Thursday, March 10, 2016

Patience, water, and probiotics.

When you travel somewhere to train, you want to train. That is the sole thing you are focused on. When something gets in your way, your first instinct is to smash through it. I got sick a few weeks into my trip in Tuscon. At first it wasn't a big deal, just take a few days off and get healthy. This however, was one of those lingering sicknesses. 1 week later, still sick. And the next week. And the week after that. Still sick. Able to ride but unable to do any real training. When I finally got healthy, it was very frustrating to feel I had lost all of this hard work and wasted time. That's life though! Life throws things at you that you can't control. You can only control what you do it about. For me these few weeks were a lesson in patience. I am now back on track and improving at the rate I want to be. Worrying about my fitness and training did nothing to improve my situation. If anything it made things worse. Taking a step back, looking at the matter with hindsight, it becomes clear that being relaxed and confident is the key to digging yourself out of an unwanted situation. Of course, this is easier said than done. I've found there are several ways of achieving this.

1: Making sure you are doing everything you possibly can to fix the problem.

It's hard to not stress out about an issue if you know that there are solutions within your ability that could be done to fix it. Making sure you are doing all the little things in addition to the big things is very important. For example, in my situation, a big thing would be not going out to a party while I am sick. That's pretty obvious, most of us know not to do that. There are also many little things that are easily forgotten however... staying hydrated, taking probiotics, eating vegetables, resting, making sure to get fresh air, and not be cooped up in a stuffy room. These are examples specific to this scenario but the general idea can be applied to many things in life.

2: Talk to your friends, family, and loved ones. 

The people closest to you want you to be happy just as you do. A lot of the time just talking about whatever is frustrating you will make you feel better. In addition, talking with them should cheer you up and distract you from your predicament. Laughter is the best medicine.

3: Don't beat a dead horse

Think about what is going on and what to do to improve the situation without dwelling on your predicament. I feel that most -if not all- situations require a free mind not weighed down by over thinking the situation. Once you have devoted the necessary energy and thought to a matter, devoting more to it does not make it better. It just makes you more stressed out.

Once I realized these things and applied them everything just fixed itself and pretty soon I was back on my bike and training again.

Training in Tuscon has been a blast. When I arrived here at the end of December I was immediately greeted by warm, sunny weather.
It was so interesting seeing the differenct flora and fauna in this (to me) strange and alien place.
Saguaro Cacti at the base of Mt. Rincon

A small mountain deer peeking through the bushes near the top of Mt. Lemmon

The infamous Tarantula Hawk. This has the second most painful sting in the world, second only to the "Bullet ant", who's sting is reportedly akin to being shot with a bullet. Oh and it literally eats Tarantulas.

I did lots of climbing while in Tuscon. Climbing to the top of Mt. Lemmon (30 miles and nearly 10,000 feet of climbing) was a regular staple ride of my training.
The view from Geology point, 14 miles up

Looking back down at the road you climbed up.

This photo does not do the incredible view of the desert and nearby Mexico from 9,000ft up

While riding Mt. Lemmon, another cyclist told me about a cool obscure road to the south that goes up Mt. Hopkins. He said it gained the same amount of elevation as Lemmon in half the distance. Excited by the Prospect of a steep, low traffic climb I packed up my car with my bike, extra clothes, recovery food and Emergency Burritos. On the drive over I began to notice storm clouds in the distance. I had looked at the forecast and saw there was small chance of rain and dressed accordingly with my Steen Wear rain jersey and thermal tights.
The beginning of the ride was very pleasant. It was a beautiful, remote road with no cars in sight. I saw some wild horses and this group of strange mammals that looked like a cross between a Racoon and a Lemur. I was unable to get a photo before they ran off but a quick google search revealed they were White-nosed Coati.
Stock photo from Google Images

Riding into the clouds

 I eventually found myself in a rain cloud. Everything felt very enchanted, mysterious, and a little eerie.

 Climbing the switchbacks higher into the trees it started to look like a Rainforest...

Misty tree's fading off into the distance

Then, to my surprise, it began to snow. Lightly at first. Having recently arrived from Minnesota still being acclimated to cold weather and determined to make it to the top, I kept climbing. 

Snowy switchback

getting colder....

But the temperature continued to drop as the snow fell harder and harder, blanketing the high desert plants with a fluffy white layer of snow.

I thought I was supposed to be in a desert...
 I became colder and colder. All the while wondering, bewildered, if I had some how been teleported back to the Northland. 

Where is the road?
Eventually the Snowstorm turned into a Blizzard. Just one mile from my destination -the peak- I was unable to peddle any further, my tires spinning in the snow that was quickly accumulating on the un-plowed road. 
Unable to see more than thirty feet ahead of me, I reluctantly donned my windbreaker and start the long, slow, horribly cold descent back to my car. After one hour filled with swearing, stopping to warm my hands, and wondering if I would make it down the mountain without getting frostbitten, I arrived safely at my car and promptly consumed my emergency burrito. 

I flew out to Southern California to meet with Team Velosport (Formerly Rokform) see some friends, and train. I'm not riding with them this year but they are close friends and it was wonderful to see them. Thanks so much to Jeff, Pat, and Michael Shein for hosting me and putting on a very proffessional yet fun camp. And thanks to Kendall for rocking out in the disco van with me during the long drive up the coast!
Photo Credit: Michael Shein.

Photo Credit: Michael Shein.

After this my next big adventure was my longest (both distance and time-wise) ride to date with another rider from the Midwest, Ruyard Peterson. We rode out to the Coronado Mountains, over Box canyon pass, and back around to Tuscon. It was 170km (109miles) over six hours with a respectable 1245m (4100ft) of climbing. During this I consumed ten water bottles of water and drink mix or approximately six liters (200 ounces), five cliff bars, two bananas, and an ice cream bar. Then upon returning home, ate two ten inch Pizzas. And a Burrito, obviously.  

The curvy gravel Box canyon climb.

Near the top of Box canyon
Over the top, with Ruyard in the distance.


Brain (left) and Mike (right) adjusting their new bikes
  I have also had the opportunity to go on a few mountain bike rides thanks to a friend here in Tuscon borrowing me his full suspension Enduro rig. I've ridden with Brian Matter -a Wisconsite pro mountain biker who winters down here in Tuscon- twice and more recently had the opportunity to ride with my Tiffany, my wonderful girlfriend who flew down here for my last week & a half in Tuscon. 
Tiffany and I out shredding the Gnar
The view from the top of Bug Springs

All in all, despite some difficulties, it's been a warm, sunny, Cacti and Burrito filled adventure. I can't wait for what the rest of the year has in store

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