Monday, July 7, 2014

Remedying the Pre-Tevis "I haven't done enough" Jitters

The original plan for this weekend was to attend the Tevis Fun Ride and ride CA Loop, but the problem with that plan was that it would take up the entire weekend and there was a pile of other things that needed doing at home. So instead I opted for not going and cramming as much into the three-day weekend as physically possible. I think I achieved that goal - I'm tired, I'm filthy, and I have blisters on the bottoms of my feet.

Day 1 - Friday - Jobs B Done

  • Gold star to me for doing my 2 mile run* in the morning, even though I left late and it was hot. 
(* I have this vague plan to aim for the Way Too Cool 50 k Run in March. 

There are several flaws to this plan - namely, I don't think I actually like running enough to want to run 50k - let alone train for it. And secondly, it's a lottery entry, with n thousand applicants trying to squeeze into 850 places, so the chances of getting in are limited. And thirdly, I don't think running with 849 other people sounds remotely fun. 

Despite all this, I have the "how to train for a marathon in 16/26 weeks" [depending on which plan you go with] and will work at it - it'll get me in shape for Tevis and I may even lost the extra 10 lbs that popped up over the original extra 10 lbs that aren't supposed to be there. 

It has to be taylored slightly to fit in the conditioning for Tevis and then VC100. For example, I'm supposed to run Monday morning, but that's after having "two rest and recovery days" - which I didn't actually get and right now can barely creak down to the trailer to get out the GPS that I left on my saddle. Perhaps Monday will be yet another "rest and recovery" day.).

Luckily, everything that got done this weekend was accompanied by a small helper.
  • Small Thing got trimmed - which was a good thing, given that whoever is his trimmer does a lousy job at keeping on top of his feet. Totally overgrown and out of control. I'm glad he's not my pony and I don't pay his trimmer.
  • The boxes from our week trip to Moab that were cluttering up the front hall got emptied and put away, so we can actually walk through the front hall now, not act like it's an obstacle course.
  • The annual "put up the sunshade over the back deck" occurred. This year, it is engineered sans cinder block holding it in place, and is therefore, in the words of my friend Funder, "very classy".

  • In the evening, we met up with Crysta, Ronda, and husbands at the Fast Friday's motorcycle track racing at the Auburn Fairgrounds - lots of fun in a very low-key way. These were followed by excellent 4th July fireworks (they only set off one fire, but had four fire engines standing by), followed by a beer at the only bar open in the entire town. Good ending to the day.

Day 2 - Saturday - Nine Miles of Cool

Except for a couple of walking rides up at Robinson Flat, Roo, hasn't actually done any work in six weeks, post-NASTR 75. Part of this is because his poor back was totally mangled by the well-past-sell-by-date pad I used, coupled with all the walking we ended up doing on that ride -  so it was better to let his back heal up. It still looks awful, with a large pink blotch - and I feel really crappy about it - but he's not sore on it, so I figure some riding probably won't do any harm - and he's supposed to be doing VC100 in September, so I can't let him sit for too long.

Plus I was eager to try out the new Skito foam shims.

Accordingly, pft and I took Fergus and Roo out to Cool in the afternoon mostest heat of the day and took them up the training hill, and then ran them about for nine miles. Everyone had a lot of fun. I was a little concerned that Roo looked like death at the end... but he looked like that before we even set out - I think he was in "hot weather mode" - where he just looks like he's on his last legs (never mind that for the first three miles of the ride, he was quite able to leap about and try and buck whenever Fergus trotted, so I overstretched my poor abused adductors again trying to stay on).

Climbing the training hill - we were soundly beaten by a woman on foot
...who turned out to be Melissa Ribley, out with Robert and Chris Turney,
presumably doing their version of heat/hill training

starting to regain weight

And in the evening we visited Ann and Jess for fud and talk-around-the-table - haven't done this in too long and it was so nice. And of course drank margaritas (hot day, etc, etc) and then didn't leave there until 1 am

Day 3 - Sunday - Heat Training R Us

My cunning plan for this day was to get up as early as I could and beat the heat.

So much for that.

In reality, after the previous late night, I did my best to achieve a lie-in (fail, owing to being woken up by "something" biting my hair), and then had to trim Fergus because his boots wouldn't fit. And then had to come indoors and lie down because it was hot and my back was cricked.

Amazingly, despite nearly wussing out (pft said "you don't have to ride today", and I nearly fell for it), Fergus and I were packed in the trailer and on our way to Driver's Flat by 1 pm... to ride in the hottest part of the day. Needless to say, neither Fergus nor I were highly motivated.

Mindful of the sad state of my quads after hiking down to Swinging Bridge three weeks ago, I hand-walked (hand-dragged?) Fergus down to Francisco's. The temperatures were in the high 90s (36-37°C) when we left the trailer and they just got hotter. Down on the river road, with the sun reflecting off the white surface, it was well over 100°F (38°C).

The thing I wanted most was to get off that stupid hot road, and to stop watching the happy rafters down on the river, not sitting in their rafts - oh no - they were all in the river next to the raft, bobbing along in their lifejackets. Jealous was I.

Once we got around the river bend and into the trees more, it was a little cooler, but only a little - still in the high 90s. Fergus, who was so fidgety for sponging three weeks ago, stood stock still, totally unmoving while I sponged him, and me, and him, and me, and him, and me... repeat. Getting him to leave the creek proved tricky.

Sandy Bottom - about my favorite place on this section of trail. You're
down close to the river and I always expect to see ancient giant sturgeon
in the clear deep water.

And then you climb - and the higher you climb, the narrower the trail becomes,
and the more steep the drop offs. Fergus was a good boy, though, and looked
after me (as usual), even though I am a weenie.

After the climb to the top of Ford's Bar. Fergus isn't fond of Ford's Bar

On the switchbacks on the way up to Peachstone. 

Huzzah! We arrive at Peachstone and I take a celebratory photo.
Couldn't figure out why it was all 'soft focus' and peculiar - until I
realised I had my iPhone stuffed in the front of my bra and had
then liberally drenched myself with the horse sponge in the creek.
Result was a rather steamy lens

This is what that photo was supposed to look like

My visions of trotting up the switchbacks to Peachstone didn't pan out - Fergus did a lot of trudging. I think the combination of the heat and being out there all alone did him in. He wasn't exactly what I'd call dynamic.

But we got to the top, looped around to White Oak Flat, and then went back down again on McKeon-Ponderosa, back down to Francisco's, and then back up Driver's Flat, for a total of 21.5 miles and 3500' of climbing (and descent, since it was a loop). All in all, a decent conditioning ride, even if it was a slow one. And the combination of this, and the training hill the day before, and the CA Loop planned for next weekend, salved my "haven't done enough" feelings. Fergus worked hard these last two days and I feel less like he's been standing around doing nothing and therefore can't possibly finish Tevis.

On the way back down to Francisco's from White Oak Flat.
Using White Oak Flat as the vet check instead of Francisco's
was an alternate Tevis route that was taken once in the 90s
with the idea to keep the historic trail open. Unfortunately, the
section through Todd Valley is now quite built-up and someone
was hit by a car going through there in the dark on Ride Day, so
I think it was deemed a bit too dangerous. 

Fergus' lack of motivation on the hand-walk down from White Oak Flat had caused me to procure a small whacking stick with which to encourage him. This "whacking stick" was wimpy enough that you could have whipped a baby with it and the baby wouldn't have noticed, but it had the desired effect on Fergus and a suitably animated (i.e. not being dragged along by your face) was produced. I told Fergus that Karen (his former mommy and trainer) would not be impressed by his behaviour.

Wimpy whacking stick that I kept for the trudge up Driver's Flat, just in case

Back down at Francisco's, where he peed copiously and
was suddenly miraculously cured of his inability to go downhill.

We even had an adventure. 

After you leave Peachstone, you climb another 1.5 miles and pop out on a paved road for a short while. This then veers onto a small singletrack, which in turn drops you into Todd Valley.

The entrance to the singletrack had branches across it to dissuade people from going up there. Of course, Fergus and I weren't dissuaded, so marched over the top of the branches and went 20' before coming up against a downed tree blocking the trail. It was a pretty wimpy tree and I figured I could bend it and pull it and shove Fergus through (Fergus is good at bushwhacking), and was in the process of doing this when I noticed a blueish thing lying on the trail behind the tree branches... wait....isn't that a wasps' nest?

The wasps' nest - about the size of a football.
It looked deserted, so I figured it had come down when the tree tipped over and all the wasps had vacated the premises.

Crouching down for a better look, I noticed a couple of sluggish wasps crawling on it, so decided that maybe there were some residents. But the thing was totally blocking the trail, with no way around so it needed to be gone.

I maneuvered Fergus back along the trail, took him out to the road and hung him from a tree (this road just leads to the single house at the bottom, so has zero traffic on it), and went back armed with a branch. My plan was to brush the wasps' nest off the trail with my long stick, and it would just drop off the side and Fergus and I could push our way through the downed tree.

I poked the nest and it moved about 2" and a large number of wasps came out. I squawked and ran back down the trail to the road, startling Fergus by my sudden appearance.

Waited for them to calm down and went back again - with a longer stick - and had another go. This time, the nest moved even less distance and even more wasps came out of it. This wasn't going to work.

So of course, what we did was climb a vertical bank, dismantle someone's fence temporarily (fence that had a sign on it saying "No fishing, No hunting, No trespassing" - which of course didn't mean us, what with this being an emergency), put the fence back together again, and then push through the undergrowth (read "poison oak") to drop back onto the trail 20' further up from the nest (and run like heck when you get there, just in case).

All I can say is it was lucky it was Fergus, who takes all such activity in his stride.

* * *

Looking downriver towards Poverty Bar river crossing. The Tevis trail goes
along the right bank about 20% of the way up the hillside.

Somewhere around 5 miles into the ride, I decided I wanted pizza for supper, so the entire trudge up Driver's Flat was spent txting with pft, trying to figure out where we could obtain pizza from (particularly, given that I had no money or cards with me). He called around and said if I could get to the Cork and Fork by 8:30, there would be pizza waiting.

It was 7:50 and we weren't to the top yet.

Looking down towards Francisco's from Driver's Flat Rd

To his credit, once the climbing part was over, Fergus actually trotted the entire last half mile back to the trailer (by now the temperature had dropped to 82° (28°C) and it felt deliciously cool), and I did the fastest untack in living memory, while at the same time giving Fergus water - he sucked down three small buckets (2.5 gallons? each) in the time it took me to whip off his clothes, and I shoved him in the trailer, and through the canyon we went.

Pizza was procured. Yum.

 And Fergus got another drink once the crisis was over.

pft asked me if I'd actually looked at the pizza because he had ordered a "combo" and didn't know what was on it. I told him, no, I hadn't looked at the pizza at all.

 Good weekend.


  1. HAHAHA at not looking at the pizza. At that point, who gives a shit what's on there, FOOD!

    Sounds like quite the weekend! Well done on the heat training.

  2. Loved the Pizza pic, great stroy, needed the smile this morning.