By request: Wedding photo; 4 new PRs set yesterday!
In yesterday’s blog I talked a bit about life after 18 years of marriage. Lisa and I would like to thank everyone who offered their congratulations!
There were a couple of requests in the comments section for a wedding photo, and so I’ve included one here.
Not too long before the wedding I cut all my hair off, and I remember still feeling really uncomfortable with short hair.
Looking at this photo again, I swear Lisa has not aged a day since 1994. Amazing…
On with today’s blog!
It’s been really dry here over the past week. While extended dry periods generally make the trails around here slower (due to the prevalence of sugar sand), there are a couple of trails at Wekiwa that actually ride better when it’s dry. The trails I’m talking about are remote hiking trails: they have low elevation, not a great deal of sand and are loaded with countless numbers of big roots.
I set new personal records on the two segments in question (Marker 19 to Camp Cozy and Camp Cozy to Sand Lake) just last week, but it was very wet and steamy (I could barely see through my fogged up sunglasses) on that day. I knew that the dry conditions would allow me to hit the roots far more aggressively than I was able to when it was wet.
Those two segments make up half of the total miles on The Big Loop, and I so decided to try for my personal record on the entire loop, too.
I’ve never done the entire Big Loop at race speed without taking at least one rest break, and so yesterday I decided to add the additional challenge of riding the entire loop as fast as I could with no breaks.
Quick pre-ride story. While I was getting geared up at the trailhead, I saw someone riding towards me from the trail I was about to ride down. That first section of trail is pretty sandy, but still a far cry from some of the more difficult areas. The rider kept washing out in the sand, and was alternating between walking his bike and riding short distances. When he got to the parking lot, he rode towards me. I could see that he was probably in his 50s and a little overweight. His shirt was drenched in sweat, and he was huffing and puffing pretty hard. I’m always happy to see people out exercising; I was not happy to see that he didn’t have a helmet on.
I said, “Good morning!” As he tried to catch his breath he puffed, “Don’t even bother going that way, it’s too sandy!”
I replied, “The trick is to keep your speed up and learn to get comfortable with the feeling of your bike sliding around under you. Stick with it, you’ll get the hang of it!”
He looked at me like I was crazy. “You’ve ridden here before?”
“Yeah, I generally ride here a few times per week.”
He shook his head. “Well, I’m going to watch how you do it.”
I winked at him and took off.
I was feeling good on the first section of trail, which really was exceptionally dry and sandy. I decided to hold back just a little bit so that I could go full bore on the two upcoming more technical rooty sections. I still turned in my 3rd best time on that first section.
When I got to Marker 19 to Camp Cozy I was nice and warmed up, but had plenty of energy and was feeling good. My best time on this section of trail was 16m28s, and I knew that if I didn’t wreck I was going to beat it.
This section of trail is technically a hiking only trail, but it’s quite remote and I rarely see anyone on it–especially on a week day. This trail is by far the most technically challenging at Wekiwa. For about 2.5 miles the roots are large, constant and at crazy angles. You’ve really got to stay sharp to avoid a painful fall.
I completed this segment with a new personal record and KOM time of 15m43s! That’s 45 seconds faster than my all-time previous best.
Interesting related note: my record on this section of trail back when I rode a Trek 4300 hardtail (and was a much less experienced rider) was 21m41s. When I set that record in early 2011 I was over the moon because I’d just beat my long-standing PR of 22m08s. I remember at the time thinking that a sub-20 minute time would be all but impossible, and now here I am closing in on a sub-15 minute time.
The final section of trail on The Big Loop (Camp Cozy to Sand Lake) starts off technical as it winds through the forest and against the beautiful Wekiwa river, but then it straightens out and becomes more of a sprint with lots of small roots and some evil stumps. The constant jarring from the small roots on that last section numbs my hands every time.
I set my personal record of 13m51s on this segment last week, but I was determined to break it again yesterday, and I did. I shaved more than 40 seconds of my previous best time and finished the Camp Cozy to Sand Lake segment with a new PR time of 13m10s.
Those last couple of miles were really tough, as I’d been riding pretty much all-out the entire ride. As you can see in the photo above, my average heart rate for the entire ride (which even includes the half-mile cool down around the lake) was 183 BPM! If I hadn’t included the cool down, it probably would have been more like 185-186 BPM.
Also on that segment I set a new Peak Power personal record of 1,300 watts:
And, finally, I broke another personal record on the entire ~9 mile Big Loop. My previous best time was 57m47s, which I set last week. I absolutely shattered that time yesterday with a new record of 51m35s!
I rode really hard yesterday, and that certainly helped propel me to such a drastic time improvement, but another big factor was that I didn’t take any rest breaks. It was a grueling, but very satisfying ride.