Wednesday, September 28

Dirty Morning Commute: High Plains Drifter

The summit plateau of North Table Mountain is much more desolate than South Table's. There is less intrusion by man-made objects. Its higher, giving a more island-like feel, and you just have the sensation of being at a high elevation. Like South Table, but more so, the top undulates and rolls, both blocking views and revealing the landscape in increments.

This morning was my second North Table MTB commute. The first time I rode the OBS. This morning I spurred the Smurf up the slopes of NTM. As a testament to adequacy of the Smurf for my needs, I did the exact same 18.8 mile ride 23 minutes faster on the new bike.

Not only did I do the ride faster, but I got much higher up the east facing gully on the Mesa Top Trail. I didn't get to the top, and I have a long way to go to make it all in one push while staying on the bike, but it gives me a training benchmark for Leadville. Not only should it stay relatively dry through the winter (assuming hte Old Farmers' Almanac can be trusted) but it is accessible while being a stout challenge for me. The gully climb gains 400 ft in 0.36 miles.

East facing gully, NTM

When I rode the OBS I only got a few pedal strokes up the initial steep section and I ended up walking the remainder. Today I got almost past the initial section to the first reprieve (there are two on the climb). The second steep section is loose as well as wicked steep.

Compared to the first climb at Leadville, St. Kevin's, which is 876 ft gain in 2.25 miles I think we're looking at a good training run.

St. Kevin's

The dreaded Powerline comes first as a descent, which is apparently a deal breaker for many riders. We'll come back to it later, but first, the next major climb is Columbine Mine. Egad! Over 3,150 ft of gain in 7.8 miles!!!

Columbine Mine Climb

Columbine gets you to the halfway point. At the top you turn around and go back down. There is only one significant obstacle left...Powerline. At nearly 80 miles into the ride you go back over Sugarloaf Mountain via the Powerline Climb. While not as big as Columbine, you have so much mileage and elevation dragging behind you it can ultimately shut you out of finishing. Many people walk up the climb. Many collapsse on the sides of the trail weeping. Many give up. Many don't make it that far and get pulled from the race.

With most of the race behind you Poweline throws a climb 3.5 miles long that gains over 1,400 ft. Shazaam!!!

Powerline on the return

So while my gully climb benchmark will be a good measuring tool for me, it will in no way replicate what I'll face during the LV 100. I'll have to look further afield for those challenges.

In the meantime I will continue to grind away at the Mesa Top Trail. I'd hope to bring it down to my level through sheer erosion, but I want to rise up to the level it offers instead.

PS, No photos during today's ride because my phone went dead. I'll get some good ones of NTM soon! Promise!

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