Saturday, March 15, 2008

King of the Mountain

At least that is how I feel. This morning I met up with a few members of my tri club to go for a bike ride up Angeles Crest. I went up many time last year, each time getting a little farther and farther. My goal was to eventually reach the top of Mt. Wilson. Here is what the profile looks like.

It is just up and up and up. I wasn't sure how far I wanted to go up this morning because this is only the third ride I have done outdoors this year. I basically spent all winter on the trainer and let the bike really slide in favor of my marathon training. I had allocated a three hour ride for today on my training plan, and frankly I wasn't sure if I could go for that long on these hills.

It was still dark when we started out a 6:15am. I don't usually ride in the dark, but there is very little traffic on highway two that early in the morning and I was with a group so I felt ok about it. I also brought along a high visibility jacket, red blinkers and a high intensity blinking LED headlight. Some of the others had no blinkers, no reflectors, no nothing -- and to make it worse they were riding in the middle of the road. Let's give ourselves a fighting chance here people!

Around 7:00am the sun finally came out and I started to sweat so I took my jacket off. Getting the right mix of clothing when cycling in cold weather has taken my a while and I still have alot to learn. I was wearing a Craft Windstopper base layer which I really like. It keeps you warm, but I never feel hot in it, and the windstopper material is great for the descents when it gets really, really cold. I was also wearing a pair of Castelli Primo bib knicker shorts. They have a fleece interior which really helps keep in warmth, but they are not full length so when the sun does come out you are not roasting. Other than that it was just a team jersey and armwarmers.

As I went farther up though it got colder and colder. There is actually snow up there. In fact, I was just up there last week for snow play with the family. We did some sledging and built a snowman. So it is definitely cold, at least in the shade. You went from being quit comfortable in the sun and then once you moved into shadow there would be this chill that just crept down into you bones. I quickly put my jacket back on. It helped, but it would make me sweat when I was in the sun.

This is a photo taken about an hour and a half in. You can see the road where I came up and in the distance you can make out the Los Angeles basin. At this point I was doing betting than expected, and so I decided that I would go for another hour and turn around, which would allow me to finish up in about 3.2 hours. I passed Clear Creek which is where I usually turn around and I felt really strong. A thought passed into my mind that maybe I could make it all the way to Mt. Wilson today.

Here is the view at about 2.25 hours. That is the way I came up. It is pretty spectacular in person. I decided that I was going to just keep going and see if I could make it to Mt. Wilson. I was not pressed for time which is unusual. This was because I had left extra early, and because I was not expected back until noon. So I thought why not. Let's go for it. I finally got to Mt. Wilson road and became very excited. It looked like it was going to happen. Mt. Wilson road is a little different than highway two. It is steeper in parts, but then has a few downhills and flat sections mixed in rather than just straight up.

This is the view about two miles from the top. There was lots of snow everywhere and it was getting colder and colder the higher I got. I finally got to the top at exactly three hours. That's 19.7 miles and over 5,200 feet of vertical climbing. Unfortunately the observatory pavilion was closed so I didn't get to see the view of the entire San Gabriel and Los Angeles valleys. It opens in April first so I guess I'll have to go back. But I do have proof that I made it to the top.

The way down was painful. Painful for my face and fingers. It was very cold and I was going about 30-35 mph. I had to keep my mouth closed or felt like my teeth were going to freeze and pop out. Every so often I had to stop and rub my hands vigorously to get some feeling back. I was pretty stupid to not bring my wind gloves. But I made it back. I got a flat a couple miles from my car. I was just thinking about how I had been up here many times and that I had never gotten a flat even with all the gravel. If you ever have those thoughts, stop! Here is a view of the path I took courtesy of Google Earth.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! That is one helluva ride!

12:00 AM  

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