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....