- June 14, 2019 at 4:18 pm #19749
So I’ve been following the 2-5 day bikepacking plan in anticipation of hopefully completing my first bikepacking event, The Summer Bear coming up in August. It will be 200ish miles with 20k+ feet of elevation gain and a mix of single track, double track, gravel roads and possibly a little bit of bushwacking (but I hope that latter part is just humor from the race organizer). Course will also include some sections of the TD (Tour Divide) and we will have a chance to stop at Brush Mountain Lodge. I am REALLY excited but REALLY nervous for this as it will be my longest distance ever ridden. And, I am still very new to bikepacking.
This past weekend I had an overnighter listed on the training schedule. Weather had been pretty fitful the week leading up to the weekend with lots and lots of afternoon pop up storms and lightening. I had planned to leave Friday afternoon and ride from Waterton Canyon trailhead up through Colorado Trail Sections 1, 2 and part of 3, stopping overnight to sleep somewhere along Section 3 that is also a part of the Buffalo Creek trail system. I was going to then do a loop of the Buff Creek trails before returning back the way I came on Segments 2 then 1. Overall I was anticipating anywhere around 70-80 miles with close to 9,000 feet of climbing which is a good test for the event I am training for. The weather never cooperated for a safe departure on Friday (lots of mean storm cells with lightening on repeat throughout the day) but as Saturday morning came there was a nice break in the weather and I went for it.
Pulling into the lot for Waterton Canyon, I was really nervous. This felt like a big test, and for me it is. It’s the first time I am really taking on a long distance, solo, and on somewhat unfamiliar trails. I had never completed Segments 1 or 2. I had no idea what to expect. I left my riding plan with my family as well as a mapshare with my Garmin so they could follow my dot for the next 24 hours. That probably also helped give me some comfort too knowing I wasn’t completely disconnected in case something happened.
The first day was long and LOTS of climbing. Up, down, up, down was the name of the game. There were a few times that I would just get off and hike a bike instead of trying to power through. I stayed positive and looked at it as good practice anyway. Plus, I was still getting used to riding FULLY loaded. Gear, water, food, etc. It’s hard work! It took me longer than I anticipated but I did finish up the day, finding a spot to camp just off the trail along Segment 3 right as darkness closed in. I didn’t sleep super well. My legs throbbed from the hard day of riding, making sleep a bit restless. I think I need to figure out how to promote recovery a bit better after a day of riding, especially when I need to keep riding the next day.
The next morning I woke up at first light. It had drizzled rain all night and the air was nice and chilly (the day before was pretty hot so I really welcomed the overcast, misting rain and cooler temps). Knowing how long it took me to ride the day before I changed my morning routine a little to get going sooner. I also modified my plan to do a smaller loop at Buff Creek before returning to Segment 2 and heading back towards home. The small loop took too long as I was constantly adjusting my front load. Another kink I need to fix before my next big overnighter. I finally made it back to Segment 2 and began the ride back. Some of the extended downhills were SOOOO nice after a big day of climbing the day before. But there were also plenty of steep climbs too. From the South Platte River climbing up Segment 1, I couldn’t summon any more strength from my weary legs so I hiked-a-bike a lot of that climb. I also had a serious case of self doubt and wondered what the heck I was doing. I questioned whether I ever wanted to do this again and whether I was even cut out for endurance riding. I got hit pretty low, mentally. When I finally made it back to the final stretch of gravel back to the trailhead I was so tired but so proud that I actually did it. I didn’t know how I felt about the future but decided I would try not to make any hasty decisions until I had time to catch up on rest and food.
As I got home and began recovering, the reality of my training ride began to soak in. I thought about all the successes I had along with the bloopers. It was such an incredible growth opportunity and learning experience! And now that i’m rested, and the memory of the pain has faded… I am still moving towards my goals!
I wrote a more detailed trip summary on my blog 4theluvoffat.com and included pictures. Check it out if you get a chance!
Keep riding forward!
Betsy from Colorado
- June 14, 2019 at 5:00 pm #19750
What a great training trip. Sounds like you did a ton right and learned some things you can optimize for next time – just what a training trip is for! Bikepacking events are so long that managing self-talk is a large contributor to enjoyment and confidence. Great stuff!
Thanks for sharing your blog link and training report.
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