Changing Plans

I was "supposed" to do intervals on Wednesday. I had a nice, hard workout scheduled - designed to address some of the weaknesses I've noticed in the first few races of the year. But like all plans - things change. Nick's work was in the process of moving buildings and he had the ability to take half a day off. Middle of the week, the chance to ride hard with Nick? Intervals were abandoned in favor of something just as hard, but so much more fun.

It was brutally hot when Nick got home and we both packed water for the 90 degrees it felt like. Then up into the mountains we went - straight up through Stratton, up the Chutes and onto Gold Camp. Given that I was skipping out on my intervals, it was time to ride hard. Nick let me set the pace, but kept pushing a little to keep me honest. Up and up and up, the endless road climb silence of the mountains. We'd originally planned on doing the hike-a-bike up to the St Peter's Dome parking lot, but Nick decided to just take the road all the way out. Might as well get a good baseline time for the start of the season! I slowed a few times to make sure I was eating and to stretch my back out, but we made it out to Old Stage in record (for me) time. And I wasn't blown - not like the last few times Nick has pushed me hard on the Gold Camp climb. We did still have the climb up Old Stage, so it was time for a short break of easy pedaling. Recover just a little so I would be able to descend well when we got to St Mary's.

Yes, that was our goal. Mid week, later in the day with storms rolling in - there would be nobody on St Mary's. Perfect time to ride one of the busier trails in the canyon and be able to ride it fast. I've only done St Mary's a few times from top to bottom, so it's always an adventure for me. I love the top half - traversing through the trees with some tight switchbacks. There's a few creek crossing and some rock gardens but it's mostly fast and wide open. It's once we cross above the falls that things start getting tricky. I always try the tight, scree filled switchbacks, but don't always make them. It's a guessing game which ones I'll get and which ones I won't. Below the waterfall, the trail is more familiar. I never get to go fast down that section because it's always crowded. This ride was the exception - only one hiker and her dogs.

I was expecting that we'd turn right and drop Daniels to ford the river and head home. After all, I really only wanted three hours and that time was getting close. Nope. Nick decided that we'd climb High Drive and finish out on a high note with Jacks. I was looking at the very angry clouds building all around us and wondering about the sanity of riding more. But Nick wasn't to be dissuaded. Okay! Up High Drive we went. At the summit, the heavy rain was even closer and it was starting to spit at us. Time to make quick work of Jacks. An empty trail lead to a fun descent and we were just ahead of the rain as we dropped into Chutes. We almost made it home before the deluge started - but we were soaked by the time we hit the black top. A few lightening strikes closer then I would have liked and we were at the door. Wet, tired but so happy. Nothing like a hard, midweek ride!


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