Friday, September 24, 2010

Jure Robic Dies in Collision with Car

I was shocked and upset when a friend from the Race Across America media crew sent me a link this morning to a Slovenian news site that said ultracyclist (and this year's RAAM champion) Jure Robic, was killed today.

I was on this year's RAAM media team, chasing far behind Jure and his crew. I had also just spoken with Jure's friend and crew chief, Matjaz Planinsek on Tuesday.

I didn't know Jure, but the one thing I will remember from our few encounters was his smile. He had a big, bright, child-like mischievous smile that popped up frequently--even a thousand miles into RAAM.

Here's the Outside post.

Photo of Jure at the beginning of RAAM 2010 courtesy of Jake North Photography.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Tahoe Sierra 100 Mountain Bike Race-- So F'n Easy

“This is gonna be so f*(#ing easy!” Jimmy says.
It’s just before 6:30 am and we are straddling our mountain bikes behind a couple hundred spandex-clad ultraracers. Me, my husband Jimmy, and our friend A-ron. (Thus named because I’m Erin and he’s Aaron and it gets confusing.)
The sun hasn’t come up over Soda Springs, CA, a tiny ski-town northeast of Lake Tahoe just off of the I-80. My numb hands ache as we wait for the countdown to the start of Tahoe Sierra, a 100-mile mountain bike race with a reported 13,000 feet of climbing that shares part of its route with the Western States 100 ultramarathon.
Somewhere up ahead is my friend Holly, the silent killer. She’s tiny. She’s unassuming. And she’ll kick your ass. If she weren’t so dedicated to performing surgery on mice as part of her graduate mechanical engineering research at Stanford, she’d probably be pro. I am not racing Holly.
The race director, Jimmyboy, mentions something about the race being hard. Something about bears and mountain lions. Then something about loggers and hunters.
“This is gonna be so so f*(#ing easy!” Jimmy repeats the motto he adopted from an adventure race he ran with his college buddies.
“Ha!” grunts the guy next to him.
“Five! Four! Three!” Jimmyboy counts down. “Two! One!” And we’re off, rolling down double track through the twilight. The dust glitters in a cloud that engulfs my face and immediately latches onto my nose.
I re-discovered pink zinc just before the race and thought it would be the perfect nose-cheek protector for an all-day adventure. It smells like a coconutty beach, just like it did in the ‘80s. But after 10 minutes of riding through “moon dust” in a fat-tired peloton, my coconutty pink nose has become a dirt trap.
This must be how healthy, non-smokers get lung cancer, I think as I look at the dude next to me. He’s wearing a surgical mask. The guy just ahead of me has a bandana covering his mouth. I try to hold my breath, but that doesn’t last very long.
We turn a corner to face a short, steep sandy section. People are falling left and right. A few men tiptoe their bikes around the carnage while I ski down on my feet. When I get to the bottom, A-ron and Jimmy are already out of sight.
I’ve only been riding 15 minutes and my legs are sore. I know the boys are infinitely better riders than I am, but I don’t want to be out there alone—something about bears, remember?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Toughest Endurance MTB Race There Is?

The race director for the Tahoe Sierra 100, a 100-mile (actually 92.7 miles this year) mountain bike race has officially freaked me and my crew out.

Coachubby, a friend from LA (A-ron) and a friend from Stanford (Holly) and I were all revved up to do the race this Saturday. We signed up months ago. We dreamed of the scenery, of the single-track, and in A-Ron's case, of the Pop-Tarts. It was going to be an epic day of awesome. Then the race updates started flowing in.

Here are tidbits from updates received on September 3, 4, 5, and 7:
Sept 3:
For all of you that may try to go out and try out the course this weekend. May be a few motos out there, hunters and crazy beer drinking 4 wheel drive people...There was a bit of Eco Terrorist action on the logging operation that was going on up there yesterday.

OK. Not bad. Nothing that's not usually on a mtb course. This is going to rock. It didn't hurt that the email closed with: 

Don't forget that your here to have fun!! We all will be partying after the event at Ice Lakes Lodge so please come by and enjoy the full bar and food here at the lodge as it looks out over Serene lakes.

Party on.

Sept 4:
Saw a Nice big bear out on the trail today. Never saw one person or bike all day.

OK. Bear. Bears live in the forest. Chances are slim the bear will care about me when there will be several other meal options on the trail. 

Great weather. 82 in the high country at 6700 ft.

Rock on. Warm weather is my best friend. Yogi can hibernate while we ride.

Sept 5: 
Just to clear the air about this being a fast race course.
Mohican 100 fast times: 7:33 under 9,000ft of climbing
Lumberjack 100. Fast times 6:33 9,000ft of climbimg
Cream Puff 100 fast times 9:44.00 about 17,500 ft of climbing
High Cascades 100. Fast times about 8:37. 13,000ft of climbing 11,000ft of climbing ( single track)
Leadville 100 ( almost all fire road and out and back) 12,000ft of climbing ( record set by Levi this year 6:15.00)   Roadie course
Break Epic. Fast times 8:31.00
I would say that the 
Tahoe Sierra 100 is a fast course with the fast time of 7:24.00 and about 13,800 ft of climbing depending on your GPS and the course only being 92.7 miles.

Cool. Good riders will finish fast. The climbing surely qualifies this ride for DA status. (Disappearing a**.)

Sept 7:
This is your last chance. 

To what? To bail?

This is a hard 100 mile race. This is not a roadie course. There is rock, dirt, lots of dust in some places, bears, cows, hunters, mt. lions, Big trees, small trees, white torn, buck brush, loggers, miners and a few things I may have forgotten. Oh ya, Mary Jane growers!!

Praying I will not be shot by Elmer Fudd, eaten by Yogi Bear or Simba, or stomped on by Cow. At least if it gets really bad, we can all zen out with the help of the local farmers.

Combine this update with the one from Aug. 16:
Just another heads up there are some cattle in the high country free grazing in the forest. Some of them are very big bulls!! If you run across any of them just yell and they will move. I have seen a few bear moving around in the last two weeks. They're just black bear and will run before you get too close.

And now we have full-on bearanoia. Seriously? They'll run away? As a wise friend once said, you don't have to be fast, just faster than your group. The bear will eat the slacker. There's some motivation.

I never said that this was a easy MTB 100. I just said it was a fast one.

And with that, Coachubby and I will fly out to Tahoe tomorrow to embark on a bear-hunter-mtn. lion-miner-logger riddled race. I slapped a red rear tire on my bike to up the rad factor. Or mask the blood.

This should be epic.