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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And then I decided I didn't want to climb the mountain...

Morgan Territory

The Saturday ride was intended to be just another quick training ride fit in amongst my busier than usual spring schedule. 80 miles. From Martinez, to Morgan Territory, to Mt. Diablo, to Martinez. Approx. 6500' of climbing.

The frost on the roof tops affirmed my suspicion - It was cold when I left at 6:00 am

There are times when you just know that things aren't right, and probably aren't going to be getting so any time soon. I came to that at round 30 miles into my ride. The Morgan Territory climb was behind me as was the screaming descent toward Livermore. I turned right onto Manning road, with a new stretch of asphalt before me and a nagging pain in my quads. Why do I hurt already? Why am I going so slow? What did I do wrong?

I'm not bonking. Accelerade in the water bottles, and I'm putting them away with regularity. Lots of calories for breakfast, and plenty along the way. What is going on?

In retrospect I've pieced together the pizza, cake and ice cream for dinner, the extra leg workouts during the week, the 5.5 hours of sleep the night before with no more than 2 hours at a stretch, and basically figured out that I didn't set up too well for that ride.

But at 40 miles into my ride, I wasn't putting all of those things together - I just wanted to go faster and couldn't. As I rode into Danville on Camino Tassahara, the twin peaks of Diablo loomed above the canyons to the north east. I wondered if I should skip the mountain.

My first time cycling through this intersection.

The very act of THINKING that thought made me angry. Of course I would ride up the mountain. If it killed me - I would ride up that mountain. 5 miles later the decision came in the form of a stop sign. I turned right and the road turned up. I made sure I was well up the road before I pulled off to the side and pulled off my bandanna and stowed it with my windbreaker. No turning back. Another rider succumbed to the power of suggestion and pulled over to shed some layers. I hoped for company, but he was tuned in to his ipod, and indicated he would be riding slow. "Yeah me too" I thought, and left him behind.

The climb was cruel. I was amazingly slow. I hurt. I started the climb at 50 miles into the ride, but it felt like 100. I fought gallantly with a carnival of negativity for over 45 minutes as the valley slowly shrunk below. The short flats and descents on South Gate Rd. that typically offer a chance to augment the average speed - merely gave leave for a fleeting reprieve. At nearly 6 miles into the climb, the Ranger Station finally appeared around the top of the "S" curve.

I could end it here. I could ride over the hump, and let North Gate Rd. propel me toward home. I was tempted. It was getting cold. The wind coming off the top had begun to sting. Don't give up.

I filled a water bottle, hit the men's room, and then headed for the top. It got colder.

Juniper's sweeping right hand turn offered the next logical place to recognize the inevitable, escape the now nearly freezing temperatures and turn back.

Juniper disappeared around the corner below me. I was riding so slow. I couldn't catch anyone. I was getting passed. The wind was beginning to chill me, and I was still climbing. What was the descent going to feel like? 4 mph. I rarely see that on my computer, even on the steepest hills. this is not my day.

Devil's Elbow. I can turn around here. Ice starts showing up on the sides of the road.

The lower parking lot. I really don't have to climb the wall.

Half way up the wall. I think I'm going to throw up.

Three quarters of the way up the wall. I start praying for Divine help to keep me on my pedals.

The top. I wonder how in the world, a place with such diabolical names can be so incredibly cold. I think "There is a God, and He has quite a sense of humor."

I found a corner basically out of the wind and in the sun. I waited for the sunshine on my back to dry the sweat, and then pulled on the breaker, long gloves, and bandanna. The water fountain is frozen - I guess what's left will have to get me to the bottom. How many times have I ridden up this mountain, and I'm still surprised at how cold it can be.

Down, down, down. Not incredibly fast, because my wrist (still recovering from my New Year's day dive OTB) won't let me forget.

On my way down, I pass 2 unicyclists climbing up. How is this possible? How do they descend?
I decide not to think about it.

3000' makes a huge difference. Before I even reach the bottom I'm ready to shed the arm warmers, knee warmers and gloves.

The road levels out and my legs remind me that they've been had.

I take it easy. I get home later than expected. I take a hot shower.

I realize that for the first time - I actually didn't want to climb the mountain.

But I did.

I hope the pair on the unicycles didn't freeze.