Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cheaha Challenge!!!

So, after a really crappy week the weekend turned out being a lot of fun. David could not leave for B'ham until Saturday morning and Brooke had a test she was still getting ready for Friday night, so we did not leave until Saturday at 6 am.

I wasn't able to start my ride until 12:00. I found a park in Birmingham that ended up being a 17 mile loop with 1053 ft climbing on each loop. I only had time to do 2 loops. It had several short 4-7% climbs. Nothing hard, but a good safe loop until I can find some people to ride with in B'ham.

Sunday was spectacular! Part of me is disappointed in the fact that I was too slow to complete the whole course. They closed the last 12 miles at noon and I got there at 12:06. It was probably good as it would have taken at least 1.5 hours to do the 12 miles and we did not get home until midnight as it was. My speed is a huge issue on climbs. Over 88 miles I averaged 11.8 mph my total time was 8 hours. BUT there was 6500+ ft of climbing over the 88 miles. For the first 44 miles there was 4000 ft of climbing! This is 2500 ft more than any day in Arizona. Many and I mean MANY of the climbs were 1-2 miles at 10-14%. This is what my bike computer said. The roadies insisted that it was much higher than 14% in spots.

So, I really am stoked overall! I climbed 12-14% grades on a recumbent! Okay, I did have to walk on several occasions. It was just too steep. But I did climb 12-14% grades - not the entire climb, but a significant portion of it. I am going to see if I can download the info to see just how much I was able to climb at those grades. Additionally I am still having FD issues and it caused me to have to walk when it shifted on its own at a 12% grade. There were a ton of 9-10% grades and I did not walk them unless they were at the top of a 12%+ grade I was already walking. I could not re-mount the bike at 9% but could at 7%.

Once again, I got a lot of funny looks and wise cracks about riding a recumbent. I just answered that I wanted a challenge and this ride was the best I could come up with! By the end of the ride, I had impressed several roadies, especially when I would pass them on a climb. There were some significant rollers that I would try and bomb and would be able to scream past some of them. A couple times I was able to out climb a roadie pedal stroke for pedal stroke! BTW, I did reach 50 mph on one hill and tried not to feather my breaks too much. On the 3 mile downhill with the 14% grade, I was pretty nervous and feathered the breaks often.

The funniest thing was on the hardest climb. You were climbing at 9-10% and could not see the top as the road curved. Once you made the curve all you could see was road straight up. Lining this road was at least a dozen uprights walking. Funniest sight I had ever seen! Of course, I could not make it up either, but it sure was a sight to see all the uprights. I am guessing that stretch was 12-14% or more. It was very difficult to push the bike up the hill.

Anyway, my climbing yesterday was more than all but 4 days of the PAC Tour. The first has 5690 ft (Stevens Pass), the 10th and 11th day have 6,200 and 7,300 ft (big horns), the 26, 27, 28 have 6,600, 9500, 9000 respectively (Appalachians). Now, just to work on the speed in which I climb and being able to make it up the 12% without walking.

I do want to mention that I was walking 6% grades on the Natchez Trace trip this past October. 6% are easy, slow, but easy.

So, I will really want to go over there again and do hill repeats. If I can get better/faster at the 12% then PAC tour should be a slam dunk! Okay, realistically, it will still be really hard, but I can do it!

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