Bearjaw 2012

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We got this nice little write-up of the Bearjaw race from Thom F.

Anyone who has done a relay race knows the unique atmosphere in the transition area. You have a bunch of racers anxiously awaiting their teammate’s arrival where race numbers are blasted over amplifiers & each person is hoping to catch a first glance confirmation of their partner approaching. It’s kind of tense & you pass the slow moving time chatting with others or looking at the race data as you assess lap times and constantly guess on the arrival time of your mate.

Occasionally there is an arriving racer & his accompanying number being announced over the speakers repeatedly to an empty response from a no-show teammate. Everyone’s head starts scanning the area & the racer is left standing there pissed & confused that his mate isn’t relieving him. The mood of the transition area turns to shaking heads and disapproving tones, its frowned upon heavily. Then some jackass comes running into the transition area and apologizes to the response of his buddy pushing him on to the course to make up for lost time. I never wanted to be “that guy”…. the jackass.

On September 8th Flagstaff had its first 12hr mountain bike race named “Bear Jaw Groove” presented by ADESII adventures. As a local I had not ridden the course because it was far from town & just established for the race recently. The buzz amongst entrants who pre-rode it was mostly positive. The elevation was estimated at 800ft per 9-mile lap of half fire road and half singletrack.

I paired up with my Form Cycles teammate Tim & we planned to try 2 laps each rider’s turn and see how that went. Our guess was 50 minutes or less per lap. Tim, being the morning bird, always gets stuck doing the first lap at these events. The starts are always a cluster fuck of riders, crashes, dust, cold temps & stiff legs trying to get the gap. Off Tim went & I rounded up gear and tried to squeeze out one more bathroom break. I did the math in my head & figured out a safe time to arrive in the transition area.

As the leaders came through for the first lap I noted the times & quickly saw Tim approach at a close to estimated pre-race guess. Better kit up & lube that chain….one more port-a-potty date? …where is my left arm warmer?….one more cup of coffee…shit, race # is in the car…sunblock?….hmmmmm, a little more air in that rear tire….. “Dude!!! Tim just went by!!!!!”. I threw my shoes & helmet on & could hear the announcer calling my name & number. As I scrambled up through the crowd towards Tim I could see his expression & shaking head. Not cool, you are that guy.

The course started gradually climbing up a 3-mile dirt road and hit some good sustained pitches. As I pedaled up I was pretty pissed at myself & filled my head with damage control planning. My teammate ripped out a hard effort & I squandered a portion of that by leaving him high & dry. I didn’t even have my number plate on. I laughed at the possibility of me screwing up our overall race placement due to the 45 seconds I surrendered. The course was much better than I expected, we had swooping big turn singletrack over small power climbs that transitioned to some pretty steep dirt road climbs. The Ponderosa pines & beautiful old growth aspen groves yielded nice scenery as well. I would definitely recommend riding this area & doing this event in 2013.

At the 4th hour it appeared that we were in contention with 1st place men’s duo against Mike & Jason from Over The Edge Bike Shop. Two great guys that can rip singletrack proficiently. Either one dropped me on the descents when the downhill got hairy. As the day went on we would gain or lose a minute to team Over The Edge (OTE). It was back & forth each time check & it was going to be a classic nail biter. I think we all had a lousy lap, & mine was a cramp-laden effort that almost sidelined me. Thank god for 20oz of pickle juice under a shade tree during my rest period. By the 11th hour and final lap we had 49 seconds to make up to beat team OTE. As mike & I waited for our teammates, we both confessed to being totally thrashed and not looking forward to this final lap. The last lap for us had to be a throw down attempt on both our behalves, 1st place depended on it.

Yup, 49 goddamn seconds of poetic justice to make up.

Jason was first to fly in to hand off the lap to Mike. As Mike tore up the road & I waited for Tim impatiently and quickly noted Mike disappearing over the horizon. Then Tim came hauling up & slammed the baton in my hand. I drilled it as hard as I could up the sustained climb & stalked the road ahead for Mike. I had to make contact with him before the descent.

After an eternity I finally got a visual on Mike with less than a mile remaining of the climb. He seemed to dangle 50 yards away forever & I couldn’t close it down fast enough. Eventually I got within 10 yards but we were cresting to an immediate singletrack descent. Not good. Sure enough, Mike effortlessly floated away through the downhill. I lost view of him quickly & demoralization soon followed.

I was alone for a long time & took big risks to try and catch him. As I hit an open field I saw Mike with his bike laid over attempting to fill a puncture with air as Stans squirted everywhere. I stopped, asked what he needed and he replied that he was good & that I should go. I didn’t want to win that way but I also wasn’t bummed.

As I rode off I knew I couldn’t take anything for granted. The way things were going for me that day I figured we would sprint through the finish line. There was about 3 miles left & I had to get there as fast as possible. Just then Mike flew by me and yelled “Back on it!!!” I replied, “You fucker!!!”

He blew his first two lines through the singletrack turns & unclipped once to stay upright. I fought onto his wheel & tried to figure if & when I could get around him. It wasn’t happening, he was too fast. I stared at his back tire & it looked firm. I scrambled for a plan as real estate was quickly disappearing.

I noted that he was losing ground on the short power climbs & I jumped him on the next one. I almost blew up on the effort but was able to get a gap. I punched it and felt my legs boiling over. When I glanced back Mike seemed to be losing ground. This was it, last chance, gotta hold pace.

As the last ½ mile approached I dared to look over my shoulder & he was not there. I repeatedly looked back until I crossed the line. Soon after, Mike rolled up with a saggy rear tire. It was an incredible race & one of the best days on the bike. I’m still humbled by the stiff competition and the beauty of what bicycle racing can show you.

See you there next year!

Event website here:
Form Cycles:

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

47 Replies to “Bearjaw 2012”

  1. Thanks, Big Jonny. I felt it. That was good.

    Just one question, please and thank you kindly. Um…PICKLE JUICE? Really?? I am hopelessly gullible, so I have to ask. Is that slang for Coke, or are you serious? Pickle juice? I’m only asking ’cause there is a lot of evidence to suggest that healthy gut flora is critical to optimum health, and optimum health is critical to optimal performance. Even knowing this, and yes, even knowing pickles are packed full pro-biotics, it never occurred to me to drink pickle juice. Nope. Not once ever.

    There is a certain mad genius to it, if it’s true. I can respect that.

    Coke is alright, too, I guess…

  2. This works & DC should get into it now to grab market share!

    Although other studies seem to suggest that it’s a placebo effect

    We could corner the market with this stuff, Pickle Juice, Beetroot, Sea weeds, bone broth & Magnesium all together.

    No one would ever try to pass you because swig that & as sure as shit you’re going to Chunder, (that’s down under for Projectile Vomiting).

    Just have the logo for “DC Wonder Chunder Juice” prominently displayed on your back & no ones going to pass you, (unless there’s a Punk revival, Black Flag Rules).

  3. One time I chunder’d in a mirror and it all splatted back in my face.

    Not a good memory.

  4. Interesting studies… I wonder why none of them consider the effects of probiotics and all of the other good gut flora as a contributing factor to their effectiveness.

    Aaaaaand, if you’re packing pickles, it might be interesting to note that sauerkraut has the very highest concentrations of good gut bacteria. Again, I would never have imagined that brine could be an athlete’s best friend, but gut health is intrinsic to good performance, so I will see how it can benefit me.

    Thanks, guys. I learned something new today. :)

  5. Lets clarify its muscle cramps. Pickle juice works & will shut down those spasms if you catch it early. My old teammate carries a Gu flask w/ him @ races. I think its mostly the sodium & trace minerals / electrolyte replenishment. The southwest is dry as fuck & drunkcyclist are constantly in a state of dehydration. I’m a salty sweater (white cake residue helmet straps/jersey), and put extra salt on food, in sports drink, and supplement electrolytes days ahead of races. If you pound water only & not electrolytes you can become hyponatremic (too little sodium). Thats bad & can kill ya. Great link Dirty. And yes, Bearjaw trail / Flagstaff Nordic center is north of the San Fran peaks, check it out- beautiful. They have a rec area / xc sking, yurts & cabins to rent. Cheers

  6. Nuun tablets do the same thing and don’t taste horrible. I’ve tried the pickle juice (both on purpose and as a sneak attack by a “friend”). It’s disgusting and I’ve almost chundered both times.

    I used to be a no/low sodium person, then I moved to TX and now I put salt on my food (and carry a bottle of electrolyte replacement on rides). For the reasons that Thom says. If you sweat a lot, you need to replenish your sodium.

  7. I’m gonna have to go ahead and agree with Mr. jefe here; the secret is maintaining electrolyte levels.

    I’ve experienced rising-from-the-dead by chugging Gatorade in front of a random 7-11. I carry Nuun tablets on long, hot rides and they can be life savers. Why do they insist on adding caffeine, though? Seems unnecessary.

  8. …kim chee = asian saurkraut, same deal in helping keep up the good flora balance in your system…it’s an acquired taste for some but personally i like it…

    …probiotic capsules offer a mega-dose for the squeamish & there are so many options these days to keep your electrolytes up…

    …’gator’ade = univercity of florida ‘gators’ science lab were looking for a way to increase the performance of their athletes years ago & came up with gatorade…

    …just sayin’…

  9. Tim Noakes is awesome!

    When I was doing competitive distance running I lived off his words.

    And he appeared to be, (& still does), the lone voice crying in the wildness.

  10. …africansingle & hurben…interesting tim noakes article & while admittedly i gave it a quick perusal, the one thing that came to mind was the basic parallel between noakes information & advice & that of the old “italian cycling manual”, the “blue book”, which was our bible back in the ’70’s…

    …the particular similarity was that in those days we tended to drink less on the bike than in later years when the mantra became “…drink before you’re thirsty & eat before you’re hungry…” wherein a slight overhydration was actually advised before a serious physical effort on the bike…

    …anyway, interesting stuff & noakes basic premise has made sense to me for a good number of years now…

    …my one query would be to wonder if the physical nature of the two activities, cycling & running with their different physical attributes & stresses would alter, complicate or create differences in the results…

    …either way, it’s all in finding the balance…

  11. BGW – Yup, Kimchee is chocka blocka probiotics. Some health gurus suggest we need some form of pickle with every meal…

    When it comes to hydration and electrolyte balance, coconut water is my go-to drink – ever and always. As a girl with very low blood pressure, being super-hydrated and well salted is the only way I can keep my blood pressure in the normal range, so I’m all about electrolyte balance, and coconut water makes me feel much better in the long run than anything else out there.

    Um, and Gatorade is gross, unless you’re a big fan of sugar and food colouring.

    Just sayin… :D

  12. Gatorade *is* gross, but it’s about all the electrolyte you’re going to find at a random 7-11 on a hot day when the cramps are sneaking up on you and there’s another 1000′ of climbing before you get home…

  13. Fair enough. It’s true about the electrolyte balance, cause I pass out a lot without enough of ’em in me. I feel sorry for you folks down there, though, because here in Vancouver you can find coconut water at the sevvie, as well as Starbucks, and every grocery store in between. You’d think it’s a tropical hotspot here, what with all the coconut to be found, but alas, the weatherman would beg to differ.

    sigh… what I would do for a hot day and another thousand feet to climb…

  14. …i think babble-on was being a bit silly or facetious about her locale but i gotta say, the c-water is ubiquitous in these parts also…

    …7-11’s are into supply & demand (within reason) & i know you can find c-water in at least certain “sevvies” in marin…

    …went out to get groceries at the local natural food store last evening & after talking about it, i was craving some, so i hadda get me some kim chee whilst shopping…intense stuff but i actually love it…

    …& you’re right, babble on, it’s even a part of the morning meal (the break-fast) in certain asian cultures…

  15. The fact that you’ve been using Tailwind (brilliant branding, BTW) all summer long speaks volumes, dear Dirty. I would like to give it a go.

    It says that it’s gulten free and natural, which is perfect, but I don’t see any organic certification, and I can’t see what’s in it. Kashi says it’s natural, too, and it’s made from GMO grains, so I’m careful. Lots of corn is GMO, and corn syrup is ubiquitous. Breaking news, I’ve become quite sensitive to corn over the last several years. It’s a Yuck McClusterF**k for me now.

    And don’t even get me started on soy…

    I tried to figure out what is in Tailwind from the information on the website, but I can’t figure it out. When you do the review Dirty-boo, please do include the ingredients. Cheers!

  16. Good question.

    Ok, so your body has an immune system designed to distinguish between natural and beneficial entities within your body (for example the good flora in your gut which allows you to assimilate the nutrients from your food properly) and foreign, or toxic entities. The immune system doesn’t care if it looks like corn, smells like corn and tastes like corn, because it interacts with everything on a cellular level. It takes one look at the dna of GMO corn, with it’s strand of pesticide attached (the one which makes a bug’s belly explode once it takes a bike) and it sets off an intruder alert. Your body goes into an inflammation reaction in an effort to buffer itself from the intruder, and that is the beginning of the end.

    All disease starts from there.

  17. Cheers, that’s very kind of you. She’s an attorney at law, mum, and justice is blind, so she’d have a good excuse, but sadly, it’s all too true.

    PURE is just a lark, a great hobby, and lovely Ami is my best friend and oft-times business partner. She has a soft spot for simple souls like mine, bless her, though she claims she’s a mutant from the same planet as me. :)

  18. The problem with the GMO debate is that there’s enough of an agenda on each side to choke more than a few horses. Monsanto wants to wave their hands and have us trust that everything is safe. Nothing to see here, move along, we’ve done all the testing we need, we never make mistakes… While the other side thinks anything they don’t understand is a corporate conspiracy and will kill us yesterday. Neither are wholly true, but any reasonable discussion of GMO is quickly drowned out by people convinced that the thing they read on the internet is absolutely true because it fits in with their world-view. (Sound like anything else?) GMO is not inherently evil. If you know a diabetic, they are alive because of GMOs. That’s how we get synthetic insulin.

    Just looking at corn, there are two major types of GMO corn: pesticide resistant and Bt.

    Pesticide resistant is just that. They can spray pesticide on the corn, and it doesn’t kill it. This reduces the chance of over-spray and the quantity of pesticides needed, but also increases the chance that there is pesticide residue on the corn. Although they aren’t acutely toxic to humans, glyphosate and imidazoline aren’t something you want to eat.

    Bt corn has been modified to express a protein (it does NOT make a pesticide) from Bacillus thuringiensis that causes perforation in the digestive tracts of some insects. When the system works properly, the bug dies of sepsis because other bacteria like E. coli have made it into the rest of the bugs body. A nasty way to go if you are the bug. We are not supposed to be sensitive to this protein. “Supposed to be” is the rub. As with anything, a few people may be sensitive to this particular protein. (this is actually similar to the reaction that some people have to gluten, also a protein, and different from celiac disease)

    The studies showing tumors in rats are suspect. The ones I know of are by a French lab that uses rats prone to tumor development when they are fed unrestricted diets. Now, I have no issue with food labeling and additional testing. I’m for it. I don’t think we should trust Monsanto or ADM just because they say so. But I have a big problem with researchers who are looking for the answer they want instead of the answer the data gives them.

    For shits and giggles, lets assume that Monsanto is right and there is no health risk to humans from GMO corn. The bigger problem in the long run, is that these are temporary fixes. Yes, farmers can get a few years of better crops. Unfortunately, just like bacterial resistance to antibiotics, we are just selecting for the bugs most able to resist the Bt protein, so we have to move on to something else. There are already cases of local pest populations becoming resistant to Bt corn. We need to start working with the world around us, instead of against it. Quit expecting food to be so pretty and perfect.

    As far as our immune system, that’s not how it works. Our immune system does not read the DNA of our food. It responds to the structure of proteins. In food, the most common reaction is a histamine response on the lining of the intestine. This is different across many groups of people. I can eat all the bread I want. My GF has lower-GI issues for a week if she has more than a couple of bites.

  19. Heh heh, my question re: GMO food was leading, of course.

    There are serious issues with GMO food, but nutrition isn’t one of them. Review Michael Pollan, _The_Botany_of_Desire_; he does a good job looking at “roundup ready” potatoes. His conclusion, which is inescapable, is that GMO foods will feed the billions. As Americans, we have ready access to an astonishing variety of extremely high-quality food; we can afford to be fussy and dabble in various intolerances. For those who live in mud huts in Malaysia, it’s quite a bit less so. If you don’t like GMO, don’t eat it, but be careful when you tell a starving man what he may not eat.

    The real issue with GMO foods is that they are owned— the genome itself— by mega-corporations. The crops are sterile and farmers are legally prohibited from re-using seed. This is literally unsustainable BY DESIGN and BY LAW. I have a problem with that.

  20. This is true, for the most part, and in Canada, Bayer has already applied to have a previously banned pesticide approved for use again, because already our pesticide resistant crops are breeding increasingly resistant pests.

    Rather than drop a number of links in the comment section, however, I encourage one and all to do a little independent research on how the immune system works, and in particular, on how it “reads” DNA. It is very enlightening. Just start with a google question and see where it takes you.

    El Jefe, you are likely having an inflammation reaction to gluten, too, though it may be below the threshold at which you notice it.

  21. We are so wealthy as a nation that we take perfectly clean drinkable water and flush our toilets with it. We have lost the ability to look at things from a global perspective.

    I could be wrong, but I think the “kill gene” is actually in very few GMO plants. There is ecological reasoning behind Monsanto trying to keep farmers from growing more of it (besides greed, which I have no doubt is their main reason). The more of it that is out there, the shorter time it will be effective. It doesn’t kill all of the bugs (and it’s even more specific than that. It can be targeted to specific Lepidopterans in different parts of the world), so those that survive are more resistant. Pretty soon we’re back to spraying more pesticides and have created a “superbug”.

  22. Babble on, possibly. I’ve cut way back, just because it’s easier than cooking two meals. I feel better and have lost some weight, but it’s impossible to say whether that’s from the gluten, or the removal of a bunch of filler food and eating healthier. I still drink beer. I still eat flour tortillas when my GF is out of town. I still eat the occasional pizza. I still eat sandwiches, but I use the sprouted grain hippie bread (which actually tastes better). I am in no way gluten free.

  23. @el jefe— whatever you do man, try to gain admission to the race circuit first thing Thursday morning. That’s when they usually do the fan schmooze deals, and those cars make NASA look like a high school science project. Some fans tore down the chain link and we got into Parc Ferme after the GP du Canada some years back and I was astonished at how tiny the cars were.

  24. @Mikey, I wish I could. They had one of the cars (I forget which team) on display in the engineering building on campus for a couple of days. You’re right, it’s unbelievable how small those cars are. The thought of that much power in such a little car is frightening.

  25. Yeah, ~900 horsepower in a car that weighs ~1500 pounds, do the math… holy shit.

    Yesterday’s race at Abu Dhabi was nuts— six different cars in the top six finishing positions, with a Lotus out front. We can only hope that the U.S. round is anywhere near as entertaining. (I still predict that young Mr. Vettel leads through the first turn and drives away.)

  26. Read “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi. Scifi at it’s best. Perhaps even in the category of speculative fiction. This novel’s contribution to the GMO debate is the idea that the natural genetic seed stock of the world’s plants has been almost completely supplanted by those that are genetically engineered to be sterile to increase the corporation profits.

  27. Well, when one takes a step back and looks at what any plant or animal genome actually is, selective breeding is just a different way to do “genetic modification” as chemically splicing non-natural genes in. Thus, most of the current brouhaha about “GMO” is merely another emotional response born of ignorance.

    The business ethics are a little different. I’m not happy with ADM, Monsanto or whoever literally owning the life forms that humanity depend on for their very existence. If this isn’t an argument for capital-S Socialism, I don’t know what is. The corporatocracy is not serving.

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  29. Actually, selective breeding has caused problems of its own. Thirty years ago we bred wheat to have a larger head, and that was cool, but it kept breaking in a strong breeze before it matured, so we bred it to have a shorter stalk, and when we did that we changed the nature of the protein in the grain and gluten intolerance was born.

    The wheat we know today has nothing to do with the grain named the staff of life in the bible. Quinoa is a lot closer.

    Even so, GMO is a whole order of magnitude worse in terms of our body’s immune response to an unrecognised intruder.

    And yes, heirloom seeds, or real food seeds, are an increasingly rare and valuable commodity.

    We are so messed up.