Philly on the Mountain

The timing was good.  While MABRA was running the Jefferson Cup the PA calendar was quiet and the boys had Battenkill on their minds.  Dirt was specified and I knew where to find it.

Day one was a teaser but no joke.  A late afternoon arrival gave them enough time to do an around the mountain loop with two big climbs including the steep hard pack ascent back to the barn.

I skipped this one.   I had lumber to haul, gravel to shovel and wood to chop.  For real. Not just some macho move even though it is, but these things had to happen.  A stack of fresh live random width rough cut pine had been dropped in front of the barn that morning.  3000 board feet soon to be walls and floors in the upper section.

There is also the remains of 13 tons of driveway gravel dumped before the snow storms and plowed not so expertly onto the lawn inside of the former snow banks.  I’ve been chipping away at that, needing to get it done before the grass wants to grow.

And finally, wood for the stove at the house because I’m a glutton for punishment AND to keep warm.

On top of all that I’m not saying I wasn’t still recovering from Harley five days prior.

Saturday was our big ride.  We did the Apple Orchard Loop.  Lots of dirt interludes and lots of effort.  The numbers varied based on whose stats you checked due to an early follow vehicle diversion that required a five mile retreat back up the hill by search party members.

I turned my Garmin off but did go into reverse.  The actual loop was 76.61 miles, 8,687 feet and 5 hours 32 minutes but more then half of the 12 riders clocked closer to 86 miles and 9600 feet.  Just for those who like topping off the tank.  Here is what it looked like -

It was a big day.  A big ride with the finale up the infamous back side of the barn.  The push to glory.  Good weather, good rolling.  No apples but plenty of bare trees to taunt us and our pain faces as we rise.

Sunday was for drills and was supposed to be three hours but ended up longer due to our dedication and enthusiasm.

We rolled off the front side and headed south toward Virginia and the Bergton/Criders loop.

Beside that you still have to come back up the mountain, relatively speaking this is a relaxed ride.

That said, it is only as easy as you make it.  Drills require efforts!  Not easy ones…..

The Bergton/Criders loop contains a 7 mile circuit that is mostly flat with two short climbs on the upper side.  It is perfect for race simulated inter-team competition as well as lead out exercises.

We did both.  A solid way to role play, test teammates strengths/weaknesses, plot strategies to apply in race situations and basically get a handle on the multitude of variables that unfold on the race course.

You can learn these things but the action happens so fast you still have to react off of instinct. Your instinct is taking information from what you have already learned or figured out.  That sounds circuitous but the point is by doing drills (as well as obviously race experiences), it is possible to increase your range of responses.

Hopefully at crunch time you can be clear enough to see, access and react.  Of course your fitness dictates how well you can receive the data, and finally you have to factor in that each situation, while appearing similar to one prior, will contain variables or X factors that must be allowed for.

Anyway…… the drills were hard and illuminating.  Coach Sandberg put the boys through the paces leaving things said (and unsaid).  Enough to provide required information yet leave some questions hanging so the riders have to problem solve and cobble their own conclusions, and this ultimately leaves a firmer imprint.

By the time we started the race simulation it was drizzling.  A seven mile lap at race pace and still 17 miles back to the barn.  Heading up the switchbacks the rain increased and we rode into the low clouds.

This is my fourth camp in a row so I should be seeing some fitness.  It is hard to say and races are less a priority then my barn activities.  The main thing is a good camp, but who doesn’t want to have their cake and eat it too?  Anyone…..

The fog thickened and the ascent took on dramatic overtones.  Riders surged and faded; swallowed in the mist; dropping out of sight in both directions.

I rode okay in the informal summits previously, but may have gone harder then I wanted in the drills.  Then again, everyone went hard in the drills.  I lost contact with the three leaders after the first plateau and that was it.  They were invisible and I pedaled on.  Searching for a rhythm and hoping for no surprises from behind.  Not a big demand but a nice gift if you can get it.

Everyone sounded like they were suitably maxed at the close yet wanting more in the future and that’s a cozy precipice.

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