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And, in July we’re supposed to do it twice.


Yesterday when I wrote about planning tough rides because they’ll make you tough, I was referring to all you other humans. I wasn’t referring to myself or feeling any particular need to be tougher.


I suspect I’m not alone.


Today several of us did a pre-ride, mini-camp, check-it-out view of a mountain bike race course some of us plan to do in July. I had done sections of the course, but not one entire loop. Today was one loop and if I feel up to it on race day, I’ll aim for two.


In a previous blog I wrote about ranking rides by the feet of elevation gained per mile ridden as a way of ranking course difficulty. Of course you need to factor total distance ridden into the equation, but elevation per mile is a start.


Today’s ride was 20.5 miles with 3638 feet of elevation gain over the 20 miles, giving it a 177 ft/mile ranking. The ranking is tougher than the Leadville 100 course that I plan to do to in July, but the course isn’t as long (41 miles vs.103 miles for Leadville - that's right, the Leadville 100 is more than 100 miles).


Technical riding isn’t my strong suit, but I am improving.


I was reminded today that when you get better technically, you need to make adjustments to fork, shock and tire pressures. I’ve been adjusting fork pressure over the past four months or so – increasing it some 25 pounds total to accommodate drops over obstacles. What I learned today is that I also needed to be increasing tire pressure.


Today I unknowingly belched my front tire, making it soft. Heading into a completely benign section of trail (nothing technical) my front tire washed out turning 90 degrees into the sand, stacking me into a pile on the side of the trail. Skin mostly in tact (one elbow scrape) it was the impact to the muscles below my scapula (shoulder blade) that caused me the most problem. It felt like they were in knots. After the crash, each rock I hit on the descent sent a stabbing pain into those muscles.


On the upside, damage was relatively minimal and I was able to complete the ride.


I don’t know that today’s ride necessarily made me tougher, but it did allow me to refine my personal strategy for race day on this course – and that’s critical.

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