This was a much better idea back in February when I first put it on the calendar.
I met up with Doug C. and Ian, a Cat-1 roadie who was out for his first BBTC ride, at Redhook Brewery yesterday morning and although the snow that covered my car in the morning had melted on the drive to Woodinville, the air was still quite chilly as we pedaled south on the Sammamish River Trail. I had to dig my winter high-top cycling boots out of the closet for the first time since January and even had to don a pair of thick fleece gloves. This was supposed to be spring-like weather. We were supposed to be in shorts and short-sleeve jerseys, maybe wearing some arm-warmers at the most. I was in a foul mood before I even started.
The plan was to ride two laps of the Thrilla course (20 miles, 1680 feet of climbing per lap), stop and refuel at the cars, then head out for two more laps.
It was pretty clear right from the start that I felt like crap. Sure, not riding for 11 days probably had something to do with it (a foul weather induced malaise), but I had a million reasons why I wasn't really up for it yesterday. I was a bit whiny, I confess, but I tried to hang in there and get through it, knowing that I'd feel a whole lot better once it was done. Doug C, whose about 12 years my senior, was riding strong and although the trails were wetter and slicker than I had ever seen them, the sun was shining, we spotted a bald eagle, a hawk, and some deer, and well, it sure beat being inside all day working.
Ian bid us adieu after the first lap (he just wanted to see the route) and although I had a good mind to pull the plug on the ride right then, I kept on rolling right past Redhook and went into the second lap. Our first lap was right around 1:51, which although it felt a lot slower than a normal Thursday night lap, was actually right where we wanted it to be in order to try and average 2:00 laps. I felt a bit better on the second lap and although I was dropping off the back a bit, my spirits were lifting and I was starting to look forward to the third lap. Doug C. flatted right as we reached the pipeline trail on the return, but he runs Stans and the gloopy fibrous mixture filled the hole and all he had to do was pump it back up. No tube necessary. We finished the second lap around 1:54 and rolled back into Redhook's parking lot to put on some dry shirts, refill the Camelbacks, and have some grub. I had my customary pb&j burrito and can of V-8.
Just as we were preparing to venture out for a third lap, I gave my rear tire a squeeze to see if I needed to add any air (I'm very scientific, as you can see) and that's when I noticed my rear hub was very lose. Can I just say I hate these @&*%(*&$(! Chris King Hubs!!! This same thing happened at TransRockies last summer. I thought my day was done on account of not having the CK tools or any spanners with me, but Doug C. suggested we ride a couple miles into Woodinville and have the guys at the bike shop there fix it. Then we could ride on and, if we push it, hopefully still finish before dark.
Getting back on the bike hurt. My legs hurt when I looked at them; throwing them over the seat and pedaling was an excercise in agony. I couldn't remember ever being so sore from just four hours of riding. I had serious reservations about continuing on. I was getting downright grumpy. Fortunately, the bike mechanic, Mike, at the shop in Woodinville was able to get us out the door with my hub all tightened up in 10-15 minutes or so and for only $5. Very cool of them. We thought about doing the final two laps in the out-and-back all-dirt fashion, but neither of us wanted to ride up heart-attack hill, so we just continued south back to the powerline trail and started our third lap in the typical fashion. My legs started to feel better, but the saddle sores I was getting weren't. I blew a seam on the chamois on my cycling tights and it was rubbing. Not fun.
It was on the powerline trail where my day came to an end. I had to walk up the hill to Route 202 and damn well passed out from exhaustion at that point. I had to completely granny gear my way up the switchback portion of the trail -- a section I normally middle ring and have on occasion big-ringed. I was fried, toast, finished, kaput. The captain of the ship was staging a mutiny against his own damn self.
I felt bad turning around and telling Doug C. to go on without me, after all, it was my idea to do this stupid ride, but I couldn't go on. So while Doug C. soldiered on for a third lap, I dragged my carcass back to the brewery at a snail's pace for a rather depressing 51 miles and about 3500 feet of climbing. If you combined the pain from all the long-distance traiing rides we did this winter, it wouldn't add up to how I was feeling today. Clearly not riding much lately has taken a toll. I got pretty ill on the drive home and almost made a mess in Redmond, but fortunately was able to keep down the food I had after the ride.
Doug C. called eventually to say that he ended up completing all 4 laps. Amazing. To not only keep on going when I turned around, but to then do another lap on top of that?!? Major kudos to him. That's just awesome. After all, it's not like he was feeling perfectly fine when I bailed. But he's a stud, what else can I say?
Anyway, it's clear that with just 53 days to go before the 24 hour race in Spokane, I've got to get my arse in gear. Gotta get the mojo back. Somehow.
I think a return to sunny weather might do the trick... so long as I'm not catching the flu.
Unless things change quickly, I don't see the Spokane race going too well this year.