Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nine hours of recharging

Date: Feb. 11 and 12
Mileage: 26.7 and 97.4
February mileage: 344
Temperature: 30 and 19

I really can not overexaggerate the energy that surrounds me when I wake up to the first sunny day after a long stretch of gray. Winter or summer, snow or rain, after a while, it just doesn't seem to matter. Gray is gray. And sun is intense color and open space, dry snow and packed trails. Sun is light. Why it would really matter what the temperature is, I've long since forgotten. Today was 20 degrees and as beautiful and energizing as any day in June.

I'd hoped to squeeze in about a 10-hour ride today, but it took me a while to pack up this morning. I loaded my bike with a good chunk of the kit I plan to carry with me in the race - about 10,000 calories in food (today, because I wasn't planning on eating the majority of it, mostly nuts and dried fruit), stove, chemical warmers, all my extra clothing (because it was so "warm" today, I was wearing my base minimum), ~four liters of water, bike repair stuff and tubes, other random little things ... The only thing I was missing was my bivy bundle (sleeping bag, pad and bivy sack), because I am still waiting on a front rack. But the bulk of it, the main weight of it, was all there.

The road shoulders, while still coated in a tire suck of loose powder/sand and clunky ice, were in better shape than I've seen them in weeks. Even with the weight of bike, food, water and gear pushing 55 pounds, I was able to sit back and coast easy. I hit up all the side roads in the Valley looking for packed trails, but didn't find too much. It's still too soon after the snow dump. I pushed my bike on the foot trails for a short while before settling back in to cruise mode.

I greedily soaked up sun through a few square inches of exposed skin on my face and made frequent stops to practice all the little things that long-distance snow-biking usually entails ... adjusting my tire pressure, adjusting my layers, feeding my face. I experimented today with force-feeding. I've gotten better about taking in calories on long rides, but still end up running a deficit before the ride is over. Small calorie deficits are fine for daylong rides, but they add up quickly over longer efforts. Today I was determined to end the day somewhere closer to even. For a nine-hour ride, that's at least 3,000 calories ... ug ... but I tried to put it down. I snacked on dried apples for close to the entire day. They were delicious at first. And then not so delicious. And then downright revolting. I supplemented the apples with Luna Bars and peanut butter cups. Both went down smooth. I ended the ride pretty close to my calorie-intake goal - and somewhat nauseated. It was a strange feeling ... I was nauseated but I had a ton of energy. With the exception of never wanting to look at a dried apple again, I felt nearly as fresh as I had at the beginning of the day, before all the pedaling and heavy bike pushing and cold wind and 90-something miles. And I'm thinking ... food is the answer.

But, then again, maybe sun is the answer. Or maybe just having a whole day to ride my bike is the answer. After dinner, Geoff and I decided to go to Costco and Fred Meyer to buy all the stuff we need for our race drop bags, among other things (Costco runs always result in about 400 pounds of groceries.)

"Aren't you too tired?" Geoff asked me when questioning whether we should go.

"Are you kidding?" I said. "All I did today was ride my bike."

And, the more I think about it, it's a pretty relaxing way to live.