It's safe to say that altitude camp has not quite gone to plan - but sometimes plan B can end up having some improbable, yet pretty magical moments. While the last few weeks have been a bit of a journey with a little injury - they have left me with a newfound appreciation and gratitude for the gift of riding my bike, the amazing team of family and friends that make it possible, and - of course - for the tasty tacos along the way.
I drove up to Tahoe to spend a few weeks breathing very little oxygen at 7000 feet and putting in some serious work with the next few World Cups in mind. Unfortunately, just a few days into my trip - I started having some anterior knee pain and feared the worst. I tried to be conservative and took complete rest from the bike while working to isolate and solve the problem.
For cyclists, overuse injuries are pretty common but can also be incredibly difficult to deal with and carry a lot of uncertainty. After several PT visits, a lot of frustration and many hours of stretching, icing, foam rolling and cross training while trying not to go crazy - I finally made some headway. The knee pain was likely caused by some worn out cleats and a huge week on my road bike, which has slightly different geometry than the mountain bikes I race and ride more often this time of year. After a few ups and downs, I was finally able to turn the corner with the help of an amazing team and miracle bodyworker Adam (HUGE shoutout to Adam the genius guru) who, among other things, realigned my hips and managed to almost immediately alleviate the pain.
The next few days, I eased back into riding and became more and more hopeful. Every pain free pedal stroke put a smile on my face as I began to string together longer and longer rides. The first week back, I did double days every day - keeping the time of each ride relatively low while managing to sneak in more volume on the bike. Ride, lunch, nap, ride, repeat.
I was on one of my evening spins when I got a call from my Red Bull athlete manager Aaron Lutze. They had just gotten off the boat and were headed to our favorite taco joint - Taco's Jaliscos. "Cruise over and I'll drive you home" - he offered, sounding like a real life superhero. I rode pain free all the way to tacos and had this overwhelming feeling that things were exactly as they needed to be. A surprising moment of grace after a tricky few weeks.
While I had taken a little more rest than I'd hoped, I had gained a huge appreciation for this amazing sport I get to call my job and for a healthy body that can accomplish incredible things. Not only that - I realized how many people were willing to help me in a time of need. Whether by arranging for time with a PT, sending a new PowerDot system, offering KT tape, being there with words of encouragement and moral support or meeting me with tacos at the end of a successful ride, it was these people that helped me heal physically and mentally from this little bump in the road.
Since my injury, I have been back training harder than ever and am making huge progress to be on top of my game. As always, many of my long rides have ended at a fantastic taco shop in Truckee - find all the details and a few ride route suggestions below :)
The Taco Spot: Tacos Jalisco is a local favorite for anyone in the Truckee area. It is tucked just off of Donner Pass Rd in downtown and is the perfect place to end an epic mountain bike ride on the amazing trails in Tahoe. They recently expanded the restaurant so there is plenty of seating if you'd like to lean up your bike and take some time to relax.
I would describe their food as authentic and relatively simple but good. During my altitude camp, I have been here quite a few times and have tried to sample a variety of their taco offerings. My favorites - and if you ask, the option they most recommend - would have to be the carne asada tacos. They are the size of street tacos so I definitely recommend ordering a few - I usually get two and guacamole on the side, but after a big ride, my boyfriend easily downed five so don't be afraid to go for it. I also tried the pastor, pollo, and chorizo options which I also really enjoyed, but thought were slightly less notable than the carne asada. If you order the tacos with chicken, I recommend getting guacamole to add!
Pro tip: First of all, make sure that you try their house hot sauce. It will be in a little plastic container at the center of the table and you might miss it if you aren't paying attention! Don't be fooled by it's casual appearance - it is unreal. The darker red one is just the right amount spicy and will make anything you eat taste fantastic!
Ride Recommendations: I am definitely not the expert on the trails in the area and there are too many great ones to mention - but I do have a few favorites!
Here is a great MTB ride that covers the Yogi Bear and Jackass trails. I also did a variation on this ride in which I climbed a trail up from Donner which meant a bit more single track:
Another favorite ride from the Truckee area is Hole in the Ground. I actually really love this route and it's a great couple of hours on single track where its practically impossible to get lost :) -
Unfortunately, the file was lost from the amazing gravel ride I did - however, if you get the chance to ride out to Boca and Stampede Reservoirs, I highly recommend this as a road ride with the option to add a little dirt! To take the dirt home - just hop on Boca Rd at the Reservoir and take the gravel towards Prosser Reservoir. Eventually, you will get yourself back to town. It's pretty clear on a map, has very little car traffic and is breathtakingly beautiful!
Finally - I highly recommend climbing the iconic Old 40 highway up to Donner Summit. This is one of my all time favorite climbs and is great for intervals! It has unbelievable views and should definitely be on your cycling bucket list for this area.