Out of Shape, Out of Air, & Ready to Go

After a long spring with little riding I am finally out for a “vacation” to do the Colorado Trail Race as an individual time trial (ITT).  The trail extends from Durango to Denver, with much of the length above 10,000 ft.  So…being from the east coast and living at an elevation of 680 ft., I have found myself in Durango for the past week trying to acclimate slightly.

Twice in the past week I rode up a portion of the Colorado Trail (CT).  On Monday I went up to and altitude of 10,500 ft., and was about bonked.  On Wednesday I again went up Kenebec pass on the CT at an altitude of 11,700 ft.  The last 1.5 mi. up the switchbacks to the top of the pass DSCN0245took me about 1.5 hours, and near the top required stopping every couple of hundred feet to catch my breath.

Currently resting for two days at lower altitude, and plan on starting the CT on Sat., 7/25 at 08:30.  A little more preparation, food purchasing, repacking, shipping extras back to PA, bike maintenance, etc.  Hoping to make it to Silverton in two days, and Denver in 10 days.  This trip should be a dedicated slog of suffering.

The Difference a Day Can Make

Yesterday I went for an 1.5 hour ride.  It was chilly, but not the mid-February cold we have been having for some time (way long than the month of February).   I had had enough by the end of the ride.  My toes were numb, the persistent cough that I had been dealing with for the past 1+ month was in full force, I had been riding across extended patches of ice/slush, my bike turned from dull gray titanium to white and dark gray speckled salt and grime, there was a 2-inch icicle hanging from my bottom bracket, icicles hanging from my fender flaps, and ice clogging between my tires, the interior of my fenders and around the brake calipers.  As I hacked up the never ending phlegm, I looked at my bike with little motivation to clean it.  I was just too cold… Cleanup could wait till tomorrow.  Will winter ever end?

Finally, a new day!  The fresh start was signaled by the start of Daylight Savings Time.  This must be a sure sign that spring can’t be too far off.  Today I chopped the ice build-up from around the barn doors so they could open half-way without it feeling like a futile effort that I would have repeat again tomorrow, like Groundhog Day.  Although the glacial ice was thick, the ice chips did not re-freeze to the glacial surface as soon as they hit the un-chopped ice, a good sign.  Later I dug the last of the daily recurring snow drift from the walkway to the house placing the snow on the 4 foot high snow accumulation of the past month.  Getting to the bottom of the snow, there was 2  more inches of packed snow/ice buildup that previously had been a waste of time to chop through and remove.  Today I worked on the ice with a shale bar and a spade.  As I chopped and pried the ice chunks, a small amount of melt water began to run down the sidewalk on top of the freshly exposed concrete; another good sign.  It was warming up!

After a couple of more hours of chopping and shoveling, post-holing through knee deep snow to empty the horse manure, trying to dig and chop channels for running melt water to keep it from running back into the barn, I was satisfied.  It was finally time to get back out on the bike.

Today it was nearly 40º, the sun was out, there was a stiff March wind from the north (it is always windy here), there was no ice on the roads.  Things are looking up.  Riding at a slow to moderate pace to minimize the chance that my cough would once again start in earnest, I was feeling pretty good.  I pass a group of snowmobilers in a field next to the road working on one of their snowmobiles.  Soon I won’t be hearing that engine whine and smelling 2-stroke exhaust at all time of the day and night (no shit – I go outside at 2 AM, 3 AM, 4 AM, and I see and hear the snowmobiles cruising at 40 mph across the snowmobile interstate in the field across the road from us.  Occasionally one will peel off and cut across the upper end of one of our fields.  They are either shitfaced, or caffeinated, I think the former.)  I cross the speedbumps of packed snow the snowmobiles leave behind when they cross a road thinking that won’t be here tomorrow.

Despite the wind, the late afternoon sun is warming.  I note that the snow is receding from the edges of the road revealing the its full width.


Two hours into the ride and I am still not frozen.  That is a first in a long time.  I am feeling motivation to ride again.  The psyche is anticipating Spring.  Now if only the rest of my body could catch up.  Fitness will return slowly, but as long as the motivation is there.  I return home at 6:25 PM, and the sun has not set.


Yes…a day does really make a difference.


Bike.Talloakfarm.com’s Re-vamped Site

Finally getting back to the website that was left abandoned and unloved a while ago.  The new site will have archives from past cycling tours in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Labrador, and Newfoundland once the old data base gets parsed, and reformatted into the new site.  It will also have sections for Randonneuring, and dabble in mild, old-man mountain biking (nothing too extreme, I don’t heal as fast as a 45 year old anymore).  Who knows, there may even be an occasional thoughtless rambling rant about cycling stuff.