Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Transitions

Date: Sept. 1 and 2
Mileage: 25.0 and 28.3
September mileage: 53.3

I blogged last week about my goal of trying to put in a heavy-duty week of harder training to see how my fitness is holding up. The training didn't go quite as planned - I had a little mental burnout in the rain on Thursday and being called in to work prevented me from completing a long ride on Friday. But overall, it has been going well. I have been seeking out hills and riding them harder, heading out earlier and riding longer, and recovering well after long hikes, which is where I get my real climbing in (and build those oh-so-under appreciated hike-a-bike muscles.)

Why am I doing all this? Well, I mentioned a month or so ago about my interest in heading down to my home state in October to ride Trans Utah. I still want to do it. My big obstacle is still acquiring the time I need off work, which I am working on (gently) with my boss, but that's still a huge 'if.' If I can get the time off work, though, I've decided I want to do it. There are a lot of reasons why I shouldn't do it, and a few more reasons why I probably won't be able to, but still the desire lingers. I have yet to get my redrock fix this year, and imagining the warm glow of evening light sweeping across sandstone vistas as I roll along a rim on my mountain bike makes me more than wistful - it makes me jittery. Until the desert isn't just something I want. It's something I need.

But since Trans Utah is hard and will kill me if I don't get the best gauge I can on my base fitness level, I have to train a little right now on the off chance I can go.

These past two days have been relatively mellow, but I am going to try to ramp it up again for the rest of the week. Dave H. posted the ride stats today, so I have a lot to motivate me:

Elevation. The low elevation is 2,500 feet. Low elevation. Where I live, if you're at 2,500 feet, you're above treeline. I do almost all of my bike training below 1,000 feet. Which means the high elevation of 10,200 feet is going to hurt. Probably a lot. Not much I can do about that now; just hoping my formerly-mountain-dwelling cells have some kind of biological memory.

44,700 feet of climbing. That's just crazy talk. But I actually think I'm in pretty good shape for climbing. Not that I've put in any 10,000-foot days lately, but I'm recovering well from my harder climbs, and I am also pretty good at maintaining a steady (read: slow) pace through varying grades. If I can somehow put up with the heat, hydration and altitude, I think I'll be OK for the climbing.

320 miles. I'd like to do it in six days or less. If I go into it and this doesn't seem at all possible, I'll go as far as I can reasonably go in six days and take the most convenient bail-out. I can honestly say that I am not headed to Utah for any kind of supreme personal challenge or race. I am headed to Utah to go to Utah. The fact that Dave H. spent the past year drawing up a specialized mountain bike tour through some of the most beautiful country in the world is the big draw.

Gear. Lots of fun stuff to acquire. There is still the question of whether or not Geoff is going to do this ride. If he doesn't, I have nearly everything I need. But I am still hoping he has a change of heart and decides to ride with me. He's worried because he's not in any kind of cycling shape; he's had a pretty tough fall training season for the Wasatch 100 and a tough one ahead for the Iditarod Invitational 350. I keep trying to convince him that even my ambitious cycling pace is still supremely mellow compared to what he does. But if he doesn't go, I'll be able to use his sleeping bag, SPOT tracker, water filtration system and my own Epic Designs bags. All I'll need to figure out is food.

Bike. I have to figure out how to get my Karate Monkey in prime shape and in Utah. Given how much I despise Fed Ex, this is not going to be easy.

I have prepared much less for much longer bike tours and made it through OK. I think this could be a humbling and exhilarating experience, whether I do it alone or with Geoff. So I really hope it can work out.