It was apparent the first weekend of Justin's accident that we'd be missing a few races this season, not the least of which were Santa Ynez (the following weekend) and Sea Otter (2 weekends post accident). While I knew that Justin was bummed to miss out on racing the Idyllwild Spring Challenge for a 2nd year in a row, I also felt that I wanted to get back out on the dirt and see what I could do! The time off the bike due to injury and the accident left me with zero fatigue, but not a lot of form either. I really haven't done any speed work since Fontana, but I'm happy to be out on my bike.
The weather for the weekend looked ominous at first, but quickly cleared up to a weekend of sun and high 60s. Perfect racing weather for the mountains!
We were somewhat sad to be missing out on the excitement in St. George, but stoked to be getting out of the house for an entire weekend. I was worried it was a bit much for Justin, but I think the sun, the fresh air, and the camaraderie really helped him out.
It was really the first weekend that felt sort of "normal" in the last 4 weeks. It helped both of us out physically and mentally to be amongst like-minded individuals and get back to something familiar. It was great seeing so many people up at Idyllwild for the race.
The Idyllwild Spring Challenge is hosted up in Idyllwild, CA by Idyllwild Cycling the first weekend of May every year. Justin and I have participated the last 3 years, and in 2006 rode the long course a week or so after the event on our own (which piqued our interest!).
Last year we had I think 5 Pro Women (Pua, Joy, Sarah, Carolyn, and myself). This year there were 3 of us on the line (Kathy, Timari and me). Idyllwild Cycling put up equal pro-payout for men and women, so I was hoping that more pro women would come out. It's been about the best payout (I think?) for a stage race so far this year with $350 up for grabs for the XC win, $350 for the stage race win, and $175 spread out for each "King/Queen of the Mountain" prime.
At the start
We started right on time, and while temps as we entered the venue were 37F just after 7 am, it felt much warmer as we took off toward the singletrack at 9:30. Kathy took off for the hole shot, as we had some dirt before hitting a little pavement section, and then a fire road/double track and a singletrack climb with some hike-a-bike.
I fell in behind her on the pavement in what felt like a really benign pace. I missed not having Joy there to show us what was up on the road (I should've known then she was prime for Cat 1/2!!), but we hit the dirt and Kahty and I traded spots before she pulled in to the lead just as we hit singletrack. I held her wheel and could've stayed on for awhile, but eventually decided to try my hand at a move for the early lead. We hit the hike a bike and I knew she was just behind me, and I asked one of the men if I could pass before we hopped back on and hit a fun traversing section. He obliged and off I went, trying to keep my pace under control.
My body was pushing hard, but just didn't feel up to snuff. I felt like I wasn't going as hard as I know I can go, but I felt like I'd blow up if I had gone any harder, so I just kept at it. My lungs started burning and my legs while they didn't feel heavy, didn't cramp, and weren't specifically "sore" just never felt like they did at earlier races this season. Kind of weird.
I hit the Keen Camp Climb and just kept at it, hoping that my pace was enough. I had gone in to the race just hoping for a clean race and wanted to take the Queen of the Mountain at the top of Southridge (big fire road climb!). I was hoping as I climbed that I could maintain my pace for the next 10-12 miles until I got there! There's a lot of climbing between Keen Camp and the top of Southridge.
I made it to the top of Keen Camp and was feeling pretty weird, but was happy for the recovery trail and just hammered it out. Once up at May Valley I was starting to see some familiar faces from the Cat 1 men, so had fun cheering them on they went by, and soon enough it was singletrack time again! I felt pretty smooth on the singletrack, and had fun in the tight turns. I made a narrow rock section I've never cleaned before, and hit the Roman Highway perfectly, so was pretty stoked. Then it was time for a short traverse and on to the Lower Southridge "cyclocross" climb! I still wasn't feeling very good (lower back is in need of core work, and I was feeling kind of dizzy and out of it).
Nick caught up to me toward the top quarter of the climb and I tried to keep him in sight as I hit the 2nd of Queen of the Mountain check point once we rejoined the May Valley fire road. I was climbing pretty well at that point, and hit Sunset feeling all right, knowing that soon enough I'd get to see Justin out there with my next bottle hand off and cheering me on just after Astrocamp.
I was sticking to my feed schedule of an EFS liquid shot every 45 minutes or so, and sipping on EFS drink when and where I could. It felt super dry (as it usually does at elevation when racing for me), so I maybe wasn't drinking as much as I should have. I think I took in around 45oz for the whole race, and didn't finish any of the 3 bottles (or what would have been around 70oz). My stomach was good, but I was pretty hungry near the end!
I had a small gap on Nick, who I know is a super strong descender, once I got to the Southridge Queen of the Mountain prime/check point. I waited the entire descent for Nick to catch up! He and one other Pro Men racer caught me on some singletrack as we traversed down and back toward Hurkey Creek. I hit the Buena Vista fire road and connected up with the Coffee Pot trail. I had ridden this trail I think once, so wasn't at all familiar with it, and it showed! Lots of on/off the bike, but some fun stuff as well.
Eventually I hit Exfoliator and railed the bermed singletrack having so much fun! A short climb and descent through Rage through the Sage and then it was time for the solo road TT back to the campground, up Demoralizer and down to the finish!
Felt good to be done, but the course is so much fun it's hard to not enjoy this race! I know there were two times that I managed to look up and "enjoy the view" outside of racing, and all I could think of was how beautiful it was, and that I hoped Justin had seen a bit of it as well, despite not being on the race course.
Kathy came around to the finish not long after, and I tried to get in a cool down, but as usual, it didn't really work out for me! Lungs were on FIRE (my throat still hurts - but it wasn't very dusty out) and legs were ready for a break from pedaling.
Justin and I hung out with the finishers and watched as other friends came through.
I was so STOKED on the hand made Queen of the Mountain trophy! It's already mounted on the wall at home.
Pro Women's podium
Katie from Idyllwild Cycling, and the voice of the weekend (and Super D competitor!) Tom
I secretly look forward to the Idyllwild Spring Challenge for the M&M's post-race as much as the amazing trophies.
I had sort of needed a "break" last week, so my nutrition wasn't stellar all weekend, but hey... Sometimes you just gotta go with it :)
Dinner (prep stages)
Sunday we were up just as early as Saturday, and left home to head up the hill so I could pre-ride the dirt Time Trial course before the 8 am start. The start was delayed, so I got in an extra warm-up and was able to ride the whole course. It was 3.35mi according to my Garmin, and I'd say about 2.9 of them were singletrack! First time I actually said after the ride/race that it felt like more descending than climbing! So fun!
We hung out for awhile waiting for awards (which were post-poned to after the Super D race) and then headed over to the start of the Super D for a quick pre-ride back down to the venue. The first 3rd of the Super D is mostly down a big wide open fire road with a ton of speed and some killer views of the valley below.
From there you swing on to singletrack that twists, turns, and traverses through manzanita and mountain granite, back on to a short stretch of fire road before swinging down buffed and bermed singletrack to a short climb, wide open double track descent, across a bridge and down the "Demoralizer" before hitting the finish line.
I had caught up to Timari on Exfoliator, but rather than try to force a pass or throw elbows I was patient until the climb. Had fun anyway for the last event of the weekend, and then we chilled for a few hours as the other competitors came down through the finishing shoot.
Thanks to everyone that made the race possible through the promoters, venue, etc. all the way to everyone that helped Justin and I out this last month. Our family and friends have been great. The support from everyone that has enabled us to get back to a weekend that felt almost "normal" has been awesome and is very much appreciated. Justin wasn't taking it as easy I would have liked all weekend chasing me around with bottles and a camera, but I think the friends, fresh air, and freedom did his body good.
Thanks to everyone for the continued support this year, and this past month for Justin and I personally. I just hope that he can get out there soon enough as well!
I hit the road! Solo, but this time it worked out. I saw quite a few cyclists, unlike last weekend, but they all happened to be going the opposite direction. It was a pretty quiet ride overall. Some wind, lots of sun, and the road just disappearing underneath my wheels as I kicked over my comfortable cadence, climbed the hills, and enjoyed the descents.
I managed to clean up my road bike all by my lonesome (after it got pretty grimy/dirty in the rain the previous week). The chain was pretty dirty (worse than the mountain bike!), but I got it cleaned up and ready to ride, and set out before 11 for a pretty chill, but long, ride.
First little climb. I couldn't make up my mind on which *way* to ride the route. I called Justin just down the road from home telling him I was going to ride our normal direction (clockwise) so that I had a place to stop on the way back and wouldn't run out of fluids. It was here (just a few miles later) that I changed my mind. Again. I was going to ride it opposite and hope for the best.
First stop. I was about an hour in and managed to finish off my first bottle, so filled it up fresh with cold water.
Was hoping this would carry me through about another 2 or so hours in the heat.
Hard to see in the picture, but my impending climb was up next to the freeway. A nice climb with 6-9% grades. I was looking forward to the following descent, but wound up with a good headwind the entire way down, so it was somewhat slower than expected.
Cruisin' somewhere, working up a sweat
Don't tell anyone, but I stopped briefly to snap a shot of my next descent. Love this one so much. No traffic.
Just made it back to civilization as I ran out of liquids and got a little bit of water to tide me over until I got home. Last week I'd done a similar route, only the other direction, and minus one extra descent/climb. I was getting shaky on the way home. I had felt pretty hungry earlier on this ride, but had a Lara Bar and finished off most of my calories, so opted to spend my remaining $1.13 on a Pepsi so I'd be feeling good when I got home.
Drained most of it as quickly as possible, then hit the road to do a nice warm down on my final stretch home. Killer cross wind coming off the hills, as always!
I was feeling decent heading back home on the bike path, and traffic in the business park area of town was really low. I rounded a little bend and saw a little dog, without a collar, chilling in the middle of the path. I kind of got nervous since I wasn't sure if it'd respond by trying to my bite my tires/ankles, or run off into the bushes. It did neither, actually.
Instead it ran this far in front of me for about almost a mile before peeling off. I rode behind it for awhile before I took out my phone/camera to snap the shot. Trust me, with the crazy crosswind and unpredictable dog, I did think it was a pretty stupid move on my part to be getting the picture anyway, but hey.
Weirdest thing I've seen on my bike in awhile: I'm riding in a fairly rural neighborhood area, windy 2-lane road, no shoulder, I see a female walking on the side of the road, going the same direction as me, wearing a very fancy/flowy green dress and nice white half arm gloves. No joke. I have no idea where she was coming from or going to.
In other randomness...
This guy has basically taken up residence on our patio. I see him everyday.
It was 6 months early, but we opened it anyway. Soo tasty.
Well, as of yesterday at noon it'd been 3 weeks since Justin'saccident. It had been awhile without much news or change, but we saw both the spine and ortho/knee doctor this past week. Justin said the spine guy stopped counting fractures in his neck at 5 or 6 and he's in the brace for at least another 2 weeks, and slowly weening himself off after that.
His knee wound is healing up okay, and he was able to take his first shower in 3 weeks last night! He's in the leg brace full time still as well, but he's able to do a few passive knee bends to help get some mobility back. Nothing active, and no weight bearing. Good news, but everything is basically status quo.
I got out a few times last week to get in some time on the bike. Rode in the rain two days. Making myself tough out there, I guess.
It drizzled on me most of the ride, but the sun did come out during my warm down. Good thing too because my feet were starting to get chilly in the late evening!
Got the bike all "ride ready" for today with some help from Justin!
I got a pretty late start today after hitting up Rock N' Road Anaheim Hills to check out their tent sale and drool (and pick up some necessities) and after sitting in some traffic and getting prepped to ride it was after 3 before I got on the bike!
Pretty good ride, but got kind of sad and lonely riding solo.
Looking out over the park as I climbed up to the big hill in the pic above
Enjoying the day
Up at "top o the world" (Stanley Peak) looking out toward Palomar? Lots of snow dusting up there! Might head out tomorrow? Maybe flat... I do love that climb, though.
Was pretty quiet out there today.
As I was getting dressed post-ride a Monster/Specialized van pulled into the lot. No idea who it was!
Looking forward to another sunny day, and hopefully making time to first clean my bike, and third run some errands! Who's up for fro-yo? Just kidding...
Yes, Justin and I wanted to be there duking it out on the race course, but he is still in full-on recuperation mode:
Big thanks to Ken at Sock Guy for the Test Dummy socks. Those are awesome! He'll be sporting them hopefully on a recumbent in the next few weeks.
Friday I got my work from home situation up and running, so I got to put in a few hours after leaving the real office and still play nurse to Justin.
It's working out well so far. Got in some quality time this morning before the real office beckoned!
Since Justin isn't riding, and I'm not back up to my normal hours I've been trying to feed us pretty well. We had kind of an odd assortment of food in the house... fresh pork tenderloin, organic spring mix, left over bbq'd squash and zucchini, fresh limes, quinoa, and left over sliced chicken breast.
I cooked the quinoa and set it off to the side to cool. I was trying to duplicate a quinoa salad I'd had at a restaurant on Easter, but didn't have cilantro or cucumber, so just went for a dash of salt and some lime juice along with the leftover yellow squash and zucch. I sauteed some garlic and sweet onion, then added in the spring mix and chicken. The pork we actually saved for leftovers.
For those of you wondering...he beat Call of Duty only a few hours after I left for my ride, so he's moved on to another roll playing game courtesy of Jefe. Thanks again, man!
Saturday I did eventually make my way out of the house to get in a ride.
I spent a little bit of time Saturday morning setting up my bike to have an extra cage. I didn't really want to carry a pack, but knew I'd be out for maybe 3 hours. Temps were pretty warm, but not hot, most of the day, and I went through most of my fluids, so was happy to have carried 3 bottles all day. My pockets were loaded down, but it worked out!
Getting ready to start the big descent
I neglected to check the course instructions before heading out to ride, so I actually didn't have to ride through this creek at all. That's ok; it was fun (and not nearly as deep as I expected it to be)
Sunday I got up kind of lazy, unsure if I wanted to hit road or dirt. I'd done a decent drive on Saturday getting up to Idyllwild, and Justin suggested I hit the road. I wasn't super into the idea, but I do like the route I'd picked out.
I'd just gotten my first shipment of First EnduranceEFS drink and liquid shot, so naturally decided to give them a try! I roughly knew how many kj's I'd burn through, and took two full bottles of mix, 2 shots, a package of bloks, 3 fruit leathers, and a Lara Bar. I didn't grab anything before leaving, and had had breakfast about 2.5 hours before I hit the road. I busted into my bloks and ate half a few miles from home. I had a liquid shot at about 45 minutes in, finished the bloks at 1:30 in, and had my second liquid shot at 2:15 in to the ride. I should've stopped to refill my bottles, but ran out a few miles from home (after limping through the last one), but my energy level and power output/RPE all seemed great. I was definitely getting shakey and in need of food within sight of home, but the fuel kept me going no problem. I was stoked on the flavors (Fruit Punch drink - very mellow; I actually don't mind sugary tasting drinks, but this was slightly more "refreshing". The Liquid Shot is vanilla and tastes sort of like liquid cake frosting, in a good way) and can't wait to try out the drink during intervals this week to see how it goes for hard efforts.
The flowers were out in bloom!
I hadn't gone back here yet...sort of made me feel a little ill as I rode down the street where Justin crashed just over 2 weeks ago.
After a short jaunt I made it up to the teets... Very very little traffic up here. I think I went about an hour, maybe more, and saw 3-4 cars.
Cruising over to Couser
Was visualizing riding with Justin up the climb. It got really warm, no moving air, and I knew just the spot he'd keep pushing and I'd hold back, trying to get in my workout as "prescribed"
I hit the rollers on the way back over to the highway, and as I crossed over the bridge I saw what I thought was a rope spanning the bike lane and out into the lane of traffic. Luckily vehicle traffic was low, because as I was just about riding over it I realized it was a snake, and as I passed I realized IT WASN'T DEAD. Oops.
I flew down the big descent and as I pulled up to the first stoplight I'd seen in hours I realized I had company. He cruised with me a little, and eventually pulled around. A gap opened up and I closed it down with an effort. He was chasing the rabbit, I think.
I felt like I should've worn my Discovery jersey.
Finished up the ride solo, and only had one near collision... a woman was walking her dog up the last descent on a windy narrow 2-lane road. Had there been a car near me, I would've been totaled!
After the ride my fro-yo fail from Saturday actually turned out quite nice, and then we stopped by Trader Joe's for some steel cut oats and eggs. Justin insisted on cookies, carne asada, cheese, and tortillas (they were gluten free at least). I cooked up some tasty tacos, if I may say so.
It's nice to get back into the swing of training, but missing the big events lately has been tough on us both.