My plan all along as I prepare for the race is to get a lot of time on the bike. I think it’s the right way to go for many reasons- first because I enjoy it, second because there is no better training for riding, than riding, and third, because that’s what the race is about- riding a lot, so I think that’s the right way to prepare mentally.
Obviously, riding carries some risk, so I’ve been practicing riding at 80-90% this year, where I cover ground efficiently but taking as few chances as possible. That’s gone pretty well for me- since January, I’ve put on ~6000 miles of trail with nary a mishap. Well, I can’t quite claim that now, but more on that later.
I tend to ride trails that are much slower and more technical than anything a rally would include, but I find this is pretty good prep- these trails require focus, skill, and cardio that translate to rally situations without the high speed risks that rally includes. From the videos I’ve seen of Cyril, Marc, and Jonah, it seems they train on hard stuff, too. As the summer breaks into fall, my plan is to back off from big rides and focus on gym time and low speed/ low risk bike training (tight grass tracks and near-trials stuff). This will keep my hands hard and skills sharp, hopefully without much chance of serious injury when there is too little time left for recovery.
With that background, here’s the story of the weekend.
The plan was to pick up Tim Hillsamer (Hillslamer on adv) meet with the guys at Klim, then head to Stanley, and take in as much Idaho trail as possible. In all the places I’ve ridden, Idaho stands head and shoulders above the rest- the trails are absolutely phenomenal.
You gotta love a company that when you come to meet, they head for the trails. Here’s Jesse from the Klim marketing department, hard at work:
Joking aside, I’m proud to be associated with a company filled with people this passionate about the gear they make. You can’t fake it, and no bonus program could incentivize people who didn’t care, to pretend to. They not only make great gear, they want to make it better. Cool stuff!
One of their snowmobile athletes joined us for the ride- Keith Curtis. Here’s a youtube that gives an idea of what he does for a living:
Apparently, guys who aren’t afraid of a 300hp turbocharged two stroke, aren’t afraid of a KTM 300 either, because Keith rides really, really well. He was anxious to get some more miles in, so we convinced him to join us for more riding in Stanley. We had a bit of an episode with a torched wheel bearing on the Sherco, that required some sourcing and fabricating- here’s Edward (Questor on ADV) helping us make a spacer to compensate for a too-thin replacement wheel bearing. Klim should hate when I come to town, productivity doesn’t exactly skyrocket. :-)
All the hotels in Stanley were sold out, but our waitress, Brittany invited us to camp in her yard and share a fire. I guess it was sorta spectacular…
The plan for Saturday was an epic singletrack expedition. I had ridden everything I had in mind at one point or another, but we were going to link together what had taken me days to find into a single day of awesome. We started out going NW from Stanley, followed the Yankee Fork East, had a neat interlude at an old mining dredge, and went up over Razor Ridge to make our way into Clayton. From there, it was more singletrack toward the South, before looping back up and coming back into Stanley on the Casino drainage. 150 miles, about 130 of it tight singletrack. Sounds like our kind of day!
A couple of favorite pictures:
The rest are all here.
I was being very disciplined not to chase Tim and Keith, who are not only faster than me, they also aren’t preparing for Dakar. They’d lead, I’d follow, we’d gather at intersections and head out again. My goal was 80%, not slow but not fast, minimal effort. I was achieving it, too. And then, I went for a shift as I passed a sagebrush, and the sagebrush was grown around a rock, and having my toe down meant my foot got wrapped around the peg and the 3rd Metatarsel paid the price. No crash, no mistake other than an error in judgment (I was on the line I planned), just shit happens. If I’d been pushing, I’d be really upset with myself for being so short sighted, but as it stands, I just can’t sweat it. Every time you get on a bike, you reach into the bag. Usually, you come out with a piece of gold. Sometimes, not.
Of course, I still had to ride out, so the next 60 miles were, ahem, interesting- Keith and Tim helped me through the stream crossings where I was afraid I’d have to dab, and otherwise, we just putted along until we got out to a fire road. From there, I took off and ran out to the highway and in to the hospital in Sun Valley, while Tim and Keith had an adventure of their own (ran out of both gas and light) getting back to Stanley on trail. Alls well that ends well, Doctor says it’s the best place to break and the cleanest fracture I could hope for, and I’m hoping to be back riding in a month.
For the big picture, this just means I’ll shuffle some work around, do more office work this month and get started on upper body workouts while I’m staying off the foot.