Sunday, September 05, 2010

Riding to New Heights

All of the weekend rides I have done up until Sunday did its best to prepare me for a group training ride with Team Fluid although I really had no idea what I was in for.  We met at JT's Bicycle shop on the corner of Horizon Ridge and Horizon Drive (luckily we drove up the horrible hill, LOL).  John and I grabbed coffee and a bear claw while we waited for the group which was led by Nathan (he doesn't mess around so we departed at 7 a.m. sharp.)
MapMyTracks ride with Team Fluid
We rode from Horizon to Boulder Highway and got on the River Mountain Trail to the outside of Boulder City. So far so good. Then we flew down Veterans Memorial Drive past the golf courses and Boulder City airport (where it meets Georgia Avenue) and started to ride uphill. John and I did this route yesterday where he pointed to a street which turned off to the right where it starts to get steep. That's where our group turned and I knew I would be the last to the top.

Melinda stayed with me and helped me pace myself.  It is hard to see everyone riding away from me and want to catch up by pedaling faster but had I tried, I would have spent all my energy before the rest of the ride was over.  She said there would be more hills like this and some sketchy descents so I could be prepared.
Downhill is where I belong, as long as I had the wide road and can see my turns I am fine.  Just as Melinda had warned there were some tight turns and one time I went wide in front of an oncoming car.   Luckily the driver saw me and slowed down--he had no where to go since there were cyclists on the opposite lane and I was in front of his car.  I rode back to the right side of the road scolding myself for not turning my head once again so my bike would follow.   We regrouped before crossing U.S. 93 to the side of the highway where John's parents live.   I had NO idea what I was in for as we strolled past their street.

The group rounded a corner and ahead of me I saw homes that rose higher and higher on the street I was about to go up.  Apparently that stretch is nicknamed "Little Italy" because of its steepness.  "Oh sh*t." I said to my friend Kaelin.  She knows I hate hills as she reminded me that hills are good.  So I started to climb...and climb...and climb.

I was already in the lowest gear pedaling and pedaling. My speed slowed down to a crawl of 5-6 m.p.h.  At one point I was so ready to get off my bike and walk it up the hill--surely I would be moving faster and the pain I felt in my lung and legs would be less excruciating than cycling as I watched the group ride further up and out of my sight.

Then Nathan rode down the hill and was by my side (this crazy guy was going to go up the hill again?).  I was breathing so hard there was little room for me to hear what he said to me but in between gasping for my breath I learned some things about keeping the same cadence when standing up so I don't spin out and waste energy. I also learned not to drop my head when I am tired because it closes my air passageway thus making me work harder to breath.   Just when I was ready to crack Nathan would cheer me on until I reached the next intersection where there was some relief before continuing up the street.

Finally I made it to the top and then it was my favorite part--downhill!

Our group stopped at the gas station on the Nevada Highway to refuel our bodies and fill up on water. I had hope we would continue up the highway which was uphill but it would be short but nOOoooOOO, we went up the scenic Nevada Way and once again, I was pedaling square.

This time wasn't so bad since John stayed by my side and rode up with me.  After the climb up Little Italy, everything else wasn't so bad, LOL!!  We rode through downtown Boulder City and along the freeway out of town back on to the River Mountain Trail where we stopped to regroup.

I dropped my chain as the group started to leave.  Luckily one of the Fluid riders I will refer to as Red Saddle helped me put the chain back on.  Normally no one is left behind but they thought I was at the front of pack where I like to be on descents. 

We time trailed along Boulder Highway back to the group and took Horizon Ridge towards JT's Bicycle shop.  The wind started howling, increasing the resistance on our pedaling.  I hung on to Monique's wheel and we rode in the echelon to stay out of the wind.  Even though I struggled to keep up, it was either suffer drafting or suffer miserably alone fighting the wind resistance to get back to the shop and it wasn't long before we were back.

What I felt was indescribable...a mixture of relief, accomplishment, and gratitude for all I have learned and the support I've received from such a great group of people along the ride.  It was my hardest 35-miles yet!

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