Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thoughts on the CTR and a Bit of Sunshine on a Sunday

Another breathtaking sunrise this morning from Sunshine Canyon:

Schedule issues forced me to ride solo very early this morning, so I used it as a good opportunity to get some night riding in as well as riding in cold temps. I tried to hook up with a group of friends doing a cool loop consisting of paved roads, dirt roads, mining roads and singletrack, but couldn't make it work. So after getting the route info last night, I set out around 6 AM on my singlespeed anxious to do some navigating. I ended up missing the second "super secret" mining road, and time was a factor, unfortunately, so I high-tailed it back to Boulder.

Here is a look at the snowpack on which I rode about 2.5 miles

It wasn't too bad to ride in because it was early enough in the morning things were still pretty frozen.

Me (don't laugh) :)

Hey, it was cold this morning :-P

My thoughts, beyond the immediate trail,  can really go anywhere on a solo ride. Mostly they are focused on a few important things I need to sort out. And sometimes they are nonexistent, especially on the road. Seriously. I will count telephone posts or lightposts or something weird like that. My iPod is always loaded with something motivating and loud, but today I thought mostly about the CTR and my setup and gear.

I have my hiking/camping/climbing packs and gear dialed in pretty tight. I am always doing some tweeking and changing here and there depending on trip length and type, season and any new additions, but I know what weight I can carry comfortably and if I load on extra I can adjust quickly. I have figured out my layering system and I know how to stay warm. Keeping my fingers warm will be a lifelong battle, but for the most part, I am winnning.

Bikepacking is a bit different, and I am really excited to dial in my setup. I haven't spent a lot of time looking at other racers setups in great detail because I don't want to just copy what others are doing. Part of the allure of this whole CTR escapade is figuring out what kind of a pack and gear is going to work for me, individually.

Three things (at least at this time) are essential to my success in the CTR:

Weight: 85-90% of my gear weight HAS to be on my bike. The hardest ride I have ever ridden to this day was the last few miles of climbing up to Georgia Pass this last summer. The plan was to camp on Boreas Pass, but I had far too much weight on my back. I mistakenly thought I could handle a lot of weight like when I hike. WRONG. I don't ever give out, but about 10 minutes before getting to the top of Georgia Pass, I was done. I seriously kept fighting the urge to dropkick my pack off a cliff. I couldn't climb well, I was really frustrated and I felt like I had a concrete block strapped to my shoulders. I was spent when I got to the top. What an excellent lesson and it will be a big factor in my setup. I will go with minimal weight on my back.

Warmth: The female finger warming battle again. Cold fingers make me exceptionally irritable and I start to mentally weaken a little. It's not like I don't have really good gloves either. So, I am constantly figuring this one out, but I think part of it involves this: Toughen the [blank] up!

Shoes: Here is where race reports and blogs have REALLY enlightened me to the importance of good shoes. I am doing a lot of researching into what shoes I will wear. My current bike shoes are great for riding without much hike-a-bike, but I won't wear them on the CTR. That would be a recipe for failure...

I love the all the planning and what I have here doesn't begin to even scratch the surface of what is to come...

I leave you with one more sunrise pic:

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