La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Climbing. Lots of climbing.

Now that snow is melting from the high mountains in CO, its time to get in some climbing.

Saturday, I jumped in the Rist Canyon Hillclimb. Very, very fun race. Road races like this are awesome. You know, riding your bike to places, over mountains, with challenging terrain and beautiful scenery. And a BBQ and free beer afterwards – cant beat that.

I got a 9th place in Cat 3, overall time of 1:33. My top-to-bottom time for Rist was 44:30; two minutes off my record but it was at the tail end of a road race so I wasnt trying for a PR. The race starts out with half-dozen steep climbs around Horsetooth Reservoir before it heads straight up Rist. There were lots of early accelerations on the dams but virtually everyone regrouped by the base of Rist. I could tell some people were just burning too many matches on the little climbs before Rist; they would jump at the base of the climb, push it until they blew and then get rejoined at the top or the other side. Dumb. Likewise, as Rist started ramping up, about 20 people blew by me. I know exactly how hard I can go on every section of this climb so I just stayed back patiently (in nearly last place!). Sure enough I was picking riders off left and right the entire climb. The last 2 miles of Rist get steep and had just enough energy to push it hard. Could I have done better overall had I tried to stay with the early acceleration on Rist? Maybe. Or I might have put myself in a world of hurt and cracked like the riders I passed on the way up! Knowing when to put yourself in the pain cave and when to pace yourself is something I am still learning at each race.

Sunday. More climbing. This time I wanted to get in some high-altitude riding to prep for Breckenridge. No better ride for that than Mt Evans, the highest paved road in the US.

Riding from Golden to the summit of Mt Evans took almost 3 1/2 hours. 34 miles with 7,000 vertical feet! It was telling having the power meter with me as I would just ride at a steady perceived exertion and HR and watch as my power dropped, esp. as I went up above treeline (> 12,000 ft). At the final switchbacks above 14,000 ft, I could barely crank out the power that I would normally do on a short endurance/recovery spin. At the summit, I met another cyclist, Shaun, who was also training for the Breck 100. Rode with him for a bit on the way back down but I am chicken-shit when it comes to descending on skinny tires, especially with gusty winds, bumpy roads and large thousand-foot rock precipices dropping right off the road without a guardrail. Anyways, descending back to 7k feet went fairly well and only took a fraction of the time (funny how that works!).

My assessment of my altitude-readiness: I can handle long rides at > 10k if I’m careful not to push too hard. I just dont have that ability to recover from harder efforts so I have to consciously keep things at a tempo/endurance pace and I’m fine.

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June 6, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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