Well, after an abnormally long and pleasant fall, winter has finally come. the snow fell and the temperatures dropped simultaneously on Dec. 1st. It's been white and cold ever since. I'm pleased really - i needed to get out and start training in it as the arrowhead is only a couple of months away.
Yesterday i did just that - completing my first ride on the borrowed pugsley that i'll be using in the race (thanks again Rick!). It was awesome. The thing weighs nearly 40 lbs (without any of the gear i'll be required to carry) and drives like a tank which takes some getting used to, but is really a pretty sweet machine. The 4.5 inch tires at 15 psi give it the feel of full suspension downhill bike when going over obstacles and provide reasonably good floatation and traction in a variety of conditions. The pogies that cover the handlebars allowed bare handed riding and were almost too hot at times - which of course i'll gladly deal with considering the alternative.
I learned a few more things from my ride - 1) it's hard to ride for an extended period at high intensity. There's always resistance because of the snow and low tire pressure, which means it always feels like riding up hill. 2) moisture management is going to be a key issue. When i'd put it in a big gear and try to push i'd start sweating like crazy which would become rather unbearable in short order under the several layers i was wearing. When i'd back off i'd immediately get a chill. 3) two hours outside goes by a lot quicker than two hours inside!
I learned some other technical details as well - like the efficacy (or lack thereof) of using a camelback and the fact that i'm going to be soaked no matter what unless i can find an option to the traditional layering scheme (i'll try a vapor barrier shirt next time - although I'll be soaked, maybe my insulation will stay dry) but i won't expound on them here.
I've also been struggling a bit with the confines of my training schedule. Because my long rides are either limited to a 'cardio bike' which is mind-numbingly boring or outside where it's hard to push the intensity for any duration because of the cold - i'm worried that too much of my three hours is going to be spent doing a less vigorous workout than i'd prefer. I'm having two great and hard workouts each week, but they've grown increasingly shorter as my long workouts get, well, longer. This past week they were both only 30 minutes - and while during them and immediately afterwords i feel fully worked, i've found myself raring to go the next day, as they require less recovery. I've been trying to sell myself on the idea that i need to feel like this so that i can truly hammer on the weekends, but these last two weekends haven't ended up feeling like i've done so (last weekend it was lack of motivation and possibly residuals of the thanksgiving food coma, and this weekend it was the learning curve of the new bike and difficulties associated with the cold). I know i'll need to have some long outdoor rides to adequately prepare both mentally and physically for the Arrowhead, but i'm a bit worried that my fitness will decrease as these eat up more and more of my threadbare schedule....