Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Up Rist Canyon

Today, I went on one of the most challenging rides I've EVER been on. I definitely experienced a new element of riding today.
Climbing.
I'd got some good hill climbing in a Pingree. There was a good 2 miler at 6-7%, and then the climb up to Pingree, which is about 3.5 or 4 miles at around 5%. I now call those "hills". Because today, I learned what mountains are all about.
I did Rist today. Incredibly tough. I for sure need a smaller front ring. As I said before, Rist is a 12 mile climb at 6%, with a half mile of sustained 12% at the end. So incredibly hard.

The first part of the ride is about 10 miles along the west edge of FoCo towards Bellvue. That served as a nice warm up. Then, you hit Bellvue (a tiny little town) and head due west, into the mountains. The approach to the canyon has a pretty ominous view. Massive hills and mountains, and you're riding straight at them. But instead of turning away, the road heads straight into the heart of them. At first approach you think "can there really be a road there?" Sure enough, there is. I got started on that, and just kept my legs spinning at a good pace. I was comfortable in my 2nd to smallest gear, but after about 6 miles, the going gets tough, and I dropped into my smallest (and would later wish I had more). I got a little sample video of what the valley is like on my phone :)
video 
I apologize for the low quality. I mean, it's my phone after all.

Then it was time fore the big stuff!
I HAD to stop and take a breather before hitting the 12%, or NO WAY was I making it.
Here's a video of that! P.S. this was taken when I was on the way back down, and I'd had some rest. The first time, I was CRAWLING. Maybe half this speed.
video
 And here's a nice picture of that same area. Once you catch you're breath and you can see straight, it's quite beautiful.

Finally made it to the top!!! A great view on the other side (and a gnarly 1 mile hill too. It's a 14%. I rode down, and climbed back up it. Had to stop and walk. Twice.)
In the upper middle screen, you can see a snow covered mountain shelf. It's hard to tell, but that's The Mummy. Pingree Park sits right at the base of that. Yes, I lived up there for 3.5 months. Hard to believe.
(P.S. The Mummy is about 20 miles away in this picture)
Going back down Rist was incredible too! I'd say for about 10 straight miles I never came out of 52x11, literally. Not once. And about half that time I was totally spun out. So unbelievably fast. I didn't time myself, so I don't know my exact average speed, but I'm guessing it was around 43ish-45ish mph. For 10 miles straight.
Cornering at that speed is a unique experience too. When you dive into a corner at 45mph or 50mph, it's really a strange feeling. The best way I can describe it is a feeling of "weightlessness". You don't feel connected to the earth, and you don't feel anything pushing down on you. I assume it's what being able to fly must feel like.

Man, I was totally smoked after this ride. Definitely one of the hardest rides of my life. Climbing is so incredibly mental. I've heard people watch the Tour de France and look at some of those mountains, and at the pace those riders go up them, and they say "That's not physically possible." Well, they're absolutely right.

Because climbing isn't just physical. It's physical, and mental, and spiritual. The best way I can describe it, is that it's Purely Human.

So, physically possible? Absolutely not. Humanly possible? Absolutely yes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trainer!

Just finished a good ride on the trainer!
The knee felt good and I think I can finally get back in the swing of riding. Things aren't as chaotic as they have been, and I'm getting settled into FoCo nicely.

I'm planning on heading up Rist Canyon for a good workout sometime later this week. Rist is about a 12 mile sustained climb, averaging around 5-6% the whole way. Then you hit the switchbacks, and the last halfish mile is 12-14%. Yikes.
After topping that climb, I'll take a turn and head north to the Poudre Canyon, then hit the Canyon and cruise back down to FoCo.
Hopefully I can find a camera to borrow and get some pictures!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wow, this one is overdue. I wonder if anyone even reads this?

Hello to anyone who may read this.
It's been FOREVER since I've posted. Due to quite a few reason, I'd guess. First of all, I was pretty bummed out about riding and racing in general since March. Some car trouble ended up wiping out all my racing/traveling funds, and the spring road racing plans went by the wayside. I continued to ride, but with just not the same spirit. July rolled around, and I found myself getting a job at beautiful Pingree Park in Colorado.

Pingree Park is located approx. 50 miles west of Fort Collins, Co, and sits on the north side of the Mummy Mountain range. Along with myself, came the Cronus, of course. All there is to ride there is unmaintained gravel roads, and there are few to choose from. But if you think I didn't ride, you're wrong.

I got myself some 28c Continental 4-Season tires, slapped them on, and hit the gravel. I'm proud to say that in a solid month and a half of riding, I never had ONE FLAT. I still don't understand how it happened. There were times I thought for sure I'd be changing a tube, especially when going down a gnarly gravel 12% decent at 35-40+ mph, but absolutely no flats. Incredible. My theory is that the bomb-proof 4 season tires, combined with the shock-absorbing carbon frame of the Cronus, made for a forgiving combo on tubes.

The riding came to a stop, due to safety issues about the area (blind one lane roads and no phone service), and a knee injury (i'm pretty sure I fractured my patella). So in the mean time, it was just stretching and rock climbing.

After Pingree, I decided I liked Colorado so much that I decided to become a permanent resident of Fort Collins. My friends Emily and Lauren were kind enough to take me in at their place, and I turned a spare room into a bedroom. I now live just off of Horsetooth road in Fort Collins, Colorado.

I've only sampled a small portion of the cycling here, but so far, it's unbelievable. Some of the most physically challenging roads I've ever been on are just a few miles from my home. I've also taken up running a lot more, as that has helped my knee get back into business. Along with the running, I've also found rock climbing to be a really great workout, and an incredible fun activity as well.

I'm anxious to get back in the swing of riding, but work has me tied down. If I have the will/energy to ride at all, it's on my trainer after dark. But, you gotta do what you've gotta do.

All in all, I'm pleased with my decision to move to Fort Collins. A change in scenery was a much needed thing. I've got the itch to travel too much and see too many new places to stay home for very long.

Well that's it for now. Soon I'm hoping to have some pics up from Pingree and my new home, Fort Collins.
I'd also like to get a review of my Cronus's performance to date up, and let all of you know what I think of Fisher's flagship road design.