One of my riding partners (who shall remain nameless) bailed on me this morning; something about being tired/worn out from not fueling properly during yesterday's ride and then having to attend two Christmas parties. In all fairness, she did rearrange her schedule for me when I found out that I could not do this ride yesterday, when it was 45 degrees and sunny!
So, once again, poor Zeke came along to endure. He is one tough cookie for it seems that alot of my training rides are done in less than ideal conditions ... MUCH LESS!
We decided to do an out-and-back on the last and most technical section of The Snake. We could not damage this portion of the trail as it is just about all solid rock. When we arrived at Dug Gap, it was raining and 37 degrees. Conditions would not change at all today.
Now back in my younger (and much insaner) days as a veterinarian fresh out of vet school, oftentimes I would have my arm shoulder-deep up a cow's/horse's ass so that I could tell the farmer if she were pregnant. No, I did not go in bare-handed; I used a rectal palpation sleeve. This was a long plastic sleeve that went up to my shoulder. Of course, that did not keep the manure off my boots, my cheek, or out of my hair, but it served its purpose well in that it kept my hand and arm clean.
Flash forward 15 years to a potentially cold, wet, and miserable mountain bike ride. I brought a few of these; Zeke calls them "limb condoms." Placing them strategically on our arms and legs in between layers of clothing, our ride suddenly became very enjoyable and productive.
Today's ride looked like a scene out of J.R.R Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings. We were enshrouded in a blanket of fog along the ridges. I half expected to see a white unicorn appear or hear, "My precious!" But other than a deer and a hiker with a pink umbrella, we encountered no other souls.
It was a good day to focus on skills as speed in these conditions would only get us hurt. Zeke had already sacrificed some flesh earlier this fall on this trail.
We each rode along at our own pace; hard enough to keep warm, but not so hard that we would sweat. I rode back to Zeke a few times, allowing me to practice on some of the rockier sections a couple times.
I managed to stay dry, but after 2 hours my feet got cold. They were dry, but my shoes were not waterproof so eventually Mother Nature made her way inside and killed my toe warmers. I need to work keeping my toesies warm. I had two pairs of socks with the palpation sleeves in between. These plastic sleeves then were placed under my tights and went all the way up to my knees. The toe warmers were placed in between the outer sock layer and my shoes. I wish I could have put the plastic layer on over my shoes, but with several hike-a-bike sections, they would not have survived.
With fresh hot coffee waiting for us in Zeke's van, we managed to make it back to the trailhead 3 1/2 hours and 20 miles later. Mmm Mmm ... that coffee was soooo good ... and hot!
If today's ride does not make me stronger, I don't know what will.