Friday, June 15, 2012

Crazy Dog Lady Goes to the Bike Park

Technically it's the Valmont Bike and Dog Park because dogs and mountain bikes go so well together, like road rash and rubbing alcohol.  But before you get too excited, the dog park is fenced off from the bike park.

We are truly spoiled to have such a place, it just opened a year ago.  And it's free.  It's a great place to practice technical skills.  There are challenges for all levels.  I had a lesson here with Ann Trombley last fall that I never did do a post about.  Anyway, I had an idea of good stuff I could practice that I remembered from our lesson. 

Ha, no, that was not something I practiced in my lesson.

I started off in the Skilz Area, which is a short loop that has many different challenges along the way.  There's always a smooth dirt path option to the side.

This part was easy peasy.  I even saw a little 5 year old kid do it.

 This part's a little more challenging but not too bad.

Then there's the first drop off challenge.  I only tried the rock to the right, the farther ones looked a bit much for now.

Looking backwards at the same rock to see the drop-off.  It's hardly anything if you stay to the left but I kept going to the right.  Still not that bad at all.

Next we have another little rock garden, this one is easy too but the 5 year old opted out.

This is the hardest of the challenges in this section that I attempted.  You can't tell from the photo but there's a rock blocking the path so you have to try to make a sharpish turn at a good enough speed to carry yourself over the rock and make it up the step.

This is looking backwards at the end of the section to show the drop-off.

If you're a real mountain biker you're laughing your ass off right about now at the thought that I think this is challenging.

This is the final tricky bit.  It's hard to tell from the photo but your line takes you right off into the dirt.  The challenge is to be able to make a sharpish turn to stay on the rock but maintain enough speed so you can make it over the bumps.

I rode this short little loop over and over and over.  First until I could do all the challenges, then until I could do them easily and then until I was bored with them and could do them without thinking about it.  It took me 2 miles of loops, don't even know how many reps, but I finally got bored and moved on to more challenging areas.

This was the biggest drop-off of the day after riding down the steep rocky side of the hill.

While I was stopped for the photo a girl about 9-10 years old came down the hill (my bike wasn't in the way at the time) and she opted for the dirt path, a nervous look on her face and a good grip on the brake.  When she got to the bottom I told her, 'Good job', and she rode off with an enormous grin on her face.

There were some other drop-offs that looked like maybe I could do them but I didn't feel good about trying them today so I left them for another day.  I was pleased enough with my progress for one day.

After having my fill of the obstacle challenges I went over to another part of the park that's smooth single track that goes up and down hill.  The Corkscrew trail has a series of tight, banked turns, good for practicing going through turns at speed.  One of the nice thing about the bike park is that the trails are all one way.  This is kind of a problem though if you get stuck in a series of loops and can't find your way out.  I kept having to go back up the hill until I found the one downhill trail that led you out of the maze.

After about an hour I'd had enough and stopped at the terrain park to watch the crazy kids.

The same log jump shown at the top but from head on.

E.T. phone home.

If I had photoshop and a boatload of time on my hands I'd superimpose this over the E.T. moon but chyeah, right, have you seen my upcoming trial/race schedule?

June 23:  USDAA trial

June 24:  Xterra Curt Gowdy

July 4:  USDAA trial, tournament only

July 14:  Xterra Mountain Championships, Beaver Creek

August 4:  Xterra Indian Peaks

August  11-12:  DOCNA trial Tentative

August  17-19:  USDAA trial

August 26:  Xterra Lory

September 1-3:  USDAA trial, tentative

September 23:  Xterra Nationals, Snowbasin, Utah

September 26-30:  USDAA Nationals, Commerce City, CO

I know, how the hell did that happen?  I probably shouldn't have written out the 2 schedules separately.  I also probably shouldn't have decided to go to Nationals in the same week in both sports.  Somehow it sounded like a good idea at the time.

The race director for Curt Gowdy sent out an email saying that he'd had questions from people about a cut-off time for the race.  Apparently I'm not the only one who's expecting a 2 1/2 hour bike finish.  Anyway, there is no cut-off time, they'll support anybody who's fool enough to attempt to finish (my wording, not his).  So I'm going to go into the race with the intention of finishing.  I think maybe I won't necessarily be DFL.  Maybe just 3rd to last.  That's o.k., it's better than a DNF.

The race is having an organized pre-ride of the course on Sunday and I'm tempted to go even though I don't fancy the nearly 2 hour drive.  Next weekend I have a 1 hour, 50 minute drive down to Black Forest for the USDAA trial then back the same day then another 1 hour 50 minute drive the next day to Curt Gowdy.  And a very tired drive back the same day that will likely involve a stop for caffeine in Cheyenne, WY.  So I'm not thrilled about the idea of a long drive this weekend.  But I think it might be a good idea to give the trail another shot.  Or maybe why torture myself?  Maybe race day is already more than enough on that trail.  We'll see how I feel Sunday morning and how the smoke/fire is doing.  Curt Gowdy is only 34 miles directly north of the fire, smoke could be bad there if the winds are blowing north.  We've been lucky so far in Boulder, just periods of smoke now and then and some days not at all.  Sadly part of Lory State Park did burn, including the trail for the run portion of Xterra Lory, but it hasn't burnt any more in several days now and I think they've established a line there or something.  Hopefully the line will hold and no more will burn.  And as long as I'm hoping maybe the whole damn thing will extinguish.  Pretty please.


  1. What a cute little park! I'm glad the fires have held off around you so far, I really hope they get them put out soon. We are getting a heat wave here right now and I hope it misses you. My friend signed up for Lory as her first Xterra, I sent her over to read your race reports from past years - I hope it doesn't affect the race!

  2. Lory is a great race, especially for a first Xterra. The hardest part is the run and I guess we'll see if they have to change the run course. I only know the trail burned, don't know how bad the damage is or when they'll let people back on it. Race isn't until end of August so hopefully the fire will be out by then and we can at least get in the park.

  3. That's an amazing park! How cool to be able to work at the basic technical challenges easily at different levels without also having to worry about going miles out into the wilderness or falling into poison oak.

    I've decided that I'm not going out to CO for the USDAA nationals. Also that I'm not doing the regional that's just 40 minutes from my house that I've missed only once in 16 years (since before it was a regional). Thinking about doing other stuff.

  4. Ah but going miles out into the wilderness, that's the fun part.

    Have fun doing the other stuff. Time is so valuable, best to spend it doing what makes you happy.