Friday, August 14, 2009

Cold Summer

I'm still trying to vomit up the rest of my Intermontane race report, so that I can move forward and recover fully. In the meantime, I've renewed my commitment to my bike and have been putting in some good days. Today was going to be another long, beautiful ride around the Fort Collins area and began accordingly. I headed south on my mountain bike, following the paved, rolling roads to the town directly below. I filled up my water bottle with some ice and gatorade at my new favorite watering hole, and continued west into the foothills, where my plan was to catch another, winding hilly road north and loop around the entire city before dipping back into the Fort. How I wish I would have looked north before starting my venture.

In keeping with the consistent 90-95 degree days where keeping cool was the challenge, I was decked out in my bibs and jersey, little gloves to keep my hands juicy, and sunglasses for, you know, the sun. I was grateful for the "cloud cover" that was today's weather, hoping it would make it easier to stay hydrated and whatnot.

An hour and a half into the ride, I wasn't really warming up and could tell my body was on the flat side of the spectrum. Not wanting to be an idiot, I decided to cut the ride short of the 80 miles I had planned, and to turn east at an earlier point. After conferring with a knowledgeable local on the proposed turn, I was looking at 14 miles til that point, then a 2 mile climb, followed by an 11 mile descent into a spot I knew would be ~30 minutes from food, home and a shower.

Flat was how I was feeling, but not how the road was, so I was taking my time. Just a couple of miles short of my eastward turn, it started to sprinkle, then sprinkle a little harder and I decided to pull off to assess the situation and eat a granola bar or something. From my dry vantage under some enormous pines, I was dismayed to see the direction I was heading was covered in that beautiful white mist of rain that got thicker and whiter the further you looked. You know, the kind of white you love seeing except for when you're terribly dressed for it, or carrying a computer, or just did your hair and are wearing all white. At this point the temperature started dropping noticibly, and I realized I was well within the "terribly dressed for it" parameters. I saw the lovely veneer of chicken take over the skin of my arms and half hoped someone I knew would stop and offer me a lift into town.

I hung out for a few, ten-fifteen minutes waiting to see if the rain would quickly pass, or slowly pass, but it just kept coming. Finally, I sucked it up and decided the cold wet would give me motivation to turn the pedals over faster. It didn't, really, but at least I started moving again. I got to the turn to go over the mountain and tacked my way up the hill. This was actually the best part of the ride, because I had quit beating myself up for feeling so sluggish and was enjoying the rain-drenched climb. I suppose I felt I now had a justifiable reason for feeling crappy, so it made it okay for me to go at a stupidly slow pace. I was thinking about the TransGermany and wishing I had my single speed under me, or a gu that tasted a little different than the rest, but I could see the break in the ridge line where I would descend and knew my climb was short lived.

The descent hurt worse than I remember winters in Boone hurting. The rain had turned into hail and I was trying hard to keep my arm muscles engaged to create some sort of muscular warmth. I picked up my right arm to give it a shake and my hand was dead weight dripping from my wrist. A shake of my arm produced an electric shock that shot up my hand and forearm. The same thing happened with my left arm. My hands weren't asleep, they just weren't functional. That fact was both alarming and confusing all at once. I then realized I was drooling and snotting and that my mouth was agape time-trial style, and suddenly felt like a gigantic puss for being so freaking cold in August in not-Alaska....

Even thinking what a wimp I was, I still could barely get my hands to work once I arrived home. I knew I only had a handful of things to do before I could jump in a hot shower and dethaw, so I threw my wrists under the kitchen sink hoping the warmth would get me started. It felt so good I wanted to dive into the sink. Taking off my shoes and chamois required a talk-through and as I waited for the shower water to heat up I made a pb&j sandwich that looked more like a Picasso than anything I should be eating. Once in the shower, it took a full 8 minutes before my hands started tingling and then another 10 for them to stop. Even as I type, they are a little tingly feeling.

So, what did I learn from my little adventure into the great afternoon outdoors of Fort Collins?? I suppose even out here in the foothills the weather can change drastically and I should be prepared to be prepared for whatever, particularly when the day starts out cloudy...

Good luck to everyone suffering through the Leadville 100 tomorrow! I hope you all are prepared because I've heard the weather may be a bit chilly up there at 10,000 feet....

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