This ride last Sunday will probably be my last long ride before Nationals. Took the long way up to Gold Hill, going up Four Mile Canyon to the Switzerland Trail which is an old railroad bed. The grade is gentle the entire way up the Switzerland Trail and it's not technical but it is bumpy/rocky in places and from the videos I've seen it looks very similar to the trail that goes up Wheeler Canyon at the start of the Xterra Nationals bike course. I rode uphill for 20 miles and roughly 3500' of elevation gain with only 2 small downhills of less than a minute each, maybe even less than 30 seconds. Took me about 3 1/2 hours or so. I didn't stop for photos until I reached the top of the Switzerland Trail and finally thought I deserved a quick break for a photo.
A few more miles from there was the top of the climb and then a few miles of descent into the mountain town of Gold Hill where I stopped at the General Store to re-fuel. Was so sick of energy gel at that point that I bought a homemade muffin and picked my way through half of it. I often lose my appetite on long rides and I don't like energy bars/gels but it's important to stay fueled on long rides so I force the stuff down.
The store is for sale for $465,000.
I opted to go down Sunshine Canyon to get home which meant a steep, 7 minute or so climb then all downhill back to town save a couple very short climbs. Since the bulk of the work was done I decided to finally take some pictures of the fire damage on Sunshine Canyon.
That mailbox and address marker stone used to be in front of a house.
Probably the most shocking thing about this view is that there is a view at all. You never were able to see those mountains before from this location because they were blocked by trees and houses.
There used to be houses all down this hillside, now just piles of rubble and stumps.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not pining for the return of the gaudy, huge McMansions that used to line this hillside but I do feel bad for the people who had to endure this experience. It must have been a terrifying ordeal.
A house reduced to rubble on the right side of the road and another left standing just across the street.
Wildfires have no rhyme or reason.
There were a lot more views that were shocking to me but I didn't stop for photos. It was hard enough to take these.
In the end the ride was 35.35 miles and took 4 hours, 43 minutes. Felt much better than I did the last time I went up Gold Hill but that was May 7 so I should hope it felt better. This route was longer but less steep but I don't think I'll be seeing any super steep trails at Nat's. like the grade you get going up to Gold Hill the shorter ways so I didn't see any point in torturing my knee. Which was already complaining after the steep, 1 hour 40 minute trail run up the Hogback the day before. I feel tired now but this past weekend was a good confidence booster for Nat's. in 2 weeks. I don't feel like I've gotten any faster over the summer but I do feel stronger which will help me on the longer course at Nat's. Now if only I could stop obsessing over videos of the bike course. How soon 'til I can start obsessing about the weather?