Wednesday, October 30, 2019

2018 Tour of Idaho Day 6

Day 6

Early on Day 6, while riding across a meadow in deep wet grass I got the front wheel up in the air and over a ‘surprise’ angled log but just caught & slid the back tire and crashed.  As soon as I hit I knew I was in trouble as I felt my knee twist and pop on the way down.  Torn ACL was my diagnosis as I lay there on the wet ground.  Turns out, I was right, torn ACL along with a fractured, slightly compressed top of my tibia, at least that’s what my surgeon said when I got home.

 Pre crash……my Jedi knight light saber pic......

 Post crash, got out to the roads--lucky for me Day 6 was long but non-technical , note the extra gas in the bag, really the only day I really needed my gas bag.......

 Eyes starting to tell a story, much of the day I was 2 degrees from panic knowing that Day 7 & 8 had some remote, semi-technical sections. I was just moving forward according to my former plans--not sure what was coming........

 As close as I could get to this check point without crawling……..pain was'nt bad but only if I kept my knee/leg just so...........on the bike I could stand with almost no discomfort...on/off was a problem but not so bad on day 6's easy terrain

Hanging on, wondering how/what I was going to do for Day 7/8, did not want to give up my Tour but….?? Not sure no real plan yet but get to the end of the day…...

Ha, she did NOT want to have her picture taken but played along, also that is the fakest smile you will ever see on my face….

Plan was-- I bought some ace bandages and would reinforce the straps on my right knee brace (was wearing braces cause my left leg had ACL some 20 yrs ago and I am old and brittle, had I been wearing them ‘correctly’ I might have avoided all together the need for a second ACL reconstruction………then again, maybe not…..)

Anyway I had a plan, very sketchy but a plan……….

2018 Tour of Idaho Day 5

Day 5

 Early start, rode slow at 1st to keep warm, all in all a pleasant slog to the top……..

 Fire Reroute on day 5, nice single track to here then pave and road to days end, dual sport ride today…..

Sort of sad seeing this.  Anyway like I said day 5 was easy dual sport ride for the most part……..

2018 Tour of Idaho Day 4

I am back----Day 4

Nice cabin at Smiley last night, good night, met a TI enthusiast.  Up early before light and out on trail…….

 Amazing views on day 4

High point……..

During my 1st TI attempt the trail up to and down from here was intimidating, this time it was all fun……..

Day 4 almost in the bank, wow and still way early.  All in all day 4 was one of the best……..oh and I see my gas bag cap had'nt fallen off yet

Sunday, January 20, 2019

2018 Tour of Idaho Day 3

Tour Of Idaho (2018) Day 3:
Up and on the road at 4am with a plan to reach Smiley Creek before the restaurant closes and the gas pumps are shut off.  First checkpoint for the day, Beverland Pass is only a short 30 min up the road.
It’s still pitch black and not much to see but the 2 track road and some sagebrush. 

My Tour almost ends:
Heading down that backside of Beverland Pass there was a major washout.  The road was completely gone, replaced for ¼ or so mile by 4 to 10 feet deep channels.  Some just a foot or so wide, others wide enough to ride down.  In the dark I can’t see any obvious work arounds and start to slowly pick my way across and down the washouts.  I soon come to a 6-foot-deep, 2 feet wide gap and cannot see an easy way around.  I set up to power across at 90 degrees and easily reach the far side but land my front wheel 8 inches to the right, smack into a tough bit of sage brush. Forward momentum halts and I stumble off to the side of the bike—right into a deep washout.  My chest hits the far bank and my head smacks the ground, hard enough to ‘bounce’.  The speed of my little mishap was slow, ie walking speed, but the hit to my head was hard enough to displace my goggles, visor and helmet light. I could tell I just missed hitting hard enough to cause a concussion, ie I wasn’t ‘quite’ seeing stars.  All in all this was my most scary time for the whole tour.  But other than scaring the bejesus out of me all was good and I was soon past the washout. 

Easy relaxed riding on road, forest service roads and a bit of ATV trails to the next Check Point, Stewart Canyon/Corral Creek. 

Sun is up, bike is running great, miles are being racked up, all is good. 

Next Check Points are Wildhorse Look Out followed by Burnt Aspen/Kane Creek. 

Last year (2017) the loose shale rock sections near the top of the climb to Wildhorse tested my skill just a bit, this year the same rocks were well within my comfort level.
This year the Burnt Aspen switchbacks, the ones with the stupid angled logs were a non-issue, unlike last year when I lost time man-handling the bike over them.

I rolled into Ketchum at 11:26am, gassed up, ate a hot snack and was back on the route by 12:00, a 30 min pit stop!!

Just outside of Ketchum the route dives across a small river and into long sections of flowing singletrack mixed up with a few short technical sections.  Basically the rest of the day is singletrack with just a few miles of connecting roads.  Once past the last Check Point for Day 3 (Paradise Peak) you cross some intimidating but relatively easy side hill and then on into Smiley Creek.

Here is a video link of Martin’s “Side hills of Concern" coming down off the saddle at Paradise Creek/Snow Slide Viewpoint.  Not the only side hills on day 3 but one of them is pretty tall

I reached Smiley Creek Lodge at 7:15pm.  Shortly after I arrived there was a power outage so I missed getting a hot meal. 

But even with the power outage the lodge staff went out of their way to take care of me, had the cook whip up a two tuna sandwiches, and with some cold drinks and snacks I was set.

Days 4 & 5 up next....

Friday, November 9, 2018

2018 Tour of Idaho, Rest Day & Day 2

End of Day one, ahh transitioning into my ‘Rest Day’ with early dinner at the Sand Trap Restaurant 
 (ya, ya I know…I am not really the 'selfie type with strangers' but hey, this pic was worth an extra Tour of Idaho point-- yup, that’s my story and I am sticking to it…...)


After Day 1 I chose to use the optional rest day.  It’s a bit counter intuitive to take a day off after only one day on the route during a 9 day event, but……by taking a day off I had a chance to do some routine maintenance, grab some extra points and repair a broken kick stand. 

Lots of extra time on my Day off for great meals (@ CollegeMarket for the semi-famous TI sandwich)

It’s not unusual for Bike, Gear or Navigation issues to crop up on Day 1 so the riders who plan for a day off have a higher success/finish rate than those who didn’t.  Physically I did not need a rest day that soon, gear wise I didn’t need to change anything and bike wise I ‘almost’ didn’t need that day off.  Stress wise, knowing I had a planned day off coming made my Day 1 virtually stress free.  Just knowing I would have a chance to rectify any bike/gear issues was worth the extra day.  And it turned out my bike also benefited from the rest day…..

At the end of my Day 1, right after I finished my early and tasty dinner at the Sand Trap (and collected the extra bonus point), the retaining spring on my kick stand fell off as I went to leave the parking lot.  

Sand Trap Parking Lot. (I don’t know it yet but my Kick Stand Spring and parts are about to fly off)

KTM style kick stand/spring assembly’s bolts together with a couple of very specific parts.  When the spring went flying off in the Sand Trap parking lot & one of those tiny but key parts was lost.  The only way I could keep the kickstand retracted (and hence ride the bike) was to utilize the rubber retaining loop. (I never use it but thank goodness it was still on the bike).  It’s very awkward and time consuming to slip this rubber loop over the end of the stand when the spring is gone, the stand is just flopping down and the bike has saddle bags.  

Getting the bike prepped for the rest of the TI at Pocatello PowerSports (they all know all about the TI)

Hey: A big big shout out to Pocatello PowerSports.  On my day off they let me work on my bike in their parking lot, lent me some tools, gave me some top-off motor oil and cleaned my filter sock.  But the icing on the cake was when they sold me the needed but ‘not-in-stock’ kick stand part off a new bike on their showroom floor. YES!! 

So in the end, getting the needed replacement part on my day off saved me time each and every time I had to get off/on the bike going forward.  The stress free Day 1 was more enjoyable, I got several extra points and a topped it all off with tons of sleep for a super early start on Day 2.


Day 2 for me was a long but relaxed, easy day.  The single track is easy but fun, the double track was fast and fun, and the weather conditions for the desert/sand were ideal.  All in all, other than being a sort of ‘long’ day, Day 2 was my easiest day.  

Day 2, 1st check point up on Scout Mtn, got a snack, helmet light is now off and tucked away, great start to a great day

'Lime Green' Red Bull and fast but hot lunch in American Falls.  I hit my self-imposed time checks all day long during Day 2…

2DAFSD Check Point, parked it right up on top of the little dune for this pic, weather was ideal and hence the sand was an absolute blast!!

Here are two video links to some of the D2 sand riding, both vids are raw, uncut/edited.  A bit of Martin’s 'flags in the sand' trail and also the fun little drop into/and big sand bowl.

Getting ready to drop into the big sand bowl

Last CP for the day, Big Southern Butte, views were a bit cloudy but the hawks were hovering on the thermals everywhere.  It was really fun to watch them hovering ‘below’ my vantage point and then seeing a dive and pounce into the grass on the side of the mtn.

Arriving at Arco, the end of Day 2, I automatically fell into my pre-planned ‘RECOVER/PREP’ routine (which I followed pretty much each day going forward).  It goes something like this:
1.       Get gas
2.       Buy food for the room and next day.  If available I would microwave dinner, breakfast and have lots of snacks, chocolate milk and Pedialyte. 
3.       Check into room and then multi task as follows:
o   Store GPS track manually on both units and reset/charge GPS/Tracker/phone etc
o   Bike Maintenance
o   unpack
o   Cook, eat and Drink in room with ‘recovery’ in mind vs a restaurant meal
o   Clean and organize gear for next day
o   Shower
4.       Get horizontal asap and then:
o   Facebook
o   Study route for next day
o   Set alarm
o   Maximize sleep
o   Snack and drink Pedialyte once or twice during the night if/when I woke up
5.       Next morning, multitask as follows
o   Dress
o   Pack
o   Hot breakfast
o   Hit route within +/- 15 min of planned departure
Most nights it is a big rush to get everything done in time to maximize sleep time and be prepared for a early start.  For me the end of Day 2, and the following evenings, were simply an extension of ‘doing the Tour’.  IE: Every action/decision at the end of each day greatly impacts the coming day, for good or bad.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

2018 Tour of Idaho, Day 1

D1 Statistics:
Distance:            158 miles (from the hotel in Malad City to the Flag Pole)
Total Time:        12:15
Moving Time:    10:16
Stopped Time:   1:58
Speed:                15.4 mph

5:10am, At the Utah/Idaho Border, let the Tour begin, I was thinking---stay mellow and conserve energy---be smart, no stupid mistakes allowed….

Day 1 of the Tour starts at the Utah/Idaho border and winds its way along dirt roads, OHV trails and some single track generally north, up to the Flag Pole in front of Martin’s house on the edge of Pocatello.  (see motorcyclejazz for a full description, note- route for 2019 will be different ) 
The riding, while not overly technical in nature includes truly long extended climbs, loose rocky sections and some brake testing down hills.  My GPS shows just over 29K of climb and just under 29k of descent.  It’s a long day in the saddle and D1 is deliberately arranged to ‘test’ tour riders.  In short if you struggle on D1 from a skill, navigation or endurance point of view you are not yet ready for the full Tour, end of story (literally for many).  During my 2017 attempt D1 was a medium sized eye opener. I did not find it overly technical but at the same time some of the riding was challenging my skill set and the climbs and descents were a lot longer and a bit harder than my practice runs back home. 

1:05pm, at Check Point 3 for the day, top of Robber’s Roost Trail.  Personally I think the trail down is more challenging than the trail up, greater consequence for a mistake anyway…

I have some D1, Robber’s Roost video “click here” posted up on my YouTube channel 

This year D1 was basically a long, fun, mostly mellow ride.  Partly because I ‘knew’ what was coming but also because my skill set was a notch higher.  My game plan for D1 was something like: start early, ride easy but steady, conserve energy, stay mellow clear till the end. 

3:08pm, a pretty bike just sitting there at Inkom Pass, Check Point 4 for D1

Throughout the day, over the more challenging sections I was constantly gaging my current riding skill against last year and was happy with my progress from a year ago.  Also, knowing that I was taking the optional rest day made it easy to sit back and relax, I was going to have lots of recovery time and also if I had minor bike or gear issues there would be time to fix them. 

4:10pm, At the Flag Pole, D1 in the books, unfortunately the main pirate wasn't home..

I was pleased with my day and looking forward to hanging out, sleeping in and working on the bike.

And…it turns out I did have some minor bike issues that needed to be addressed on my rest day.

Up Next—Rest Day in Pocatello….

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Tour of Idaho 2018 (a two-year journey)

In early Oct 2016, while on a dual sport ride (Adventurized KTM 690) in Moab UT I mentioned the Tour of Idaho (TI) to my brother.   During our conversation I made up my mind to put the TI on my bucket list. 

Step one was to learn how to ride a dirt bike.  By the end of October I had purchased a Beta XTrainer and the journey towards the Tour was on.  You can go to my YouTube channel and scroll to my 1st ever Beta video.   Subsequent videos show my training and prep for a 2017 Tour attempt.

Come Aug 2017, nine months of practice and learning to ride, route study and bike prep I was headed to Idaho for the 2017 Tour.  You can go to my Tour of Idaho 2017 playlist, and watch a day by day account up to my fail on D5. 

Needless to say my bike skills were not quite up to the task at hand.  I climbed more hills and rode more single track on Day 1 alone than my entire 9 months of practice.  In short I had developed the needed baseline skill set but did not have enough practice “using” said dirt bike skillset in backcountry single-track terrain.

To successfully complete the TI I feel you need the following six elements (in order of importance):
1.       The right mind set
2.       An in-depth understanding of the event rules
3.       GPS Navigation skill (understanding of explicit TI methods and actual practice with said method)
4.       Correct Bike and Gear choice
5.       A small bribe to the demons of good luck
6.       Requisite dirt bike skills

In retrospect I can see that going into my 2017 attempt I had 4 out of the 6 required elements.  However, I was still lacking in #6, dirt bike skills.  And even though #6 is at the bottom of the list, weakness here eventually ate away my confidence and hence I lost the required mind set, ie: the most important requirement for a finish.

Driving the long long road home from my failure in 2017, tail between legs, I almost immediately began planning for 2018.  At the time I decided there were three things I absolutely had to have for success in 2018. Better bike skills, a riding partner and a even lighter bike/gear combination.  In the end I really just needed more time on the bike in the backcountry.

Tour of Idaho, 2018, D1 up next....