We set out for a good hard weekend following my rekindled spirit for training and racing. Saturday we were going to be meeting up with Luke in Angelus Oaks for a killer climb up to Big Bear.
I'm testing out a set up for July since I won't have anyone to do bottle hand-offs on course...
I sort of abhor wearing this pack because it causes me a lot of lower back pain (shocking since it really is pretty light, and I have yet to fill the bladder past about 40oz?), but it is better than carrying 3 bottles in jersey pockets and having no room for anything else!
Since the effort was going to be rediculous for an hour + we did a little 6 minute or so warmup on the pavement at the bottom. Once we hit the dirt fire road Justin took off like lightning! I stood up to keep in contact and my foot came out of my pedal for the first time all year, and like forward also, not on the side. Very weird. So, automatically I was off the back!
I watched as Justin and Luke put a good gap on me, and the crazy headwind started to crush my spirit. I was worried Justin would be upset that I didn't hang on, so I just kept saying, "I'm riding this at my threshold, not his!" and kept at it. I kept ticking the 10ths of miles by and knew I was making good progress. I was holding steady at JUST below threshold and the legs were much looser than they had been a few weeks prior, but it was really painful still. The climb starts at 6300ft or so!
The views looking down through the valley toward the west/south were just gorgeous. I wanted to grab the camera and take some shots, but this climb was all about effort, not a photoshoot, so I enjoyed the scenery every now and then as I drooled and sputtered sweat off my face.
Eventually I saw Luke cruising not too far ahead. I nearly caught him and passed, but he put down some power and pulled away a bit again. We did this a few times where I'd get back to within a few bike lengths, and he'd pull away. I kept at it, just trying to keep my effort high and steady.
I knew I was getting close to the top, so put in a big time effort, only the "top" kept being just around the corner! Damn! Finally I saw Justin heading back toward me, so I knew he had reached 2N10 and turned around. I made it up to the crossing and stopped dead. My lungs were fried. I probably should've done a little spin on the flats to help my legs out, but instead I just wanted to drink (I had barely hydrated at all since I just couldn't!) and eat. My knees got cold FAST. I was soaked through, so even standing in the sun we were all getting chilly. It felt much warmer climbing up!
After we got nice and cooled down and chatted with a fellow rider the four of us headed down Plantation
Once off of the fun part and back to the rolling hills my legs were screaming. HR was low for the PE and I just wanted to get back to going downhill ;) Kept at it and was able to keep up okay. We turned off for Cabin 89 and I enjoyed the spectacular view of the lake and the gorgeous blue sky! The weather was so awesome!
We turned and headed back up Pine Knot and I somewhat found my groove sub-threshold (yay!). I felt strong enough to lead out the climb once Justin stopped to wait for the other mountain biker who wasn't familiar with the trails.
Made it to the top and felt pretty good!
After a regroup and my confusion (I thought Justin had refused to ride 2N10 back to Clark's Grade, but he was planning on a loop while I was thinking straight out and back down Pine Knot, up Cabin 89, up Plantation, etc) we headed out on 1E01 before hitting back up with 2N10.
The views were so awesome!!
My legs were seriously screaming by this point, but the boys wanted to look for a nice singletrack to descend instead of the fire road. I obliged, and we traversed back and forth for a bit. I think they found where the singletrack "was", but Justin decided it was too overgrown to attempt, so back we headed to our fire road.
On the way out we saw a buck and a fawn! It was pretty cool. They wouldn't stop moving.
On the way down I stopped to get a shot of my epic view from the morning. Unfortunately it wasn't so pretty this time around!
I'll be honest... getting back to the truck the last thing on earth I felt like doing was riding a lap at Rim Nordic. I got changed into some normal dry clothes, had some recovery drink, and once we dropped Luke off at Barton Flats enjoyed a bowl of cereal with blueberries. I really wanted to eat my PBJ, but figured I should save it for after Rim Nordic. We were both starving, but didn't give in to the temptation of fast food!
We got down to Rim Nordic and kitted up anyway because I had told Stephanie I'd ride with her, and damn if I wasn't going to do just that!! We headed into the venue to look for pitman Dan! He said Steph was due in from her 6th lap in probably 15-20 mins, perfect! We chatted with Traci, Heidi V, Jordan, and Chris in the meantime!
We were lined up and ready and Steph came in for her pit. She sat down, snacked on some food, dropped her iPod and off we went!
She was riding really strong! It was actually a perfect pace for me since it wasn't taxing my legs or lungs and it was fun to be out riding the singletrack. We cheered on the riders coming and going and had a good time out riding with Stephanie. She really was killing it on all the techy portions and on the descents. No slowing down at all!! She was talking about one climb she hated, but she still rode it out really strong for lap 7. She managed to even be leading out some of the boys!!
I ran out of water about a mile or two from the finish and was feeling seriously bonkish. I had taken a gel shot before the lap, and one in the middle, but probably under-estimated my efforts from the morning. I had had plenty of food throughout the day, but was obviously seriously low on glycogen at that point. My body was starting to shut down big time. I pulled out of the way for Justin to pass on a descent and started getting really worried that I was literally going to pass out on the trail. I started to have that blacking out feeling. Luckily I made it back to the pits and started to eat everything in sight!!
It was getting late and cold so we took off down the hill. Once dressed back at the truck we finished our sandwiches and tried to stay hydrated since we had another good day on tap for Sunday.
Unfortunately we got to bed late, so just slept in a tad. I didn't really consider it messing up our day's plans to see my grandparents and mom, and then head to my dad's for Father's Day. Also, it was our anniversary. We didn't have anything really special planned for it (we'd spent and gone out enough the previous weekend!), but we had a good ride and good and too much eats on tap.
We got a late start and eventually got on the trail. The first fire road my HR would NOT come up at all. I had stupidly left Justin's HR strap on the floor at home, so didn't even have a reference point as to whether or not he was going okay!
I wanted to cry two or eight times on the early slopes of our short fire road climb up to Trabuco trail, but put my head down and got into the climb. HR was still fairly supressed given the effort I was putting out, but whatever! I made it to the top and looked forward to the glorious descent.
Fun on the descent
My bike was working stellar, and while I wasn't holding Justin's wheel, I was doing the best I could! Having a blast, but rounded a corner and there he was checking out a huge side wall slice in his rear tire. He'd punctured the center the day before up in Big Bear, but it seemed to be holding air just fine today. Er, until he sliced the side of it.
I got out the pump and tube and he made quick work of changing it all out. We put everything back together and just as we went to head off again we could hear air just rushing out of the tire. The tube wasn't holding air. He said he'd check it again later down the trail, but the further down we went, the more hiking back out we'd have to do. I could just see us making something work until about 2-3 miles up Holy Jim and having a big decision to make on how to get back! I called it, and we turned and headed back up the trail. I managed to clean everything on the climb except for one super steep section and was pretty stoked. I had completely worked myself on the climb, so when Justin suggested a road ride or a hill repeat I emphatically said no.
We got moving for our afternoon plans a little late (we would've been way late had we finished the ride out, and honestly - I don't know that we could've survived in our fragile mental states at that point), which started to stress me out. My family causes me anxiety at times!
I brewed up some Pikes Perk since I totally felt like I was going to fall asleep the entire way home from the ride fail.
We hit up the family stuff and then went home, and despite over-eating all afternoon - I had dessert in my new bowl!
Delish, but I paid for my food extravagance today on our lunch ride! Carrying a few extra lbs up those hills is not so fun!
Got a pretty killer weekend on tap this coming weekend as well. Will be my first weekend road foray in quite awhile followed by a good hard day in the mountains on Sunday. Yay!