Last week did not hit me until I looked back at my rides.....I had become so accustomed to my weekly totals being dictated by knee pain, that I stopped checking vertical and mileage. My knee has since become an altimeter counter and odomoter.....it had a weekly max of about 70 miles or 5000ft vertical in one ride....whichever came first.
I've been sorely disappointed (pun intended) on many rides to have to retreat from completion due to discomfort in my IT band going from a 3 on a 0-10 scale to a 9 in about 1 hour. I got into this sport to do long, endurance type rides....but have slowly learned to lower the bar....until this last Sunday when I looked at my Garmin.
It started last Sunday, with a ride to do Six-Shooter Canyon in the Pinal's.
I was certain that this ride would leave me with a sore knee, but I was optimistic that it would be manageable. To my surprise, no knee pain after 26 miles and 4436 vertical ft of climbing.
I took the next day off out of habit and continued with my physical therapy, then went for an easy fitness ride on Tuesday with a favorite loop combo around Hawes for only 10 miles with 1130 vertical ft of climbing. I then headed up to Flagstaff for the moe. show at PMA....and proceeded to hammer my knee by dancing around like an idiot....the show was that good.
Needless to say, I was not happy Wednesday morning at myself....the moe. show had done more harm to my knee than Six-Shooter Canyon did. So I took an easy spin around some of the Flagstaff forest roads to rehab the knee...only 300ft of vertical gained....but 10 miles of easy riding and some early afternoon drinking at Pay n' Take....just what the PT tells me to do (sans beer), but I rarely observe (the easy riding...not the beer).
I also used this opportunity to take dad on his 1st MTB ride....he may be hooked judging by the look on his face.
I returned later that day because I had to go into the office on Thursday. At this point, I was dehydrated from the moe. show...drank too much coffee at work and probably only had a total of 1.5 liters of liquid the entire day. Waking up the next day (Friday), I had intended to ride Pass Mountain for the first time. However, I was clearly dehydrated.....but I decided to press on.
After 45 minutes, I was feeling very week and light headed....it was 83o in the morning and already in the low 90's...I had thoughts of turning around...perhaps it was because I was dehydrated that I decided to press on through the misery. I brought this on myself, I'd live with it. So I decided to sit on a boulder for 30 or so minutes and find enlightenment....no Bodhi tree here....just a bunch of Palo Verde...but I did see a cool lizard who was more curious of me than I was of he/she.
Me trying to live in the now, with no thought to the past (my dehydration) or the future (how I would complete this ride with rapidly rising temps, and dehydration).
Climbing up the north side of Pass Mountain...temp at 97...2 liters of water for the next 6 miles, 1 liter so far consumed.
Early season Saguaro blossoms...the heat in early May shocked everything into full summer mode
The only cloud in the sky was no match for the fireball in the sky
Self portrait on Pass Mtn saddle....looking forward to the descent.
I can't say I cleaned much of the upper descent...but the Hike-A-Bike did give me time to appreciate the finer things growing out of the rock
Upper and middle descent complete, I look back to appreciate where I just came from...and to also appreciate that over the past 3 miles....I've consumed my remaining 2 liters of water....I'm as dry as these rocks....
After the most miserable 3 miles of riding I've had yet (due to dehydration) over sections of baby heads and other loosely assorted geologic detritus, I arrive within Usery park and proceeded to splash myself in the drinking fountain like a bird in a bath.....Aghhhhhhhhh! Lifesaver today for sure. One comment on the bike though....the 15mm thru-axle made those last 3 miles passable given my lightened state - I just ran over everything without heed to an easy line....I'm sure I would have taken much longer to get to water had I been on my 9mm QR fork.
Overall, 24.5 miles with 2557 vertical feet gained. Nothing special on a winter day...kinda special given I had been peeing fluorescent gatoraide for the past few days and stopped sweating for 2 hours during the ride. Drink more water! But the knee felt bomber...I never gave it a thought.
The next day, I had a ride planned up on the Mogollon Rim...no more of this desert riding this week....I needed some pine trees and a cool breeze. The temps were scheduled to be a whopping 70 as a high with wind and rain - awesome -....and the streams were running....so I proceeded to hydrate after my Pass Mountain ride like a maniac and prepared for the next days ride...this time with Liteandfast and Mrs. Liteandfast. The planned loop was the Cabin Loop NE of Strawberry, AZ and was about 25 miles long. I was not sure of the vertical....but my knee was still feeling strong and rehabed from the previous ride...so I pressed on without researching it much more other than loading some waypooints into my Garmin. I figured that when my knee turned to crap, I could bail on any of the numerous forest roads on the rim. I packed my camelback with 3 liters of water and my water filter just in case.
The planned route, starting at General springs and riding clockwise
Bow-shock from Liteandfast's 29'ers
Switchbacks through the ferns of Endor
Barbershop canyon....a bit of HAB here, but the temps were delightful...everything was...except for the forest fire blowing smoke along our track.
The route trails along several cabins up on the rim, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centruries
I saw this guy along the trail on one of several HAB's...very docile and he/she let me pick him/her up for some closeups.....love the color masking these guys can put on to blend into the rock.
One of many elongated watercourses.....paradise after Pass Mountain
Just north of one of the springs we filled up at with the filter.
More greenness....I think I want to come back for when these wild iris' are in bloom
Nearing the end of the ride on the General Crook trail, view to the south across the rim
26.5 miles, 3346 vertical feet of climbing. The knee is still perfect...amazing.
The next day, after taking it easy...I looked at my Garmin and noticed for the first time, that I had 97.5 miles on the week with something like 11k vertical feet of climbing. This is not close to epic for most...but for my IT band, it is! I'm now hitting the PT religiously....I am a believer.