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Epic Rides, 2018 Grand Junction Off-road 40

Epic Rides, 2018 Grand Junction Off-road 40

The Grand Junction Off-Road 40 is a hard event, and I am still not sure of the best race strategy. The race starts in downtown Grand Junction taking some roads out to the Grand Junction Lunch Loops and up the Tabeguache trail.  Full map – Grand Junction Off-Road – 40 Grand (2018). This year as with the last, the pace gets fast as the road starts to climb shortly before the turn onto the Tabeguache trail, which “becomes more aggressively steep and occasionally riddled with boulders”. This year, shortly after turning off the road, the group got badly bunched up. I don’t get what happened; I assume someone screwed up and caused the initial slowdown. Here is the most boring 30sec mountain bike race video. It does not convey the frustration of going 0.1 mph. As the trail description suggests, it gets steep quickly and then turns into a hike-a-bike up the final hard climb, see for yourself.

I am not really sure how to assess how we did this year. Lisa was sick all week, which means we had no idea how much energy she would have, so we wanted to pace ourselves early. Pacing early in a race rarely works out for me; I don’t seem to be able to pick up the pace later. On the other hand, I prefer a moderate pace to crawling because we way overdid it at the start. The course was a little different this year. They cut out a section of the road early in the race, adding more singletrack. I am totally happy with that. The conditions were not as good this year–the trail was really dry and loose. We put 26psi in the tires this year to prevent any pinched tires or destroyed rims; normally we run about 22psi. I am glad we did as I am sure we would otherwise have had issues, but the mix of hard tires and dry dusty trails made for some sketchy riding on the loose downhills. In fact, I was rather frustrated with having to run the high tire pressure, but there was no better solution. This is really a race I would like to try a set or 27.5+ wheels and tires. I had a stupid fall about 1 week ago that screwed up my right wrist. I have broken this wrist before, and the result is that it is still a little swollen. The problem with this is that on the rough trails the fingers in my right hand go numb and that is far from great for racing a tandem on a tight technical trail. I always wonder how to assess the impact of something like this. I think the mental concentration impact is as significant as the little bit it impacts my speed. Keith C. a Racer X cycling teammate had a finish time of 4:30, Lisa and I were 4:45. Keith is a reliably fast rider although he gave his performance today as a C+. Keith also agreed that the conditions were tough this year. The field was also really strong.

The Daily Sentinal has a nice interview with Lisa and me after the race. 

These Epic Ride races are a cool scene, the Pros do a fat tire crit on Friday night and race Sunday while the Amature race is Saturday. Here in Grand Junction there is a Downtown Music festival

Sportograf did a great job of shooting the event, and this year I know there were several drones getting video. I would really like to get some of that.
They have some “Best of” Photos posted already.

We often get asked why we race a tandem. We do it because when we finish we have this list of things we could do better. When I race solo, I just wish I had a bigger motor.
Our list of things to do better after this race:
– Get a set of 27.5+ wheels and tires
– When we go up big ledges, Lisa needs to work on pushing over and not getting bounced in the air.
– It would be good to spend some time tuning the suspension on a course like this.
– A different tire might have been good in this deep loose dirt.
– I keep doing this–screw the energy drinks! I want water in my bottle! I’ll eat the calories.
– I like the Oury grips but I hate the outer lock ring, especially when I take off my gloves. Need different grips.
– I need to work on my position on the tandem–it significantly different than on my road our mountain bike. More on that in another post.
– Forget pacing the start, I need to go back to my rule or “Go as hard as you can for the first 30min, then assess the situation” No exceptions
– This race makes me consider a different fork setup.

Here are some photos and as well as the videos above a fill video from the start to the dirt. I’ll post a video later with more of the trail.

Overlooking Grand Junction. credit Sportograf

Using all the corner. credit sportograf

Tandem racing cyclocross style.

Lisa’s numberplate and course notes

Looking down the expo and food area.

I like how the dust shows how the air goes around the spokes.

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