Friday, August 19, 2011

Going Up.....

I fell in love with my bike again. I know it’s crazy to think that, but hey there are worse things. This last weekend I got to ride in an event called “Ride the Hurricane” only an 18 mile ride. However, you climb 5100’ up to the top of Hurricane Ridge in Port Angeles!

Now, I’ve always been a climber and always loved going up. Yes when the Tours on I get up at 4:30 in the morning to watch the mountain stages and yell, I mean yell at the TV when Lance, Contador, or Andy (well maybe not Andy), maybe Al Val would charge off and attack on a climb.
Photo 2009 Ena/AP

My hill repeat course is a one mile 200ft hill that is over in the Blue Ridge hood that has a few 14-16% thrown in to keep me honest. I’ll be on the 1st lap and think, as I laugh to myself: think this sucks, wait until the 3rd & 4th laps. I have this way of compartmentalizing when I’m training. The legs are working down there, focus on what’s important: breathing, nutrition, pace.

Riding up to Hurricane Ridge was something I wanted to do now for the last 4 years and just never had the time to figure out how.

Now I’ve done a few mountain passes like Loop Loop, Richter Pass, Waconda Pass and did 4-6 miles of climbing before, but 18! I was excited and just a bit scared. However, that all changed when we rolled into town and saw the road leading up to the snow packed top. I instantly thought, “This is going to be so cool!”  

                              Starting off that morning, it was Kevin, a friend from TN Multisport, Tony, Alleys brother, and myself. I wanted to stay as paced as possible and not feel too rushed for fear of going out too fast. With a climb you have to remember it never gets easier, it just doesn’t suck as bad in some areas as others.

The mist was heavy at the beginning, but you could tell it was going to burn off pretty quickly as the sun rose. I kept thinking how maybe a compact wasn’t the best idea for the climb. Maybe I should have used my other bike George (Trek) that has a triple on it and is easier to climb, but heavier by 8 pounds. Instead I thought Luke (Specialized) would love the ride and not get me in trouble on the way down. I always look as my bikes as partners on these wild adventures, whether it be training rides, races or riding over crazy ass mountain passes.

Making it to the halfway point was like saying that the halfway point of a marathon is 13.1, not really. Those that have run one will fully understand that. Mile 9 was just where we broke out of the tree line, for the rest of the ride it would be full sun. The views did take off a bit of the sting in the legs, but not much. There was a rabbit that ran out at that point and hopped in front of me for a few yards. Mocking me how easily it pranced up hill…

I wore headphone, cuz I’m a dork like that and didn’t want to hear myself gasp for air, much less hear those around me gasp or even worse, not gasp. However, on a piece of the ride that I remember clearly I recall “The Head and the Heart” playing in just the most amazing setting I could ever imagine hearing them. *Wide sweeping right hand turn with a full view to the south, AMAZING! Blue sky and snowcapped mountains, and over the railing it was STRAIGHT down! With me tucked in behind my sunglasses in my own little world on my bike.  

2 hours is a long time to have your rump nailed to the seat so I was standing up to pedal to take the pressure off my butt. On a usual climb it’s not that long so you don’t realize the force you’re putting on the seat. Standing also helps keep the blood flowing to the feet and hands for a few minutes. Yes, still working on bike fit. I feel pretty comfortable standing and can concentrate on turnover and body position. I feel like I can generate more power to the bike and accelerate with a quicker rhythm. Which, I figure if I can use my body weight to produce some of the power that should leave some room for recovery.

Reaching mile 15 the legs were feeling like I’d held back enough and wanted to put in a bit more effort. It’s funny about holding back, you have it in mind that: I’ll use that energy later, I’ll fall into the real work later. Stay with the game plan and you’ll be fine. Critical moments I think, this is when your mind stops bullshitting you and you have the, YES/NO – GO/STAY, cards to play. Training has been solid, the day feels right with the body = GO!  Anything else = pace, recover, survive = NO/STAY

Go days are rare and magical, however, some days that are a struggle can be great days of learning, refocusing, and being honest w/ yourself.

Anyways, rounding the next turn people from the aide station were yelling “About 2.4!” “2.4 to the top!” This was GREAT NEWS! I sped up and raised my pace. This was just below lactic acid, I could feel acid slowly build in the stomach and legs and would back off just before anything serious. I’d rise and kick for 5-6 revolutions, then gear back down and spin for 15-20 seconds and repeat. This sped me past lots of people, which it was fun and gratifying to put a hard stack of work in and steadily move past others. At the same time, it was by default. I was switching back and forth because one way was easy, then would turn difficult.

In the end is was a great feeling making it to the summit and seeing the finish. I think it’s always good to keep it simple with events that you’re not sure about. It was 18 miles of climbing, but I wasn’t going to be doing anything different on the bike than I would if I was biking to work. No need stressing yourself out needlessly. The pedals on the bike turn one way and the handle bars go back and forth. Simple. All the rest is connected by training.

The Way Back Down…..

By far, and I’ve had a lot of fun on the bike, but by far the funniest time I’ve ever had on the bike. The way down I told Tony I wasn’t going to push it, because I wanted to enjoy the view, blah, blah, blah…

About 2 minutes in that was out the window. In my head *catch the pace car* 15 riders left the top behind a pace car and the car was fast. I was spotting riders and bridging the gap, then passing, then looking for the next carrot. All while trying to get up to the little red pace car… about 35-40 mph coming down the mountain, oh, so much fun!

I ave. 88 rpm going up.

I ave. 100 rpm coming down.

I was cranking all the way down, it was like being on a roller coaster for 34 minutes. It was so exciting the views were a blur, but I remember the focus being so intense and my legs. I was worried about climbing earlier and getting too much lactic acid build up in the legs, On the way down I both stomach and legs were reeling from LA build up, but I didn’t care. Jen’s “Shut up Legs” kept turning over in my head.

I got to the bottom about a minute or two after Tony and just couldn’t get the grin off my face. It was so much fun.

Also, while we were biking Alley had to get 10 miles of run training in and decided to run up to the 5 mile mark on the course. Crazy woman! That was almost 1900’ of elevation gain! Nice work!
Just saying