Sunday, June 21, 2009

Crabtree Part 2

Friday night, Bart, Tyler, Lulu and I headed up to Wintergreen after work to grab some good zzzs in the mountain air and ride Crabtree and the Blue Ridge on Saturday. We rented the same mountain house we rented several times last summer. I just love it. From the moment we arrive, my body relaxes and I just feel "at home." We cooked up a big GF pasta dinner, took Lulu for an evening walk, and mixed up all of our liquids for the next day.

Bart and I originally had 120 miles on our schedule, but 120 miles in the mountains is just not doable from my perspective. So, instead, we decided to avenge the Crabtree loop and then add miles on the end of the ride on the Blue Ridge until we reached about 6 hours ride time. I actually was looking forward to the ride. My first time up Crabtree was such a shock and on tired legs and I was sure it was going to be MUCH easier the second time.

We woke to cloudy skies, predicted thunderstorms and windy conditions. Our seat to saddle time was pushed back later than we had planned, partially due to my sleepy eyes in the morning and partially due to our stupidity of leaving our bike helmets and shoes inside the front door rather than with us in the car when we arrived to start our ride at Reed's Gap. So after another trip up and down the resort, we finally started at 9 am.

Bart and Tyler planned to circle back a few times on the ride to make sure I was alive. Bart stuck with me as I cautiously descended Reed's Gap for the second time ever, this time in the wind. After we hit the resort, I gave him the go ahead to bomb down the rest of the way and I worked on my own descending skills. I rode my road bike this time, and there is no doubt about the fact that it definitely handles much better than my time trial bike.

At the Ski Barn, we were off on our loop and soon arrived at the first killer climb of the day. As I still worked super hard to climb the first hill (which has segments of 8% grade), I realized my ride was still going to be tough day in the saddle. I caught up with Bart and Tyler at the church right before the turn on Jonsboro where Tyler was fixing a flat. The next section, pre-Crabtree went pretty well, not super speedy, but I kept a good pace and just kept it steady through this relatively flat section. Right before the climb started Bart and I met up and exchanged water bottles (my road bike only carries 2) so I was ready to go. The first part of Crabtree is doable. It has some tough sections but also relief to give you hope. And then the fun begins. By the time you reach the sign that says that the store is in 5 miles, those miles click off VERY slowly. My legs were clearly not much better this go round and this time, my heart rate was sky rocketing and I was drenched with sweat. I kept reminding myself that I had ridden this before and that I could clearly do it again, but I wasn't so convincing. I stopped a time or two to catch my breath and each time I did so, my body just shook from the effort. And, I still didn't make it to the store without a short walk of my bike. I had really hoped to not walk a step this time, but I reached a point where it was walk or fall over. I chose walk.

Bart had a much better climbing day and he circled back a few times to check on me before we hit the store. At the store, I was spent. This climb for me is just not fun or enjoyable. Its tough on me mentally and physically and I just feel like it zaps whatever good training vibes I may bring into the day.

We refilled our liquids, ate a banana and some juice and headed back up to the Blue Ridge. Right away after leaving the store, you hit a short really steep section. I grinded my way up and refused to let myself stop during this stretch no matter how tough it got. Soon, I was at the BR and this time, there was no walking. At least a small achievement.

The BR was again like seeing mecca. It still is tough, but the climbs are more gradual. I think I'm getting more used to the descents as well. Once on the BR, there are a few uphills, including DB's favorite uphill in the sun, but a lot of downhill en route to Reed's Gap. This stretch went by fairly quickly and soon loop 1 was done. At the car, Tyler met up with us and then headed back to the house via Wintergreen mountain. After some serious debate, Bart and I headed back out onto the Blue Ridge. It was already getting late in the day and I was tired and wasn't having fun on my ride. But, I knew I'd feel guilty for not riding more so we set off. We climbed from Reed's Gap back towards 0 until we hit the part where you descend for miles. At that point, the winds had picked up and storm clouds lingered very close by threatening to let loose at any moment. We decided to turn around and head back and call it a day. Bart went ahead. . . he had one last piece of business for the day. Wintergreen Mountain.

I am not that brave yet, so I packed my bike up and headed up the mountain to sag for Bart if he needed it. He didn't. I stopped a few times on my way up and gave out encouraging words. He looked great climbing the mountain - strong and determined. I was totally proud - Crabtree and Wintergreen on the same day is impressive in my book. When I got back, Lulu joined me for my short transition run on top of the mountain.

We got a few minutes to relax and enjoy the mountain and then headed back home for a dinner party. In some ways, I'm a little disappointed with the fact that our ride was cut short. Once I got going again on the BR, I knew I had more time left in my legs, but in reality, we didn't have much more time left before we needed to leave to head back for dinner. In other ways, the shorter ride hopefully gave my legs a little more life for my long run tomorrow and they certainly still got a tough climbing workout.

For now, I'm done with Crabtree. I can climb it, but it still drains me. . . mentally and physically. And, right now, its just not a fun ride for me. So, on the 3rd, when we return to the mountain, its just the BR and me. For one last century ride.


TriGirl 40 Something said...

You were brave (braver than me!) to try Crabtree again. And it sounds like the second time was progress toward crushing your east coast Kaloko. Wishing you a great run tomorrow.

margo said...

don't you love that the cutoff road (jonesboro) by the church is also named route 666? it's like a harbinger of doom heading into crabtree. let us know whenever you guys want to stay right at the base of the climb - that's where our cabins are.

SusieQ said...

Wow - good for you!