My cold was instantaneously cured upon touch down in Denver. The long flight left me tired and jet lagged, but the quest to find my long-lost legs couldn’t wait a minute once I got back home.
I rode for three hours the day after I got back from Sweden, slowly plodding my way up to Ward then Lee Hill. I felt okay actually, likely because I was going very, very slowly. The next day I rode over five hours with Liam and felt absolutely horrible. I could barely pedal above 280 watts as my congested lungs begged, not commanded, the thin mountain air to oxygenate my screaming, unfit legs. Riding at least that hard was a necessity too, since Liam and I chose to ride Sunshine to Peak to Peak, down through Nederland, then up Magnolia back to Nederland–an idiotically steep route considering how screwed up I was. But I recovered. And over the next few weeks I’ve continued punishing my weak legs at a demoralizing pace, 20% slower than what I can normally do.
Even 10 days can make a huge difference. I smashed myself pretty hard throughout the following week with some long rides, threshold work, and sauna time, and was feeling strong enough to tackle my first race since Redlands. It’s been a long time, I know.
I rode out with Lang and Liam and one of Liam’s friends to the Koppenberg course on Sunday. It was hot, dusty, and the race consisted of eight, 5.5-mile laps. While super short, the race was hard, with a long dirt section that included a short, mean little climb. Crosswinds would also play into things.
This isn’t a race report blog post, it’s more of an overall of what I’ve been up to report, so I won’t go into the details.
I was good enough to attack on the climbs and make the lead group, which was down to eight guys on the fifth lap. But I flatted and my day was done just like that. I got off the bike and began walking to the start/finish with my thumb out, since there was no wheel support. The race promoter, Lance, picked me up so thankfully my hitch hiking was short lived.
It was my first real effort in a long time, and my lungs and legs were smashed even though I only did five laps. Adelaide got third in her race, so after riding home we celebrated by hiking up the mountain behind our house and splitting a half bottle of wine.
Throughout the next week (last week) I trained even harder, racking up 25 hours with VO2 intervals every couple days. By Saturday I was still feeling okay, and went out on a big ride with Andrew Clemence, Carson Christian, Nate Brown, Chad Young, Jason Keifer, Tyler and Will Nabors, Nadiya Mitelman, and Adelaide, who’d been sick the past three days but made a good recovery Friday night with a heavy coma sleep.
Heading north out of town on a luke-warm, sunny morning we made our way by Carter Lake, where the Gebhardt Automotive Cycling Classic will take place again next year under a new race promoter (me, gulp), then went up Big Thompson to Estes Park. I’d never done this climb before. It’s a cool but busy road with steep gray cliffs and a high-spirited little river that, just this fall, tore the hell out of every poor house in the canyon. I spent most of my time looking off into the river gorge wondering what it had been like when the water was at its full rage.
Skip the next five paragraphs if you don’t want to hear a stupid, pointless rant.
For no reason whatsoever, a cop car bull-horned us to stay to the right, single file. We were already riding in the shoulder and we WERE single file. We had been for the last hour. The police officer did say it in the politest of ways though.
A mile later the cop car was parked on the side of the road and the police officer was standing behind it, signaling for us to pull off the road. To get you on the same page of my rapidly building furry, think about how you’d react to “law” enforcement interfering with you during one of these scenarios: do the police hassle you when you’re playing a game of pick up soccer? Do they hassle you when you’re out on a run? In the gym lifting weights? On a hike in the mountains? No. The only time you get unjustly harassed by the cops is when you’re black, when you’re at an Occupy rally, when you’re homeless, when you’re making a documentary about the immoral practices of an evil corporation, or when you’re riding a bike. Having a talking to or getting screamed at by a cop is bad enough, and has happened dozens of times to me over the last eight years. I’ve also had them buzz me as well as slam their brakes on in front of me during group rides, trying to cause a crash. As a cyclist, my general patience with police is very small and I never look to them for protection or to take an honest view from my perspective. I trust them to always take the side of the motorist, no matter what. There are exceptions, but I’ve never encountered these understanding police officers since they have never been the ones to pull my group over or yell at me.
Anyways, I was so incredibly mad that the moment I came to a stop I got right to the root of my anger and asked why WE were being harassed for simply riding our bikes and trying to enjoy a nice sunny day. “We have a right to the road and we’re riding safely blah, blah, blah,” I can’t even remember what I said because I was so mad. Luckily Adelaide got a word in to shut me up for a half second so the police officer could explain herself. She was actually very polite and I do believe that she was just trying to help us be safe. It was still complete bullshit, of course.
“We’ve had a bunch of calls from motorists complaining about bikes taking up too much room.” Wait, what? Taking up too much room? Not the usual complaints about cyclists “acting rude,” when cars honk and buzz them, no complaints about bikes “riding recklessly” or “two abreast,” the later of course being completely legal. No, she’d had complaints from some lousy, worthless scumbag human beings about us taking up too much room and slowing down traffic. A motorist certainly wouldn’t complain to the cops about 10 slow-moving motor homes, which would stall traffic way more than a few bikes riding single file, taking up three feet of space on the shoulder of the road.
Unfortunately for society, the future of humans, and the health of our planet, the officer decided that the best thing to do was to pull US over instead of doing something real for our safety, like driving 100 meters in front of us for 10 minutes and ticketing all the cars that didn’t give the required three feet of passing space. We patiently let her talk and I bit my tongue and forced a smile since she was being polite. But the whole ordeal was such a load of bullshit that the flies are still buzzing around my poop-encrusted hair. I basically just stood still while a big old dump truck full of fresh manure backed up and unloaded all over me. Okay I’ve gone on enough of a rant about this. It wasn’t that big of a deal, the police officer really was one of the nicest I’ve encountered, and I didn’t even remember this happening until I started writing. Moving on:
We stayed mostly together up to Estes Park, regrouped, filled bottles, got food, and threw on warmer clothes at a café, then continued upwards. Some dark clouds were looming all around, and we began discussing the possibility of bailing down Highway 7 to Lyons instead of going to Ward. Snow was in the forecast.
The group broke up over the next few miles and four of us continued on to Ward, getting just a taste of snow the last few miles before making the turn down to home on Left Hand. When we got into Boulder I went back up Lee Hill for a little more climbing, then wrecked myself in the sauna for half an hour before calling it a day, which totaled 6.5 hours, 10,000 feet of elevation, and 122 miles. The pace had been chill and I felt fine at the end, better than I had at the start. I’m getting pumped for Nationals now that I finally have a hint of hope that I’ll be fit enough to have a good race. The Estes Park ride was a perfect way to cap off the hard week and it was a lot of fun riding with a new group of friends.
Now it’s Sunday and it’s snowing. Dumping actually. Last night it rained so hard that the power went out and the smoke detector started chirping. I angrily yanked it out of the ceiling and now it’s broken. Speaking of things that wake me up in the middle of the night, I hope this snowstorm kills the bird that lives above our window and screams super loudly at 4:00 O’clock every morning. Okay that’s a bit much. I’m not that cruel. But seriously, if that bird froze to death I wouldn’t lose sleep. Pun intended. Get it?
We did a ride a week ago up to Ward the day before the race. Adelaide, who hadn’t been training that much the past month, was slower than ever. The fact that she did so well in the race the following day, then was able to stay with us for most of the Estes Park ride was pretty amazing. Just shows how well the body remembers how to be fast. I’m hoping the same thing goes for me.
Adelaide, most of the office, and I did a SmartEtailing photo shoot on Tuesday morning. I was bribed into waking up early with free coffee and a Mexican lunch. Photo Courtesy of SmartEtailing, shot by Lisa Tharp.
Adelaide on the Koppenberg podium.