Sunday, June 13, 2010

Banff National Park Long Ride

We are now entering new territory….longest bike rides ever! This weekend called for 140K (87 mi). Phew….that’s a long way! Kelly, Tara and I met up in Harvie Heights, just between Canmore and the border of Banff National Park on Saturday morning. The plan was to ride along Highway 1, past Banff, then out on to the Bow Valley Parkway toward Lake Louise. Then ride back!

It looked liked it would be a gentle climb with some good uphills at points along the way out, then downhill on the way back. The weather has been off most of this week, with plenty of rain. Luckily by the time Saturday rolled around the sun was out. It was warm without a cloud in the sky. The sky was the most amazing blue ever. We were definitely lucking out on the weather!

The ride out from Harvie Heights to the turnoff for the Bow Valley Parkway was gently rolling and I loved the ride. Even though we were riding on Highway 1 the shoulder was definitely generous. I was surprised that it took us 26K to get to the Bow Valley Parkway. Had it really been that long? From there on out the bigger climbs started. Predictably I wasn’t able to keep with the girls on the climbs. Sigh…I know the girls are strong climbers but it started to get to me that I couldn’t keep up.

The original plan was to ride all the way to Lake Louise but it was becoming readily apparent that my calculations were just slightly off. We were about 7K from Lake Louise when we hit 70K on our ride. Somehow or other 140K was enough to wrap our brains around, but 154K seemed like just a bit too long. Plus we had to be back in Calgary by 5:30 pm and the timing was starting to get tight on that. I also expected the ride back to feel a bit easier than it actually did. Wasn’t this supposed to be downhill? On the plus side we got to see some wildlife! We passed a deer, plus some elk!DSCN3826

The last 20K of the ride was tough. I was so ready to be off my bike! I was tensing up between my shoulder blades and my lower back was starting to ache. Were we there yet? I know my legs could go further but the mental aspect is mostly what seems to get to me. I’m really going to have to work on this…

Finally we were at the gates to the park…just a couple more kilometres to go! 5 hours and 142.5K later and we were done! Unfortunately we were out of time though and had to head back to Calgary right away, so no opportunity for a brick run. This bike was a good learning experience though:

  • While a ride may take 5 hours of active time, you are actually out there for much longer. Today it took about 6.5 hours including stops!
  • While I do like drinking Infinit on my rides I need to bring along some solid food as my stomach starts to get growly. Kelly carries sandwiches of turkey and cheese rolled in a corn tortilla. I think I may try something similar.
  • I may not be a fierce climber but I am learning that my power comes on the flats. We all have our strengths and weaknesses!
  • Ironman training really is a roller coaster…


Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete said...

We so do, don't we? I'm riding with the big girls on Wednesday, and I'm a little frightened. I don't know if I can keep up, but I'm sure as hell going to try!

Way to hold on and keep going!

Julie said...

That ride was such a great training ride -- you go through every possible emotion during Ironman and the more you experience in training, the better prepared you will be in August!

It might SUCK at the time, but believe me, every one of these days where you hung in there and finished is going to pay HUGE dividends on race day.

Good idea about the real food option too -- I am firmly in the camp that believe you do not have to train with your race nutrition every single ride. Flexibility is key in Ironman anyway -- stuff can go wrong, will go wrong, and it is how you are able to adapt to changing conditions that determines your success.

You are doing so awesome Leana!!!!

Marlene said...

Exciting that you will be regularly achieving new distance milestones with your IM training. Congrats on your longest ride ever!!!

Rainmaker said...

That looks like a totally awesome route. Especially with the scenery.

Plus, you're probably starting one of your last major build sets...that's gotta be nice!