Friday, September 7, 2012

Test Ride, Category Ohmigawd, and Hammer: Redemption

Since I had been largely paralyzed by fear of the upcoming altitude and incline, I knew that my teammates offered good advice when they suggested I take a trip out to Cultus Lake and ride some of the Mt. Bachelor loop course to see for myself how bad it got.  I mean, we live only 2 1/2 hours from the race course.  Most of the world would consider us super-lucky.

It was good advice, and I carefully checked my schedule, found a day when I could shoehorn the trip in, and made plans.

And then I spent the rest of the time reconsidering that bright idea.  I had myself completely pysched out.

What if I went out too hard and blew myself up and ruined my taper period?  

What if I got hurt and couldn't heal in time for the race? 

What if I got a mechanical miles from my car and had no rescue?  


I was seriously afraid.  As in, filled with fear.  As in, scared to go.

Being a priest, I did wonder for a little bit if perhaps God wasn't filling me with fear on purpose to send me a message, like "Doooon't gooooo."  And then if I did go and flat and get hurt, how stupid would I feel for ignoring a message from God?

I checked the weather, which was perfect, down to a complete lack of wind.  I was stiff waffling on go-no-go when I went to bed last night.

So I used my "go do a workout" trick that doesn't fail too often.  I set my alarm clock for 6:05AM.  I hoped that my well-developed sense of guilt would kick in.  This is exactly what happened.

At the end of the day, I am so glad I went out.

The day was picture perfect- the sort of ride you read about on bike blogs.  The weather was gorgeous. The wind was constantly at my back.  It was sunny, but not too sunny.  It was cool, but armwarmers-off weather.  There was even some sort of a big race going on- as I was descending, I got to see the leaders working their way up.  I even pulled off the road to let the lead packs go by, which was cool.  I don't know if anyone famous was riding, but there were some VERY chiseled bodies going by me, extremely fast.
Sparkling waters.  Super blue sky.  Green alpine meadows.  Yeah, I live in this state. 

As for me, (far from chiseled, and not really fast)... the incline never got unbearable.  Granted, during the top of my ride as I got near my turnaround point, it was a little tough.  The air was a little thin and the road suddenly became hideously steep and I thought I was about to hit the wall.  So I pulled over and ate a snack, three miles ahead of my schedule.  And suddenly the road reduced itself back to a perfectly climbable grade and the air filled up with oxygen again and the unicorns returned to gamboling in perfect green alpine meadows.

I don't know if this is Mt. Bachelor, but I kept riding towards this, and it kept getting shorter, which means I was going consistently up.  

Lesson learned:  Keep ahead on nutrition!  Eating will be crucial in this race.

In other news:  Hammer redeems itself!

I took a few Hammer gels and a Hammer energy bar.  The bars are still not my favorite thing ever, but I find they are quite edible.

The gels... well, gels and I have had a rocky past.  They are essentially the consistency of a loose cake batter and are usually sicky-sweet.  I usually avoid them like the plague until I am desperate.  I've eaten two gels in my time so far, because I hate them so much.

Today: Hammer gels officially made me happy.  They have less sugar, so they aren't sicky-sweet, but they are still sweet.  The raspberry flavor tasted like the sugar-free raspberry jam that I get because I don't like sweetened jams.  It made me think I was sneaking off with something that could be on a peanut butter sandwich.

I think I might even be able to do the run on just gels and water.

As I came back to the end of my bike ride (downhills, you are so awesome), I rolled into the parking lot and saw three women setting up bikes.  They had wetsuits draped over their car.  I walked over to say hello and discovered we are all doing Leadman on the 22nd!  So I've already made new friends.

This race is going to be awesome.

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