Monday, May 2, 2011

Answer to the Challenge

All I can say is what a difference training makes. Seriously. I know it's kinda common sense, but oh my god was I a completely different person this time around. I was bound and determined not to fall apart, break down, cry (although I did come VERY close) or have a bad attitude. I think I hit all goals, and even surpassed what I thought I was capable of doing. All while having an absolutely amazingly fun time. This smile below taken around mile 50 or 60 of day 1 pretty much sums up the look on my face the entire weekend (minus a frozen bit on day2).

Day 1: Scottsdale to Strawberry. 94 miles, ~10,000 ft of climbing. Friday took me just over 6hrs to complete (ride time). We had a lot of stops due to flats, regrouping etc, but I stayed 100% on top of my nutrition and hydration so never once felt fatigue. In fact, I actually felt my strongest with the toughest part of the day - the last 17miles of CLIMBING from Payson to Strawberry. Some of our group had a very extended pit stop (and cocktails) in Payson, but remembering my breakdown last year on day 2 when I didn't refuel/recovery properly on day 1 I decided to head out fairly quickly after the last sag and get to the finish. While I may have missed out on a little bit of the festivities, I'm happy with my decision.

Our group of ~30 people took over the little cabins in Strawberry. Karen organized a fantastic meal catered by a local restaurant which was absolutely perfect. It was like an impromptu little party in the woods. Shane drove up with some extra supplies and my dogs :-). The dogs had a BLAST showing off for everyone, sneaking in some food (bad Baxter!) and exploring in the woods!

The rumor was we were expected to have winds up to 50mph on Saturday so we made plans to depart at 6am. In bed shortly after 9, I unfortunately didn't get any sleep. The winds were howling and so strong it kept me (and many others) awake all night. Before I knew it, it was 6am and I was dressed in a million layers and dropping my bag off for the sag. This is where everything changed. About half of our group, still in their pajamas watching us head out had decided to bail. They were not going to risk (or endure) the crazy weather and decided to head home. I was bummed to say the least, but I still had some die hard and crazy friends to gut it out!

With about 10 of us heading out, I felt safe with the company and also new there was another group leaving a little later with their own personal (bitty bitty cycling group) sag. Day 2 starts out with about an hour climb through the woods. It was around 30degrees, but the climb helped warm us up. The winds were extremely strong and a little swirly, but we seemed to be partially protected the trees.

After the climb came a huge 26mile descend into Camp Verde. I remember enjoying this part of the ride last year, as my legs were so trashed from day 1 I just coasted down for the hour. Unfortunately this year it was completely the opposite making for the most miserable, painful and down right toughest ride of my life. There were 4 of us girls who quickly fell off the group. We were so cold we couldn't feel our feet or hands, which when you are descending switchbacks that just happen to have "fresh oil" signs does not equal safe. At one point we actually pulled off the road, almost in tears not knowing how we were ever going to make it down the mountain. We warmed up our hands best we could and then the pain of them thawing out made everything worse. I had every negative thought go through my head, but saw that I actually wasn't the worst off here so I tried to hold back my thoughts of calling Shane for a rescue pick up.

Somehow, VERY slowly we all made it down the mountain and pacelined our way to the next sag. We had a group of 4 (the Lewis sisters and our new adopted Canadian gal, Trish) and we all worked extremely well together. We dropped off some layers, headed to starbucks for a bite to eat and some caffeine and made our way to the base of the infamous Mingus Mountain. This climb where I had my complete meltdown last year starts around 3500ft and climbs up to ~7000ft in 13miles. The first 4 miles gets you to the ghost town of Jerome where we had a brief stop (these 4 miles are STEEP) to stretch out and take in some nutrition. I headed out keeping pace with Karen who I'm pretty sure kicked my ass up that hill last year by a good 20mins or so. She got a second wind about this time and really was pushing the pace. I made sure to stay with her and definitely dug deep as she stayed strong the entire climb.

We reached the top in 1:30 beyond my expectations and STILL smiling!!! I'm so thankful to Karen for pushing me up that hill and keeping me strong...

The last 25miles of the ride start with a decent down the mountain, then a tough 15ish miles into Prescott, infamous for crazy strong headwinds. Thankfully we had the Bitty Bitty boys to pull us into the finish.

I can't say enough great things about these boys. They are some crazy strong riders who not only kick ass at riding, but don't take anything too seriously. It's all about fun for them. I didn't think twice about joining them for a little celebratory almost to the finish roadside "bitty."
Day 2 included ~7000ft of climbing, 97 miles & took about 6.5hrs!
We had a group dinner full of laughs and free entertainment from the boys.
The last 4 girls standing (or sitting rather) before heading back to the hotel!

Once again I was more than impressed when our bitty train of boys who played harder than they rode (and they rode HARD) showed up at our hotel ready to roll at 6:45 am!

Here we are after the last climb on day 3!

And finally, the finish in Wickenburg day 3, STILL smiling! The boys had smell the barn syndrome and got us through the last 60miles of the weekend in dead on 3hours!

What an amazing, fun adventure we had! I had one of the best training weekends of my life and finished feeling strong! Thank you to a great group of friends, and of course my amazing sponsor e21 who kept me recovered enough to never slow down! I brought lots of extras and shared the love with my friends who seemed to have great feedback as well


Molly said...

Completely amazing!!! That looks like a ride I'd love to do but it would be a lot slower!

Elizabeth said...

AWESOME Krista!!! Love that climb up Mingus - one of my favorites. Glad you had your redemption as well as some fun times. :) That is what it is ALL about!!

Michelle Simmons said...