Monday, July 19, 2010

Epic Ride for a Wild Cat Epic!

The Wild Cat Epic 100 is coming up. Gulp. Should I start training? Should I start to taper? Should I "carb up"? As an official certified USA Cycling Level 2 coach, you'd think I'd know the answers. And, well, I do know the answers, but it's much more fun to ignore logic and recommendations and just go out and ride. Maybe that's why I'm not pro. (Yeah, and that's the ONLY reason, right...)

Anyway, I got some good saddle time in while in Montana (more details coming by the way), but I needed more. My week off this week was a bit hectic, so I didn't get to ride as much as I was hoping, and I was still a bit sore from my part in my team's award winning performance at the 24 Hours of Pat's Peak mountain bike race.

So, the week flew by, and before I knew it, I was faced with one day left before heading back to the grind. I had to make my ride epic.

And what's more epic than heading out on a hot summer's day with not nearly enough water, a map, and $20? Answer--nothing.

The big race I'm *training* for is going to be mostly on fire roads, with not much technical singletrack. That's fine... I'm not such a mountain bike snob that fire roads are looked down upon. I love being on my bike--road, dirt road, singletrack--whatever.

Anyway, I really needed to get time/miles in, I'm not trying to learn how to ride roots and rocks. Got that.

So, I headed out with a plan to link some of my favorite trails together, obviously with long road sections. My goal was 50 miles, and I nailed it.

I started with some of the trails in Beverly Commons (Greenwood Ave). From there, I popped over to Gordon College Trails. From there, I hopped on the road and headed into Hamilton. I found some Discover Hamilton Trails which spit me back on to the road, I and found my way back to some trails at Appleton Farms Grass Rides.

I was back on the road for a bit and then in to Bradley Palmer. After hitting some of my favorite trails in there, it was time to cross the river and cross the road to get to Willowdale State Forest. Yeah, I LOVE riding in Willowdale. I picked up a good loop of fire road and single track--then I took a loose rocky downhill a bit too fast and pinch flatted. Damn. The bugs were psyched and I provided a delicious blood meal to what seemed like thousands of hungry insects.

I hit about the 3hr mark while in Willowdale and I was running low on water (i.e.--gone). I had originally planned on stopping along the way, but the stores were not as ubiquitous as I had anticipated.

I rolled out of WIllowdale--hot, sweaty, and depleted of fluids. Fortunately, I knew there was a Dunkin Donuts just down the road. I waited in line behind people getting disgusting "coffee" drinks (i.e. short on the coffee, tall on the flavors, sweeteners, and fat) to get waters, Gatorade and a bran muffin.

Bolstered by this, I headed back out into the blazing sun, up Rt 1 (good hills), down 97, and back towards Beverly.

I was planning on a mostly road ride back at this point, but at about mile 43, I passed a sign for some Essex County Greenbelt trails. Of course, what better time to explore new trails? I have an uncanny ability to find trails that look great at that start, only to head downhill, and then taper off into nothing. I did that twice, and each time I had to turn around and head back up. Argh. Jean will attest to this super power as she has fallen victim to it on occasion. Anyway, at one point, I even came across a park bench--in the middle of nowhere. I took an opportunity to sit and reflect, and then made my way back to some more prominent trails, and then ultimately back to the road.

I got home, cooled off with the garden hose and replenished more fluids. It was a good ride--50 miles of mixed road and trails. Ultimately, that's my favorite type of riding--I do hate driving to a trail, doing a loop, and driving home... and that's the one and only drawback, I think, to singlespeeds is that riding them on the road (at least when geared appropriately for of-road riding), is a chore. I gotta get me a Hammershmidt.

Anyway, I'm going to build on this loop, add in more trails, and ultimately make it a century. Stay tuned!

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