Zen On Dirt

Camp Cat – What not to do while on a touring rest break

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I feel like a lot of my posts through south and central CO have been a bit whiney. Big hill here, big hill there, hike-a-bike here, hike-a-bike there. Woe is me. But seriously, every time I got to a hill, regardless of whether it was 4,000 ft Stoney Pass or a small rise on the road during our Wilderness Detour, I’d utter something under my breathe along the lines of FML. Obvious hike-a-bikes got FML^2.

It got to the point where I was wondering if I’d be able to finish this ride. Sure, I could keep trudging along, but another two months of nearly bursting into tears at the mere sight of a climb was going to prove to be a long trip. Maybe it’s not possible to tour something as long as the CDT…

Scott admits to having similar thoughts and feelings.

Then one day, we came back to life. I think it was our Buena Vista semi-nero day, but all of a sudden, legs started firing again. We’d finally recovered from a ride that we did on our second to last day in Durango.

It was sometime mid-week in Durango when I got off the phone with Cat and I knew immediately that I’d probably made a pretty terrible life choice.

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“Cat’s doing a big Durango Dirty Century training ride on Saturday. We’re going with her,” I’d told Scott.

“Is that a good idea?” he asked.

“Of course! What could go wrong!”

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Now, Cat’s a dear and wonderful friend and one of my favorite riding partners. But, she rides fast. All the time. Probably especially so with the DDC in a week. I figured we could hang for six or so hours. After all, we were doing one of our favorite rides – Purgatory to Cascade Divide to CT to White Creek trail to Engineer and back on the highway. There really is no better high country ride with a minimal amount of steep climbing.

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I’d say that Cat was pedaling about seven and a half clicks above my touring pace and 3 clicks above Scott’s pace. Still, from the gun, we tried to keep up. I tried sneaky tricks, like getting her to talk, to slow her pace down, but once we hit singletrack and conversation slowed, it was game over for the one-speed touring wonders.

The chasing was fun while the motivation lasted.

The riding was spectacular.

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When we did stop for snack breaks, we ate cookies from Bread, Swedish Fish, and apples with almond butter.

At the top, Cat said, jokingly, “Race you to the bottom?”

She won.

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It’s amazing how you stop going fast downhill after a month of touring. It’s amazing how efficient the body becomes at touring pace, but how it can’t handle anything faster at all.

We were wiped the next day, barely leaving the house but knowing that we had to start getting our stuff together for our departure (which included the 6,000 foot climb up to Kennebec Pass).

I was riding tired for a solid week and a half after.

So here’s the lesson: While on tour, if you’re going to ride with someone faster, go for a short ride, not an all-day epic. Or possibly a better idea – go get some coffee, dinner, or soak in the river.

Thanks for the beautiful ride Cat. It was totally worth it.

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