Monday, August 6, 2012

Brian's Piedmont Pyrenees 8/4/12

You wish you had "Got Gears?" at the 4000' of climbing point! Brian either laughing or crying, I think the former.  Top of Campus Drive. (click pics for bigger views)

Hey there!  In today's Flashblog I'll describe a very tasty group ride created by Brian "Got Gears?" Aldrich, multi-club rider and Triple Crown award winner ( 3x200 mile rides in one season).  Brian and I, back in The Day, which was only 3 years ago, took part in an "arms race" buildup of challenging steep local hills, trying to one up the last effort, which resulted in some very interesting, difficult, and little known off the beaten path routes up into the hills.  Another steep hill climbing afficianado that emerged during this time was Melne Murphy of Team Alameda, who created butt kicking routes she called the "Hella Hills" series.  It all got to be  too much for this reporter, who bailed out when he read the description for the "Nifty Ten Fifty" ride endorsed by Brian--- 50 miles with 10,000' of climbing!

So time goes by.  I lead my own brand of rides that usually incorporate an element of these steep routes, the spirit is still there, if not the high totals of climbing, although my latest group rides have been in the 3000-4000' range over 40-50 miles. Not shabby.  Brian's ride sounded challenging and a fun throwback to those golden days of yesteryear.

Only six of us accepted the challenge, the others being myself,  a new version/ lighter David Long, long time TA member Patricia L., a relatively new guy, and a freshly minted first timer new guy.  (Sorry, I don't have the sign in sheet so your names are anonymous until I'm filled in otherwise).  A hearty group that suddenly cast me in the role of the old timer, literally.  So be it!

L to R:  Brian, first timer guy, new guy, Dave, Patricia, Flash behind camera.  This is the top of Leimert Hill.

The course was to climb a steep 17% grade to 750', then descend to 400', and climb another 16% grade to 700', then descend to 400' and climb some grades over 20% to 1200' (one street, Glen Oaks, hit 31% on Brian's Garmin!!).  From there we skirted the Skyline to 1400', then descended to around 400', and climbed once again up the west face of Redwood Road, which is a steady 14% or so to 900'.  A right turn had us climb Skyline again to 1200' or so, then a fast downhill to the bottom of Campus Drive, which is a 17% grade of about a mile.  At the top of Campus we had accumulated 4,200' of climbing in 25 miles or so.  (I'm guessing on these grades but you get the idea)

Dave and the new guys were ahead, with Patricia close behind, Brian and I securing the rear.  Pretty much the order of the day.  At the top of Redwood I was feeling depleted, so I popped a Clif 2X Turbo gel, and man, after a few minutes I was rolling on rocket fuel, I had new legs and was gaining on the front pair along Skyline.  I highly recommend this product!  In fact, it worked TOO well, as at the end of the advertised ride, I kept on hill riding over to Montclair and areas and gained another 1000'!  I gave it all to the bike, hear me now and believe me later.

Brian and Patricia gut out the 20%+ grade that is Sobrante Ave in Montclair.  IMO, one of the most fearsome hills in the Eastbay due to grade and length.  Years ago I pulled my back straining up it in gears too high.  This is how I Learned the Truth of low gears.

Along Skyline just after climbing Sobrante and Wild, its not blurry, its a special effect to simulate the fog of endorphins

Everyone rode magnificently this day, even those of us watching those of us ahead, especially impressive was Patricia, who, training for the 100 mile Grand Fondo, was riding at the Next Level than what we usually expect from her.  Gold Medal in the Women's Division!

Eyes on the Prize!  Patricia shows a new fire

Truth be told, I was pretty beat Sunday.  I had to work unexpectedly and it was a relief that I did not have to ride.  How often do I say that?  A route like this is hard and takes its toll, and adding another 25% chunk to it didn't help matters any, but that is the nature of the ride when I am in it.  I don't want it to stop, I am flying high, feeling fit as a fiddle, living fully in the moment, ignoring that I will have to pay the Piper in the coming days.  Having said that, I took a flat 10 mile ride this afternoon with Flashette and enjoyed it, so I am clawing my way out of the bottom of the recovery pit already, and looking forward to my ride lead into the Marin Headland on Saturday.

Stats:  2000' in 12 miles, 4000' in 22 miles, 5,344' in 38 miles (my total)  That's a one-third Death Ride without the thin air or special training...I'd say a good day on the bike!

Keep on Pedaling,

1 comment:

  1. As always an enjoyable read. Great pictures, too. I believe the "Got Gears" guy, Brian, is giving that smile to hide the need to cry. I've done that on lesser steep hills. ;-)

    Like you, Brian gave me valuable advice that I will never forget.

    I often check out cyclists to see if I would recognize Brian and thank him for the going down hills advice, but I'm not confident I've seen him yet so please pass that on to him. Thanks for sharing the pic of him. That will help. Oh, and his letting you in on the value of having "low gears" when climbing and your passing that on to me has been a Godsend, too. I share that page often.

    I admire everyone's tenacity to ride those steep hills. Go for the Gold Patricia!

    I rode 30 miles of the Marin Century a week or more ago and the next day, I rode 18 FLAT miles in "flat like a pancake Alameda" very, very slow. ;-)

    Looking forward to your next post!