Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lets Wrap It UP!!

Day 13, 21hr, 141 miles

I stopped early so I got up and going by 2:30am.  The riding in Colorado is mostly easy and fast and I was soon in Silverthorne/Frisco/ Breckenridge area.  As I worked my way thru civilization I stopped first at a convenience store for some quick resupply, then at a sporting goods store for some additional MSR Aquatabs, then for Ice Cream (Yum), one more convenience store and finally at the Subway leaving Breck. 
Needless to say I wasted some time but as most stops involved ‘some, but not too much’ calorie intake I was able to ride strong into the night. 
On the way up to Boreas Pass I met Beth Dunne, we rode together on and off into Hartsel where she stopped for a meal.  There were several bikepacking bikes outside the café but I pushed on solo as I had an extra Subway and the riding was good.  Later I saw Beth’s and Josh Daugherty’s light sail past my camp spot. In my mind this had been was my first good day sense back in Butte MT.

Day 14, 19hr, 154 miles

I slept in a bit and felt I had gotten enough recovery.  However six hours later I had only gone 40 miles and was feeling totally spent.  On the start of Marshall’s pass I was sitting in some shade, it was one of the few times I was truly hot, when Josh Daugherty rolled up stopped and asked if I was Marshal Bird.  This seemed a bit strange but Josh explained that he had seen my Spot on Trackleaders back in town earlier and knew my name. 
Thanks Josh for being just the right inspiration when I really needed it
Like a light switch I felt I raring to go and asked Josh if I could ride with him a bit.  He was nursing a sore leg so our paces matched for most of the day.  We soon caught up to Beth and three of us bounced back and forth for the rest of the day.  Later in the day we passed Lukas Aufschlager who was fighting a flat tire and from where he was I think also fighting some mosquitoes.  I worked hard to try to match Josh but he was stronger and finally I let him go.  I saw Beth again at the Storm Mtn CG block house—ha she had to let me use the ‘facilities’ before she could claim her enclosed bivy spot for the night.  I rolled a few more miles and spent one of my most enjoyable TDR nights under the ‘almost desert’ stars.  Later I would learn Josh was camped just a few miles behind me and Lukas had also stopped at Storm King CG.  I would see Josh the next day, after which he moved on ahead for good.  I would also see and ride with Beth (and later her husband Seb) several times over the next few days.  I would also see Lukas several more times.  I had gone thru a rough spot up on Marshall’s Pass but Josh’s good company had saved me and Beth’s example of “constant, steady pace” had re-sparked my desire to also stay strong.


Day 15, 16hr, 111 miles

It was up and going around 6am, twas a beautiful morning and I was looking forward to some resupply in Del Note.  It wasn’t long before Josh rolled up and we enjoyed some play racing thru the desert and sandy almost single track sections into Del Note. 
Josh was pushing hard, making up lost time from earlier in his TDR.  I tried to match his drive and intensity but it just wasn’t to be, he sailed away from me on the paved approach to Summitville pavement, a man with a mission. 
I kicked back and rode my own pace and while stopped for lunch Beth passed by.  It rained on us that day and like a idiot I just rode in it without covering up.  Hey it was warm at the time….. Later I had to dry out at the Platoro Lodge and had a big meal.   Josh was just leaving as I arrived and I wish I hadn’t let myself get so wet but had no choice but to dry out. 

Beth showed up a few minutes later and we shared a table for a meal.  Once again I was impressed how she handled herself.  The rain had been a bit of a shock after so many nice days and after some aborted attempts at finding a room for the night I watched as she sucked it up and made the decision to keep on pushing, rain or not.  I left about 30 minutes after Beth and several hours later in the dark, just about the time I was looking for a place to camp got a shout out from two campers.  All I could see were lights but then Beth called out as I rode by “Instead of a bear in the woods I found a husband in the woods” !!   Ha, Seb (Beth’s husband) who bty had been running top 4 into NM had had a mechanical and once repaired decided to tag along with his wife on to the finish at AW.   They apparently had met up in Del Note and Seb got his bike fixed in time to rejoin the trail right when Beth was in the area.  Anyway I rode on for a few miles and found the most cool circle of pine trees to camp in.  Was almost like being inside.  I could hear some animals hunting in the night, wolfs?  Maybe but for some reason felt quite safe and content in my circle of pine trees.  Not many miles today but just over 10,000 ft of climbing—not a bad day considering the rain and stupid but needed extended dry-out stop in Platoro.


Day 16, 17hr, 127 miles

I was up at 5am and packing my gear when Seb and Beth rolled by, I followed there tracks for the rest of the morning.  The day brought more rain and rather than fight mud I ducked into the empty Post Office building just outside of Vallecitos (ah Vallecitos, the town of nasty dogs—actually it’s the dogs horrible owners who are to blame…)  I took a short nap on the floor of the Post Ofice and headed out after the rain let up.  My timing was good and I was able to ride almost the entire section of dirt to over to El Rito. Only had to scrape mud and walk for a few 100 yards.  I did a quick resupply at the store in El Rito and then a full meal/resupply at Bode’s  in Abiquiu.  I was worried a bit about getting real rain in the night so I bought a plastic poncho with the thought I could use it as a make do tarp if needed.

It was about 8pm when I started the climb up into the Polvadera area.  I was looking forward to this next section as it was bypassed in 2010 due to fire.  Around 10pm as I came around a downhill corner at a modest speed my front tire slid out and I landed pretty hard on my broken ribs and rolled into a barbed wire fence.  This minor fall was the most painful yet, coming as it did on already sore ribs.  Up in till then I had been feeling good and planning to ride till 11:30 but now I just wanted the first camp spot I could find.  Turned out is was once again a beautiful picture perfect night under the stars, no make shift tarp needed.  I suspected Seb and Beth were camped somewhere near so I set my alarm a half hour sooner in the hopes I would have some company to ride with in the morning.


Day 17, 16hr, 144 miles

Just like the day before I was packing up when Seb and Beth rolled by (Beth is one of the most steady, consistent multi day racers I have seen) but this day I was only a few minutes back and soon joined them on the climb over to Cuba.  It was nice to have some company thru one of the more ‘real mountain bike riding’ sections of the TDR.  There was a literal TDR traffic jam at the McDonalds/convenience store in Cuba.  Myself, Beth, Seb, Greg and his NZ partner whose name I can’t remember just now and Ryan Correy.  Lukas was just behind us and 3 riders were 4 to 6 hours in front of this grouping of racers.  My racing instinct had kicked back in and with all these racers in sight and right at 500 miles left I was in the mood to go hard to the finish.  From Cuba to Grants is 120 miles of easy pavement and I initially planned to ride it out and get a late hotel room in Grants.  I think this was the same basic plan the whole little Cuba group had.   For me it didn’t work out that way, about 40 miles outside of grants the wind was now a real headwind and there was a wall of rain clouds 10 miles ahead.  I felt I was expending precious energy fighting the wind and had no desire to ride 10 to 15 dark miles in a rain squall.  This section is flat wind swept desert type terrain with no visible shelter for miles.  
At 9pm I made a racers call to save energy and went to ground (literally) for my shelter and an early stop.  Best strategic call I made during the entire race.


Day 18, 20hr, 213 miles

Up and going again by 2am I could tell I made the right call.  Well rested from my warm dry stealth camp followed by a calm/no wind, ride into Grants I was ahead of the game.  I saw Lukas at a convenience store and thought he would soon be riding with me.  But we would only see each other one last time in Pie town, me leaving and him just arriving.  After a fast stop for Pie and Ice Cream at Pie Town  I was back at it. 
The finish line was singing out to me and I was riding well, the knee and achilles issues long forgotten, I was once again a TDR racer if only relatively speaking a for a few more hours.  All was going perfect when it rained again, hard this time.  Just  as I was topping out the ridge before Beverhead Work Center I completely mudded up.  The sun was down, my wheels were clogged, the bike now weighed about 90 pounds, wheels jammed with mud  and it seemed I would be spending the night in an exposed meadow waiting for daylight and the mud to dry.  Not wanting to give up to soon I zoomed out on my GPS and saw a road intersection about 1 mile ahead.  Hoping it might be mode gravel than dirt I got out the chain brush ala mud scraper and went about cleaning my bike frame and tires for the next 10 minutes.  Once mostly clean I rode and walked the grass next to the road and carried the bike thru some puddles till I reached that intersection.  Sure enough it was ridable and I was back in business, what a morale booster, I simply flew the next 30 miles down to Beaverhead and camped up in the blockhouse, warm dry and very satisfied with my second longest mileage day of the TDR


Day 19, 24hr, 206 miles

Last day, just 200 miles to go.  As I was leaving, up the first hill Andy Laycock rode by.  I had seen im fly by me up a hill back on day 3 and was simply amazed that a rider so strong was near me with only 200 miles to go.  If Andy ever gets serious about the TDR he could contend for a top spot.  Anyway I made no attempt to match Andy’s hill climbing powers, knowing I would blow up on the very 1st one.  I simple started a long hot slog thru the Gila, knowing that Silver City and real food would be my interim reward.  

Now  I can’t quite remember where or when I figured out I could conceivably finish in under 20 days but I would occasionally think about it.  In passing Andy had mentioned under 19 days and for some reason I started counting my days again.  Math is never my strong point but is exceptionally difficult when stressed and tired.  But I finally remembered that you start counting at zero days, not at day 1.  The idea I could squeeze out a finish in just under 19 days gave me a bit extra motivation thru the next few hot hours.
The tiny bit of single track was a refreshing break and quite enjoyable during daylight hours and soon I was enjoying two McDonald’s Milk Shakes in Silver City.  Leaving Silver City I figured out that just like 2010 I would be asking my wife to meet me in AW’s in the dark.  I called her and tried to explain that I would ride a pace so she could arrive with the sun rise.  And basically that’s how I finished, riding a easy pace, with some extra stops so Sharon could meet me at sunrise in Antelope Wells New Mexico . 
Tired, mostly satisfied....
Finished at 18days and 22 hours.


Post Race: 

Sharon and I gave Andy a ride up to Albuquerque and enjoyed hearing about his TDR experiences.  He had a bit of a tough go with his race, mostly due to being rather new to the multi-day race experience.  If he ever comes back watch out as I would expect him to contend for a podium position.

Will I ever do the TDR again?  I get asked this and the answer is 'I hope so' but at my age I am not sure I have it in me to truly ‘race’ such a long event.  And if I am not racing it’s not that big of a deal to just ride it.  There are other, better routes to just ‘ride’.  On the other hand I would like to shoot for the 'over 60' age record..........

What would I do different?  Quite a bit actually.  I would run a 2X11 or 2x10 with front suspension and also a crank based power meter sensor.  Front suspension to allow me to maximize my modest downhill and technical skills along with smoothing out the bumps and reducing the cumulative fatigue.

2X11 to allow me to have both a top end and bottom end as needed.  I could cry thinking about how much time I lost due to my 32X11 set up.  I still cringe thinking about the miles and miles of flat or slightly downhill bumpy sections where my legs begged for a standing position to rest while pushing against some light resistance.

Power meter you ask?  Josh was running one and he explained it not only kept him pushing to his real/true capability but just as important let him rest and pace better in slow or windy sections, knowing he was outputting at his sustained limit.  I think a power meter on the TDR could be the most important piece of additional gear a top racer could use to maximize potential.  

I would carry a bit more food and skip some resupply stops.

And finally I would not eat so much trail mix.


  1. Thanks Marshall. I always enjoy reading your post's on the race.

    interesting on racing with a power meter. I had been thinking about racing with my heart rate monitor. I train with it everyday and it's a good gauge on my actual effort.

    also, if your interested, I'm working on a race that circles the entire San Juans for October. roughly 600 miles.


  2. Thanks JC, My Oct this yr may be taken but I am always interested in new races, one that's close is of special interest...

  3. "You aren't old until age becomes your excuse." - Joe Friel

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