Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The swing of things

If you have never seen Big Hero 6 the pic above might not make sense to you. But, it still gives the premise of where I am. After a few months off the bike I have lost my endurance. Gone. Hence, I am not fast.

So how did I get here? Like I said before, life. But that is just the umbrella excuse that I am throwing out there today. The table of contents under "Life" is very deep and has many different sections that have told my story thus far. Bottom line, I am where I am because I allowed myself to head down this path. Now, I have the long journey back.

This time last year I was geared up and approaching being ready for the hardest race I have ever done, Lumberjack 100. I knew I could ride the 100 miles, but my longest "trail" or "singletrack" or "off-road" ride was under 50 miles. I have a few centuries under my seatbag along with numerous Kal-Haven trips of 70+ miles. The dirt was different. I was able to finish, but I trained for it. I was strong. I was quick. I was mentally sound. The weekend after (remember the deer incident?) was where it all started to fall apart.

I had glimmers of my pre-lumberjack 100 self when I did a few solid rides. These glimmers didn't last long as winter approached and "life" started to happen at a greater rate than I imagined. I did manage to have a solid first quarter on the trainer. Had some solid sessions and was doing alright, but nowhere near the level of 2015, and it was wearing on me as "life" was happening even more.

I pulled back. Reset. Now, I am doing alright and I am actually getting back on the bike. I rode Upper Mac for the first time this year and was reminded just how out of shape and heavy I am. It was okay though, because I was out in the woods and spending quality time with my Anthem SX. The itch to go fast is coming back. Wanting to ride is a more common feeling. Watching what I am eating is getting easier. TV watching includes the Tour of California and UCI World cup mountain bike races. I am actually interested in bikes again, which is a good feeling for me. I even bounced over to the MMBA site and looked at the remaining race schedule. 

That browsing led me to reminisce about the 2014 Sweat Shaker race. It was the first ride I did on my Trance. I took a solid 3rd in Sport Clyde. My first Sport podium.....and the last. I was in great form and planning another trip to the steps in 2015 when disaster struck about a mile from Exit 168 on US-127 near Mid-Michigan Community College. My season ended that day. I allowed myself to fall. But, I was super confident before the deer event. I was ready. Mentally I was strong before the accident. I wanted another medal, instead I got a new bike.

I am signed up to race Sweat Shaker again this year on June 25th. I have about a month to get physically ready for a fun course. I have that same time to build my mental toughness back to where it was nearly a year ago. I have to get back into the swing of things....

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hit the reset button

This pretty much sums it up. I know it has been months since I have posted. Life, as it were, has been harder than I would have preferred it to be. Stress has been very high. Riding has been non-existent. So, reset.....YES.

A few weeks ago I managed to load the SX onto the Suburban and drive to work. I haven't wanted to see anyone. Haven't wanted to ride. Just haven't wanted to do anything, to be honest. So, I found a trail where my chances of running into someone I knew were slim....and none.

I headed down to the Trails@Andrews University. I rolled in and slowly took the bike off the truck. Check the pressure. Looked at the bike with the thought of "this is going to hurt" in my mind. I had not been on a bike in 5-6 weeks. No physical activity to speak of....just a bump on a log.

Steep drop behind the bike @Andrews

So, I finally mustered the courage to head out and give this trail a try. The trail was marked pretty good so off I went. 10 miles was the goal. By mile 2....I was ready to die. Allergy season is never easy....and trying to ride in blooming woods while being way out of shape was not the combination I needed. I struggled...mightily. It wasn't a competition. I took every punch that was thrown with zero protection. After 5 miles I decided to head back to the car. This was where things went from bad to worse....mentally. I was already defeated, but knowing that I had brought this fate onto myself I knew if I could get to the car that I would be alright. Unfortunately, I got lost and had to sludge through the woods to find a way out. The trail seemed cool....but honestly....I can't tell you either way. I was blown up from 15 minutes into my ride and the rest was a blur until I finally stopped back at the parking lot.

So, a few more weeks passed. I started running to burn off some stress and things have started to calm down. This past weekend arrived and I planned a solo ride. Trying to determine my best course of action I considered a handful of trails. Custer, I know it well and it is flat. Yankee, again I know it well but I am in no shape to climb. Luton, always a blast and not much climbing. TK Lawless, an entirely different type of trail. After pondering each place I decided on TK, with the thoughts of running into anyone I know would be less likely.

I was up around 8am and out the door to Monkey Run. It is over an hour drive down there but the trail is so much fun that it is always worth the trip. When I pulled in there was 2 cars in the lot. Perfect. I pulled the bike from the truck with a bit more excitement this time. I headed out and just rode a steady pace. Slow, but steady. I had some shoe issues I stopped to deal with and a few guys passed me. I got back on and followed the second guy for a while before we stalled on a hill. I pressed on and was able to stay ahead of him for the remaining miles. I felt good. Comfortable with who I am and how I was riding. I hit the parking lot and refilled my bottle, then headed out for another lap. Again, just an easy glad to be in the woods kind of pace. The miles ticked by and eventually I saw the sign for the last cutoff. 

Tempted to take the left and head out for the final 4 miles I stopped at the sign. Brain said "do it" but I knew that if I did that I had the potential to turn a solid ride into a bad ride. So, I took the cutoff and rolled back into the parking lot.....relaxed. It was a solid 16 mile ride on a trail that I normally ride so much faster and harder. It was a ride. Period. It was the kind of ride I needed to hit the reset button.

Are you sure?