11,394 feet

Today’s ride bumped me to 11,394 ft of elevation gained on my bike for this week (this week being Monday-Sunday). That’s my second biggest week of elevation gain solely from my bike, the first being Cycle Oregon in 2016 when I did over 28,000ft…

Considering it’s the third full week in January, I’m feeling pretty good about that. Also sore ?I’m definitely feeling sore.

Today we completed the ride that sent us home turned into miserable popsicles just two weeks ago. Many things were the same: it was still windy, (albeit a little less so down low, but more so up high), we saw a coyote (this time very close), people were shooting semi-automatics on national forest land, I reaffirmed my absolute love for my mittens, I had body racking/jaw clenching/back seizing shivers at the end of the big downhill, it snowed on us, and the sky turned very dark. Oh, and this wasn’t even the ride we were planning to do, but a flat tire on my mountain bike caused us to pivot last minute. HOWEVER, the big difference was the ☀️.

We were significantly warmer from the very start of the ride, cruising the ~12mi to Lyons feeling much better. Then we shaved about 8 min off of the first 7.5 miles of the climb compared to two weeks ago, and stayed warmer while we did it. The wind really picked up about 3mi from Peak to Peak Highway (along with some flurries), but this time we were able to push on. It also made me realize that pushing on two weeks ago would have been a REALLY big mistake.

With very tired legs and 40mi/5K of elevation gained, we rolled into Ward about 3:15 PM. Sadly, the little general store that was suppose to be open until 4 PM had already closed. ?‍♀️Small town. We still paused for a few minutes to snack a little, before starting the 15mi or so downhill. And it was a COLD downhill. About 30sec into the downhill we lost the sun, never to get it back.

About 4mi in we stopped to pull over, where I put on my now beloved mittens and Paul warmed his gloved hands on his femoral arteries (you do what you gotta do). Even after that, the downhill was COLD ?. I dream of warm spring days where that downhill is just pure enjoyment.

Finally, we had one more 450ft climb up over Olde Stage road before we could cruise back home. 63 miles and 5,600 ft complete ???It looked like this:

Strava screenshot for a basic sense of the ride

The ride still felt hard, and I’m not entirely sure why. I’d expect it to feel moderately hard, but not the complete quad cramping, out of gas tiredness I end up feeling. It’s not that long, or even that steep (compared to other rides I do). In fact, going up to Ward the way we went down felt slightly easier (and it’s steeper). So is it the cold? The wind? The elevation? Not enough food because it’s so chilly (almost certainly a part of it)? Some silly combination of it all? I suppose it is 5.1K of gain in 40mi (since the final 20mi has just ~500ft of gain), so when I think about that ratio, that’s pretty significant. So maybe that? Not sure.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get to try the ride again on warmer days and with stronger legs, and I can see if it feels better. For now, I think I’m going to let that one go for a few weeks ?

Oh! But the day’s biking was NOT over! The final of fun for the night was when I took a closer look at my flat mountain bike tire. I just got tubeless tires, and my guess (now) is that they didn’t fully seal. But as a tubeless newbie, I spun around the tire a few times trying to figure out what was wrong, and in doing so ended up leaking out a bunch sealant. ?‍♀️Thus started a VERY fast crash course on “how to take care of tubeless tires”. Many paper towels and YouTube videos later, I think between Paul and I we successfully took care of it. I rode it around for a few minutes in the dark, so we’ll see in the morning…

For now, more warm drinks, more salty snacks, and maybe a nice book ?

Author: cartwheelsandcake

Cyclist, climber, hiker, trail runner, back country skier, dabbling mountaineer Lover of cake, chocolate, brownies, and sweets. Excellent napper.

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