2015 Tahoe Trail on the courseThe LEAP list is one of four core concepts in RESET. I added mountain bike racing to my LEAP List for 2015 as a statement about age being relative to attitude. Since I am turning 60 in 2015 I decided to make a statement about age and take up mountain bike racing. Not the normal thing most people start at age 60 which is the point. Half way through the year I have completed 3 of the events I scheduled, Barking Spider Cross Country Race, Nine to Five endurance race, and the Tahoe Trail 100 another endurance race. The LEAP List acronym stands for Learning, Experience, Adventure, and Progress. I didn’t realize that venturing into mountain bike racing was going to include all four aspects.

Learning- I learned three things

  1. It takes a lot of time to train for racing.
  2. Racing is hard and hazardous.
  3. I DON’T LIKE racing!


All three events provided additional experience points in the areas of spills and thrills. Close calls and crashes are common occurrences when racing. It was exciting to be a part of the energy and excitement surrounding the races. I was able to meet and interact with some legends in the mountain bike racing world.
Adventure- The racing events completed so far involved traveling to three distinct locations. The desert hills at the base of the Owhyee Mountains, the forested slopes at Jug Mountain Resort south east of McCall, ID, and the spectacular Lake Tahoe.


I definitely made progress in more than one area. The training improved my riding ability and speed. I have set several personal records on more than one climb in the training routes. Another area of progress was to become better at identifying what type of activities I like and why I like them. The third are of progress was improving my decision making regarding keeping the balance in my life and being congruent with my long term goals.
Based on my I have experienced and learned I predict that my racing career is going to be very short. I have at least one more race, the Leadville 100, that I am committed to on  August 15, 2015. Adjusting the experience to fit my definition of success I will be participating in the Leadville 100 as an event not a race.

The pictures are from the Tahoe Trail 100 race at the North Star Resort new Lake Tahoe.

  1. Over 700 riders starting the race. I am in the blue and green jacket on left side of the frame.
  2. Tight cornering on a dusty section of single track.
  3. Crossing the finish line at 7 hours and 7 minutes for 64 miles and 7,600 of vertical.
  4. Mary and I in post finish photo. Her smile is bigger because she beat me by 10 minutes.

2015 Tahoe Trail 100 Start photo

2015 Tahoe Trail 100 Don and Mary post finish photo

2015 Tahoe Trail 100 Crossing the finish line


Functional Age versus Actual Age

Functional Age is the relative age of how a person looks, acts, thinks, feels, and performs compared to their Actual Age. Everyone knows people that appear and act older than their actual age, as well as some that seem younger than their actual age. Actual Age cannot be changed, but Functional Age can be changed. Pushing your RESET button and deciding to make the shift in your attitude and fitness level are the primary tools for reducing Functional Age. Younger thinking and performance usually follow the shift in attitude and fitness. As hard as I find it to believe and admit, I will be turning 60 in 2015. To make a statement about Functional Age versus Actual Age is relative to the attitude, fitness, mindset, and performance, I decided to take up mountain bike racing in 2015. A few months ago, I was challenged, encouraged, and recruited by team director, Weston Wheat, to join the Wild Rockies Race Team to race in mountain bike endurance races. Accepting the challenge meant committing to training and racing. Mountain bike racing had been on my LEAP list for several years, but had never been a priority. Training started in January along with entering several races.

Race and Event Schedule

After committing to do join the Wild Rockies race team, I looked at available endurance races / events that I could schedule, allowing me to compete about once a month, April through October. Listed below are the events I have committed to, and registered for in 2015:

  • April 11: Barking Spider Cross Country Race at Reynolds Creek near Murphy, ID; sponsored by the Wild Rockies Race Series.
    • The Barking Spider is a cross-country event not an endurance event. Since I have never raced, and it is one of the early races in the season, I thought it would be a good way to get some racing event exposure.
  • May 16: Boise to Stanley, ID; sponsored by the Boise Aeros.
    • This is road bike event to be used as training. The distance is 130 miles with approximately 9,700 feet of vertical climbing, which makes it a great training ride.
  • June 6: Knobby 9 to 5 in McCall, ID; sponsored by Knobby Tire Race Series.
    • The race lasts for eight hours, between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Winners are determined by who can complete the most laps during the eight hours. Depending on the course difficulty, I hope to complete between 70 and 100 miles in the allotted eight hours.
  • July l8: Tahoe Trail 100 in Lake Tahoe, CA; sponsored by the Leadville Series.
    • This is actually a 100K race, which equates to about 60 miles. There are two things that make this race attractive: the date is about 30 days before the Leadville 100 race; it is a qualifying race for the Leadville 100, so a good finish will allow me to move up in the starting order at the Leadville 100.
  • July 25: 4 Summit Challenge, Cascade, ID.
    • This is a road bike fundraising event that used as training. The challenge covers 74 miles and a lot of vertical feet, making it another great training event for the Leadville 100.
  • August 15: Leadville 100, Leadville Colorado; sponsored by the Leadville Series.
    • There are three significant challenges to the Leadville 100. First, it is 100 miles on a mountain bike with strict time cutoffs if you want to complete the race. Second, there is approximately 13,000 feet of climbing. Third, this race takes place at high altitude. The lowest elevation on the course is approximately 9,700 feet above sea level; the highest altitude is Columbine Mine at approximately 12, 600 feet above sea level.
  • September 9: Smoke “n” Fire 400, Boise, ID.
    • This is an ‘underground’ race without sponsors or awards. It is a personal challenge event that I dropped out of last year due to a mechanical malfunction. (See Blog Series here). To date it is the hardest physical challenge I have done. The race covers 424 miles with 40,000 vertical feet of climbing while carrying an extra 25-30 pounds of equipment, food, and water on the bike.
  • October 9-11: Moab Rocks, Moab, Utah; sponsored by TransRockies Series.
    • This is a three-day stage race covering different routes in the world-famous mountain bike mecca of Moab, UT.

First Race

The Barking Spider Cross Country Mountain Bike Race, a Wild Rockies Race Event, was held at Reynolds Creek, Idaho, nestled between the Snake River and the Owhyee Mountains. I had first-time and race day “fluttters” rolled together as I prepared for the start of the race. There are three distances for the race based on which group you register with. Category 3 is the beginner class, and they do one lap on the course which is between 9 and 10 miles long. Category 2 is the sport class, and they do two laps covering a distance of 18 to 20 miles. Category 1 is the pro / elite class which does three laps making their distance 27 to 30 miles. I could have entered the beginner class, as I had never raced before. Most people start in Category 3 until they are forced to move up to Category 2 after they win 3 to 5 races. In a moment of insanity, I decided it wasn’t worth the one hour drive to only get to do one lap, so I registered for the Category 2 sport class and two laps. Instead of torturing myself for nine miles, I got to endure 18 miles. When the results were announced, I found out that I took first place in my age group for Category 2 racers. The first question I asked was if I was the only contestant in my group. The list of participants wasn’t that small, but close. Three people entered and started the race in Category 2 for my age group. One dropped out somewhere in the second lap, and I had a faster time than the other one. One of the few advantages of age is revealed in mountain bike racing. Due to the demands of the sport, the fields dwindle dramatically for the age 60 and over divisions. Having finished the race and learning I can compete in my age group, I am going to research some other cross-country and enduro races I might be able to add to my 2015 schedule.


After some research and discussion with other riders, I decided to purchase and follow the training plans offered by LW Coaching for racers 40 and older. The most significant difference in the Over-40 Training Plans is that more rest is built in to allow for older bodies to recover. I selected three plans to “stack” on each other, meaning completing one plan and following it with another. Based on my event and race goals, I elected to do the three programs listed below:

  • 12-Week Mountain Bike Base-Building Plan
  • 12-Week Mountain Bike Personal-Record, 100-Mile Race Plan
  • 12-Week Mountain Bike 3 to 5 Day, Bike-Pack Race Plan

The next step was to pick the events that I wanted to peak for, and then work backwards to schedule the start of each 12-week program.

Training Ride: April 12, 2015

Jeff Wallace and I set out on a mountain bike training ride, hoping to cover over 50 miles and 6,000 vertical feet of climbing as part of our training regime. We started late morning at about 10:30 to allow for some increase in the temperature. Morning temperatures for Boise were forecast for the high 30’s, and we would be climbing to higher altitudes. The ride ended up being the longest, having the most climbing, and was the hardest ride of the year to date. Our route ended up covering 64 miles with approximately 8,800 feet of climbing. The hard part was the result of wet and soft dirt roads compounded by multiple sections covered by snow. The snow didn’t become a problem until we reached the higher elevations on the Pine Creek Rd. (See photo one: Don standing in front of snow covering the road that we just pushed our bikes through.) Once we rode beyond the shadow of Mores Mountain, we thought we were through with snow; we were very wrong. The Boise Ridge Road also had long sections in the shadow of Mores Mountain that contained much deeper and longer drifts. (See photo two: snow-covered road behind me that we already hiked and pushed our bikes across. There was no end in sight looking ahead from this point either.) I learned that bike shoes have no insulating qualities. It didn’t take long for our feet to go numb walking in the snow. We did find a small patch of bare dirt in the snow field section that gave us a good place to rest and take in some nutrition. (see photo three: Jeff Wallace laying on the ground in sunny bare spot amidst the long trek through the snow.)




Three I’s of Improvement Interference


Photo: Hawk Central

The first three months of my 2015 Progress Pyramid reminded me about the challenges that surface whenever changes and habits for personal improvement are being made. Most goal interference falls under three categories labeled the “Three I’s of Improvement Interference.”

  1. Illness
  2. Injury
  3. Inconvenience

The first month my Progress Pyramid habit was to exercise at least one hour per day, six days a week. The second month was to hand-write and send a personal note to everyone I met with each day. For the third month, I committed to focus on improving my eating habits to eliminate sugar and processed foods. There were challenges that interfered with each new habit. Reviewing them, it became clear that the majority of the challenges fell into one of the three categories listed above.

Illness was the rarest, but one of the hardest to deal with. Being healthy the majority of the time makes it harder to cope with illness when it occurs because of the marked difference in the ability to perform. It is important to analyze the level of illness and take the appropriate action. Most functions can be accomplished when we are sick, but not with the same proficiency as when we are healthy. For super achievers there is a tendency to ignore the body’s need and demand for rest. It is best to respect the body and rest. Missing a few days of a new habit is okay. Restart the new habit development when your health is restored.

Injury is something most athletes deal with regularly. The degree of injury will dictate what level of activity can be done. Ignoring injuries and / or masking them with pain-killers are not the best option. By doing both I allowed a minor shoulder injury to progress until I lost strength and functionality in my right arm. When I finally took the appropriate action and sought treatment, I experienced rapid improvement. Seeking appropriate treatment earlier would have meant sixty days of reduced performance instead of eighteen months. If an injury is interfering with your Progress Pyramid habit, it is best to choose a different habit. Rather than aggravating the injury or giving up on your improvement plan, select a different habit to work on. Meditation and reading are good options when physical injuries interfere with a habit.

Inconvenience is the most common and hardest interference to overcome. All four areas of the Progress Pyramid habits are affected by inconvenience issues. Work schedules, travel, availability, and lack of resources all interfere with almost every type of improvement goal. Time constraints are major inconveniences that interfere with changing habits. All three of my Progress Pyramid habits started this year require more time. Exercising takes time out of the day. It takes more time to write and send a note than to type an email. Shopping for and preparing quality food is more time consuming and expensive than eating out. Commitment and discipline are required to overcome Inconvenience.

Although one may experience obstacles when trying to change habits for personal growth, it is helpful and hopeful to recognize that these interfering challenges can be recognized and overcome with time, substitute activities, or discipline.   The important take-away is to get back on track with your Progress Pyramid when the Three “I’s” are resolved, and continue to move forward with your goals.