Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

Kentucky or Bust

I have a confession: I have not unpacked my mountain bike since I got back from Costa Rica.

It’s still in the basement, sitting in its trusty box, a lot dirtier than in this pre-race picture.

But with US Adventure Racing Nationals in Kentucky right around the corner, the sporadic trainer rides that I’ve slogged through over the past several weeks just aren’t going to cut it.

So this weekend, it was time to jump back in the saddle.

Since Brent’s bike is still all boxed up as well, and since neither of us felt much like camping out in the basement with degreaser and a toothbrush, we opted to take to our hybrids for a speedy ride around Philadelphia.

After a few miles of hills, we hit the Schuylkill River loop, an 8.5-mile stretch of road that laps the river from the Philly Art Museum to Manayunk’s East Falls Bridge.  On weekends, the city shuts down the western half of the loop to traffic, so runners, bikers, and roller bladers flock to roads for some car-free fun.

With Brent at the helm and me trained on his tail, we took advantage of the wide-open street to dig in for some Kentucky-inspired speedwork.  After a four-mile sprint to the museum, we rode steadily back toward the bridge, and then kicked it up again as we hit the towpath.

It’s been more than a year since I rode the paper-flat Schuylkill River Trail, a nearly-100 mile stretch of car-free pavement that often seems to slope downhill whether you’re coming or going.

Continuing with our wheel-powered fartleks, we decided to push for the Norristown Train Station.  Brent remained out in front as I sat right on his tire, the miles zooming by.

A couple miles before the turnaround, the wind began to take its toll on Brent, and I jumped in front to give him a chance to breathe.  I rode hard to Norristown, and after a brief pitstop for Sharkies and water, continued to lead for the early miles of the return trip.

Just as I was beginning to wonder when Brent would take over already, he said, “two more miles to Conshohocken and then I’ll jump up.”

Two miles, I thought.  Just two more miles.

And then everything began to hurt.

My quads burned.

My lungs stung.

My shoulders ached.

30+ miles of speedwork and I was losing steam fast.

I started to slow down, ever so slightly, when Brent began to yell.

“Come on!  You’re almost there!  Don’t let up!”

“You’re slowing down!  Don’t do it!”

“Half a mile left!  Go up a gear.  Push the pace!  Don’t quit!”


I repressed the urge to slam on the brakes and bared down for the final stretch.

Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky, I repeated to myself.  Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky, Kentucky.

Finally, after what felt like a million Kentucky’s, we crossed the bridge into Conshy and Brent pulled in front for a few minutes of recovery.

Before long, it was time for the final push, a three-mile sprint to the end of the path and then a five-mile hilly spin back up to our neighborhood.

40 miles later, we pulled up to our house and made plans for a afternoon of hills next Saturday and a 60-mile outing Sunday morning.

Five weeks to Nationals.

Kentucky or Bust.


10 responses to “Kentucky or Bust

  1. kari @ Running Ricig September 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I probably would have yelled at Mike if we were in that situation. Then again, I’d probably be the obnoxious one telling you to keep going, lol.

  2. Kara September 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I think I’d be a widow if my husband ever did that to me. 🙂 Great job on the bike ride though!

  3. Denise September 6, 2011 at 11:51 am

    love how you two push each other and keep each other going. nice work!!

    at lake nox this wknd i was thinking how nice it would be to have someone pulling in front of me for a little…but since i can’t have that on race day i better get used to doing all the work.

  4. Anonymous September 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Hey Abby! I live in Lexington! Are you going to be near here? shoot me an email if so! cmartinez@hiddenbrookfarmky.com

  5. Anonymous September 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    This is Coy by the way from First in Philly.

  6. Tasha @ Voracious Eats September 7, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Awww I love that encouragement! It’s amazing how a few kind words (or goading words!) can be just the thing to give you back your fire. Love following your adventures!

  7. Jill September 7, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Woohoo, Kentucky – you made it, even if you aren’t speaking to your husband right now!! 🙂

  8. Elise September 8, 2011 at 2:50 am

    i love the encouragement from your husband — though i’m pretty sure if i had been in your position, i would’ve thrown something at him for aggravating me and then peddled harder to get away from him 😉 so excited to hear about nationals!

  9. Johann September 8, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Super! That was some ride, well done! Yay for Kentucky! All the best with the training.

  10. Sarah S @RunningOnWords September 9, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Wow, great job! Sounds crazy hard, but you did it! Good luck with your KY training!

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