When my friends at ROCK Racing and the 100+ Project came up with the idea for National Adventure Day(s) (NADs for short), I thought it was brilliant. Because NADs fall on October 12 and 13 — between two big race weekends for me — this year, I knew that in the interests of marital harmony my adventure(s) would have to be low on the “epic” scale and higher on the “close-to-home/still-leaves-time-for-family” scale.
But that’s OK, because adventure doesn’t necessarily have to be epic to be worthwhile. For more proof of this, check out Alistair Humphreys and his very cool microadventure concept. Thanks to a combination of teacher institute and the Columbus Day holiday, I actually had a decent amount of time to work with and ended up with a weekend full of fun plans. Unfortunately, things aren’t always rainbows and unicorns and undeservedly good finish times, and this was one of those weekends where, despite plans coming together nicely, things didn’t work out quite as I’d envisioned.
Friday: 13.5 miles on the Lewis and Clark trails
I didn’t started out Friday with plans, but on my drive to work it occurred to me that my weekend was very bike heavy and with the Skippo 30K coming up in a month it would behoove me to do some actual running. A quick Facebook plea for company got me a few “I wish”-es (thanks, Johann!) and a friend who was willing to ride circles around me on his bike while I suffered (thanks, Dave) but no running partners. I headed towards home to run a lonely 14 miles on local trails, but fate took pity on me in the form of Mickey’s cancelled meeting and instead I got to run at Lewis (8.2 miles) & Clark (5.3 miles).
|My Garmin dropped a mile over the course of the run. Bad form, Garmin.|
The distance was my idea. The location was my idea. I’ve run those trails lots of times and love them, and I’m certainly capable of running 13 miles. Despite all of this, the run was way harder than it should have been. Maybe it was the 84 degree temps, I can’t explain it. I drank plenty of water, I choked down two GU’s, and I made it through the run, but by the time I was driving home I felt like I was going to throw up.
All I wanted to do when I got home was to lie down and go to bed. Since I could hardly do that when I’d been gone until dark and was leaving early the next morning for several hours, I did some picking up, made supper, picked at my plate, then slept on the couch next to my guys while they watched Halloween movies. Quality family time.
Saturday: 30 miles of gravel
Jeff and Jacob have a Saturday morning tradition of going to yard sales, and right now that tradition is followed by Cub Scout popcorn sales. That left me free until Jacob’s flag football game at 2. Even after 9+ hours of sleep, I was still exhausted from the previous day’s run, but I met Mickey and Jeff A. so they could break in their new cross bikes on gravel. Surely I’d perk up once I was riding. Typically I can’t keep up on downhills (because I’m a chicken) or uphills (because I’m not as strong) but can maintain a decent pace on flat terrain. Instead I struggled to maintain a 13-14 mph pace on the flat Katy Trail, and when the guys rode up Matson Hill I opted for a snack and a brief nap on the bench.
|My resting place…but not my eternal resting place, because all to soon they were back|
I basically felt like I was riding through sand all day long. My legs were dead. I don’t remember ever feeling that bad on a bike…let alone on easy terrain. It was a beautiful day, perfect riding weather, good company, and I was trying very hard to appreciate all these things while being frustrated and embarrassed by how weak I was. My only mental saving grace was that both of these guys have at least ridden with me once before and know I’m not always so slow and wimpy.
We rode back through the doubletrack in Lost Valley and I made the guys stop to swing on the gate (it didn’t take much arm twisting). In my mind, road bikes may be for going fast, but gravel riding is for fun and adventure…and what could be more fun than swinging on an old rusty gate into a tree?
|Sucking in AND cringing…look at me multitasking!|
|The longer I stand here and stall, the less I’ll have to ride…|
I was enjoying the ride as much as possible while simultaneously watching the clock on my Garmin like a hawk, and my peppiest moment of the day may have been the final stretch back to the car.
After last weekend’s Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day, Jacob wanted to go back to Broemmelsiek and ride the trails some more, so we loaded up Monday morning and made the hour drive to St. Charles County (for the third time in four days). I wasn’t excited about burning more gas, but I was thrilled that my little boy wanted to ride trails.
|Expectation vs. reality|
When we got there, he wanted to warm up in the parking lot, so we rode around and played followed the leader (he, of course, was the leader). After nearly a mile of parking lot circles, he was ready to hit the trails. He did great. I love watching his confidence grow on trails!
We rode one lap (~ 1 mile), and then he wanted to go back to ride more in the parking lot. So that’s what we did. For basically the rest of our time. We played follow the leader for a while, we raced two laps around the parking lot, and then I worked on bunny hopping and riding “switchbacks” with the parking lot stripes while he rode around.
Not exactly the day I had planned, but I took a couple of deep breaths and realized it doesn’t always have to be my way. We were outside, on a beautiful day, riding bikes together. Complaining would be flat out ungrateful.