Eric Hunner’s Counting Coup 2009 Race Report

–RL Policar: Counting Coup has to be one of the tougher races hosted here in SoCal. On race day, it was estimated that over 300 riders participated in this yearly masochistic fest. Once again, our very own Eric Hunner didn’t disappoint us by racing this event with his single speed.

The results of my last MTNbike event have been posted, the 44 mile, 8,000 +- feet of elevation gain “Counting Coup” 2009 Pow Wow, 10th place overall, 2nd Rigid Singlespeed, 05:09:55 time, 320 plate, age 30. I beat my 2008 time in this event by 8 minutes, this was the most important thing to do in this event. I wanted to come in under five hours, it just didn’t happen. It was bitter cold on March 7, 2009. The event started at 05:30am in the dark. I was armed with a Mini Mag 2 AA LED flashlight zip tied to my helmet, this little light supplied plenty of power until sunrise, don’t knock it until you try it.

I was greeted by The “Moe” at the start of the race, he has some really pictures of Eric Young my buddy, and myself with sunblock not rubbed in, all over my face. I was a little distracted when applying sunblock due to the events early start and trying to make coffee on a Coleman Stove, I think next year I am going to stay at home the night before the race and not camp. I love camping but I am aiming for the Vision Quest next year on a SS. I am going to need every bit of luck next year to finish the VQ one of the 10 most difficult MTN Bike events in the country, and still be able to move when it is all done.

The Pow Wow started on time and we were off to Beeks place, some 10 miles away uphill. I am greeted by Joe “Mama Jamma” about an hour later. He snapped some sweet pictures and gave me some support to dig out steep climb around the corner.

The other riders around me looked at me like they wanted some support from their peers as well. I pedaled another 12 miles before a rocky, narrow switchback called Motorway. I made it down even passing three full suspension bikes, and letting two speed demons pass me as to not be in the way. I get to the first aid station and go to take my Ergon Backpack off to refill the bladder, I had to get help from one the volunteers to get my pack unclasped. My hands were freezing and rattled after coming down Motorway on a rigid bike. Soon my hands were feeling normal again, I was refueled and ready to climb Maple Springs. I caught up to my biggest competition at the SRC race’s Mr. Rod Leveque and offered him some teriyaki turkey jerky, he looked at me like I was crazy. Rod was in the Vision Quest (56 mile) event on gears. We had some friendly hill climbing competition together eventually he broke away.

I was able to pedal up most of the hills this year, I removed my Spot hub and laced in a new Hope SS hub days before the race. With this change I had a built in travel alarm for hikers, and was able to easily change my gearing to 32×20, last year I ran 32×18 and fought cramps early in the morning and hiked most of the steep terrain. Being able to pedal most of the hills this year feels better than walking, and its faster. I thought I would able to come in under five hours with not hiking as much this year but two factors were the snowy ice on top of Saddleback mountain slowed me down, and the bitter cold, it took me forever to feel my burn. The cold weather was keeping me numb.

After all the climbing I was again greeted with another downhill to the finish line, if you have never been down Upper Holy Jim put it on your short to do list, if you like scary ruts going into corners, rocks, stairs steps, gravel, switchback’s, rollers, high speed action for some 10 miles. I made it though the 44 miles without injury, bike failure, or cramps thanks to SportLegs, six liters of fluid while riding. Next year I aim to step it up to the Vision Quest (56 mile) and keep climbing when I get to the bottom of Holy Jim. It is time to start training for next year’s Pow Wow already

To see more of Eric’s photos from the event (56 total!), check out the Counting Coup Flickr Set.

Eric Hunner: SRC #4 and a training ride to follow. A long day in the saddle

RL Policar-Eric never stops to amaze me. Not only did he race, but he went on a training ride right after the event!

My race prep started days before the actual race, this included shopping for healthy food, riding my local spots, and making a trip to Shimano to drop off some cleats to hopefully get replaced under warranty. I didn’t plan on the tread ripping from the bottom of my cleat only days before the race. It is just something I have gotten used to, bike parts breaking on me at the worst possible time. As I expected the cleats didn’t make it back in time. It was on to plan “B”; I pulled my old cleats out of retirement. I arrived early at Southridge to preride the new cross country course; I had some trouble in the fresh cut winding single track on top of the hill so I rode it few times until I cleaned it. I was warm and ready to race. I made my way back to our base camp and the rest of the MtnBikeRiders team was setting up now. I made what I thought was the last of adjustments to the bike before the start of the race.

The call goes out “All cross country racers go to the start line” I make my way over to the start and the bike feels sluggish. I spin the rear wheel and nothing until I set it down in the dirt, totally flat. I run back to our base camp and ask for a foot pump. Kim Finch {Champ} runs over with pump in hand and turns into my own personal PIT Crew. RL runs over with a new tube. I am in and out of camp fairly fast and make my way over to the start with a few minutes to spare. Teammate David Sanderson and I had a strong solid race free of mechanicals thankfully. In short course racing I have found just throwing your chain off will cost you positions on the podium. Better make sure your ride is solid. David Sanderson finished fourth, and I finished third. I just finished my seventh short course race 18 miles or less since the longer events of 2008. The shorter races every couple of weeks is great for staying competitive and prepared for the longer races.

I left Southridge shortly after my race concluded and headed towards Saddleback Mountain to add some more miles for training and to break my body down to see how far I can push myself. The next event for me is the “Counting Coup” put on by the Warriors Society this event is 44 miles long and is a real test to even finish. I will be doing this on a single speed again as I did in 2008.

I parked my truck on Blackstar road and grabbed my bike and backpack that was still set up for short course [one tube, pump, tire irons, no patch kit]. After some grueling miles climbing Blackstar Canyon especially after a race I made it to “Beaks Place”. Moments later the rear flats again just as it did before the race. What a perfect time to take a break at “Beaks Place”. I tear into the rear tire and find that the rim tape had failed. I now remember that my tools and tubes are limited and not set up for epic rides. I carefully reset the rim tape and install my only tube. I continued for another mile and a half on Main Divide road and came up and some shuttled Downhillers, they were about to drop in but hit me up for some allen wrenches, that I had. I chatted with these 4 guys wearing assorted items from “The PATH” before they dropped into Corona, I decided it best that I turn around and head for home.

This part of the story ends much like it started. My Team & Friends bailed me out-and kept me rolling. Upon my decent down Main Divide I came up on a couple taking a break at “Beaks Place”, just as I pass the woman she said, “Hi Eric” I then realize it is my friend Shannon. Shannon is one of my friends that rides in our group on Wednesday’s (Shannon was out training for the Counting Coup as well).
Shannon and Robert were resting after their climb up Blackstar. We chatted for a bit and continued downhill. About ten minutes later I was out of the game with a pinch flat no more tubes or patch kit. I tried to tie the inner tube in a knot at the cut, but it didn’t seal. Just then Shannon and Robert came around the corner and threw me a tube. Luckily they stayed with me, it was not my day. As I was filling the tire with air the valve stem broke in half. Shannon throws me a second tube this one was Animal approved much better quality. The tire holds air and we ride for another six miles, we get to the road safely without walking. Day’s Total 6 mile warm up lap, 12 miles of racing, 23 miles of post race training, 4 inner tubes, 2 gallons of water, 1 gallon of Gatorade, 5 Power Bars, 1 bag of Turkey Jerky, half pound of trail mix, 4 bananas, 2 apples, 1 orange, 10 sport legs, and a hard lesson to bring the proper supplies when going on longer rides= priceless.

It’s nice to have great friends to help you when you need it, and don’t hesitate to stop and help someone on the trail. You just might meet someone really cool.

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Thanks to the dude on the Single Speed

This past weekend, as you may have read in Moe’s pictorial ride report that we rode Aliso Woods. On our way down to a place called Dripping Cave, we stopped to rest and wait for the remainder of our group to catch up. As we were waiting this guy on a green single speed muscles his way up one of the hills. So in my normal social way, I started talking to the guy about single speeding and how I was at this same trail a few days ago with my SS and even commented on how hard it was.
sette reken singlespeed
He began telling us that he has been single speeding for nearly 5 years and that SS bikes are better because there’s less maintenance involved with them. It wasn’t until recently that he actually broke something on his bike, the chain. Joe Solancho asked him about the shirt he was wearing, Warrior Society…one of OC’s premiere mountain biking club/teams that are always hosting some crazy race. This fella tells us that he recently broke a new course record on his rigid SS at the Counting Coup race…Before I go on, just picture this guy to be super buff and veins are popping out everywhere. I’ve always have heard about SS riders are buffer because they are constantly grinding through everything. At the same time they’re are pushing and pulling on the bars which in return they get an upper body workout…

After we said our goodbyes, this guy, I think his name is Eric Hunner, I looked up the race results…left a pretty big impression on me. I was motivated to start riding my single speed more than I do my geared bikes. Mind you, this Saturday was the first time I had been on my geared bike since I’ve built up my SS…almost 3 months.

Anyway, because of this stranger I have this new found need to make sure that I master my single speed riding. I know it will be tough and I’m sure I’ll puke a few times, but having to put your body through that kind of harsh work is going to just make me a better rider as a whole.

I do feel kinda wrong talking about how a passing stranger made some sort of impact on me…it almost sounds Smurf encounter. But who cares, I’m pretty glad I did run into that fella, I’m sure its going to help me in the long run.