Sunday, May 4, 2014

Essential Exhaustion

Posting has been rather sparse lately. Work demands more of my time than I would like for this time of the year. When budgeting time for sleep, riding and writing about riding, guess what comes out on the bottom of that trade? At least my work is interesting and I'm teamed up with some of the best people in the company. That helps make ridiculous schedules a little more bearable. I have lots of topics I'd like to share but not enough time to do them justice right now.

Training, if I can really call it that anymore, is barely limping along too. I can't get as much riding in during the week as I would like. Maybe one day with some intensity, and another day with some steady state. That's it. Add in two very easy pace (8.5-9min/mi) runs, that's my work week. Running is very efficient, as there is no bike to maintain and kitting up requires much less equipment.

I run only for bone health. It's been going on two years since my last bone density scan. I pan to request a scan as part of a routine physical this fall. I'd really like to see an improvement, but I'd take no loss as a minor victory as well. Guys my age expect to see decline in bone mass. Having the bone density of a 70 year old woman still causes me to regularly assess risks of riding and competition.

Weekends are less time crunched. Saturdays have typically been 4-5hr hard paced rides with 2-3hrs easier paced rides on Sunday. 70% of my training load two days a week. Some may ask what are you training for if you don't race anymore? Fair question. Exercise has always been a process of achieving and maintaining health. We're not just talking VOmax scores here, but mental acuity too. In fact, it has dawned on me several times over the last few months that my mind has never been clearer and sharper in my life. Regular exercise plays a major role in this. A daily does of exercise is my stress release button. It is a control-alt-delete for the mind. I could say my riding is training for peak brain performance.

The riding this past weekend included a 4.5hr hillfest with Dave and Brett on Saturday and an easier, flatter trail ride with my son Aaron on Sunday. I actually got more than a pittance of sleep Friday and felt somewhat fresh for Saturday's hillfest. The three of us headed out of Hollis, passing through too many towns to name, even hitting a couple roads I've never been on. After many super-threshold efforts, we hit Pack Monadnock mid-ride. None of us had granny gearing. I was somewhat dreading the last 0.2 miles of 20% grade. Dave had the least suitable gearing and wisely sat the summit climb out. Brett and I pummeled ourselves. The depth of exhaustion was perversely satisfying.

Brett summitting Pack. Exhausted but satisfied.

Looking down Pack's 20% grade

I think that was the first 12% average grade descent I've gone down since my wreck on Mt Kearsarge last summer. Weirded me out some, flinching on every frost heave on the way down.  Of course, that wasn't the end of climbing. We still had 9% Pead Hill and that nasty neighborhood climb to Mont Vernon. From there it's a long haul back to Hollis. We couldn't just take Rt 122 all the way back either. Too busy. Federal Hill, baby! That threw in a final lengthy section of gravel into the ride. We finished with 78mi, 7500ft of climbing in 4.5hrs.

My son picked up a mountain bike about a month ago and has been riding quite a bit. Sunday I asked if he wanted to give my "C-towns" loop a try. It would be the longest trail ride he'd ever done, about 34 miles. The weather was a tad questionable, with bits of rain swirling all around us in nor'easter fashion. We'd give it a try anyway. I'd get an easy-ish flat day out of it and Aaron would get a good endurance workout.

Aaron on beaver dam crossing on Old Morse Rd

Near top of Indian Hill, momentary track stand before toppling over

Aaron had ridden Great Brook with me a while back when on leave from the Navy. He hadn't ridden Russell Mill before. I'm learning Aaron gravitates more toward the tech and less toward the cardio/endurance side of the sport. That might change as he builds cardio base. He liked the perimeter loop of RM.

As we worked our way through Carlisle and Bedford on mix of conservation singletrack and rail trails, Aaron didn't find that material as inspiring. I like it because when I want a solid steady-state cardio workout, I can get it there off-road without worrying about cars. Hill Junkie perspective, I guess.

Threading the needle in Thanksgiving Forest.

Almost made it.  Exhausted but satisfied.

The pump track was being worked on when we started the ride. Aaron wanted to check it out
when we got back. He can almost pump it all the way around. I can't.

A pass through Estabrook and Old Morse Rd brought us back into Great Brook. I had to go the hard way up Indian Hill to finish the ride, lest Aaron thought the whole ride was technically too easy. Aaron met his match on that hill with a mishap on the ledge step-ups. Hope he'll still ride with me after that. Just some minor granite rash. We got back with 34mi in 3.2hrs moving time, narrowly escaping all-out downpours multiple times.

Despite hectic schedule and chaotic training, I'm feeling pretty good about my fitness right now. Staying injury free at the moment. Can't ask for more than that. I signed up for the Wachusett hillclimb race next weekend. I don't expect any miracles there. My targeted events come much later in the season, Mt Washington, Vermont 50 and Ironcross.

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