Race Report Part 2: Vapor Trail 125

by Sonya on September 11, 2012

Seriously, how can I write ONE post to talk about what happened in 17.5 hours!

So I left Snowblind with a guy and we were heading down a dirt road. I had broken my GPS mount in a high speed crash, so my GPS was now in my bag. I saw 4 flags on the right and I looked left and saw nothing. We were going downhill fast on a paved road. I pulled mY GPS out because it didn’t feel right and saw we were off course by aways. I tried not to get discouraged. I turned around and headed back up…the guy (Miguel) decided he was done for the day. In the end, it was an 8 mile detour and a little over 30 min off course! Major bummer!!

I turned to go up Old Monarch and set my resolve to crank out the climb. I caught some of the guys who where behind me. “Where did you come from!” “Extra training!!” I yelled back. I was surprised again. Despite riding all night, I still felt fresh and strong.

I couldn’t wait to drop off some of my night stuff at the Monarch Aide Station and ride the Crest Trail.

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Cruising into the aide in my typical fashion – shit eating grin

It was also great to see a familiar face! My friend Shane was there and helped me get organized. He re-fixed my GPS mount to my bike and organized my feed bag (which he snickered at the bits of rice cake stuck to everything!)

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The Crest Trail did not dissapoint! It was so amazingly fast and fun! I had a cheshire cat grin plastered to my face the whole time! I also realized that I hadn’t had any dark moments in the race. It was unusual! I still felt strong and happy and I wasn’t willing for the finish to be around the corner. Normally in a long race, I have moment or sometimes many moments where I just want it to be over. Another surprise! I saw a dog in the trail and thought, “Wow, that’s a gorgeous malamute!” I looked up and my friend, Nina Baum was there!!! I stopped to give her a couple of stanky hugs (sorry Nina) and was on my merry way. It was really great having my friends just show up for me like that!

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I still don’t understand how I still felt so strong after that long. It’s probably because I never really went super hard like I do in some of the 100s. I didn’t try to “race,” I just rode…that’s the secret for almost eternal happy legs!

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Photo: Eszter Horanyi

The Marshall/Starvation Loop started to get to me. The Starvation descent was very rough, and my body was feeling the beating after being on a hardtail for like 13 hours at this point. I enjoyed the fall colors, but my body was hurting. The climb back to Marshall Pass was the hardest climb of the race for me. That seemed to be the story for everyone. It didn’t look steep, but it was hard to get traction and it seemed to go on forever! I rocked most of the climbs in my big ring in the race. This climb? I was struggling to turn over my easiest gear. I even had to get off and walk. A couple guys passed me and I was glad because it gave me something else to look at for the very long 3-4 miles.


Tired…

Tom Purvis was at the aide station and lubed my chain for me. I hung out and had some delicious cookies, a red bull, and a sandwich before I was on my way. That was my 5th Red Bull! Insane!

Lack of sleep was starting to cause some hallucination! Random tree stumps looked like things. I saw a lady and a tent, an owl, a whale… but as I got closer, they were stumps!

I took off to Silver Creek. I was rejuvenated after hanging out and refueling at the aide station.

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I was really looking forward to riding the Rainbow Trail. A guy and I rode most of it together. It was fun because he’d beat me downhill, but I was able to ride up most of the climbs so we’d trade off. At this point, 17 hours came and went. As I rolled back to Salida on the highway, I realized that I was actually sad the race was over and I felt like I could still keep going!

My wrist was really sore in the race after about 8 hours. I was worried I rebroke it from the pain, but as soon as I got off the bike, it didn’t hurt at all. The jarring was pretty aggressive. I didn’t wear my brace until later in the race. That was a mistake, but it is not formed to my grips like my cast was!

I also had a break-through. I have had my 29er for about 6 weeks, but I got it while I was wearing a cast and didn’t get to ride it on technical trails. It’s been a process getting used to the bigger wheels. I felt uncomfortable downhill because I felt so high off the ground, and I was very timid on tech sections because I had been guarding my wrist for so long. Over the course of the VT125, my bike finally felt like it was an extension of me. I was fully comfortable descending on it, and I was able to overcome my hesitation on technical descents – my confidence finally came back and I was riding all kinds of good stuff, and going into it headstrong!

Vapor 125 was amazing! My Garmin stats at the end were 133 miles (from my off course detour), 23,000′ of climbing, and 17:40. I set a new geared course record, won the female category, and took 7th(??) in the overall. It was my longest single day event!

I want to go back next year and actually do it in “race mode” after things I’ve learned. I’m thinking somewhere around 16-16.5 hours. The getting lost cost me at least 30 minutes. My total stopped time was over an hour from my culinary tour of the aide stations (the aide stations were so awesome with great, helpful people and good food!) I could also have spent time training at altitude, done more hike abike, and carried WAY less stuff. I brought a backpack and was very much overprepared. A 10-15lb pack over 17.5 hours adds up quick…especially when you barely use anything in it. I debated the pack, but I wanted to feel safe and prepared. Now that I know what to expect, I have a better idea of what to bring.

Vapor Trail was one of the most fun races I have ever done. It had everything! I can’t wait to do it again! I was freaked out for nothing – the race was not as hard as I expected, but I do have a wild imagination!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe B. Kinman September 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Wow. Congratulations on your finish and fantastic ability to keep positive. What an amazing accomplishment. I love it when true friends show support.

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Alan Hills September 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm

My super good friend and neighbor Greg now makes all kinds of custom Nuclearproof bags for frames, seats, bars etc that racers are using for endurance races. And he will custom design exactly for a particular application and location on your bike. I recommend that you ck out his stuff at some point. That was a cool race chronology for your Vapor Trail race. Thanks! and congrats! One thing that I think helps you is that you race so happy. Those happy emotions are powerful and make you really go. Definitely stay with that. Alan

PS the Greg pack info (he’s a web loser and has no site, but he is a maestro making packs) his email is gdwheel@yahoo.com and he seems to have some web presence at http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/profile.html?u=gdw

take care Sonya and take care of that wrist. :)

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John Robinette September 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Congrats. Sounds like a great race and u had a good time. Do you do the Leadville 100?

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Sonya September 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm
Jordan September 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

You are ridiculously awesome girl! Congrats on another strong day on the bike! See you next week!

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Matt September 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Nice work Sonya! Man I was bummed to miss it this year, looks like you all had great weather! And yes, there is no feeling like dropping off that gear at Monarch…feels like a new day. Glad you enjoyed the adventure – my favorite race anywhere!

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Sonya September 15, 2012 at 2:19 am

Thanks for all the comments!

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