Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mark another one off.

Climb that is. I'll never be a great climber, but I'd like to believe that I can at least be acceptable enough to drag my rear up things when needed. Monday morning I got up at 6AM to head out on a ride, not really knowing where I was headed.

After a couple of "I'm tired of that ride" moments, I headed due West across Longmont towards the foothills. I initially thought I would tackle the moderate climb up to Jamestown, CO but as I went I opted to audible and go for the full pull up to Ward, CO right on the Peak to Peak Highway near Brainard Lake.

I've only even attempted this climb one other time, about 14 months ago. The Punisher and I headed up this climb last June, but ultimately turned around after 12 miles so I could get to Jill's baby shower at Hunter Douglas. I felt fine that day and I am sure I could have made the apex had time allowed, but last summer I was riding a compact crankset and a 12-27 cassette which allowed me the easy gear of 34/27 to get myself up the hills. This summer I'm trying to get by with the standard crankset on Elle (my white Tarmac SL), but out of laziness I haven't switched the rear cassette out with my existing one. What this all boils down to is my current lowest gear ratio is 39/25, which is substantially harder to push up a 16.5 mile climb.

Up. And up. I kept going up passing small landmarks that brought back some memories of the climb last year. I would stand and crank for a bit, then sit and push as long as I could before my legs needed a change. I'd knock off mile markers one at a time, and finally I hit "the right turn" that I had been warned about.

While the climb up is a manageable grade (averages 4.5%), the last 1.5 miles into town are a swift reminder that this climb won't give up easily. The last 1.5 miles are measured to be a 10% grade. So after dragging yourself up a 15 mile 4.5% grade, you get the reward of doing a mile and a half at twice the gradient. Seems fair. Oh but there is a sweet oasis that awaits cyclists in Ward, in the form of a natural spring that has potable water that you can refill your surely depleted bottles.

I wanted to take a picture at the top of the climb with my trusty steed, but when I realized that it took me 1:45 just in climbing and I still had 30 miles to get back home I turned and promptly headed back home.

Descending 16.5 miles on a curvy, mountain road is an interesting event in itself. Not sure I'd call it fun like descending on a mountain bike is, as you are constantly checking the road and behind you for obstacles or cars. I learned quickly that road bike brakes pretty much suck. You're just not going to get stopped suddenly from 40+ mph with them, so you've got to be proactive. When I ultimately got out of the canyon and back to Highway 36, I called Jill to let her know I was OK and just behind schedule and then I pounded out the generally downhill route back home.

So now I'll start looking at this list for my next goal and ultimately start looking to best my personal records (once set) up these climbs. The really good news is that with my suffer fest came weight loss, and I shattered the 190 mark I was hoping to achieve. Admittedly still a bit lacking in fluids, I stood on the scale at 187.

Hell yeah.

Full stats here:
MotionBased Ride Stats

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