Category Archives: Cycling

My “Jeep”

In a previous post, I mentioned the “homebrew” bike I have built to be my “all-rounder”. While I initially envisioned I would ride it to trailheads, it proved to be a little bit weak when I rode it on rocky and steep trails.

It turned out that I was recently given the remnants of a 2003 Specialized HardRock and immediately planned on rebuilding it. Not only it would be a great mountain bike but I envisioned it to be a perfect bike to ride to trailheads. As I explained several years before, I  enjoy and believe in moving car-free. On top of that, reaching trailheads removes the worry of not finding any parking, which can be quite common here in the Front Range.

And sometimes, even a proper bike rack is provided !

The bike rack at the 4th of July Trailhead, Colorado

After finding wheels, tires, derailleurs and all other needed parts, I rebuilt it and named it “The Jeep”

Specs:
Frame: Aluminum
Fork : RockShox Dart 3
Brakes : Tektro V-brakes
Drive Train : 1×7

And, as usual, a side-by-side comparison of before and after.

A new addition : Frame bag

In previous posts, I explained how I try to use my bike as much as possible : from commuting to grocery shopping.

From time to time, my ride doesn’t justify the need of taking my pannier and I end up riding with my needed items in one (or both) of my hands such as a bike lock which can be too cumbersome.

My wife just found a remedy to that as she has sown a frame-bag with recycled tubes donated by the Fort Collins Bike Co-Op. That way, I can go on a ride and put all the items in the framebag without having to take my panniers.

The other idea is that it will also be useful when doing touring trips.

Trail Ridge Road

One of the first adventure I went on upon moving into our new home was to go to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), my new playground as it is only about 1h from home.

I had heard about Trail Ridge Road when reading a cycling magazine but mainly from my former neighbor Dennis in Portland (who is a born and raised Coloradoan). At that time, he recommended it to me and described it as a beautiful and scenic road but warned me it would be dangerous and intimidating just riding in a car! I was intrigued as it sounded like a perfect challenge…
I attempted to cycle Trail Ridge Road on 09/24 but an unexpected night snowfall forced the Rangers to close the road within 8 miles of the Park entrance. I still rode as far as I could (until there was too much ice to cycle safely) and hoped to return with my bike soon as I knew  would have only a couple of opportunities to do this ride with the snow coming very soon.
As I watched the RMNP webcams during the week, it looked like the snow had melted fast and that another attempt would be possible the following weekend.

A quick call to the Trail Ridge Road status line on Friday night confirmed it was open. Off I was on saturday morning !

My ride on Trail Ridge Road

 I started from the Beaver Meadows entrance (8,200 ft) and rode to Grand Lake, CO. The ride was really nice, offering breathtaking views of the mountains including Long’s Peak. It is never really steep (the average grade is 4.2%) but it is long, sustained (20 miles with 4,400 ft of elevation gain to the alpine center) and at high altitude.
Having only been in CO for 2 weeks, I was still breathing from a straw. To explain better what I was feeling, I made a graph below showing the different % of my VO2Max I was exercising at for the different elevation sections of the ride. According to Tim Noakes’ book, Lore of Running“, one’s VO2Max decreases for every 1,000 meters (3,300ft) above 1,200 meters (about 4,000ft) by about 10 % !!!!!


A very nice ride in one of my favorite local place so far.

Beaver Meadows Entrance to Alpine Center : 2h
Alpine Center to Grand Lake, CO : 1h15

Sorry Dennis, it was not as hard and scary as you depicted but thank you for the recommendation, I enjoyed the ride !

GPS Track available here (42.6 miles, +4,390 ft / –4,120 ft elevation gain/loss)

Bald Peak Challenge

To spin my legs after Volcanic 50, I rode on sunday the “Bald Peak Challenge” that I discovered several years ago.

The Bike at Bald Peak
The Bike at Bald Peak

This challenging ride offers a bit of everything including flat long stretches, hills, views of Mt Hood and the Portland area.

GPS Track available here (74 miles, 6,353 ft elevation gain/loss) **Data from Rubber to the Road

Note:

While Rubber to the road advises to go Right to stay on Bald Peak Rd after leaving Bald peak (when riding the course Counter-clockwise), I believe they did so at the time as NE Mountain Top Road was made out of gravel. Though I strictly followed the given route instructions, it seems to me that NE Mountain Top Road has been paved since. It might have been worth it to check out as I would have had better views

Tight Trick

You are ready to go on a bike ride and realize that you don’t have enough space for all your nutrition ?

Here is a tip I learned from a friend several years ago : use your tights as an extra pocket by slipping 1 or 2 gel(s) under them. Not only it will hold your nutrition well but it will also be easy to retrieve it when you need it. It has helped me several times since! I’ve even used this tip to store my maps !

 

RRR – Ride & Run & Ride

About a year ago, I read an interesting article written by Ellie Greenwood about being “self-propelled“. It immediately caught my attention as I typically try my best to use my bike/bus/train/legs to move myself in my daily errands.

I had been living car-free until several years ago. I saved a ton of money and hassle but I have to admit that some tasks required more organizations and time.

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100
Back in college, Manu and I coming back from the grocery store. He had the great idea of using duct tape and a broom to be able to carry back all the groceries. 2009

While I would prefer not to own any car, it would not be possible to accomplish all of our family activities without it (we do the groceries by bike as a family from time to time though!). That being said, as a family of 3, we try to limit our car usage to a minimum and as a matter of fact, we haven’t driven our van for several weeks now as we keep it for our adventure runs, camping and road trips.

As I always try to explore new trails, I sometimes feel guilty of driving 100+ miles to run 20-30 miles and I try to limit my trips as I don’t want to end up spending more time sitting in my car than actually running. But as I easily get bored of the running routes around our home, I use my bike to reach local trails.

Today, I explain how to combine a weekend long run without the use of any car. I will take the bike as the transportation mode but one could use the bus/Rollerblades…etc.

  • First, you need to plan how you will carry all your belongings on the bike and while running. If you have access to a locker, of course that is the best case but as I usually run in the wilderness, there is no such thing available

I usually make sure to have the following items (see on the photo below) :

  1. A backpack to carry my nutrition/fluid and my bike gear.
  2. 2 locks : A very robust one to lock my bike and a smaller one acting as a theft-deterrent for my helmet.
  3. A small toolkit. In case you get a flat or other mechanical issue (I plan on doing a dedicated post soon on my recommendation for what to carry in a toolkit)
  4. A cell phone in case you’re not able to ride your bike back due to a major mechanical failure or simply if you don’t find your bike when you finish your run!
  • Your bike: the crappier it looks, the better it is. Indeed, a crappy bike can be a great theft-deterrent. I used to have an old mountain bike on which I would only perform the basic maintenance. I used it for grocery shopping and mainly short commutes. I owned it for 15+ years until I donated it to a family member so he could commute to work.
  • You need to make sure that you can lock your bike close to the trailhead. A tree can work but an appropriate bike rack is the best.

IMG_1241.resized

 

Riding my bike not only allows me to reach my trailhead without spending any money on gas, it also provides a great warm-up as well as a good recovery after my run.

Go ahead and move car-free !

Do you already practice car-free activities ? How do you blend this lifestyle into your daily life ? What other advantages do you see by doing do ?

Pot Pourri Videos (Part 1)

Among the years, I have discovered numerous free videos that have provided me inspiration and motivation whenever it was before an important workout or even a race. I have gathered my favorite ones and created a pot pourri that you can find below. Enjoy!

And…..I am always looking for more! Do you have any videos to share ? Feel free to let me know by leaving a comment below!

Running:

Super Marathon du Mont-Blanc or the first unofficial UTMB.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xlo2uj_super-marathon-mt-blanc-1987_sport

 

Kilian’s Quest (4 seasons). A must see as well as all the other Salomon videos.

 

Curiosity

 

Endurance (Sebastien Chaigneau). His “Get ready for” show is also very interesting.

 

Endurance (Haile Gebrselassie)

 

The ingenuous choice (A. Krupicka)

 

Cycling :

Going AWOL on the Transcontinental race

 

Ride of my life

 

We are traffic

 

 

Climbing :

Opera vertical. For sure, the first very inspirational video I watched. Not just because of climbing but also for Edlinger’s lifestyle (no surprise I have a van like him!). The dude was also trail running !

SufferFest 1. How to combine cycling and climbing

 

2015 Highlights

As 2016 is here, it’s time to look in the mirror and review the good moments and accomplishments of 2015. Below is a highlight of some of the different adventures and races that I completed last year.

Vortex 10K

I started the year with a victory at a local 10K trail race, nothing better to test and validate my training!  Great way to start off the year.

Official Results

 

“6 peaks” or the first “AdventuRun” of the year.

In 2014, during a run in the gorge, a friend shared with me a running project called 6 peaks. This route crosses the eastern part of the gorge and goes on top of the 6 prominent peaks. Starting at the base of Mt Defiance, it ends at the famous Eagle Creek trailhead and travels through beautiful trails, including the PCT, in the higher part of the gorge.
This route immediately caught my attention and I added it to my “TODO” list.

After some planning, Joe and I completed the run on May 2nd 2015.
Originally created by a runner aka “The Beast”, this route boasts 42 miles and +12,377/-12,324 ft of elevation gain/loss.

I have committed myself in doing the “9 peaks” route (I added 3 peaks to it) as a confidence training run pre HardRock100… if I ever get selected from the lottery (0/2  so far).

For the full story, see the photo album here.
GPS Track available here (42.3 miles, +- 12,360 ft elevation gain/loss)

 

Ride on Hwy 20

In May, my wife ran the Sun Mountain 50K. This presented the opportunity for me to do my long run in the area and spend some time exploring the North Cascades. Unfortunately, the snow level was too high to do it.

Instead, I rode the beautiful section of road between Mazama, WA and NewHalem, WA.  The weather was not in my favor for the first half of the ride. The clouds were hanging low and I did not have the views I had came for.  However, when the clouds did clear I was not disappointed.

I definitely will return to the North Cascades to run! There is a lot  to discover there.

GPS Track (61 miles, +4,686/-6,216 ft elevation gain/loss)

 

Tilly Jane Shelter family backpacking

For those who are not familiar with this gem, Mt Hood has an A-frame cabin/ hut that is located on the NE side of the mountain at around 5700′  (more details here ).  We hiked in via the Polallie Ridge trail and stayed one night. The hike is perfect if you have kids as it is only 3.3 miles and 2000 ft gain.

The hut has no electricity or water and was a great way to spend the weekend unplugged with the family.

GPS Track

Coldwater peak – Mt Margaret

Another trail system I had wanted to discover was the north side of Mt St Helens. My wife and I took the opportunity to explore the area with some friends (Matthew and Jameson).

Alpine and scenic, the trails offer beautiful views of the blast zone.

GPS Track (20 miles, 4500ft elevation gain/loss)

 

San Juan Solstice 50M

My first focus race of the year. I had been wanting to discover the San Juan Mountains (Colorado) for years and this race was a great opportunity to do so as well as exploring part of the HardRock course (Cataract Gulch).

It’s hard to be well tapered and rested when visiting this region. I literally had to limit myself in the number of hours I would hike the days prior the race.

The high snow levels of 2015 made the race direction hesitate until the very last week whether we would run an alternate course. I was fortunate that we ran the normal course. It is a tough but very beautiful race at altitude.

Official Results (65th overall)

 

Mt Adams “single push”

When I moved to Oregon 4 years ago, I immediately wanted to climb several of the local volcanoes and I started with Mt Adams. At that time, I did it in 2 days and bivouacked at Lunch counter. This year, I wanted to test myself and do it in one day or “single-push”. It was an incredible adventure and I actually did it in 5h30 (car to car) !

GPS track (12 miles, 7750 ft elevation gain/loss)

 

Valjouffrey

 At the end of July, I came back to my home country to celebrate my Mother’s 60-th birthday. We stayed several days in a nice hut and enjoyed the beauty of the Alps. I already knew the region but had to opportunity to explore even more and finish-up my training for my next race.

Before breakfast each day, I had the pleasure to go out and run to the Col de la Vaurze and catch the sunrise with  my sister and brother-in-law. (GPS Track, 6 miles, 4100ft elevation gain/loss)

For the full story, see the photo album here

 

Standhope 60K

What a race and what a result! My first top 3 at an ultra-marathon. Exactly the type of race that suits me: A lot of elevation gain, technical terrain and altitude.

This race is probably my favorite one so far. It offers remote single track trails, scenic mountain views, challenging trails and screes, all of that at altitude with a great organization.

Official Results (3rd overall)

 

MtHood circumnavigation (Timberline Trail)

My wife and I  had planned to run this together for a long time… it’s a classic in the Pacific Northwest. Starting at Timberline lodge, we ran counter-clockwise mostly unsupported (Kudos to Matthew for making an aid station at the Top Spur trailhead).

It was a great adventure shared with some good friends (Matthew, Jameson and Joe). Unfortunately, we happened to run around Mt Hood the same exact day that the Washington fires happened. Definitely to do again on a sunny clear day!

GPS Track (41 miles, +10,303ft elevation gain/loss)

 

Wasatch 100

A great result for my 2nd 100-miler. I managed pretty well my race. I was happy that my mother traveled from France to cheer me on. With my wife and daughter, they were a PERFECT crew providing me with all the moral and material support possible.

The race was very well organized and I loved that it was a point-to-point course. As Jeff Browning wrote : “It’s hard, it’s technical, it’s relentless. 26,882′ of climbing and 26,131′ of downhill — 10,000′ of the descent coming in the last 23 miles! It’s brutal…and beautiful. Just my kind of course.” I loved Wasatch and it is also my kind of course. The only disappointment came from the fact that there were more gravel road sections than I expected. I think that running in the opposite direction would be better scenery wise, everybody would go through Brighton by day and enjoy the most scenic views of the entire course.

Official Results (37th overall)

 

3 Sisters Traverse

The surprise of the year came when I was asked to do the “3 Sisters Traverse” by a good friend of mine, Paul.

As we arrived on North Sister, the bad weather prevented us from continuing and running the whole route. We enjoyed an amazing weekend of running where we summited Broken Top and South Sister in the same day.

While I was not sure this would happen in 2015, finding the right partner and attempting the route was a great accomplishment. This project still remains on my list!

GPS Track (20 miles, 8,732ft elevation gain/loss)

For the full story, see the photo album here.

Elk-Kings Traverse

A tough race that I could do over and over.

It’s not always about the distance and this race is a great example: 15 miles and 6000ft of technical and exposed terrain.

With this race, GoBeyondRacing offers a well organized tough but rewarding event. I wish the region had more races like this one. The same organization used to put up the “Dog Moutain 10K” but the lack of participants didn’t encourage them to continue offer it. Too bad.

5th place and 20mins faster than 2013!

Official Results (5th overall)

Goat rocks

As Paul summed up the Goat Rocks really well : “A gem close to home”. It was definitely another region that I had put on my list of areas to discover and we were not disappointed. The trails offer views of the volcanoes, alpine lakes and wildlife encounters such as mountain goats.

We scouted a future *secret* project for which I will give more details this year.

For the full story, see the photo album here.

 

Silver Falls Marathon

I originally met my wife thanks to running when she was training for her first marathon in 2012: The Silver Falls marathon. A very low-key and well organized race in the beautiful Silver Falls State Park, it offers smooth single tracks through waterfalls and lush forests.

Jessica and I both ran it in 2012 and thought it would be nice to celebrate our 3 year anniversary by running the race again. Though she wanted to run the 50K, I registered to the marathon hoping to beat my time of 2012.

I finished 3rd overall and shaved off 35mins of my 2012 time! What a great way to end the year!

Official Results

Onto 2016!

 

 

‘Tis the season

Winter is here! This generally means for me that it’s time to take a break from running, reflect on the past season and get ready for the one to come. That also means that I have a lot more time in my hands to take care of things I have put on the back burner. This is the perfect opportunity to take care of my bike and perform the different fixes/overhauls needed for the new season to come.

I have put together and decided to share today a maintenance sheet that will help you maintain your bike(s) as best as possible since, as the old proverb says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

You can find my bicycle maintenance sheet here

What about you: Do you follow a maintenance schedule or do you wait until something breaks ?

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