With The One down with mechanical issues I can’t train off-road. Thank the Maker! I’m resigned to plying the Dogrunner against asphalt. It’ll have to do for now.
That’s okay, because I haven’t been riding many stout hills of late, and I knew that was a factor even before Saturday’s ordeal. I’ve mistaken daydreaming about rides for actually getting out and training, and my pretend athleticism is catching up with me. Can’t let this frightening trend continue!
The upside to this is that I can get more miles in, and more big climbs, on the road bike than I seem to be able to manage on the mountain bike. This doesn’t scare me like you might think it would. There just isn’t enough technical climbing on the course at Leadville for me to worry about it. St. Kevin’s is straightforward. Sugarloaf Pass is straightforward. The bulk of Columbine Mine is straightforward, and the steep loose stuff at the top isn’t rideable for mere mortals like me anyway. Same goes for the worst of Powerline inbound.
I just need to be able to maintain the effort for the time needed to get over the obstacles. Leadville is less a mountain biking problem and more just a stick-to-it-ness problem. You could look at it as a long moderate mountain bike ride between hard hikes. I can hike with the best of them. That’s one thing I’m pretty darn good at. I can eat up the miles on foot like nobody else. I can do it all day. I’ve never DNFed a hike because I was too tired. And, true to form, I am more apt to bite off more than I can chew than not, even on a hike.
Like I’ve been saying: core, cardio, and general conditioning. Those are key for me at this point. And I realize I need to keep my bike legs. I can’t let that focus fall off, but I also don’t need to refine my singletrack skillz any more at this point. I’m as good as I need to be for the task at hand…in 40 some odd days.
Yesterday morning I rolled the sporty sport bike out to the road in the predawn air. It was wonderfully free of capsaicin. I tapped my Strava app on, eased a leg over the top tube in my just-woke-up stupor and pushed off into the light fog. I had the Laser and the Landing Beacon going for safety, a Styrofoam bowl on my head for the appearance of safety, and it didn’t take long before I was up to cruising speed.
I didn’t slow at the bottom of my road as I turned onto the main road. I could see far off into the lessening darkness and in the morning silence I was certain I had the road to myself for the time being. By the time I slammed into Clay City I’d only been passed by a couple of cars.
I turned onto Pompeii Road toward the place where I lived as a kid. I kept my speed over 20mph, and managed a new PR on the short, steep climb to the fork in the road. I sped on, a whisper in the dawn, over Beech Fork and onto Maple Street. On the west end Maple is hardly a street, but more of an empty, straight country road. Across the river bottoms I flew, taking in the non-toxic, non-fiery morning air and the growing glow of the sunrise off to my left.
I shot past Red River Ranch and into the neighborhood where my maternal grandparents lived until I was a teenager. Past sleeping houses I enjoyed an empty road, the road of my apocalyptic fantasies, no cars, nothing but me and my bike. Then I rode on to Halls Lane past the high school where I steeped my angst and tempered my anti-socialism before turning back onto the main road again where I picked up another PR and maintained my KOM. Yes, I’m a Strava dork even before the sun comes up.
When I reached my driveway I had only been gone 32 minutes and had covered 10 miles. I had fully intended to be gone an hour and have to rush to get ready for work, but I’d ridden much faster than I’d expected. Maybe next time I’ll choose a longer route. Maybe the time after that I’ll ride even faster.