Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Iron Mountain

I'm finally going to try and get caught up on the weekend. After Saturday mornings 2 mile race, Annette and I headed over to Lake Degray to meet Gary, Curtis, Cindy and James B. for a bike ride on the 1/2 Ironman course there. We were not going to do the full course of 56 miles but we decided that we would ride out about an hour and ten minutes then turn around and come back. I had already been warned about one big hill, but after doing River Mountain last week I figured there couldn't be many worse than that. Boy was I wrong.

This was one of the views from the ride

Annette was a little apprehensive about riding with such a fast group so I told her that I would take it easy and ride back with her. She is really doing good on the bike, especially considering she has only been doing it for about a month. James took the lead with Cindy and Gary following. Curtis and I sort of took turns riding back with Annette. The first few hills were not that bad. The scenery was AWESOME! To give you an idea, the name of the road we were on was Skyline Drive. If you ever run or bike on a road with this name expect some BIG hills.

About 4-5 miles in to the ride we had our first big climb. I had no problem with it, then the downhill was unbelievable. Nice smooth road with some slow sweeping curves. Really made it nice after climbing. It wasn't long though and we had lost sight of Gary, Cindy and James. As we made a turn on to highway 8, we look to our left and here comes Cindy and Gary. They had made a wrong turn and was having to catch up. So for a while we all road together. Annette was actually pulling us for a couple miles doing 18-19 mph. She does really good on the flats, its the gear selection she is having to practice on more. Didn't take long and Cindy wanted to fly so she passed the pace line and took off. Well, when a girl does that one of the guys always has to go chase her down, and Cindy is a very strong biker so its not an easy task. I think Curtis chased her down this time and Gary joined in the chase soon afterwards.

Curtis and Annette tackle one of the smaller hills

After we made the turnaround a few miles up the road we took a break. I had asked Cindy and Gary where James was but they didn't know. He had gotten ahead of them when they made the wrong turn so they assumed he kept going the wrong way. He was a big boy so we knew he would find his way back. I made the dumb comment that this was a really nice route and really wasn't that bad. I think they were all laughing to themselves knowing what was to come.

After riding a little bit, Cindy and Gary had took off again and Curtis told me to go catch them. So I started hammering. I was working hard and gaining on them. They probably had a 1/2 mile lead on me at least. I looked back and I could see Curtis and Annette gaining on me. I would look down at my speedometer and see that I was going about 17-19mph. I knew this speed would be pushing it for Annette but still they were gaining on me. Whats up with that?? I was working my tail off trying to catch Cindy and Gary and Annette and Curtis was closing in on me. I thought to myself, man, they must really have a good drafting system going to be catching up like that! I knew Curtis was strong and could pull like that but I really didn't think Annette could hold a pace line yet. I had almost caught Cindy and Gary when low and behold, here is Curtis and Annette, passing me! I figured out their little trick then. Curtis was actually pushing Annette with his hand on her back while he was riding beside her. Amazing! He is super strong to be able to do that because I know they had to be rolling at least 20mph to catch me.

Then came Iron Mountain. I'm not sure if this was really Iron Mountain but one of the marinas on the lake is called Iron Mountain Marina. Actually the first climb wasn't the worst. I thought it was at the time. It was probably at least .3 mile long and got really steep at the top. It was a struggle to get up it and when I did I stopped to cheer Annette on as she climbed. She made it to the top also. We were both pumped then we looked ahead and saw the monster of all hills. We had a little downhill the we started climbing back up. The hill had to be at least 1/2 a mile long and very steep. My first thoughts were, I don't know if I have enough left to make it up that one. I started climbing. I stayed seated as long as I could and tried to stay in about 2nd gear so I would have one gear left. I dropped down to first and stood up, climb a few like that then sat back down. Up to this point the grade was not that bad. About .1 before the top, the grade of the hill changed and it went what seemed like straight up. Oh my god, how was I going to get up that? My legs were already burning from the first hill and the climb I had already done. All I knew was that I was going to do it. I stayed seated as long as I could which wasn't long then stood up and started pumping. I can say that I have never done anything on the bike or run that hard before. My thighs were burning with pain, my hips flexors felt like they were going to explode. I started looking at places to fall over. I knew if I stopped pedaling I was going to fall because there wouldn't be enough time to get my shoes unclipped. I eyeballed some grass on the side thinking this might work, then looked to see how far I would roll down hill. Funny what we think sometimes. Then I just kept gutting it out. I was breathing harder than if I was doing a 100 yard dash or something. I would push the pedal down, pull it up and back again. Sometimes stopping the stroke just enough to rest my leg for split second, but not long enough to come to a stop. Finally, I was at the top. How I don't know. I kept hearing Gary's voice in my head saying "we are not walking the bikes up any hills". Well, I didn't today. I did have to put my head down in my aero bars just trying to catch my breath again. I was still breathing hard, and it probably didn't help any that the temperature was probably 90 degrees. Annette did end up walking her bike up this one, I almost wish I would have but I did conquer that monster.

It wasn't over though, we ended up having about 3 more big climbs, none as bad as that one but all of them still a challenge, especially after all the work we had expended. The last 3 or 4 miles of the ride seemed like they would never end. My neck and shoulders were killing me. A lot probably because of the climbs and some because I was getting dehydrated. I should have been drinking more. It was a good sight to see the parking area and know that the lake waited for us. It was nice to know that everyone else had struggled on that hill too. I knew then that it was worth it and that the training would make me stronger.

This was taken with less than two miles to go. Annette and Curtis.

Afterwards we got a snack and Gary, Curtis and Cindy swam out to one of the buoys in the lake which was probably about 400 meters out. They did this twice. Amazing! I stayed in the water next to the bank just cooling off and Annette swam a little around there. The water was very refreshing to say the least. I think we may be planning on going back there this weekend for more pain and torture!

Gary, Annette, Curtis, Cindy and me getting ready for the swim after the ride

1 comment:

gabsatrucker said...

What a weekend!! And here I thought I was doing great with my almost 60 miles last Saturday, lol.

I enjoyed getting to meet Annette at the Carti tour and you're right she's doing great with no more time on the bike than she's had. Hopefully I'll be able to catch y'all at one of the other races this summer.