Jan 11, 2010

1st BIG Saturday

On Saturday, I had been in Tucson for exactly one week. I had already logged 229 miles on the bike, and I was still planning on knocking out one more decently long ride. So far, the miles have treated me very well. The last time I cycled over 230 miles in a week, I was training in Lake Placid with peak fitness. Currently, I am really far from any fitness; however, the miles are flowing easily. All of my training has been very aerobic and easy, with the exception of a couple of hard pool sessions a week. I am really surprised on how easy it has been to put in the miles out here. The large variety of terrain and perfect weather makes training much easier. With that being said, I felt great on Saturday morning so I planned a pretty challenging 65 mile loop for my first longer ride.

I started the ride from my house at about 2400ft above sea level. It took about 15 minutes to get out of the city limits, but I was soon flying towards Mt. Lemmon on Kolb Rd. As I approached the foothills of Lemmon, the road turned upward. Even though I was only 25 minutes into the ride, I was already climbing a nice grade. Kolb Rd loops right at the base of Lemmon. The gradient was never too steep but it was a solid 20 minute climb before I started descending towards Sunrise. Even though the climb only reached about 3200ft above sea level, the view of Tucson is incredible. You can see the entire city with more mountains as the backdrop. From this elevation, I could see Gates Pass hovering over the Southwest part of the city. It wouldn’t be a couple hours until I got there, but I would have to save a little bit of energy.

The descent to Picture Rocks in long and fast! The road out west is about 10 miles long, but it was a gradual downhill the whole way. I was cruising at 26-32mph for most of the way. Once onto Picture Rocks, the road tilted upward again. This was a pretty short climb, no longer than Old Mill Road in Cleveland, but it reached a really steep gradient at the top. Once over Picture Rocks, the road was very rolling for the next 15 miles. About 50 miles into the ride, I started approaching Gates Pass from the backside (the tough side). I was already starting to get a little tired, but I would need to wake up if I was going to make it over.

Gates Pass rolls up and over this mountain.

The climb is about 3 miles in length from the bottom, but only the top sees really steep gradients. The first mile is very gradual. I started climbing the 4-6% grade rather easily. Once I reached the middle, the grade was 9-10% and I had to stand up. I got into a good rhythm, but I was trying to save energy for the top. The top of this climb was a 18% grade. I was working super hard and this point, but I could see relief in a minute or two. Looking back from the top was an absolutely incredible view of the desert to the west. The descent back into the city made up for the challenging climb. Before I knew it, I was cruising past University of Arizona, only 6 miles from home.

The view from the top of Gates Pass

I finished up the day with a quick 20 minute transition run, followed by a nice tall coke, an entire pizza, and a couple hours on the couch. Later I made myself an omelet… and even later I hit up In & Out Burger. I couldn’t resist.

On a side note, I found myself unwinding at a local bar that evening. I had the pleasure to drink with some of the best swimmers in the world. I believe there were about 6 Olympic medals and 1 current world record sitting at my table. I love Cleveland, but those kinds of credentials can’t be found at any of my old local watering holes. It ended up being a very cool evening to top off a really good week under the sun.


1 comment:

  1. I love that you cosumed all of that food but you work out like a beast so it balances eachother out...lol...How did you happen to meet the Olympians?? That's pretty cool. Stay safe..Love & Miss You!