Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Trail Treasure and Training Camp

Trail Treasure

Survival of the Fittest

I didn't realize when we set off on our extended long weekend that I was in for a mini training camp! Friday's painfully awesome ride was followed by three more days of long, difficult rides. I survived, but just barely ;). Thankfully my evil coach (well, not that evil ;)) gave me a break this week, cause I am tired!

Trail Treasure

We started our Saturday not on bikes, but on skates. Ice skates, not skiing! Bethel has created a rink for public use, and the conditions were pretty good. It was fun to get out and do something a bit different.

It was another bluebird day in Maine, and after skating and changing, we set off on the local Greenstock Snowmobile club trails for an advertised "1.5 hour" ride. Those of you who know Mike know how that went...

If anything though, the conditions were better than they had been the previous day, and the riding was stellar. Our route had a fairly significant amount of climbing, requiring me to settle into the granny and spin it out on more than one occasion. As we hit the first plateau in our climbing, Mike circled back to me with a piece of trail treasure...

Of course, we had to pack this up and take it home! We have been finding a shed about once every two years, but usually it is on our snowmobile adventures. It's a good thing this find wasn't any bigger - we would have had a real issue getting it back home from the middle of nowhere, and there is no leaving a perfectly good moose shed in the middle of the trail. This find fits in nicely with our other two.

We continued on with our ride, Mike telling me that we "were at the top". As I climbed yet ANOTHER long incline, I looked up to see him once again coming back towards me. With the shed stuck in his Camelback, it looked like he had horns coming out of his head, and I could only think how appropriate that looked - like the devil! The trail finally turned downward and we popped out onto the road for a short section, and then back into the woods to make the final push towards home.

Our 1.5 hour ride turned into 2.5 hours - typical for a Rowell adventure ;). The treasure made it all worth it though, and the effort of the two days made dinner taste just that much better.
Valentine's Day

Our Valentine's Day ride started with a negotiation, which I lost ;). We were going to ride the tandem (appropriate for the day, don't you think?), but it was the duration of the ride that was in question. Unfortunately for me, as the stoker, I pretty much have to go where and how far the captain takes us!

It turned out to be a good ride, despite tired legs and an unrelenting wind. We ended up with just under 3 hours of riding, and 53 miles. And after our forays into the woods of Maine and seeing ZERO wildlife, we were treated to a fox running across the road in front of us out in Groton.

Survival of the Fittest

We had one more day of the long weekend, and we certainly didn't want to let it go to waste ;). I was tired, but knew that one more day of hard riding would be good for me at this point in the season (that which does not kill you makes you stronger, right?). Monday's weapons - the SS bikes.

The weathermen proved that they could keep their jobs by being wrong - again. They had promised no wind, but it was once again, ever present. It seemed no matter which direction we rode, the wind was coming at us head on, or trying to blow me sideways off the road. After 1.5 hours of riding, I was pretty cooked, but we continued on. At about the 2 hour mark, as we were out in Harvard climbing yet another stinkin' hill, the tears came. I was so tired and I just wanted to be home (which was over an hour's ride away...).

I gritted my teeth, pedaled squares, and just tried to hang on for the remainder of the ride home. It was another long day, ending with 57.5 miles in just over 3.5 hours.

So, as I asked on FB, can I really claim surviving our mini-camp? Yessiree! And of course, now that it is over, I can see that it was really a good idea to have done the hard training early in the season. This week, we're resting before getting back to the hard stuff again this weekend.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Painfully Awesome

I know - a dichotomy. How can something painful also be awesome? Call me a sucker for punishment, but yesterday's 4+ hour MTB ride from Bethel to Gilead and Evan's Notch was both.

With the studded MTBs, we headed out from the house on the local snowmobile trails. They aren't much good for snowmobiling right now, but they were in great shape for riding. Lots of hard packed snow and ice along the way. We did hit a patch on the gas lines that was questionable, so ducked out onto the road for a couple of miles.

After 2 hours of riding, we were finally in Evans Notch, riding a frozen sluice! By now, I was already pretty tired, but we still had some climbing to do... Up and over (actually around, but it felt like up and over) a mountain, then back out to Rte 2 to do the return trip.

The sun had started to warm things up, and the trails that had been hard packed in the morning were now a little soft, making it even tougher going. By the 3.5 hour mark, I had had enough, and decided to just ride the road back to Bethel, while Mike returned the way we had come - through the woods. It turned out we didn't get home that far apart from one another. The woods had been terrible, so Mike came back from the end of that trail on the road, while I had opted to go back ONTO the snowmobile trail as I entered Bethel. In all, we were out for 4.5 hours, with about 4:10 of rolling time. Total distance was 38 and 41 miles (38 for me, 41 for Mike), and a total of about 2700 feet of elevation.

Painful? Yes. Awesome? You betchya!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What was THAT?!?!?

As I was sitting eating my Lucky Charms this morning, my eye caught sight of this animal running through the yard. I didn't recognize it, and yelled to Mike to come quick to tell me what it was (and no, I didn't think fast enough to get the camera out).

Now, we've seen deer, turkeys, fox, possums, skunks and coons in the yard (in addition to the more traditional suburban squirrels and chipmunks), but this beast was an honest to goodness fisher cat. Pen up your chickens, cats, small dogs and small children people! This thing had BIG TEETH

Mike did get out to get pics of the tracks it left in the snow...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Can you tell what we're about to do?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cold Temps + No Snow = Big Rides

Frozen water bottles
Chemical toe warmers
Studded tires
Drippy nose
Tired legs

Seems that all of the snow storms have been missing New England this year, and have been dumping instead in the mid-Atlantic. With no recent storms, and no snowfall in the forecasts, we've been unable to get out skiing or snowmobiling. Instead, we've been out on the bikes for some pretty epic (yes, I used the word epic - sue me!) rides the past couple of weeks.

Last Saturday, Kevin B invited us up for a tour of the snowmobile trails in Hollis, NH. I read "luge-like snowmobile trails", but had no idea what that really meant. Mike, Wayne and I headed up and met Kevin and Steve to set out on the iciest ride I have ever done! The trails were rivers of ice - off camber, bumpy ice... We went up hills where if you had put your foot down, you would have slid all the way back down to the bottom! It was scary, but oddly fun at the same time. Unfortunately, I am a wuss in icy conditions like some we encountered, and encouraged the boys to continue on without me. While I ended up with almost 2 hours of riding, they finished with 20 miles and 5000 feet of climbing!

Wayne, me, Steve and Kevin; Steve trying to stay upright

Waiting for me again; Let go of the brakes!

The next day, Mike and I took the tandem out for it's first adventure of the year. Leaving the house, it was so cold I almost cried! Once we got moving though, I warmed up, but then we had to stop in Concord Center to wait for Wayne and John. Once we were off, temps were ok. Our water bottles froze up though! It was a tough ride, and Wayne felt the ride from the day before. Mike John and I ended up with a 63 mile ride - the longest and fastest for me of the year.

Yesterday's ride for me can be summed up in two words - cold and demoralizing. The thermometer said 19 degrees when I left the house for a solo ride. In many ways, it was good no one else was with me to witness my ride. Just over an hour in, I had no water - bottles frozen again. About two hours in, I thought about calling my friend Jean to come and pick me up - I was cold, and cramping badly enough that I wasn't sure I would actually make it home. Instead, I kept going, and managed just over 3 hours. The 48 miles put me ABOVE Mike's mileage for the week - probably the first and last time that will happen ;).

I'm convinced now that I'll be all set for the race season - as long as we only race at 15 mph ;)

Today was a bit warmer, but the wind was brutal. Managed just 2 hours before running out of daylight, but I honestly don't think I could have gone any more than that. These two weekends puts me 300 miles ahead of this time last year. I can only hope that "that which does not kill me, makes me stronger" ;)