31 December 2007

Headwinds and the FIFTH rider

There's a lot of things that I don't mind when riding a road bike: potholes, Providence potholes, sub-zero windchills, gravel, sand, snow, oil, ice, traffic, gridlock traffic, even irate drivers. And there are a few things that I actually enjoy: hills, mountains, Colorado mountains, Providence cobblestones, altitude, dirt trails (as long as it's on a road bike), fog, and the rain.

But I hate the wind. I simply cannot stand it.

Well, good old Colorado Front Range weather threw some nice 60mph headwinds at me today. They only kicked up, though, at the end of the ride so I had to go about 20 miles straight into the inferno. What was supposed to be a 3 hour base ride turned into a leg-tearing hammerfest because I have no discipline in the wind. Jeez, there's nothing like a headwind to suck every bit of pride out of me on a solo training ride. Going a solid 7mph in my 23 at 40rpm on a flat with Lexus SUVs whirring by at 60mph is not exactly what makes me feel like a badass. And then I got a flat tire.

Oh, but I did see the FIFTH rider today (before the winds kicked up). It was an elderly grey-haired man on a flat-barred hybrid taking up the entire lane on one of those ubiquitous high-speed 4-lane suburban expressways. I really wanted to give him a high-five and a cigar, except he was going the opposite way. Nice to know that there's somebody else here, though, joining in the fight to take back a lane for the cyclist on the horridly bicycle unfriendly (and bikelane-less) 4-lane suburban expressways that the developers/criminals champion as progressive and enlightened development (despite nearly fifty years worth of accumulated urban planning wisdom...that's the Brown history/urban studies student in me talking, though...and I guess I'm not the one with a 15,000 ft. house, 5 Mercedes/Lexuses, and a Pinarello with Zipps for the occasional charity ride (yes this is a real developer that I know of), all earned off of millions of dollars of 'enlightened' suburban development - so maybe I'm the stupid one in the end).

Finally, in honor of Brent's major project to quantitatively chronicle the hills of Providence, these are two of my favorite climbs in Colorado Springs. I can't really figure out how to make nice gradient maps right now (and am probably too lazy to ultimately figure it out), but here:

Gold Camp Road (paved portion)
This climb starts from Old Colorado City and ends when Gold Camp Road turns from pavement to dirt (one rider has tried to convince me that the dirt portion can also be done on a road bike, but there are some portions with pretty deep sand and a lot of big, loose gravel, and thus I've never done it...it probably is quite possible but also probably a bit dangerous and damaging to a road machine). This is the one I mentioned before that's great for repeats...hey five repeats equals more than 5,500 feet of climbing! Veloroutes said that the two biggest gradients were 26% and 15%...I think the 26% may have been an anamoly, and I'm pretty sure the 15% is on the switchback on 26th Street. It's quite a mentally challenging climb that requires good discipline because the first part on 26th Street is meatgrindingly but deceptively steep, and the rest is a steady (albeit not horribly steep) climb...there's not really any chance for any break except that slight dip for a few seconds near High Drive. The Gold Camp Rd. portion is also a great opportunity for big gear, low rpm hill repeats:

Cheyenne Canyon

This one is also quite a meatgrinder. I started from the beginning of Cheyenne Rd. just south of downtown because, well, that's where the constant climbing begins. I'm not really sure of all the gradients, but I do know once in the canyon some of the switchbacks are wicked steep (I saw one 26% and one 30% max gradient when plotting, and I really would believe that in the switchbacks). It's also a wicked descent that still scares me...going down the canyon there are some blind switchbacks with quite a drop to a rocky death in the creek if you don't take it quite right. Basically in the canyon I'm in my 39x25 the whole way and still absolutely dying, nearly at a standstill on the switchbacks. I can do it fine on a training ride once I start seeing dark spots, tasting copper, and hallucinating...but the Colorado College/Air Force Academy collegiate race weekend last spring was going to do an individual time-trial up the canyon!!! Luckily for humanitarian reasons, it was snowed out and cancelled. I suppose it's really not that horrible comparatively-speaking (to, uh, a mountain pass), but I would imagine that such a time-trial would've completely blown out many a rider, and potentially could've caused quite a few student-cyclists to permanently give up the sport.


brent said...

I put the Gold Camp climb into my gradient map program. You can see the results here

As you can see, the program doesn't work as well for long climbs as it does for climbs in the 1-mile range. I'm hoping to work on that a bit more. And the second climb is too long and crashes my program...

WheelmanRI said...

wow, thanks!

you're still reading this junk that I write?!? it's only a project in anger-management for me