This Week in Numbers
Swim: 9400 yards
Bike: 136.21 miles
Run: 29.77 miles
Total Time: 15:53:44 (I believe those hours a a record!)
Two Thousand Eleven………Why did you leave us so quickly? I had just gotten use to writing “11” at the end of the date and now I have to start all over again 🙂 I just can’t believe as I type this, we are well into 2012! Time truly stops for no one.
We were kind of lucky this year to celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve on Saturdays. Doesn’t happen too often and I kind of liked it. It gave me great opportunities for some awesome training weekends. The weather in St. George has been more than spectacular! Even down here in our “hot” desert we are use to bundling up for our outdoor workouts. I would even argue that we ride in colder temps than others who live in colder climates. Why? It is still in the 20s in the mornings and you will rarely find a weekend without cyclists all bundled up for a long ride…we forget down here that it is okay not to ride. It makes my toes hurt just thinking about it……
Actually, this is the week that I solved my “winter frozen toes” woes! I discovered portable heat! For less than $.50 a foot, my tootsies can stay toasty warm while riding ALL WINTER LONG! I came up with the idea preparing for last weekend’s Veyo Loop. I have neoprene shoe covers in varying sizes and length, but to no avail, I still spend hours after each ride between late Fall and early Spring thawing my feet. With these little foot pads, I can stick the heat on the top of my shoe (with the adhesive backing) and pull my shoe covers right over the top. Eureka! Fingers feeling a little nippy?????……..stick a hand-warmer (even cheaper than the foot pads) under the back-side of your glove and you will be SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE. So there you go, one less excuse to keep you from riding this winter. 🙂 Honestly, I don’t know why I never thought of these magical little contraptions before, but I’m just grateful I have them now.
One the agenda for New Year’s Eve this week was a Zion Ride from Coral Canyon (just North of St. George). I had been planning this ride for about 2 weeks and was THRILLED to see the huge response from cyclists all over Southern Utah. That cool, but beautifully sunny Saturday morning we had probably 30 or so riders ready to tackle one of the most beautiful rides here in St. George. Coach M even sent Coach H down on a mission to rip the shreds out of our legs! Can crazy cyclists ask for anything more?!?
The icing on top of this cake was that I would get to ride with two of my most favorite training buddies, Sarah Jarvis and Chanda Jeppson. Sarah had been “up north” with her little family for the month of December and would be heading back home to Flagstaff that weekend. She left the kids with her hubby, hitched a ride and crashed at my house to be picked up by her family on Monday morning. Chanda was able to find a babysitter for her kiddos and both her and her husband, Brian, could join us as well. This series of events bringing both these ladies together in one place to ride with ME is nothing short of miraculous 🙂
With cyclists from Salt Lake City, UT to Flagstaff, AZ, abilities running the gamut from newbie to seasoned veteran, and representatives from every age group…….This was going to be an AWESOME day!
We shoved off right at 9:00 and the pace line quickly formed on the descent down SR-9. The route to Zion is straight forward. You head through Hurricane, climb to the top of the plateau and stop when you hit the rock wall. Right off the bat it was evident that the front of the pace line was going to hold this group to a blistering pace. Luckily, with such a nice large group with so many abilities, pace groups split up and, I would argue, EVERYONE found a place!
As I made my way through the front group I realized that my worlds had collided. I was riding with some of my best friends from Cedar City AND St. George. Most of these riders did not know each other at all and I found myself as the unit that brought them all together. VERY COOL! The Cedar City riders are strong and they are roadies! The St. George riders are mostly triathletes and “newer” to the sport (when compared to the likes of our Cedar counterparts). Roadies are not triathletes and triathletes are not roadies. This is a very important and makes for fun and games.
Roadies are road bikers. They spend thousands of miles in the saddle every year. They draft (ride behind one another), they are solid technical riders who will strategize with and challenging anything that rolls on two wheels. Triathletes are true endurance athletes. They spend hours and hours out on the lonely roads battling through conditions that challenge even the toughest competitors. They don’t draft. They pride themselves on going at it alone. They are not usually the best technical riders (they don’t have to be). They are good at going one speed (fast) for a very long time. So what happens when you mix the two…………A TON OF FUN AND LAUGHS………for most of us 🙂
The biggest difference between the roadie and the triathlete becomes evident in the pace line (when everyone rides right behind the rider in front of them…..called drafting). Triathletes don’t use pace lines. Most triathletes compete in non-drafting races and don’t NEED to know how to draft. To a roadie……drafting is life! Drafting in a pace line is what helps these guys hammer out amazing times over very long distances. They utilize the pace line to hold speeds while giving the majority of the people in the line a “rest”……everyone taking their turn to “pull” off the front. This is a team mentality. If you are able to hold on to the wheel in front of you, you will benefit from their draft and be able to go farther, faster. So roadies work together. Triathletes are not use to this dynamic.
Pacelines themselves made up of riders of differing abilities and differing capabilities tend to be choppy and what we call “surgy”. One minute you will be comfortably riding along, the next minute the wheel in front of you threatens to leave you in the dust. When you are not use to riding like this, you burn out quickly. It is hard to respond to these group surges over and over again without it taking it’s toll. Unfamiliar muscles fatigue quickly and otherwise strong solo riders tend to get frustrated. Smart riders know that it is worth it to hold the pace line as long as possible, because once you lose it, you are on your own……some triathletes don’t mind that one bit.
Our paceline was just as described above. It was surgy and it was fast. We all found ourselves working quite hard. A few of our roadie friends from Cedar City, along with Coach, kept the pace steady and challenging. I held that paceline until Rockville and then I fell off the back 🙂 As we climbed a small hill outside of Rockville, my legs were toast. All my week’s mileage (and hill repeats) caught up with me and I just couldn’t hold another surge from the group. I backed off and sat in the saddle. Before I knew it I felt a hand on my backside. As I looked around my training partner, Craig, was behind me giving me a push. Giving another rider a push up a hill or to help them get back on a paceline, is not uncommon. The problem comes when the pushee doesn’t know what the pusher is doing. As I whipped around and figured out what Craig was doing, Craig almost road right in to me, and subsequently, me into Mark, who was on my other side. I blame Craig because he took the blame and admitted it was his fault (we’ll just go with it). I think we may all need a lesson on appropriate pusher/pushee technique. Triathletes! Geesh! 😉
So I was off the back. I had fallen off on my own and with the help of Craig, I wasn’t getting on that pace line any time soon. That was okay. I fell back and picked up another few St. George triathletes and road the rest of the way into the park with them. We met up with the front pack soon enough and we were off and into the canyon.
Zion National Park is an AMAZINGLY beautiful place! If you haven’t been there, you need to go. If you don’t know what it looks like……..Google it! Once you see it, you will want to go! Chanda and I have made it a tradition to celebrate the life of our dear friend Clair Jensen by riding Zion Canyon at least once a year. Just months before Clair died he brought the both of us and our, then, little baby girls to the canyon for an afternoon of trailer towing. After he passed away, we made it a point to ride together in that canyon every year celebrating the sport he loved to share with us. This year we just had a lot more friends to do it with! Clair would have LOVED this ride!
The front pace line stayed strong through the climbs into the canyon. Being the winter, the traffic was relatively light and we meandered our way up the road to the Temple of Sinawava and the end of the canyon. At the top, the front group was well established and little did all of us know that the next 40 miles back would bring so much excitement and struggle!
After a quick group photo we were headed down canyon. There were about 10 people in the pace line at this point and WE WERE FLYING! There were moments that I prayed the Park Service would not find us. I’m sure we would have been ticketed. We were exceeding the posted speed limit of 25 and LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT! The pace line stayed tight and the pace steadily grew. As we looked back on the stats, we came out of that 10 mile stretch of canyon averaging 30 mph. AVERAGING! We were flying! It was awesome. When we got to the gate, I asked if we could ride back and do it again! Those are the moments that keep you riding. Those moments where there is nothing but you, your bike, and the wind in your helmet. BIKER’S NIRVANA! Unfortunately, it was all about to come to a screeching halt. Enter THE WIND!
Any Zion Ride is infamous for it’s wind. If you don’t get a head wind both directions, you’ll get it in at least one. We had an ever so slight head wind on the way out and it looked to be that we might remain unscathed……but once we hit Rockville again, all hope of a tailwind home was gone. We didn’t just have wind. We had a roaring cross wind. IT WAS BRUTAL!
The front group was just too strong and their pace too fast. As we left the park and didn’t slow down, I knew that I wasn’t going to last much longer. Still, I held on until Chanda who was in front of me pulled the white flag on a hill going through town. I have never been so grateful to someone to fall off of a paceline. There was no need to chase the front group. We just let them go and created another small group. So, Chanda, Sarah, Jack and myself headed straight into the wind and across the plateau. There were times where I couldn’t believe how slowly I was riding. I couldn’t go any faster. As we approached the ridge to the descent down the LaVerkin Twist I was done. I was going under 10 mph and giving everything I had. As we made the turn to the descent we were greeted by an even worse tail-cross wind to blow us down the hill (NOT a good thing). I slowed way down and just prayed to maintain control and reach the gas station at the bottom.
As I reached the bottom of the hill the front group was there looking just as beaten as we were. Heath, who had been riding PowerCranks all day was just about done. Those of us who had been trying to keep up with him and his PowerCrank (and aren’t we glad he had them rather than standard pedals) were done. We had less than 10 miles to Coral Canyon with the hopes of a bit of a tailwind. After a quick break and a couple of snacks we were off. Chanda had parked at the gas station so she was now gone and Sarah and I were left with Heath, Craig, Shirley-the-Great, and Locke. I looked at Sarah and told her I was going to cooldown. She happily obliged my slow-legged offer 🙂
By the time we climbed up to Coral Canyon the wind had essentially stopped! Not a flutter, not a bit of dust. GONE! NOTHING! Oh, Mother Nature! I love you so 🙂 We racked the bikes and headed to Cafe Rio to drown our wind blown minds in beans and rice!
IT WAS AN AWESOME RIDE! 80 miles of some of the best riding I’ve done in a long time. I love to ride with groups. I love to watch the dynamics (which are quite comical at times). I love to meet new riders. I love to see people out hammering their bodies doing something they love. IT WAS A GREAT DAY and the best way to raise a toast to 2011. HERE! HERE! Bring it on 2012!