Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vision Quest 2012

This past weekend was the big one…Vision Quest (VQ). I raced the “smaller/shorter” Counting Coup (CC) last year, but this was my first time tackling this really difficult test of determination. VQ is 55mi and 11K of climbing. There are only 400 total spots (VQ/CC) and both events sell out within minutes. The two events draw some of the best So CA competition and even a few pros come out to push the pace. This year local pro favorite Dana Weber killed it and beat out Tinker with a time of 4:57...crazy fast, but still short of the record of 4:45 set by Jeremiah Bishop in 2010. Here are a few write-ups...

The event starts at 5:30a with the peloton heading out Blackstar Canyon in the dark to the first of 3 big climbs. Blackstar, and the undulating traverse to the top of Motorway is the first big test. As I got to the top of the Blackstar climb the sun was just coming up and I started the traverse of what we call the main divide (the ridge separating Orange and Riverside counties). I reached the turnoff to the Motorway singletrack descent in 1:34. I made it safely down the chunky Silverado Motorway to the first aid station where my wife was waiting to take my light and give me my sunglasses and two new bottles.

After leaving the first aid station riders ascend 4,000 feet up Maple Springs to 4 Corners and eventually Santiago Peak, the second of the 3 main climbs. I reached 4 corners in 2:50 and Santiago Peak in 3:27. From the Peak riders drop down the backside on a loose fire road to the Holy Jim singletrack descent, a 3,900 foot drop to the next aid station. I reached this aid station in 4:12. This is where the Counting Coup riders head out the Trabuco Creek wash to the finish and the VQ riders have to make the hard left turn and complete a difficult ride and hike-a-bike up West Horsethief. As I was struggling to pedal up Trabuco to the West Horsethief turnoff Dana Weber and Tinker Juarez came flying past me on their way towards the finish.

I went out and tried to ride West Horsethief on fresh legs a few times in the preceding weeks and was only able to ride 20-30% so I knew after already climbing 9,000 feet I would be pushing my bike up the switchbacks for 45 minutes or so. One of the great aspects of the ride though is that the race organizers cook burgers at the top of the hike-a-bike climb. Since once you reach this point in the event there is only a short 15 min traverse on the main divide over to the top of Trabuco Trail, the final singletrack descent and arguable one of the best in Southern CA.

I finally got to the top of West Horsethief in 5:28, ate a bunch of orange slices (they never tasted so good), took half a burger with me and began pedaling towards Trabuco. Thankfully I got down the technical and rocky Trabuco descent safely and without flatting. I flew by the Holy Jim aid station and rode out the Trabuco Creek wash to finish the ride with a total time of 6:29.

Overall, I was happy with my results, and ended up 24th out of 123 riders that finished (there were like 30 DNFs). The funny part is that as you’re suffering on a ride like this you tell yourself there’s no reason to do this again, but I’m already thinking of how I can better my time next year!

The MXYBB & VQ number plate
Finish line pic
Big thanks to the favorite people in my life for supporting me and allowing me the time to train for such a big event… my wife, Courtney, our 5-month old daughter, Brittyn, and our wiener dog, Mo. The MXYBB was the perfect bike for this long hard race in the Santa Ana Mountains of Southern CA.

My support crew
The future of Moots
VQ Slopes...the 3 main climbs

Vision Quest Mountain Bike Race 2012 from BrownWonder on Vimeo.
Cool video of VQ posted by BrownWonder on Vimeo