My training group ride with Team OC (for AIDS/Lifecycle) was titled Hills of Ecstasy. I got the route via e-mail on Monday. It was described as:
We will be doing the Hills of Ecstasy! This route will be “arguably” the most difficult ride in this training season. We climb the greatest hits of hills that OC has to offer. Some are so difficult that we have made them an option given that their insanity is nowhere matched on the Lifecycle. Depending on what option you choose or do not choose the ride is 73 miles, however if you decide to go balls to the walls and complete it in its entirety you’ll get a pat on the back from our TRL (Training Ride Leader) Ed while you are nursing you burning legs in the parking lot as you ponder how you survived the grueling 81 Mile tour. After you finish, have pride because you are almost done!!! Just two more rides left!!! And they will be easy … um … in comparison, that is!
Optional hills, eh? If you know anything about me by now, you know it I am always up for a crazy cycling challenge. So, of course I was in and so was the hubs. The first optional climb was challenging, but nothing to write home (or blog home) about. In Southern California we have some pretty hilly terrain and I don't shy away from a climb, so I was pretty well prepared and climbed it with little difficulty.
Next climb was a whole 'nother story. I had heard it was steep, that concerned me. I can do long, but steep is hard. I am not a confident "out-of-the-saddle" climber since the accident, so steep grades can be even more challenging while in the saddle. Let me tell you, it was S.T.E.E.P.! There were 4 of us climbing the hill together, of course I was the only chik! (Girl power!) One of the guys had a Garmin that calculated grade. He said as one point it read 16.5% grade, THEN he had to get out of the saddle because it got steeper and couldn't read the Garmin. I had to lean over my handlebars and get real low so my front tire wouldn't pop up. My Mt. Biking skills (although rusty) helped me a lot here. We were reward with an awesome view title, Top of the World.
The ocean is out there, but we had some fog.
Pinky and I - yes, I am a huge dork, but check out that awesome jersey...
Of course the decent was awesome. One of my fellow cyclist said that another team member rode the decent last year and he rode his breaks the whole way down and busted a tube due to the heat created from the breaks rubbing against the metal rim. The whole time down I was like "don't ride the breaks", "Oh I need to break but don't ride the breaks"... I ended up clocking over 43 MPH, a new record for me! But that was nearly a challenging as what would be next...3rd Street. I grabbed this photo off the internet because I was thinking of pictures when I rode upon it. This was my view.
I really don't feel like the photo gives it justice. I actually un-clipped and said (this is very embarrassing) "Marc, I am scared". I was so close to walking my bike down the hill. I knew there was no way i could walk down the hill in my cycling shoes, so riding was my only option. Marc told me to just hold on to my breaks and I would be okay. I got behind my saddle (so I would have more weight on the back tire) and held on for dear life. Once again, mt. biking skills to the rescue. I really thought I might go over the front end it was that steep. But I made it. I would do that steep climb 3 times before I would ride down 3rd street again.
The last five miles were BRUTAL! I was spent and a head wind didn't help. I actually had to take a nap after the ride. It has been a very long time since a ride has wiped me out like that.
Pinky and I will only have 2 short rides this week before the big ride. I am driving up my bike to San Francisco on Thursday and won't see her until the big ride on June 5th. Absence make the heart grow fonder...