Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bike-o-rama - Hall Ranch, Buffalo Creek

I was supposed to be taking this weekend easy with a race next week but with Xterra Lory postponed until August and my first Xterra race 9 weeks away I decided to hit the trails.  First off was Hall Ranch.  It was a terrible day up there as you can see.

3 loops, 2 hours, 12.6 miles, 6.1 mph, about the same speed I was at this time last year.  Which is disappointing because it felt so much easier and I felt so much stronger.  Not sure if it's an illusion or I haven't figured out yet how to turn strength into speed.

The next day was Buffalo Creek to pre-ride part of the race course for my August Xterra there, just 2 weeks after Lory.  It's a long course, 22 miles (Nationals is 17.7 miles) with a lot of climbing, a great prep for Nationals.  I did 10 miles of the course 6 years ago when I did the sprint version of the full Xterra.  The company that owned the lake for the swim went under with the economy and it's taken all these years for someone to work out an agreement for the race to continue to use the lake.  Anyway, I was somewhat familiar with part of the course but wanted to check out the rest of it.

I didn't do the exact course, choosing to access the course from a different trailhead to avoid a long, boring, steep dirt road.  I will go back in August to ride the full course, the condition of that road is important to check out ahead of time.  It was heavily rutted when I did the race before and since I'd pre-ridden, I knew ahead of time which lines to take to avoid the ruts.  During the race a woman fell right near me because she didn't know and got stuck in a bad place and hit a rut.  But it's only May and ugh, that road is not fun so instead I opted to access the course via some other single track trails.  The trail was a steep, sandy, 3 mile climb through one of the burn areas.  Buffalo Creek has been impacted by several different wildfires.  This burn area is from the Buffalo Creek Fire started in 1996 by an unattended campfire in the campground that owned the lake where the swim portion of the race takes place.  These views are from the Strawberry Jack trail which is not part of the race at these locations.

It wasn't all dead trees though, there were plenty of nice foresty areas.  This is part of the race course.

The course does have a 2 mile climb through the same burn area and the soil is sandy and a bit deep in some places.  It also goes through a burn area caused by the Hi Meadows Fire in 2000 and the soil there is even worse, deep and sandy like riding through a sandbox.  That fire was caused by a cigarette and it burned 10,800 acres and destroyed 51 homes.  I didn't take any photos of that burn area but it looks much like the other photos above.  Jonny found some cool bones though.  Not sure what has a jaw that size, maybe a moose?

Overall this will be a long ride.  Nothing very technical but a couple of steep 3 mile climbs and another steep climb up a dirt road through the sandbox.  One of the 3 mile climbs is at the end of the course, up the dirt road with the ruts to get back to transition.  Some of the trails are awesome, fun downhills through the woods, but the dirt roads and steep, sandy climb through the burn area up Gashouse Gulch not so much.  I'll go one more time closer to the race to pre-ride the whole course but I can't see myself riding this all summer.  There are so many nicer trails in the Buffalo Creek area, if I'm going to drive an hour and twenty minutes I'd rather do those nicer trails.  But still, should be a fun course for a race.  Mostly.

I've had to completely re-think my training for the summer now that my races are clustered so close together and I don't have a 'real' race until end of July.  I still have a little road sprint at the end of June but that's designed to be a hard training day, not something I'm seriously tapering for.  So it looks like full speed ahead for the next 9 weeks then survival mode for a month of race-o-rama.  Should be an interesting experiment if nothing else.  Now if I can just figure out how to build up some speed.


  1. Have a great time in that race... happy speeding.

  2. 17 years since the fire and there are still no noticeable trees growing in? That's interesting.

  3. I'm not sure entirely why that is. Could be the old trees are still there taking up space or that there are no trees left to provide seeds or that the soil was damaged too severely. But there are old fire sites just outside Boulder that still have only dead trees after over 20 years. The situation at Buff Creek is even worse on the Gashouse Gulch trail (not shown) where the soils are still so sandy, it's like riding on the beach in some places, and it's only dead trees.