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Training Rides

Training Blocks

Springtime in NorCal brings the meat of the MTB race season here for many regional racers…April alone holds the Napa Valley Dirt Classic, the Sea Otter Classic, and the  Shasta Lemurian (another classic even though not by name like the other two),  and then the first weekend in May brings the Bogg’s 8-Hr Endurance Enduro (which consists of a hill climb time trial on Day 1, an epic 8-Hour solo MTB race on Day 2, and a Super D on Day 3).  So for weekend warriors like me who have to get the bulk of their miles on Saturdays and Sundays, the opportunities to log some big miles are dwindling…especially since my focus this year is a bit more on the longer endurance racing side of things.  With Bogg’s 8-Hour coming up fast, I knew it would be hard to get in the necessary miles needed with all the other racing going on in April.

So with that in mind, I wanted to log some volume this past weekend, and luckily for me, my team mate Jared Kessler was of the mindset to do the same.  Jared’s been pestering me for a while to do one of his epic road rides with him so this was the perfect opportunity. Jared’s definitely known for coming up with some heinous long days in the saddle, and I’ve heard many stories of him going out for what should be a “4 hour ride” and coming back 8 hours later due to numerous “route enhancements” along the way.  Plus Jared and I love to ride our road bikes on dirt roads (must be the MTB’ers in us) so I figured I would leave the route up to him and I’d just tag along.  The night before I get a text from Jared, “Meet me at Folsom Bike at 8 AM and get ready for about 10,000 vert.”

In simple terms, the route was sick.  We met at Folsom Bike at 8, had time for a quick dopio espresso at Folsom Grind,  headed across Folsom Lake Crossing, and immediately began riding some of the  dirt singletrack in the area (for you Strava connoisseurs: Silberhorn Dirt Climb, Empire Ranch Super D and over to Dirt Beatty), but just within 15 minutes or our ride, Jared got a flat and had to eat up one of his tubes.  Luckily, our path was to take us over the hill to El Dorado  Hills and we could pop into Folsom Bike’s sister shop, Town Center  Bike and Tri, to pick up some spare tubes.

So with that out of the way we set off on our route:  Up and over Old Bass Lake Rd, up the short but steep Hollow Oak Drive Climb, jump on some neighborhood dirt trails to connect over to Cameron Park, then up Meder, and onto Ponderosa where we crossed south of Highway 50 and for a rendezvous with our buddy Kass, who was to join us for a few hours.

After meeting up with Kass, our pace picked up a bit.  We descended part of French Town Road, then banged a hard left to climb back up Old French Town Rd.  We picked up the pace enough to where I was thinking in the back of my mind, “Hmm, we’re riding all day, but we seem to be going fairly hard…this should be an interesting day”. (Apparently, we were going hard enough to grab a top 3 on the Strava segment for Old Frenchtown).

From Old Frenchtown we cruised over to the town of El Dorado via  Motherlode Dr., crossed Hwy 49, and began the awesome descent down Union Mine Rd.  This was the start of new road riding territory for me, and the descent down Union Mine is awesome!  Narrow country roads, with little traffic, and green foothills dotted with cows and…alpacas…were are views on the descent.  After Union Mine, we took a left on Sand Ridge Rd.  Sand Ridge starts out as pavement, but true to it’s name, turns to a nice packed dirt that climbs up for a little over 3 miles.  The road has little traffic, and on our day, the dirt was packed perfectly after some rains a few days prior.  Jared set a “hard tempo” pace up the climb…which, whenever I hear him say “hard tempo” I know that’s going to mean “threshold” for me, and sure enough Jared’s “hard tempo” was enough to nab some more Strava top 2’s and 3’s on the various Sand Ridge Rd. sections.

After Sand Ridge, we climbed Buck’s Bar Rd, and Mt. Aukum, where Jared again set “hard tempo” leaving me and Kass in his wake.  We regrouped at Pleasant Valley, 50 miles into our ride and regrouped and refueled.  From there it was up the heinous grade of Snows Rd to Braden, cross back over  Hwy 50 and into Apple Hill.  In Apple Hill we said goodbye to Kass, and Jared and I continued on.  At this point, we decided to throw in a little “route modification” and decided to make our way over to the awesome descending and climbing of  Mosquito and Rock Creek Rds.

We would our way down Mosquito, across the bridge, and up the nasty climb to Rock Creek.  The Rock Creek descent is always one of the best around (didn’t see a single car), and we connected to Rt. 193 where we banged a right and headed off to Georgetown.  193 to Georgetown was a bit of a headwind slog, and by the time we made it to Georgetown we were at 97 miles and just a smidge under 10,000 vert.  Time to refuel at Worton’s market and gorge on anything that we thought our stomach’s could handle: chocolate muffins, beef jerky, chocolate milk, and Gatorade.

From Georgetown it was time to head home via Cool, Hwy 49, and Salmon Falls Road back into Folsom, then back across the Folsom Lake Crossing bridge to Folsom Bike.  Total stats and map are here (if I did this correctly, you should be able to click on it to get more detail).


So that was Day 1….133 miles, 13,777 vertical feet climbed, and just under 8 hours riding time doing 6,000+ kj of work.

I promptly went home and ate a metric ton of food to try and recover.

I wasn’t sure what Sunday, Day 2 of my little training block weekend would bring.  Took my time in the morning, watching Cancellara win his chess match at the Paris-Roubaix, and then figured I head up to Auburn on the Giant Anthem Advanced X 29’er 0 to get in a few hours of riding.  I was originally thinking 2 – 3 hours as my legs were pretty sore from the day prior, but I guess Jared’s penchant for “route modifications” stuck with me and I just kept going and going a little farther out.

All in all, I ended up with 63 miles, 10,500 vert on the MTB in a smidge under 6 hours.  My route included a lot of the typical awesome Auburn single track trails, but I added in a few “bonus” dirt road descents and climbs such as Yankee Jim’s Rd, Ponderosa Way, and McKeon-Pondersa.  I only had two Gu’s with me as I hadn’t planned on being out there that long, but things went fine, so I guess the metric ton that I ate the night before kept me going.

Here’s the MTB route from Day 2 (click to enlarge):

more than 2 gus

So now this week brings some work travel and some much needed rest.  I’m hoping I didn’t do too much for the shorter upcoming races (i.e. Napa Valley Dirt Classic is only 22 miles that the fast guys will do in under an hour and a half), but Sea Otter is a longer one (40 miles, 6,000-ish vert, 3 – 3.5 hours), and at least hopefully these miles and vert and time are money in the bank for Bogg’s 8-hour next month.  We shall see!

(if you made it this far, thanks for reading!) – Ron