Veni, Vidi, not so Vici

“We will either find a way, or make one…” – Hannibal

Well here it is Thursday already and I still feel like I’m recovering from last weekend’s cycling festivities, although that probably has more to do with the cold that started to creep into my body last Friday (and peaked just yesterday) rather than all the riding.  But it definitely was a fast and furious weekend on the bike and a great reintroduction to “racing” starting with the San Jacinto Enduro on Saturday.

I usually don’t mind getting up early in the morning when I know that a fun day of riding is ahead of me but the 3:45am wake-up was a tad early, especially when I was not feeling well to begin with.  I was treated to an awe-inspiring bloody moonset over the hills to the west of Palomar mountain on the drive over to the start near Hurkey Creek Park, however.  As I was rushing around in the dark trying to get my gear together the pack took off so I played catch-up for the first few miles and just barely snagged the back end of the group before the first climb up Thomas Mountain.  A symbolic start to my day.

The first 30 miles were great as the sun rose over our shoulders as we made our way up onto Grouse Ridge then all the way down to what seemed like sea level in the orange groves below.  The harsh autumnal light that gave rise to the shadows that played on the badlands of the foothills in the crisp, clean atmosphere of a perfect southern California Fall day were a sight to behold – a view that only ended at the water’s edge of the Pacific many, many miles in the distance.  All the while the sharp ridges and defiles of Tahquitz Peak loomed to the east as a constant reminder that all of this elevation loss would need to be recouped by the end of the day, however.

True to form after the first water stop the only view was up up up on the climb of Toll Road Canyon where my ride started to fall apart like so many elephants marching across the Alps.  My climbing really sucks right now and this grade exposed me for the fraud of a bike racer I am at the moment.  But that’s why I’m out there racing again, to improve myself.  Sitting on the couch is not going to “git ‘er done”.

If the toll Road climb exposed me, the Optimator singletrack section at the top of it eviscerated me.  Although the forest was beautiful up there with widely spaced incense cedars and even some fall colors in the oaks, somehow it felt like we climbed the entire time, which I know isn’t possible since it was a loop.  This section was the Escher impossible staircase to nowhere and the endless looping trails confused me a little. 

Even though I was closely following 3 other riders that knew the area, I momentarily lost sight of them and made a wrong turn that led me down a rabbithole of a trail.  I laughed at first as I lost elevation into some great sections of trail that went through the middle of a huge cleaved boulder at one point, but it really sucked to climb back up to where I’d made the wrong trail choice.  That’s what I get for not closely following my gps!  After this section I was sapped both physically and mentally, but I’ll be back to ride these trails again now that I know they exist.

So, long story short once I returned to Idyllwild I hopped on the pavement and headed back to the start instead of following the trails and DNF’d.  I really didn’t have it in me to tackle the final climb so my day was done even though I still ended up with over 50 miles and a ton of vert for the day.  Thanks to the Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild for putting on the event and organizing the food drive that was the entry fee.  I wish I’d had time to hang around a bit afterward and be social but I’d promised my wife I’d be home early!

I also had to get my gear together for Sunday morning’s cyclocross at the velodrome in San Diego.  Not much to say about that race: sprint-corner-sprint-corner-log dismount-run uphill-sprint-power through sand section.  Usual “fun” cyclocross stuff with the addition of a velodrome section where I massively overcooked one of the turns that crossed the apron and blew out a spoke while partially rolling my tire off the rim.  I bent the spoke back around one of the others and worked the tire back on and soldiered on near the back of the pack.  Once again, “fun” cyclocross stuff.

Yes it’s always an uphill climb back into race fitness especially when you’re in your forties, but step one is being out there fighting for it.  Though I sure as hell didn’t conquer anything this weekend, two out of three is a start.

Continuing the “elephants crossing the Alps” theme, today’s eye candy is from along the shores of the Thunersee in Switzerland.  If only every ride had this sort of scenery…

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