Category Archives: climb

Epic Suffering on L’Etape du California, Mt.Diablo

It is the peak of the century riding season, and so far, I haven’t even begun getting into any events.  DMD was this weekend, Wildflower is also this weekend, so I decided to tackle L’Etape du California, which does the same route that ATOC Stage 7 will be doing.  I didn’t really decide until Friday night, and the ride was Sunday.

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As part of the registration process, they required everyone to sit through a safety talk first, then register.  They wanted to stress that this is not a race, and to point out the danger areas.

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Since I had to drive this far, I might as well bring my bike and do a quick Patterson Pass loop, and do part of tomorrow’s course. Good thing I did, acclimated my body to the heat. It was friggin hot out there, and no wind.

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Okay, Sunday morning and it’s a mass start at 7 am. The turnout was a little less than they expected .. 300, and they were expecting 1000. I was up near the front with all sorts of racer types. We rolled out pretty quickly, with a brisk pace. I started wondering what did I get myself into. People were passing me left and right. Even more people past me going up Morgan Territory.

Morgan Territory is the first climb of the day. We normally descend down this road and we call it the plunge. However this time we’re climbing it. Epic. After we crest this, it’s down the hill on the other side. This is a rough surface, and I know others are hurting, because all the different bumps. My Volagi did just fine, absorbing then all, making it a bit more comfortable than if I brought the Seven. One thing that was annoying was a slow descender, and wouldn’t allow many to pass. Took me awhile, but I finally passed him. Sheesh!

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At the bottom, rest stop #1. They need to learn how to support social rides as they only had 1 porta potty. This added time to the wait. This was also the only rest stop until the finish which had bread for pbj. Epic fail.

From here, the route to the next climb would be pretty flat, out Marsh Creek onto the city of Byron. There is nothing out here, and it’s brown. Nothing scenic about this, but at least it didn’t stink. I latched onto a pelaton of about 8 riders. Nice pace, not too fast so I didn’t blow myself up, but brisk enough to make some good time.

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Rest stop 2 is at the base of the Patterson Pass climb. This is their second time doing this in two days. I conserved my energy in preparation for this. It was about 10 am when I started the climb, which is a lot better than 1 pm, which is when I started this yesterday. I did do a lot better. There still was not much wind. This is Patterson Pass, which usually had wind. For once I was wishing
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With a Name Like On Orbit, it’s Gotta Be Tough

This weekend, my friend Karen came up for another Bay Area visit.  Ramon tweeted me earlier in the week, “Bohlman/On Orbit, Hicks” … oh boy!  You know what that means … climbfest!  NorCal style.  This will be a doozy.

DCIM100MEDIAWe started out with a few warm up hills, Mt. Eden, Saratoga Heights (with some sort but steep 16% grades), just to get our legs warmed up.  This was just a teaser.  This in itself would be a pretty tough ride, but at least the length of the climb is short.

It’s kind of funny, that the start of the climb on Bohlman is right where the cemetary is.  That’s a strange omen … something about taking it’s victims that attempt to climb this.

It’s hard to tell which is tougher, Bohlman or On Orbit, but I like to think of On Orbit as an extension of Bohlman. Climbs were sustained at 15-25% for about 1.5 miles.  I was pretty quickly riding from the back, but I was not in a hurry to finish this climb, especially with Hicks later on in the ride.  The switchbacks on Bohlman were incredibly steep, and there was not much relief, no matter if you were on the inside or outside of the curve of the switchback.  It’s a good thing this is a small residential street, with not a lot of traffic.

DCIM100MEDIAThis is one of those climbs where you need to tack, and it’s no shame to get off your bike and rest, but the hard part is getting back on. I didn’t stop, but there were so many times where I was tempted to. Luckily, there was a flat spot where Bohlman and On Orbit intersects. That gives me a few moments to take deep breaths and compose myself, and ready to finish this damn climb.

I think On Orbit might be a little easier than Bohlman, but not by much … it’s still a sufferfest only because your legs have been under duress for some time.  I climbed pretty much seated, only because the grade was so steep, I was afraid if I stood too much, I’d tip over.  I did pass a couple of women who were walking on this road, and I can only imagine what their reaction was of me struggling up this hill.

Now we had to go down the same way we came up.  Now, keep in mind, these grades ranged from 15% to 30%, and we have to go down these hills.  It got so steep, Karen had to walk it down some of the steeper grades.  Now that’s a first.  We were not in a hurry to come down, and we broke up the descents multiple times.  This also helped cool our rims down, and save our brake pads.

DCIM100MEDIAAfter this we headed over through Los Gatos, en route to Hicks.  There was enough flat junk miles before hitting the hills that our legs, for the most part, had recovered.  I can’t really say that Hicks was as tough as Bohlman or On Orbit … it’s a notch below, but it was still tough.  16+% grade is still pretty tough, and I definitely wasn’t attacking Hicks.  I was still climbing from the back of my heels.  Strangely enough, we were the only ones climbing.  Either it’s not that popular, or people have more common sense than us.

20130330_123210It didn’t occur to me to climb Mt. Umunhum, as Ramon had specifically mentioned Hicks.  It would have been a great day for it, but we’ll have to save this for another day.  I think I had enough in my legs to climb to the gate on Mt. Umunhum, but Mt. Umunhum is not going away.  Next time, we’ll attack it without Bohlman … Hicks and Umunhum is tough enough without Bohlman and On Orbit.

More pics are at https://plus.google.com/photos/107775104280723216283/albums/5861508720868290513?utm_source=chrome_ntp_icon&utm_medium=chrome_app&utm_campaign=chrome&partnerid=gplp0&authkey=CMuEkonTuKSUAQ

And of course, the Strava data – http://app.strava.com/activities/46543599

PTO Ride Angeles Crest Hwy to Red Box

I had my forced 3 day pto this week, so I decided to take Hwy 2 up to Red Box Junction, which is one the road up to the top of Mt. Wilson goes.  What better day to go, on a Friday, when everyone is still in the office and don’t have to contend with crazy drivers on a normal weekend.

I started from the Rose Bowl and it was a little overcast but now too bad. One thing I forgot .. sunscreen. Overcast skies made me forget about it. I was hoping the 7-11 art the bottom of the hill would have some. I asked the guy if he had some … he said no, but I was able to find one. Does he not know what sunscreen is? Oh well, not to worry. At least I can lather up so I won’t turn into a tomato.

Once I got into Angeles Forest, the sun was out. Good thing I stopped at 7-11.  I started out with a good cadence, beginning the ride in my middle ring.  I was following the advise from the cycling360 podcast (http://www.cycling360media.com/gears-and-gear-ratios/) to shift often.  I typically went straight to the granny gear, but today, I decided to try powering up, at least for a little bit of it.  That kept the climb from being boring but the scenery and the fact that there wasn’t a constant flow of mad trucks and motorcycles, did help a lot.

At Clear Creek Junction

My original goal was just to get up to Clear Creek Junction, and depending on how I felt, I would either continue up to Red Box, head back down, or head down on Angeles Forest Hwy, and onto Big Tujunga.  Well, I got to Clear Creek around 10:45 am, and I was not completely wiped, so I decided to continue onto Red Box.

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When you look at the road ahead, the climb looks daunting. It’s actually not as bad as it looks. It’s an optical illusion. I just had to continue on the same climbing cadence that got me this far. Another rider passed me, commenting that he hates this bump. I told him he looks better than me, and his response was “I don’t feel better” as he speeds away from me. He’s just sand bagging, that’s all.

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I got up to Red Box Junction at around 11:30 am .. wow got here faster than I thought I would. I did start going up Mt. Wilson for a short while, but I want feeling it. I should probably head back, ago I just turned back. I was just enjoying the scenery and the thought of the long fast descent just kept me smiling.

I got back down to the Rose Bowl around 1 pm. Pretty good timing. That’s a good PTO ride. Nicer little 41 mile, 4500 feet climb. Now to spend the rest of the day like a normal human being.

More pictures at https://plus.google.com/photos/107775104280723216283/albums/5806421351100399393?authkey=CMPT7OKy2fz8ag