Leslie had the awesome idea to set up a training weekend in Palo Duro Canyon; happily it worked out great, and Tom was able to drive down from Denver. Our Primal Quest team was all together for the first time! And we all got along great, had some fun, had some laughs, ate too much good food, and survived Leslie's challenging training plan.
Day 1 was a nice long trek with interesting nav (Leslie hid the trail map from us but we peeked at posted signs occasionally, and we always listened when she "suggested" something different from what we were discussing). Starting with a fun trail run and a visit to the amphitheater where the "Texas" play will be held later this summer:
Up the CCC-created trail to the mesa above the stage:
And our first set of excellent views - I was very happy to be hanging out in a desert climate for a couple days, and the scenery made it all the better:
You'll have to forgive the multitude of team photos, we might not all be together as a group for another while yet. (Also please forgive whatever the h**l pose I have going on here)
More desert scenery, with a couple guest stars...
Beautiful colors, and while I'm sure it looks better in sunlight, we were thrilled for the cloud cover to keep the temperature reasonable. There shouldn't be much need to heat train for this race, we don't suspect.
We hiked most of the trails on the east side and up the Rock Garden trail to the rim. I believe this is right before our second off-trail descent of the day. It seems we have a system in the works where Dave and I discuss where we need to be, point at it, and Tom and Leslie figure out how to get there. Good team effort.
The next day we biked a long time and I tried to keep up. It started well, heading up the park road to the entrance station at the rim, and Dave and I got a bit of a head start which is the only reason I'm ahead of Leslie and Tom in this photo:
Making up the gap:
It was a good warmup ride, with a pause for breath at the top:
Someone had the good idea to ask a guy to snap our photo at the overlook - it's a keeper!
OK, time to stop messing around, let's do some singletrack. The GSL trail had a few challenges, which was good for everyone to get a sense of what I might can ride, like, when my legs are fresh. Little Fox Canyon trail was fast and fun.
Then up the easy track to the Lighthouse - wow cool! Quite an impressive rock tower. Between that and some rock mushrooms and all the pretty colors, the park seems like a little slice of Utah. Good place for another group pose:
Even better was hiking up there, hard to believe you can walk between the two towers. Thank you for this checkpoint, Leslie!
More singletrack, back to work. We inadvertently took the inside loop of the Capitol Peak Trail (all of Leslie's hints weren't enough to clue us in, so we missed a virtual checkpoint). It was a little shorter, but I suspect that is more than negated by the multiple wash crossings. My legs were quite done by the end of that. So the Juniper/Cliffside trail was more of an exercise in not dying completely.
Worth it for the cave at the end of the trail!
Checkpoint cave, verified:
Happily the trail back to the campground was not nearly as challenging. And the next task was easier on the legs - setting up our ascending gear for a bit of ropes practice.
OK, well, there are still some challenges and things I need to work out this summer (luckily John is always ready to set up a rope):
Leslie has her setup pretty well dialed in:
Dave demonstrating an interesting belay system where the person on the rope can ascend, get lowered down, ascend, lower, etc. until either the climber or the belayer decides "enough of that!"
One more workout! Somehow we didn't end up with any photos of this one, I think everyone was focused on getting done so we could shower and eat and drink a beer. The workout turned out well though - I wasn't in any shape to ride more singletrack (much less up to the rim), so I rode down to the base of the Rock Garden trail and ran up while the rest of the team biked the east side trail to Rock Garden and we met up at the top. Together we ran around to the Tub Springs Draw trail for one last look over the edge of the rim, then ran back to the bikes. I ran down the trail, made it almost halfway down before they passed me :) and then we met up again at the bottom.
Then my team tried to kill me with a 2.5 mile paceline exercise, but really I think it was just the aforementioned post-workout lures that caused them to ride so fast. I didn't actually collapse at the end but it took a couple minutes for me to recover!
Besides that last little bit, it was a great weekend and I super enjoyed spending the time with y'all!