Monday, February 18, 2008

24 Hours of the Old Pueblo - or why I am thinking of taking up yoga

This past weekend, my friend, Greg Brown, and I participated in our fifth 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo mountain bike race. It is a 24-hour relay race in which we trade laps, two at a time, on a 16-mile single-track course, with the goal of completing as many laps as possible in the allotted time.

The first three years, we participated in the race with a four-man team. Last year and this year, Greg and I rode as a duo-team. Last year, we completed 15 laps, this year, only nine.

Oddly, we both felt better trained this year than in any of the previous years. Yet, we both felt like riding this year felt a lot more like work than fun. Neither of us had the drive or fire in our belly to push a hard pace lap after lap.

Nope, this year, the ride seemed like a trudge and sleeping through the night seemed like a better option than pushing it for the full 24-hours.

It's funny, Greg and I always seem on the same wavelength when it comes to riding; although we haven't ever really talked about it. As I finished my second lap and handed Greg the baton for him to begin his third lap, I told him, "I don't feel so great." When he replied, "neither do I," I knew we were in the same place. And when, after his fourth lap, he said, "I don't think I am going to meet you down here after your fourth lap, you will have to come up to our camp and wake me up," I thought, "fine with me! That will work out to more sleep!"

When I finished my fourth lap at 2AM, I wandered up from the start/finish exchange tent to our camp and, through his tent, asked Greg if he was ready to go more laps. I was so happy to hear him respond, "I think I am going to keep sleeping," because I was ready to go to hit the sack myself and forget about riding at least until the morning.

As I fell asleep, I thought, "Well it sucks we won't put in as many laps as we did last year, but I am good at rationalizing, so I can deal."

I awoke around 8AM - six hours of sleep at the 24 hour race, unheard of! Greg was still sleeping so I started a fire and began to warm up breakfast. Greg eventually crawled out of his tent and declared he would not be riding another lap. Under the rules of the race, team's must finish their last lap after noon on Sunday or be disqualified (DNF). Well, even though we hadn't completed as many laps as we hoped, I didn't want a DNF, so I rode a last, fifth lap, giving us the nine total.

The first few minutes of that last lap I thought I might push it, try to get back to the start/finish before noon and ride another lap. As I quickly tired physically and mentally, the urge to go more laps dissipated and I was completely pleased with my fifth and final lap. We didn't do as well as we planned, but we worked hard and finished - all fine by me.

It doesn't surprise me I fatigued mentally. On my rides lately, while I have had fun, especially enjoying the desert scenery, I have grown bored on the rides and, on several outings, just kept thinking, "I am ready to be done."

I have been riding for five straight years and I think I am ready for a break. I still want to be fit and so I am going to give yoga at a local studio a try. It's one of those things I have been thinking about for a while, and now seems like a good time.

I will probably still ride once a week, or once every other week. But, I think the two - four times per week riding schedule is going to get cut back. I am just losing my drive to keep riding the same trails over and over, and feel like my body might need a break.

While our less than desired performance in the race didn't lead me to think I need a biking break, it did serve as reinforcement to something already brewing in my mind. Not sure if we will race again next year, but for now, it's time to hit the refresh button.

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