Stay Calm, Stay Focused

I thought I had done a good job recovering after the Silver Rush 50. I took two days off afterwards and spent Sunday eating more than just watermelon. I realized that maybe not as well as I thought when on Friday I was sitting on the side of the trail….sobbing (this is when you can laugh, I do).

Tuesday I did a short run and swim with a good stretch to get things moving. Wednesday I doubled up and did a short 45 minute flat interval ride and then went back out 3 hours later and did a hill climb. Thursday I did a short recovery ride on my mountain bike and then Friday I planned to go back up to Leadville and do 60 miles before entering my peak phase. I checked the weather the night before and it had a 30% chance of rain. It always has at least a 20% chance of rain so didn’t think much of it. I woke up the next morning to find an 80% chance of rain. I called the guy I’m dating (mainly to reaffirm that I shouldn’t go up and ride in the rain even thought I really didn’t want to change my training plans) and told him my predicament. He’s pretty useful when it comes to rides and routes so he rattled off a couple that would suit my needs, time and climbing. I was still pretty stubborn about going up but he finally said going up and riding 60 miles in the rain isn’t going to be productive when you get sick and aren’t in great shape for the race and then you’ll just be cranky about it (I know he wanted to add, and I’ll have to deal with you being cranky, but he didn’t). He was right though.

I took off on my Superfly to do one of the rides he suggested. It started with a 6 mile climb up Flagstaff, which is a paved road pretty popular with road cyclists. I started the climb and saw a guy on a road bike behind me. I spent a good portion of the climb working to make sure he didn’t pass me which meant I slacked off on eating and drinking because I was more focused on beating him. At mile 4 into the climb he turned around and I kept going. I got to the top and realized how humid it was and disgusting it was that I was covered in all this sweat. I then descended 2 miles which puts you at one trail head for mountain biking. I did one route that was an out and back 2 mile ride and did that pretty seamlessly. It was mostly climbing on the way up and then descending on the way back. I thought about turning around and heading back and maybe doubling up with my road bike but figured the other route is an 8 mile loop so would just add some extra miles that way and then maybe not do the road ride. The trail was a little more technical than I had in my mind, probably more of a ride for my full suspension. I set out on the way that was the least fun (mainly because everyone I saw was going the opposite way) to maximize climbing. There is a short descent in the beginning which was pretty fun, but then the fun police showed up and took all the fun away. The climbing sections were moderately technical and pretty choppy. A lot of really picky riding and having to react quickly to know which line is best. At mile 5 you have to hike-a-bike down a lot of stairs, definitely a couple of

Oooo….careful!

flights which I was overly cautious not to slip down with my shoe. The guy did mention that before climbing down I could turn around and do an out and back and do 10 miles. I thought about this but was already starting to feel cantankerous about the predicament and wanted to get off the trail which in my mind only having 3 or so miles left was better than turning around. I got to the bottom which warranted amazing scenery and stopped to eat something and looked at the map beside the trail. I then made the fatal error of looking at my garmin. 20 miles in 3 hours….I started the next climb up which wasn’t technical at all just a little lose and about 20 yards from the top hit a soft spot and spun out and then just started crying, like what people do when their dogs die. I’m so slow, this is awful, I’m never going to make the cut off for Leadville.  I sat down next to my bike (like with driving you’re not suppose to ride when you’re emotional). It’s like when you’re watching The Notebook and first sad thing happens and then it’s just a continuous stream of tears through the rest of the movie. Yah, that’s where I was at. I finally came to the realization that I wasn’t crying because I was riding so slow, that was certainly part of it but my mindset about going to Leadville was so similar to the one I had the day I crashed, where in my mind I was so focused on getting that training ride. Good things for boys who tell you not to be dumb. It also pushed my training plans back a little bit and put my last training ride up there closer to the crash date than I wanted. Then I figured out that’s what I was really crying about. I didn’t want to crash again, not like that before the race. I really just wanted to get to the start line. I started walking with my bike while still sniffling. I debated calling Wayne to have him come meet me at the trail head and pick me up so I wouldn’t have to ride the 8 miles back home but then realized he’d probably tell me to stop being a baby and ride my bike. That might have been THE longest 2 miles of my life. I finally got back to the trail head and still had a 2 mile climb on the road before I could descend. Thankfully my body knew what to do at this point and I started to get back into the groove. I got home and took in a lot of fluids and ate right away which clearly was a big factor in my bonk. I plugged my garmin in and ended up doing 30 miles in about 4:20 give or take the 20 minute cry session with about 5,700 feet of climbing. All that climbing made me feel a little better about being slow.

I got my ride up in Leadville that I was planning to do that day. It included the two major climbs (Columbine and Powerline). I parked at the bottom of Powerline which is about mile 20 and then backtracked up to Columbine and the turned around and then back up to Powerline and then back down and then done! I’m always nervous about bonking at Leadville so I make sure to eat and drink by the clock and after the disastrous ride I had in Boulder the week before I switched my garmin to map mode which only shows me that I’m still moving. The ride ended up being a little over 64 miles, my last long ride before the race. The extra 4 miles was me riding around and back tracking because they took the flags out for the course so I couldn’t remember which way one of the turns went. 

This will make anyone look forward to an icebath

I had packed a good amount of food including one bar that was 400 calories but broken up into 4 chunks with each one being 100 calories each. A friend had given it to me to try and figured it was worth a shot because it was low in sugar. I took a bite of the first block and chewed on it for a little bit and then a little more and then spit it out. Gross. It was grainy and mushy and too much chocolate. I guess I didn’t hit my head that hard because I still don’t really like chocolate. Realizing that I probably wasn’t going to eat the rest and still had to climb up Columbine I dumped the other blocks on the side of the trail to lose the extra weight and mainly so it wouldn’t melt all over my jersey. I got by on the ride with about 500 calories, which isn’t exactly sufficient and realized I should start trying to eat more real food so I’m not feeling the need to brush my teeth after all the sugary chews and gels. I think nutrition is going to make or break Leadville for me so I’ve been focused a little more on what I’m eating when I’m riding. Peanut butter and bananas wrapped in a corn tortilla seem to be the forerunner right now. 

I did that ride July 26 and was happy that I didn’t have July 31st off to go ride up at Leadville. I was really anxious about that day and wasn’t sure how to approach it, it is just a day and the really bad day already happened but still it was looming. The Monday before I went back to Leadville to ride the first 20 or so miles from the bottom of St. Kevin’s down Powerline and then loop around to my car. That ride went pretty well, I got a little nervous when I was on the top of Powerline when it started lightning and thundering, that’s just what I need to get struck. Luckily I was beginning the descent so put my rain jacket on and the cloud just sat at top there so I wasn’t in the rain very long. Tuesday I did a recovery ride and then it was here, Wednesday July 31st. It’s a weird day, do I celebrate it because the crash wasn’t as bad as it could have been and I’m still alive? How do I acknowledge that it was a significant turning point in my life without dwelling on it? My initial thought was to stay in bed all day just to be safe but was on the schedule to work at 8. CU Cycling puts on a short track series in the summer which I’ve been doing when it works out with my schedule. It did that day. I thought about not doing it, just not riding my bike at all because why risk crashing. But it’s more about the date than the actual day itself. I stared the race, which is only 20 minutes at Valmont which equates to anywhere from 3-6 laps depending on the route. A lot is dependent on the start and your position there. I started out and got into 8th place. I’m still not super aggressive passing on the single track like I need to be and when there was an opening I jumped at it. I moved into 5th but went into a corner a little to hot and immediately after that the trail splits into two. I didn’t commit to one direction in time and ended up having my real wheel go down. I went down and got passed by all the people I had just passed then 

Wayne came to watch me! (and ride his bike)

some. I scampered back up and took off, two options came to my mind. A.) Feel sorry for myself that I had crashed on the day that I didn’t want to crash and ride the rest of the race casual B.) Don’t feel sorry for myself and just ride your bike. After a brief moment of pondering I went for it, mainly just to pass the people that had just passed me. I fought back to the front and was in 3rd when the girl in front of me crashed and I was so close behind her that I double checked to make sure she was okay when we both got passed by the lady in 4th. I took off to catch her but then the rest of the course didn’t warrant a good place to pass and the sprint to the finish was only about 15 yards and I wasn’t able to get her. I was actually more happy about the fact that I crashed, didn’t end up in the hospital and was able to keep riding. Put that one in the win column.

My final training ride up at Leadville happened last Friday. I rode the last 20 miles of the route so now have ridden every part of the course multiple times. I was nervous about going up there for “one last training ride” because last year those became famous last words. Before I left the guy I’m dating just told me to “stay calm, stay focused” he also told me that I know how to mountain bike in case I forgot that little tidbit. The ride was good, I went the opposite way that I did on Monday. I rode without a camelbak but when I went to take my first drink of water realized there was a crack in the bottle, I drank more cautiously but was glad I was only going to be out for 2 hours at that point. I managed to finish with no spectacular crashes or really any eventful things happening.

All that is left to do now is get to the starting line.

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