Winter finally seems to have disappeared from the Front Range. There's still snow aplenty up high, but down in the foothills it has been raining. A lot. The plains are amazingly green, and the burned area just north of town is stunningly vibrant. And fortunately, my knee is also recovering. I managed to get in 15 hours on the bike last week with minimal pain, and late in the week I even threw in some intensity to really test how the knee was doing. 90 minutes of zone 4ish effort took me from Hwy 36 all the way up Lefthand to Brainard Lakes on Sunday, and my knee really didn't even complain. I'll take that as a very good sign.
Last week I took a couple trips on dreary days up to my favorite place in the hills, once for some hiking and once for some pedaling. Both were great trips. Every trip there is a great trip. It is also important to note that every time I go here it snows.
Today I had an appointment at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine about my knee. My crappy student insurance wouldn't help out, so I was stuck footing the entire bill. I think, however, it was money well spent. The PT gave me the same diagnosis as did the one I've been seeing already, along with the same treatment suggestions. That was encouraging. The 3D bike fit was what I was really there for. The PT predicted that given how many miles I've been riding with no major problems other than the knee issue, the fit adjustments they'd make would be subtle. The biomechanist took one look at me after I started pedaling and said, "Not subtle at all!" It turns out that my left knee tracks way outside of where it should relative to my foot (thanks to some bowleggedness my father was kind enough to pass on), so that's being corrected
with some pedal spacers (knee savers, to be specific). A number of other things were also adjusted a bit, so we'll see how this feels as I get used to the new position.
After my appointment, I headed up into the hills above town for some mine road riding. I started with some nice stuff like this one:
But I had another destination in mind. There's a climb that I have a strange relationship with. I don't know anyone else that rides up it. There are never bike tracks there, and I've never seen anyone else laboring up. And there's a good reason for that. It's the most gnarly, loose, rocky, old mine road around, and it climbs 1200' in 1.4 miles. And in the past, I've usually had to walk ~1/3 of it. But it's one of the best links around, so I end up here a lot. Today was going to be my first time up it on 29" wheels, and I was in a conquering mood. I started up the steep but always rideable sections at the bottom singing along to James (hence the regurgitation reference), and before too long I came to this mess:
Never before had I even made it 50' up. Today, I aimed up the rocky line on the right side and blasted all the way through to the top. No problem! The next section took a couple tries before I was able to clean it...
And this section remains to be concquered (as does the enormous rock steps at the top that I can't even find a line down). But I came oh so close on a few attempts...
All in all, it was a great ride. I've never actually enjoyed this climb before, and today I had a great time on it. But time was short, so I bounced and swooped down the back side, dodging the few remaining snow drifts and a handful of trees downed by the last heavy snowfall. I made it back to town just in time for my PT appointment.
So the question now is, to Grand Loop or not to Grand Loop? Conditions look ripe for a mid-May attempt, and Plesko, Dave Harris, Jay P from up Wyoming way, and a couple others have all expressed interest. That would be a serious showdown if everyone lined up at the same time.
Hours on the road bike: 5
Hours on the mountain bike: 80
Hours on the 'cross bike: 0
Hours of skiing, hiking, or climbing: 3 (one hike)
Total hours in the saddle: 85
Miles covered: didn't keep track
Problems with the body: Patellafemoral pain, cyst on tendon of index finger (too much braking?)
Problems with bikes: 8 flats, 1 Bontrager tire with sidewall slice, 1 pair of worn out cleats, 1 set worn out brake pads, 1 worn out chain, and one old Fir rim that had many cracks hidden under all the grime