Sunday, August 3, 2008

Riding in the Beehive State

I flew out to Utah ten days before the Leadville race so that I could acclimate to the altitude. Even though I like to blame my poor showing last year on Dug, who certainly deserves censure, I think my most serious obstacle was the altitude. I felt dizzy from the start. When we climbed up to Columbine at 12,600', I was sick and wobbly. That feeling stayed with me for several hours. By the time I recovered enough to ride hard again, I'd lost too much time to beat 12 hours. So I came out to Utah early so that I can ride in the early morning and then work remotely the rest of the day.

Now that I've been here in Utah for the last five days, I feel torn. On the one hand, I am getting used to the altitude. After the first couple rides, I returned to my parents' condo in Provo and dealt with the fallout -- fatigue, chills, sweats, headaches. By the time Leadville rolls around, I hope to be better adjusted. Plus, it's great to be able to do a ride every day with my buddies. Feels like old times.

On the other hand, I miss my family. It's nice to get a break for a day or two, but this is too long. If I don't beat 12 hours, I'll feel foolish and bitter. If I do beat 12 hours, goodbye Leadville, hello triathlons!

Hogg's Hollow - On Wednesday morning, Elden and I met at his house at 5:50am and we rode our singlespeeds up to the saddle at the top of the ridge that divides Utah County from the Salt Lake region. There we met up with Dug, Rick S., and a guy named Sam, who is also training for Leadville. We rode a beautiful local trail that winds over ridges and through groves of trees and shrubs. I would love to be able to leave my garage like that to ride a network of trails. In Seattle, I have to drive at least 30 minutes to ride trails.

Susan's Ramp - On Thursday morning, we skipped a ride to build Susan's scooter ramp. Susan looks great, by the way.

The Alpine Loop - On Friday morning, Elden and I started from his house at 6:30 and met up with Dug's group for a road ride. As we headed up the canyon, we formed a pace line. When it was my turn to lead, it suddenly got steeper. I didn't want to appear weak, so I tried to keep the same pace. After I flicked my elbow and fell out, I noticed there were only three riders behind me. The other five had fallen off. It was ridiculous for me to break up the group like that since I was the weakest rider.

The fast group rode ahead of us while the slow group chatted until we were more than halfway up. Then Dug and Elden broke away from me and another guy whose name I forgot. He and I formed the gruppetto. Even though we were talking the whole way up, I rode hard, and I got an altitude headache as we neared the summit at 8,000'. It was somewhere between a 10- and 16-mile climb, depending on where you think the climb starts.

Tibble Fork - In the right condition, Tibble Fork is one of my top 5 favorite rides. On Saturday morning, Tibble wasn't in good shape -- motorcycles and dry weather turned the steep parts of the trail into dust -- but it's still a top 10 ride. For one thing, the scenery is stunning, what with the summer wildflowers and the Sound of Music meadows. I suppose I could impress people by mentioning the deer that stood in the trail 20 feet in front of me before it saw me and bounded off, but I think deer are trash animals.

I rode the bike that I'll be taking on Leadville while everyone else rode singlespeeds. I was definitely slow guy. That said, I'm definitely in better shape than I was in last year. I'll write another Leadville Training post later this week with updated estimates.