Downieville – Preparation with a Spin

Tuesday, April 5: Day 24

  I reminded myself today that Downieville has an elevation climb of 3,000 feet on some serious single track. Yikes. For you non-bikers out there, 3,000 feet of elevation climbing can be insanely torturing. Kind of like hiking up three flights of stairs with armfuls of groceries 100 times. Think about how THAT would feel…

Obviously, someone else has thought of THIS torture, because they came up with a solution:

There IS NO SOLUTION FOR GETTING UP 3,000 feet of MOUNTAIN except for…pedaling your ass up the mountain. To get a better visual of what I’m talking about, here’s an explanation from the Downieville site:

“The adventure begins with an 8 mile, 3,000′ climb up the face of the Sierra Buttes, a metamorphic crown that stretches 8,600′ towards the wide-open sky. This legendary climb is known to many as the “Trail of Tears”. It starts with pavement, turns to dirt, and then gradually steepens and narrows to a loose, exposed, shaly doubletrack.”

Here’s a picture of a kick ass girl who has done this in the past:

Check out the hill BEHIND her…

If that isn’t enough, I also can think about this to motivate me to train:

“At the bottom of this anarchy awaits Gold Valley and the Pauley Creek crossing. This 30′ wide crossing can be as deep as 3′ during the race, often making it difficult to navigate across at high-speed.”

So once I kill myself getting UP a mountain, I have to avoid drowning as I cross a river that is as deep as I practically am tall. I wonder if I’ll have enough upper body strength just to THROW my bike across and then swim…

Pauley Creek Crossing

Then again, my tiny arms could in no way fling my bike 30 feet no matter how much angel dust I snorted before hand…

All joking aside, I AM looking forward to this challenge and am putting all effort into kicking my ass NOW so that the race itself will be somewhat fun THEN. So, I have decided to do a Spin Class Tour around Ithaca for two reasons: 1) Every time you go to a new gym it’s FREE and I’m on a super tight budget and 2) I want to find out who will kick my ass the hardest before I commit to a gym.

took a spin class at City Health Club which is the equivalent of a 1970’s bath house with bad music and stained chair cushions. Ew.

This is the actual gym

The bikes were incredibly janky. Mine had a crank set problem that made it feel like I was vibrating on a locomotive every time I made a rotation. I didn’t mind, considering the jarring reminded me a bit of mountain biking down a fire road at 35 miles per hour. The “retro” stationary bike was so “retro” that it didn’t have a computer so…I’m guessing at my mileage, etc.

Fortunately, THESE TWO weren’t my spin class instructors…they teach ZUMBA at City Health…

Zumba Class or...???

My spin instructor was a well-meaning but ineffectual “spin wizard” and seemed more intent on breathing and COOL DOWN techniques than kicking my ass so I chose to kick my own ass with the mental picture of what 3,000 feet actually looks like. It looks like a ridiculously large mountain. Because that’s what it is. So this is what I pictured:

And that’s when I stood my ass up on that bike and huffed up a bazillion hills while my spin instructor kept talking about butterflies and flowers while emphasizing lowering the heart rate and peddling fast, not hard. Screw you man, I have to get UP A MOUNTAIN. So I pushed my legs at the strongest resistance I could and allowed the sweat to run down my face, unabashedly.


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