Monday, June 29, 2009

the climb

I've biked in Anchorage for over a dozen years. I've done some tough rides; all of the mountain bike passes: Powerline, Johnson, Resurrection. Lost Lake trail, with climbs so grindingly steep that I had one friend tell me she would never ride it again, remains one of my favorites. But I'd never biked up Potter Valley Road.

Okay, okay! You could say I had my reasons (like a climb up Stuckagain right near my house) but mostly I just avoided it. It's out of the way - in other words, I'd bike five miles past my work to get to it, ride up, then ride back down and continue either to work or to home. When I'm commuting, I don't normally add an extra loop, because in the morning I'm arriving just in time and in the evening I feel spent. Besides, that ride is for racers, I thought. But last night my excuses were overridden by Jon's encouragement, a warm evening and a few shots of Hammer Gel.

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It's a short hill at just under two miles of pavement, but steep and filled with switchbacks, which actually make for an easier climb mentally. There's nothing that looks more daunting to me than a long, straight hill (Rabbit Creek Road). After biking from the shop, I reset my computer so I could time the ride, just so I'd know. I put my wind vest and ear band into my backpack and clipped into my pedals.

Then I paced myself, turning the pedals over and over in my low gears, thinking about the time Jon and I were biking on the Coromandel in New Zealand pulling our BOB trailers with all our camping gear. Remembering that turning the pedals is always easier than walking when you have a loaded BOB. But now I was on my carbon road bike with my fancy new carbon saddle. There was no way I wasn't going to make it up in one try. The question was: how much will it hurt?

Jon disappeared around a bend early on, promising to document the trip with the camera (I also didn't want to carry the extra weight up the hill). When I saw him riding toward me I knew I was close to the top. He rode alongside snapping a few shots. Then he pointed at a line painted on the pavement and said that was the end. Ahead I could see the pavement give way to gravel, so I looked at my computer: 17 minutes and 40 seconds. Done.
what's for dinner?

I was careful to not overcook the corners on the descent. Then we headed home, Jon convincing me to go up Rabbit Creek to Hillside Drive. I was relieved that I always carry an energy bar, just in case because I did need it. At home, after stretching, I powered up the computer to see the race results for the ride. Some racers do it in under 10 minutes. One of my friends did it in just over 17, so, of course, I wonder how fast I can do it next time.

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