Thursday, January 15, 2015

JayP's Backyard Pursuit, Island Park, ID

Drove out to Island Park, ID after picking up another racer, Christopher, in Northfield, MN.
We both raced in JayP's Backyard Pursuit, a 200k (125 mile) Fat Bike Race. The race takes place in Idaho and the West Yellowstone, Montana areas on snowmobile trails.

Coming into West Yellowstone on the Gallatin River.

Bighorn Sheep grazing near the Gallatin.
Photo credits Christopher Tassava.

Pre-riding the day before the race. Two Top on the right.

 Two Top, where the next day during the race we rode to the top for the first crossing of the Continental Divide.

Mark from MN (right) and me, figuring out tire pressure for the race.
Photo Credit Chris Tassava.

Crews getting the course ready.
Photo credits Tracey Petervary.

Pre-race dinner and racers meeting.
Photo credits Sveta Vold.

Temps were warm for the start, 20's or so but cooling down into the teens at night and as we gained elevation.

The start of the 200k.

Photo credit Trent Bona.

Start of the 60k.
Photo credit Tracey Petervary.

The race started with a soft trail that caused bikers do go down not 30 yards into the race.
After 8 miles it got a little better, but at that point a steady climb began that took us up and around to the first checkpoint 30 miles into the race where we had to bring 8oz of water to boil from the portable stoves we were all required to carry. I spent 13 minutes at this checkpoint.

We had around 7500 feet of total climbing contained in 3 major climbs that got us up to around 8,000 feet. I was a bit concerned about the altitude, coming from WI but it didn't seem to be an issue. I think all the walking helped in a sense. Due to soft snow conditions that made biking tough plus the steepness of the grade there was plenty of walking.
I found out I don't walk real fast. Many of the riders I had leads on or would pass later in the race caught and passed me while we were on foot.

I made it to the 2nd checkpoint half way through the race in the town of West Yellowstone just before dark. After downing a bowel of soup, a cheese sandwich and some other munchies I was out in 24 minutes.

Photo credit, Tracey Petervary.

In the next 5 miles or so a few of us bunched up to start on the long climb up the first crossing of the Continental Divide on Two Top trail. On top it was cooler, windy, snowing and of course dark. At the summit we met the groomer coming up the other side. That gave us the opportunity to take the long downhill under conditions of freshly groomed loose snow. It was like riding in deep sand. Like snowboarding, surfing and slalom skiing all wrapped into one. There were a few times I had the rear wheel locked up but I was still sliding downhill at almost uncontrollable speeds while trying to keep the bike between the snow banks, skittering from side to side.
A couple of hours later racers found this section a nice frozen groomed trail to bomb down on.

After the downhill section the relatively flat next 10 miles or so to the 3rd checkpoint went well. The temps were cool enough to keep the trail setup nice and firm.

The 3rd checkpoint is called the man-cave. When I arrived they fed me eggs, bacon and pancakes along with a number of choices to wash it all down with.
I wasn't in a huge hurry to leave as it didn't seem anyone was in too much of hurry to get out in front of me.
A couple of the guys were having issues, seemed like they bonked. Couldn't get warm.

One guy did leave 5-10 minute before me, the same guy who had passed me on the freshly groomed downhill section, but I ended up catching him about half way into the final 21 miles to the finish.

At the man-cave.
Photo credits Tracey Petervary.

Rippin, the dog, asked nicley but didn't get permission to eat my bacon. At this point in the race, about 105 miles in, I wasn't sharing much. Not sure what the buff wanted, I have to say, I didn't really notice him.

When I left the man-cave I decided to just rail it. I had a full belly and felt great. I ended up with the 9th fastest time for this 21 mile section.

Having Jay Petavery, the Race Director with his wife Tracey and holder of a number of records for endurance racing, Mike Riemer, Salsa Rep and movie maker and Bill Merchant, Race Director with his wife Kathi (who was racing this race) of the Iditarod Trail Invitational meet me at the finish at 5AM with a beer was a bit humbling but also a very satisfying experience.

Snake River Brewing provided all 200k finishers with an insulated aluminum koozie. (and a beer!) NICE!

I finished 18th out of 47 who started. Mark from MN offered to me the day before the race that I was the oldest guy out there....not sure if that was really the case, but as Ronald Reagan once quipped:  "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience"

After the race I trudged the 60 or so yards to my lodging for the night at one of the cabins at the Ponds Lodge, the Start and Finish of the race.
I got a couple hours of fitful sleep in and then woke in time to see Chris and Mark cross the finish line as well.

Chris put together some interesting info on checkpoint splits and time at checkpoints for a few folks, me included.

Mark, me, Chris and a photo-bomber at the finish.
Photo credit Chris Tassava.

On the way back to MN/WI Chris and I headed east via the Tetons and Jackson Hole, WY.

Photo credits Chris Tassava.

Massive Elk herds, a preserve protecting them while wintering in the valley.

 We also saw a couple moose bedded down in the willows on the banks of the Wind River as we drove down the east side of the mountains into Wyoming.

Photo credit Chris Tassava.

Chris and I stopped at the only legal Whiskey distillery in Wyoming, Wyoming Whiskey. We each had a sample and Chris bought some whiskey while I picked up some of their coffee.

We then passed through the hot spring area of Thermopolis and over the Bighorn Mtns. into Buffalo, WY where we spent the night at the Occidental Hotel, a local landmark, hotel and museum all rolled into one.
Seems like a great area to come back to and explore including The Bighorn National Forest.

1 comment:

Christopher Tassava said...

What a great race story! You really killed it in that last stretch. And your quick-stop strategy turned out well. I learned a a lot from talking with you and reading this. Can't wait to implement some of my ideas on Monday!