Monday, January 09, 2006

The Couse Creek Bonk

The weather around here has been predictably unpredictable to say the least. This time of year I love to ride dirt roads on one of my mountain bikes, but only if I can do it without becoming a muddy mess. Usually the roads are frozen this time of year so it's not a problem, however this year it seems that the new globally warm norm around here is 45-50 degees (F) with plenty of rain. This translates into lots of mud-yuk! Just when it dries out enough for a little ride another rain storm hits us. I should have known this would happen since I got snowshoes for Christmas (the last winter this happened to me is when I got XC-skis for Christmas). There is no snow to speak of where there is normally several feet.

I've had my eye on the map looking at a new places to explore. Couse Creek looked interesting so I gave it a try on a "nice" sunny day last Thursday (Jan 5th) starting at 11:30AM. There was a little breeze at the house and temps were near 50F so off I went. I was yawning for 16 miles of pavement riding which I had to do to get to Couse Creek road. Finally the dirt - there's nothing better than riding on dirt. The bottom of Couse Creek, looking up (awesome!) -

A view riding up -

The monster switchback - each leg of this switchback was just over 1-mile long -

Looking down from the monster switchback onto Edeburn Gulch (an alternate route to try in the future - too muddy today) -

Up on top the view of 3 states was great - Washington in the foreground, Oregon to the right, and Idaho left and in the distance. The lower reaches of Hells Canyon (Snake River) is just below and to the left) -

The wind was really blowing up on top making my life full of leg burning pain for 12 miles of headwind + uphill pedalling. Several times I almost turned back while I struggled to make headway at 8-10 mph. By the time I hit my return road (Weissenfels Ridge Road) I was tired, but it was getting late and I wanted to get home before dark so onward I went. The wind was now at my back making pedalling a bit easier - in fact I was coasting right along on the very slight downhill at 30-38mph without using my superhuman effort.

A few miles from home (after nearly 60 miles and 4 hours of ride time) I was feeling a Stage-1 bonk coming on (that means I was not sure if I was going to make it without stopping in the park for a rest). The headwind up on top took a lot of energy and I was feeling it now in a big way.

I did make it home just in time to get my bike in the door and fall down on the couch. It was bad and after a short nap I resolved to take more food on my rides in the future. That means more than one Hammer Gel, 8 gummy candies, and 1 small bottle of Hammer Perpetuem - usually enough energy for me to make 60 miles on a breakfast of oatmeal and midmorning toast, but not enough with 20-25 mph headwinds I found out.

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