After two weeks of traveling in Southern California, I returned to the Bay Area well behind in my Death Ride training. We’re five weeks away from the ride, and I have adjusted my goals correspondingly. I don’t anticipate finishing all five passes, but I do plan on completing three of them. Jorge, Richard, and Stephen, my compatriots on the ride, look to be well on track to being ready for the five pass challenge, however.
Yesterday, while they prepared to ride in today’s Tour de Cure, I set out on my own Triple Summit ride. I set out at 8:00 am to tackle three significant Bay Area climbs: Page Mill Road, Montebello Road, and Highway 9. It was very important for me to pace myself from the beginning, lest I blew up before hitting the first climb! My problem has always been going out too hard, and it’s proven difficult for me to hold back in the early moments of a ride. After an hour’s “warmup,” I made it to the base of Page Mill Road at Arastradero Road.
This was the site of the sixth Low-Key Hillclimbs from last year, a time-trial up Page Mill which I completed in 54:08. My plan was to slow it down so I finished the climb in an hour. About a third of way into the climb, at the ranger station, I started riding with Terry. Usually when I ride with someone else, I go a little slower, but we started out a bit too quickly for my taste. It didn’t help that the road gets significantly steeper from the park all the way to the fourth gate. My heart rate had soared to above 180, which is well above my lactate threshold. A series of intermediate descents helped me recover all of the way to Page Mill and Skyline intersection. Just as planned, I reached the stop sign at the hour mark.
During the ride, Terry suggested that I check out West Alpine Road instead of either Montebello or Highway 9. The start of Alpine is right across the street from Page Mill and Skyline. Alpine meets Pescadero Road. I saw some numbered riders racing along Pescadero Road, thinking they were Tour de Cure riders. I just learned that the Tour de Cure is happening today, not Saturday. Looking at the course profile following my ride, I learned that West Alpine ascends 1900 feet over 6.8 miles. Following the descent to Pescadero, I took it very easy up Alpine. My heart rate settled down to around 170-174, which is just at my LT. A little over an hour later, I found myself back at Page Mill and Skyline. Two summits out of three in the bag!
At this point, however, I wasn’t so sure of my chances to be able to complete the third climb. My feet and legs were starting to cramp, bringing back memories of my 70+ mile ride with Jorge and Richard a few months ago where I cramped up 20 miles before tackling Old La Honda. The descent down Page Mill brought back some life back to my legs, but I still had quite a bit to ride on Foothill and Stevens Canyon before I reached the base of Montebello. Time was starting to work against my favor too, as I had a 3:00 pm appointment with some COBA members to go over this month’s presentation. It was already past 1:15 pm when I reached Montebello, and I calculated it would take about two hours before I could get back to my house in Santa Clara. I seriously thought about tanking it in and calling it a day, especially since I had no sensations in my legs in the early parts of the climb. The first two miles of Montebello are arguably the hardest, which pitches up to 15%! My new goal was to get up to Montebello School at the two-mile mark and see how I felt. At this point in the ride, I was just concentrating on pedaling one stroke at a time. My lack of gearing made it impossible to spin, meaning I’m going to have to upgrade my bike with some mountain gearing before the Death Ride. To think that I used to ride up Page Mill and Montebello using a 53/39 front ring and 11-21 cassette!
Once I reached the school after what seemed like an eternity, I knew that I could finish the ride. It’s amazing what the mind can make the body do when the will is there. Still, it was no cakewalk getting up to the top, especially with all of the false summits. I finally made it, an hour and five minutes after I had begun. Just to show how little gas I had in the tank, I once rode up Montebello in just over 39 minutes. Nevertheless, I had done it! My own Triple Summit Ride!
It was good that there was no fourth climb, as I was all out of food and water. The ride back to Santa Clara went by very quickly, helped immensely by the fact that the road was completely flat. I reached my house at 3:20 pm, only twenty minutes late for my meeting and seven hours and twenty minutes after I had left the house initially!
According to Klimb, my Triple Summit ride covered over 82.4 miles (probably closer to 85 miles) and climbed 7,780 feet!