Monday, August 13, 2012

Prepping for Vapor Trail, Self Loathing, and Sasquatch

Somewhere north of Duluth, Mn
Maybe I'm on to something here. Completing the always difficult Sasquatch Loop each season feels like a good thing, not while I'm doing it, but when I'm done. I've done the infamous loop in all seasons now and to be honest, some of them have gone better than others. Obviously, the worst was the very first time I did it in the winter and it took me nearly 12 hours to complete as I battled snow squall after snow squall. I was certain the "summer tour" would be a breeze. I was wrong, and the word "breeze" would come to be a central theme on the day.

In order to avoid serious  alone time I sent out about 15 invites for the ride, but previous commitments left me with no takers. Fine! Riding alone can be good practice in keeping the demons down. As it turns out, I never really was alone, the demons were with me the whole time. Coming into the ride with 12 fairly intense hours on my legs may not have been a good idea, but one cannot always wait for everything to feel "fresh" before going on a long ride. Not to mention the Vapor Trail 125 is coming fast and I'm on the roster! I need some solid training weeks and I need them now. The Vapor is arguably one of the most difficult mountain bike races in the country and in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm a little nervous.
Just a taste of gravel.
5:00 a.m. "What's that noise? It's the alarm! Really? Am I going to do this? Just shut up and do it! Man, my lower back hurts from diving for that softball at work the other day. It'll loosen up." Once out on the ride I was taking note of the cold temps, realizing that summer was slipping away. I said "Hi" to all the little animals and spun easy telling myself that my legs would warm up soon, then I would kick up the pace a bit. I started to wonder if it was the cooler temperatures as 3 hours into the ride I still felt pretty flat, but the good news was that I was pushing into a headwind early which would certainly mean that I'd reap Mother Nature's rewards later as the loop started me on my way home down the shore of Lake Superior. It was then that I'd make up for these slower miles and I was sure my legs would be under me by then.

I slogged my way over the "crossing", the most northerly portion of the course. This portion of the route crosses over the Laurentian Divide and eventually shows you Minnesota's Sawtooth Mountains. You can see a glimpse of the Sawtooths in the image above. They're not Colorado mountains, but they're ours.

Signs for Beaver Bay, Minnesota let me know that soon I'd be on the final leg and by this time it was clear that my legs weren't going to come around, but maybe the wind would. After hanging a right hander into Beaver Bay I immediately checked the flags for their direction. "NO!" They were pointing right at me and snapping hard. "How could this be? Is it some kind of conspiracy against me?" There was no other way to deal with it other than to just deal with it. I nosed into the wind and started grinding out the 51 miles to Duluth. Soon the word "Shelled" began to float around in my mind. Maybe it's because I was by myself I wondered or maybe it was the hard early week hours or maybe it's just a freakin' hard loop.

There was one goal that was met on the day that I'm proud of though. It was this: I NEVER STOPPED ONCE! The only time my wheels stopped moving was when I stopped in my driveway. I rode 144 miles, 8 hours and 38 minutes without stopping. And, YES all nature breaks were taken on the FLY. That's another blog article.

A recovery drink, short nap, some pizza and Amy and I were over to my parents house to relax with my sister and bro-in-law who are up from Omaha. It was a good ending to a hard day. A quote from my Mom, "You don't even look that tired". If she only knew, if she only knew...

P.S. The Warbird is a GREAT ALL DAY bike!


Ryan Kratochvil said...

So that's the secret bike you couldn't speak about. Looks sick dude! After building up your CCC, I instantly want disc brakes. I've come to love the discs on my Ala Carte, just which my road/gravel bike had them. Still, your CCC is in good hands.


Rich said...

Yeah, but . . . I was thinking about you . . .

Anonymous said...

The 'crossing' keeps a man humble...

Anonymous said...

Way to slay the Sasquatch.

I'm glad it didn't end like one of them beef jerkey commercials.

Vapor Trail! How Exciting!