Spring Time, and Early Season Riding
Springtime brings us sunshine, dry trails and smiles. I have personally spent the last several years working my way through graduate school and then having a baby (not me personally, but this girl I know… aka my beautiful wife). I finally found myself a little bit of time between work and hanging out with our kids to try to get fit for a riding season. Many early mornings were spent this winter watching a tiny screen on an iPad mini while trying to pedal through workouts on the TrainerRoad app. If you haven’t tried this app before to get fit, I highly recommend it. It starts with a FTP test that develops a threshold number that they use to base your training program around. I was able to do a 6-week base block followed by a 6-week build block. Before my target ride, I was able to get in a couple weeks of a “peak” block. I wasn’t super strict on sticking to every scheduled ride, but I did what I could considering my life outside of riding bikes.
My first test on some dirt to see where my fitness was was the 18 hours of Fruita. This is an awesome event that features a 6ish mile loop of flowy, non-technical single track. My first night lap was an adventure where unfortunately an electrical malfunction left me riding half the lap without a light. It was exciting to say the least. I got back, got some sleep and woke up just in time for my first of 3-day laps. I was able to open it up, getting faster with each day lap I rode. By the end of the day, our team was happy with the effort we put forth and we enjoyed the post race party.
Next up for me was the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic held in Durango, CO. If you haven’t done this ride, you need to do it. It should be a bucket lister for anyone living in Colorado. It starts in Durango, CO and travels up highway 550 over Coalbank and Molas Passes. There are several ride and race options suitable for any and every rider. The full ride is about 50 miles with over 6000 feet of climbing. The start of my race was just after 0730. We had a group of close to 100 riders. We quickly made our way across the bottom of the valley before hitting the first of the climbs. This climb is known as the Shalona Climb and it’s the first time to really test your legs on race day. I realized pretty quickly that my legs didn’t have my normal punch and I saw the breakaway group pull away up the first climb. I was able to settle in across the top, and to Purgatory Resort before hitting the bottom of Coalbank. Again, I tried testing my legs, but they weren’t there. I sat back down and found a gear I could grind for the next 5 miles to the summit of Coalbank. I found a pretty strong group of younger Devo riders from Phoenix to help make the climb a little easier. We reached the summit, and tucked it down to the bottom of the next big climb. Molas greeted us with a nice headwind. This was insult to injury on a day where I didn’t quite have what I wanted in my legs from the first climb. The Phoenix boys slowly pulled away and I finished the rest of Molas grinding on my own. I finally reached the top of Molas and pedaled onward until I could see Silverton a couple switch-backs ahead. The streets of Silverton are lined for miles with people cheering on all the finishers. It is always so rewarding to pedal to the finish line after climbing over two mountain passes. I finished with a time of 2:53. Not quite achieving the goal I set for myself before the ride, but I still had a blast. This year was even more special for me as my wife signed up for the Iron Horse after buying a bike 2 weeks prior and getting on it a total of 5 times before completing the ride like a champion. She is such an athlete and inspiration! She even got crashed out at the top of Molas by someone who dropped a water bottle, but had a smile from ear to ear as she rode across the finish line. She is a rockstar!
Last night was the Ska/Zia/Trek town series race at Ska Brewing in Durango, CO. It was a short-track race that looped around the brewery lot through dirt and sagebrush with some berms and rock features. It then climbed behind the brewery and went into the loading area before descending the loading dock down a series of pallets. It is always the coolest town race of the year, which means all the top guns show up. The front two rows of the start line were made up of Olympians and National Champions with the likes of Howard Grotts, Todd Wells, Payson McElveen, Rotem Ishay and more. Needless to say I didn’t make the podium. It was an awesome course and the beer at the end was equally as good. Durango is such an amazing cycling community.
*Photo credit: Grady James