Saturday, August 23, 2008

Made it

.... You can find yourself in the mountains

-- Paul Sherwen, Tour de France 2008

After being laid up with heel pain in January and February. It has been a long slow road to regaining strength and confidence. From 16 minutes on an elliptical trainer with zero resistance burning a total of 46 kcal late February to two weeks later on the indoor Cycleops ProTrainer in March for a whopping 23 minutes and 6 miles burning 113 kcal/80kj of work/effort. To today's effort of 6 hours on the road for a distance of 46.4 miles ascending 3,700 feet in elevation and burning 2,082 kcals. There has been alot of slow steady progress over the months.

Cycling up Glendora Mountain Road the maintenance shed marks the half way point to Baldy Village. Just beyond the shed where Monroe Truck Trail meets GMR, there is a sharp descent and the road splits. To the left is East Fork, Highway 39, Azusa Canyon. To the right is Glendora Ridge Road to Mount Baldy. This is the fork. The mile markers start counting from 0 to 12 miles. My route has been fork plus two miles, fork plus four miles. Between mile 4 and 5 is a downhill. Remember, for every downhill there is an uphill return. From mile marker 5 to 8 is a fairly steady climb, it is a wall of mountain, never ending in this newbie's brain. Mile 7.2 was the farthest I had managed until today. Now it is fork plus 12 miles.

I made it. There and back again. I can tell it hasn't sunk in yet.

I made it. On my own two feet and wheels. With a road buddie, Matt of Glendora.

The exhaustion hasn't quite caught up with me. Four hours to get there. If you are doing the math, I am averaging 6 miles per hour. There are plenty of folks who pass me by. Plenty of breaks for Gatorade, water and snacks and standing in the shade to look around and enjoy the view. A million plus people on the other side of the ridge. On this side twenty. The heat and the climb got to more than one cyclist. I did pass a couple of folks standing taking a break.

The cow saddle marks the highest elevation at 4532 feet. A place to take a picture and feel good. Chat with John and Sherrie who were training for Everest Challenge. A point where visitors meet locals. One local resident had a story of how a man stole her eight year old dog from their back yard! Then it was a downhill to the town center.

The Village was shaded with pine trees and angular framed homes. It reminded me of Idyllwild. The water fountain and shade at the Post Office was a welcome relief. A dozen or more cyclists were camped out at the Lodge restaurant. I understand the french fries are excellent. No rest for the wicked. After a pit stop and telephone call to home. It was back on the road, up a one mile hill of 8% grade.

It was hot, and I didn't want to drink, but Matt had the story how even the best of us succumbs to dehydration. Another cyclist Greg, had to be airlifted out one very hot 112F day. OK, water, power drink, pour water on my head.

It was much easier between mile 8 and 5 since it was all downhill. Then the four rolling hills. The fourth hill (first on the way back) is the hardest. One hardy individual was on his recumbent bicycle. I could pass him going uphill, and he would pass be going down hill. The oddest entourage was a father and two young sons on their single speed bikes so far up the mountain. I saw drinks on their bikes. Amazing they were still happy and chatting away.

Shade was mostly gone. The four hills done. The hill by the fork is the penultimate hill for climbing. Then the sweet relief of maintenance shed and sitting on something that doesn't move. One short hill and then all down hill to home.

The shower has melted away the grease and dirt. I am ready to be one with the couch!