Last week I learned what it meant to really stand on the edge of the abyss and look into it and not really know what was going on.
Learning how to train without a dedicated coach, I think, is a process. A learning process. I'd been doing really well with the help from Luke and lately with Justin helping to layout specific workouts at lunch and ride with me. Two weeks ago I felt like I was nailing the workouts. The weekend started out well, and hit a low point Sunday after some super steep climbing… Tuesday I was still sore, but put in 1:40 of ride time anyway, and did the same on Wednesday, with some LT efforts on the climbs. Wednesday night I ran out of gas, and by Thursday I was a complete wreck. I started out eating way more food than normal, and was hungry for it. Stressed out all day (it had been a long week emotionally anyway), wasn't sure how to handle stuff, got into arguments… I was fine as far as looking forward to the ride, but I broke down less than an hour in, and due to arguments Justin called the ride. Probably for the best, but I didn't want to quit and give in.
Luckily we got home early and I was able to pack for the weekend. By Friday I'd done some re-assessing, and by the time Saturday came around and Justin got back from his bike fit I was mentally feeling good, even though phyiscally my legs weren't feeling spectacular.
Justin got his new bike fit from Mike at Max Performance Bike Fit. I thoroughly enjoyed mine, so wanted Justin to get himself fit properly to his new race steed also. He was stoked on the fit, and picked Mike's brain about my recent issues. So, I'm working on a few things now to try to get myself where I need to be. I'm glad that I learned what I did last week last week, instead of in the middle of summer and the peak of racing. Needless to say, I'm ordering up a few nutritionals and changing a few things I buy at the store to help myself out. I was eating plenty, but I need to add in more red meat and probably more protein to stop muscle breakdown as well.
I'm working on ending some of my obsession with numbers - we'll see how that goes!
Saturday I had a loose idea of a mountain bike ride we could do. It was really freaking hot when we parked a few road miles away from the fire road climb, but we headed out with about 45oz of liquid and plenty of food. It took some time to find the route, and up we started to climb. I was sweating like crazy.
About a mile up the climb I noticed a weird jerking with every rotation of the cranks. I stopped and told Justin. He was sort of on edge from the hard block of training, the heat, lack of food, etc. He hopped on my bike and said it was just the suspension.
I questioned that again, and he eventually found my cranks were loose. They'd be fine the entire climb until then. So, we "rode" (I sat with no pressure on the pedals down a rocky fire road descent - un yay!) back to the truck. He tightened them up in about 3 seconds, and we drove back up to where we'd ride from dirt again. We had something to eat, had a few sips of water, and took off. I didn't think we needed to refill the bottles since we hadn't drained that much to begin with.
Not too long after we met up with Dunn Rd. was I noticing that I mentally wasn't there. The legs were climbing fine, the HR had settled down, the heat wasn't bugging…it was just a boring fire road that I didn't know and had no idea where we'd wind up.
The views were pretty cool.
I kept looking at the clock thinking, "How much further do we have to go?" We got to the famous tractor and intersection of a few trails and stopped to take a few pictures.
We took one singletrack offshoot and wound up in a sandy wash. With no idea of how much longer that went on, we turned around to head back to the fire road.
As we were about to head up the fire road some more (actually there was a bit of descent and then some flat pedaling in our future, it appeared) I noticed the trail sign for another singletrack, so we opted for that instead. It had been part of the Palm Canyon Epic ride that we were a part of a few years ago, but due to a few mechanicals we opted for a descent down to town instead of more climbing and riding that afternoon. I had no idea how long it was, or how much climbing was required to get back out. We decided to ride it for a bit and see where it lead.
Desert in bloom
Eventually we got to a bit of a lookout, but I couldn't see where the trail lead. Justin opted to continue, despite the fact that our liquids were running low.
Down and down we continued… I stopped worrying about running out of liquid and instead started having fun on the descent.
We wound up seeing another mountain biker stopped on the trail looking at his drivetrain, and he gave a few ideas of directions, so I felt okay about the ride back out.
We got through the next two sandy wash sections (very short) and I knew we were close to the fire road again. I started to hammer through the rolling terrain and shared my appreciation to Justin for pushing on so we could enjoy *some* part of the day. It was a pretty fun singletrack, and I almost wish we would've gone back and done it again! :) We did wind up running out of water after our last food break, right before the descent.
I decided to bring "real food"
We got back and snacked a ton, then Justin set to work making some BBQ'd pizza! Just like a few weeks ago, only twice as much and on the grill. It was delish.
After that someone said Girl Scout cookies, and I think I ate half a box of the Caramel Delites by myself! Soo good! Went to sleep too late, and way too full, but that's what weekend's away are for, right?
Sunday we got up and I made a huge bowl of oatmeal, we downed some coffee, and sat around planning the route. We got a later start than planned, but it worked out. I wasn't even remotely hungry on the ride out, and made sure to have a gel shot and fruit leather before we started our "climb" just because I didn't want to bonk.
Once we "rolled" into Palm Springs proper it got really windy.
The head wind was so crazy heading toward the Tramway Rd. that our speed dropped from about 18 to 12.
Yeah, the sign is being blown around.
We made the left turn and headed up the road, with mostly a crosswind. I don't recall it being really bad as we took off, but I do remember that all of a sudden my pace slowed to a crawl thanks to the grade going up from about 1-2% to 8-9%! It sneaks up on you.
Justin started pulling away, and moreso as we reached Elevation: 1000ft
I tried to keep a steady pace. The grade wavered between 8-9% and 10-12% pretty steady. It didn't APPEAR steep, but I was moseying along in my granny feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere.
Getting harder to breathe, but it wasn't the "jump" in elevation, just the steady grade
I could see the parking lots for the Tram and a guy directing traffic and figured I had to be close. Out of the saddle, cranking along, getting nowhere… a guy with a big lens takes a few pictures as I drool on my top tube and sit back down, briefly…the grade got up to about 16% and didn't dip below 13% again until we got to the top.
Justin had rolled back down to me after he got to the upper parking area and I asked where he stopped his "lap". I stopped mine at the bridge also. 0:30:44. Not too bad considering it was the last day of my build cycle, I had teetered on overtraining, and the legs weren't feeling all that great anyway. No idea what typical times up the hill are, but I was satisfied. It was 3.6 miles on my Garmin, and I believe around 2400ft of climbing.
We out of the saddle climbed the short bit to the main building, and sat down on the benches to rest and eat.
After a bar, refilled bottles, a few pictures, and getting cold from the crazy chilly wind we decided it was high time to descend.
I had been digging the cycling cap keeping the sun from my face, but as soon as we turned downward I was completely convinced my helmet straps were going to break loose and my hat was going to go flying with the helmet attached. The wind was RIDICULOUS!!! We got to a short rise and I pulled off to turn the hat backwards and re-tighten the helmet.
It was a bit better after that, until the last half-mile or so. Then a crazy crosswind hit me and I thought no less than 3-4 times that my bike and I were going over. I slowed down a ton to try to fight the forces and keep it in control!
We got back to Highway 111 and it was SMOOTH AND FAST sailing for a few miles with a CRAZY tailwind! So much fun going 28MPH and barely turning the pedals over.
The rest of the ride back was pretty uneventful. I did note, though, that despite pretty bad road surfaces and super narrow crowded roads, the drivers in the PS area are much nicer, more respectful, and more forgiving than any locally. It was freaking Sunday and we only got yelled at out of a truck once, and I don't think anyone swerved at us. We can't ride anywhere in town for more than 5 minutes without both of the above happening 2-3 times. Weird, huh?
My mom and her boyfriend were pretty proud of our effort, so after we ate leftover pizza (and I had a few more cookies) and we headed over after their golf game they introduced us to a ton of people saying we just got back from riding over to the tram and back. A few of the ladies said they wouldn't have driven their car that far!
It wasn't a huge ride by any means, but we both felt like it was a solid ride and were fairly tired after. We hung out for a bit lounging around, then headed home to register for the Downieville Classic (All-Mountain World Championship!). I logged in right at 8 and while I knew it sold out before, kind of laughed it off when Justin asked if we got in. This morning I checked before lunch and all of the AM categories were full. Glad I registered last night!
We're hoping we can get up there a few days early to do some preriding, testing, and acclimating! Either way, should be good times. I love it up there.
And, I wouldn't want to forget the exciting news of the day! I'd requested an upgrade following Bonelli, just to see one last time if I should stick it out and pick up jerseys like they were going out of style this year, or fight tooth and nail to finish mid-pack with an upgrade. I hadn't heard *anything* so I started sending out inquiry emails. Later this morning I got my news…
"The following request to change your NORBA category has been approved and processed…"
Stoked! And nervous. But, I'm pretty excited. No time like the present to step it up and see what happens. I don't know how I'll do this year, but I'm going out to do the best I can at the events I attend, and learn as much as possible.
Looking at my ATP (Annual Training Plan) I now have crossed off two of my season goals. STOKED! I think the remaining goal I chose really wasn't appropriate to my season, so if I don't wind up hitting that one, I won't be too disappointed. Probably would've been better served to pick a goal that had something to do with XC instead of big time endurance. But, my focus sort of changed after last November. At any rate. My training objectives are also going well, and I think 2009 is really shaping up. I'm excited for what the year will bring and hope I can look back on it as a success.