Monday, August 31, 2015

New Realities: On Singlespeeding It and Trailrunning

No Wizards at Waverly Park
Last week I took a Western road trip.  I was actually conferencin' it up.  I drove west for what seemed like an hour.  The land grew flat and dry.  There wasn't a hint of a rise in topography that could be mislabelled as "mountain" so I knew I was penetrating deep into the Midwest...ern part of Kentucky.

Vistas of the West
I landed in Looeyville 'roun' lunch time and dropped into Waverly with the Simply Simple Bike (SSB).  I say "dropped"...but I followed the suggested ride from MTB Project and parked at the playground.  It was a haul up to the east end of the park.  Waverly was my first real test on the SSB.  To date I've only had it at VP and everyone knows VP lacks any vertical relief of consequence.

Alas, I walked one steep climb not long after pedaling away from the playground parking area.  In my defense it was steep and I wasn't fully warmed up.  I'm pleasantly surprised to say I rode everything else at Waverly. 

Comments on MTB Project indicated that Waverly is a fast trail system.  I would agree with that assertion.  Of course I was underfamiliar with the trails so I was not as fast as I would have been at, say, VP or CVP or even Skullbusted.  But I managed a brief look-see after a couple of miles at the GPS on my wrist and saw I was averaging 8.5 mph.  For the climbing that I had slogged up from the playground with a singular speed bicycle and a lack of know-how at that particular park 8.5 was pretty freakin' fast for me.

I remember a similar feeling of speediness at Ben Hawes.  Between the two I would say BH is flowier and faster, but Waverly is pretty darn fast.  If I were to buy me some of that familiarity I might be even faster there.

The singularity bicycle was a major asset.  I was worried that I would flounder when the going got tough.  That was not the case.  I was able to climb 99% of all climbs and I nailed the meager techy sections that popped up no problemo.  I did have to hop over a fallen tree and go CX style for a second, but otherwise I kept my feet upon the pedals.

I felt good on the SSB.  It's nimble and simble.  I didn't fret about forgetting my granny gear at home.  I didn't jab my thumbs at the air under my handlebars.  Obviously I spent time standing up on the pedals.  I didn't especially feel spun out at any point.  Maybe if there had been some doubletrack or if the trails had been less burly I might have suffered with spinny knees, but the gearing was great for me.  I might turn into a SS machine.


Full Cherokee

Cherokee was a short ride from the Hotel du Galtier.  I didn't want to go back to Waverly during the after work rush, but Cherokee seemed like a fun place to interrupt the normal flow of civilization.  I did not, however, ride to Cherokee.  I opted to drive to the park and ride.  Cherokee was busy when I rolled up.  After workers were crowding to the greenspaces to congregate, train for cross country, amble about with their pets, and so forth.  I knew I would need to be on guard.

I took off on the loop I rode last time I was in the ‘Ville.  I was familiar with it, so I went along mindlessly until I hit some techy terrain.  Focus ensued.  I rode solidly through some rocky sections and came out on the road pointed toward the Seneca side.  It took me a little bit to figure out where I was while working from memory of a map I had looked at online, but once I was back on the right trail I was a-blazin’ through the woods, rolling over more rocks, roots, and bumpity terrain as I worked my way back west toward the car.  The longer I rode the more people I saw.  But it was never onerous on the trail.

Really nice armored switchback
I blew one short hill because it was just too steep. Then I failed to ascend a long grinder up an easy, but steepening hill.  Finally there was an insurmountable log across the trail as I was near the end of the golf course section on the Seneca side.  Otherwise I was able to ride just about everything at Cherokee on the SSB. 

I had feared that the ungeared bike would hold me back on technicalities.  The exact opposite seemed to be true.  It forced me to focus on picking the right line.  I forced me to look ahead and plan my attack on the fly.  On a singlespeed you have to maintain momentum or ramp it up instantly.  I’m starting to get that.  I’m starting to feel it and flow with it.

Cherokee showed me I can ride tough trails on the singlespeed.  I’m definitely gaining confidence.

Running Man
Kipp suckered me into a bet that of he and I an Al that whomever couldn’t not meet their stated (arbitrary) personal running mileage goal for the month of August would have to buy the other two a round of drinks.  Or whomever was the furthest from their goal…or something like that.  The rules were poorly defined.
I was pretty much on track to meet my goal of a hundred miles with plenty of days to spare until August 18th when my Achilles tendon acted up.  I scaled back hoping a few days of rest would get me back on track so I could finish strong.  After four days of rest I went out a week ago and tried to do a sixteen mile easy trail run.  I managed six before the pain flared up again.  And so I laid off last week.  I did ride. The bike didn’t hurt me so I was okay with all of the hoopla mentioned above.
This past Saturday I ventured out hoping for the best but planning for the worst.  I chose a relatively flat road route to run.  I shot for sixteen and hoping I’d feel so good I could manage eighteen miles.  The first ten felt great.  There was no pain and I ran strong at a conservative 11:00/mi pace.  There was no speed expectation.  I simply wanted to cover the miles.
Around mile twelve a specter of pain creeped into my leg.  It felt stiff.  Somewhere after mile thirteen there was no doubt, but I was only two miles from home so I kept trucking along.  The pain was slight and manageable when I passed the mailbox so I ran another flat half mile beyond and then turned around to finish with sixteen.  That put me six and a half miles shy of my goal with two days.
I would say I rested all day Saturday and all of Sunday but that wouldn’t be true.  We started constructing a fence around our yard.  Saturday we dug forty-five post holes with a gas-powered auger.  Sunday we set about half of the posts after loading and unloading them along with thirty bags of concrete.
Early this morning I cranked out the final miles.  It didn’t seem like a chore until the last half mile.  I’ve never ran that much in a month.  One hundred miles.
I’m taking two weeks off.  It’s time to give myself a much needed rest.  If I can, I’m not even going to ride.  Rest, rest, rest.  Two weeks from this past Saturday will be another scheduled sixteen mile run.  I’ll have skipped a twenty mile run and I’ve already missed an eighteen mile run.  If I can slip back in at sixteen injury free then maybe I can skip on to the scheduled twenty-two the week after and be back on track.  I think I can if I increase my through the week miles as I go, and then back off when I’m on track.
I’ve pretty much decided that if I can successfully finish the Rough Trail 50k then I’m going to stop running for super long distances and go back to long distance biking.  It’s so much easier to do a hundred mile bike ride than a sixteen mile run.  I’m not giving up running…just running more than a half marathon distance.  But I want to do at least one ultra-distance trail race.
Then, maybe after a year or so of regular running if I am strong and healthy maybe I’ll think about doing another.  But it feels rushed even though I feel like I’ve been working toward this goal for the better part of a year.  I need more mileage before I go so hard.

1 comment:

  1. Nice running and good luck at your 50k. I had to take up cycling as the trail running became too punishing on my body. I still occasionally run though.