Monday, August 19, 2013

Smoke on the Water

We spent this past weekend in Tahoe, and it was nice as always. Summer is drawing to a close, the kids are back in school, and fall baseball will be starting soon. We will have few opportunities to get up there once the sports start back up.

On Saturday I got out early for a ride. My intention was to do a nice off-road loop, but once I started moving I knew I didn't have great legs, which killed my enthusiasm and motivation. I opted to just stay on the road and climb to the summit. I didn't exactly set the road on fire with my speed, but I made it. On the way back down all I could think about was how horrible my fitness is right now.

After a shower and lunch we headed to Truckee to hang out for a while. We walked down main drag and did some window shopping before ending up at the Mellow Fellow Pub. They had a nice selection of 40 beers on tap and a foosball table, so we simply had to stop for a while. (You know, so the boy could play.) A few beers and foosball games later, we stepped outside to find the town shrouded in smoke. The wind had shifted, bringing with it the smoke from the American Fire in Forest Hill. Visibility was maybe half a mile.

We did a little more shopping and browsing in the stores. I popped into a chocolate shop and bought a number of ridiculously expensive truffles, turtles and caramels. Nobody else was very interested in them, and they were melting in the bag, so I had to eat them all. I simply had no choice. Really.

We made our way back to Tahoe and found that the smoke had made its way there also, although it wasn't as bad as Truckee.

By the next morning the smoke still hung in the air, and I didn't want to ride in it. I figured I would just ride later back home where the air would be "cleaner." Instead I went on a brisk two hour walk around Incline with Jenn and the boy.

When we arrived back home in the late afternoon the temperature was 97 degrees. The air didn't seem great, but looked much better than Tahoe. I dressed and went out for a ride, deciding to do my short loop due to time constraints. The loop is about 14.5 miles with 1000 feet of climbing. I usually do it in about an hour and four minutes on my 29er. A number of times I have tried to crack an hour, but without success.

Unlike the day before, I had great legs. I blasted up the first few climbs in the big chainring and felt good. Just for fun, I put myself into racer mode and gunned for my personal best time.

With two miles left I was at 49 minutes. It usually takes about 12 minutes to do the last climb, so knew I had a shot at the elusive hour mark. I turned myself inside out but came up nine seconds short in the end. If you look at the moving time of 59:59, you might consider that a win, but I don't. For me, stop signs, traffic lights, waiting for cars and any other slowdowns count towards the time. Otherwise, I could stop for 30 seconds somewhere, rest, and resume riding at a faster clip and make better time.

I didn't feel great in the hours following the ride. I had a headache and my lungs burned. Movement was minimal for the rest of the evening.

Today I woke up feeling like I had a bad hangover without enjoying one drop of beer. Just for grins, I checked the Spare The Air web site and yesterday was a spare-the-air day, the first of the year.

It never occurred to me that the ozone would be so high. Our air has been so much better the last few years, I don't even check anymore.

At any rate, I spent all day feeling horrible. This "smog sickness" has happened in the past, and I know better. Bad air is not something to mess around with, so I need to do a better job of checking the air quality.


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