Not sure if I've mentioned it, but my goal for the near future is to successfully race the 12 Hrs of SoCal in the solo division. Yes, that's right....just me and my bike, together, for 12 hours. It will be the longest single continuous sporting event that I have taken part in. Granted, I have done two 24 hr races (most laps I completed was 5 or about 55 miles), a 12 hr group race, and even VQ (just shy of 9 hours), so I know what long days can be like. I even ran a marathon in 2007 (5 hours). But this time, the tables are turning. The only person that can hold me back and keep me from performing at my best level is myself.
Luckily, I've had the support of many people thus far and plenty of advice and guidance have already helped me to improve my riding. I have more endurance, I'm climbing stronger, and able to put in some solid efforts.
This weekend, the plan was to focus on steady state riding at SART on Saturday. I decided to stop less and focus on my nutrition. Intervals while riding Cuyamaca rounded out the weekend today.
Dan & I headed up to Allison & Justin's on Friday evening for our pre-SART rendevous. After watching some Giro and getting things ready, we all tried to get some rest. Last time we did SART together, I felt like absolute hell. We rode it in late June, a couple months after VQ. Admittedly, I was not in great shape at that point, having lapsed in my riding. I bonked less than halfway through the ride and barely finished the 50 miles. This year, I knew things would be different.
We arrived at Loch Leven, and I had some business to take care of. I said goodbye to a good friend...my DH bike. Yes, I sold it. I'm sad in a way, but also excited for what the future has to offer...my long-term goal (next year) is a mtb stage race (BC Bike Race? BreckEpic? who knows!)
Allison & I took off up the trail from Loch Leven, and it was already getting warm. We kept a good pace going up the hill...my focus was to keep my cadence high. I used to mash on my pedals. Not very efficient. I've been breaking the habit, slowly but surely. Not too long after, the boys caught us...they were motoring.
Allison & I start up from Loch Leven
I really focused on drinking water and HEED on a regular basis. I had switched away from HEED a while ago in favor of Hammer Gel...I guess I liked the gel better. But, it's easier for me to drink from the bottle than to rip open and fuss with a gel packet. I might try the flask again on the next long ride, so we'll see...jury's out on that one.
The trusty Yeti
We rode right past the store and up to SART. Weather was pretty clear and warm. Down, down, down we went...what a tease! The trail was in good shape. It was apparent that folks have been out there clearing the trail...thank you! I was descending terribly...my tires (over a year old) were pretty worn down and made the normally loose descent even sketchier in some spots.
At Glass Road, I stopped, pulled a fruit leather out, hopped back on the bike, and kept riding. Luke was up ahead, Dan, A & J behind. I thought for sure they'd be on me in no time. 6 miles later, I was still alone. The pull from Glass to South Fork is climb-y...I mentally came undone here last year. This year, I felt strong and focused on a consistent pace.
Up Middle Control...my other mental undoing from last year. L, A & J were already far up ahead. Dan stuck with me, and I put my head down and tried to keep a steady pace up the 5% grade. I felt pretty strong at the top (even took a picture of the waterfall) and was so surprised when we already reached the top.
[Aside: Dan has been so selfless this year in helping me train. He seems to instinctively know when I start to struggle, and will stay back with me. Though I am getting better, I used to fall apart when the group would pull away, leaving me to try to bridge the gap. He has pushed me, gently but with sway, in more ways than one.]
We wrapped up with a fun descent to Loch Leven. 45 miles today...longest non-road ride in probably a year. Dinner at Cuca's and some Giro love rounded out the evening, along with a visit from Ann and Andy :)
Today, Sunday, was our Tour de Cuyamaca. After a couple pit stops, we made it up to the park headquarters, greeted by sunshine and more warm temps. I burned my shoulders yesterday (the pack straps rubbed my sunscreen off) and my legs were definitely feeling it from SART. I did a couple intervals up Green Valley and was hitting LTHR pretty easily. I got another little push from Justin. He & Allison have taken me under their training wing...today, Justin rode an interval with me, yelling lots of encouragement. It helped tremendously, though at one point, I think I told him he was evil.
We did go up the fireroad to Middle Peak...another good climb. My nutrition was not as good today, and I felt dehydrated and 'off'. At one point, we hit 16%+ grade on the climb. I despearately wanted to drop a gear and make up some time trying to catch up with Dan, but I didn't have the push within myself. Consistent cadence was my fallback.
The scenery was gorgeous, though. After the 2003 Cedar Fire, the land has begun to bounce back. I'm sure it is nothing compared to its former beauty, but I enjoyed the backdrop today. Lunch at Manana's ended our weekend with our good friends.