Monday, February 20, 2012

Georgie and Helen Conquer Mount Diablo!

Some of the Hammerin' Wheels folks and I headed out to climb Mount Diablo today. Mine & Georgie's first time climbing Diablo!

It was certainly a fun ride! I am glad that people described what to expect out of the climb. 11 miles of straight climbing, not too crazy of a grade for most of it. At the end, near the very top, is "the Wall" where it gets rather steep but not for too long of a distance. So, this is what I expected as I rode out to Diablo and that's what I rode.

The day before this ride, I was getting a bit anxious about the ride. First of all, my legs were pretty tired/sore from a long 20+ mile training run on Saturday and another 11ish mile run on Sunday morning. Secondly, I had not ridden my bike very much in the past week. So, I went out for a shortish ride just to shake off some of the rust in my cycling legs. Good thing I did that. I managed to climb up Beatty and Iron Point okay but I was super sluggish on the flats. My poor friend had to keep waiting on me as I was just lagging and ended up cutting the ride a little short. Yesterday, my legs were spent. I wasn't sure how I well I would fair on the ride today.

But, I am glad I did ride yesterday as I think I did shake off some of the rust as I was feeling much better today on the bike than yesterday. I guess the first day back after a break is always the toughest. Thank goodness that was yesterday and not today.

The ride starts off pretty well. A fun group out. We ride easy-ish out to Diablo from where we parked, about 10ish miles on a funky bike trail.

We regroup at the bottom of Diablo and get ourselves ready for the climb. Everyone takes off and I am left way way behind them. No worries. I know not to chase them and wear myself out. I am just going to get up this hill at my own pace. I get into granny gear and pedal away. Up and up and up I go. The views are gorgeous out here. I am enjoying the scenery and just keep pedaling away knowing I have 11 miles of climbing to do.

A couple miles into it, I pass Chuck and I think my legs have found a nice rhythm going. I just pedal along at about 5-6 miles per hour. I make sure I drink enough water/electrolytes as I go along. I get a little hungry a few miles into it and eat an oatmeal cookie. That cookie really hit the spot. I eat another one a few miles later.

Halfway up Diablo is a Ranger station, where some of the group has stopped to regroup and/or refill on water and such. I eventually come riding by the station and think there is no way I will be able to stop pedaling and restart again. I have a good groove going (though slow) and not going to stop until I get to the top. So, I tell Javier that I am just going to keep going. It does not take too long for Javier and the others to come up and pass me as they head to the summit.

After the Ranger station, it starts to get a bit cold and foggy. I like that it's foggy and cool. One good thing is that I cannot look up to see where I am going. I can't look to see how much more climbing I have to do, how high it looks, etc.... I can only see in front of me and just have to keep going. I know I have about 4ish miles left to go so I just pedal away.

About 10 miles into the climb, I am feeling pretty good. I am just plugging away. But, I start preparing myself for the "Wall" I have heard so much about. I take a GU for a little extra energy boost. I turn one bend and I come out of the fog and into the sunshine. I am now above the clouds and that is a pretty neat feeling. But, the Wall is coming...

I come around one more bend and there it is, this short, super steep section known as "the Wall." Good grief! I pedal away and even harder as the grade gets steeper. I can hear an SUV behind me. The engine revving impatiently at me but that fellow is going to have to wait because I AM getting up this darn hill. I rode this far without stopping, I certainly am not stopping now.

I buck down and push as best as I can to get up this last little section. I can now see Javier and Craig at the top encouraging me on! Almost there...and finally, I get there! To the top of Diablo! Woot! Whew, I'm tired now!

Now, the view up there is pretty awesome! I really like the feeling of being above the clouds! I really feel like I climbed a mountain today. Well, we climbed a mountain, Georgie & me. And, we went all the way without stopping! :)

After looking around a little bit and taking a few pictures, the group starts descending back down. I go refill my water bottles so end up still being at the top when Chuck gets up to the summit. That was nice.

Then, down I go. Flying down the hill and back through the fog. It is COLD! It is fun though the turns make me nervous. Cornering still makes me a bit nervous after the crash I had in November. At one point, I am so cold, my hands are getting numb and my teeth are chattering.

After the descent, we ride back to our cars. 43ish miles for the day. I really enjoyed the ride. It was fun ride with some fun company today! I feel a bit better about the Death Ride (in July). Javier tells me that the climbs are pretty much just like that, but no Wall. Long steady climbs. We just do it a few more times than today. :)

[I forgot to restart my Garmin during the descent so it missed about 3 miles of my descent but the amount of climbing I did is fairly accurate]

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