Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Weekend Trifecta

Skishoe: ~4 miles, Zimmerman Loop
Run: 18 miles flat, MUP through Boyd Lake
Road bike: 108 miles, mixed climbing and flat.

Fri night/Saturday was grey and cloudy, as promised, so we abandoned Fri night camping plans. But Cameron Pass was still getting snow. We left at dawn so we could get there when the snow was the coldest. As we made our way up the Pass, we hit light rain. Lower elevation stuff, including Big South, is significantly melting out, but soon enough, we hit the magic transition to winter wonderland: rain gave way to falling snow, and trees frosted white.

We hadn't been to Michigan Ditch in awhile, so that was our first stop, but the backside of the pass was pretty windy, and opted for the tree-sheltered Zimmerman Loop. A repeat, for sure, but still always a good one.

Besides a very faint single set of ski tracks, we broke trail through sticky snow on the way up. We took a leisurely stroll around the lake, something I hadn't done this year. We went past the wind-swept mounds where, last year, I spent a night in a snow cave. It was still enjoyable snow, especially as it was still falling, but it was just as much work coming back down as it was coming up. Glorified snowshoeing with planks on my feet. Saw no one else: just my wife and the mountains, which is pretty much all I need.

Part of the deal of getting up the canyon by 7 and done by 9:30, was to be back for breakfast at 11.

We'd eaten at Snooze in Denver before and loved it (in fact, a flight of pancakes was my last breakfast before the Silver Rush last year), so we were excited to see one in the Fort. I knew there'd be a wait since we were north of 11AM -- hipster hangover happy hour -- but we took some time to stroll around the nearby outdoor French Market.

After an hour of waiting, Jessica noticed her coworker friend Kelly sitting in the corner. As we got called for a table, the staff quickly accommodated us as a new group of 4, and we had a great time chatting with Kelly and John over a delicious breakfast.

Rainy Tempo Run
It was still cloudy and grey, with pregnant clouds threatening to break, but it was time for a run.

I've felt sore and sluggish for a few weeks now, maybe a month. I've been running more long, slow miles, than typical for this time of year...and racing more long, slow miles, for better or for worse, caught between tapering and recovering. The 50-miler beat me up, but not as much as I thought it would, and the next week's Crosier Mt. run actually beat my up about the same, in half the distance. Either way, my legs still feel a little dull, I've been shortchanging tempo runs and speedwork...and I'm overdue for adding it back.

Time to head back to known quantities. I have an 18-mile out-and-back to Boyd Lake that was my bread-and-butter weekday medium run when taking classes a couple years ago. It's got some neat symmetry and reassuring features to it: 4.5 miles rolling hills to get there; 4.5 miles on 1/4 mile-marked MUP along the lake; water fountains in the summer, and a Dazbog at the other end for water or coffee otherwise. Sure, I love being on the trail, I love being in the mountains, but constraints are reality. I decided to push the pace for the first half, and take it easier coming back. I ran shirtless through the wind and rain, and I got something back that I've been missing for a month or two: the joy of moving swiftly yet effortlessly, without having to think about foot placement -- a chance for my mind to drift off and think about whatever it wants.

That is, the 'constraint' of having to run flat and non-technical, right outside my house, can be remarkably liberating.

Ytinummoc Cissalc Century Ride

Most years, I've already done a century ride (or a few) on the road by now. More running/racing and sublimely crappy weather have put the damper on that for the most part, but I assume I can mail in a hundred miles at any time during the year, even though my legs are certainly not rested. Time to test that assertion. (Last year, 3rd week of May, I was pedaling a bike from the bottom (sea level) to the top (10k+ feet) of Maui).

Sunday -- finally! -- lived up to its name. On the road by 6, I sketched out a route that had early climbing, and late flats. Basically, I took the standard Carter Lake route via Masonville, and tacked on a Hygiene/Longmont/Mead section, then straight up to Windsor.

The morning was beautiful, and I had a bit of a slow climb up Horsetooth. I fiddled with some mechanicals, finding quite a bit of resistance in the derailleur pulleys (insert "I-told-you-so", Neil!) Loosening one of the pulleys made a significant difference. I enjoyed the alternating sun and shadow as I descended to Masonville, where I noticed an aid station.

The "Community Classic" was today, a metric century starting from Loveland. I've found myself riding large sections of organized rides at least half a dozen times now, and all but one of those times I was riding the opposite direction. (The lone exception: I caught up to the tail end of a ride up the Big Thompson canyon, and people clapped/cheered as I reached an aid station for a charity ride -- although I was completely fresh and moving, they thought I was one of the last riders! I replied: "Sorry, I'm just a guy riding his bike!", protested politely when they offered me food and drink, and finally gave in. Then, as I started moving again, I felt kind of bad but tried to cheer on the riders I past going up the Glenhaven swichbacks).

But today, again, was in reverse, which is the direction I prefer, as it gives me a chance to see hundreds, or even thousands, of folks smiling and riding their bikes. I appreciated their enthusiasm as they flew down Carter while I was climbing; and I hope they felt it the other way. And from a practical standpoint, I enjoyed the heightened driver awareness due to all the other bikes on the road.

In either case, that part of the ride was quite enjoyable. I started feeling better the more I rode.

Then, I made my way to Hygiene, and followed the map to North Longmont. Previously, I've skipped through or taken main roads, but since "Mountain View Ave" was a green line on Google maps, I went for it. It was a decent bike lane through neighborhoods, until it was time to head North.

Now I was feeling pretty good. The road I was on -- Co Rd 1 / County Line -- had no shoulder to speak of, but I still glued myself to the white line, enjoying the day in a more rural setting.

And then, something skittered in front of my front tire, as a car went by: a full water bottle.
Instantly, my naive and optimistic mind thought, "Ooops, somebody dropped something!" Then reality sunk in: somebody apparently thought it would be hilarious to take down a guy out riding his bike. Did they place bets before doing this -- will he break an arm? A leg? Will he crash into oncoming traffic and not come home to his wife? No, of course they weren't thinking like that.

What remains is a sick social construct where people can get away with dangerous activity that endangers the lives of others, empowered enclosed and protected in a car, and the virtual anonymity it gives -- what if every license plate and owner were listed publicly instead?

But I digress, and was able to enjoy the rest of my ride. I made it through Johnstown and hit some headwind. Rather than ride a hundred before coming home, I headed straight north to Windsor, and arrived home with 90-some miles down. J came down and hopped on her bike, and we leisurely made our way up to Dairy Queen off of the Spring Creek trail, one of our favorite warm-weather pastimes.

Riding the path in town was a zigzagging zoo of families out enjoying the weather -- and it was great. Serendipitiously, we saw sister Christina out for a ride, and we made a caravan of 3 to DQ. With a mint M&M blizzard, hanging out on the grass near Spring Creek, life couldn't have been much better.

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