Another week and another ride I was dreading. My wife and friends had told me how difficult the long climb up High Grade feels. Climbing is always tough and this ride included a long 11.5 mile climb.
This week, we were also in a time crunch. We were volunteering at a fundraiser in the afternoon and needed to be done quickly. We got to our team meeting point and did our best to get ready quickly. Jennifer and I headed out a few minutes before the rest of the team to try and ensure we could finish in time for the fundraiser.
The first part of the route was familiar. We went from the Park-N-Ride near C470 and Santa Fe over to Chatfield and the Deer Creek Canyon Road. The climb starts off pretty shallow and gradually increases. We had our first SAG stop at the intersection of West Deer Creek Canyon Road and South Deer Creek Road (the road leading to High Grade). Jennifer and I actually beat the SAG car. We thought about proceeding but we needed to refill our water bottles before attempting the next section. As soon as the SAG car arrived, we refilled and then set out on our way just as the team was coming in for their stop.
As we started up the High Grade portion of our route, I was thinking, “This climbing isn’t so bad. Maybe it is getting easier for me.” We were climbing, but we had a bit of shade and a slight breeze. And then the climb got steeper, the terrain was rockier, the shade trees were gone, and the breeze disappeared. Quickly my energy was being drained. I was doing my best to not fall too far behind Jennifer. She broke the stress of climbing by singing during the toughest parts. Yep, she was actually singing. I thought it was from becoming delirious, but she says it helps control her breathing.
In any case, the distraction worked because before long we had completed that tough section. The climb still wasn’t over and we could sense we were getting close. There are a couple of times when you think you are done only to round the corner to see more climbing. It was definitely a welcome site to see our second SAG point at Pleasant Park Grange Hall.
After another short rest, next up was a very fun ride through Oehlmann Park. This is sort of a mountain neighborhood with huge lots. It features quiet roads with long curvy downhills interrupted by some short, but steep climbs. It was like being on a roller coaster with some magnificent views of Denver.
Those uphill bursts were made easier by the training I have been doing in the gym. I have been working with Grant from The Conditioning Classroom. He has had me mix in short bursts of intense cardio training during my strength training at the gym. Little did I know how valuable the burst training would be until the hills of Oehlmann Park. I was able to push hard up those hills and then recover quickly and in time for the next hill.
After Ohlmann Park, we rode along Turkey Creek and then back to the Park-N-Ride via Deer Creek. As usually, it was fun blasting downhill. I didn’t have my bike computer (oops!), so I don’t know how fast I was going. But Jennifer had to warn me that the cops do give out tickets for speeding on a bicycle. It felt pretty fast and the speed is addictive. It is fun to try to pedal when descending to get a few extra easy mph.
As we got back to the Park-N-Ride, I still felt great. I was tired, but I felt I could keep riding. I’m sure our coach will fix that with next week’s ride and I’m sure it will be another one that I dread!