Monday, June 4, 2012

A Very Full Weekend

Sorry there have been no posts here for the last week or so. I've been a little busy.

Tuesday afternoon saw my first return to my association pool since last August. I had to ask the lifeguards to set up the lane rope, but they were obliging and though it was not open water, it was outdoors and that's pretty nice.

Flash forward to Wednesday afternoon and I got the idea in my head that it would be a good idea to do run intervals. Well, it may have been an okay idea, but I went out way to hard on my first couple of miles and ended up finishing short of my planned full distance and much slower.

That was probably just as well because Thursday afternoon found me back up in Boulder. No my weekend did not start any sooner than anyone else's, but this was the beginning of a three out of four day stint that had me putting in something just under seven hours of training.

I had gone back up to the PRB since I'll be doing the Boulder Peak Triathlon there on July 8. Looking at the map, it looked to be a challenging bike course and I always like to have some idea of just exactly what it is I've gotten myself into. I found out.

There's a gradual climb out of the area of the Boulder Reservoir and then you head west on Lee Hill Drive and really start to climb. By the time I found myself on Old Stage road, I was looking up a long, steep hill with a false summit or two and my heart rate well over 150.  Exhausting!

One good thing about going up is that it means going down and after reaching the high point of the course just after mile 7, I was cruising downhill with minimal effort. I spent a lot of time on the north side of the route  in the big ring and making up for the amazing slow pace I had in the beginning.

Friday was an easier day with just my strength work out. That was necessary because of what came Saturday.

For the last few weeks I've been looking at a course in Jefferson County. For those not familiar with the greater Denver area, it (Jeffco, as it's known locally) straddles both the western suburbs of the city as well as several small mountain town and whole lot of unpopulated mountain forest land.

Much like the course for the HITS, it starts with the big uphill portion before going more downhill. My gut tells me that this one is a little harder, however.

Since my brother is doing the HITS as well, he joined me for what was a going to be a big training ride for the both of us. The roadside along West Deer Creek Canyon Road, just west of Wadsworth Boulevard is a popular place for cyclists. Many are there to do the same ride my bro and I were doing while others park there to head on in to Chatfield State Park. The park, I've discovered is a great place to do some interval riding, but our goal on this day was to climb. And we did!

The course gives a couple of miles to warm up before you enter the canyon-proper and start a steady ascent. Then things get really interesting when you turn off of the main road onto a smaller and much steeper side road. At this point, we were a little over six miles in and the climb built and built until we reached a couple of switch-backs which, as they will do, added significant elevation over a fairly short distance. And if that weren't enough, you're not even at the top yet.  Oh no. You've got to another six miles of steady climbing. You get brief respite and some down hill but you still climb a little more until finally reaching the max elevation of around 8516 feet. Keep in mind, the elevation at the start is 5536.

Mercifully, the next several miles are almost entirely downhill, sharply so in some places. At last you reach the small town of Kittredge where you turn south, heading back to the start of this loop course. That's where it's time to climb again though it's nothing as bad as the start of the course. On the other hand, our legs were not as fresh at this point and it's not without it's difficulty.

A great thing about rides like this is the stories they generate. It's like my half marathon in Pueblo last December. Sometime after the fact you get to swap war stories with your fellow triathletes or even those not into the sport.

Well, this one is a doozy. We were in our last 15 miles and I had gotten a little out front so I stopped at nice flat section to have a drink and wait for my bro who was maybe a minute or two behind me. Suddenly, from a yard on the other side of the road, a guy comes out and says, I'm not authorized to stop here? Huh? At first I thought he was kidding. I must have looked confused even under my helmet and sunglasses because he repeated himself and said something about he was tired of cyclists stopping in front of his house (I was across the road remember). It didn't take me long to come to the opinion that he must be suffering from some kind of mental condition. I think the technical term is bat-shit crazy. Realizing this, I gave him a wave acknowledging that I was moving on and started to clip back in.

But he wasn't finished. Belligerence gave way to a diatribe about how I needed to go ride my bike on a path or get a mountain bike and then he called me a name that suggested I was actually the female reproductive organ or a cat. By this point, my brother had caught up and he also was the recipient of a not very nice word.

You'd like to say something back in cases like this, but I realized that he was so crazy that he might have gotten in his car and run us down. Nut jobs like this are best treated like wild animals, give them some space, move on and hope they loose interest. Fortunately, he went back into his meth lab...uh, I mean house.

The hills were not done with us yet. We had one more big climb and then it was easy sailing down hill for the last six miles or so. After so much work, I did not feel the least bit guilty about getting to just cruise to completion. Overall, it was a good ride and I'm pleased I could handle it. Could I have gotten off the bike and run 13.1 miles? Maybe. It would have taken me the better part of three hours, but maybe.

Here's the course and a composite of the video I shot on the GoPro while riding. I'm afraid the battery on the camera had died by the time I encountered the nice man who apparently hates all things cyclist, so that will just have to be the stuff of legend.

This morning, I went back to Grant Ranch for a swim which was to be immediately followed by a 10 mile run. The swim actually went pretty good considering, like an idiot, I forgot to bring my goggles. Fortunately, I managed to site the buoys well enough and truth be told, there's not much to see in that lake anyway! Nevertheless, I'm going to be more thorough next time.

Upon completing the swim, I moved my car down the street from the lake area. The organizers of the open water events don't want us to leave our cars in the parking lot all day which is understandable. Fortunately, the local elementary school is nearby and made a great place to start and stop a run.

It's been a while since 10 miles went so easy, but they really did. I had a few rolling hills, but I still felt good. Although temps stayed in the high sixties to low seventies, I was still glad to have my CamelBak along and the occasional sip of ice water really did keep me moving.

And with that, a fairly important training weekend is done. Now I'm going to taper a little bit in anticipation of next week's Greeley Triathlon. I might even get another post in before doing that race report.

For now, thanks for reading this rather lengthy post and have a terrific week ahead!

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