Patterson Pass the Hard Way

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Patterson Pass Road Race is next weekend and some of the guys wanted to ride the course so I decided to ride with them (even though we all know I will be easy behind at the back).  We started at  the intersection of Midway and Patterson Pass, which meant we begin with the climb up Patterson Pass, as you can see from the picture at the beginning of this blog.

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As expected, I would be the caboose, the tail, the trailer … i.e.  Dropped royally.  But that’s okay … I expect to, and I wasn’t expecting them to wait for me, as this is a trainer for the race.  However, I was still able to pass a couple other riders (not sure if they were locals, or training for the race).  If they were training for the race, I pray for them.

The first time around, I climbed standing, but what I didn’t realize was how stiff the head winds were, especially near the top of the climb.  Now if the 15-20% grade wasn’t bad enough, let’s throw in some stiff headwinds.  I have no idea how strong the winds were (I’ll estimate 30-50 mph), but that just made the climb so so hard.  I only wish the Garmin had a pitot tube built in or something, so we can determine what the actual head wind was that I was battling.

Anyways, it was really tough, and I just couldn’t get any power.  Just to add to this, the sun was beating down too, and with no shade to speak of.  At least it wasn’t triple digit temps.

imageI got up to the top, but did not want to stop, so I continued my cadence as much as I could, knowing there is a downhill on the other side of the hill.

This is a fast downhill, but it’s not terribly steep, so maneuvering on this descent is not quite as hairy as you’d think.  This descent is nice, in that it gives you enough recovery before the next climb, which is a right turn on Flynn.

A side note … I normally do this loop in the reverse direction, so I usually come down Flynn, then up Patterson Pass.  However, this is definitely a lot tougher loop, as you add in the headwinds with the climbs.  On paper, this may be a lower category climb, but you need to put a big asterisk on this, considering the headwinds.

Ok, Flynn Road is not too steep, but it is a gradual climb (I’m talking 8-10%, compared to 20%), and it does work your legs a bit, but it doesn’t make you cry for mercy.  I could see where some attacks can come here.  I did see quite a few riders coming down Flynn in reverse direction where I was going, and they had team jerseys on … it kind of makes me wonder if the road race is actually going in the opposite direction, or if they were just doing some warmups.  In all of this, I am surprised no one has passed me up.  Whatever the case may be, I just continue on.

Flynn Road actually crosses over the I-580 freeway, and it’s actually a pretty interesting site.  You get quite an interesting mix of cars and big rigs that cross this pass through the freeway.  Once again, fierce cross winds hit you as you make this crossing, then it’s a nice downhill till you get to Altamont Pass, where you hang a right to go eastbound.

imageThe stretch on Altamont Pass is downhill, and you can pick up some really fast speeds coming through this stretch.  I didn’t really push it here, and just got down into a tight tuck, just to see how fast I can get without any pedaling.  The best I clocked in at was 40 mph, but could definitely have gone much higher, if I really needed to.  But with just me out there solo, why bother?

As far as traffic is concerned, it wasn’t too bad.  As you can see, the road is virtually empty, so that bodes well for a pack of large cyclists doing a road race.

One last little ridge, and then they make the right turn onto Midway.  This is the last stretch home for this lap.  As I’m speeding through here, I keep wondering how far ahead the rest of the group is.  There was some discussion of filling up at the cars, but we’ll see.

imageAfter going downhill at 35-40 mph for a while, the legs now have to get used to a little climb.  The climb is not bad at all … more like a speed bump compared to Patterson Pass, but still a painful reminder to your leg that hey, it’s a hill.

Ok, back to the cars, but no one there.  Either they went on ahead without re-fueling, or I was so far behind them that they go tired of waiting.  I think it was the former, not the latter … at least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Ok, I’m dreading the climb back up Patterson Pass again.  Halfway through the second climb of Patterson, I’m thinking to myself, I don’t need to do this.  But, since Patterson is the toughest, I figure I’ll do this a second time, then call it a day, then head back.

Second time around, I decided to climb seated.  This was working for the time being.  I didn’t notice the wind yet, so maybe mid-day, the wind is not so bad?  Wishful thinking?  … that’s a big yes.  By the time I got to the last steep sections, the wind picked up again.  Well, so much for climbing seated.  I just couldn’t get enough power sitting, so off the saddle I go.  The second time around was tougher, as expected, but boy was I in a world of hurt … the combination 20% ascent, and the fierce headwind makes for a really difficult climb.  It kicked my ass … if I may say so bluntly.

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Now at the top of the climb, I look ahead, and see if I will change my mind?  Uh, no … I’m turning back.  I don’t need to do Flynn again, and besides, I don’t know how far behind I am, and they would be waiting a long time for me if I continued to do the full 2nd lap.

On the way down, I do see quite a few riders climbing up Patterson … so we may have been doing it the right direction.  Strange how earlier, I saw so many going the other direction.  Local club?  Maybe … or maybe they just want to get some miles in?

By the time I got to the cars, no one was there.  Well, I figure I’d tweet the gang, telling them I cut the 2nd lap short, but after about 5 minutes, I see Ben come by.  Wow … 1.25 laps, then come back, and Ben comes around almost the same time … so I was about .5 lap behind the group.  It’s a good thing I decided to turn around when I did.

This wasn’t a long ride, but I did get some good climbing in, and a good workout.  I got in 32.2 miles, and 3387 feet of climbing … so it still matches up to the Wrecking Crew ride status.

One interesting note … on Strava, for Patterson Pass, I actually made it in the top 10 KOM.  Who knows how long that’s going to last.  My time going up Patterson Pass?  29 minutes, about 8 minutes slower than the rest of the pack.  I’m fine with that.

Strava:  http://www.strava.com/rides/147586

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3 Responses to Patterson Pass the Hard Way

  1. Pete says:

    Man! That’s a great workout! Great detailed report. Makes me want to take a nap now.
    😉

  2. smprfii says:

    Thanks for the report. I have yet to ride Patterson Pass “the hard way”, and really wanted to know what the head wind would be prior to doing so. Cycling 4 Veterans has a ride on 10/17 where I plan to do the 55 mile ride, and the 20 mile mark is right around the base of Patterson Pass. I hope I can handle that head wind. Thanks again for the heads up!

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