The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

40 Miles Feels Like… 40 Miles

The first half of our ride, more or less. The rest is a blur.

I’m guessing that you’re curious as to how I traveled these 40 miles, so I will keep you in suspense no longer – by bike. While I’m well aware that certain die-hard road bikers do “century club rides” (that would be 100 miles) with alarming frequency, this 40 miles trek was my longest to date. And boy, did it feel like long.

We started out strong from south Boulder with temps in the low 40’s. I was nervous. My heart is with my mountain bike and on single track it’s you versus trail, rock, trees, etc. But suddenly I was facing a much bigger, scarier foe (cue dark, gloomy music): cars.

My fear can partially be attributed to the results of an informal poll I have conducted that past 5 years or so. Every time I meet someone who is really passionate about road biking, I ask if they have ever been hit by a car. The answer, without exception, is “yes”. This is not a comfortable margin for me.

So, with the fear of Not Being In Control in my heart and two Boulder locals, we wove through the intricate system of Boulder bike trails before striking out on highway 36 north towards Lyons. For the first few minutes, I had an odd feeling I can only describe as anxiety. The cars passing by were too loud and disruptive. What if someone reached down to change the radio station and swerved? However, finding that level of anxiety too high maintenance, I soon settled into a happy peddling rhythm and watched the colors fly by.

And by colors, I mean bikers. In matching colors. As my friend Aaron pointed out, if you see a biker with a jersey that matches their shorts which match their bike, you’re about to get your butt kicked. I can further simplify that to if you see a biker with a matching jersey and shorts, they are passing me, which leads me to this solid hypothesis: matching makes you go faster.

I did not match. In fact, I didn’t even have slick tires. I was laboring away (happily, I might add) on my Jake cyclo-cross (see this post for more info on Jake). While I appreciated the margin of comfort provided by the tread, I do believe I had to work a bit harder than if I had outfitted my bike with slick tires. But it was all worth it when our posse veered off 36 North to Hygiene road and the Crane Hollow Cafe.

The Crane Hollow Cafe is tucked in the sleepy town of Hygiene and has some truly delicious eats. So delicious that I could have ordered a second sandwich after the first tuna melt went down incredibly easy and just started to ebb the hunger of a 20 mile pedal. Alas, it was not to be – someone (not me) had only brought $20 cash for our duo to dine at the most excellent cafe. This proved to be a problem.

I had no juice left for the return ride. Luckily, our brilliant Boulder friends had stacked the odds distinctly in my favor – we looped back on a shorter, 17 mile road with less hills (okay, okay, I know you’re doing the math and it’s only a 37 mile ride. But 40 sounded better for the title, so just relax). My quads just felt empty. The sandwich didn’t make it past my belly. While I had chowed down before the ride, I had forgotten my #1 rule of long hikes/runs/bike rides – bring lots and lot (and lots) of food in many forms. A Gu shot or two would have made all the difference. While I know this to be inherently true for me, I still found myself without. Is life just a big repeating loop after all or will I someday get wiser (provided I don’t get hit by a car first)?

Yummy-recipe-of-the-day: Whole Wheat, Rosemary & Caramelized Onion Bread from Simplyscratch.com

 

Tough Mudder – Only Kinda Tough: Part 1

No one I know is in this picture, but I like their expressions just the same.

On June 25th, 2011 I finished a 10-mile trail run with obstacles which bills itself as “probably the toughest event on the planet”. My short answer is, “probably not”.

As anyone who has been on www.ToughMudder.com can see, the hype for the race is high. For some people, this build-up is completely legitimate and it may be the toughest event they will ever do in their lives. But for others that have had ‘epics’ of some sort or another in the outdoor arena, no event can compare.

With an event like Tough Mudder, there is a built-in ‘stop’ button that is distinctly lacking in other arenas. For example, if you happen to be up on Buck Mountain in the Teton range and you slip on some rotten spring snow, you are completely and wholly responsible for self-arresting (aka stopping) yourself with an ice axe before sliding over a 50 ft. cliff. And should the worst not happen, you’ve now got a helicopter ride between you and serious medical attention.

In Tough Mudder, if you’re so exhausted to the point of losing bowel control (this happens in another tough event known as the Leadville 100, which is a 100 mile trail run), you can get a buddy to flag down an EMT on a 4-wheeler. But there was an unexpected consequence to the amount of control the event presented.

I discovered this gem of a surprise early into the race, probably somewhere in the second mile. The obstacle was swimming through a pond with three or four sets of big blue barrels strong across the surface of the 39° water (see photo). I plunged into the pond, took a breath and came up on the other side of the barrel with the start of a killer ice-cream headache. Now, my various whitewater exploits have led to way too much time in 39° water, but this was different. When you’re swimming a class IV/V rapid like Dowd Shoot during spring run off, there is no thought process in dunking your head underwater. The river takes care of that for you. But here, suddenly, I was in charge of what seemed like a very obvious decision – why would I choose to go underwater when I was perfectly capable of swimming on top, or better yet, getting out? Yet all around me, friends I have revered as intelligent beings were doing that very thing. This is when I realized there is a certain amount of self-discipline and yes, stupidity in the the whole ‘adventure race’ equation. Just call me stupid.

So what exactly made the race tough and what was silly? It’s all coming in photos galore (provided by the Tough Mudder webiste) next week right here.

Kitchen-gadget-of-the-day: Bodum Frother. Do you have one? Let me know how you like it!

.