Pathetically this is the only picture of the VT 125 Matt took. The batteries died but I find the blurry shot quite appropriate. It is me finishing and it "clearly" represents how I was feeling.
I have been the ultimate blog slacker. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to post my Vapor Trail race report. I started working full-time and on the other days I am taking one class. I had two exams last week in the midst of my VT 125 recovery which by the way was lengthy.
I am not great at giving the play by play race report for a couple of reasons. The first one is I don’t think I’m good at it and secondly I’m not sure if anyone actually reads them. It’s all good though because I see blogging as a journal that I can look back on years later and have fond memories. If you do happen to be one of the two people that read this blog, let me know by posting a comment. It is so exciting to me to see a comment has been posted after one of my blogs, it’s like getting a letter in the mail these days.
Back to the Vaporizer. Surely the hardest race I have ever done. Those of you who have not been able to finish or unable to start, need to put this on your to do list. I feel every endurance biker should have this on your race resume. Again I have several reasons for believing this way. It seems like an achievable enough endeavor, 125 miles. We cover more mileage in 24 hour races after all. I am convinced however that the Vapor Trail somehow covers more ground in less mileage. The near 20,000 feet of climbing may have something to do with this. Hands down the Vapor Trail is the coolest “race” ever. It is an invitational event, not to say that I’m someone special for getting an invitation but more importantly I want to bring attention to its stellar organizer. Tom Purvis is one cool dude. Shawn Gillis is too. This is virtually a free event, there is no entry fee. There are stocked aid stations, this year free Ay-Up light demos and search and rescue cards paid for by Shawn Gillis. Now who would do all this for nothing? Stellar people. Thank you Tom and Shawn and Absolute Bikes. I forgive you now Tom for that Starvation Creek loop but don’t ever do that again.
So the line up this year was thicker than last with 40 or so people. I was one of two girls to start. The race leaves downtown Salida led by a pace vehicle until we hit county road to heaven, about 40 minutes maybe less. We started at 10 pm and my demo lights had ample power for the entire night. Thanks Darren and Brianna! These lights are bright and light, that’s all I ask for. I got to Absolute Bikes after 8 pm with a 10 pm start, over an hour after I wanted to be there. I almost didn’t go, feeling stressed about life. Matt finally got me in the car and drove me to Salida, showing me that he sometimes knows me more than I know myself. It’s funny but as I stubbornly told myself that I wasn’t going, I experienced a deep pain almost to the core of my heart. It’s hard to explain but as I imagined riding my bike through the night towards the Alpine Tunnel, hiking my bike up the CDT, seeing friends and familiar faces I started to miss it, to long for it, to crave it. I was craving the Vapor Trail, riding through the night and seeing the sun rise was something I didn’t want to miss. I knew if I made the decision not to go, I would be sad, I would regret it. So I went and am happy I did. As soon as I checked in the lady at the table (I’m sorry I don’t know your name) said she overheard a few people asking if I was going to be there and made some nice comments about me. This made me feel so good and happy to be among friends. This is my community and this is why I ride and race. I may only see these people a few times a year but when I do it’s just an awesome feeling. We seem to understand each other without saying much. In this crazy and sometimes negative society, finding a strong community through these endurance events has been very helpful to my soul. I’m so appreciative of that.
The night riding was awesome and I never got too cold. I stopped a lot though, to fiddle with this and eat that. Too many stops, too long, slow transitions for sure. Oh well, this was a training ride more than anything for 24 Hours of Moab. The sun rose after my Tomichi descent and during the start of the big mama hike-a-bike to Canyon Creek. This is when I felt my best. I love hike-a-bikes. I’m built less like a cyclist and more like a hiker (whatever they’re built like) and I have stamina. Walking up a hill over virtually a scree field doesn’t bother me. I passed a few people and that made me feel good because I know I’m staying strong at a critical point in the race. The descent was sweet and fun and pretty fast and would have been slightly more enjoyable if my hands weren’t numb. This is where I met up with Matt Juth and from here on out he would become my riding partner and companion to laugh and suffer with. We got to aid station #2 and I was starving. I hardly ate anything though which annoys me. I can never eat during these races. I had a couple sips of black coffee, a couple bites of muffin and attempted to eat some potatoes and I think that was it. For a famished girl that’s not much but by the time we climbed Old Monarch I was ready for more food. The folks at Monarch made us sandwiches, got our lights off our bikes and did just about anything we wanted. They were awesome! Really everyone was.
Off we went after probably too long of a time at Monarch. I wasn’t really paying attention to the clock. I knew I’d finish eventually so I just had to keep plugging along. The Monarch Crest Trail hurt, every little incline felt like the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Matt and I joked a lot and laughed which was much needed. The loop up and down and up Starvation Creek sucked. That’s the only word I knew in that 2.5 hours of agony, sucks. I couldn’t ride a lot of the more technical down hills through the tight narrow sections. I couldn’t find balance, I kept falling to……I can’t remember which side now. After Starvation we worked our way up, yes up again to Silver Creek and descended that to the beginning of the Rainbow Trail. The Silver Creek descent hurt and I felt like slowing down because every muscle in my body throbbed. Matt said that it would hurt whether we went slow or fast so we might as well go fast. He was right then my body just became numb and stopped hurting. We downed some soup and soda before Rainbow and I got the kick I needed despite burping the soup up for the next hour. You could smell the finish at this point so mentally I’m able to hammer it out. I wasn’t going that fast but if felt a heck of a lot faster than the previous section.
In the end I was the only female to finish. I wish more had come out and if the ones on the roster had, their names surely would have been above mine at the end of the day. Nonetheless I’ll take my 1st place finish with grace and pride and want to say congrats to Nicole Habay who has been out of racing for a few years and came back for this one. You’re awesome girl and it was great chatting with you at the start. Thanks for cheering me on at Silver Creek too.
As agonizing as the Vapor Trail can be at times and as many moments I had wishing something would go wrong with my bike that would prevent me from torturing myself any longer, I am ecstatic to have started and humbled to have finished. It is an event that I want to support because of Tom and Shawn and Absolute Bikes and Salida Trails and the volunteers and participants. Like I said earlier I see old friends and meet new ones and I feel so lucky for this. Thank you to all who cheered us on and supported us and made it possible to finish this great adventure. I love the beauty in it all. I take everything from this event; the good, the pain, the scenery, the agony, the climbing, the descending, the people, the volunteers and just the opportunity to pedal my bike on some of the most gorgeous terrain not only in Colorado but in the world and I cherish all of this as a gift.