Thursday, July 21, 2011

Triple D

One final update before we head up to the mountains tomorrow in advance of the Courage Classic this weekend!  First and foremost, the stats:  Celeste and I are now at $1,420 raised for Children’s Hospital, thank you all so very much for your generosity!  We are still reaching for that elusive goal of $2,000, so if you’re still considering making a donation on our behalf, you have another day.  Once again for your convenience, here are the links: 
After Sunday’s trail running adventure, my legs felt a bit tired, but I wanted to participate in one last crazy adventure before the ride.  Luckily Dan Porter and the good folks at Your Group Ride had just the thing; a bicycle time-trial up and around the horsetooth hills west of town.  They call it the "DDD TT".  The Triple D.  I know what you're thinking.  That's right.  The Triple Deuce.  the long-awaited follow-up to the cinematic masterpiece "Roadhouse", which takes place at the Double Deuce. 

"hey, mijo"

(note that I just found out that there was indeed a sequel to "Roadhouse".  Yikes.  Probably not as good as Godfather 2.)  But alas, DDD TT stands in this case for the "Double Damn Dams Time Trial".  The DDD TT is a 12 mile ride along the Horsetooth Reservoir road (hence the "Dams"), out and back (hence the "Double"), featuring lots of hills (hence the "Damn").  Perfect. 

Now mind you these are roughly the same people that hosted the team training ride the previous Wednesday, so I knew I’d be riding against some pretty talented riders.  I couldn't hang with them last week, so what the heck was I doing here?  But this ride had the advantage (for me) of only being 12 miles long, and being very hilly.  I like hills, it’s the flat stuff I have a problem with.  So I paid my $10 entry fee (bike racing fees are delightfully cheaper than running race fees!) and signed up.  There was a spot for “team name” on the entry form.  This was of course supposed to be for your bike team.  Lacking a proper bike team to call my own, I could have left the spot blank but I decided to give a shout-out to my courage classic team, so I filled in “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars”.

For the rest of the day leading up to the race I was vaguely regretting my decision.  I participated in another of Jeanie’s insane boot-camp workouts that morning so my legs were not fresh at all.  I did not relish the thought of being dead last, I felt like I should try nonetheless.  Besides, I felt a little like an ambassador from the Trail Runners to the Bike Riders.  Again, it's important to go and do things outside of your comfort zone.  Mission accomplished.

Jimmy Dan was there, and showed me where to pin my re-usable number (they expect me to do more races, I presume?  Ok then!).  As usual these days, the sky was filled with thunderous, murderous intent, with bands of rain to the north, and a particularly malevolent looking storm approaching from the south.  This set me on edge as I awaited my start.  The route we were to race featured by my count 4 distinct steep climbs, each over 10% grade I think, and 3 harrowing descents.  One hill in particular unnerved me; the North Dam.  This hill is a straight shot down the east side of the north dam of Horsetooth.  I think some of the other hills actually have steeper sections, but none of them match the North Dam’s sustained difficulty and pitch.  Compounding this was the very real possibility that we might get rained on, and the road might be wet during the descent of this hill.
A wee bit blustry before the start, eh Jimmy?

But it wasn’t raining at the start, so off I went at my appointed time.  Since this was a time trial, riders went off at 30 second intervals.  I was placed about half-way through the field, so I had riders in front of me I could mark, and I knew that there would be riders behind me trying to catch up to me.  Both of these conditions I found to be quite motivating, and I really started to push it up the first two hills as a result.  Although I think this is not proper cycling form, I pretty much stood up out of the saddle for the entirety of all the significant climbs.  I figured that standing up would allow me to make better use of my trail running muscles, but I knew I would go anaerobic pretty quickly doing that.  Whatever, if I go down, I’m going down big.
I couldn’t believe how hard I was pushing my pace on the climbs, and even on the descents.  I guess paying $10 and being in a competition really brought out the best of effort in me.  I loved it.  At least until I reached the crest of North Dam hill.  The route was such that we went down North Dam, rode almost to Bellevue, and then went back up North Dam.  And North Dam was wet.  It wasn’t raining at the moment, but a squall had just passed through, and the road was freshly glossed with summer rain.  This set me completely on edge as I coasted down the hill, as a straight arrow probably approaching 40 miles per hour – and that with applying the brakes now and then.  I’m sure braver riders regularly hit 50 or more on this hill.  The bottom of the hill features a turn to the right, which I was dreading down to my now-wet shoes.  But before I could get too worked up in anticipation, I was upon the turn.  I tapped the brakes a few more times and cautiously banked into it.  The tires held.  Of course now I’d lost all my momentum and had to crank it up to get back up to speed, but I survived the hill.

After a fairly comical U-turn on the road (thank you Marcel for volunteering and directing traffic!), I turned around and started the gradual approach back to North Dam hill.  It was fun to see the other riders who had started after me coming down the same stretch of road, and we waved to each other and offered encouragement.  As I got back to the base of the North Dam hill proper I got passed by one of those riders.  I had already been passed by one or two others as well by this point, but that didn’t really bother me.  But after getting passed on the North Dam I decided to really put in the effort and try to mark this guy up the hill.  I was fairly successful, too, until I crested the hill and attempted to switch back to my big gear; then my chain fell off!  Oh what a bother.  I really need a tune-up.  So I stopped, got off, offered a few choice words to the ether, slipped the chain back on, and continued on.

After cresting North dam there was a long, gradual climb to the top of “monster” hill, then another steep descent featuring a sharp left-hand turn that exposed a precipitous drop over a guardrail into Horsetooth Reservior, and then one final climb up “maniac” hill.  The race didn’t finish down at the stadium where we started, it finished uphill, just like a real mountain stage!  It was pretty fun.  The clouds continued to build from the south, but the rain held off, and I gave all I had on the final climb.  I think I may have even drooled a little. 

The gang at the finish.  The gentleman in black competed on a fixed-gear single-speed.  Now that's crazy.

Yeah I've got a number on and everything.  It's legit.

Celeste makes fun of me for being so competitive, but it draws out the best in me.  I would never push it that hard on these hills if I wasn’t participating in some sort of competition on them.  I would never know what I was capable of.  I managed to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack on the ride, which I was very happy about.  I think I know my strengths, or strength; hills.  Bring ‘em on.

Now the courage classic is not a competition, it’s a charity ride.  I’ll try very hard not to treat it as a competition.  Quite frankly I find it to be bad form to treat a charity ride as a competition.  No one cares if you’re riding at the front of the pack on a charity ride, you kind of look like a jerk doing that, actually.  But I think I’m ready for the event, and I’m really looking forward to all the climbs that this event has to offer.  So once again and once and for all, thank you all for your support, and for reading along with the blog, and I’ll try to fire off an update this weekend while we’re up there riding and having fun.  Thanks!

Ziggy Played Guitaaaaaaah!


  1. Well done!
    "probably approaching 40 miles per hour"

    Does this mean you don't have a bike computer (< $20)? have a GPS watch, don't you? Watching numbers on a bike is one of the fun parts of riding vs. running, since running numbers are so depressing (to me).

    Descending the North Dam towards Lory (going North), as well as the South Dam going towards Harmony/38E, are the two classic straight-shot 50mph hills. (As is the backside of Rist). You need a computer for feedback so that you duck your face even closer to the pavement to gain that extra 2mph when it's needed!

    Because otherwise, it would just be foolish, right?