I didn't get any cool sunrise or deer pictures this morning. There was a heavy bank of clouds that kept the temperature down and light conditions grey for most of my ride. But that doesn't mean it wasn't fun - or hard work. I took a different way into Stratton this time - via the road instead of the trails behind the high school. My first thought when I hit the Ridgeway parking lot was "wow - the lots full! And it's not even 6:30 yet? What's going on?" But I didn't think to much about it as I wanted to finish my warmup and get on with business. I did my usual playing around, practicing some wheelies and throwing in a few harder efforts to prep my legs for the workout. Saw one of the normal dog walkers and waved hello - I think they are starting to get used to me and my lights in the morning. The parking lot was still full when I rolled around to start the first interval. Even weirder, but not time to think about it. I hit my watch and started the interval. Up the road, headed for the chutes. As I climbed, working on even power and cadance while still keeping steady traction on the loose gravel, I started pacing people hiking. Way more people then I've ever seen on a dawn patrol ride. Many of them were wearing the same shirt and they all looked very grumpy for being awake at that hour. Maybe that's why they were so oblivious to anyone else on the trail! Well, that and the industrial sized headphones pumping music loud enough I could hear. I was kinda frustrated - I've come to love the quiet trails at 6:30 and did not want to deal with that kind of traffic on my interval. I was also wishing for my super loud bell. Just saying "rider back" didn't click with some of them, although the shadows that appeared when I got right behind them also should have been a bit of a clue!
Instead of turning around at the top like I planned, I just dropped Gold Camp. I wasn't going to deal with the crossfitters again if I could help it. The second interval went smoother - more normal levels of traffic, ie none. Then time to play for a while. And I noticed something this time - I tend to do my interval, then chill and not focus on the ride. I goof off instead of recovering then upping the pace a little. That needs to change - it doesn't make much sense to do the work, then not follow through with some strong riding. I worked on that a little for the rest of the ride. Forcing a little more spunk into the climbs, emphasizing the smoothness on the descents. Everything is important in mountain biking - not haut going fast. I've got to be able to ride smooth when fatigued. It's something Nick has discussed with me many times, riding hard and then riding smooth. I've got time to address it now. After every interval set, make the rest of the ride count. Make it count but keep it fun!
This was my last dawn patrol for a while. I think it's time for a bit of recovery! I'll miss the quiet and the empty trails. But recovery is just as important as the training for getting fit and staying healthy. Two months to go...