Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spending some time on the course

So, this weekend was the last BIG training weekend for me for Race Across the West (coming up on June 17th) and stacked in with a big 3-Day weekend last weekend of 513 miles. But this weekend was me, girl alone, vs. the route that crosses Colorado.

I headed out to Antonito on the south east corner of Colorado Friday night. Got in to my hotel around 9:30, asked the innkeep if I could leave my car there and told him I'd be back on Monday. Quickly to bed and the alarm started going off at 6:00, though my pedals didn't turn til 6:45.

Saturday: Got up and pulled Artemous from the car. Loaded a backpack with raingear, credit card and ID, food, cell phone, and my new SPOT device. My plan was to ride the RAW course backwards to Durango, CO and spend the night there. Started out with a 20 mile gradual climb, followed by 5 miles of steepness to cross La Mangia Pass (or what I like to call Bite Me Pass). The weather was cool, but not too bad and my attitude was pretty good. Went down the other side (WHEE!) into Chama, NM. There's a steam railway between the two (tourist attraction) that unfortunately crosses the road a few times. WHAM. Hit one crossing at 45mph hard and I felt it. Stopped and saw my rear wheel was no longer true. Loosened the brakes and groaned a bit but was overall glad the damage wasn't worse. Saw a big plume of black smoke and cars pulled over on the road and it turns out this was opening day for the railroad.

Stopped in Chama for a cappuccino and watched the sites... townsfolk dressed in historical clothes and street fair atmosphere.

Left Chama to head towards Pagosa Springs. The route here was small rollers for about 20 miles then big rollers (a 1, 3, 4,and 5 mile climbs). Very pretty, lots of baby cows and horses. Got into Pagosa Spings around 2:00 and decided to have some pizza. As I was leaving the skies were starting to darken and that when things started to get interesting. The next 50+ miles were rain, hail, rain, and more rain.

Missed a turn, which gave me a shorter route than planned, but now I got to go across another pass with lots of dead deer on the side of the road. Scenic? Would have been without the deer and water. Made it to Durango at 7. (155 miles, 10:40 ridetime, 12 hours real time) Checked into the hotel and first showered the bike, then myself, and ordered in some Chinese delivery. Watched the game, and Drew (who got a late start) drove in around 9:30.

Sunday: All night it rained. Drip. Drip. Crap. And, my nose decided to start in on the fun. Drew decided to head back to Denver at 6:30 am and see if he could find dry land. I sat in bed like an abandoned puppy... wanting to go but knowing I needed to stay. My head was stuffed up, throat sore, ears sore, and did I mention it was raining.

Decided to go easy on Sunday, waited until the rain stopped at about 11 and rode the route out towards Cortez, CO. Misread the map and after an hour I was really discouraged by how hard I was working on a downhill. Looked again and it was uphill. Okay. That's better. Crested the hill and found I had to work the downhill too due to a strong West wind. Gave up after 24 miles, turned around and flew up the hill, then down 18 miles into Durango. Ate well, to bed early, tomorrow was the long day back to Antonito. (51 miles, 4:01 ride time)

Monday: Up and out the door by 6am. 5 mile climb out of Durango then made the turn (I missed on Sat) and did a nice roller section followed by 30 mile easy grade climb back to Pagosa Springs. Then the big rollers... uh oh. BIG storm brewing behind me. Found a RV park store right as the storm broke. Hung out there for awhile chatting with the owner... he has cats... lots of them... He started creeping me out asking why a "lil thing like me is out here all alone" so I thanked him for the shelter and headed out. Now the little rollers, the sun came back out, and I'm back to Chama. Stopped at the same gift shop for coke and cheetoes (dreaming of real food, but it is Mem Day evening in Chama NM). The store owner says that if my crew stops there he will give them some free fudge for me to eat at the finish of RAW.

Time to climb. 20 gradual miles, 3ish steeper, drop 5, then 5 miles to the top of Bite Me pass. Here we go. Hit the steep section and the rain drops start. Hit the first summit (10,100) and it starts to snow.
CRAP! I stop and assess the situation and I'm just screwed. Nowhere to go but continue. The drop was cold, but the next climb warmed me up.

But then badness. As I dropped off Bite Me pass my hand and feet froze, as did my brakes. I could barely control the bike, going 45mph. Finally stopped it and pulled off my wet gloves. This helped thaw my hands a little, I pulled my arm warmers down over them and continued on.
It's not like I had any choice.

Finally made if off the steep section and then it was an easy cruise into Antonito (20+ miles, 20+MPH). My feet were ice blocks, and I was a shivering mess when I hit the hotel at 8:30pm. Asked the innkeeper if there was any food around, and the restaurant nextdoor had just closed but he called and they threw together a cold ham sandwich for me (bless them! Wonder bread, American cheese and ham never tasted so good). Showered and crawled into bed.
169 miles, 12:34 ride time, 14+ hours road time.

Tuesday: Woke up with a good solid cold. Ears, nose, head all stuffed up. Coughing, sneezing, the works. SICK SUCK! Decided to ride the last climb towards Taos easy, just so I could feel it. Then, coast back to the hotel. (45 miles, 3:10). Drove the last part of the course into Taos. Had a good lunch (poached eggs on Spanish rice... YUM! I wish I knew how to make poached eggs!). Thought about riding the tail of the course but a look at the sky changed my mind fast. Bought a cool amber bracelet to remind myself where I am going... then drove home.

Now: Hmm... got a pretty serious spring cold going full steam today...
glad to have seen/felt most of the last 275 or so miles of the course...
really really glad I will be racing with a crew... Artemous will be visiting the shop again tomorrow for a cleanup, wheel truing, and 170 cranks... time to recover/taper/start the freak...3 weeks til race time...

Thanks for reading...
OCN: 5784 miles this year...

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