Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Made a Lot of Mistakes. In My Mind. In My Mind.

Mt Lemmon.

Even though it's almost 6 months away, I have already planned 4 bike rides, a couple of trail runs and some open water swims, for our South Dakota vacation. One of the trails we'll be riding was voted the 7th best bike ride in the world. I'm not sure about that, but It sounds pretty amazing and it got me thinking about all the great bike rides I've been on and I thought it would be fun to put them up on the blog from time to time.

Fueling up before the ride.

The most recent amazing bike ride I've done was Mt Lemmon in Tucson, AZ. last February.

Getting ready for the climb.

Over 20 feet of straight climbing, and then the same amount of descending...Obviously.

Cyclists descending, while we were ascending.

Of course, the morning we were going to do this awesome ride, I woke up with my period and a migraine. My favorite combination...Or not. I took meds and slept for a bit and wasn't sure if I'd be strong enough physically or emotionally to ride something that challenging.

Incredible scenery.
We stopped at the train station market for lunch and then headed over. I told John I wasn't sure if I'd be able to ride any of it, but that I'd try and if it got to be too much for me, I'd turn back around and meet him at the car when he was done. We were parked in a beautiful park where I could read/nap in the shade.

When we stopped to pee, I reminded John to listen and look for rattlesnakes.
I knew John wanted me to ride it with him. He had heard how intense the ride and the scenery was and he wanted to share it with me, so he was being very encouraging and telling me he was pretty sure it would be no problem for me. So, I tried it. I figured if I could at least ride the first 5 miles, I could turn back before the descent was too long and cold. Although, I was worried about the climb, I was even more scared of the descent, which I had heard people could reach speeds of over 60 miles per hour - where hitting a rock or getting a flat could be the end of you.

At this point, we could see where we had come and check out where we were going.
  I trudged along at the beginning of the ride and it didn't seem too hard for me. It was only about a 5 % grade all the way, but that can add up as you go. The key for me, was not to go too fast at first. I had to be all about the negative split. I also had to be careful not to look down. My migraine meds make me dizzy, and I didn't need any help spinning my poor, tortured brain. We started at close to 80 degree temps and went through about 3 different ecosystems by the time we hit the top, where the pine trees were.

Almost at the top.

By the time we got halfway up, I knew I would make it and started picking up the pace....Well, a little bit, anyway. John stopped to pee and take some photos, so I rode some of the later parts by myself. I stopped at the big scenic overlook and waited for him, so we could take a dorky photo together. Always important.

We made it to the first stop on the top. Apparently, there is another place a few miles up, but we were losing daylight and the last thing I wanted, was to be descending way too fast, dealing with cars, motorcycles, other bikes and even a couple of skateboarders in the dark. so we turned back around.

It was so cold, my nose was running faster than I was descending.
I was right about the descent. It was way more challenging for me than the climb. We had heard it was freezing going down, because the temps were about 50 degrees at the top and then you are going fast in the wind and not pedaling, so not getting the warming-up benefit of constant movement.

I feathered my brakes the whole way down, and we went about 30-35 mph. John had us stop at one point because I was shivering so badly from the cold. We made it all the way down, just as the sun was setting. I was exhausted, but so, so, so high from the ride and the scenery and the whole experience. I was really glad I womaned-up and did the ride. It was one of the most amazing bike rides of my life...So far.