Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fruita Recap

I never finished recapping the Fruita, CO mountain biking trip, so here goes:

The 29er bike was great for going over drops and big rocks

On the Western Rim Trail

Day 2 Lunch under the only shade on the trail!
Day 2 was another hot day with lots of climbing and big rocks to overcome.  I did pretty well but was well behind the rest of the pack because of my fear of spiny ridges (I felt like I was going to fall all the way down the mountain when biking on a skinny strip of dirt) and my lack of endurance.  We did part of the Western Rim Trail which was pretty amazing- seeing the giant canyons and getting to bike along there!  There was no shade for most of the trail though so we got a lot of sun exposure.  Lunch was under the biggest rock out there.  We got to camp okay but I was feeling pretty awful by the time we settled down for the night (in camping time that is 4 pm!).  My stomach felt queasy (it felt like it was overfull with water) and I ended up lying down in the tent and around 7:30 pm, I hurled all the contents of that day, pretty much filling up a large ziploc bag with watery vomit. It was oh so pleasant.  But I did feel better after throwing up.  I'm not sure if it was a bad tomato or the turkey in my lunch sandwich or the heat or something else but my stomach just wasn't behaving.  I felt pretty tired after this and ended up taking an abbreviated ride with one of the guides (John) on Day 3.  The rest of the crew did the long, hard tough ride (they told me Day 3 was the hardest!).  I was okay missing it though. I ended up doing part of the Kokeppeli trail (Rustler's loop and part of Mary's trails) and that was enough for me! The trails included great views of the Colorado river.
Day 4 and 5 in the North Fruita Desert 18 Road trails
Day 4 was totally different from the first 3 days, we were on the 18 Road trails which is really close to town so we saw more people out on the trails.  We did Joe's ridge, Prime Cut, and Kessel Run (get the Star Wars reference? I didn't!).  Kessel was really fun, you didn't even need to break and there were some rocks you could huck off of, of course, it was impossible to get a picture taken because everyone was enjoying just going really fast.  Prime Cut was the long uphill after doing Kessel Run and then Joe's Ridge was the challenging spiny ridge line climb and downhill.  In order to not let the fear get to me, I focused on just the strip in front of my bike and didn't dare look to the sides because I knew I would end up falling off the mountain!  I felt really proud of myself for doing Joe's Ridge and figured that was it for my "challenging" rides but Simon said I was going to do Zippity Do Da (a longer, harder version of Joe's Ridge). It was getting really windy so we ended up doing other trails and saved Zippity for the last day.

Day 5: Zippity and someone getting hurt.
I took this from the Zippity ridgeline above, not knowing that Pete had fallen and the biker going to that first peak is where it happened!
On the morning of day 5, all 3 guides geared up to go riding with us.  We were all looking forward to doing Zippity and the first 2/3 of the trail was pretty exciting and scary when we found out that one of friends (Pete) got hurt after landing badly on a hill.  He was going so fast that when he crested the hill, he hit a loose dirt patch and his bike started doing cartwheels.  We saw him on the side of the hill in pain and hurt badly.  An ambulance took him off the trails and he ended up having 3 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a broken wrist.  It was not a great way to end our trip but that is how it ended.  Pete is mending and there was no permanent damage, just a little disappointment and regret for getting hurt.  In the end, I think I got about 70 miles of riding in 5 days, it was pretty awesome. I like Western Spirit mountain biking trips. This was my third one in 5 years and they do a consistently great job. The guides are cool, they know how to mountain bike (they are the true BAMFs) and they are so unassuming about it all! I hope someday I can ride like they do.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm still exercising!

The past week has been too busy to allow blogging but I have been working out.
Friday: hilly single track near my apartment, affectionately known trail "Sludge". Even in the easy direction, there are some good climbs. It was about 4 miles total.
Saturday: trail run at Umstead, Sycamore trail 7.5 miles, it took me a long time! By 5 miles I was spent but I soldiered on to finish.
Sunday: a casual hike on the Company Mill trail with my parents, we did 4 miles.
Monday (today): bike ride at Umstead park on the bridle trails, a total of 16 miles.
I'm aiming to ramp up the intensity of my workouts in June and go back to Forged Fitness. I need the discipline of going to the gym at 6 am and seeing people to adhere to intense workouts.
My back feels normal but I still have some joint pain, I'm no longer sure if the physical therapist can do anything for me, so I'm going to see the chiropractor. If that doesn't work, it's off to see an orthopedist.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fruita, Colorado Trip Day 1

I am back from my mountain biking vacation and was unprepared to come back to work. After waking up every morning for five days and heading out for a bike ride, it was not very exciting to have to wake up and drive to work and sit at my desk all day. But I did get a bike ride in after work yesterday and felt better.

We got to Grand Junction, CO on Saturday around 7:30 pm because I inadvertently misread the departure time- I thought we were departing at 6:30 am, but the plane was leaving at 6 am!  We still managed to check in our luggages but security slowed us down and we missed the plane by 2 minutes :(.  This meant we had to take a later flight and ended up in the Houston airport for 7 hours!  And the Houston airport is not that interesting.  I did end up getting a book I've been interested in for a while now - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks so that was a good way to pass the time.  The next morning we met up with our Western Spirit guides (Josh, John and Simon) and loaded up the van and trailer with our gear and headed out for a bike ride. 

John and Josh loading up the van with mountain bikes!
We started off the trip with Rabbit Valley and took the singletrack Zion Curtain Trail.  The views were amazing, the rocks were big, the hills were long. It was a great first day.  It was also sunny with no trees around!  I had eaten about 10 strawberry and cherry Starburst chews at the start of the ride and I think that kept my energy up.   We did about 21 miles that first day and got to camp by ~ 3 pm (started off riding at 9:30 am).
Me and some of my fellow riders, there was 9 of us from the Raleigh area + 3 guides from Western Spirit.
Taking a break off the bike and checking out the amazing views.
Lunch on the trail.
I wore knee pads and elbow pads to ensure that I didn't ruin my ride by being hurt if I fell!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Biking, running, and motivation

I tried writing a post two days ago but the computer ate it up.  I've been biking but not as much as a I hoped for.  Saturday we did 15 miles of Umstead and 5 miles of singletrack at Delta Ridge.  Delta ridge was challenging, steep hills and ridge lines where you could fall into the creek if you didn't keep your balance up.  And we get caught in a heavy thundershower right after we finished Delta ridge.  We waited maybe 5-10 minutes before trying to bike again and after another five minutes, the rain subsided and we were getting dry.   It was a good ride, my legs worked pretty hard.  We would have done even more miles if the weather had cooperated but I still felt like we put in some quality miles.

On Sunday, we did a trail run at Umstead park.  I only managed to do part of the Company mill trail ~ 4 miles.  It hurt a little bit to run after about 2 miles so I ended up walking back the last 2 miles.  I think running is going to be incrementally better but it will take more time than the biking.

On Monday, I did my Umstead loop with John, and we cheated a bit and didn't do the Cedar Ridge loop (all the rain over the weekend made the creek crossing too high for our bikes) and did about 16 miles total at 10.5 mph pace.

On Tuesday - I was too late for the girls' ride at Crabtree and ended up using my time to pack for the Colorado trip.

On Wednesday - it poured! So no biking. I did go to the gym and did 1/4 mile intervals (5) at an 11:32 min/mile pace interspersed with 3 dips on the dip bars.  I still need to dip lower but it's hard to tell that when you are actually doing it!  I also did my bicep curls and dumbbell presses with 15 lb dumbbells.  I did the core exercises my physical therapist recommended and 20 pushups.  This was the first day I felt motivated to do anything in the gym!  It's been tough, I'm not sure why I was able to consistently go to Forged Fitness and work out at 6 am but now I feel like I'm dragging to get myself into the gym on my own.  It hasn't helped that I've needed to go into work earlier and that I tend to dawdle in the morning.  Hopefully after my vacation next week, I'll get more focused.  Plus, I am definitely planning on starting Forged Fitness crossfit workouts in June so I'll be back on a program.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More Biking!

Although I've been a slacker as far as the weight lifting goes, I have been keeping up with the biking.  On Tuesday night, I hosted the women-only ride at Lake Crabtree, it was a small showing this week - only 5 of us but it was still fun.  I ended up doing about 9.2 miles total at a very leisurely pace of 7.8 mph.  It definitely was an "easy, easy" workout.  I can only afford to do one of those every week otherwise I will end up not really exercising at all.

On Wednesday, I pushed it a bit harder by going on a mountain bike ride at San Lee Park.  Now when I first joined the biking community in North Carolina, San Lee was my third or fourth ride with a group and it kicked my ass. It still kicks my ass but I am very happy with how much I've progressed with my skills, balance and stamina on the trails here.  If you want to feel something like what is up north in Amherst, MA, ride San Lee.  It's rocky, challenging and has many tight turns.  I ended up doing about 9 miles there at a 6.2 mph pace.  Pretty slow but better than my old pace!  Plus, I had energy left and that means next time I have to go faster.  My goal is to bike San Lee once a week.  The overall biking strategy is try something different every day.  So Mondays will be my Umstead hill ride, Tuesday is the girls' ride, Wednesday San Lee, Thursday is off unless I'm feeling super energetic and Friday is the wild card.  Saturday will be dedicated to epic or semi-epic rides (meaning 20+ miles and mostly on singletrack).  Sunday shall be a day of rest unless I bailed on Saturday's ride.

I love mountain biking, there is no better feeling that rolling your bike through the forest and feeling the adventure of it all.  I've thought about it and I think mountain biking satisfies that need to do something crazy/tough, I have some friends who are into the "mud" runs (i.e Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Spartan race, etc.) because they like the obstacle courses and the break in the monotony of running (their perception, not mine, I love just running through the woods, I don't need to slog through mud or climb a wall and jump down).  And the more I think about it, mountain biking has the obstacle course in situ, you ride good trails and you will find rocks to huck off of, logs to hop over, skinnies to challenge your balance skills, and steep hills to bomb down, and more!  Is it for everyone? Probably not.  Is it easy to clean all the obstacles? No, but that's the fun of it and that is what keeps it from getting boring (again for some people).  I've been biking on trails for over 10 years but I would say that I have only been a "mountain biker" for the last two years because I've finally learned some skills and mountain biking has become a sport for me.  The vague difference is that prior to 2010, I couldn't do much other than just pedal and get over very tiny logs that my bike would just roll over, now I can conquer 6-8" logs, I can ride some skinnies, I can maneuver through some rock gardens, I've hucked off some rocks and I love bombing down hills.  I feel stronger and more comfortable on my bike and my bike handling skills have just come a long way.  But like most anything you want to be good at, it takes time, it takes those 10,000 hours to become great and you have to invest in the time in order to really enjoy this sport.  Happy riding.

Growing as a mountain biker: conquering small log piles

Nothing is better than being out in the woods on your bike!