Monday, November 25, 2013

Week #47: The Winds of Winter

When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.

This weekend was a shock to the system. I was definitely not ready for winter bibs and neoprene booties, but they were suddenly required whether I liked it or not. I elected not to race the OVCX race at Major Taylor this weekend, because it in the wake of the killer vet bill, I couldn't bring myself to pay $35 for something that I wasn't completely stoked on. Of course, I'm going to be paying $96 for the Bilenky Junkyard Cross/SSCXWC combo sometime this week, and that is pretty painful to think about, too. However, that will be a once-in-lifetime experience, a chance for a road trip with Sarah, and another weekend adventure with two of my favorite people, so it's worth it. 

Also, once I saw how cold it would be over the weekend, I was glad I decided not to race.

The first rule of Gravel Club is don't lose the map. The second rule is to make
notes on the map so you know what the heck you are doing later.
Besides the cost of 'cross entry fees, I'm just more in the mood to ride gravel lately, anyway, and you can't really do that if you don't want to make Sunday's race a miserable experience. Since they announced the official course for the Gravel Grovel last week, I decided to check out some of the new singletrack parts to get an idea of what I was getting into. I worked out a 40-ish mile route that hit all of the singletrack, including Combs, but cut out any excess road that I already new from Death March training. 

It all went pretty well at first. I made it over Combs and up the easier side of "The Son of the Bitch" going towards Story. At the bottom of the hill I flipped it around and headed up the Nebo Ridge trail. I hadn't been on it in three years, and ticking up the first long climb I was thinking that I'd really rather be doing that than grinding up the nasty gravel hill it replaced, even with the roots and rocks. What I'd forgotten is that once the trail levels off after the big climb, you are confronted with a series of increasingly more difficult short, steep "scramble hills" where you have to work up some speed, lean forward, and ride really hard for 30-ish seconds to the top. They aren't *that* bad, but repeated 30-second intervals in the middle of an endurance ride does get a little tiring. I found the Nebo Ridge trail section to be much slower than I had expected. I'm really hoping that knowing what I'm getting into this next time will help it not feel so slow during the race.

I had to skip the two parts of HNF trail that I'd planned to scout, because as I cut across 1000 N to avoid "The Bitch" and fast forward to some new stuff, the wind kicked up and the temperature started to drop. When I arrived at the hilly stretch of road where I was supposed to enter Trail 21, I realized I didn't know exactly where it was supposed to be, the wind was about to rip the map out of my hands, and I didn't feel like riding up and down the rolling road to find it. So I just headed for the car, which was still a good 10-15 miles away. 

The first day of winter gear is always a shock, but this one turned out to be real baptism by fire (ice, really), as the wind howled, and the temperature dropped to 26 degrees by the time I was done. That was definitely a shocker since I haven't ridden in less than upper 40's in months. At least now I'm adapted, and whatever the Gravel Grovel throws at me this weekend won't seem *as* bad.


Ed Fujawa said...

Going for a cross or mountain bike on Saturday?

Lindsay Hall said...

Cross. Not that much speed to be gained by having a mountain bike on the singletrack, and not worth the slow rolling on the gravel and pavement.