28 minutes flat!
What’s that all about?
It’s my blog, so it must be about me.
Many moons ago I scribed an entry about the hills in my vicinity and my plans for getting fit and riding my bike up them all. In that rant I only talked about the hill nearest to my home, and the 10 roads that climb it. Mainly because it is continuously in my face. One of the pizza outlets I work for is right on top, having 7 out of the 10 roads that climb it terminating within 2km (1.2mi) of the store.
But there are other hills in the region. In my training diary I’ve started a table of climbs and listed 6 others (aside from the 10 belonging to the nearby monolith) that are on my radar. The bases of them are all within 40km (25mi) of my home and the longest climb is a total from base to summit of around 10km (6.2mi) with 7.5km (4.6mi) of climbing. That means that the ride out to the hill, the climb and the return journey for any one of these hills will be at or under 100km (62mi). Not a simple task, but not unreasonable with my ever improving fitness.
Back at the dawn of time.
When I was racing, I visited some of these climbs at least once a month, others once or twice a year. A couple I rode once and decided not to bother – 2.6km (1.6mi) at 20% gradient on super-coarse bitumen (basically just knock down the trees and lay pavement over the mess) – designed specifically for idiots and mountain goats.
One hill in particular was used by many members of our cycling club as a climbing benchmark. The club ran a couple of formal time-trials up it each year and many people put it into their weekly training schedule. As a trackie I stayed away from it as much as I could, but participating in almost all the group rides that were organised meant I couldn’t avoid it forever.
The reason for the popularity of this particular hill was predominantly its location. It was located central to the 2 towns that were home to 90% of our club members. It was easy to meet near the bottom to start long rides, and from a climbing perspective it was the least nasty of the big ones in the area.
Back then I made numerous ascents in around 18 minutes with a personal best of 16m12s. There were 3 guys in the club who could climb it consistently in the low 16s and each of them at different times had managed mid 14s. Of course, 2 of the 3 also represented Australia on the road at world championships, Olympic and Commonwealth games.
Back to modern times.
2 decades later and I still don’t like hills. However, now it’s as much about being fat and unfit as it is about being a trackie. But my waistline is receding faster than my hairline so I’m going to have to revert to the trackie excuse pretty soon.
With the progress I’ve been experiencing of late my confidence is growing quickly. The day after my last entry I rode a leisurely 44km (27mi) giving me a 4 day total of 310km (192mi). Then yesterday I took advantage of a national public holiday. I went out for a big one.
THE BIG ONE.
I had a plan.
And I had an alternative plan.
The alternative plan was to turn away from the primary plan at the last moment and just ride a huge distance on flat ground.
The primary plan was an ego-fuelled attempt at something silly.
Up, up and away.
I rode very gently to the base of the climb. I didn’t want to waste any energy early and then fail in the main event due to stupidity. Here’s a photo of my bike leaning against an ominous sign at the end of the 0.8km (half mile) false flat that leads to the base of the timed portion of my outing. The clock starts here. 6km (3.7mi) at 10%. Ambitious for a 110kg (242lb) lump of meat. Let’s wait and see.
The second photo is of my bike leaning against the corresponding warning sign at the top of the hill. The clock stops here. According to the bike computer, 6.00km in 28 minutes and 6 seconds was the damage. In hindsight I suspect that the 10% gradient warning might be for the steepest sections rather than the whole thing, but there are definitely no flat bits for the entire climb. The easy sections were probably around 6-7%. For someone in my current state of physical disrepair, those changes of gradient stopped me from getting into any sort of rhythm. Some of them nearly killed me actually. I spent that entire 28 minutes with my heart rate monitor fluttering between 165 and 174 beats per minute.
But who cares? I climbed the bloody thing. And 15km (9.3mi) later I got to enjoy my reward. A 4km (2.5mi) descent where my computer never registered under 70kph (43mph) and recorded a maximum of 86.5kph (53.7mph). It wasn’t a descent that needed brakes but I hadn’t ridden it for close to 20 years and I didn’t know the surface or how my extra weight would alter the dynamics of the cornering process so I wimped out and touched the brakes a couple of times. Maybe 90kph (55mph) is do-able on the next outing.
And with the top of the climb exactly 30km (18.6mi) from my door step, this hill will be a weekly regular until my times get back down under 20 minutes. And I did a little bit of simple physics to compare my power output on that ride to a similar power output from a lighter rider. If I make no gains in strength and fitness, just losing weight will improve my time. If I generate the same power but weigh 80kg (176lb) my time will be a touch under 20 minutes.
There’s a goal worth shooting for.
Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules, and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting. – George Orwell.