I was just about to send my friend Jen a text message, asking her if I could come out and visit her in Idaho this weekend, when the guilt crept in. Trans Rockies starts Aug. 8, which means I should really spend this week beating myself up on a bike, not lounging next to a lake with my non-cyclist friend. I put the cell phone down and packed up my bike for day one of a training week I hoped would mimic seven days of hard riding in the Canadian Rockies, in scope if not breadth. Monday evening’s objective was TV Mountain, a 6,800-foot peak that incorporates about 3,900 feet of climbing and 36 miles of pedaling. Not a bad “after work” ride.
A 30 mph wind blew directly in my face as I churned out of town. I took a break to reposition my helmet and briefly considered quitting, but I talked myself out of it. I turned up Grant Creek Road, for a while leaning hard into the crosswind, until it shifted, and suddenly I felt like I was being rushed up the mountain by a massive tailwind. The gravel road snaked up the mountainside, turning north, east, west, every direction imaginable, and the tailwind inexplicably followed me, racing sunset to the peak. At the top, the wind tore through the television towers with such velocity that they vibrated; I could no longer hear my iPod over the jet-engine roar, and I struggled to keep my balance amid the gusts as I walked along the edge overlooking Snowbowl, searching for possible singletrack trails (none were found.) I turned the bike downhill and the tailwind followed with a breathtaking blast of cold speed. Down, down, down, 3,500 feet down, and it wasn’t even yet dusk when I popped out eight miles from town and raced home. I made myself a dinner of egg and turkey spinach salad — because I am trying to up my protein intake — and marveled at how I good and rested I felt, like I was making dinner after a slow day at the office, not a three-and-a-half-hour-long mountain ride. I might as well not have even gone for a training ride, I thought, because I certainly couldn’t feel it.
“That crazy tailwind was something else,” I thought. “How could it possibly have followed me almost the entire way, in all directions?” And then I smiled, because I realized there was a good chance I was crediting the wind with what was more likely just a very good day, one of those rare “untouchable” days where nothing fazes me and I can do no wrong.
“I feel awesome and I just climbed 4,000 feet,” I thought. “Who needs training?” I picked up my cell phone and thought about texting Jen, but stopped myself again. “No, I need this week,” I thought. “Because the only way it will be a good peak training week is if it ends with me feeling absolutely shattered.”
Yes, Monday night was an awesome ride. And it may sound crazy, but I look forward to the goal of tearing it all apart.