This Saturday past mi amigo Robert Tres and I decided to get in a morning ride, hoping for about 40 miles on the Banks to Vernonia trail.
This is one of the more challenging rides we do. 20ish miles out at some ridiculous grade (is it 18%? that sounds high.) Anyway, you are riding uphill for something like a hundred thousand miles. It is long and difficult.
When we got to the head of the trail, there was a sign saying the trail was closed at the 5.6 mile mark with no detour. We both laughed it off. I have never seen a no detour I could not find a detour around.
So we started off at an easy, relaxed pace. Felt good. At one point we were commenting on how easy the warm up was and he pointed out our warm up speed up this hill was...I think it was 17 mph?
Which to a real bike rider is not all that impressive...but a couple years ago when we did the relatively flat Fanno Creek Trail our TOP speed was 14 mph....so for us going slightly uphill at a warm-up pace...I will argue impressive.
Well, just into the start of the real hill, sure enough...we come to the closure.
A chasm like 40' across and so deep we could not see the top of the backhoe actively working. And it stretched out both ways as far as we could see.
After looking for a way around we gave up and headed back.
With the downhill, we topped out about 28 mph, held that, 26 mph, and 22 mph for long spaces of time.
We would have been faster if not for the crowds on the trail forcing us to slow down.
When it ended we had done 11.2 miles in 42 minutes, the time vastly increased by the slowdowns to avoid little tykes swerving into our way on the trip. But we were still 9 minutes quicker coming back than going out...nearly 2 minutes per mile faster.
We ended up driving back in and taking the Fanno Creek trail after all. We wanted to get a ride in.
So we bombed along at a pretty good pace and at one point were on Hall Blvd. It has a nice wide bike lane, but the hill is one that has always slowed me to like 8 mph. This time we were over 18 mph most of the way up it...so we are definitely getting to be stronger riders.
We stretched the ride out to where we hit our 40. Much fun was had. Much increased speed up hills was shown.
I am actually very, very excited about that. I have always struggled mightily with hills. I hit them and the concept of the effort ahead of me that will be required gets into my head so I stop working before I should and the hill becomes a mighty mountain.
But I was reading a bit on some of the forums about it and, combined with my recent regimen of pushing myself to my limits, I approached the hills differently. I think it showed.
I also am realizing something more and more. Typically, knowing how much energy I would need to expend on a hill, I was afraid of burning out t early so would deliberately scale back my effort...which then meant I arrived at the top slowly and fatigued. The more I tried not to use my energy, the less I had.
Well, this time I went the opposite. Screw conserving...I pushed hard leading into and up the first portion of the hill...which, counter intuitively, instead of sapping my energy seemed to give me even more. Even as hills got steeper I felt like I was getting faster and stronger and using less energy.
So when I try to conserve energy I feel fatigued, when I expend massive amounts of effort I feel refreshed. There is something wrong with that equation...
Upshot is, it was a great ride. Really enjoyed it despite the trail issues.
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