Monday, November 5, 2007

2007 - My Demons of September

The Panamint Shoshone primarily gathered pine nuts, mesquite beans, and seeds for food. Bands of families lived in small villages made up of conical brush houses. They spent their winters in Death Valley, taking advantage of ripening plant resources, and hunting animals and migratory birds. During the winter, the Panamint people enjoyed a rich ceremonial life, which included storytelling and singing.

The month of September was filled with both certainty and uncertainty. Lining up at the start of the 508 was certain. But, there were occasional hints of uncertainty attached to the finish line in Twentynine Palms. A neurotic host of voices haunted the logical side of my brain. Every day the demons in my head got louder. If someone around me coughed or sneezed, I’d hold my breath and run away. And more troubling, riding my mountain bike was turning into a major head trip.

I stuck to my training plan: every other weekend 350 miles. Between the 350’s I’d ride easy 150 mile weekends. During the work week I’d recover on Old Blue and ride mountain bike in the evenings. Some evenings Desiree and I would take pleasure rides on the roads around the Everett area.

On the 23rd, I rode the High Pass Challenge. The Cascade Bike Club put on a decent ride through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The route climbed a total of 7,500 feet to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument on Windy Ridge; starting from Packwood the ride clocked out at 114 miles. At the halfway point (4, 100 MSL) the temperature was 38 degrees and it was gusting up to 20 MPH. One of my demons protested about riding in the cold. He yelled his complaint over the howl of the wind, “you’re acclimating to the wrong end of the thermometer!”

My head was spinning on the last few miles of the HPC. I thought about the three year climb that brought me to this point of my obsession to ride the 508. My body felt ready. And except for my demons, my mind was ready too.

Friday, November 2, 2007

2007 – No Drafting Season

I call my work bike “Old Blue”. Five days a week Old Blue is sixty eight pounds of recovery ride. He’s a steel framed coaster brake single speed; fully accessorized with a big front basket, a cartoon sticker bell, and an explosion-proof flashlight that I use for a headlight.

I joke to myself that I’m a professional cyclist for The Boeing Company. My job as an Equipment Coordinator at the Everett Site takes me to every corner of the plant. The most efficient way to get around is on a bike. Just for fun I mapped out a sample trip: . I was surprised to see that the trip was 5.5 miles and had an elevation gain of over 400 feet. Considering that I ride multiple trips day in and day out, my professional cyclist joke may not be that far off.

Training in 2007 was marked with a no drafting commitment. The 508 had become a part of me. Not a single day passed without thinking about some detail concerning the race. Every pedal stroke had a purpose. As an inexperienced ultra cyclist, every ride was an opportunity to learn what not to do.

My season started in January. If the road was dry, I was on it. In between snow days, there were frost covered roads to ride. The Frostbite TT was in late February. When I cued up for the start, the mystique of the 508 put James “Cutthroat” Trout right behind me. (He’s an accomplished ultra cyclist, 508 Veteran, 2005 RAAM Solo Finisher). I got a chance to talk to him about my plan to ride the 508. Half way through the rain soaked 14 mile TT he blasted by me without a word.

As soon as the weather improved I started doing century rides; local routes that had the most climbing possible. I did so many that I lost count. My favorite was a big 116 mile triangle that went up into the foothills of the Cascades. Sometimes I’d go hard and sometimes I’d take a pleasure ride. Either way though, the rides were always unsupported no drafting solos.

In August I ramped up the miles on a new TREK Madone. In between my 350 mile weekends, I did a triple S.O.B. The S.O.B. (Summits of Bothell) is 8 summits in 38miles with 3,250 feet of climbing: 2:47, 2:45, 3:01; 114 miles with almost 10,000 feet of elevation and I still felt great.

By September my 508 was definitely within reach.