Sitting at my dining room table, sharing a chair with my dog, Alan, I glance up from my laptop to see that it is dumping snow outside. Although it’s May, and ski season really should be wrapping up right about now, I can’t help but feel a slight sense of relief that mother nature isn’t luring me outside to the bike with one of her pristine Spring days. Focusing back on my inbox, with coffee in hand, the emails continue to pour in faster than I can respond. Snow day in May, I’ll take it in the hopes of getting caught up on SBT GRVL planning. However, this weather and the additional rest day aren’t exactly helping with my Unbound Gravel training.
Unbound Gravel, for better or worse, is ever-present in my mind. It is now imminent, just 24 days away, so the training, fueling, resting that I do over the next three weeks will affect my race outcome.
Checking in from where I was in April, I have made some progress over the past six weeks by increasing my mileage, but frankly, not as much as I would have liked. I’ve had some great adventure days and some extensive, arguably too extensive (!), rest periods. I’m no longer looking at the weekly miles that I log on the bike or the hours in the saddle. Admittedly, it’s getting to be too late. I’m relying on the macro picture (thanks, Lucas!) and calculating the past decade of miles rather than 2021 miles.
I’ve also spent some time reconnecting with my why. While structured riding, intervals and hard efforts are not working for me now. I’m accepting where I am and enjoying the process. I have found motivation from doing what I love the most – adventure riding with great company.
The past six weeks have been filled with some exploring by bike that remind me why I love this incredible sport.
April kicked off with a trip to Emporia, Kansas, to coach the Unbound Gravel Camp. Reacquainting myself with the Flint Hills, we enjoyed a day of blissful early spring sunshine, followed by a day of wet, chilly, rear derailleur breaking mud as well as opportunities to work on fixing flats. Oh, Emporia, you have a way of keeping us on our toes! Three days, 200 miles, and new friendships made with fellow gravel enthusiasts. Unbound Gravel Camp piqued my enthusiasm for my return trip in June.
April finished with a whirl around the 100-mile White Rim loop in a day. White Rim, located in Canyonlands National Park, is 100 miles of double track that traverses some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable, just outside Moab, Utah. The ride is not for the faint of heart, and I’d recommend some time in the saddle before tackling White Rim in one day. Eight hours and 40 minutes of ride time and two hours of peanut butter jelly eating, view gawking, and basking in the sun. Finishing the day off strong, I left Moab enjoying a large pizza (for myself!), heavy legs, a full heart, and elevated spirits.
As the snow began to melt and the green colors started to emerge around Routt County, former DNA Teammate and current PEARL iZUMi teammates, Hannah Shell & Jake McGee, joined us in Steamboat to ride the SBT GRVL Blue course. One hundred miles made enjoyable by entertaining stories and 10 lbs (give or take) of breakfast burritos! Another adventure ride for the books.
While long days in the saddle and descent training blocks have been followed by considerable recovery days, my previous six weeks can only be described as Yo-Yo bike training. However, I will look back and take heart in the adventure miles I have been lucky enough to enjoy with friends.