Monday, July 28, 2014

Longs Duathlon

Long’s Duathlon

An alarm going off at 1 am usually means one of two things.  You have to go into work at some godawful time or you are getting up for a major league adventure.  Luckily for me, today is going to be a major league adventure.  I’d packed up everything the night b/f.  This time I was going to bike from the “official” start rather than Louisville, where I live.  The last time I attempted the Longs Duathlon, I started from home and the extra hour or two of biking made for A LOT.  I mean, c’mon.  I’ve got far enough to go here as it is. 

I would venture a guess that only 10 or 20 people have completed the Long’s Duathlon.  I was going to give it another go.  My planning hadn’t been meticulous but it was thorough.  I’d be carrying a heavy backpack w/ my gear up to the Long’s Peak ranger station from the gentleman’s club on the north side of Boulder.  I was carrying enough food and water for about twelve hours.  I was carrying bike locks and running shoes.  I had a Snickers bar and a Red Bull for when things got ugly.  It would be a hundred miles on the bike at the end of the day.  Oh, and run/hike up a 14er as quick as you can.  13,000 (!) feet gained total.  The skies were clear and I could see a million stars.  I was ready. 

I took off on the bike at 2:05 am (the exact same time I started this adventure last year) and began peddling.  The ride out to Lyons is rolling and really a quite enjoyable bike ride.  The ride up to the ranger station from Lyons has about 6,000 feet of gain.  It’s brutal for a non-biker like myself.  I can run up hills okay but I’m out of practice w/ biking up hills. 

The guy who’s been sleeping on my couch for a few weeks now, says he’s going to run up and down Long’s this morning too.  Logan’s plan is to go up the Loft’s route and come down the cables quick enough to make it to work at 10:30 am in Boulder (badass!).  He’s eighteen years old, about to start college.  He runs and climbs everyday.  I knew he’d be driving past me at any time.  I keep thinking every car that passes me is going to be him.  Finally a car drives up real slow and I hear his voice out the window.

Havin fun buuuddy?

Yeah man / I was peddling ferociously uphill.  We’ve had several long conversations about cycling and Logan is definitely not a fan.  He can run and climb better than me most days but he’d rather die than ride a bike.  I half expected him to throw a sandwich at me. 

And off he went.  I was left w/ my blinky lights and dark road going up into the mountains.  As I got closer, I was getting tired.  The heavy backpack was digging into my traps and hurting my lower back.  As I made my way up to 9,000 feet, I was barely going 10 mph.  Every peddle stroke was torture.  JUST GET ME TO THE RANGER STAION ALREADY!

When I finally made it, I took about ten minutes transition time.  I made sure I had what I needed and made sure the rest was locked up.  I started up the big hill and there wasn’t much “run” in my legs.  They were spent.  I hiked hard while taking in some calories.  The sun was coming up and Long’s is always busy on a Saturday.  I bumped into ultra mountain man Nick Clark on his way up w/ a buddy.  They said they were planning on doing the grand slam today (Long’s peak and the surrounding satellite peaks) which I told him is on my list.  They told me they’d seen me biking in and knew immediately I was from Boulder and going for the duathlon.  We wished each other good luck and they took off at a good speed. 

I hadn’t really made up my mind as to what route I’d be taking up.  The keyhole is the standard route that I could easily live the rest of my life w/out.  I’ve been up and down the keyhole route many times.  Cables is much faster.  However…the FKT that I’d like to take down one day is the keyhole route.  (Last time I went up cables and down keyhole.)  I was leaning toward keyhole, just not looking forward to the extra time I’d be spending out here.  A twelve hour day is long no matter how you cut it. 

I started getting really tired as I broke tree line.  Really tired.  Tired at the same exact spot as last year.  Was it from only getting two hours of sleep?  Was it from the bike ride?  I knew I’d be needing a quick power nap at the exact same spot I took one last year.  I found some grass and lay down on my hydration pack.  I crossed my feet and passed out completely for about ten minutes.  The nap helped.  Then I kept making my way up the hill. 

I found myself moving toward the keyhole.  I looked up at the summit and the cables route.  It looks so easy.  So available.  So…right there!  But I wanted to know my time on an honest keyhole up and keyhole down route.  It was getting cold and I hadn’t brought anything warmer w/ me.  I was only wearing bike shorts and a long sleeve shirt.  People stopped at the keyhole to put on warmer clothes.  I just breathed into my hands and kept moving.  I followed bull’s-eyes the rest of the way up, past the trough, past the narrows and past homestretch, passing lots of folks.  When I made the summit, people just wanted me to take their picture.  I took a couple bites of food and started down as quick as I could.  It felt good to finally be going down.  I moved as best I could along the rocks, passing people and trying to be kind while in a hurry.  I was having a good time!  It’s not everyday you get to carve out a twelve hour period of time to do what you love!  Half a day in the mountains is a gift.  It’s a beautiful thing!  You have to appreciate it while you have it.  In a couple of days, I’ll be back to the pod, in front of a computer screen…trying to enjoy that J

I didn’t have as much energy as I would have liked.  In fact…I was bonking pretty hard.  Walking the downhills is something I never like to admit but here I was…same place as last year…walking the downhills.  All I could think about was my Red Bull and Snickers down by my bike.  I chatted w/ folks, many of which were also exhausted.  I tried to encourage them or offer them food.  No one was in trouble but everyone seemed exhausted on this Saturday.  Me too.  I finally made it to the ranger station and had my sugary snacks.  I put in my earphones, hoping the music would just carry me home.  I took time to transition, making sure everything was packed away where I needed it.  I’d consumed a few liters of water but my backpack didn’t seem much lighter.  At least I was going to be riding downhill most of the way back.  I accept.  I took note that Logan’s car was gone, so he must have made it out alive.  There are a few uphills to get out of there that are real diggers.  Not much energy left for biking uphill.  However, the majority of the ride was a fast descent, much of which I was peddling for my life to get it over w/ as quick as possible.  My watch told me I was on track for eleven hours.  That would be almost 90 minutes quicker than last year!  I needed to keep moving.  Once I made it back to Lyons, it was almost over.  Just about ten miles of rolling hills to where my truck was parked (and hopefully not towed away).  There are always lots of cyclists on the road btwn Boulder and Lyons on a Saturday and I was happy that I was passing most of them.  Heavy backpack, tired legs and all!  Every mile was taking forever.  I could see Boulder.  Why wasn’t it getting any closer?  Move, Adam.  Move! 

When I made it back to the start I was exhausted and happy it was all behind me.  I was happy.  I enjoyed every minute!  I stopped my watch. 10 hours and 54 minutes.  Over 90 minutes faster than my last attempt.  Yes!  I set the bike down, took off my backpack and just walked around moaning, breathing and coughing a lot.  It hurt and felt good simultaneously.  A long, beautiful day in the mountains.  These are dream days for me.  I really appreciate days like this.  In fact, if I didn’t have to work…this is probably how I’d spend most of my days.  Rushing up and down the biggest mountains, checking my watch to see how close I’m getting to the masters.  That’s it. 

Do big things.