The day before the 55, the a small crew of misfits decided to put in some trail time out at Dupont. About 27miles of trail time. It was all good. I had planned on riding something to try and remember how to ride a mountain bike anyway. The only slight issue was when I decided to launch myself over the handlebars at about 20-25mph (according to my best estimate via my Garmin). I cant really recall what exactly happened. All I know I took a pretty good hit to the head (thank you helmet) and somehow got twisted inside my bike unable to move (thank you Ian for helping me get out). I seemed to be ok, just typical scrapes, bumps and bruises and a bit dizzy. Fast forward toward the end of the ride an my head was pounding! Like every time I hit a rock/root it felt like my eyeballs were going to explode out my head pounding. A little rest/recovery, a 32oz Dos Equis, an Advil or four and be fine for the next day, right?
Now I've only ridden about 40% of the 55 course. Yes, I know... I lived in Asheville and did not ride some of the best known trails. Shame on me, yea yea. Moving on.
The main challenge was riding the unfamiliar trails. Another challenge was overcoming not really being able to look to the left, pedal hard with my right leg or generally convince myself that my body didn't feel like a white knuckle clenched fist. Oh, lets not forget the rain. Seems like every damn time I visit AVL it freaking rains! Sorry folks. If Kyle's coming to town better break out the rain jackets (or at least it rained on the Ranger District side of the mtn).
It was not my best day. I felt like ass. I rode like ass. Just generally unable to get my rhythm going and making stupid mistake after stupid mistake. All those stupid mistakes completely killed what little mojo I had. Surprisingly though, the only sections I felt good about were the ones I was most intimidated by, Pilot Rock and Black Mt. DH. I've been up both those trails so I knew what was in store for on the way down. I cleaned, lets call it 90% of Pilot and all of Black which was significantly more than I had expected to. Some sections even feeling fast. Its the little victories...
It was a rough day. I bit off slightly more than I could chew. I had a lot going on in my head. My body didn't want to help me out. I consider it a win when you test yourself, push what you think you are capable of, whatever that may be, and come out the other side. I'm still checking this off as a W in my book. One of those things when you feel happy that you finished.
Dad's birthday was this past Friday. He was on my mind a lot. I miss him. I don't say that enough. A part of me felt like he was there, pushing me when I was at my lowest. It really is a unique feeling like someone who isn't physically with you anymore has your back and is pushing you. Thanks Dad, I miss you. Happy Birthday.
I've never used the term "training". I don't think I ever will. Riding a bike is something I view as a simple thing. It's fun, it should make you happy. If you're feeling good, ride hard. If you feel like shit, don't, go have some beers. This ideal may have me being a perpetual mediocre bike racer and I'm cool with that. Of course I'm a competitive person and I want to do the best I can when it comes to racing and I also enjoy pushing myself and suffering like a dog but it's not an end all for me. I can have the shittiest day, go for a ride and be reminded that the bicycle is an amazing thing. It can wash away all the anger, all the frustration, sadness, confusion, it truly is a pretty amazing thing, riding a bike.
That being said, I haven't ridden my bike once this week. Ha. I know, WTF! The term "rest week" is a foreign concept to me. Honestly, I'm not a fan. It's tough for me to not ride but I feel tired, burnt out a bit if you will. I've pinned eight numbers to my jersey in 4 weeks. This past weekend I could tell my body was trying to tell me something. Give me a break dude! Alright, fine, big baby.
I'm already itching to get back to riding again. This time off has hopefully done some good. If I can take just three days off the bike and be dying to get back on it, thats a good sign. I know both my mind and my body will be ready.
I've got some exciting things to look forward to and jump start me back in. What better way to get the legs going again than a nice 65mile jaunt in southern NC, northern SC. On Saturday I'm pretty excited to be riding The Good Ride an event benefitting The 24 Hours of Booty. Both are amazing charities that raise money for cancer research. Something that hits close to home for me.
Next week is National Bike to Work Week. Did you know that? Yea well it is, so ride a bike to work next week.
Then I will finally get back in the woods for the Pisgah 55.5K. It should be an interesting day to say the least. I had originally planned on pre-riding some of the sections I haven't done but unfortunately that never panned out. Yes, I know I lived in Asheville and haven't ridden some of the most notable trails. Shame on me. Why not pop the cherry during the 55, right?