Training, racing, gear, facial hair styles and thoughts from my push to become an elite cyclist.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weekend Rides

With Dark Horse in the rear view mirror I set about the task of recovery with the goal of getting ready for my season's objective, the Hampshire 100 on August 21.  After enjoying a week of general sloth and restlessness I made plans for some long-ish rides that would be fun but not too taxing.

Last year I made the mistake of rushing my recovery coming out of the Vermont 50, and I paid for it.  This season I'm in better shape, and I have been rebounding from hard efforts more quickly, but I still wanted to strike the right balance between recovering from my last race and training for the next. 

In previous posts I've mentioned how I'm planning on entering 4 ultra endurance events this season.  That doesn't sound like much, but it takes me about a week to recover from a 4 hour race and about an extra day for every hour on top of that.  With all of that in mind I knew I was going to be able to handle some riding, but determining how much is always a tough call.

Thursday's trail/skills ride with Ben went well, and in addition to riding smoothly I felt like I wanted to ride longer- and that's always a good sign.  I made plans to ride the Kingdom Trails with Ryan and the Mountain Bike Vermont crew. 

On Friday my new SID XX 29er arrived, and I promptly installed installed it.  While dithering with star nut setters and crown race pullers I discussed some ride recommendations with George.  Although the Kingdom Trails aren't far away I still have a hard time getting there and usually end up riding local terrain that is all too familiar.  He gave me some good advice on which trails to hit, and I dutifully typed them into my phone.

SID XX 29er in situ on the RSL.

In my usual motivated but late starting fashion I got to the Kingdom at around 3 and metup with Ryan.  After brief introductions I promptly forgot everyone's names and we collectively set about the task of ogling each other's bikes. 

Out on the trail we made our way up Darling Hill and the aerobic pecking order was quickly but considerately sorted out.  James, aka Slim, was pushing his 6" travel carbon Jekyll uphill at a solid clip.  I stayed on his wheel as we made cyclo-geek small talk.  From his innovative trail attire I could tell this guy was baller (green ECCC Leader's Jersey, orange and purple bib shorts and '97 Sidi DH boots), and played the name game as we soon discovered we're both UVM alumni.

We regrouped as the trail tilted downward and made our way into the woods on a fast, chattery downhill.  At this point the aforementioned pecking order reshuffled and I quickly made my way to the back as the long travel boys quickly showed their inspired downhill skills.  Ryan was battling with some drivetrain setup woes on his new Transition and had to head back to switch out his ailing 38 lb XC bike for his 32 lb "over-mountain" bike.   

James, Henry, Corbett and I kept riding and worked our way through a series of small loops before finally getting back to the main road.  Corbett's pedals had been malfunctioning so he peeled off and went back to the trailhead while the rest of us took the long way through the woods. 


After some regrouping at the parking lot the guys decided they wanted to hit some downhill runs at Burke Mountain, so I decided to pedal up with them to the lodge, then take Burham Down back to town.  I'd heard about this trail before as it is marked as a double black diamond, so I was eager to check it out.  As I turned onto the trail I reminded myself to be respectful of what their trail rating meant.  The trail ended up being a lot of fun, and while I had to pay attention to ride it clean I definitely enjoyed the quick rolling drops and numerous bridges that snake their way down the hillside. 

Back at the car I stuffed the bike in the trunk, changed into clean-ish street clothes and inhaled a large deli sandwich in that order.  The Bike and Brewfest was going on and I knew I'd need to have some food in my stomach to 1) recover from my effort and be able to ride again on Sunday and 2) spare myself the embarrassment of getting wasted off of 1 beer. 

In spite of the large number of sweaty dudes, the Bike and Brewfest was fun.  Many VT micro brews were on hand and a dirt jump expo was going on right in front of it all.  I didn't catch any of the riders names, but these guys were throwing down some serious tricks on the biggest dirt jump I've ever seen.  Ryan and I talked shop for a few minutes then I made my way back home.  

Sunday's plan was a mellow paced Stowe ride with George that was supposed to start at 9, then 10, and finally rolled out at 11.  We left from Weeks Hill Rd and made our way up towards some of the older trails in the Stowe area including Tamarack, Billings Rd, Peak-a-View and Laurens's Loop.

It was overcast with low hanging clouds and had rained the night before.  As we ascended the terrain got wetter and wetter, and we were soon riding in the high fog/low cloud cover that blanketed the town.  It was a beautiful backdrop that made for a dramatic setting and slick trails. 

At some point I got separated from George and Keller and spent the next 20-30 minutes riding by myself before reconnecting near the bottom of Lauren's Loop.  After several discussions I'm still not sure how we missed each other, but fortunately it didn't ruin the ride although it did mean that I did 2 more climbs than the other guys.

George and Keller were on their long travel bikes, and I wished for one as they were able to scale the slippery rock faces and wooden bridges.  Much like the day before I was able to push the pace when the trail pointed up, but a little bit more traction out back would have been welcome.  It should be just a few more weeks before the new YBB arrives...

Overall it was a great weekend, and I got to ride with friends on entirely new terrain.  I felt good and climbed reasonably well both days, so I hope that bodes well for the 100 in less than 2 weeks. 

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