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Up and Down we go ....

This weekend, I submitted my first required training element for my upcoming adventure.

The requirement was back-to-back training:

2.5 Hour Mountain biking @ 2,000 ft elevation

4+ Hour Trek with pack

It was so so so so so mentally and physically challenging. My honey's homey and pal's hubby - Travis - was brave and kind enough to go mountain biking with me. We were both in new territory. Thankfully, I have enough people that I can call on with questions and recommendations. I asked Daniel Jesse, REI Outdoor Market Manager (who I happened to meet years ago when i completed the 2006 Hike for Discovery in Grand Canyon) where I could go Mountain bike that would give me elevation but not an advanced trail.

His recommendation took Travis and I to Elijay, GA about 2 hours North of my home.

Neither Travis nor I had mountain biked in Elijay. I don't know about Travis, but I was extremely intimidated at the thought of 2,000 ft elevation.....

not to mention roots, rocks, cliffs (well kinda sorta). One of the roads was closed leading up to Mulberry Gap. So, we lost some time and our plans changed. It's a good thing. We had the NERVE to initially plan to do 18 miles. Getting there late, Kate @Mulberry Gap (who happened to be the owner and so helpful and nice) suggested that we take a 10 mile look - Pinhoti 2 Trail. I stated jokingly (well partially) ... just give me the easiest trail that will help me meet my elevation requirement.

The whole side of a mountain thing just scared the bee - jeezus out of me.

I put my big girl panties on & headed up the mountain.

The ride: The first three miles were straight up leading to the trail. I kept looking at my Garmin ~ up, UP, up, UP! Travis and I joked that we were hiking not biking. The grade of those hills were a bit too much for me. I did not feel ashamed at all to get off the bike and walk up .... but that was work, too!

When we finally made our way to the trail head, I actually felt a sigh of relief. No more up - up - up. The beginning of the trail was 'no big deal'. I thought, I can do this! But, then there they were and it was ... the roots and the side that I could slither off with one bad left turn! The trail seemed to get progressively more difficult -- allowing me a bit of time to get my bearings. But, it was not long before the down hills were a bit longer with a bit more 'stuff' in the trail and some turns. At around mile 7, I did what everyone says not to do & went too slowly over a root ... I bit the dust! From that point on, I was very gun shy on the hills. I did a couple more after my take down but not many. There's an inherit fear of crashing and crashing hard when I see roots on the downhill. The only way to overcome it is to get out more and ride. I am brave. I am brave. I think I can. I think I can.

I had two major saves after my wreck .. one coming at the very end of the trail and as we entered the gravel road again. I hit a root on the down hill & hit my front tire brake (this is the one that gives me fits....funny thing is - I don't hit my front tire brake on my road bike like this ... ). I felt like I was going to flip over. I don't know how in the world I managed to not wreck. But, THANK GOD for KEEPING ME UPRIGHT!!!!

When we managed to get back to the car, we were ravished & so thankful that we'd gotten through it .... TOUGH! Toughest 10 miler I'd ever done.

The husband and wife team who own Mulberry Gap with their moms were extremely nice and helpful. I would go back again. I just don't know if I'd do that trail again. But, I could maybe train on the gravel up the hills :-)

A couple of hours drive back home & I was unpacking and preparing for the next day's 10 mile hike.

The hike: My former tennis pal, Trish and I, agreed to meet for a hike weeks ago. She's hiking Machu Piccu in June; I'm doing my Adventure Race. She's 63 & so awesome. She plays tennis. Kayaks. Hikes. Backpacks. Camps ..... I am inspired by her "Keep It Moving" mojo. Prior to the hike, she'd done 14 mile kayak & I'd done my MTB. We were NOT excited about the hike. But, we both knew it HAD to be done. So, we pumped each other up & made our way up our first include. The first of several & the steepest was a great way for us to get ourselves together. We took 5 hours (less moving time) ... we stopped twice for a short break & several little stops along the way ... to go 10 miles. Again, I thought - this is the hardest 10 miles of my life!!!

We made our way through what was definitely one of the hardest hikes to date. It had me in FULL realization just what being active and awake for 24-30 hours straight would demand and require both mentally and physically.

I know I have some work to do with my fitness, fuel, and hydration. Nine or so weeks to go .... I gotta get it right!

I'm thankful to friends who help me to achieve higher heights ..... I'm thankful that I don't have to go it alone too often. Having someone to whine to sure does help (LOL!) when the going gets tough.

So long for now ..... CC "Keep It Moving"

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