Or, this is not your granny's Walker Ranch. I blinked awake at 5:30 this morning, let the dogs out and decided not to drive up to Curt Gowdy for the organized pre-ride of the bike course. Mostly because I didn't want to spend so much time driving but other reasons too including a prediction for 35-40 mph wind gusts by 11:00 a.m up in Cheyenne. So I decided to grab some much needed sleep and ride locally.
My first though was Betasso but when I ran this past Jonny he vetoed it right away. 'Too easy'. So he suggested Walker Ranch and I snorted because I've always thought it a bit over my head. I rode the full loop many many years ago, before such niceties as suspension forks let alone full suspension mountain bikes. I was younger and stupider too, in my 30's, maybe even in my 20's. I remember riding it but not particularly enjoying it and that was the end of that. But I need to practice more technical stuff for my upcoming race so I did my penance at Walker.
There are some nice views.
I was struggling on some very steep uphill climbs, mad at myself for not being able to make it up when I thought for sure that I could. About 3/4 of the way through the ride I discovered that my rear derailleur was not shifting into my granny gear. It was stalling out at 2 gears up from the granny so no wonder I was struggling. Jonny had replaced my derailluer cables for me since they were 9 years old and I discovered the rear one was holding on by a thread. He made a few final adjustments for me before we left and put the bike in the car before I could check them out. I figured he had taken the bike for a spin around the block but I had figured wrong. This turned into a good strength workout that's for sure.
The trail has some very technical parts to it and is much steeper for longer distances than Curt Gowdy but does not have as many technical parts one after the other. Plus we were battling a good strong wind in places. It took me 2 hours, 22 minutes to ride 11.78 miles on Walker compared to 2 hours 5 minutes to ride 11.67 miles at Curt Gowdy but the Walker ride felt so much easier and shorter even though my legs were more sore by the end of it. Funny how mental challenges are so much more exhausting than physical ones.
We rode up to the Steps and turned around which is longer than doing a full loop anyway plus saves you having to haul your bike down these.
They go on for quite a ways. When I last did the loop there weren't even proper steps like these, it was more like hauling your bike up or down a cliff. They give Jonny vertigo and I was happy to have a longer ride so we turned around.
I rode down some technical type stuff though was hoping to ride more than I did. This was one section, not too impressive really but we were stopped for a moment anyway so I whipped out the camera.
I went out of my way to ride up some rocky bits that were similar to stuff I remember at Curt Gowdy just to convince myself I could. I think I'll be able to ride a bit more of the course now than I did a couple of weeks ago. Wish I had more time to practice but the race is in a week. I wasn't planning to taper all that much but now that I see how hard it will be I think my day will go much better if I have fresh legs.
We stopped downtown to pick up lunch and parked in front of this place, Piece, Love and Chocolate.
I was hungry after my ride but I did not go in. Not sure when this place opened but I haven't been in it yet. Probably should avoid it until after all my Nationals.
Today was a bad day for fire, high winds, high temps., low humidity and another one broke out west of Colorado Springs/Black Forest where I have a trial next Saturday. There seems to be no escaping it. Hopefully they'll get this one out but given how thin resources are stretched and the complete lack of rain in the forecast and another red flag day for tomorrow (high wind/temps/fire danger) I'm not optimistic.