Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hills

Today was supposed to be about doing my first century ride (and my first ride ever) with the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen.

While following along with the updates that are emailed from their Yahoo! group this week, I realized that this was going to be a ride that included challenging climbs. Did I really want to ride 100 miles on my first club ride without knowing exactly what challenging meant to these guys?

Hmmm... maybe I'll just do the 75 mile route. Wait - there's another email here that says the worst hills are after mile 50 so I should just do the 50-miler. Wait - what if I really suck at this? I guess I'll just do the 33-miler. Okay now, I'm going to drive for over an hour to get to the starting point just to ride my bike 30 miles? Meh. I guess I'll just skip it.

Now that the climbs had scared me off of my original objective, the obvious "ride of choice" would have to be some sort of other, more manageable hill work. It's easy enough to find a hill in my neighborhood. That "Uphill both ways" quote nicely describes most of the rolling climbs around here. The one known as, "Watery Hill," is a favorite for the local running club. The name of the street (East Bacon) has nothing to do with the nickname. All I know about it is that I will not take my minivan down that hill in the winter. It is a short but steep twister and hitting any patch of ice could doom me.

A friend of mine who is an accomplished runner (a marathoner - she likes to run five miles before she teaches her spin classes - oh, good grief,) once told me that "other" hill, which is straight up Route 106, while not as steep, is actually a longer climb. She found it more of a challenge to ride up 106 than Watery Hill. I decided to take on the Route 106 climb because the road itself has a wider shoulder and obviously a less technical descent which gave me more room for error.

It should also be noted that on the Fuji Monterey that I was riding last year, neither of these two hills was within my ability. To say that I was more than a little hesitant to attempt this would be a gross understatement.

The day started overcast so I skipped the cycling jersey and went with an old ANSI yellow wicking t-shirt. I also turned on my new taillight (Bell is Swell). It was early Sunday morning so I knew traffic would be negligible which meant a safer road for me and fewer people to laugh at me if I screwed up and fell over.

I warmed up for about 10 minutes on a couple of side roads that had small slopes - slopes that would have been slightly challenging in the past. I got into the mindset of trying to stay in the saddle as long as possible before having to stand up because a) It's more of a challenge to remain seated and b) I still squirrel about like I'm about to fall over when I stand on my pedals - I just don't have that skill down yet.

Somehow, through all of that Darth Vader lung-sucking noise I was making that scared the local wildlife, I managed to make the climb in the saddle 3 times and decided that was enough for my first hill workout. In the end, I am happy to have finally been able to make a climb that was beyond my abilities last year, I set the table for more workouts in the future (including a CAT 5 rated climb a couple of miles down the road,) and had enough energy left to do a 2-mile shuffle/jog on my return - logging much the same bike/run mileage as the Sudbury triathlon I did in early May.

I'm also very happy I decided to skip that club ride, too. That might have been one hot mess.

2 comments:

  1. I double checked last year's hill grade from my Garmin and we didn't have any real steep hills. Most were rollers, some long, but hills is not what HHH is noted for.

    The one we all gripe about is the overpass at about mile 101 (has any one told you that the HHH 100 is really 102.5?). We are hot, tired, dismayed over being over 100 miles and not finished--and we have to go over an overpass. Our steepest climb. Ugh.

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  2. I've checked out the elevation for the HHH route on MapMyTri and that along with having some familiarity with the area made me think there isn't a huge single hill to be concerned with, but the "rollers" and headwinds will take their toll before I get to that last "biggie" plus the last triathlon I'm doing has a couple of huff-and-grunt hills although again, nothing huge, just rollers and a couple of steep sections that take their toll.
    Hill repeats build functional strength quickly.
    I also knew about the mileage "extension." That's just plain mean. I'll be looking for the beer stop hahaha.

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