for good reason given the quality of the reports sent out this year by Byron, Drew, and many others. Since I am without such creative writing skills, this writeup will be a little more on the minimalist side.

We had a remarkable turnout for the final ride, on what was probably one of the nicest days of the year. Winds were out of the east (yes, east), which made the ride a little different from the usual west winds we are used to.

Rebeca started out at a little before 6 for the B ride. Drew, Josh, Byron, Steve, Robbert, Randall, Jesus, Cory, Elizabeth, Rick and myself (I think I have everyone and I have the names right – sorry if I missed) were rolling out of Spring Meadow right at 6:00 when Mark rolled in. Being the ladies and gentlemen we all are, we patiently waited for Mark as he got ready to ride. We finally got on the road at about 6:15.

As noted, winds were out of the east, making the first leg faster than usual. Everyone stayed together (I think) until Josh started to push the pace on the Birdseye Hill, which caused a split in the group. I stayed with Josh, with Drew and Jesus trying to bridge the gap. Josh and I hit the final climb to the finish before the chasers could close it down. I was able to just get around Josh at the finish, with Drew and Jesus finishing just behind us.

On the second leg, everyone initially seemed content to sit in and take it easy. That is, until Mark and Steve tried a dig just before we crossed Silver Creek. That had the effect of kicking the hornets nest, and it was game-on. The group was able to shutdown the Mark and Steve attack, but then it became a game of wheel-catching, with Josh, Drew, Jesus, and Rick all making moves. Rick made the final move to the finish, but I was able to sneak around just before the line, with Josh just behind.

The third leg was unusual in that it was into the wind rather than being the super-fast down-wind leg it typically is. There was too much wind for anyone to get away, so everyone sat in. We tried to get a rotating pace line going, but it never took hold. As we approached the final sprint point, things started to amp up quite a bit. No one really made a move until Steve unleashed an attack around the group with an acceleration I have not seen from him all year. Unfortunately, Steve went a little too early, and as he faded at the top of the hill I was able to come around. Steve took second, and I believe Byron was third.

Afterword, Byron hosted the riders at his house for some frosty beverages and good eats.

Well, that’s it for Hell Ride 2012. I look forward to seeing everyone out again in 2013.