Thursday, January 23, 2014

slow roll

Monday - MLK Day.  No work.  No blogging.  Bike ridding - as Martin Luther King Jr. would have wanted it.

Tuesday - Hands/arms so worn out from descending Heartbreak on a rigid that blogging was not feasible.  The leaf cover provided no help with either picking lines or preparing for the crap I was rolling over. 

Wednesday - Best of intentions to blog... but things go hectic REAL quick.  Sooooo no blogging.

So let's rewind here real quick and cover the important stuff that has happened since last week.  I've ridden my bike... twice!  AND I've dropped some weight - despite two (one accidental) restaurant week adventures.  

Sunday I braved the greenways to get the legs moving again.  Families are great and fun - I love seeing little kids on their little bikes - good times.

Running/jogging two a breast taking up the whole damn greenway with BOTH earbuds (BOTH PEOPLE) in so that you can not hear my numerous calls leading to me scaring the sh*t out of you as my wheel is about up your ass before you acknowledge my existence... not so much.  Mind you, at this point I'm going pretty damn slow.  Hell, I don't care about having to track stand because a kid is waving a stick around like he just doesn't care... Just be a responsible adult and be freakin be aware of your surroundings and share the path.

After the ride, my knee felt pretty good.  NICE!  First test down... real test to come.  That night we went out for meal number one of restaurant week (planned) for a friend's birthday.  I felt like I had a food baby after that meal... but damn was it good. As I got up from the table my knee was stiff and painful, uh oh.  Luckily it seemed pretty alright by the end of the night. The next morning I had no pain.

Monday it was up early to head to the mountains and meet with with DWayne and his buddy Tyler... it was time to do some climbing and see where I was at after my injury forced hiatus after the Snake.  I was a little worried - more so in terms of cardio than my legs (I wasn't scared to hike if I needed to).  But, everything was pretty damn good!  Couldn't have asked for a better day really.  Trail was dry (mostly) and the temps were pretty friendly - long sleeve under my jersey and I was good to go!

We shuttled from Andrew's Geyser to start our climb up Rattlesnake (fitting start to my Snake prep - eh?) to Old Toll and down Heartbreak.

Overall I felt pretty good climbing.  I was running the same gearing I did at the Snake, and it felt good.  It was a long climb - much longer of a sustained climb than I've ever done before, but the trail kept thing interesting. Old Toll was not just a cleared forest road, it was littered with rocks. Nothing too horrible, but enough to keep you moving around the trail, picking lines, and getting out of the saddle to navigate. Overall the grade was pretty nice as well. On the few sections where the trail was on the smoother side it almost felt like I was getting pulled up the hill. Just a perfect gradient to stay on top of the pedals and get in a nice groove where it seemed almost effortless (at least for a little while).

And sometimes there was ice... this was the largest ice field we came upon.
Being my first time on this route we of course had to stop for the obligatory "tourist shots" of the views. Classic "not there yet" stuff. Ran into some old timers cutting down trees for fire wood. Saw the bear cabins and learned that the hunters owned something like 500 acres up there. Pretty neat time overall. 

1st lookout stop

2nd stop - almost there??
Before I knew it we were at the top, or at least as far as we were going. At this point I wasn't wondering when it would end - so I guess that's a good sign?  So we took a quick break and discussed the upcoming downhill. 

Made it.  Home sweet... home?
If you haven't ridden heartbreak before (as I hadn't), here is a little friendly advice - do not ride it rigid!  Bigger stuff aside (there really wasn't a ton if that anyway) there is A LOT of trail chatter. And there is a lot of descending ahead. It was a workout for sure to just hold on. Perhaps it is a bit easier on the hands and arms when the trail is clear so you can better prepare and loft over more stuff, but I was constantly plowing through leaf covered rocks/roots that I had no way to prepare for. I felt horrible slowing the guys down so much, but, I didn't want to fly of the side of the mountain because I couldn't hold on to my handlebars any more so I took my damn time.  And yes, the chance of taking a dive off the side of the mountain is real. The trail is quite narrow in places with steep drop offs. Add in some off camber roots and you've got a recipe for potential disaster. The only saving grace where the rhododendrons that evidently had caught more than a few fallen riders, saving them from tumbling down the mountain side (you could clearly see areas that had been beaten down by bodies and bikes).

Looking back from Heartbreak... we climbed up from over yonder... somewhere.
Once we started hitting switchback after switchback I knew it was almost over.  Some of the switchbacks were sketchy as all hell and I'm not ashamed to say I walked some.  It was always exciting to get through one on the bike though - I made a few of those.  Before we got spit out onto the road there was a tiny tiny bit of climbing - which for once I was grateful for.  I was totally ready to climb after getting beat up so much on the downhill.  But we were out on the road coasting back to the cars before I knew it.

Time for a beer and then back on the road to Charlotte.  One thing about mountain biking - no matter how much you suffer during the ride, once it's done it is so damn easy to look back with a huge grin on your face.  I loved the climbing - no matter how hard it was during... and "appreciated" the downhill.  Definitely need the HiFi, or at least some squish on the Glow Worm next time I do this route.  But overall it was a great day.  And in the end I think it will be very beneficial for me come the next installment of the Snake.  If nothing else, I think I learned a thing or two about pacing myself on those climbs.

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