Sunday, July 25, 2010

Destination: Toilet Bowl

I've been attacking my morning runs with a new sense of urgency after realizing how quickly my triathlon is creeping up on me.  Summer is slipping away.  I even kept up with Lola the other morning on a downhill stretch.  She seemed a bit surprised to see me running beside her rather than getting dragged from behind. 

I rode Hall Ranch yesterday which has a longish steep climb and some tight switchbacks and I felt pretty good after Monday's trauma, riding stuff I had to get off and walk last time I was there a few months ago, feeling a bit stronger even than I did on Monday.  I rode all the tight switchbacks on the way down and I remember last time having trouble with those as well.  Was feeling good about it all until Jonny pointed out that this ride was not nearly as challenging as what I'll be facing for my race.  Thanks dear.  I took electrolyte pills and made sure to stop for food and felt perfectly fine afterwards.  Hungry but good hungry.  It's impossible to take in as many calories as you expend, the body can't absorb them, so hunger after a ride is a good and normal thing, much better than nauseous and dizzy and passing out.  I do know how to manage these things (food, water, electrolytes) but I've grown lazy and onto a minimalist kick of sorts so I'd been not stopping for food on short rides under 2 hours.  Those energy bars and gels are full of sugar and not healthy so I try to avoid eating them if possible.  But clearly I can't combine that with a light breakfast and later starting time so I also miss lunch.

Today's initial plan was to head back to Lory to practice the climbs and downhill switchbacks but it looked to be too hot a day and instead I opted for a trip to the high(er) country to ride West Mag where it would be much cooler.  Also the window for riding West Mag is much smaller than Lory because of its high elevation.

I wanted to ride a trail called the School Bus which is a long steep climb of about 2 hours on beautiful singletrack up to a sinkhole affectionately named the Toilet Bowl.  There are many such sinkholes in the area but this one has its own name, probably because it's at the end of a long climb.  But Jonny has somehow decided I'm not in good enough shape to do this and suggests an alternate route up to the Toilet Bowl.  'It's steep but shorter and much easier, there's a dirt road that will be easier than the singletrack plus there are lots of pretty meadows'.  I'm sure I can handle School Bus but I decide to trust him.  It'll be nice to ride a new trail and he had me at the meadows.

Sure enough the trail starts out steeply but it's nice smooth singletrack and I get my fill of meadows.

The wildflowers are bashing away

But eventually the trail turns to this:

Actually the trail turns to much worse than this.  Picture that rooty section at the top across the entire trail and it's so steep that there's no way I can possibly ride it.  I have a nice hike with my bike for awhile and then it starts to thunder and the mosquitoes start getting excited and the ATV people start flying by on their stinky ear splitting smoke belching-mobiles and I'm trying to see how this is easier or even why 'easier' is an issue because what I need to do is push myself on the hills so I can get stronger for my race.  It's not like I'm in a hurry to get to the Toilet Bowl.

Yeah, that's all it is.  It's deeper than it looks and if you're game you can ride a few laps around the top rim.  At least I get to ride down the School Bus trail which winds its way through a Hansel and Gretal-like forest (as Jonny puts it).  There are some tight switchbacks to practice but most are not on par with what I'll have to ride in my race and I have to get off and walk one or two that are way too rocky for me.  It's good to get practice and confidence on the more do-able ones though, not too sure how else to learn how to do the tougher ones.

When we get to the bottom I feel like I need more so we go down to the Shoshone meadows.

Somehow I can never seem to capture the spirit of the wildflowers and the trail, especially with the point and shoot camera.  I did get a few closer up shots that were o.k.

But still not spectacular.  No moose today either.

Feels like I have a long ways to go before I'm ready for that race and too much agility coming up.  Two full days of DOCNA next weekend then one day of UKI the following weekend then one day of DOCNA the next weekend then a 3 day seminar during the week.  Which is why I decided not to go to Laramie for USDAA the weekend after that because that takes us up to the weekend before my race.  I don't even like doing agility in the heat but I feel like we need to get as much ring time as possible before DOCNA Champs.  We'll see if I can muster the strength to make it to the training field tonight.  I think I need to clone myself.


  1. Gorgeous ride! The flowers must just be stunning!

  2. wow, Im tired just reading all that. My husbands been doing tri's too. I dont know how you guys to it. Good luck. Diana

  3. How lucky that you've got your own personal trainer/manager to help you work on your appropriate riding skills! Very convenient.

    Flower photos--try taking a photo at almost ground level so some of the flowers are big in the immediate foreground with the rest of the flowers and forest in the distance behind it. Seems to make it look more flowery usually.