Daily Archives: April 19, 2010

A first for me…. 17% grade

Yup, that’s what my Garmin Edge 305 said as I climbed or should I say scaled a steep section of Stove Prairie Rd. I had read about this route that is in my area but never taken it. I had always gone to the right when I got to the ‘T’ in Masonville. I think the write-up warned of some serious climbs and when I put the route in Map My Ride the elevation chart confirmed those claims. In spite of all I read, today I turned left.

Unlike many of my Colorado routes, this one was not a steady uphill. Instead, the route was more like a ribbon that was put down on uneven terrain. The road rose and descended as it weaved through the valley. This is not my favorite terrain. It reminded me way too much of ‘rollies.’ But, I had made a commitment to myself to ride up to Moondance Way. That would put me on track for a 60 mile round trip.

There were a dozen or so other cyclists on the route. Many of them already on the return trip as I started up the climb. I hadn’t gone more than a mile or so when the valley opened up and I could see several miles of ribbon road in front of me. What stood out immediately was how far ABOVE me the ribbon went in such a short distance.  I could see the end of the ribbon rise  up sharply and disappear over the saddle between two peaks. I knew that I had to go that far…and further to reach my goal.

I kept my eyes on the wall as I approached and wondered if it was really as steep as it looked from far away. As I got closer, the climb did not melt away. At some point I realized that I’d just have to buckle down and lean into it. That’s what I did. Luckily, the steepest section was less than a half mile long. I found a rhythm to my breathing and my pedaling. The rest was just shear will power. It was tough, but it was far from impossible. I never thought I’d have to stop and walk and I stayed aerobic  the entire time (although just barely!)

Once I crested the top I had a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Although I would have loved to turn around there, I continued for another mile or two until I came upon Moondance Way, my turn around point. The ride back was fast even though I was heading into a slight headwind. Nothing like cashing in on a big climb. The road was good and I found that I didn’t hardly have to use my brakes. The ride home from Masonville was along a route I often take. My legs were a bit more tired than usual, but other than that it was unremarkable.

Oh, there was one thing of note. With about 7 miles left in the ride, I found that I was starting to slow down and feel fatigued. Then, I saw a rider in my rear view mirror that was within ‘striking’ distance. Somewhere in my sub conscience I decided that I would not be passed without a fight. My cadence quickened and I suddenly ‘woke up.’  My speed went from 10 to 15 miles an hour as if I had mashed a gas pedal to the floor. And, I kept this speed up until I could no longer see that rider in my mirror.  Even then, since I knew now that my fatigue was as much (or more) mental as physical, I maintained an elevated level of effort all the way back home.  Funny how we often have so much more in the tank than we think we do. No doubt I will draw on this lesson in a few months!