Acclimation for Pain

So here I am at 7,200 feet above sea level in Laramie, Wyoming. This isn’t unusual for my family as we typically spend some time up here each summer with the in-laws. Not a bad escape from the Texas heat if you ask me. If you haven’t been this high up, well it’s a treat, especially since it’s much harder to breathe. I clearly remember years past up here getting winded walking upstairs at my in-laws house. This year it’s a little different however. Those of you close to me know I’ve been preparing for the Ride the Rockies tour. What’s this you may ask? Well this year it’s about 412 miles of cycling in 6 days over the scenic Colorado Rocky Mountains. Ouch. Yes.

Last summer my father-in-law started telling me about this event which some of his neighbors did. Being a glutton for punishment was very intrigued. He said I should look into doing the ride next year. When registration opened up I put my name in the hat for a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a lottery registration, so there was no guarantee of getting in, but I had a feeling I would. Sure enough I did, and began methodically adjusting my training schedule as much as I could to adapt for the mountain climbs at high elevation. This was particularly difficult during Q1 when I spent much of the time on the road for work. But as the weeks drew on, so did my climbing and long miles. I finished up some solid hours in the saddle before leaving Austin and making our trek north.

My wife and I decided it would be best to get to high elevation as soon as we could so that I could begin acclimating. Once we arrived in Laramie, I hopped on my bike and sought out a category 3 climb for a 2 hour training ride on Saturday. There’s not much to describe the feeling of high altitude where you’re unable to take a full, deep breath. I followed that ride up on Sunday afternoon with 3 hours out in the country. Knowing these were my last long rides before the tour, and adjusting to the altitude made for a long weekend. But it’s done, it’s in the books and now I wait. I begin… the taper.

The taper is a very interesting concept for me within endurance events. A lot of times I think it can be used by athletes as a crutch before events. However, the longer the event, the more applicable the taper becomes. Knowing this ride will most likely take me to places I’ve never been (both physical and mentally) I don’t want to leave anything for chance. So I had a quick lunch ride yesterday, and will tomorrow as well to keep my legs fresh. And that’s it. Then the real fun begins bright & early next Sunday in Crested Butte. It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m full of anxiety heading into next week. I cannot change how much I trained or didn’t train, I cannot change the weather, but I can control my mental game even in a deprived oxygen state.

I wanted to leave this blog post with one final thought. I’m riding for those who can’t. Once again this year I will be participating in the LiveSTRONG Challenge Austin. I’m offering up to you a chance to donate to helping those with cancer and eradicate this enemy who knows no bounds. For any donation made, I will ride in honor or memory of who you choose. It can be any day on the tour or even one of the summit climbs we do. Just go here to donate then let me know who I’m riding for.

Ride the Rockies Map

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