Uhl in Eagle, ID – With a lull in the local road racing scene, I'm considering doing the Coyote Classic mountain bike race this weekend. This race is part of the regional Knobby Tire Series. I used to race mountain bikes a lot more when we lived in Utah, but have only done one or two mountain races a year since moving here. But as I'm working on threshold these few weeks, I figured doing the Coyote Classic would be a great workout and give me a little change of pace from all the road riding.
I set my PowerTap to HR monitor-only mode, and headed out on Hwy 55. Since the new coded strap that came with the PowerTap SL works so well, I figured I should use it. Then I can download the ride, and even though it will only be HR data, I could still look at average HR and time spent in zones and compare it to similar road rides to estimate training stress. I warmed up for a few minutes then put my HR into my tempo zone. Since it's been a while since I've trained with HR, I had forgotten how much lag it has. I've gotten spoiled with the instantaneous nature of power readings. With HR, it takes a minute or two for your HR to catch up to your effort. This is especially annoying for an impatient person like myself!
I mostly rode tempo on the road to the course but I did do a couple "mini" LT intervals on the climbs up Hwy 55. I got to the parking area for the race and had to open the gate to get through (and close it behind me). This is cattle grazing territory and so we were told to leave the gates as we find them when pre-riding the course. Once on the trail it was easy to keep my HR in my tempo zone, of course, the initial climbing of the first loop of the course helped. After not having mountain biked for so long I had forgotten how "slow" it feels for the same effort. I think speed is one of the reasons I like road riding so much. The first loop of the course was marked with orange sprinkler flags so it was fairly easy to follow the course. I did stop a few times and fix some of them as they had fallen down onto the double-track. It was breezy today so it didn't feel too hot but I was drinking quite a bit.
After the initial climb the course meandered over the contours of the hillside. There were also some short, fast downhills. I tried to go fast but I didn't want to push it too much my first time back on my mountain bike in a while. Plus, not knowing the course didn't help. Seemed that there were a number of times the fast downhill led straight to a sandy, sharp turn.
The next section was the Spring Creek single-track. I had ridden this years ago and at that time, the water was up to my hubs at first stream crossing. Today, I barely got my feet wet. Then the single track twisted and turned for a few miles. This was the funnest part of the loop! Then the trail turned through some sage brush and the trail turned into a pock-marked, cow track! Thank goodness I have a nice full suspension bike, it would have been awful on a hard-tail!
Eventually the trail hit the road by the ranch, which is by the false flat on Hwy 55. After the ranch the road turned east and there I saw a bunch of gophers! There were mounds of loose dirt on both sides of the road and I could hear the gophers warn each other of my intrusion. After "Beaver Valley", the road went through a dumping ground. Then I had to go through another gate in the barbed wire fence. After that I wasn't sure which way to go as the orange sprinkler flags were non-existent. So I tried one trail which petered out. Then I turned around and tried another one. That one was more like a trail and it climbed up to this lone rock I remembered from years ago.
I was happy I was on the right track and kept climbing. But then the trail hit another fence, actually, an intersection of three fences and I couldn't tell which way to go! There was an orange tie on the fence going one direction but that didn't turn out to be a trail. Well, I jumped the fence and went the other way and somehow I managed to get back to the upper loop?!
At that point I had been riding for over two hours so I skipped doing the small second loop. I set out the same direction as initially to do the third loop but that one wasn't marked yet, so I wasn't sure where the turn-off was. Now that I've looked at the maps, I know, but when I was out there I was at a loss. I could see this one double-track that looked liked it climbed for a while, so I decided to just ride that. I knew it wasn't part of the course but it just looked so inviting, in a masochistic sort of way!
That trail just climbed, and climbed, and climbed! I could see a steep pitch up what looked to be the biggest mountain in the area and decided to go up it and then turnaround up there. In the saddle before that pitch, the double-track forked to the southeast and I could see Stack Rock and Bogus not too far off. Cool! I think I could use that trail if I ever want to do an epic, looping Stack Rock ride! But I stayed left and started up the steep pitch.
The first part wasn't too bad, but then it got really steep! Fortunately, no one seems to use that trail so the trail was semi-hard-pack. I just slid onto the nose of the saddle and concentrated on pulling back on the bars (not up). I could see my heart rate in the 170's and I wasn't even near the top yet. I really wanted to clean this section. I kept pedaling with all my might, even in the 22x32 it was tough, just from a physical perspective. Man, I wish I had a power meter on my mountain bike for efforts like these!
Near the top there was a small embedded rock I had to go over and I almost lost momentum as I rode over it but I swore I wouldn't clip out. I stayed on the gas and pushed through it and finally the trail started to level off. I made it! Whew, that was one tough climb. My HR maxed at 186! I took a few pictures then turned around and enjoyed the bomber descent. Once I got to Hwy 55, I kept pushing it until I was almost home.
Total ride was 3:38 with an average HR of 147. Looking at past rides, I estimate my training stress to be 230 for this ride...and with the way my legs felt, that feels about right. I'll probably go up there again and pre-ride the other loops. After looking at the maps once I got home, I have a better idea of where the other loops are.