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.
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 :)
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.
 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.

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