I set out for tonight's "Thrilla in Woodinvilla" ride with temps in the mid 30's, a crusty layer of snow and ice on the trails, and a thick blanket of fog rolling in. The weekly fast-paced training ride has really grown on me in the few times I've ridden it. Maybe it's that it gives me a chance to ride with folks I don't often see or maybe it's the simple fact that we finish the ride at the Redhook Brewery for, as the ride leader puts it, "an excuse to drink barleypop". Or maybe it's the simplicity of the ride. We ride through various gravel roads and highly groomed trails in the Redmond area for 21 miles and rack up about 1650 feet of climbing. The pace is always fast and we seldom pause for a breather. Yep, it's a training ride. Not a hammer fest. But close.
Accuweather said it would rain between five and six in the evening and then give way to clouds and fog for the remainder of the evening. I've grown to trust Accuweather, but my toes ached at the thought of being out for two hours -- wet -- in those temps. I ordered the Lake Winter MTB shoes the other day (20% off at www.LickBike.com) but they hadn't gotten here yet. The email I received said they were shipped on Monday and I woke up this morning with two thoughts on my mind: 1) work, 2) will my shoes show up in time for tonight's ride?
I ran to the window several times today. Whenever I heard a loud door shut or the sound of a delivery truck, I flew to the window to see if Brown Santa had come. In one twisted act of irony, the doorbell even rang. I ran down the stairs hoping to have to sign for a shoebox-shaped package. But no, it was Fed-Ex with another copy of the beta for "Lost Planet" on my doorstep. You know, just in case I have time to play through it for a fourth or fifth time (for the record my absolute, no-excuses, drop-dead date for the guidebook is Sunday).
I couldn't believe it. I didn't just want those shoes, I needed them. Did I mention it was going to be thirty-something degrees out? I racked my bike on the truck and loaded up my clothing and gloves and whatnot around 4pm, took one more glance out the window -- he hadn't come yet -- and got in the truck, resigned to the fact that I will likely suffer extreme pain in my feet tonight.
And then I saw him. As I was exiting my neighborhood, the jolly box truck of Brown Santa turned in. Could he? Could he possibly have a package for me? Does warmth come in a box? Tonight it might! I whipped my truck around when the light turned green and gave chase. When I noticed him turn down the street before mine, I flew past and went straight home. I'd wait for him on the sidewalk. And there I stood. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Nothing. He never showed. I was forgotten for another day.
It's not fun having your spirits lifted only to have them dashed for the umpteenth time in one day. But I was riding nonetheless. Frostbite be damned!
Halfway through the 21 mile ride I started to lose feeling in my fingertips and my toes were going numb. But I felt great. The steady diet of 2-hour rides on the stationary trainer and Spinervals workouts is paying off. It's only been a week, but this time I was at the front for most of the ride. Pushing the pace, Taking turns leading. And guiding us home with the bright white of my HID NiteRider headlamp. Last week, I was the waitee. Tonight I was the one doing the waiting. And when I finished the ride, I got inside my truck, cranked the heat, and stripped out of my soaked-with-sweat-and-snowmelt cycling clothing and smiled. My toes were indeed frozen and they did hurt like hell, but this was a breakthrouh ride as much as one can have one after just 10 days of regimented training. I know my body. And I know this was a breakthrough.
Nobody likes riding the stationary trainer in the garage for 2 hours every night. But it works. It most certainly works. Last week I posted that my performance last Wednesday erased any sense of confidence I had regarding TransRockies. It's a week and about 160 miles later and I'm here to say the confidence is back.
In moderation of course. I'm not crazy.