Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Training Mode

With the start of the race season rapidly approaching, I’ve had to step up my training to be ready. I’ve tried my best to keep up with my cycling fitness, but the bad weather (and other factors) has impeded my progress just a bit. I’m still plugging away on the ever-so-lovely X-Bike during the week, but as I told y’all before, it just doesn’t cut the mustard. I will continue to ride that silly machine, but actual “on the trail” mileage is the only way I’ll truly be ready.

Although it’s been bitterly cold lately, I’ve been able to get out on the trail the past two weekends. This past Saturday it was time to get out and ride the lovely trails at Lake Norman State Park. The Dirty Party Cycle sent me a text message at around noon on Saturday, inquiring about riding the aforementioned trail. I replied back that I was game, so I hurried home and packed up Goose and all of my riding accessories. The high temperature for the day was to be around 32 degrees, so I packed more clothing than usual. This was going to be an arctic ride, so I had to be prepared.

I hit the parking lot at Lake Norman State Park at around 2:45 p.m., hoping that the temperature was at its peak. I guess 32 degrees was all I would get. I arrived a lot earlier than the DPC (since I left before he did), so I changed into my riding attire in the comfy warm confines of my truck. I sent him a text to let him know that I was there, and also to inform him of what I saw on the ground when I got to the parking lot.

Yep, there was still snow on the ground in some spots. We were in for a really cold ride. I aired up all of the parts on Goose that needed air, and waited for the arrival of the DPC. He showed up ready to ride, but he also knew that we were in for a freeze-fest. Our only hope was to ride fast enough to get at least a little warm, and hopefully that would dull the pain of the frosty temps. The DPC prepared to ride:

We were getting cold fast, so we hurried out on the trail. The first loop was speedy, with tight twisty turns and plenty of climbing and downhill action. While my pedaling did warm me up a bit, the high speeds we attained still kept us on the chilly side. After about the first mile or so, I could no longer feel my fingers. We stopped for a moment to warm up, and then it was back to the chill-fest. My lungs were in pain from the frozen air, so you can imagine how hard it was to climb. We commented about how crazy we must be to be out riding on a day like this. I think I mumbled something like, “We must really like this mountain biking stuff.” Yes my friends, we are addicts. Just like anyone with an addiction, we suffered just to get our fix.

After the ~ 6 miles of fast and flowy singletrack, we headed back to the parking lot. We stopped to warm up for a moment and to decide where to ride next. I never once wanted to quit, which further proves how I am addicted to pain. My feet felt like they were strapped to two cinderblocks, well what little bit I could feel of them. We decided to hit the next section of trail, but the DPC wanted to play in the snow for a moment.

While there was plenty of snow all around the park, the trails were completely snow-free. I imagine we would have had an even more difficult time riding if that was the case. We headed over to the newest section of trail, the Laurel Loop. Since it was brand-new (this was the first day it was open), the trail conditions were a little less than ideal. It wasn’t packed in yet like everything else out there, and we were immediately faced with some frozen muddy slop. The very first climb was difficult, and we had a hard time maintaining traction. The downhill sections were nice though, and most of the trail was covered in pine needles after the beginning section (which helped tremendously with traction.) My lungs were even feeling better, although my frozen feet were starting to protest a little.

You may notice that this post is lacking the usual amount of photographs. That’s because we didn’t stop enough to take any pictures. We didn’t want to lose the little bit of heat that we generated, since the temperatures were slowly dropping. We did however take a couple of trail photos at a nice little creek crossing.

Since we were rapidly losing light, the photos didn’t come out so well. It’s not in our budget to have a professional photographer along for our rides. I guess we’re not big-time after all. We made it through the 4.5 mile trail and headed back to the parking lot. The time was about 5:25 p.m., and darkness was fast approaching. The park closes at 6:00 p.m., so we had to load up our crap and get the hell out before we were locked in. After warming the trucks up, I noticed that my temperature gauge said 27 degrees.

Wow, what the hell was I thinking? Well, we had a great time, and neither of us froze to death. I guess that’s all you can ask for. I chalked it up as training for the upcoming race season, and with that I took one step closer to racing superstardom (yes, I have a long way to go.) The first frigid ride of the New Year was in the books, and hopefully there would be many more to come. Now, where can I get a hot cup of coffee?

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