Yesterday (Tues 5th) we slept in after the late night return to Siverton. The course marking was going over Handies which at 14,000ft + is the highest point on the course. I have been up there on all my previous visits but given the length of the day and the altitude gained it was too much for Phil to undertake and possibly a bit early in my acclimatisation still. So we opted to do our own thing instead.
We headed up Kendall Mt. At a touch over 13,000ft it is still a solid challenge. And you start climbing from the get-go. And it never let's up. All jeep road peppered with lose rock, it is pretty typical of much of the course. The crisp cool air and clear blue skies made for cliche picture-perfect views back across the valley.
Feeling good, we pushed all the way to the top where we were treated to a magical view straight down on Silverton. We kept going to the true summit and soaked in the spectacular 360* vista.
We opted to try the rougher descent off the opposing face of the summit. After a little rock-hopping we found ourselves sliding down a really steep, rocky slope. And when I say steep, I mean steep. I skated, slid and stumbled largely out of control until I actually flipped into the rocks off the side. With grazed shins and bloody knuckles I was a bit more speculative for the rest of the slide to the bottom.
After 3hrs climbing we easily descended in 1.5hrs, keeping it relaxed to avoid trashing the quads. 4:33 for 21.6km and over 1100m elevation gain.
Weds 6th: again we skipped the course marking. Mainly because it involved a long, long rough 4wd
drive and then a long day across the high part of the course from Sherman to Maggie's and another long drive out, with car shuttling.
Instead we headed out to Arrastra Gulch to cover the final part of the course (mostly already marked).
The Beaver lake trail never fails to impress. And again the creek crossing was icy cold.
Conscious of only being just over a week out from race day, we opted not to go all the way to the top of the pass. After grinding out a solid 10km to reach the singletrack junction just above the mine site at around 3,600m, we turned around and literally ambled back down.
Walking back into town a jeep pulled up beside us and Carol Erdman, one of the HR Board members, offered us a giant chocolate-chip cookie to share. Great timing, we were both starving hungry. Carol was heading over to Kendall for her daily hike/run. We had passed Carol on our way back down yesterday and she was looking amazingly fit for a septuagenarian.
Easy day: 20km in 4:13 for around 900m elevation. This is a great training run to include as it familiarises you with the last section of the course. For me that has always been in the dark. For Phil it was light and will hopefully be so again.