I set out shortly after 11:00 with the expressed purpose of hammering myself into the ground. With the heat index already at 90 I figured this would be a pretty easy task. For the third consecutive ride I was on the Kona Blast from Backcountry Outfitters. They are still having fits trying to figure out what is wrong with The Demon, the word lemon has even been throw around. Heading up Elm Street my core temperature quickly shot up. With only one bottle on board I knew that I was going to have to be intelligent about my water consumption over the course of the ride. As I hit the woods and the base of the first climb I opened my jersey all the way, it would stay that way for the duration. With last nights rain and the oppressive humidity the rocks and roots were still wet and slimy making the already treacherous climb nearly impossible. Three minutes into the climb I got my first alarm of the day from the Polar. I dared a quick glance at my wrist and saw that as I mashed the middle chain ring through a series of switch backs that my heart rate had already climbed to 170 bpm. With the lingering thought of the weather in the back of my mind and the ride that I had in mind I considered easing back a hare. I quickly snapped out of that and decided that I needed to ride like all my other rides to get a true measure of how hard I have been working. I recovered on the Central Artery but my hr quickly jumped back into the high 160s as I started my first planned accent of the Summit Switchback trail. I climbed really well for the majority of this climb with only a few technical mistakes, undoubtedly the result of riding a foreign bike. Following a clean pass through the ledges my phone pinged. Mary was on the line asking if I could fill in on a dinner outing with an old friend from middle school. I said yes knowing that heading out would kill my swim plans so I shifted on the fly and decided to go all in on the ride and push the time to close to three hours. Passing the summit the first time I was absolutely drenched with arcs of sweat flying as I tapped out a continuous rhythm close to 100 rpm. I took the majority of the descents easy today, the mechanical disc brakes on the Blast are sketchy at best. There is a lot of fade and grabbing that scares the daylights out of me on some of Drummer's more notorious descents. I hit the exit to the park at forty-eight minutes and had my first Gu of the ride. I had a Tri Berry Gu kicking around from the marathon that I packed today along with a few Shot Blocks. The Tri Berry Gu was pretty terrible and I thanked my lucky stars that I did not have it in the waning miles of VCM. At the foot of the Gunn Road climb I locked out the fork on the Blast and went to work on myself. My hr was quickly at humming bird levels as I hammered up this difficult climb. Glancing down mid climb I noticed 175 bpm on my wrist and knew that I still had the impossibly steep abandoned section of road/trail that would bring me back to the Central Artery. On the steepest section of the ghost road I had to drop down to the granny gear for the first time of the day. I did my best to compensate by hopping out of the saddle to produce some extra power. I was really feeling it so I glanced down at my wrist and saw 180 bpm flashing as the incessant alarm begged for relief. I knew I was really cooking myself but I threw caution into the wind and tried to really blow up the climb. Despite my best effort I could not get the Polar past 180. Back on the Central Artery it took me a few minutes to recover as I headed toward the Summit Switchback trail for my second ascent to the summit. I passed on a few of the jumps that have become a regular part of this ride. The Blast really feels like a led zeppelin in the air. Combine that with the sketchy brakes and I think I have a perfect recipe cooked up for a broken collarbone. Better to wait for the return of The Demon! At the base of the Summit trail my hr quickly jumped back to 169 sending my wrist into another frenzy of noise. My power was fading a bit but I still think I climbed better than the first ascent. Once I descended to Goose Pond I decided to add some more climbing at the base of the park in the Lower Maze before heading out to West Keene for a final climb up the Skyline Trail. I threw down the three Shot Blocks to try and get me over the hump on my way out of Goose. Once I hit the roads I was able to get into a fantastic rhythm. My heart rate hovered around 155 bpm for the entire time I was on the road. This sensation of gliding down the road as the watts oozed out of my destroyed legs made my long for a new road bike. At the base of Skyline I decided to say the heck with it and hammer for the duration of the climb. Aside from a dropped chain that is exactly what I did. I managed to get the hr back up to 175 bpm one last time for the ride. Despite my mounting fatigue and the possible loss of several thousand brain cells due to the heat I was able to hammer all the way back to town. Once I hit Main Street I was completely washed out. I was completely and utterly unable to muster my usual charge for over the final mile. I was in wounded animal mode, needing space, water, and a quiet place for my mind to recapture its normal pace. Half a mile from home I ran into John Shea and attempted a quick conversation about the King of Leon concert that he attended the previous night. My garbled speech and obvious stench led John to ask just how long exactly I had been out in the heat. Once I told John that I had been out for two hours and forty-two minutes he demanded that I go home and get some water. When I got in the door I immediately ditched my gear and sat in the shower with the hope that the cold water would somehow relieve my heat induced madness.
After about forty-five minutes I bounced back to my normal self and was eager to rest of for Saturday morning. As for me I am off for that dinner out on the town with Mary. Hopefully there is several glasses of ice water waiting for me!