Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Matty 2 Times 2 Times

As I said in the last post, today's mission was to climb Columbine two times.  This is one of the rides I've been thinking about in the back of my head ever since I saw it on my training sheet 3 or 4 weeks ago.  Much like the back-to-back six hours, I think climbing Columbine twice is a huge mental hurdle.  As this is an absolutely wicked climb, possibly the toughest that I've ever done, success will surely generate a lot of confidence.  

I got up at 5:15 and anybody that knows me and my peculiarities will not be surprised that I didn't start riding until 7:50.  The weather was absolutely perfect--cool, crisp and clear.  My first trip up, I felt absolutely amazing.  I won't say that the climb felt effortless, but I feel like I was cruising along pretty well.  I made it to the top in an hour and 28 minutes--pretty uneventful.  I did walk about 100 yards of the really rocky part at the top.  I stopped for about 2 minutes at the top, took some pictures and headed down.  If I haven't mentioned it earlier, I basically have no rear brake and the only way I could get them to work is to overuse them to heat the oil up so it would expand and become functional--that did not take long.  The top 2 1/2 miles is a pretty sketchy descent, so I took it pretty easy, not wanting to end my race before it starts.   I started feeling a little fatigued at the bottom from getting knocked around so much.  I spent about 5-10 minutes at the bottom, grabbed 2 fresh bottles of Infinit and headed back up.

I made it about 2 1/2 miles when I heard people talking quite energetically.  I turned around and saw no one.  I kept riding and hearing the talking.  I looked over my shoulder again and Lance Armstrong was about 25 yards behind me with one of his buddies--talk about cool.  As he rode by, he was close enough that I could have put my arm around him.  He asked how I was doing-I tried to pretend that I was completely conversational as well and managed to reply, "Fine.  How are you guys doing? "  I didn't feel comfortable sticking a camera in his face, so I waited until he passed by to take a picture.  After all, I figured that was the most realistic shot, as he rode by me like I was standing still.  Shortly after Lance passed, a white pick-up truck with Chris Carmichael training stickers all over it came by and a very nice young man asked me if I was okay, how I was doing, and if I needed anything.  I was stunned for a number of reasons:  first, it dawned on me that Lance had his support car following him up Columbine; 2) the driver's friendliness--he genuinely sounded worried about me; and 3) it dawned on me that I must have looked like shit compared to Lance and that's why the guy was concerned--funny, considering I felt pretty good.  Oh no, had I not fooled Lance that I was a contender, a force to be reckoned with?  Yeah, I know, I'm delusional, but it makes the time pass.

My thoughts turned to how and where I would diplomatically get a picture of Lance coming down the hill, knowing I would need a good shot to satisfy Cora and the kids, who were extremely disappointed that they had chosen to stay in bed rather than support me today.  It was about this time that Lance's support guy passed me again, again asking how I was doing, if I needed anything and told me that I was doing a great job.  It occurred to me that maybe I should take a picture of myself to either prove or refute this guy's opinion of my condition.  As I got to the technical section at the top that I had walked on my first trip up, I noticed the pick-up backing up, parking to wait for Lance.  I knew that there was no way that I was going to walk that section with that guy watching me and with the possibility of Lance seeing me walking.  I took a quick glance at my HR monitor--how empty was the tank?  I never got an answer because it was so covered with sweat.  I managed a smile to the nice gentleman and I'm proud to say that I cleaned the whole section.  The only downer was that Lance came ripping down one of the steeper sections around a corner, literally almost hitting me, and I had no chance for a photo.  I'll be forthright and admit that at that point, I looked like total ass.    Ego is a wonderful thing.  All kidding aside, I was pretty psyched that I managed to ride all of Columbine on my second trip up.  I can now officially say that I've ridden every inch of this course.  Whether I can say this on race day is another story.  Either way, I feel like all my training is coming together.  Can't wait for the 15th!

As I promised, the Judy Jetson profile.

Click on it--yes, you've seen it before.

Click on it.  This does a little more justice to Columbine's heinous nature.

This is the best I could do--Cora was quite critical and compared it to her photography--ouch!

There goes Lance's guy, or should I say my guy?  Again, all kidding aside, I much appreciated his encouraging words.  Little does he know how much amusement he has provided my wife.

Coming off the road on the first technical section.  

The steep rocky section that I couldn't walk because of that white truck (and my pride).

Flat part coming across the top of Columbine, just before the turn-around.

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