Friday, October 17, 2008

Worst Bike Week Ever

The past six days have been pretty brutal. Way too much time spent in cars and planes and little time to ride. Hill Junkie gets cranky when going more than a couple days without a good endorphin fix.

Mid race Iron Cross. I referred to this as my "kid train." Actually, only one of these guys was 19, the mountain biker 42, the rest early 30's. I still felt old at 46. Number 274 off the back is only one to beat me and by 6 minutes. Phot credit Judy.

The Iron Cross race entailed about 15hrs of driving Sat/Sun. 8hrs in a Scion xD after totally destroying the legs made certain week-long rigor mortis set in. Monday contained about 8hrs driving/airport/flying time. Tuesday I was held hostage all day in a lab. More hostage time and another 10hrs total travel time made up my day on Wednesday. Throw in answering work emails each morning and evening meant I was getting only about 5hrs sleep per night. I can function ok on 7hrs, but 8hrs is ideal. After getting back very late Wednesday night due to delays at O'Hare, I had a 2.3hr drive early Thursday to Okemo Mountain Resort for a kick-off planning meeting of the BUMPS Challenge (more on this later).

I tried to get out late Tuesday night on the rollerskis in Rochester, MN. The Douglas Rail Trail was greasy leaf covered and utterly unskateable. To make matters worse, the telescoping hiking poles I borrowed for this trip didn't extend nearly long enough for skate technique, precluding a double pole workout. I found a little strip that was clear of leaves and did many repeats, having to stop to turn around at each end. I really couldn't get HR into aerobic realm. No endorphin fix here.

After descending Okemo, I was rewarded with this view.

Thursday afternoon would be my first chance to ride all week. Of course, a large frontal system decided to roost over New England. It poured buckets during the meeting. It tapered to a cold drizzle by the time we concluded and I kitted up. I decided to go right into the Okemo climb with no warmup to avoid freezing. I promptly flatted. Needless to say, the contents of my Camelbak came flying out with a little to much aggression and I had to scrounge for a few items in the wet grass. A few days of airport and conference room food was not good for the waist line. My weight is up about 6 lbs from my mid summer low. Factor in a heavy bike, 10 lb Camelback, well, I suffered going up Okemo. To make matters worse, it was slimy leaf covered. I could not stand without slipping. More weight = slower speed = lower cadence + biggish gears = mash fest. It took me 47 minutes from Gore Inn to reach summit. The decent was uber dicy. I barely had brake pads left when I reached the bottom.

Scenic Rt 131. Imagine if the sun was out.

At least when I reached the bottom, the rain momentarily stopped. I figured I would not have enough daylight left to do full Tyson Rd/Rt 131 loop as planned, so I set out to do just a Tyson Rd out and back. I have never climbed Tyson Rd from Rt 100. It is much steeper on this side. It started to rain again as I climbed. Upon reaching the summit, I was feeling quite trashed after climbing less than 4000ft. I was still reeling from the damage Iron Cross did. I decided I hadn't ridden all week, and I might as well chance the full loop anyway. How's that logic? The descent to Reading is quite nice, has a nice groove to it. Same with Rt 106 to pick up Rt 131. Slight down hill bias, plus tail wind helped here.

Rt 131 is designated a national scenic byway. The fall foliage was splendid, but dank, drizzly overcast didn't exactly bring out the vibrant color. Riding 131 back to Ludlow is a 12 mile gradual climb. I hadn't felt my feet since summitting Tyson Rd. The rest of me stayed reasonable warm. I didn't eat anything during the ride, but I did have a nice "conference room" meal during the meeting. I was thoroughly depleted finishing this 45mi, 2.8hr ride with upwards of 5000ft of climbing in it. Of course, the moon came out on the drive home. At least I got my endorphin fix.

On more positive notes, the good folks that run Iron Cross are going to mail my race winnings. I believe this is $75. This is excellent payout for a 5th place masters finish.

I was caught off-guard in Chicago when sitting down to make my connection. Somebody asked me if I was Dan. Many people call me Dan. A guy I worked with for four years at Raytheon called me Dan and I gave up correcting him. I just answered to Dan to this guy. Anyway, I said "you mean Doug?" It was Mike Downes from Seattle who was familiar with my website. He was out for the Mt Washington hillclimb this year.

I have a big ride planned for Sunday, a PV-NEMBA epic organized by Steve Rossi. The ride will take 5-7hrs and follows bony ridgeline from somewhere in Connecticut back to Agawam, Mass. Weather looks good and fall foliage should be peaking in that area about now.

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