I closed out last week’s entry joking about riding less so I could write less. Turns out it wasn’t a joke.
While I can’t be sure, I think a hundred miles on a mountain bike the previous week may have done me in.
Tuesday, Jacob, Shawn, and I were going to head out to the Sterling Ditch Mine Trail. While waiting for Jacob to pick me up, I was doing some quick maintenance on the Toa when I felt my back get tweaked a little. No big deal. I ride with back pain all the time. Ugh.
By the time we reached the trailhead, my back was feeling a little worse than normal. Our plan was to climb up the road from the Deming Gulch section of the Ditch and drop down from Wolf Gap. A trail none of us had done before.
Not being known to make the best decisions, I hammered it up the VERY steep gravel road and by the time we reached the top 1.9 miles later, we had climbed nearly a thousand feet and my back was screaming!
I’ll come “back” to that in a bit.
Wolf Gap is a tight, narrow, rocky descent at the top. Several times I had trouble keeping both feet clipped in as I thought I was going over the bars or over a cliff.
Back to my back. With 8 miles of the Ditch Trail back to the cars, I was wishing I could be medevaced. Ok. It wasn’t that bad. But, every bump in the trail was making me feel like I might start crying like a little girl. I didn’t, but I came close.
To top it off, we were running an endless gauntlet of poison oak. I strongly advise against riding the Ditch anytime soon without full body protection. Amazingly, I only got a small patch on the ankle. At last report, Shawn had the itches as well.
After I got home and sat down for a few minutes, my back was so stiff I could barely walk. Longish story short, I took Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off from riding. Torture!!! I did, however, go see my chiropractor on Friday. Whether you believe or not, every time I’ve gone I wish I had gone to see him sooner. He is a miracle worker!! By Sunday, most of the pain was gone and I was ready for the Willamette Gran Fondo!
Everyone participating in the Oregon Triple Crown was given numbers according to their overall standing. I was stoked to know I would be wearing #22! Not bad for an old, fat guy!
Rolling out in a big group from the small town of Philomath, OR, the group stayed together until the first real climb near mile 9, where it started to break up a little. I managed to stay with the front group through that climb, but by the second ascent at mile 13 up toward Mary’s Peak, I let myself be put in my place.
At the bottom of the descent down the other side, I hooked up with a decent group of about 10 riders just before an eighteen mile out and back section that had a 700′ climb each way. As we started up, I asked a couple of the guys if this was a real climb. They told me they’d let me find out for myself so I promptly dropped the hammer, as well as the whole group after only about 5 minutes of climbing. Go Fatty!!
Not wanting to get caught by those guys after dropping them, I pushed hard and at mile 55 there was still no sign of them. Problem is, my uh, heftiness, caused me to break a spoke on the rear wheel while going up yet another climb.
The only stop I made during the whole 80 mile race was to hop off, bend the spoke out of the way so I wouldn’t tangle it up in the cassette, and hop back on. I think I only lost a couple minutes there.
Just after that was another good descent. I was bummed I couldn’t charge down it a bit harder, but I was still testing out the rear wheel and trying to feel confident I’d make it to the finish.
Flying solo the rest of the ride, I was a mile from the end when I glanced back and saw a group closing fast. I gave it all I had but they caught me with about a half mile to go. Yes. It was made up mostly of the group I had dropped earlier. Dang it!!!! Oh well. I managed to cross the line at somewhere around 4 hours 5 minutes. The official time wasn’t available when I was wrote this.
With cooler than expected temperatures, a few rain showers, and a fun course, it ended up being a great day. And, my back pain was non-existent the whole time!
Thanks to Jacob for a few of the pictures at the race. I really didn’t stop to take any.
This week’s lesson? If you don’t want to have to take time off the bike, don’t pretend like you want to.
Now, with the entire Rogue Valley suffocating from wildfire smoke, the rest of the Summer will likely be a challenge to get some quality rides in. Guess I’ll be travelling more than I had planned.