Monday, June 29, 2009

Anyone get the license plate number

Of that mack truck that ran me over this past weekend? Oh man!

I am feeling it today for sure. The legs are good in general, but the body is sore!

Saturday we got up at our normal time, downed some coffee and oats, met up with Luke and headed south for a double ascent (both grades) of Palomar Mountain. We knew it'd be warm on the lower slopes, but I'd been wanting to hit up the climb with the Power Tap anyway, and it'd be another good hour threshold climb!

Steph and Dan took off a bit in front of us, with Stephanie trying to go full tri with no socks! She used some chamois cream and had no problems. Score.

Luke and Justin hit the lap timer on their watches at the taco shop and hit it hard from there. I struggled to sit on Luke's wheel, running over threshold, and after about .25mi decided to back off and just ride within myself. Pretty glad I did cause I think I would've blown up if I'd tried to sit in! They quickly pulled away, passing a few other riders as they climbed. I've never seen so many people ascending the south grade at the same time as me before! It was cool to have some "carrots". I passed a few people here and there, and tried not to drool too much on my top tube as I went by. Just nice steady effort. The legs were feeling pretty good after 3 easy days!

Steph and Dan called out when I was a switchback or so below them, and it took me some time to get them in sight. Steph was calling out words of encouragement to make the catch/reel them in, so I put in a bit more of an effort to go by and nearly blew up!! There was a rider in a pink jersey (Giro bike tour) up ahead, and I took a long time to pull him in. Once I passed, he held my wheel, and eventually came around. I commented on his sweet jersey, and we started chatting. A few minutes later I looked up and saw the sign at the top of the climb and realized I had just over a minute to set a PR! I took off in a flash and just beat my time up the climb from the last time out by about 20 seconds. The bad part is my HR was much higher! So, I was working harder and not going as fast! I guess I have to chalk that up to no warm-up this past Saturday, the heat, and a heavier bike (rear hub, front tire). Um hey, it works for me! :)

Luke and Justin beat me by a few minutes, and we rolled over to hydrate and scarf down some food and Steph and Dan weren't far behind. We all sat around for a bit, and then decided it was time to start descending East Grade!

We got about 100 yards from the T-intersection and Luke had a flat, so we found some shade and then continued on. Justin and Steph lead out from about halfway down the hill and stopped at the overlook about a mile or so from the bottom/Highway 76. No Dan or Luke. Hmm.

Steph took off fearing a crash, but the road had been pretty clear of debris. Justin and I took off shortly after, and another cyclist let us know they had a flat. Phew. Luke's rear tire just wasn't holding air, so he cruised it up east grade. Justin and I did mostly tempo up the hill. A mile or so into the climb 3 supa fast cars went by (supa sweet, too). And then another. Then another. They were driving like jack-asses passing other vehicles in no passing zones, and buzzing by us without leaving any space. I don't know how many there were, but spread out they continued passing us in the same manner until about 2 miles from the top when it seemed they ran their course. None of them were stopped up at the top when we got there, so they must've just been doing rally race runs up the hill. Nice.

We snacked and hydrated some more, then started the descent down into the furnace below! I tried to hold Justin's wheel until something hit me in the head and then I had this crazy painful, numbing, burning sensation above my eye. WTH? OMG! Bee sting! Not only was I stung, but the bee was stuck and continuing to sting me like crazy. I finally rolled to a stop and knocked his dead-azz on the ground. I would've stomped on him too, but I was too busy trying to figure out why half my face hurt! Luckily Steph and Dan rolled to a stop and Stephanie saved my day by removing the stinger from my eye lid. Sweet. My face continued to hurt the entire way down the hill! Near the bottom Justin was waiting and I totally felt like Vaughters after his sting in the Tour.

Luckily, I don't think I'm allergic, but my face felt that swollen! I was assured it looked mostly normal.

Following the ride Justin and I downed our perfect recovery drink concoction and started on the road to hydration. I was in a big hurry to get myself out of the wilting heat, so we didn't stick around long (sorry guys!). I waited a bit before eating my PB&J, and then hit up Costco for some fish and berries. Yum!

Once home we tried out an ice bath. It was sort of an ice bath fail, but I will be doing it again for back to back days! Just need more ICE next time around ;) Once out of the bath we laid down for a nap. I am the worst napper on the planet. I can't sleep during the day; it's even worse when our bedroom is in direct afternoon light and everyone is making noise. Eventually the stress of having to do dishes, make food for race day, get bottles prepped and filled, get clothes packed, etc. took over, and I had to get up. So much for rest and recovery!

I did some "chores" and got dinner on its way, and Justin got up frustrated that I wasn't taking it easy. Someone's gotta do it! We had a delish dinner and fruit for dessert, and laid down for bed fairly early. It wasn't going to be a super early day on Sunday due to the 11am race start. Unfortunately there was practically a circus going on outside! Fire works on June 27? Why? I've never heard fire works from my house in the 6 years I've lived there!

Had some trouble sleeping (as has been the case for a week +), but got some shut eye and woke up to a much more swollen eye than I'd gone to bed with! No way. The legs actually felt better than they had Saturday morning! Got my podium breakfast on, we packed up, and then headed up the mountain to the race venue!

The parking lot was packed since the Cat 3 riders were already on course, and Cat 2 was just about to start. The Cat 1's and Pro's were just showing up as well. We headed in to register. Was cool to see so many people up there for the race! Unfortunately we only wound up with 3 Pro Women, but they grouped us with the Cat 1's as well and probably had maybe 12 total? Rim Nordic is awesome for doing payout for the top women. I had forgotten about the money, but it's always cool when promoter's do their best to give back!

I barely had time to suit up and get my warm-up on after registration, and felt that my nutrition and hydration weren't really spot-on for the day. My legs felt pretty dead in warm-up and I couldn't get into zone 5. I guess I'd spent too much time at threshold over the past 2 weeks? Haha! No matter, I got to the line warm and ready to put my best effort out there. The front line was Joy, Karen from CA Multi-Sport, Natasha, and I. The Cat 1's didn't seem keen on fighting for the money except for Karen! I assumed she was Pro because she was on the front line and went for it!

I had trouble clipping in right away, and was 4th off the line. Charging for the first little bend off the start and a rider coming through doing his feed totally not aware of the race start turned his bars straight into me. I had nowhere to go but slammed down on my right side. Searing pain. The race started without me as I fumbled to stand up. Ouch. Crazy pain in my right glute/hip. I barely checked over my bike before I hopped back on. My helmet was totally askew and as I went to straighten it the visor came off in my hands. I momentarily considered fixing it, but tossed it just after a big set of bushes; I'd get it later! I noticed my Garmin and my bottle were still on my bike, and I hadn't lost my water or gel flask from my jersey pockets. Stellar. The chase was on. I was not only DFL, but I was way back. I put in a massive effort to start passing the Cat 1 women, who were all gracious enough to not fight me for position as I passed on the rocky/sandy lines up the first hill. Somehow I managed to catch back on to Karen, who was on Joy's wheel. Natasha had a few bike lengths on us, and I was getting' scared she was going to open up a gap.

We had a ton of Cat 2 men traffic. There's a lot of singletrack on the course, which is fun, but nearly impossible for passing. The pain in my hip was pretty crazy, but I figured as long as I kept the blood pumping to the legs it'd stay "warm" enough to keep functioning. Aside from that and being totally at my max to hold wheels not much else was going through my head. I knew I had to pass Karen and Joy. I wound up rubbing tires with Karen on a steep pitch, as she was held up by some of the men whose legs were not as "fresh" as ours. Luckily it didn't mess her up at all, but forced me to unclip and right myself. I wound up passing Karen and Joy and then Natasha on another steep pitch. One of the women kept calling out to talk to the guys in front to let us pass, but there was literally no room to go around without them stopping, and I'm guessing they weren't too keen on that idea.

Just before the steepest sandiest pitch I wound up finding a passing lane to the right and went for it, and made it up the steep powdery climb. There's a little roller and then a big fire road stretch. I cranked it into the big ring and went for it, opening up a bit of a gap. I looked back once and didn't see any of the women directly behind me, so I just kept on pushing it as far as I could.

I hit the descent and was cruising, a little unsure of my hip and the silty switchbacks. I knew the women were probably gaining time on me, but I wanted to stay upright! Nothing else had gone very well previously during the race, so I figured not crashing (again) would be best! I made it through safely but once I had to start pedaling again my right leg was letting me know it had cooled off just a tad. Took awhile to warm it back up but the pain was not getting any better. I thought, "I'm not going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow."

I went through the start/finish and had to grab my only other bottle since I'd dropped one up top on a singletrack-ish rolling section. Had no desire to stop and pick it up. Luckily I had my bottle of H20 still in my back pocket, but now I was full and tried to get the liquid and calories in! I knew I had run through a ton of glycogen on my first lap.

That initial climb on Lap 2 had me questioning my sanity. I thought about just DNFing due to my glute/hip, but figured I'd rather get passed and finish last then give up at this point. So, I dug in and just tried to keep my pace as high as possible. I knew lap 3 was going to be really painful. I thought at the 180 turn around near the start/finish (about 9 mins in to the lap) that I saw Karen bearing down on me. I had no idea how she raced, so I didn't know if her last lap was her strongest or not! I kept at it.

Lap 2 was fairly quiet. The older Cat 1 men were fairly spread out and gracious about passing, and most of the Cat 2 men were either walking or finished. So, it was pretty smooth for me! I kept trying to look down and see if anyone was catching me, but could never really tell. I was running scared, though, since I know those ladies are fast!

I made it through lap 2 and thought, "This is it, one more to go!" It was painful and long, and my left calf kept threatening to cramp, but I kept at it. I pushed the entire lap, not wanting to give up! I came across the line totally spent, but managed to raise an arm in victory! I was totally out of it, but went over to look for my visor. It was gone! Who steals helmet visors? Oh well. Went over to where John had been doing our feeds, but I think he was somewhere else. I picked up one of Justin's discarded bottles and totally in a daze decided to head over to the truck and try a cool down. I could barely pedal across the street, but made it and had my chocolate milk for a recovery drink. I tried a cool down, but could barely pedal. So, I took a fresh bottle of water back over to the venue to see when Justin would finish up. Chatted with the announcer, chatted with John, chatted with Karen. Still kind of out of it, and in a ton of pain, went back to the truck to hydrate and get cleaned up.

Derek from Bear Valley Bikes had actually been a great gentleman and picked up my visor for me!! Was stoked to get that back.

Wound up talking to Joy for a bit, and then while I was changing Justin had spun over after his finish. He had crashed also, and had dropped his bottle on lap 1. Score for both of us! He finished 3rd overall behind Griffith and James.

We got changed in a hurry thinking we'd miss podiums, and took our PBJ's over. The group waited for awhile. Photos were posted. Cat 2/3 podiums were completed. Pro women results were posted. More hanging out and chatting.

One dirty 705

As they started the Pro Women's podium I noticed my podium buddy Joy was gone. What! She had picked that moment to go move her car! They held off and did the Pro Women after Cat 1, and then the women's top 3 overall.

After that it was really starting to get late and I knew I had a lot to do at home (laundry, dishes, lunch, dinner), so we got Justin's medal and headed out (his podium was all gone already). It was a pretty smooth ride down the hill and back home, and I somehow wound up in bed before 10.

I guess my insomnia is dissipating, since I know I fell asleep quickly. Unfortunately I woke up about 1:30 am and could barely move. I didn't know I'd hurt my neck at all, but am having trouble moving my head around today. My right glute/hip is sore to move, walk, sit, etc. Left calf definitely is strained. I have some kind of weird chest/pec issue that I've had since Colorado Springs. I gotta get my body healed up ASAP!

I'm not even sore from all the riding I did over the weekend! Just puffy eye syndrome from the bee, and the other injuries from the crashes! Crazy.

Massage tonight and a few days of easy riding and hopefully I'll be good as new. Great weekend overall, especially if you take out the bee sting and the crash!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Threshold Tuesday

I think it'd sound better if it was Tempo Tuesday and Threshold Thursday, but so far we've only done a Tempo Thursday and now a Threshold Tuesday.

We put in a crazy effort last Saturday up Clark's at just sub-LT followed up by a short, but tough, ride fail on Sunday. Monday instead of taking the day off I decided we'd hit up the A-team ride at work. Only wound up being the 3 of us, but it was full bore from the get-go with an easy few minutes spin before the screws really got turned up on the rollers. I was off the back FAST, but once we hit the flats on the way back to work I felt great and was hitting it pretty good.

Justin and I were both feeling a little fatigue yesterday, and after doing nothing at lunch and eating hoardes of food all day, I felt pretty lazy. The day was supposed to be a post-work tempo/SST hill climb, but yesterday morning Justin decided to do some anaerobic intervals instead, so we both programmed our Garmin's with workouts. On the way to the hill he informed me he was just going to do an all-out TT (like the effort up Clark's). So, that is what we did. We crossed the street from the strip mall so we had about a 1min warm-up, took a few pics of Justin's new "all mountain" bike

and then we hit our timers and hammered off.

Justin was just a few bike lengths off from me for the lower slopes of the climb. I eventually managed to climb up into the higher reaches of Z4, and it wasn't super painful. I was dripping sweat from the heat and the effort, but kept at it. The climb has been scraped/cleared since the last time we'd been out there. A few sandy spots, but no sand pits at all, so it's in pretty good condition, actually.

I managed to pull up to Justin a few times, but he'd put in a further effort and pull away a little again. He hadn't put a Garmin mount on the new bike, so he had no idea of his effort except for PE. He only asked me where I was at once.

My HR seemed like I was holding threshold a bit more than I had the previous Saturday up Clark's Grade, but it was hot out and it didn't hurt as much. I imagine being at about 3000ft lower elevation didn't hurt either! We got up near the top after the short little descent and I hit it pretty good, passing Justin and putting in a massive effort to hold him off to the gate.

Blood, sweat, and tears...

Minus the blood and tears last night, thankfully.

Worked, which is exactly how we both felt.

He asked if we should go for some bonus climbing and head up "the wall". I said I felt pretty solid with my effort up the climb and that I was good with my workout. He said, "Eff it. Let's do it." So, we did.

The Wall was pretty loose and powdery, rocky... I managed to go about halfway in my middle ring but figured it was way too much of a force workout with the gym coming up today, so changed into granny +3 instead. A little more spinning. I got up to the turnout and finished my drink mix, then went for my water. I actually took the lid off and drained about 12oz of water in no time flat. I've never done that on a ride before. Soo thirsty.

The view north was just awesome (/sarcasm)

Little nicer looking up the hill instead

I enhaled two fruit leathers and then we headed back down the hill.

The descent was uneventful, which was good. I was having vision problems after the sweat stinging my eyes and the dust searing them from Justin pushing the pace! I backed off a tad and then just had issues seeing between the variations of bright evening sunlight and shade and shadows in the trees and in the background of the hill.

Made it down and there is one short like 20 foot hill to climb up pavement... I barely made it! Downed my chocolate milk back at the truck and tried to rehydrate. I need a cook or something, though. We spent about 30 minutes on dinner, and then I spent another 30+ on lunches for today. Justin was kind enough to dice up some strawberries, but we got to bed late and I couldn't get to sleep. Laid awake for probably an hour. I need to sleep!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weekend Report!

We set out for a good hard weekend following my rekindled spirit for training and racing. Saturday we were going to be meeting up with Luke in Angelus Oaks for a killer climb up to Big Bear.

I'm testing out a set up for July since I won't have anyone to do bottle hand-offs on course...

I sort of abhor wearing this pack because it causes me a lot of lower back pain (shocking since it really is pretty light, and I have yet to fill the bladder past about 40oz?), but it is better than carrying 3 bottles in jersey pockets and having no room for anything else!

Since the effort was going to be rediculous for an hour + we did a little 6 minute or so warmup on the pavement at the bottom. Once we hit the dirt fire road Justin took off like lightning! I stood up to keep in contact and my foot came out of my pedal for the first time all year, and like forward also, not on the side. Very weird. So, automatically I was off the back!

I watched as Justin and Luke put a good gap on me, and the crazy headwind started to crush my spirit. I was worried Justin would be upset that I didn't hang on, so I just kept saying, "I'm riding this at my threshold, not his!" and kept at it. I kept ticking the 10ths of miles by and knew I was making good progress. I was holding steady at JUST below threshold and the legs were much looser than they had been a few weeks prior, but it was really painful still. The climb starts at 6300ft or so!

The views looking down through the valley toward the west/south were just gorgeous. I wanted to grab the camera and take some shots, but this climb was all about effort, not a photoshoot, so I enjoyed the scenery every now and then as I drooled and sputtered sweat off my face.

Eventually I saw Luke cruising not too far ahead. I nearly caught him and passed, but he put down some power and pulled away a bit again. We did this a few times where I'd get back to within a few bike lengths, and he'd pull away. I kept at it, just trying to keep my effort high and steady.

I knew I was getting close to the top, so put in a big time effort, only the "top" kept being just around the corner! Damn! Finally I saw Justin heading back toward me, so I knew he had reached 2N10 and turned around. I made it up to the crossing and stopped dead. My lungs were fried. I probably should've done a little spin on the flats to help my legs out, but instead I just wanted to drink (I had barely hydrated at all since I just couldn't!) and eat. My knees got cold FAST. I was soaked through, so even standing in the sun we were all getting chilly. It felt much warmer climbing up!

After we got nice and cooled down and chatted with a fellow rider the four of us headed down Plantation

Once off of the fun part and back to the rolling hills my legs were screaming. HR was low for the PE and I just wanted to get back to going downhill ;) Kept at it and was able to keep up okay. We turned off for Cabin 89 and I enjoyed the spectacular view of the lake and the gorgeous blue sky! The weather was so awesome!

We turned and headed back up Pine Knot and I somewhat found my groove sub-threshold (yay!). I felt strong enough to lead out the climb once Justin stopped to wait for the other mountain biker who wasn't familiar with the trails.

Made it to the top and felt pretty good!

After a regroup and my confusion (I thought Justin had refused to ride 2N10 back to Clark's Grade, but he was planning on a loop while I was thinking straight out and back down Pine Knot, up Cabin 89, up Plantation, etc) we headed out on 1E01 before hitting back up with 2N10.

The views were so awesome!!

My legs were seriously screaming by this point, but the boys wanted to look for a nice singletrack to descend instead of the fire road. I obliged, and we traversed back and forth for a bit. I think they found where the singletrack "was", but Justin decided it was too overgrown to attempt, so back we headed to our fire road.

On the way out we saw a buck and a fawn! It was pretty cool. They wouldn't stop moving.

On the way down I stopped to get a shot of my epic view from the morning. Unfortunately it wasn't so pretty this time around!

I'll be honest... getting back to the truck the last thing on earth I felt like doing was riding a lap at Rim Nordic. I got changed into some normal dry clothes, had some recovery drink, and once we dropped Luke off at Barton Flats enjoyed a bowl of cereal with blueberries. I really wanted to eat my PBJ, but figured I should save it for after Rim Nordic. We were both starving, but didn't give in to the temptation of fast food!

We got down to Rim Nordic and kitted up anyway because I had told Stephanie I'd ride with her, and damn if I wasn't going to do just that!! We headed into the venue to look for pitman Dan! He said Steph was due in from her 6th lap in probably 15-20 mins, perfect! We chatted with Traci, Heidi V, Jordan, and Chris in the meantime!

We were lined up and ready and Steph came in for her pit. She sat down, snacked on some food, dropped her iPod and off we went!

She was riding really strong! It was actually a perfect pace for me since it wasn't taxing my legs or lungs and it was fun to be out riding the singletrack. We cheered on the riders coming and going and had a good time out riding with Stephanie. She really was killing it on all the techy portions and on the descents. No slowing down at all!! She was talking about one climb she hated, but she still rode it out really strong for lap 7. She managed to even be leading out some of the boys!!

I ran out of water about a mile or two from the finish and was feeling seriously bonkish. I had taken a gel shot before the lap, and one in the middle, but probably under-estimated my efforts from the morning. I had had plenty of food throughout the day, but was obviously seriously low on glycogen at that point. My body was starting to shut down big time. I pulled out of the way for Justin to pass on a descent and started getting really worried that I was literally going to pass out on the trail. I started to have that blacking out feeling. Luckily I made it back to the pits and started to eat everything in sight!!

It was getting late and cold so we took off down the hill. Once dressed back at the truck we finished our sandwiches and tried to stay hydrated since we had another good day on tap for Sunday.

Unfortunately we got to bed late, so just slept in a tad. I didn't really consider it messing up our day's plans to see my grandparents and mom, and then head to my dad's for Father's Day. Also, it was our anniversary. We didn't have anything really special planned for it (we'd spent and gone out enough the previous weekend!), but we had a good ride and good and too much eats on tap.

We got a late start and eventually got on the trail. The first fire road my HR would NOT come up at all. I had stupidly left Justin's HR strap on the floor at home, so didn't even have a reference point as to whether or not he was going okay!

I wanted to cry two or eight times on the early slopes of our short fire road climb up to Trabuco trail, but put my head down and got into the climb. HR was still fairly supressed given the effort I was putting out, but whatever! I made it to the top and looked forward to the glorious descent.

Happy Anniversary!!

Fun on the descent

My bike was working stellar, and while I wasn't holding Justin's wheel, I was doing the best I could! Having a blast, but rounded a corner and there he was checking out a huge side wall slice in his rear tire. He'd punctured the center the day before up in Big Bear, but it seemed to be holding air just fine today. Er, until he sliced the side of it.

I got out the pump and tube and he made quick work of changing it all out. We put everything back together and just as we went to head off again we could hear air just rushing out of the tire. The tube wasn't holding air. He said he'd check it again later down the trail, but the further down we went, the more hiking back out we'd have to do. I could just see us making something work until about 2-3 miles up Holy Jim and having a big decision to make on how to get back! I called it, and we turned and headed back up the trail. I managed to clean everything on the climb except for one super steep section and was pretty stoked. I had completely worked myself on the climb, so when Justin suggested a road ride or a hill repeat I emphatically said no.

We got moving for our afternoon plans a little late (we would've been way late had we finished the ride out, and honestly - I don't know that we could've survived in our fragile mental states at that point), which started to stress me out. My family causes me anxiety at times!

I brewed up some Pikes Perk since I totally felt like I was going to fall asleep the entire way home from the ride fail.

We hit up the family stuff and then went home, and despite over-eating all afternoon - I had dessert in my new bowl!

Delish, but I paid for my food extravagance today on our lunch ride! Carrying a few extra lbs up those hills is not so fun!

Got a pretty killer weekend on tap this coming weekend as well. Will be my first weekend road foray in quite awhile followed by a good hard day in the mountains on Sunday. Yay!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The rest of the weekend

Saturday, after we watched the end of the Pro Men's race we decided it was high time to eat! Justin hadn't had solid food in about 5 hours, and I was starting to grumble as well. We headed across town to Wahoo's! I wasn't super stoked on the meal, but it was decent, and we stopped off at Starbucks (I had a ton of gift cards to use up) for coffee and dessert! YUM. We did a lot of coffee and dessert throughout the weekend!

Finally Saturday night I got a decent night's sleep (at least 9 hours!) and we weren't in a huge hurry on Sunday morning. We knew we'd head out for a ride around the Chutes trail and did some research, hung out, had breakfast at the hotel, got bottles and food ready…

It was gorgeous when we got to the trailhead and got some beta from a few guys about to shuttle the Jones downhill.

We climbed up Chutes to get to a traversing fire road that would take us to a few parking lots where we could get further trail info.

I wasn't feeling super hot. My legs were fatigued, and some of my injuries from the crash were keeping me from feeling stellar. As is typical, Justin felt great and sort of was hoping for a half-day mini-epic in the mountains. Our moods don't seem to coincide much lately!

We enjoyed the views on Gold Camp Rd.

A few cool tunnels on this old mining road!

Sweet waterfall across the valley

We chatted with a few other riders enjoying their day and eventually (after my legs were nice and chilled) we got moving again, and pretty straight up hill! Good singletrack climbing, but by the time I got to the top I was feeling sort of shaky and out of sorts.

I stopped to down some Sport Beans and we met up with Jim from CTS and his ride partner from SRM. Jim showed us around the rest of the morning!

He spent a lot of time waiting up for me, since I was quickly running out of steam!

We descended down Cap'n Jacks on some moto trails and had a great time. From there we traversed back across Gold Camp a bit and descended the wildly popular hiking trail Columbine back down to town.

COS from Columbine

On our way back down we ran into another Pro racer (Alexandra) and her ride partner out looking for a route! Jim said he'd take them up Chutes and gave some instruction, and Justin asked if I wanted to climb Chutes again. Um, no! I was close to bonking and out of energy anyway. We just took the easy route back to the Jeep!

We lunched at Noodles & Co, where Justin had wanted to eat for two straight days. The pasta fresca plates we got were pretty stellar!

We sat in the sun and relaxed a little before heading out toward Pikes Peak Hwy.

As we entered the park we found out what we had assumed - the summit wasn't open. 16 of 19 miles were, so we paid our fee in the rain and headed up the road!

As we headed up the climb a group of cars was stopped as a fox ran back and forth across the road, seemingly begging the visitors for food?

We kept climbing

The way up…

Getting closer

Above timberline now

Lots of snow at mile marker 16, nearly being turned around now

End of the road for us

CTIL (Colder than it looks!!)

Not as high as I was hoping, but it was the highest I've ever been (on ground)!

Oh, sure, now it clears up!

My favorite shot

We stopped by Pikes Perk coffee on the way back to the hotel for some of their flavored coffee (their flavors sound killer! I tried Amaretto on Sunday, and the barista brewed up some French Vanilla for us the next day - we bought a half pound of Crème Brule, even though we meant to get Carmel). It was a cool little café and had some tasty treats.

Once back at the hotel Justin started packing up the bikes in their boxes for the trip home as I hemmed and hawed on where to eat.

I was sort of craving Mexican food and a margarita! But, we were also trying to not spend a ton of money.

Just after I got our boarding passes printed up a huge thunderstorm rolled in! Massive thunder claps, a little lightning, and crazy hail.

We settled on a somewhat local joint - 3 Margaritas - on the other side of town. We both got the healthier chicken and veggie burrito and a margarita. The drinks were strong, and despite the burrito being $7 - it was MASSIVE!!

We were so full we didn't even consider ice cream!

I was falling asleep watching Bewitched with the other Darren, so hit the hay not long after. We took our time getting up Monday morning again, not really sure what the day would bring us. We'd gotten provisions at the nearby Safeway Friday night, so we had about half a jar of peanut butter, half a jug of milk, half a container of creamer, and some whole grain bread to finish up. Since the continental breakfast was seriously stale white bread, jam, small cups of coffee, and Raisin Bran with 2% milk, we made the best of it: Raisin Bran with skim milk, PB&J sandwiches, and bigger coffee cups! Worked out well as we were super stuffed when we finished up.

Time for more coffee!!

After lounging around and getting mostly packed up I requested a bit late of a check-out, and we headed out the door for 7 Falls. Another $20 down the drain later… it was a really pretty drive up to the 224 stairs!

This was just up to a viewing platform

Bottom of the falls

Middle-ish steps


Justin pulls away as my calves burn!

Much needed rest

Once up the stairs we hiked out to Midnight Falls (it was really quick)

d00d where's my bike??

Midnight Falls

A different waterfall up Gold Camp Rd.

We decided to take a drive up High Drive in the Jeep and see the sights

I think there was a USAC Jr. cycling camp or something going on. Lots of kids that race locally were out participating in a what we assume was a non-official timed hill climb.

We stopped in at Pikes Perk to sample the french vanilla flavored coffee (I actually preferred the amaretto!) and then headed back to the hotel to pack up and hit the airport with plenty of time to spare.

Justin wised up and tried the bike box on the roof rack trick. Score!

We hung out at the airport for a long time, and finally boarded the plane to Phoenix. Once there we barely had time to traverse the airport, get a few snacks from Starbucks and scarf those down, and before we knew it we were boarding for Ontario.

I'll be honest - I teared up a bit coming in to land. I honestly don't think I've ever felt that way before about returning home from a trip. I like what I know, and usually miss my own house and bed and stuff. For some reason, I felt pretty at home in Colorado Springs. I got the lay of the land and knew the streets and directions pretty well after just 2 days. Things made sense out there. I liked the city a lot.

Weird emotions upon coming home. Justin and I had a good chat about things on the drive south. I've got some renewed energy and new focus going on. I just hope it continues for awhile. There was definitely a big circle effect. What we discussed on the way to the airport seems to have fleshed itself out a bit, and I hope that I'm able to take my focus and energy in the direction I want to go in.

Overall, great trip. My race results aren't what I would have liked them to be, but I did what I could. Time to get back out there and kick myself to the curb a bunch and see what I can get done. 4 more weeks!