Monday, January 26, 2009

There's power in them there hills!

Well, it's official. Yesterday was my first training ride of 2009. Although I have 5 short rides in so far this year, they were all either simple base-building, cold recovery, or social adventures. But yesterday's ride had a purpose. And that purpose was to climb.

Originally I was suppose to head out with Coach Tim for some "low pace hill climbing." However, I got the text Sunday morning that Tim's wife wasn't feeling well so he stayed home to keep an eye on their 2 boys. Smart man! As Tim is found of saying - "I like all my stuff not half of it." (That only makes sense if you know that California is a community property state.)

So I am on my own for the first time in 2009. Around 7:30 I head out surrounded by brilliant sunshine. My original plan was to head north and put in around 50 miles or so. Then I remembered something I wrote in my own blog. I am supposed to be backing off the miles and focusing on getting stronger and faster on the bike. So, since the original plan was to climb, I head for the hills. My goal is simple. I am going to do multiple, slow, power-building climbs.

This is very easy for me. I hit the first climb of the day just 1 mile into the ride in a place called Montecito Heights. So up I go on a single lane road that offered some great views of Santa Rosa and the coastal hills. This first hill is perfect for the hill repeats I will start a little later this year. After a quick descent, I rode to the hills of Fountain Grove, which has some impressive climbs that are perfect for training.

I will only tell you about one of them - Skyfarm Drive. I decided to throw this into mix at the last minute because I was feeling strong. It made me pay for my over confidence. As soon as I turned onto Skyfarm I dropped down to the triple. Nothing to be gained by staying in the middle ring on this climb. The average grade for first half mile is around 17% with max of 20%. You then get to recover on a flattish section, because it is only 4%, before the next pitch which offers another half mile of 17%. After another little reprieve, you get to finish the climb with a 200 meter dash of 14%. And that's the weak side!

All-in-all, I climbed just over 1600 feet in the first 12 miles, and 1 hour, of cycling. Since I was starting to feel a little fatigued I decided it was time to find some flat road and spin out the legs. So I pick a route out of the hills with a mellow descent that allowed me to increase the cadence without really having to work. I then spent the next hour riding at a relaxed pace before it was back over the hills to get home.

In the end, it was a 35 mile ride with 2300 feet of climbing. In other words, it was perfect. And it felt like a training riding in all aspects. High average heart rate, big wattage, and a constant reminder to look up now and then to enjoy the views versus only staring at the cyclometer.

So the 2009 training is finally underway. Coach Tim is creating a 3-month plan for me to follow which I am sure will introduce me to my new Cycleops Fluid 2 trainer. It will also include workouts for the single speed. And I am sure it will include a lot more rides like the one I did yesterday.


1 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

Nice job, Lee! That climb sounds utterly brutal...ugh. Hope to see you on the bike soon.