Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Summer of Long Live Long Rides

Much going on right now. Work is keeping me too busy. A kitchen project that was supposed to be a winter project turned into a summer project. I work late, then come home and case a window, hook up a new sink or cut and set 10-15 travertine back splash tiles. Seventeen years in our house, it was about time to upgrade the Formica counters with granite and natural stone back splash.

Figures last night, just as I was getting into the project, the power goes out. Our power goes out about twice a month, sometimes hours at a time, for no reason at all. And for this quality of service, we just started paying Liberty Utilities about 30% more. Then we get a notice that another rate hike has been approved. WTF Liberty. For even more money, can I expect even more power outages? Where I grew up it was extremely rare for the power to go out, and it was out in the sticks of rural Michigan.  I had hoped to put a HJ post up last night, but no power, no bloggy time.

I've pretty much abandoned the idea that I'm a bicycle racer. I haven't renewed my license in over two years, and this year doesn't look any better. I've never been happier riding. With high levels of stress at work and not getting enough sleep most nights, I question whether I'm sometimes suffering from adrenal fatigue. You can only push so hard for so long before something breaks. I have zero mental energy to compete right now. Many days at work feel like a crit. There are attacks, you cover them, get back on, only to be attacked again. You have only so many matches in your book, and when they are all burned, you get dropped. My match book feels half empty most of the time lately.

That is why I cherish the long off-road rides so much. They don't require much mental energy. In fact, being out in nature is mentally stimulating even while you are physically running your body into the ground. It is a different kind of fatigue that balances the daily mental stress. Lets you sleep better at night.

This past weekend I did two off-road 50 milers. Other than trips, I've never done two 50 mile trail rides in the same weekend, especially riding with others at fairly rigorous levels.

On Friday I hooked up with Paul to ride the Massabesic-Bear Brook loop, a loop Paul crashed out of a couple years ago with a broken collar bone. Conditions were stunningly beautiful. Completely dry, sunny and low humidity. I didn't want to go too hard of a pace, as I had another 50 miler planned with others on Sunday. I had severe reservations about this situation.

Funny how two guys not going hard ends up being a hard ride anyway. We each blamed the other for driving the pace. Silly male egos and testosterone. Even an easy ride can't be easy, because if your easy pace is too easy, then you must really be a wuss. Or something like that is how the subconscious male mind must work. Regardless, we had a great ride, no mishaps and my fastest pace ever for that loop. Yeah, easy.

On Sunday, still licking my sore muscles from Friday's ride, I joined Geoff, Soups, Luke, Dave and Ed for the GWB loop, which hits Willowdale, Georgetown-Rowley and Bradley-Palmer. You just know when two prior RAAM competitors join the ride, you are not going to be noodling along...

Legs felt ok, but not when called upon to put out top-end. Once we got into some singletrack, Geoff was lighting things up, usually with Soups in tow. I felt the pace was unsustainable, and somebody in the group was either going to wreck or blow sky high. I thought that somebody was going to be me.

Interestingly, Luke has been riding for just over a year and isn't really into the spandex thing. Geoff joked after the ride that when he saw Luke, he was like, who's this guy in baggies, he's not going to last an hour! Well, Luke was right there the whole time, other than some cramping right at the end. I was cramping too. Give Luke a few more months and he'll be schooling all of us on any terrain, any duration, in baggies.

Anyway, I was hoping the others were in as much hurt as I was as we headed to the final area, Georgetown-Rowley. I commented that surely they'll be some carnage in there. There always is. It is the most technical riding on the loop and you are the most tired.

Sure enough, the mishaps started happening. Three people hit the deck, one twice. A skinny bridge I attempted for the first time and barely made didn't bode so well for Soups. He missed the back side of the up-and-over and promptly augured in. The pace never let up. The whole ride was pretty much don't think, just go. Can't believe I didn't wreck. Sofa bike must give me some margin.

Another 50 mile loop (49mi actual measurement) at another big-time PR pace.  The two rides tallied just over 100 miles of mountain biking, mostly on singletrack. With so much quality singletrack close to home, I sometimes wonder why I would need to drive far away to ride trails.  Here are a few photos from the weekend.

Group passing equestrians in Bradley-Palmer

Luke cleaning the squeeze around boulders in Georgetown

Dave making it with a differently line

GWB ride group - Soups, HJ, Geoff, Ed, Dave and Luke

Paul on I-trail in Bear Brook

Paul on Hemlock Trail in Bear Brook

This is actually Big Bear Down. Paul captured on $120 point and shoot camera.

Paul navigating the boulders on Hedgehog Ledge Trail in Bear Brook

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sofa bikes rule! What took you so long to figure that out? They are like magic carpets.