Thornton Gap and Campton Mtn. Top 5mi of Thornton and
much of Campton climbs are gravel.
Having resumed lunch riding this week, I was feeling slightly wrecked from two hour-plus "hammer rides" on Wed/Thur. I quote "hammer ride," as my actual output is still pretty pathetic. But I can at least breath hard for an hour and come back with a mild endorphin buzz.
It hasn't rained appreciably in NH in a long time. Couple this with a week of 90+ weather, you have some pretty dry, loose, dusty roads. Tripoli Rd was the loosest I've seen it. I was very glad to be on a mountain bike with 2.25" knobby tires. A road bike would have been doable, but a miserable experience. It took me nearly 45 minutes to reach Thornton Gap, much longer than I anticipated. It was pretty warm and muggy too. I was soaked upon reaching the top. The good thing was there were no deer flies here. At my house, you can't go out to the mail box without picking up a cloud of 50 of these biting bastards.
I bombed down the other side of Thornton Gap to Waterville Valley. It is paved, sort-of, if you call non-stop frost heaves and patch work paved. I unlocked the suspension for this and was able to carry considerably more speed than on a road bike. A lot more than on skate skies too, as this is the side Waterville Valley grooms in the winter.
Top of Tripoli Rd. I can't run in boot, so I had to leave bike close to
camera, then not ride too fast and ride out of scene. Attempting to
track stand here waiting for shutter to go. My left leg is almost as skinny
as my arm.
Heading down Rt 49 back to Campton was into the wind, as it almost always is. I was felling pretty cooked already, and I wasn't out even two hours yet. I used to be able to come out here on a hardtail or cross bike and ride four hours before feeling cooked. I seriously debated bailing on the Campton climb but took a left on Chickenboro road last minute anyway.
This climb truly sucked. I barely made it with my fat tires. I don't think anybody could clean it with a road bike given the condition it was in. Grades approaching 20%, non-stop washboard bumps, and as loose as gravel gets. At one point, my speed dropped to 2.8mph and I was nearly breaking my thumb pushing for another gear. Then a work truck would come by and I'd gag dust for five minutes. I didn't bonk, but I definitely reached glycogen depletion on this climb. There are minor breaks in the steepness as a network of roads are used to reached the highest point, but essentially it was all steep. I emptied my Camelbak by the time I hit the high point. The ride from here back to the car was almost all downhill. I finished with 35 miles in 2.6hrs riding time.
My favority view from Waterville Valley's XC ski trail system.
Last year, a ride like this would not have been worth writing about. I realize now more than ever that I feel the most alive when I am riding. Even if I never see the podium again in a bike race, just being able to enjoy rides like this is reward enough. It will be interesting to see how my fitness comes back in the coming months.
I'm hoping Dr. Heaps clears me for clipped in riding when I see him on Monday. I've reached the point where the cast is a pretty big limiter right now. I haven't been able to work on lower leg strength much at all so far and still walk in the cast for the most part. I still have very poor range of motion in my talus. I have about 12 degrees dorsiflexion motion. 20 degrees is considered minimum useful in order to walk normally. What is troubling is this hasn't changed a whole lot in three weeks of physical therapy. My therapist tells me that is not unusual for still being in the boot. I need to spend more time out of it, but Dr. Heaps didn't want me doing any weight bearing out of the boot yet, other than what I do at PT. With this limited range of motion, I cannot walk without a severe limp or go down stairs at all without double stepping each step. I will need huge improvement in dorsiflexion if I am ever to skate ski again.
The freakiness of my accident is becoming less freaky as I meet more people with similar stories. Saturday morning at the Nashua River Rail Trail trailhead, I met another cyclist who destroyed his lower leg far worse than mine. How? While getting into his car, he slipped on a pizza sized patch of ice he didn't see. I broke tib/fib at the bottom and only fib at the top. He broke both at top and bottom and needed 15" pin down tib that they had to put in through his knee joint. It seems slipping on ice is one of the most common ways people bust their ankles in these parts.
I should finish the week out with over 10 hours of aerobic activity, mostly cycling outside. This is approaching normal volume for me this time of year. I haven't done anything close to VOmax intervals on the bike yet. No point while still in a cast, and I don't think my ankle or the rest of my body is ready for that yet anyway. I need at least another week of base work before turning up the intensity a notch.