One of my clients rescheduled, leaving my entire afternoon empty. I'm not one of those who jumps for joy in celebration when that happens because not seeing a client translates to not making money. As much as I love riding, I always get nervous when my afternoons and evenings don't have a work related activity.
However, with the "extra" time, I decided that it was time to tackle Hicks Rd. to Mt. Umunhum on the Surly Pacer. I haven't done any hardcore climbs with my new compact crankset yet, so I guess if I was going to do it - might as well go big. Also, I've lightened it up a bit with some new tires and a carbon fork, so the steel beast is coming in at a healthy 22 lbs., even.
For all those unfamiliar, Hicks Rd. to Mt. Umunhum is "4.1 miles. 2,199 ft elevation gain. 10.2% average grade. 17% max grade."
Toughascent.com has a great write up about this climb that I won't bother to reiterate - but let's just say that it's a killer.
Yesterday I realized something: I've been riding my mountain trails and fast road rides with interval style mashes, fast transitions, etc. But in doing so, my road riding has suffered in a big way. I truly thought I was going to be stronger than I was on this climb, but I got incredibly smoked... the only thing that forced me to continue to go up was my mindset - otherwise there were many opportunities to just turn around.
I eventually did make it up to the top of Hicks Rd. and I know that my average speed going up those steep areas HAD to be in a 4-5MPH range, which sucks. I was sweating like a turkey on Thanksgiving, and water was starting to run low. BUT! my mindset was to get all the way up to the first gate of Mt. Umunhum, and thus I did.
I guess the Cliff Bar helped because I felt stronger on the second half of the climb. I was getting frustrated that the top wasn't coming as fast as I wished, but it finally happened.
This climb was a big wake-up call - I realized that my riding habits have really formed me into a one-trick pony and I need to do more of this style of riding. Aside from my poor road riding fitness, my Surly Pacer rocked. This bike has been molded/changed/repurposed at least a half dozen times since I've owned it, and no matter what parts I've put on it, it has always been a great bike.
Here's how I ended up:
If any Bay Area, Ca. road riders have not yet done this climb, DO IT. I've seen some riders blaze up this mountain, and others simply turn around. It's a great mind-over-matter game and a test of will.