Outside the Comfort Zone

Riding with a group isn't something I do much of, and today was a powerful reminder of what a radically different experience it is compared to going solo. I was in Napa and we had Kevin, a very fit guy in general and a damn strong cyclist, in the group, as well as Peter, a born climber, and those two provided a level of intensity at points along the ride that are hard to muster when riding alone.

We rode from Peter's house in the city of Napa up to Yountville, then east across the valley to the Silverado Trail, up through Sage Canyon and the beautiful winding Chiles-Pope Valley Road on the eastern edge of Napa County, then up to Pope Valley proper, then back over the hills (Ink Grade was our climb of choice), down into St. Helena and south along the Trail again to our starting point. Google has the route at 62.6, we had it closer to 65 on our GPSes. Not an overwhelming distance, but right from the get-go Kevin was throwing some intervals at us, then Peter killed on the climb up Ink Grade. By then, two-thirds of the way into the ride, my legs were pretty toasted. But we kept on pushing, Kevin and I, until dehydration got to us in the waning miles. Neither of us had brought enough to deal with what had turned into a 90+ degree day. We were wilting so badly, we stopped a mile before the finish to grab some drinks. I threw down half a big lime Gatorade in about three minutes and felt like if I had waited just a bit longer, I might have keeled over.

It's amazing to think that two weeks ago I rode 100 miles and it was way easier than today's 65 miler. But that's good. I need both kinds of rides in my training for Coeur d'Alene—steady, flat, cool and long aero rides, and hard, hilly, hot ones with some challenging intervals. Vive la difference.

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