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It was September 1st and the SCNCA racing season was finally over.  Hannah came into my room and placed the Death Valley Stage Race flyer on my desk, once again.  "Dad, I really want to do this race." she said.  She had asked me about this race many times in the past, so I decided to look at the calendar and see if we had enough weeks left to build up our climbing legs for the 15,000 feet we would have to climb in this two day nasty stage race up in the Eastern Sierras.  There were 7 weeks left before the event.  I looked at her intently and said, "Hannah, you know this race is much harder than the Mt. Laguna Classic.  Climbing double digit grades above 9,000 feet, after you have already climbed 14,000 feet is much harder than you can even imagine.  There is no oxygen at those elevations.  I know.  I have done these climbs.  How hard are you willing to train to do this event?"  She responded with, "I'll do whatever it takes, Dad.  I really want to do this race."  I then told her the sobering news, "Hannah, here is the reality.  If you're not strong enough to do Pine Creek three times in one ride, then you will most likely DNF in this race."  She confidently responded with, "Well, then, let's do Pine three times!"  The decision was made.  We would tackle this ambitious 78 mile training ride with 9,400 feet of climbing, and we would hit the brutal 20% corners of Pine Creek three times in one ride.

After five weeks of gradually ramping up both our miles and our climbing, the Pine-Pine-Pine ride had finally arrived.  Somehow Moriah had wiggled her way into doing this gnarly ride, so while it was still dark out, the three of us got up and headed off to Pine Valley to go tackle this killer climb three times in a row.  As we pulled up to the Nobel Canyon trail head parking lot at first light, the temperature gauge on my car read 22 degrees.  The girls had ridden in 34 degrees before, but never 22.  "Put on everything you got, Ladies" I said, as I cranked the car heater up to high.  "With this temperature, the first trip up may hurt us more than the third one."  As we stepped out of the car, Hannah exclaimed, "Oh My!  OK, that is cold!" I light-heartedly replied, "Just wait till you feel the wind chill on that first descent."

With completely frozen fingers, toes, ears and noses, we suffered up the 3,100 foot climb to the Mt. Laguna store.  Although, the sustained sections of 17% and multiple 20% corners were not too bad on the first trip up, as we were all still fresh, freezing and somewhat strong.  We descended Sunrise HWY and made it back to our car in Pine Valley.  The temperature had climbed up to 54 degrees.  We knew it would be a little colder back on top of Mt. Laguna, but none of us wanted the extra weight, so we all shed down to shorts and two layers up top, which turned out to be perfect.  That second trip up Pine drained each of us of our remaining energy.  Having already climbed 6,200 feet, none of us wanted to go hit those brutal grades a third time.  But the deal was set in stone before we ever stepped out of the car that 22 degree morning.  "Either we finish Pine-Pine-Pine without cracking mentally or physically, or we do not do the Death Valley Stage Race."  We all knew that was the deal.

Thus, with my best shish-boom-bah rah-rah-rah speech, I pumped the girls up and we headed off to slay Pine Creek one last time.  We worked as a team, striving to stay 100% positive.  We knew that if we did not crack mentally, we would not crack physically.  So we continually encouraged each other with compliments and confident affirmations.  Lance Armstrong said that cycling is over 50% mental and he was right.  Ironically, that third trip up Pine, which was supposed to be the hardest, ended up being the easiest.  The girls had done it.  I knew now that they were ready for the Death Valley Stage Race.

As we topped the 9,000 foot mark in climbing and were about to crest Mt. Laguna for the third and final time, we were all starting to get a little bit loopie, which tends to happen often on these long tough rides.  It was at that point that the girls renamed this epic ride "The Borg" which evolved in a classic conversation from "Pine-Pine-Pine" to "Pine to the 3rd Power", to "Pine Cubed" to "The Cube" to finally "The Borg."  It was one of those classic, "I-have-been-on-the-bike-way-too-long" conversations that just made me giggle.  At the end of the conversation for good measure, Moriah added, "We have defeated The Borg!  You see, . . . . resistance is not futile!  Death Valley, here we come!"  See the Mt. Laguna Classic for photos of Pine Creek.