My plan was to ride the first half (a bit more than half by distance) of the VT125 course. For those who've reviewed the course on the website, sections 1 through 5.
I rolled up to Blank's Cabin to start the Colorado Trail and everything was going fine. I was on schedule with race pace more or less, even with a stop to oil my chain. (Hopefully before the actual race I will have remembered to do that prior to the 10 PM start.) An orange waning gibbous moon rose behind me soon after I left town. Must have been a fire somewhere, since the sky was also hazy and there was a faint wood smoke scent in the air.
I ran the singletrack in roughly normal time and arrived at the old railroad grade above Chalk Creek to appreciate a spooky, hazy moonlit view of the Chalk Cliffs across the valley on the slopes of Mt Princeton.
That's when things started going downhill for me. Around 3 AM, as I started the grind up toward the Alpine Tunnel, I began to feel that weak, fatigued feeling I've been getting in the last month or so on long rides.
It took an eternity to reach St Elmo. I actually got off and walked the bike a couple times before I got there. Before even a glimmer of dawn, I downed the 2nd of the two Red Bulls I had brought. My eyes felt heavy and I was yawning and swaying, so I knocked down the wonder cure. It had almost no effect.
It took an eternity plus 5 to get to the base of the tunnel. Dawn greeted me on the approach.
Back toward where I came from, east toward the rising sun
Normally the coming of dawn gives me a kick in the ass when I've ridden all night. This time I just felt like my ass had been kicked.
Soft dawn light
I sat at the base of the hike-a-bike up to the divide in despair. The idea that I have a chance of finishing this year's Vapor Trail 125 sounded like a pipe dream. I ate some cold oatmeal and stared east down the glorious valley but my head was full of negative.
As Shawn pointed out, I should have turned around long before and gone back to bed. But I didn't do that.
After a while, I heaved a heavy sigh and put my pack back on. I pulled the bike upright. I trudged up the trail.
The rest of the story is what you might expect. Joyless pain. I made Tomichi Pass. It hurt. I decided to skip Canyon Creek, which should have been the funnest part of the whole ride. I was way behind schedule, and was worried that I wouldn't be able to contact Kathy until after she started worrying.
Climbing to Old Monarch was a nightmare. If I could have gotten cell service I would have called Kathy to come get me with the truck.
I'm discouraged. I don't know if there's any way that I'll have the fitness to do it. I wish I knew why. It certainly isn't overtraining. But I'm not sure it's undertraining either. I've done some nice big rides this summer, and thanks to my schedule I've done lots of recovering from them.
I'm not done preparing. But my confidence is a bit challenged.
But it's important for me to remember, 50% of this game is half mental. I've got to overcome this negativity. Working on it. Working.