This quote from Stand by Me was going through my head Saturday morning as I waited for the black goodness to brew and wake me up. I haven't been able to fall asleep lately at all, so I think I was running on maybe 4.5 hours of sleep, with a LONG day ahead of me.
At 4:30 am on the dot Justin, Stephanie, Dan and I all piled into the packed up truck and took off into the darkness up the mountain to Idyllwild in search of 40~ other enduronuts for a really long day on the bike. It has occurred to me recently that many of the people we train with didn't get into mountain biking for recreation, fun, and general exercise. They started riding for competition, fun, training, etc. Long days in the saddle are what I truly enjoy. Sure, 2 hour hammerfest sessions serve their purpose, but I'll take 40 backcountry miles any day over anaerobic sprints!
That's why when the San Jacinto Enduro non-management first started posting up ride info I had the itch. No one even questioned my sanity, so the four of us all signed up for the ride.
It was about mid-60s driving up highway 74. Turning off to the yellow post site the rearview mirror screamed "ICE". 37*F. It was pretty downright cold getting dressed, and I knew the neutral roll-out, even behind spun out singlespeeders, was going to be bone-chillingly frigid. The road descent to Little Thomas Mountain did not disappoint.
On the road during the neutral roll-out I looked east and saw the hints of light peeping over the distant peaks; I knew it was going to be a great day. There's nothing quite like riding your bike at dawn with like-minded souls knowing what you've got ahead of you and just feeling giddy at the sight of sunrise and the hint of what's to come.
Cruising up Little T in the dark
I remember paying more attention to the sky than the road in front of me as we cruised up the climb with Brendan, David, and a few others.
Pink sunrise kissed the rocky peaks as we traversed
I remember screaming, "I love riding my bike!" as I descended the Ridge.
It's a hilly descent, with a few good climbs interspersed with the fast fire road descending. Just over 2 hours in and we had over 20 miles covered, and a solid ascent in front of us.
Yup; we're climbing (back) up there.
Starting our ascent
The climb was surprisingly good, for me. It was fairly steep early on, but in good condition, very little traffic. Justin dropped back once as he was having chain suck issues, and he caught up as the grade eased up, and I felt like we were moving at a good clip. We got up to Idyllwild where we picked up a few "stragglers" and navigated our way back to May Valley where Mary had an aid station laid out. The brownies were heavenly.
We'd finally hit some singletrack, but sadly my technical skills had been left at home for the day, and I was getting close to bonking.
I did manage to clear the Roman Highway
Probably the highlight of my tech skills on the day
A quick break and some food later, and the four of us (Justin, Ed, and Kurt) were back in business heading toward some of the more familiar parts of the course.
Despite our breaks, a few mechanicals, and some slow riding on my part, we got back to the yellow post site to sign in around 11:23 am. Time to refill and refuel.
Then it was back at it for a few traverses of the powerline trail and the new to us Fobes riding.
We started our rocky doubletrack descent down to 74 and Justin commented as we gazed at the peaks of Thomas Mountain, "One last mountain to climb."
I had started to feel the fatigue monster creeping in pretty good as we climbed up Fobes. It was difficult to put one foot in front of the other on the short hike-a-bike, and I paused longer than normal to remount the bike anytime I got off.
We hit the highway and cruised to the turn off.
The early slopes are benign
I hadn't climbed Thomas Mountain proper in probably 3-4 years, so I had forgotten that it's not really as steep as Little T, for the most part. It felt like we were moving out pretty good, but eventually the climb in earnest set in. I asked when we were stopped for Justin's 3rd and final chain suck what the next way point was on the map. 18.6 miles - turn off to Ramona Trail.
I shouldn't have asked. We were at 15.3. My how those tenths of a mile ticked off slowly.
FINALLY we made it…
Though, at that point, I didn't even enjoy the descent. I could barely hold onto the handlebar anymore, and couldn't mentally concentrate on anything. Justin spent a lot of time waiting for me at that point. Since we entered the trail a good way down from our typical start, it went by pretty fast, and before I knew it we had made it down to the powerline trail again and were speeding back to the finish line.
9.5 hours later - all done!
Time for some refreshments, some chilling, and some pizza and brownies
Was stoked to watch the light change as the temperature slowly dropped, and we anxiously awaited Steph and Dan's return.
The evening light in the mountains…
We did a ton of grocery shopping yesterday as recovery from Saturday, and literally sat around and ate some good food!
Picked up some Spaten Oktoberfest to go with breakfast burritos
And then got another 4-pack of Maui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter to have with pork chops and veggies for dinner
Justin has been the mad-pomegrantate de-seeder lately. It's the only decent substitute for blueberries that I can find.
I also had to get a shot of this...last week we got all the colors of the rainbow!