18 January 2010

Back in the Saddle Again, I'm Baaack...

Typical Winter Mountain Bike Ride in ColoradoWe planned to ride to Golden on Saturday, but decided on the bike path to hit Deer Creek Canyon instead.

Good decision, too. There was some snow, sand and gravel. But the road was completely navigable. I knew I'd have to be super cautious on the descent because I don't have the skills or coordination to go fast on sand. But I felt strong, and I wanted to try.

During the first mile or so of open canyon, the temperature felt warmer than down in the Denver metro. Good sun and plenty of shelter from the breezy wind. But then we got into the narrows. I went around one curve and felt an immediate 20-degree temperature drop! This section of the canyon never gets any sun, year round. The snow was deep on both sides of the road, but the road was clear except for a bit of melt, sprinkles of sand and occasional baseball-sized rock falls. The river was ice. I was glad I didn't take off my gloves on the sunny section when I got hot.

I was passed a lot. But I made it all the way up to the goal I'd set when we began climbing. I had not done Deer Creek Canyon since June 13, which was my first time non-stop. I'd set a goal back in June to get to the 18-mile mark, and I made it. I was really, really excited because I'd never done an extended uphill bike ride non-stop before in my life. Ever.

The Lizard on New Year's DayI didn't do non-stop today, but I didn't stop to catch my breath. I had to stop to give my behind a rest. I haven't done more than 30 miles on my bike since November 29. I wasn't able to ride my bike at all in December. So I'm not discouraged that I had to stop twice today on the way up to stretch my legs and get out of the saddle for a few minutes. I'm really pleased I did 18 uphill miles on my second ride and first climb of the year after a 33-day bike absence! I was exhilarated to attain the turnaround point I'd hoped I could reach and then shocked when I looked it up in my calendar and discovered I hadn't done it in six months!

Of course, the hardest part of the ride was not going up. The most difficult part of the ride was coming down through the shadowed, narrow canyons over patches of sand, ice and melting snow and not being able to brake properly because my gloves were too thick. I had no choice. I had to take the gloves off so I could stay slow enough to keep myself upright in case I slid on a sandy curve. There is nothing in the world fun about sliding on gravely pavement at 20 or 30 mph. Even when you're wearing multiple layers, which I was.

I cruised another three or four miles and had to stop again because my fingers were absolutely frozen. I put them under my multiple jerseys against my tummy to try to thaw, and The Lizard offered to switch gloves with me. By this point, my knees were shaking, and my whole body was getting chilled. Just because of my hands! It's true what they say about keeping extremities warm to keep the rest of the body warm.

With The Lizard's gloves, I was able to operate my brakes properly, and I completed the descent without any problems. The Lizard said it was difficult to squeeze his hands around his brakes wearing my gloves, but he doesn't have to brake as often as I do. He can whiz down the canyon like a rocket. He's got balance, bike-handling skill and coordination I can only dream about. I love to watch him descend gnarly rocks and tree roots on his mountain bike because he's so smooth and never wipes out the way I would if I tried that.

This is NOT skinny tire territory!My elevation gain for the day is 3,498 feet. Way cool! You must gain 3,000 when you climb a 14er to have officially "climbed" it. So does this mean I can count today as a 14er?!? Hahahahaha!

Lots of riders today were sporting their Triple Bypass attire, including my Lizard. Registration opened at noon Wednesday (as opposed to the normal midnight start time) and was 3,500 riders full 45 minutes later. The Lizard got in. My Lizard got in!!! Woohoo! But lots of riders didn't. Many complained noon is much less convenient for this kind of thing than midnight. Sure, midnight has challenges of its own, but riders have been doing it this way for years, and it worked. I hope Team Evergreen goes back to the normal time next year.

Similarly TBP-decked riders today would hold The Lizard's pace for a minute or two and ask, "So, did you get in this year's race?"

"Yes. Did you?"

"No." Followed by various disheartening explanations. "I started the process at noon, but I kept getting booted." "I was in a meeting and couldn't break free." "I spent too much time trying to pick my merchandise, and registration was closed by the time I finished the transaction."

And then there was the one guy who said, "I registered my wife because she couldn't get to a computer at noon."

This will be The Lizard's triple Triple. I don't know if they give a special medal or something for that, but for us, this is a real treat. This is his favorite ride of the year, and I am VERY grateful he will get to participate.

Back at home, whole-wheat pasta with four-cheese tomato basil sauce capped off the perfect day. I'm 56 miles into this year's goal with nearly 11.5 months left to rack up 2,945 more!

1 comment :

  1. Back in the saddle again -- you and Gene Autry. No couch potato you!


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