more than just another bike blog

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm not a climber. really, I'm not!

I used to be a pretty good climber. then I got sick, gained 50+ pounds and struggled with anything but the shallowest grades. I still loved to climb, but I was slower than slow. I converted from a race double to a compact and eventually added a 29t cog! and still, I couldn't keep my cadence snappy on the steeper climbs. many of you witnessed my pathetic fat ass slogging up various courses in northern california -- wente, sea otter, berkeley hills, kern, you name it! if it was hilly, I probably raced it (although "raced" is a bt of an interesting verb in my case).

as I've regained fitness (and lost 55 pounds) one of my goals was to improve my climbing. yeah, I'll never be a true climber. I'll never be able to keep up with the skinny little girls who weigh less than my bike. but I want to climb well enough that I'm not the first to pop in hilly road races.

so I've been climbing a lot in the last year or so. and slowly but surely, I've gotten faster than many of my friends who always dropped me. but that still isn't fast enough for road racing.

mountain bike racing seems to be another story. somehow, I'm gaining time on the climbs. it seems to be one of my strengths now.

anyways, I decided to join a group today to ride mt. hamilton. it was a co-ed group of friends of friends and I knew a handful of the folks. I thought it might be fun and who knows, maybe there would be some cute single guys in the group!

we met at the ride organizer's house in San Jose and warmed up with a five mile ride to the base of the climb. the group was well-behaved but my legs were feeling a bit heavy from yesterday's climb up mt. diablo and I was worried that I'd get dropped by everyone as soon as we started climbing. I got gapped by the first three riders on the little 5% grade leading up to the climb and got even more worried.

we stopped at the base of the climb and waited for the stragglers to re-group. Stacy (one of my coaching clients) decided to get a head start along with Jolie from Velo Bella. I had hoped to pace with Stacy since she's a great climber, but I was busy taking a photo of a couple of lizards as she rode away. me = dork. I quickly packed up the camera and chased. I caught and passed Jolie but Stacy remained just out of reach. three of the guys caught and passed me and then caught Stacy, so I had four rabbits to chase up the mountain.

so I chased and chased. I kept waiting for others from the group to catch me, but they never did. I lost visual contact with Stacy, but I could see one of the guys just ahead. I had thought we had another group of riders meeting us at Grant Ranch, but in the distance it looked like the group continued on without stopping so I did as well.

I felt pretty good. I pegged my watts at 200 and hoped to maintain that for the entire ride. I haven't done a power test this season so I thought I could get my FTP today (or a close estimation). unfortunately, I was sweating like crazy (as usual) and even though I drank two full bottles I got a bit dehydrated and my power dropped a bit for the second part of the ride.

there were a bunch of organized rides on mt. hamilton today (the challenge, the ascent, and the devil mountain double), along with various and sundry teams and groups out for a ride. I passed a bunch of riders and a handful of men from Monte Vista Velo and a hot guy on a cross bike passed me. but I kept pushing. I couldn't remember my stats from the other two times I'd climbed mt. hamilton, so I wasn't sure where I was pace-wise, but I knew I was fast!

running on empty (with two empty bottles), I reached the top and rode over to the post office (where all the MVV studs were gathered). I couldn't find any of my friends, so I emptied and filled and then rolled around. I found Stacy, only to learn that she had stopped at Grant Ranch so I wasn't really chasing her at all and apparently the guy I saw pass Grant Ranch wasn't with our group -- doh!

we waited at the top for the rest of the group to finish, then got to enjoy that sweet, sweet descent!

looking at my training files, I'm excited that I beat my last time up Mt. Hamilton (thanksgiving 2006) by 32 minutes! 32 fricking minutes! and my FTP is almost as high as last year (when I weighed 25 pounds more than I do now) which means my power-to-weight ratio is looking good! happy days are here again!

I got a garmin a few weeks ago. I decided if I was going to focus on climbing I wanted to know my elevations. but I haven't figured out how to use the motionbased web agent on my mac yet (so if there are any garmin mac-users out there with tips, ping me).

oh, no scenic photos today as I was racing myself up the mountain, but these are a few random shots of some of the group.

click for more pix!

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At 4/29/2007 9:43 AM, Blogger CyclistRick said...

Hey, a mini version of the DMD over two days instead of one. I can get into that! Hamilton always messes with my mind, as does any climb with a lot of switchbacks just below the top. It looks like I am there, but it takes forever to summit. You have made me want to go out and climb one or the other of the big Bay Area hills! And your stats look awesome. Congrats and bringing down the time that much.

At 4/30/2007 2:19 PM, Blogger X Bunny said...

great job!

no matter whether i'm doing well on a climb or not, i always feel so horrible that i think i'm not!

At 4/30/2007 7:54 PM, Blogger Flandria said... just inspired me - as I am about to give up because I am getting dropped...can't seem to get that last effort to keep with the pack - geeeezzzz!

great job Lori, hope to do a CCCX mtn bike but it's Kern weekend...

At 4/30/2007 8:00 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

don't give up Flandria! enjoy the process, train well, and you'll see the results you want.

I was hoping to do Kern -- it's one of my favorites -- but it's the CCCX weekend. I'm leading the series (but only by 2 points) so I don't dare miss another race. Bummer.

At 4/30/2007 8:07 PM, Blogger chatterbox said...

cool beans! you'll get to test those legs with the Tri Flow girls at Berkeley Hills. I bet you'll be right in the mix at that race!

At 4/30/2007 8:16 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

get real, chatterbox! I'd need to lose about 6 inches of height and another 30 pounds to be in the mix with the little climber girls. I just want to not get dropped first!

At 4/30/2007 9:19 PM, Blogger Flandria said...

actually, what I meant was I will be missing Kern due to distance and duration so hoping I can sneak in a mtn bike race that weekend!


At 5/01/2007 6:55 AM, Blogger Flandria said...

you can win it this year! tough choice between Kern and CCCX...

yay! you've improved so much!


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