Sunday, October 4, 2009

Climbing Solo

Today is a big day. This day marks 2 weeks before our departure. According to our training plan this is the last long mileage / hours weekend before we head out (apparently I was wrong about this last week!). For the next two weeks, we'll be tapering to allow our bodies some recovery time before we really hit it hard.

In the last few days, I've had some great rides. Thursday evening, I met up with Gavin and Perry's son Taylor for a little jaunt up and over Altamont Road on Paris Mountain. It was a very straightforward out and back route that I have ridden numerous times. We did the optional climb on Lake Circle Drive and up to the towers before crossing the summit. It's always fun on the descent down the Furman side. At the bottom I turned around and checked my time. I was well rested and thought it would be a good time to see about a personal best on the ascent.

I quickly passed Gavin and Taylor. I was finding my little climbing zone and they weren't in it. I felt really good going past the water tower. There is a steep(er) section there and sometimes if I'm not feeling it, it drags me down. It didn't this time. In more than one spot I kicked up a gear (in one spot I kicked up several gears) to carry as much speed as I could. I pushed through the wall and checked my time - 13:20. This is my best so far. I'm very pleased about that. Our total mileage for the ride was just over 22 miles.

Yesterday, I decided to start with the Sunshine Bike Shop Hour of Power ride. This is a fun ride that ends up being about 30 miles. Usually, several members of the Piedmont Orthopedic Associates squad shows up to this ride. I never really have had a chance against those guys (in the sprints), but I was interested in pitting myself against them after all this riding I've been doing (it's a relative thing right - how far back from them would I be this time?). Unfortunately for me, they were out enjoying their last big event of the year, so none of them showed.

There was a number of regulars who always turn out a good performance. Most notably, Tyler and Art. Phillippe, A co-worker I had recently met was also there along with about 7 other riders. I was very pleased with this portion of my ride. In the sprint zones, I was right up there with Tyler and Phillippe (who is very strong) and Art. At the rock quarry, Phillippe showed how strong he really is by just motoring away from all of us. We had no chance to catch him.

After the Hour of Power ride, I headed up over Paris Mt again. Just past the CVS, I pulled over to check on a fellow rider and saw that it was my buddy Steve. My plan was not to ride too aggressively, so I decided to ride with him. We tacked on about 23 miles together, then the final 3 I rode home. The total on the day was 56 miles.

Last night, I was looking for someone to ride with, but alas, no-one responded positively. I decided then to go ahead with my plan to climb Caesar's Head. However with one small modification - I would ride directly from home rather than starting from Furman. I thought this would add about 20 miles to the total distance.

The great part about the route I would travel is it included three of my favorite climbs - Altamont Rd from the State Park side, Caesar's Head and Altamont Road from the Furman side. My goal was to just have a fun ride. I knew I wouldn't be setting any personal records as I generally ride a fair bit slower when I am by myself - especially on a longer ride.

I finally got out of the house at about 10 till 8. This was a bit later than I had planned, but the bike did need some maintenance and I had not done that the previous night. It was a great morning, albeit a little cool. I started off with my bib shorts, a jersey, arm warmers and the C3 wind vest. I was a little cool for a lot longer on the ride than I thought I would be. I think I would have been comfortable with my long fingered gloves.

I really enjoyed the ride up the State Park side of Altamont road. I pushed a little, but not near as hard as I have done in the past. I found out it is just about 11 miles to Furman from my house by this route. I didn't actually go onto the campus though, I went straight along New Roe Ford Road.

From there, I pretty much took the route we intended the first time I climbed Caesar's Head. It is really beautiful countryside with very little traffic. I had my new camera, so I had to take some photos to test it out....Ok, I'll have to download additional photos later, but here is the obligatory shot at the state park sign.

I checked my time at the base of the climb so I could see how fast I might climb today. I really wasn't feeling it, but part of that is because I didn't have anyone pushing me up the hill. I was surprised though, I still did the climb in about 45 minutes and 30 seconds. I felt good about that.

I took a break to eat half a clif bar and fill my bottles. Then I re-traced my route back to the house. Once you cross Hwy 11, it really is just rolling hills all the way back to Altamont road, but I was not pushing hard. I know I'll have to do better with my nutrition on the ride to Austin. although I did not bonk, I did put my body in energy conservation mode. I spun to take advantage of any downhill and pull my average speed up, but on the uphills, I really didn't push at all. I just kept clicking down on the gears until I had a nice cadence.

I made it to the Furman side of Altamont road, and I knew I was going to be slow. I was so slow in fact that I added about 50% more time to the personal best I set just a couple of days ago! It was good though, just grinding out the climb with a reasonable respiration rate and I'm sure a reasonable heart rate.

I finished up the ride home and looked at the clock on my cyclocomputer. It showed an elapsed time of 5h50m. It also showed a ride time of 5h8m. That means I spent about 42 minutes stopped. Hmmm, I'll have to improve on that. Finally, it showed a total distance of 75.9 miles. This little experience has shown me that even working together as a team, my Polka-dot team-mates and I are going to have a big challenge to travel significant distances in a 6 hour shift!

However, Bring on the ride! I'm ready!.


  1. It does amazes me at how much time passes when you think you are only stopping for a quick break.

    I rode from my house on Sunday. What a great day for it.

    You are more than ready to roll. Now it is time to embrace the Taper :)

  2. I'm trying to figure out where all that time went. Yes, I did stop at the top for a while, but all other stops were for traffic and nature breaks - plus a few stops for photos.

    I couldn't have taken that many nature breaks!! ;)

  3. I started this year with my first ever climb up Altamont Rd at 17 minutes even. With a lot of training this summer I got that time down to 16, and then 15:30, and recently 14:57. So I'm pretty impressed with your 13:20 time. Your training is definitely paying off. Have you given any thought to racing next season?

  4. Greg,
    You're not the first to suggest that I do some racing next year. I have the winter to think about it I suppose! I do know that there are many people who are much faster than I am. I do feel strong on a long climb, but I am not strong on a sprint.

    What would be most interesting about racing would be the team aspect of it. I would really enjoy that. My P3C3 Team-mate Perry is part of the Spinner's racing team and in fact has suggested I race next season. We'll see. My main goal with bicycling (or running or whatever) is to enjoy it first, and anything else is a bonus.



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