Friday, May 15, 2015

Desert Gnar 2015: The Conquering

It’s been a busy couple of days since returning from our vacation in Grand Junction, CO, so I haven’t had a chance to post as quickly as I had hoped. That’s probably just as well, since I’ve now had a bit more time for the Type II fun to convert into fond memories. Let’s face it. All travel is Type II fun for me. For anything to truly be called a vacation in my mind, it would involve sleeping massive amounts of hours in my own bed, not having to go to work, and preferably not having to wear clothes that aren’t cycling kits or sweatpants the entire time. However, in the same way that Type II fun on the bike is required if you want to get better, life also requires a little uncomfortable fun if you want to progress beyond Cat 6. (Sometimes Cat 4 is even a stretch.)

With my levels of mental and physical well-being just starting to rebound from the tough winter as well as my depleted-but-improving fitness, I was very scared of getting in too deep riding-wise. Dustin and Corinna were excited were excited to show us all of what the Western Slope had to offer, and it was hard for me to ride the line of trying to not disappoint them but staying within a level of riding that was still enjoyable for me. Due to the travel stress and the unfamiliar territory, I just didn’t feel very much up to pushing my limits on the bike.

#scenicvistafrankie on the Pine Loop of Western Colorado

I managed to get away with this the first couple of days, keeping the ride volume down to a happy level but also feeling like I was ruining things for everyone else. Then on Sunday, Dustin got the idea to shuttle the rest of the group to the beginning of the Mag 7 ride because it was supposed to be super fun. His friend Jack was joining us and had ridden it a week before, I watched them huddling over a map in the living room discussing various exit points, and phrases like “From here, it’s a lot of conquering” and “the forgotten land” and “if I were in a Jeep…” were tossed about. There was also talk of exiting on Gemini Bridges Road before the conquering began.


The first half of the ride was ridiculously fun. It was flowy and mostly downhill, but not in a bombing, obvious way. There were just enough rocks for Princess Monster Truck (my Giant Lust) to feel like it was worth her time. I was even able to keep up with Frank and Jack for most of it after feeling horrible and being severely OTB on Friday and Saturday’s rides. Then we came to the proposed bailout, and my guilt over not my wussy-level limits the past couple of days overcame me. I agreed to conquer as long as I was allowed to conquer at my own pace without anyone babysitting me.

So conquer we did. The jeep road that followed was a mostly unbroken stretch of slickrock with very little dirt at all. It had tons of huge ledges and drops, as well as many steep climbs that quickly depleted me, even in my easiest gear. This was followed by a couple of very technical trails along the edge of a cliff, which had all of us walking more than riding, not wanting to risk a stupid crash in our fatigued state. All in all, it took over three hours to ride the cover the last 12 or so miles of the route, and it was probably the worst slog I’ve been the last time I finished the Ouachita Challenge.

Like I said, each day since then the Type II fun has started to convert. I’m glad we made the trip, and I’m glad I decided to do the whole ride on Sunday. Now that I’ve been through my first big airplane-assisted trip to the desert, I’ll know what to expect next time and be better prepared. For now, though, I’m pretty happy to be back on the #eastcoastrocks beneath fully-green trees. I can’t wait to get back out in Rothrock tomorrow where I know where my limits and exactly how much to push them.

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