Adventures in Solvang, Missoula, and Bend

Afternoon hike with my parents
I have been in a time warp since snowshoe nationals. I look at the calendar and am not quite sure where time has gone. I have crazy bike short tanlines and a deposited paycheck so I think I've been doing stuff, but it's hard to recall individual days.

I am currently sitting at my brother's kitchen table in Bend, OR with nothing that requires doing. Being able to sit and relax for a day has been pleasant so far (the entire hour of it to this point). I'm enjoying the bird chirping outside, although it is probably being stalked by the homeless cat Gavin and Amy are adopting, and the promise of not driving today. It's been a while since I've been able to chill for an entire day and not feel pressure to do anything. Since February I have been in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. 

Climb #2 on Solvang Guide Ride
A few days after snowshoe nationals I jumped in the Cycling House's new 15 passenger van and drove down to Solvang, CA. Turns out a large, empty van feels really empty when driving through the middle of the Mojave Desert. After the fifth time I heard the top 40 songs (about 6 hours into 20) I stopped at a truck stop and picked up a book on tape. Even though the mystery involved bodies being found in the very desert I was driving through, and on the same exit I took for a nature break, the book provided enough good company van to make the drive bearable.

I met up with fellow TCH guides, Brendan, Heidi and Marshall after two days of driving and we prepped for our first camp and then were in it. During camps there is no time for anything aside from the guiding. We all awoke early, made lunches, prepped bikes, ate breakfast, went for a ride, ate lunch, packed/cleaned bikes, drank wine, ate dinner and did it all again the next day. During the whole time you're entertaining clients and having a blast. The two weeks flew by and a lot of times it didn't feel like we were working, but by the end exhaustion creeps in and slaps you in the face.

Rolling Green in Solvang
Coming off of Snowshoe Nationals it was nice to have a couple weeks where I didn't have time to run. I squeezed in a couple short sloppy runs here and there, but overall I my training was on the bike. This allowed my calf and joints to recover a little bit, but also meant it would be more work to get back to running in Missoula (more on that below).

The riding in Solvang is incredible. I enjoyed the rides in Tucson, but loved Solvang. The green (yes, it's occasionally still green in California), rolling hills combined with a couple big climbs and winding descent made for some great days in the saddle. It may be that central California was something new to me whereas Tucson is in my home state and didn't have the new-car kind of excitement. I still loved Tucson for the camps and especially the trail running. The rocky, technical trails there had Solvang beat. It was hard to find trails in California and locals don't take kindly to tromping through strawberry fields and vineyards. 

Ominous Trail Day on Mt. Sentinel
After the second camp ended and Brendan attempted to teach me how to surf, we went on a huge guide ride. We put in three major climbs for over 9,000' of climbing in 56 miles. This was by far the greatest ride I have ever had on a bike based on difficulty, my strength (I had some) and beauty of terrain. I struggled for sure, but it was gorgeous riding on a ridge alternately looking down on the Santa Ynez valley and Santa Barbara.

As soon as the ride ended and I recovered enough to drive, I jumped in the van and drove back north. I spent the night in the snowless Sierras before passing through northern nowhere Nevada. I briefly scouted the Ruby Mountain range, determined its worth detailed exploration, and continued on to Missoula in time to pick up Sara's friend, Shannon, from the airport.

A Good Way to Break in New Mountain Bikes
Back in Missoula I struggled to get back to a running rhythm. I found a mountain bike on my desk when I got back so I've been riding trail a bit more than I should, but my legs are also just getting used to pounding again. Long runs have left me laid up for a day or two and the one workout I attempted wiped me out. 

I turned the corner last weekend though (I hope) and had a great long run up the main corridor of the Rattlesnake followed by another 90 minutes on Sunday. It hasn't quite converted to speed, but at least now I have confidence that I can survive a 20 mile race.

Raging Rattlesnake Creek. Long Run Turnaround
Which is a good thing. I'm in Bend for a 20 mile trail race in Sisters, the Peterson Ridge Rumble, that promises to be very fast. Last I heard, Olympian Ian Dobson will be racing as well as a few other intimidating characters. It would be nice to be on my A game for this to see how I stack up, but I think I'll be running for survival tomorrow rather than the win. 

Either way it promises to be a fun event. Sara will also be racing the 20 mile, which is five miles farther than she has ever run before. The race director, Sean Meissner, is a friend from Flagstaff and puts on great events. Plus I get to see my brother (and Sara's sister) in the trip. And we may get to explore some more trails after the race as well. 

For now, I am going to enjoy the rest of a leisurely day.

Happy Trails,