Jakub and I wanted to do some sort of a shorter and more intense ride on Monday morning so we could hit the road and be home at a decent hour ahead of some of the Memorial Day traffic. He had the idea of riding the lower portion of Porcupine Rim that you access from a jeep road turnoff about 5-6 miles up Sand Flats Road (if you were doing the “real” Lower Porcupine, you’d go 7-8 miles up, and for Upper Porcupine, you’d go 9 miles up Sand Flats and turn left for another 20ish minute climb up the Kokopelli Trail). He said he could do the lower loop in just three hours.
I had the idea of starting ahead of him and, at first assuming he’d catch me somewhere along the way. He wanted to give me a 25 minute lead since, on the second day of the trip (when I was having a bad time), he’d caught up to me on Sand Flats with me getting a 20 minute head start. However, I started to joke with him about the possibility of his not catching me.
Just a note about Jakub… he’s raced World Cup races for the Czech Republic. He’s fast. Really fast. He’s also young and hasn’t fully grasped the concept of Old Woman Power… something I’m just beginning to tap in to.
I played some head games with him-
Me: You want to hide the car keys here since I’m going to get back here ahead of you?
Jakub: Oh, yeah, sure
Me: What, you’re doubting yourself now?
It went on for most of the morning until I rolled out of camp at 7:55am.
I didn’t totally hammer… even the “short” loop was a long climb, the last few miles of which are a steppy, steep jeep trail. Blowing up early would make that section incredibly difficult.
I was watching my Garmin to note where I was on the climb at 8:20am. Then, my Garmin ran out of batteries somewhere around 8:40am. I’d just have to pace myself off of feel. I ate a couple of Gu Roctane gels on the way up. Side note- it’s not often that you’re gonna read me straight up schilling my sponsors, because honestly, that’s pretty obnoxious and transparent to read. However… Holy crap does Roctane give you a boost for the sort of intensity I was turning out. Seriously- it makes a hard effort feel less tiring. I’d be happy to give anyone a couple out of my own stock for you to try during your next interval workout. It takes normal energy gel to a whole ‘nother level.
I made it to the jeep road turnoff and the road behind me was still empty. I allowed my intensity to creep up just a little, because I knew that if I could rock the techy stuff, it’d keep me ahead. Along the way, I told a group of people to chant “USA” at Jakub when he chased by them. I reached the end of the jeep road at its intersection of the Porcupine Rim trail, and still no Jakub. I stopped and donned my knee pads.
Most people take a picture of what’s behind me here, because it’s gorgeous. Duty calls, though.
From there, it’s a little bit rollling before the trail goes mostly downhill. I hammered it out and let loose as much as I was willing. At that point, I knew the trail well enough to know where the scary stuff was and where I could go all out. I only looked back a couple of times, and no Jakub. I actually got just a little worried that he’d wrecked in his chasing. The last part of the trail gets a little hairy with some ledges and exposure. I was sure that I’d get caught there, but, lo and behold… I made it to the bike tunnel at the bottom, still ahead.
I checked the time (10:52am), took my picture, rolled through, and sat down on the rocks on the other side to take my knee pads off and eat a snack. About the time I was getting up to roll back to camp, Jakub came through the tunnel (10:57am). He’d gone all out. We high-fived and rolled back kinda easy on the bike path.
Perfect wrap-up for the trip. I’m finally feeling some fitness coming back. Not being able to go back and look at power numbers for the ride is a little disappointing, but I could tell on the harder jeep road stuff that my legs still had some juice, even after a 5 mile road climb. My descending is still just OK. Being alone that day, I took all of the “easier” options down the trail and avoided what drops I could. I gotta work on that.