Monday, August 24, 2015

Stupid Questions

Week before last I had the opportunity to check out the Berea cross country trails at Brushy Fork Park.  I believe the trails are used by the college CC team.  This is pure speculation, but it makes sense.  Last week I ran pretty consistently and had a good long run on Saturday (see It’s a Long Way Back to Leadville) even though it was my longest—and likely toughest—run to date.  
When I say longest I mean it.  Prior to Saturday my longest run was a half marathon.  Longest run, longest trail run, longest run with ridiculous elevation changes, etc, etc.  I tried a fifteen mile run last year but was thwarted by similar factors that affected me this past weekend.  Where did I fail?  The usual foul ups: ran out of water, didn’t eat well on Thursday and Friday, and have really not put in the miles.  The miles are coming.  The other two flubs will be remedied for future runs.
Anyway, back to Berea.  I was pleasantly surprised once I figured out where everything was.  The lower trails are nice.  Typical cross country course.  There was a swath mowed through a field and then a wide dirt path through the woods that gradually narrowed to wide singletrack, then regular singletrack and finally into darn nigh a bushwhack on the backside of the knobs.  But it was fun.

The back 40
It was a slow run.  I blame it on the unfamiliar area and a couple of false starts.  I picked up as I continued and a couple of my mile splits were pretty respectable.  I just didn’t pound it like the idiot I usually am.
And there’s the rub, really.  I need to incorporate more intentional training into my activities (find a good activity Brian).  I need to do some speed work both in running and on the bike.  I really, really, really, need to be hitting the gym and working on general and core strength.  Doing so would also help me drop more weight.  I’m doing ok now, but if I want to be serious about it I need to do more strength.
And then there is the new bike.  I sold Minus.  It was Dave’s fault.  He told me he wanted to sell his singlespeed mountain bike to fund wheels for his new build.  The more I thought about it the more it made sense for me to have a SS MTB in my cube instead of the auld road bike. There are many days I have hauled my geared MTB to LexVegas to ride at Vets, or Caps, or Skulls.  I decided if I could get $200 for the Bianchi I would make the swap.  Dave was only asking a little more for the MTB.
I had a taker.  Cash changed hands.  Then instead of a vintage sporty road bike I had a simply simple mountain bike taunting me from the cubicle wall.  I rode at VP soon after, but the trails were slippy and slimy.  My circuit was nothing to write home about.  Last Monday I went back.  My gut was off.  I felt like I hadn’t eaten in days (lingering effects from my 14 mile trail run), and my heart wasn’t really in it.  But the lunchtime temps were in the mid-70s and it looked like the rest of the week might not be as dry so I forced myself to drive across this side of town to the park.
Stupidly, I went hard.  I didn’t warm up.  I didn’t ease into my ride.  I took off toward the woods like I needed to ram my way through a line of invading Mongolians to find freedom.  Thankfully my processors were firing efficiently.  No trees were harmed in the carving of the trails that day I can assure you.  I nary nicked a sapling.
I drove it over humps and bumps and frequently took more air than usual.  After two rides I’ve stopped reflexively shifting.  My legs don’t withhold their power waiting for an easier gear.  I just go.  I just ride.  It’ll take a little time before the bike feels like an extension of my body.  The geometry is just different enough
Riding the SS is more like running.  You simply cannot gear down to climb.  And you can’t power down descents.  Once you get into a spin you lose the mechanical advantage of the bike.  You only gain the benefit of coasting.
What I wonder is how the SS will fare on the more rugged terrain to the east of where I normally ride.  Would I hate it at Cave Run?  Jenny Wiley?  The future Big Sinking trails?  I have scury thoughts like “what would it be like to ride a singlespeed at Leadville?”

Switching gears somewhat (ha HAHA.) my running for the month is shot.  I had made a goal of running a hundred miles in August.  And then my Achilles put a kink in the plan.  I’m holding steady somewhere around 75 miles but if I do the right thing and rest for a few days then there’s no way I’ll be able to make up the miles by the end of the month.  And that’s assuming I could run anyway.
I can’t afford to be down too long with this injury, so I’m going to do my best to heal it up right.  While I’ve still got time before Rough Trail 50k I don’t have time to waste.  Saturday was supposed to be my 16 mile long run and I managed 6 before I had to resort to walking.  I had laid off running for about four days after the first flare up, had no pain, and went out to put in my miles.  Nope.
Oh, and weirdly, out of the blue my ribs started hurting again.  I thought my injury of stupidity had healed up nicely and then for no apparent reason it flared up again too.  I’m falling apart.



  1. “what would it be like to ride a singlespeed at Leadville?” It's fantastic at 2-4%, okay above that grade, when the front wheel points downhill, it's rather upsetting, because everyone "blows you away", but you get them again climbing. There's some "street cred" to it when you finish, but some sadness when you realize that the #1 guy in SS killed you by about 3 hours. In a perfect world, you could pretend that you had a singlespeed while ascending, and then "shift" while descending. Still trying to figure that one out. But in agreement, SS is very much like running.

    1. I've inadvertently read a few accounts of doing Leadville on a SS and everyone agrees with what you say. I remember Fatty saying you walk where EVERYONE walks anyway and you get tossed on the descents.

      I have a hard time fathoming Columbine with no low gears. Otherwise I think I'd be willing to try it eventually.

  2. Exactly, and the same went for Columbine, I walked in the 2 places everyone walks, but I was passing people besides that, all told I actually improved by about 15-20 mins on Columbine, so for me I think it's mental, when I can't shift, I don't.

    1. I'm really beginning to gain confidence (see today's post) on the SS. I assumed (incorrectly) that I wouldn't be able to climb as much or to ride as well on it. What I'm finding is that I am a better technical rider on the SS. I focus more. At least for now. I guess I focused more for a while when I first switched to clipless pedals.

      Anyway, having to plan ahead to get up steepness or deciding how to attack a long hill is not as hard as I expected it to be. And I will never be able to ride all of Powerline or the upper loose sections of Columbine. AND IF I COULD I could probably do as well on a singlespeed as I could on a geared bike. I'm starting to see that now.