My family and I are safe from the fire that has enveloped the northwest side of our city. We live downtown and are probably 7 miles from the fire. Last night the fire doubled in size and destroyed entire neighborhoods just north of Garden of the Gods. Many of our favorite hiking and biking trails are gone. And a lot of my favorite road rides are closed because of evacuations. No one ever believed the fire would actually come down into the city. But it did. And it is devastating.
It isn’t very often that I take a trip to Moab for fun. With life as busy as it is these days I rarely find the time to go to Moab for something other than work. This spring I decided to take a mountain bike trip to Moab and do some big rides, hang out with friends and family, and spend time in one of my most favorite places in the world. I talked my sister and her family and my dad into going for a long four day weekend. Unfortunately my husband had to stay home.
I loaded my car with an enormous amount of stuff, squeezed Emmett into his car seat, and took off to the desert. The drive out was easy and uneventful. I had picked up my dad in Denver so he helped with the driving when Emmett started to get bored in the back seat. We stopped along the way and had a yummy pizza at one of the coolest pizza joints around, Hot Tomato Café. http://hottomatocafe.com/. For all you mountain bikers that spend time in Fruita I highly recommend going. Ann and Jen, the owners, are two wonderful people, amazing riders, and they make a delicious pie that is well worth the trip!
My four days in Moab flew by! I shuttled the Hazard County ride with a bunch of Colorado Springs friends that were also in Moab for the weekend. If you’re never done this ride it is one that should be on your bucket list of things to do before you die. I have ridden and raced all over the world and this ride ranks in my top three of all-time greats. To get yourself up to the start in the La Sals, jump on the Acme Shuttle. It is run by my good friend Kyle Mears, who happens to be one of the best downhillers in the area and also one of the coolest people in town. Unbeknownst to me, my dad and brother-in-law, and some of his teacher friends also shuttled this same ride, but at a lower starting point. My dad is 71 and the only mountain biking he’s done in the last five years are a few trips on the White Rim. So when I caught up to an older gentleman in a Ride the Rockies jersey half way down the Porcupine descent, imagine my shock as I looked over and realized it was my dad! How cool is that! To catch up to your dad riding down one of the gnarliest descents in Moab.
After chatting for a few minutes I took off and caught up to my group. The rest of the ride was a kick in the pants and I finished exhausted but grinning ear to ear. The next day we did it all again. This time I got to ride with my sister while her husband Dan had babysitting duties for the day. I had arranged daycare for Emmett in Moab and had the entire day to ride. Dan drove us up to the start of the Gemini Bridges road off Hwy 313 (Island in the Sky/Dead Horse Point). We cruised down the dirt road for a few miles before jumping onto one of the newer trails in Moab; The Magnificent Seven. The trail is all singletrack and descends down the Bull Canyon/Gemini Bridges mesa to the bottom of Gold Bar Rim. It then climbs up a ways before ending at a spectacular canyon with views of the La Sals, Behind the Rocks, Amasa Back, and the Colorado River. The singletrack portion of Mag 7 is a blast and nothing too extreme. Once on Gold Bar the difficulty level jumps considerably, with many gonzo extreme sections that are a pride swallowing suffer fest. Haha!
We didn’t have time to go all the way across Gold Bar Rim so we turned around and rode back down to the Gemini Bridges road and followed it up and out and then back down to Hwy 191. There is a beautiful new bike path that starts at the Hwy 191 and 313 intersections and goes nine miles back to town. We jumped on the path and rode down the big hill to where my car was parked at the Potash Rd. Drove back to town and met my dad and the rest of the family at the Moab Rec Center.
On Sunday my family and I did a mellow hike up Courthouse Wash. Saw a snake, lots of puzzle grass, crows, vultures, butterflies, and lizards. My family left for Denver after lunch and I drove up to the Bar M trailhead and met my good friend Kyle Mears for a 2hr mountain bike ride. Moab has done a great job of building new singletrack trails in the past three years. For a long time Moab was the place to go to ride your mountain bike. But it was also the place to go for jeeps, rock crawlers, ATV’s and UTV’s. All of the trails in Moab were old uranium roads built into extremely remote places in the quest for “yellowcake”. The roads were shared by everyone, but over the years the mountain bikers got tired of dealing with the noise, smell, exhaust, and traffic caused by the motorized recreators. Fruita, only two hours away, became the “go to” place for mountain bikers because a lot of their trails were singletrack, which meant no conflict with jeeps and ATV’s. Moab was no longer the best place to ride a mountain bike. But this has all changed in the last few years. A group of very motivated individuals got together and realized there was a huge need for singletrack in the Moab area. With the help of IMBA, Moab began building singletrack. Now there are dozens of new rides that are singletrack trails built by and for mountain bikers.
The Bar M trail system where I met Kyle has some really fun trails that range from beginner to crazy technical. I followed Kyle around for 2hrs trying unsuccessfully to keep up with him. Did I mention earlier that he is one of the best technical riders I’ve ever ridden with? The great thing about riding a mountain bike is there is always room for improvement. Riding with Kyle made me realize that I have an enormous amount of room for improvement. Haha!
My final day in Moab was spent on a leisurely hike up Mill Creek with my good friend Sylvie. I carried Emmett and we hiked for an hour up the creek looking at petroglyph panels and exploring some of the big alcoves. Mill Creek runs year round and is a great place to go in the summertime. Emmett had a blast and especially liked when we splashed through the water. Sylvie has worked with me at some of my Moab mountain bike skills camps. She does day trips with Rim Tours http://www.rimtours.com and also makes a mean espresso at Chile Pepper bike shop. www.chilebikes.com. She is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet until she kicks your ass on the mountain bike.
Then it was time to say goodbye. I loaded up the car and took off around 1pm. Emmett slept over 3hrs which made the drive go very quickly. The weather fell apart and after leaving Moab in shorts and a T-shirt, we drove over Vail Pass in a snowstorm. It is springtime in Colorado so I shouldn’t be surprised. All in all a great trip and a much needed break from the chaos of life at home. Until next time….
Here’s a question I was asked the other day:
“Lots of talk about training to “peak” at the right time of year or for an event but my question is how long can you stay at your optimal or peak performance? Is it possible to maintain it over the race series or is it best to focus on an individual race or two?”
Peaking for one event versus peaking for a series or even an entire season is a tough decision and can dramatically change how you structure your training in the off-season. With more races on the calendar and our local and national series sometimes spanning eight months, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to do well at every event. However, peaking for just one or two events can be incredibly stressful and can put an enormous amount of pressure on a rider to do well. And if that one event doesn’t go well is the whole season a bust? So what should you do?
First thing is figure out what events you want to do well at. If you find your list is quite long then you should consider trying to “peak” for the entire season. If you have only one or two major events that you want to do well at, then you can go for one or two major peaks.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks to both approaches:
Peaking for the season:
- You have to be race fit a lot sooner, usually in late March or early April, and you have to maintain that fitness a lot longer
- If you are trying to do well in a series, there is less pressure at each individual race
- Your race fitness won’t be 100% at every race if you are doing a season long series
- It can be a mental strain to always feel like you have to do your best at every race you go to
- If one race doesn’t go well you have many other races in the series to make up for a poor performance
- Even if you don’t end up doing well in the overall standings of a series, you can always look back at some of your better individual results
Peaking for one or two big events:
- You don’t have to be race fit quite so soon in the season
- It is easier to focus your training on just one event
- You can still go to lots of other races, but the pressure to do well isn’t as high because your focus is on the “big” race coming up
- You can train through a lot of early season races
- The pressure will be a lot higher at your big event
- The mental and physical preparation for your big event will be a lot more intense
- If your big event doesn’t go well, is your entire season a bust?
- If your big event does go well then you will have a fantastic result and an incredible emotional high from doing so well at the most important event of the season
Which method is best depends on you and the kind of rider you are. Figure out what’s important to you, how much money you can spend for the season, and ask yourself how you perform under pressure. Weigh the pros and cons of each and then decide what works best for you. Try one approach for this season and then maybe try the other for the next season. If you’re willing to work hard you can do well at either one.
Good luck and happy trails!
Hope your winter has been going well and you’re getting out on your bike. Here in Colorado we don’t have much of a winter anymore so I’ve been riding a ton, mostly with Emmett of course. I’m getting out on my mountain bike on the weekends and sometimes Greg and I even get to ride together. Haha! Emmett is now 15 months old and is running all over the place. It is super fun and very entertaining to watch him learn and explore. He still loves to go for rides in the bike trailer which is the only thing that keeps me sane. Whew!
Wanted to let all of you know the new dates for our 2012 Moab camps. The Novice/Intermediate camp will spend the first two mornings at City Park doing skills and drills and the rest of the time out on the trails, again with a heavy emphasis on skill work. The Intermediate/Advanced camp will have more of a riding focus this year with less time spent doing skills at City Park and more time on the big epic rides. As in years past, the camps are five days long and are all-inclusive. You will be treated to four days of skill work, amazing rides, gourmet food, luxurious condos, relaxing massages, educational seminars, and coaching. All of the details can be found on our website www.alisondunlap.com. We’d love to have you join us in Moab!!
May 1-5 Novice/Intermediate
May 29-June 2 Interm/Advanced
Sept 25-29 Interm/Advanced
Have a great winter and happy trails!
PS. Here are some new photos beginning with Xmas 2011.
Hard to believe another Moab camp has come and gone; and it was the third one of the season! The summer has just flown by and Emmett is now crawling everywhere and into everything. My dad and his wife Connie came with me this time to babysit Emmett. My Subaru Outback was once again bursting at the seams. For this trip I borrowed a huge oversized Yakima rocket box. Held a lot more stuff, but because there were three adults and one small child we brought a lot more stuff. Somehow it all fit and we made it in one piece.
The drive out was gorgeous! This has been one of the best seasons for aspen in a long time. My dad came down with the flu the day before we left so he decided to wait a few days before coming to Moab. So it was Connie, Emmett and me driving to Moab. One of our many stops was in Vail to do a short hike and enjoy the wonderful colors. It was warm and sunny and a nice break to the monotony of driving.
After almost a twelve hour day we made it to Moab. We stayed at Rim Village condos again on the south end of town. We were able to check in two nights early which made life a thousand times easier. Having Emmett makes “crashing at a friend’s house” a thing of the past. The two nights before the camp starts I usually stay with my dear friend Cathy Mattingly. But with 3 ½ of us there wasn’t the room. Luckily it worked out to stay in the condos.
On Monday I spent a good portion of the day getting stuff ready for the camp. I was able to ride late in the afternoon with my good friend Jim Rutkowski. He was here for our camp for the seventh time. And he came a few days early so we were able to hook up for a ride before the other participants arrived. It was almost 80 degrees out! Gorgeous day.
On Tuesday the weather changed and became cold and cloudy. Our guests arrived in the late afternoon to an ominous weekly forecast. Darn! We got to know each other with yummy appetizers, red wine, and a delicious dinner. After dinner I went through the schedule and the details for the week and then sent everyone off to bed.
Our first morning was spent at City Park doing skills and drills. It’s a great way to get people loosened up and relaxed. Moab can be so intimidating that it’s hard to ride technical trails first thing. We covered everything from basic balance and position on the bike to cornering and switchbacks. It also gave me a chance to assess everyone’s skill level. After a quick three hours it was time for lunch.
We had lunch at the park and then loaded up the vans and drove out to the Bar M trailhead north of town. This area has been extensively developed in the past two years, with some great new singletrack trails. We rode a trail called Deadman’s. It was a good solid intermediate trail with a little of everything, including switchbacks. A good introduction to Moab riding. Even though we didn’t ride very far we spent a lot of quality time working on skills, and taking lots of pictures of course.
Back at the condos the campers were treated to relaxing massages and then late afternoon appetizers. Dinner was a Dutch Oven lasagna with chocolate brownies for dessert. It’s a good thing we’re out riding our bikes all day! Bobby, our Rim Tours guide did a great bike maintenance talk after dinner. Then it was off to bed.
Thursday was another cold gray day. The sun peaked out a couple of times but the wind kept everything fairly chilly. We started the day with a skills and drills session at City Park. Today we worked on the front wheel lift and riding up and down ledges. In just one day I could see big improvements from everyone. We had lunch in the park before loading up and heading up to the Slick Rock Trail.
After unloading all the bikes a fast moving squall blew through, dumping heavy rain and hail for about ten minutes. Our timing was very fortuitous in that we hadn’t started our ride yet when the front moved through. We all piled into the van and waited for things to clear. They did and we were soon our bikes. The nice thing about the Slick Rock trail is that it is one of the best places to ride in the rain. It should really be called “Sticky Rock” because of the amazing traction. Any of the sections that weren’t on rock were in deep sand, which actually got much easier after the rain.
We split into two groups and did the Practice Loop. At one point we took shelter under a ledge as another storm blew through. Not a great day for the weather but everyone still learned a lot and had fun on their bikes. At 3:30pm we loaded the van and drove back to the condo for massages and a little relaxation. Dinner was a delicious Mexican pile-up. After we ate I gave a power point presentation on racing, training, and nutrition. I borrowed a projector from a friend of mine and showed it up on the wall. Made it easy for everyone to see.
Thursday was our first full today of riding and a chance to really fine tune the skills we had worked on all week. It was also the first day of sunshine we had since the camp started. Yippee! We took our group to a ride called Blue Buffalo. It’s a great ride to work on slickrock skills; riding up and down steep ramps and learning how to launch off ledges of all sizes. There was something for everyone. And we had lots of sunshine and no wind. Lunch was at Uranium Arch just below the Seven Mile Rim. By the end of the day everyone was mentally and physically exhausted. We stopped ½ mile from the van and scrambled up the slickrock to a beautiful petroglyph and pictograph panel high above the valley floor. Years ago there was a blue buffalo painted on the rock, also known as a pictograph and also the name of our ride. Unfortunately vandals destroyed the painting and you can only see a very faint outline of where the buffalo used to be. Many of the other petroglyphs were still in good condition and made for some great pictures.
After another relaxing afternoon of massages, pool time, and a nap. Tonight’s dinner was “dress-up” night. It was fun to put on something other than sweats and a t-shirt. Being our last night we didn’t have an evening presentation. Everyone hung out and shared pictures, phone numbers and emails. Then it was off to bed.
Saturday morning we woke to rain and low dark clouds. After yesterday we were certain all the bad weather had moved on. Unfortunately it snowed overnight in the La Sals making it impossible to do the planned shuttle ride up to Hazard County. After consulting with Kirstin, the co-owner of Rim Tours, we changed plans and drove up towards Island in the Sky to do a ride called The Magnificent Seven. This is fairly new singletrack that just recently became a legal trail. It was the perfect ride to end with. Starting up in Island in the Sky meant that most of the ride trended downhill. There were still a few bumps and one long uphill climb at the very end, but otherwise it was fast fun singletrack.
Eventually the trail joined Gold Bar Rim and started to climb. This portion of the trail became more technical and definitely more challenging for the lungs. I enjoyed getting my heart rate up! Great views and to our surprise the weather cleared and we got a nice afternoon of sunshine. Finally! The ride back out to the cars was long and tiring, mostly because there was a painful 20 minute climb in the last hour of the ride. Ugh!
Finally back to the van we celebrated a successful four days of riding by enjoying a bag of potato chips! Boy does salt taste good! Back at the condos everyone packed up their stuff and said their goodbyes. Sad to see everyone go! The five days always goes so fast. Luckily I had our staff condo for one more night so we didn’t have to pack up until Sunday morning. I took my dad and Connie out for a delicious dinner of Thai food to thank them for all their help. It’s not easy taking care of Emmett for five days straight. I spent the night packing and answering a few emails. I also came down with a head cold yesterday and was pretty miserable for most of the da. Yucht! Glad the camp is over because I’m exhausted!
The drive back was long and slow, mostly because we have to stop a lot for Emmett. My dad and Connie took Emmett in their car so I could make phone calls to my athletes and get caught up. Emmett held up really well and didn’t get fussy until the last 45 minutes of the drive. Not bad for an eleven month old!
This summer was the best season for our Moab camps in three years (when the economy tanked). We filled three camps; two in May and the one in October. They are a lot of work but I get to meet such great people. And it was also fun for Emmett to spend so much time with his grandparents.
And we’ve already got our dates for next year!
May 1-5 2012: Novice/Intermediate
May 29-June 2 2012: Interm/Advanced
Oct 2-6 2012: Interm/Advanced
Thanks for a wonderful week and I hope to see you back next year!