Monday, March 7, 2016

You've Got So Far to Go

So we raced fat bikes and it was fun
So, tonight I'll raise my glass to us
'Cause we rode so much
I think we filled our Garmins twice
And I'm super stoked we ended
The series in second place

So, let's ride home, let's be afraid
I wanna climb up Alan Seeger
So hard
Let's do it right and throw in Pig Pile
I want it now, somehow I forgot how

Way to go, way to go
Forgot you've got so far to go
Way to go, way to go
Forgot you've got so far to go

To be fair, this isn’t the first post that I’ve opened with a version of Alkaline Trio’s “You’ve Got So Far to Go”. I actually think of it as “our song” in my relationship with Frank, because minus the smoking part, it pretty perfectly describes how I felt before our first date. It is also the song that inevitably runs through my head near the end of every training ride that does not go as well as I’d hoped.

Yep, it was Ruff.

Yesterday’s first official Wilderness 101 training ride definitely fell into that category. After the long fat bike races that we’d been doing, I thought I’d actually chosen a conservative route for our first foray back into “skinny” tires, big climbs, and rocky singletrack. My original plan was in the 25-30 mile range with one of the three major climbs and the vast majority of the race’s singletrack concentrated into one ride. It wouldn’t be an easy ride, but I thought that the "short" distance would make it doable.

Then I found out that a big chunk singletrack had been accidentally cut out of the 2015 course, the Strava files of which I’d been using as my reference to learn the course. The good news was that the “correct” course did not go down a super steep descent that I was kind of afraid of and did include some fun trails that I haven’t ridden much in the past, due to their remote location. The bad news was that more singletrack meant more time on the course where I had to account for going 6-8 mph instead of 10-12. I was already intimidated by all of the different sections of Rothrock and Bald Eagle that I will need to shove into a singular sub-12-hour effort by July. Adding Upper Sassafras, Sassy Pig, Pig Pile, and Flat Road (neither flat nor a road) into mix feels like a huge increase in effort due to its slow, rocky nature, even if it is just six more miles of distance.

What I forgot when I planned a “conservative” 30ish mile ride after weeks of 4+ hour fat bike races was that “there is strong, and then there is Rothrock strong”. I thought my time away racing fat bikes would bring me back to Rothrock stronger than ever, but I think Rothrock was just mad that I cheated on her, and decided to kick my ass in revenge.

Climbing Alan Seeger is always painful and seems like it goes on forever, but my hamstrings were having a particularly hard time with the unfamiliar bike and the 36 minutes of relentless low cadence grinding. From there, we dropped into Ruff Gap, a rocky, 1000-foot descent over the course of one mile. It was my first time on this trail ever, and my first time on my Lust since Christmas Eve. Add in a bunch of leaf piles on the rocks and cramping legs from the recently completed climb, and it was ugly. Like, walk a lot of it ugly. From there, we sweated through the 1,000 feet of climbing back up to the big singletrack section where I exhaustedly bumbled around and started to get chilled miserable because dressing for mountain biking in 47 degrees is hard. We ended up cutting some singletrack from our original planned ride and it still ended up taking 4.5 hours to finish just under 30 miles.

I’m not sure why the first ride back was such a shock to the system, since I *thought* was in decent shape. If yesterday was any indication, I have a lot of work ahead me between now and July, but I guess it’s good that I was able to jump in and find that out this soon. When you've forgotten how far you've got to go, Rothrock will never hesitate to remind you.

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