After a morning of disasters, including having to break into my own house when I locked my keys in, my bike coming out of my new Thule Side Arm bike carrier 1/2 mile down the interstate when I did finally leave home, and temporarily misplacing my debit card, I was a little hesitant on how my ride would go today. I headed down to ride Blue Sky and Indian Summer in Colorado with the sole plan of riding without stopping – especially on the climbs – and finally starting my MTB training for the year.
But wait, you say, haven’t I already ridden a MTB this year? Of course I have. And sure, they were training. But not training. Two were pretty much social rides, one was goofing off in the snow on STC the day I brought home the Epic, and the one wayyyyy back in January with Matt was just trying to find my MTB legs again. There’s a difference for me. I like the company of others, but I feel I get the most bang for my buck on the MTB when I’m solo and determined.
The wind howled, and I almost felt like I was back in Wyoming for a moment. My legs felt good and strong (I’m sure the wind pushing me helped!), and I felt comfortable on the Epic. To this day I am still weary of the Epic’s speed and still lacking the connection to the bike like I feel with my old Rainier. We zipped around corners and up and down the rollers, and I loved the fact the trail was empty. Even had the chance to practice getting my bottle and drinking while moving, and realized buying the Purist bottle was the best decision ever as it fits in the pitifully small bottle space the Epic has. I made it to the end of the zippy part of Blue Sky, to wear the railings and hike-a-bike starts and finally took a breather. Over 6 miles in, no stopping and I felt good. I snapped the above photo, drank more of the Roctane I’m giving a try and swung the bike around for the descent. I played around with the idea of continuing to Devil’s Backbone, but decided the techy stuff of Laughing Horse loop didn’t quiet appeal to me and I still had Indian Summer to conquer.
Turning around I was faced with the wind, which halved my speed, but still felt a lot nicer on the trail than it does on the road. I was bound and determined to make it to Indian Summer and up and over that trail without stopping, preferably to the junction with Coyote Ridge after the big Blue Sky climb. I knew it was ambitious, but could be done. I tend not to stop as much when I’m solo as when others are around (explain that one…). The Epic and I started our granny gearing switchbacks up Indian Summer. Every once in awhile a big wind gust would hit us and threaten to blow us off the hill, but we persevered. Climbing, climbing, and more climbing. Pedal stroke, pedal stroke, pedal stroke. It’s true, sometimes a person just has to focus on keeping the pedals moving and nothing else. Finally the steep portion that caused me to stop the last time I rode this trail appeared and attacked it – up and over I went, and I continued on. Eventually I was on the descent and so completely satsified with myself. “Do I stop at the bottom and have a snack? Or do I just keep the rhythm going? Mmm, Big City Burrito sounds good, I’ll treat myself.”
I kept going. Almost immediately after coming off of Indian Summer you head up the Blue Sky climb. First time I rode this in January it didn’t go so well and I walked parts of it. Second time I was bound and determined to make it up it without stopping, only to have to stop when some people didn’t heed to the whole “yield to uphill riders” thing. Third time is a charm? Yes indeed! The climb seemed short. I reached the Coyote Ridge junction and wondered where all the hill had gone. It didn’t seem as long or as hard. What in the world?!
I pedaled against the wind the rest of the way down Blue Sky, but not feeling bad at all. I finally was feeling one with the Epic. We swooped around corners and I actively talked to myself about letting off the brakes a bit more. I spun the legs out for a few miles on the Inlet Bay trail, only being stopped by trail closures due to the wildfire. Otherwise I bet you anything I would’ve rode to Lory State Park just because I could it it felt good. The Epic covers ground amazingly fast, it would’ve been cake. People, please stop setting forests on fire – it hampers my trail time, dammit!
15.2 miles in less than two hours. I rocked it today. Best of all, I knocked 1 minute 15 seconds off of my personal best on the Blue Sky climb. No wonder it seemed shorter!
And yes, I did reward myself with a Big City potato burrito!
First MTB race is April 13th. I’m still wondering if I’ll be ready. I feel a bit better after today, but know I need to hit the trails hard until race day. Weather hasn’t been playing very nice lately, which always puts a damper on this. I’m also battling skittish mental demons that plague my mountain biking. I always fall off my bike to the left, no matter what, and therefore have a huge issue with left sided exposure. Even if I’m not even close to falling or riding off the trail if I even give it a one second thought usually somehow my body will make sure I try to fall off that left side. Last week it sent the Epic into a rock and me running 50 feet down an embankment for Horsetooth Reservoir. I’m also having an issue with taking corners at speed. I’m not sure where all these demons have come from but I wish they’d go away. The clock is ticking…