Monday, March 15, 2010


The day started out bright and clear.  I had stayed up way to late have a great discussion with friends.  I figured it was good training since I rarely sleep well the night before a race.  I rolled out of bed, drank some coffee, and got my gear ready to roll.  The plan was to ride the same route as 2 weeks ago, but this time ride all the way home without having to call for a ride.  I was tired and glad it was not rainy or cold, because I really wanted to go back home and relax.  
I kept a steady pace as I rode up Hwy 70 through Swannanoa and Black Mountain.  I was going to attempt to eat a little more food today to see if my current nutrition plan was sustaining me properly, or my body could absorb a little more.

Due to feeling sluggish and the heavy rains the night before, I decided to skip Kitsuma and head down Mill Creek rd.  The Kendas stuck to the gravel road like tires should.  I wound around and down into the valley, relaxed and enjoying myself.  Across the creek where ORAMM rest stop 1 and 5 are, then a right turn up the steep hill, across the train tracks and into the woods.  Crossing the train tracks at this point is a lot like entering the Wardrobe and finding oneself in Narnia.....Mountain Biking Narnia!

Feeling good and cruising along, my thoughts drifted to my goals this year.  I imagine that my current pace is close to my race pace, although in another 3 weeks when racing starts, I hope to be  a little bit faster.  That's what intervals are for.  I'm not planning on killing it this year,  simply planning on finishing.  Although, I don't plan on taking all day to do it.  Slow and steady is  my motto.

I climbed up Lower Heartbreak and dropped over the ridge down Star Gap.  This is one my my favorite area trails.  Good views,  less traveled,  nice switchbacks, trail that winds along the contours of the mountains.  Down to Jarrets Creek rd which winds around and up and down for about 1 hr of double track.  There are clouds building in the sky, and the temp feels like it is dropping ever so slightly.  Rain is forecast to move in around noon, and I am hoping to be home by 2pm.  I'm also hoping that the rain will be late.

Riding out of the woods and across Curtis Creek, I nod to the fishermen.  Out on the pavement, I stop briefly to take a picture of the first signs of looming spring.  I'm running out of water so I pull into the EMT station on Hwy 70.  Dismounting, I lean my bike up against the building and walk up to the door. Hand raised to knock, the door opens and two EMT 's are there, clipboard in hand, already assessing the situation.  I'm pretty sure these are the same ones who took me to the hospital 2 yrs ago, but it is hard to tell since I was not really coherent at that time, laying in the grass, dry heaving.  I ask if I could use the water spigot to fill my bottles, and they  laugh and told me that would be fine.  I respond by assuring them that if I can fill my bottles here, they will not have to give me an IV.  We laugh, I get the water I need and head on down the road. 
Up to this point I have felt good, but as I pass through Old Fort, I start to feel a little funky.  I drink some water and eat some food hoping the feeling will pass.  I adjust my speed and my heartrate drops.  I work to bring it back up to my endurance zone and start feeling funky again.  I try several different things and then a bit of something I read or heard popped into my head.   Something happens when you are out there for that long.

Quite simply put, after x amount of exercise,  ones hear rate drops and more effort is needed to keep the heart rate in the target zone.  Not realizing that this was an important part of the ride, I have been ignoring RPE ( rate of Perceived Exertion ) in favor of maintaining my target heart rate.

At this point I was still 15 miles from home,  a little over 1 hr.  I felt like vomiting, it was cold, windy and storm clouds were building in the distance.  I wanted to pull the phone out and call Rhonda for a ride home.  I also wanted to let her know that I was alive, and how long it would take me to get home.  I decided not to do either, because I knew that if I did the latter, I would also do the former. 

With the light bulb now on in my head, my brain churned while figuring out what to do.  The result was less attention on Target HR and more attention to RPE. 

I started to feel better after that.  I put the bike in an easy gear and spun down the road.  I was actually starting to enjoy the ride again.  I was feeling good,  like I could have kept riding, although at the moment I had no desire to do so. 

I managed to get home before the rain/sleet started to fall.  5 hrs 45 minutes, 61 miles.  I am pumped now about going long again.  I feel like I found the missing link,  the key to my frustration.   I have read about it, and talked about listening to my body, but until  this ride, it just did not make sense.  !!!

Home, tired, ready to get cleaned up and go get some Okie Dokies BBQ with good friends.   I splurged and went for a half rack of ribs.  The juicy meat, seasoned to perfection, fell off the bones and melted in my mouth.  The baked, beans, hush puppies and fried pickles,  rounded out the day quite well!!

Have a great day.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Oh YEAH! We're still basking in the Okie Dokie glow :-)

Glad to hear things are coming together; what was it Alison Dunlap says in Off-Road to Athens? That part of the sport is always learning, even after doing it for so many years?

Looking forward to riding together soon!