Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Joanne's Last Trip To The Fish Hatchery

On Sunday Joanne came along with me up to Leadville for my last training ride on the Leadville 100 Mtn Bike Race route.

My goal was to ride the first 25% of the race - over St. Kevins and Sugarloaf passes, down the Powerline and on to the Fish Hatchery.   At the Fish Hatchery we refill with water and reverse our path, following the race route back the way we came in to complete the ride.  Which means - ugh - back over the two nasty hills you just came over.

I had raced Th Mt Evans Hill Climb the day before, but was pleasantly surprised that my legs did not feel like concrete when we hit the first steep climb at St. Kevins.  I was worried that this ride might be a suffer- fest after doing Mt. Evans the day before.

I practiced riding the worst line to the left side of St. Kevins to simulate race conditions and watched as Joanne took off ahead of me.   I know she rides with pain on steep climbs like that and I always remind myself "she is riding with pain, what's your excuse for being slower than her right now, slacker!"    I am always surprised at the thoughts that go through my mind when I am suffering.

We came down Sugarloaf and the Powerline with no problems, and I was surprised to see Joanne very close behind on the descent.   Her new Pivot mtn bike has really improved her descending.   Not that either of us are that good at descending, but we have slowly improved each year and I no longer get cotton mouth from fear coming down Sugarloaf and the Powerline.   [Except during the race when one is riding with 1,600 yahoos and having a little fear streak through your mind just shows you are thinking rationally.]

Then we arrived at the Fish Hatchery, filled up with water, and Joanne proclaimed this is probably her last trip to the Fish Hatchery and that she was heading back into town on the highway.

So, I took off alone on the race course back to town -with lots of time to think - pushing slowly up the steep climbs - about the many times we have ridden this course.    Most of the Leadville course is not that much fun to ride and it is more about taking on the physical challenge of doing it.   

Joanne has had her fill, and now it is time to move on to other things.    Like a lot of the milestones we reach in life, and then change direction.

Over several hours I slowly worked my way back into town on tired legs, constantly reminding myself that I wish I would feel this good on race day.   

Then I hit the final mile of pavement and pushed hard to the finish, remembering that first race finish with Joanne being just far enough ahead that I knew I couldn't catch her.   Not believing we actually had finished in under 12 hours.   Trying not to cry when Merillee hung the finisher medal around my neck, and whispered in my ear "welcome back to Leadville."

Then I got to the car and my wonderful partner said she would drive home and I could take a nap.

A pretty good day for the last training ride on the course, and a pretty good day to think about changing direction and chasing other adventures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Racing Solo

About a month ago after a training ride on the Leadville course, Joanne admitted that her knee pain was getting to be too much for long hill climbs and long mtn bike rides.  Especially back to back days like you have to do to train for some of the races we have done.

So, she pulled out of the Mt Evans Hill Climb, Laramie Enduro, and the Leadville 100.  She is now actively exploring what the problem is as well as the medical options.   For her knee, we are afraid to explore the problem of why someone would do events like these.

So, I am racing solo for these races, with no Joanne to chase or to hopefully be ahead of.  Which is very strange situation and more than a little bit lonely.

We have always been back of the pack, last 1/3 at best type riders.  However, we are very close in our abilities and it was very fun to see how we did against each other.  

Joanne says that it really didn't matter to her if she beat me or not.   I might even give her that, but I could tell - it's a lot of fun for her when she did.

Bob Cook Mt Evans Memorial Hill Climb

The Mount Evans Hill Climb is a bike race that starts in Idaho Springs at 7,500' and goes on the paved road to the top of Mount Evans and stops at the parking lot just below the summit at 14,130'.

The race has been run for over 40 years and has various categories you can race in from and open citizen classification to professionals.

The open citizen wave of 400 people is the first to go at 730 am, and then they start letting licensed racers go in their various categories through out the morning.

The weather looked very sketchy as Joanne and I drove to Idaho Springs.   There were low lying clouds spitting rain at Floyd Hill.

By the time I got done warming up for the race it was looking a little better, but still questionable.

My goal was to use the race as a training ride.  I wanted to do a good time, but to not go completely all out since I would be doing a tough 6 hour mountain bike ride the next day on the Leadville race course.  Riding the Leadville course with tired legs is great mental toughness training.

On Mt Evans, I rode the flatter first seven miles as fast as I have ever ridden, and then settled in for the grind up the steeper 21 miles to the top.  At 14 miles you go by Echo Lake at around 11,000' and we hit a cloud bank about 500' thick.   It was cold and intimidating. 

Then at around mile 18 we popped out of the clouds, back into the sunshine, and got to look down at mountain tops sticking through the cloud bank.   As the race progressed the cloud bank eventually evaporated and there was only a small breeze to fight.

I got to the top in 2 hours 49 minutes and 37 seconds and finished 21st out of the 81 fifty year old men division.   Seven minutes slower than last year, but last year I was sick for two days after for pushing so hard.

Tomorrow is an out and back ride over St. Kevins and Sugarloaf to the Fish Hatchery and back
on the Leadville race course.   With tired legs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Working, Drilling, Training, and Landscaping

I have found the hard way that it is not as easy as I first imagined to find time to write a simple blog on what Joanne and I are up to.

As we get closer to the Leadville 100 race the training intensity and duration increases, a lot!

Then you throw in working on an ambitious landscaping project.

While juggling your day job as well as traveling for work to manage 24 hour a day, every day of the week type operations.

Then, I realize I have not entered anything in the blog for weeks and I find myself wondering, how does that studly babe - Lisa find the time to put out such a beautiful blog.  

Over and over again.   You are my blogging hero!

I don't even have kids.  Whew, I am a slacker.

Well, those are my excuses as poor as they are.

The first race of 3 in a month is tomorrow.  The Mt Evans Hill Climb - 28 miles up hill.  From 6,000' to over 14,000' elevation.  

It can really make you hurt!!!!!   

I was stupid enough to tease George into doing it on the tandem one year, and that is the most strenuous 3 hours I have ever experienced.  I went from thinking I might have a stroke or heart attack, to hoping I would have one to make the pain stop.

It is much easier riding up hill solo, then on a tandem.  Although, it is still a real challenge to get to the top and hopefully beat a previous personal time.   As well as a real test of how effective nine months of training has been.

We will see.......the hard way.  Just like finding out how difficult it is to keep up with a blog.  :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Friday Night Date Night

Joanne surprised me with a hike down to Clear Creek to have a picnic and watch kayakers and tubers.

It was a beautiful night and now I think we need to get our own tubes, PFD's, and helmets !

The walk home was as pretty an evening as I can remember!