A few days off the bike after my effort on the Arizona Trail and I still don’t know if I’ve got a recap fully constructed in my head. In short, I spent two days in the desert pedaling, pushing, eating, and dreaming. 148 miles and almost 19,000 feet of climbing says the GPS. Those miles were hard earned and thoroughly enjoyed and I plan on gnawing them for a long time to come. Late Saturday night/early sunday morning I was forced to pull out by an extremely aggravated hip flexor on my right side. I couldn’t lift my leg, couldn’t walk unaffected, but riding seemed to aggravate it the least. Unfortunately I knew that simply not walking wasn’t going to be an option and that more time on the trail just meant more injury.
The last two days, I spent many hours thinking about what I ‘could’ be doing right now rather than staring at the computer, namely riding a bike. It really started to affect me when I started looking at the splits and times from the trackleaders page. In my mind (and backed up by the replays and splits from the spot units), Brendan, Lee and I were moving at a very good pace on Saturday. We were within a hour of some people that left from the same spot we camped 6 hours before us. I felt strong, healthy, and well fed, looking forward to more miles but the hip wasn’t having any of it. Now I’m watching Lee’s spot tracker get closer and closer, cheering him on, and wishing that I was out there with him.
Happily though, I cannot wait for next year. The difficulty of this trail exceeded expectation and happily, I was able to keep my mental and physical focus pointed in a positive direction, chomping away mileage, and thinking about what to do next. Exodus from the route/race only entered into my mind as I was literally frozen stiff on the ground with my face in the dirt and in agony. Thankfully, Brendan, Dave, and Lee were nearby to help me safely get out of that situation and back home.
I was extremely happy with the bike and choice of gear throughout the race. Only a few small things would change if I had to do it again tomorrow (believe me, I would if I could). I’ve thought a lot about little changes and have a laundry list of projects to get cracking on.
Mapping and navigation also worked very well. I spent a lot of time staring at maps, studying the track and cues and it helped immensely to have internalized the route a bit. I ended up laying the information from the cue sheets down on the track as waypoints so that at every turn or direction, I had a visual cue on the track. I was able to trust the track and spent minimal time route finding.
Nutrition and hydration kept the machine fed and working pretty well. I took the approach that robot food was going to be my friend and it didn’t let me down. I’m guessing it helped me to make up for a bit of the lack of fitness by keeping the tank topped off and operating smoothly. I was worried about water in the weeks prior to the event but the weather made for cool temps that helped to keep water consumption reasonable.
Fitness is where I would have liked to perform a bit better. On the bike, I generally felt good but I know I could have felt better. I think I might have been able to avoid the hip troubles if I were more disciplined about cross training and working muscle groups besides those needed in cycling. My hip injury doesn’t prevent me from riding in the least, but walking/hiking/pushing is severely effected. I’ve got to get back to stretching, yoga, and who knows what to help balance everything out.
I can’t wait to get back out in the desert. Exploration into new lands is right at the front of the brain at the moment. Tick, tock….