Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday's Stage

When the alarm went off at 5:30 am, I was already mostly awake. Then the coffee pot cranked up and got some delicious, Kinetic Coffee brewing. I rolled over and got up, feeling stiff. I was more awake than yesterday so things were looking hopeful. I went about getting my things ready to go, and was loaded by 6:45 am. As I was driving down the road, looking at the dark, cloudy, cold sky, I wondered if I should go back home and get my warm hat. I opted not too, because I was already 10 minutes from the house.

I got to the start venue, changed and dreaded the ride. It was chilly and a bit rainy. But, the forecast, which is often not reliable in the mountains, said it was going to clear up and warm up. It never did.

We started with a pavement ride to the Turkey Pen Trail head. I knew that it would be worth the effort to get in the lead pack and get pulled to Turkey Pen. I positioned myself in the top 20 and cruised. I got a few moments to chat with Jeremiah and Sam but they were focused on what was ahead, so I cut the chit chat.

We hit the dirt road to Turkey Pen and I cut back. My heart rate was 180 which was way too high.
Next up was a series of 7 river crossings. It was cold but not as cold as it was in January. Then we climbed up the same road that we climbed yesterday, to the 1st rest stop at Yellow Gap. I stopped to fill my bottles, and wring out my socks by the fire.

Next up was one of my favorite trails. It was 36 degrees at the trail head and colder up higher. As I rode up, I mingled with a few other racers, but since I was riding my own pace, I quickly found myself alone. Then I saw a couple of snowflakes. Looking farther up the mountain, I could see that it was snowing. Very cool.

Mike and Shaun, course marshals were out there along the trail. They have been bike packing the course and volunteering.

As I wound higher the snow thickened and started sticking. At the top of the trail there was about 1/4 inch on the trees and leaves.

Down Pilot Mtn Trail I was determined to preserve my back, so I took it easy and walked a lot of sections that I usually ride. My back was feeling a lot better today, still stiff though, and I did not want to re-injure it. As I neared the gnarliest section I could hear voices. They saw me and started cheering me on. I had to ride it. And I almost did, I bobbled at the end but got a round of applause anyway. It was great to see smiling faces of my mtn bike friends!! Dicky, Eric W, and Beth were the ones I remember, there were others but I'll need a picture to relive the moment.

Onward to the next rest stop then to Avery Creek Trail. Believe it or not, this was my first time on Avery Creek. It's a great trail that I will have to ride again when my back is more flexible. I again played it safe and walked the steeper drops.

Once reaching the Horse Stables I knew that I could finish, but had to resist the urge to push it. I have one day left and want to finish well. So, I took it easy up the really long gravel climb. It was great to reach the top , do the dreaded hike a bike again, and roll down Black Mtn Trail to the finish. 37 miles, 6hrs and 30 minutes.

Have a great day!!
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