The Brick Wall

Saturday morning was gorgeous–absolutely gorgeous. For once, and this is extremely rare, there was no wind at all, as far as I could tell. At least, if there was some wind, then I’m getting really good at riding into it, but I don’t think that was the case.

First thing in the morning I went out for a headwind time trial only to find my bike moving a lot faster than I expected. I finished up with a couple of hillclimbs and then a leisurely ride home. The weather was perfect. All around me the brown had been, more or less, replaced by green grass. Above, there was nothing but crystal-ball blue sky with the occasional wispy cloud. Gorgeous.

As I came back to town, I found that the college triathlon was zipping past my apartment as part of its bike route, so naturally, I pulled over and watched. Those guys didn’t look like they were having too much fun, but I can’t help cheering for people doing sporting events. I even saw a couple of people I knew.

The Best (?) of Both Worlds

Saturday afternoon, me, my neighbor Dave (who built the triathlon bike) and newfound buddy Ryan (who knows every trail there is to know around here) went out to tackle a mountain bike trail on the Butte. I’ve done a lot of backtalking toward the Butte in the past because it’s a sandpit, and a pain in the Butte to ride on. Nonetheless, we trusted Ryan’s assurance that there was indeed a viable, rideable trail up there somewhere.

We parked and started unloading the bikes, and all of two seconds later, Dave piped up:

"Caloi, did you bring your chain tool?"

"No, why?"

And then I saw him standing there with two ends of his busted chain … but he was a good sport. He elected to hike up and then just roll back down on his chainless ride. Ryan informed us that there would be plenty of hiking on the way up anyway.

Bypassing a whole bunch of "Do Not Trespass" signs to get onto this sandy trail (Ryan says the trail’s banned to motorized vehicles, but not to horses, so we qualify for access under some middle ground reasoning), we immediately found the sand too deep to ride in. So, as predicted, we hiked, and hiked and hiked. Nothing like a little bike n’ hike.

I’ll admit the details to be a little sketchy, but at some point we got to riding again, until we came to what seemed like an impossible climb, where the three of us were hiking together. Dave cracked some joke about, "C’mon Caloi, you can ride in this, you big wuss" just as I was getting over the top, so I hopped on the bike and got riding. And the trail turned upward. It was sorta technical–volcanic rock mixed with patches of sand, mixed with gravel, mixed with more rock, but I managed to keep riding for a while in the second chainring. It was one of those classic mt bike climbs, where you turn a corner, climb some more, turn another corner and then climb again, so you never have time to be intimidated by the trail because you can never see more than 20 feet in front of yourself anyway. Awesome.

Finally, I pulled over to the side to let the other guys catch up. And I waited … and yelled out for the others … and waited some more … I didn’t ride that fast up this trail, heck … and finally along came Dave on Ryan’s bike, slowly working his way up the trail. I pulled my bike out of the way and invited him to keep right on going. He stopped right in front of me, caught his breath, said something about his granny gear and then tried to get going again, but ended up just jerking back and forth until he rolled over the crest.

A moment later, I realized I’d stopped 10-20 feet from the top of the climb, and that if I’d just kept going, I could’ve had a chest-pounding heroic moment. Weak.

The descent was a fish-tailing, sand-kicking blur of rock and tread. It was a lot of fun, but I’m sure by now you know better than to expect much excitement about descents from me. Let me just say I didn’t break my neck.

A Wrench in the Works

Sunday was a day of religious observance, as all of my Sundays are. Monday, for whatever reason, I went to the web site for the Teton Pass Climb and discovered that this year’s race falls on a Sunday. Now, I don’t know about you, but I won’t even do casual rides on Sundays because, as I just mentioned, that’s not what I do with my Sundays. So this means that despite all the talking up, preparation, consternation, intestinal distress, sleepless nights, torture at the hand of stationary spinning bikes, and winter ride frostbite I’ve endured out of dedication to this race, I actually won’t be racing it–this year. So that’s a bit of a blow to my summer race schedule.

So now I’m sorta wondering. The whole point of this blog was to talk about my preparation for that race, and now that I’m not preparing for that race anymore … hmmmm … I guess I’ve got to make some decisions about the blog, eh? …

Or find another hillclimb …

To be continued …


20 thoughts on “The Brick Wall

  1. Unknown

    I\’m not a religious person, but I do respect other\’s view towards observation. Yesterday was a beaut, but I didn\’t ride due to my step daughter\’s first communion. The morning was taken up by party prep, service at 10:30, party followed. A great time w/ family and friends. But, her selfish, dumd-ass nimrod of a biological father didn\’t attend this most important day in his daughter\’s life – he went camping. Nice.
    Caloi, you may not be at the hill climb in body, but you will be climbing in your mind. Cool.

  2. Unknown

    So you can\’t race, the training you\’re doing is for the long term.  I look at the last two years of racing for me as training for this year when I should be able to upgrade my category.  Cycling is a big picture sport.

  3. Scott

    See, that\’s why you yave to be vague about everything. You can go on forever not being specific. And the best part is nobody ever knows what you\’re not talking about. See what I mean? I already confused myself.

  4. Zed

    Thanks, Boz, and you\’re absolutely right, I tend to spend a lot of my mental energy imagining doing that race. That\’s awesome that you\’re being so supportive of your step-kids. I have a step-father who\’s pretty good about that stuff too. Now that we\’re having a kid, he keeps talking about how excited he is to have his first grandkid, and that\’s how we look at it as well.

    Mike- Good call. I just hope they don\’t start doing it on Sunday every year, because one of these days I\’d love to come give it another shot. I guess I can always do it as a TT (since I know where the start and finish are), but the race energy just isn\’t there that way. One way or another, at least I\’m keeping in shape.

    Psycho- Awright, so you\’re saying I should just tell you guys that I\’m doing … a race … sometime … and I might tell you about it if I\’m in the mood … right?

    That is kinda interesting that you guys all commented one minute after the other … did you plan that?

  5. Unknown

    Mike, regarding your speed record of 69 mph, I say PAH. I hit almost 80 mph on the interstate this morning and didn\’t even break a sweat.

  6. Unknown

    I respect your decision. Very admireable. Let me be the devil\’s advocate here, no pun intended, why exactly do you believe racing on a Sunday is wrong?

  7. Unknown

    Well, fastest I ever went on the ground was 174mph but I was definitely sweating keeping that car on the track, lol!!!
    As for things like the hour record, I\’ve ridden more than an hour an no journalists.  Typical…

  8. Zed

    Mags- I could probably quote you a bunch of Sabbath Day scriptures from the Bible, but basically it\’s a question of how you view the instruction to keep the Sabbath Day holy. That\’s a pretty hotly disputed subject on its own among religious circles (I don\’t know whether you\’re a religious guy or not), but I couldn\’t race a bike on a Sunday and feel good about it, and that\’s reason enough for me. That\’s something I decided long before I ever got into cycling.
    I realize that if you were to stop racing on Sundays, you\’d probably also have to give up your dream of the Olympics, no?
    Here\’s my e-mail if you do want that more in-depth explanation.

  9. Jill

    No reason to shut down your blog! Just do the race as you would the Saturday before, record your time, and then sit back on Sunday with your family and watch the results roll in. At least you\’ll know, in your own mind, how you would have fared. And isn\’t that what\’s important? (As all the amateur cycle-racers laugh and roll their eyes.)
    Personally, I think you dodged a bullet on this one. A friend and I had plans to ride the Teton Pass last year. Then one day I drove up it. After that, I was always trying to talk him out of it. I was big wimp back then.

  10. Tom Stormcrowe

    Ya know what, Caloi, Jill has a great point! Her suggested method will tell you how you would do if you were racing on Sunday!

  11. Zed

    Jill & Tom- Yeah, TT\’ing is the way to go, I\’m sure. Don\’t worry, deleting the blog only crossed my mind for half a second. Then my thought was more, "How is this going to affect my blog content?"
    The funny thing is that it\’s a small enough race that they don\’t actually post the internet results until a few days later. But you can bet I\’ll be checking to see who placed at what spot, etc etc. I just think I\’ll be riding slower when I don\’t have other riders around me.
    By the way, you missed out Jill. It\’s an awesome ride–even if it does leave you completely drained by the top. It\’s more steep than Sunnyside over less mileage.

  12. Unknown

    Tell you what Caloi, we\’ll pick a day near the race date and I\’ll come up and we\’ll see if we can get Fatty to come and we\’ll have a race to the top. I won\’t be much competition, but I\’m telling you Fatty can climb, so he\’ll give you a run for your money.

  13. Zed

    Rats, I was temporarily enjoying not feeling any pressure about this whole thing … hmmm, that means I\’ll still have to do some serious training between now and then … let me get back with you.

  14. Zed

    Shhh! Don\’t let Botched or Fatty hear you. I\’m pretty sure Fatty has me beat, especially since he\’s been racing a lot longer than I have. I guess that would actually be pretty fun, but I\’ve got to save up the self-esteem for that if I\’m going to do it, because I\’m thinking Fatty and Botched are gonna slaughter me.

  15. uncadan8

    I could send Fatty the link for this discussion! Hmmm…
    I think the best thing would be the resulting blog entries.

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