Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My adventures on King Ridge

King Ridge is arguably one of the most beautiful rides in Sonoma County.  Less arguably, it is one of the hardest rides in Sonoma County. One fact that’s indisputable is that I have a love-hate relationship with King Ridge. Well, that and the fact that it seems to absolutely kicks my ass every time I ride it.

Leaving from Duncan Mills, the King Ridge loop is 50 miles of pain.  With it’s relentless climbs, constantly changing grades and very little descending until the very end, it’s easy to see why it’s so challenging.

King Ridge Profile

Another challenge is that King Ridge is in the middle of nowhere with very limited cell coverage.  That means if you have a mechanical issue you’re hours away from being rescued.  If you bonk and feel like you can’t go any further your only real option is to keep going.  This is especially true if you reach the mid-point.

I remember the first time I rode King Ridge (Finally King Ridge). I was concerned because of how famously hard this ride can be.  However, I actually powered through the ride in the middle ring, which really gave me a false sense of conquering this ride.  That would change quickly.

On my second attempt (Riding with Mike), King Ridge definitely reminded who’s the boss and I wasn’t sure I would complete the ride.  At one point a car with a bike rack pass me and I tried to flag them down.  I was that tired.  My third attempt (My Gran Fondo), as part of the first Levi’s Gran Fondo wasn’t any better as I suffered from severe cramping.  To be honest I quit riding King Ridge after that.

Still, my NorCal Velo club was riding King Ridge last Saturday and I decided to join them.  What fun did this legendary climb have in store for me this time?  We roll out of Duncan Mills at 8:30 and I was asked to set an even pace through Cazadero to the start of the climb. I was climbing surprisingly well and made it to the first summit in the middle ring.  As we waited to regroup, I was thanking the Ridge for having mercy.

After the regroup we complete the descent with no issues and start the second half of the climbs.  At about the 26 mile mark we stopped for water.  As everyone was filling up I was straddling my bike just casually waiting to start rolling again.  That’s when it happened.

As I was waiting my heart rate came down to 111.  Then it immediately spiked to 203.  I was diagnosed years ago with supraventricular tachycardia, which is an electrical malfunction that will case your heart to race.  They usually only last 90 seconds or less and are not life threatening.  However, this episode lasted over 15 minutes and had everyone, including me, a little concerned.

Long story short, the group starts riding while I wait for the episode to release.  When it didn’t, Jeff hauled ass to get Cary’s truck while Cary stayed with me.  Finally, it released and my heart rate came down from 190 to 88 in a matter of seconds. Cary and I started rolling again nice and slow and met Jeff at Fort Ross road and drove back to Duncan Mills where we were able to join the rest of the group for some post-ride burgers and beer.

I am fine and my doctor isn’t overly concerned although I will keep them informed if the episodes start happening more frequently or continue to last as long.  Otherwise, life is back to normal and you will find me riding this Saturday.  It just won’t be on King Ridge.


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