Rebecca’s Private Idaho

This race, no, ride report is a little late in coming, but hey, we’ve been busy driving Clifford across the continent!

Rebecca’s Private Idaho ride (see, this isn’t officially a race, but the reasons for that would require another blog post and possibly a legal team to write the text) had a start time of 8am. We felt pretty relaxed about the event and had decided to ride this one together. Our morning preparation reflected the non-raciness of our plans. Alarm went off at six o’clock, and we proceeded to get ready. Breakfast was a relaxed, albeit quick, event and after there didn’t seem to be any of the usual pre-race jitters Robin and I would usually feel to varying degrees depending on the event and our perceived preparedness.

Bruno got picked up at seven for his day of play and being such a happy-go-lucky guy, he seemed happy to head off to another adventure. He may have wondered why Robin and I weren’t joining him for hhis play date, but nevertheless, his tail was wagging as he headed out.

The weather forecast for the day was reasonably good, but on the cool side. According to the weather app on the phone, it was -1C in the morning and the day would bring highs of +15C and sunshine. The cold temperature at the start meant the need to wear some extra layers. We decided on wearing our jackets on top of what we felt would be appropriate for the most of the day. This equated to a combination of bib shorts, short sleeve upper base layer, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers and a vest. Robin chose to add knee warmers to her list, I had no such decision to make for I had not brought any knee warmers or leg warmers on this journey. It is summer, after all. We also decided to wear warmer gloves to start and put our summer weight gloves in our jersey pockets.

Speaking of jersey pockets, they seemed fairly empty. There were six aid stations on the course and as we had decided to enjoy the day and the event without focusing on a finishing time, we didn’t carry a third bottle in our jerseys, nor did we have any magic nutrition plan for the day. We carried two bottles of Roctane on our bikes to start, with a couple of Roctane gel packs each in our pockets. Our friends from Gu Energy were providing ample nutrition for the aid stations and, not to miss, there were delicious roasted sea salt & rosemary potatoes at the aid stations.

We loaded the bikes on Clfford and drove to downtown Ketchum , departing the house at 7:15. Although the distance to. The start was only about 4km, we had decided to drive downtown for the start. This gave us an opportunity to stay warm as long as possible in the morning, and also allowed us to not have to do the 4km gentle climb back to the house after finishing.

Once downtown, we proceeded to sign in and receive our timing transponders. At that time, we noticed that we had mixed up the number plates on our bikes. Yes, that was the level of our preparedness. We switched the plates, got our transponders and headed inside Starbucks to stay warm. With close to 500 participants and a non-structured mass start, starting positions inside the corral matter, but many of the participants, including ourselves, were content to allow the corral to get filled at the front, and the middle, in order to stay indoors until it was close to start time. With about five minutes left before the start, Robin and I lined up and accepted our fate of riding in the cold. At least the sun was rising from behind the mountains.

Once started, our slight chilliness quickly turned to a deep freeze. Riding at ~30km/h at sub-freezing temperatures is cold. The first ten or so kilometres out of downtown was a gentle climb on a paved surface. With the rising sun providing mostly/only light at this point, we didn’t start getting warm until the steeper, gravel climb started around 12km and continued until about 20km to the top of Trail Creek Summit. The photo below (thanks for the photos, Linda Guerrette!) clearly shows us smiling.

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By the top of this climb, we had both warmed up, maybe with the exception of our feet, to a point of some comfort. The top of this climb brought on the first aid station where we stopped for a luxurious and relaxing seven (!!!) minutes. This included some time huddling around a fire, some feeding, some socializing and a quick trip to the bathroom.

From here we continued on a gentle gravel descent for the next 15-16km. The heat we had built up in our bodies quickly faded as the speeds hovered around 35-50km/h down the beautiful rolling gravel road descending from the summit. The descent took about 20-25 minutes at our brisk, but not-quite-race-pace effort.

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Thankfully it also brought us into direct sunshine and some hope for warmth. We stopped at our second aid station around the 3h point, now about 57km into the event. At this point, we decided to leave our jackets at the aid station as the temperatures were starting to warm up, ever so slightly. The aid station stop itself? Yep – again, relaxed, fun, food, bathroom break and about eight minutes. Did I mention we weren’t in any hurry?

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After the second aid station, the course does a loop around Copper Basin, about 36km of rolling gravel roads in various forms of Idaho mountain wilderness, before returning to the aid station we had just departed. During this loop Robin and I realized that as much fun as we were having, we would have to dig a little bit to finish in a reasonable time, for a as much as a 100 miles of gravel seemed like a cake walk, we hadn’t really trained for some time now. In fact, I had only ridden once since the LT100 three weeks earlier. Thus, it was during the Copper Basin loop that we found ourselves chatting less and searching for our long-lost race faces…

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The Copper Basin loop took us over 1h40min to complete. At this point, the effort had become race-like, and the focus was on finishing as soon as possible, for why delay the relaxation that awaited? Our desire to finish was reflected on the length of our next aid station stop. It took only six minutes. Ok, maybe our desire to get the finish quickly was not quite race -like. From here, the course followed the same route that had brough us to Copper basin from the start. Rolling gravel, mostly gently climbing, for about 15km, followed by a 15km gentle climb with a final pitch up at the end to take us back to Trail Creek Summit. As an added bonus, the headwind was stiff and for some reason, the participants seemed to have little interest in working together to minimize the wind impact. As a result, Robin and I worked together, as a group of two, and pedalled our way back to the summit.

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The aid station at Trail Creek Summit (this was aid station 1 on our way out in the morning) was the last aid station on course. We did something unusual here – we did not stop. We had worked hard on the long climb back to the summit, in fact, I had pushed as hard as my vacation-conditioned body would allow me to push, to make some decent headway during our return toward the summit. with less than 20km to the finish, all downhill, we assessed our bottles and rode right past the aid station.

The descent from Trail Creek Summit was a little tricky at times. It provides the exciting combination of exposure/steep drop offs, lots of loose gravel in various sizes and shapes and more turns than one remembered from climbing it up in the morning. We made decent time own the hill, passing a handful of other riders. Descending on a cyclocross bike is more exciting than if one were to descend on a mountain bike. You, the rider, have to take a more active role in guiding the bike down the hill, for at times the bike seems to want to go down the wrong line. You dont want the wrong line. You really don’t. As we approached the end of the gravel descent, we suffered the only setback of our day – Robin suffered a a flat rear tire. Thankfully, she managed to bring herself and her bike to a stop without any additional drama. Quickly, in almost race-like fashion, we had a fresh tube in and filled and we were back to descending the last bits of the gravel. From there, another ten or so km of paved descending and we were going to be all done! We pushed hard through the final descent, at this point the desire to get off the bike ASAP overcame any desire to soft pedal, or even coast down that final descent.

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Robin and I finished the event in 7h8min, with approximately 6h30min of that spent riding, the rest at our five aid station stops or the one flat repair. Considering our desire to not be “racing” and our lack of training, we were more than happy with the result. Yes, we had started off the day at a casual, fun pace but somehow, as the day went further, our effort levels had become higher and higher. At the end, I felt like I had just raced a hundred miles. Old habits die hard.

Most of all, it was exciting to put an end to any scheduled and/or planned “racing” type activities. It was time for our annual “we’re done with racing, for good” moment. Maybe, just maybe, this year it will stick.

For the data junkies – here’s the link to my ride: Rebecca’s Private Idaho 2015 – epic scenery and wind!

At the finish, we walked our bikes back to Clifford, got them on the rack and drove back to the house to enjoy some well earned beer, peanuts and showers. Not to mention, Bruno was going to be returning from his playdate and we were eager to have him join us!

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After Bruno’s return and our clean-up, we returned to downtown Ketchum to enjoy some of the post-event festivities. Although there was no shortage of festivities, our fatigue levels were high enough that it didn’t take long or much food and beer for us to realize that we need to be relaxing on a sofa. Thus, we returned back to our house and did just that.

The evening relaxation was high in quality but low in quantity, for fatigue and the anticipation of the long drive home for us to bed early. A 3500km drive home awaited us.

Next time – home, Clifford, home!

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Idaho. It really is beautiful!

We had planned to arrive in the Ketchum area early, in order for us to do some camping in the Sawtooth Mountains, north of Ketchum. 

 On our way through Ketchum we stopped at an outdoor store to buy a trail map and a warmer jacket for me. The weather for the week was forecast unseasonably cold with lows below freezing and highs around 15-20C.

Southern Idaho hadn’t exact been visually memorable, but the area around Ketchum/Sun Valley was beautiful. Since we were coming back for the weekend and our “race”, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, we headed north to the mountains. The drive north of Ketchum was beautiful. The road climbed up to the Galena Summit and descended back down through the mountains and I wanted to keep stopping for more pictures. 

    
 We had decided to stay at a National Forest campsite in order to have the convenience of vault toilets and garbage bins for our planned four night stay. We found a quiet, beautiful campsite at the far end on Redfish Lake and set up camp.

The campsite was adjacent to the lake and swimming was only a short walk away. Bruno was super excited to have a chance for lots of swimming in cool mountain lake water. 

   
On our second day, we hiked around the lake. Robin, being in charge of planning these types of activities, led the way and Bruno and I followed. The trailhead was within a minute or two walk from our campsite and from there we started a long and winding climb up to a mountain ridge. Approximately halfway through the hike, the trail descended off the ridge to the lake, only to climb again to a ridge on the other side of the lake. And to descend again. Yeah, awesome hike, but long! Like something in the range of 22-24km of varying terrain, climbing and descending. The exact distance is unknown as my Garmin battery ran out at the 20km mark. 

    
   
The next couple of days were spent relaxing, throwing frisbees, playing in the water and fiddling with the bikes in preparation of the upcoming race. Robin, being the keener of the two of us, did go and ride her mountain bike for two hours one day. I chose to rest my legs. Or to just eat more cookies. 

   
The weather was mostly fantastic – sunny days with comfortable temperatures and cool crisp nights. Our last day of four was a little cloudy and at times rainy, but it did not dampen our love for Redfish lake.

On Friday morning, we packed up Clifford and headed to our house rental for the next three nights. It was a somewhat typical ski area condo, with ample space and, most importantly, a king size bed and running hot water. We also drove down to Bellevue to meet with Bruno’s daycare people for race day Sunday. Sara and Ned, who we found through DogVacay were super (as was their little pug, Roscoe) and we knew our little guy was going to be in good hands.

Saturday was a busy day. We had a nice civilized breakfast, prepped a few things for the race and Robin started unraveling the laundry. Afterwards we headed out to watch the Wagon Days Parade. This is the largest non-motorized in the U.S. The only non-walking participants were Rebecca Rusch and one of her charities, World Bicycle Relief, who help people in Africa achieve mobility through bicycles . The parade was fun, but after a couple of hours in the cold, sunny weather and a couple of good margaritas (did I mention Patron Tequila is a Rebecca’s Private Idaho sponsor?) we headed home for a little rest. 

   
Late Saturday afternoon, we headed downtown one more time to pick up our race packets and to wander the expo area for a bit. It also gave Bruno a chance to play a bit more outdoors and meet some celebrities like Rebecca’s dog Diesel, 205 DK200 champion Yuri Hauswald and photographer Linda Guerrette and her dog Levi.

After this event, we went home and had a big meal, watched a bit of television and relaxed with a bottle of wine until it was time to get to sleep. No pre-race jitters this time, we were going to ride together and enjoy the day as a “ride” with no pressure of results.

Next time – race day? Is this a race?

A kinder, higher Utah.

After driving through the harsh desert of southern Utah and a somewhat disappointing stay outside of Monticello, we were intent on finding a nice place to stay and hike for a few days. 

 With limited connectivity (and pricy data plans even when coverage is available), Robin did much research and we headed to the Uinta Mountains and the Uinta Wasatch Cache National Forest, located about 100km east of Salt Lake City.  

 We once again avoided the interstates as much as possible, taking secondary highways or even small gravel roads to get to our destination. The day’s drive was scenic and included everything from arid desert to thick coniferous forests and mountain lakes. 

 We arrived at Trial Lake campground, elevation ~10,000 feet and were welcomed by fresh mountain air and beautiful forests, making the desert drives of the past couple of days a distant memory. 

   
Our campsite was large and allowed Bruno ample space for playing. Although the campground was almost full, there was no noise and one could enjoy the silence of the mountains and relax. I did say “almost” full…for later in the evening, a group of people arrived at an adjacent campsite. They were a little bit louder than most campers and one couldn’t help but listen in on on their conversations. The son, in particular, was rather loud and reminded me of a male version of Honey Boo Boo (yes, I’ve seen an episode or two). Thankfully, as the entertainment value of their show grew more fatiguing,t hey also fatigued and retired to their tents for the night.

We had chosen this location for its lakes and mountains, and took advantage of this by doing a nice day hike from our lake to another lake and around it. The terrain was varied, from forest trail to rocky shores of the mountain lakes.  

    
 As always Bruno had a great time. He met a couple of new friends along the route, including Odin, a Lab Husky mix (whom Bruno met again later in the evening at the campground and played with until dark) and a 12 week old Kaya, a mystery mix who looked like almost like baby Bruno! Our hike had its downside – at some point, Bruno’s leash had fallen out of my backpack and as we approached our return to the campground we doing bad ourselves unable to leash up Bruno. He was ok with it, but we lamented having to buy yet another leash. We had previously lost a leash in April on a hike in North Carolina – this habit is getting pricey! 

    
 After a couple of enjoyable and relaxing days and nights, we planned out next move on our journey toward Ketchum, Idaho. The drive to the Ketchum area was going to take more than one Clifford day, so we made plans for a quick stay somewhere in southern Idaho. 


   
We left our mountain campsite and descended from the Uinta mountains to Wyoming and then back to Utah for a bit to reach Idaho (taking the roads less travelled is rarely the straightest route). Just before leaving Utah,  we stopped at Bear Lake on the Utah-Idaho border for a quick Bruno swim. 

   
Our initial hours in Idaho offered us more high feet vistas and wicked headwinds for Clifford. We finished our first day in Idaho in Jerome and found refuge at a KOA. Once again, a KOA offered two redeeming features; hot showers and WiFi. Beyond this, it also offers dust, noise from adjacent truck traffic, the smallest dog play area ever and many many rules. Oh well, we enjoyed the showers and the WiFi. 

   
We left the Jerome KOA early (early to us) the next morning and headed north toward Ketchum. We could see the mountains looming ahead, but the smokey haze from western forest fires limited our long distance visibility. According to those who know,we would find something other than high desert and lava rock fields.

Next time – Giddy up!