BUT no where near as fast!!!
This year the Tour of California added on a final stage in San Diego County. It was awesome to see the worlds best riders (and quite arguably the best athletes!) ride on our favorite weekend routes. Usually I'll go out and up Wulford, OR Highlands Valley, OR Mt. Palomar, OR Cole Grade. But they did them all in one day...at the end of a week of racing...at amazing speeds! Check out the elevation map:Just thinking about riding up Palomar mountain scares me. It is about 5,200 ft to the top. Last weekend the commentators called it the "Alpe d'Huez" of SoCal. We set out to ride Lake Wulford, Palomar Mt, and Cole Grade to top it off. So better fuel up first...
After giving our legs about 30mins to warm up we hit the Wulford climb. Up and over. Tempo to the base of the mountain, a quick glance up, and lets hit it! Up, Up, Up. Ass in the saddle, and lets climb baby! The pedals moved slowly, as did the miles! I felt good coming through mile 4 (before getting to the million and one switch backs that take u to the summit). But soon after I was asking: "Brian how long have we been going for?"Response: "8 miles Caroline." Reply: "No I mean time." Response: "55 minutes." My thought: last wknd they were at the summit by now. Amazing!' Up, Up, Up...
There are so many switch backs that you never see more than a 1/4 mile of road at a time. Any chance to catch and pass someone was taken advantage of (mainly bc it gave me something to think about besides the burning in my legs). I was feeling strong! Did I just type "strong?" Strong, on Mt. Palomar? Yup, I was feeling good, and actually holding my own. I loved catching the random guys that I didn't know.
I am finally really starting to enjoy cycling, and climbing more and more. This climb was honestly a break through moment for me. Compared to running and swimming I always disliked cycling. But over a year ago I told myself that I just had to learn to love my time in the saddle. The only way to get stronger: learn to love the hills. Finally I wasn't just telling myself to love it, I really WAS lovin' it. (well as much as you can when you've been climbing for an hour and still have 30mins to go!)
I have been searching for my previous times for the Palomar climb, but haven't been able to find them. One thing I do know...it wasn't under 1:30. Slowly but surely I made it to the summit in my own record time. And that is what is important...improving upon my own abilities! I was happy with the effort I put in. And, it was only February (the last day of the month - but still February!)
That's Gil, me, Brian and Kim on the left, and Coach Terry and I in the above pic. Calories and caffeine were a must before starting back down the mountain.
It was my first time descending down the east side of the mountain. It adds on miles, but is SO much nicer! Longer, but fewer switchbacks, and the best part: fewer motorcycles screaming by us at mock speed! Before heading back down I thought I'd grab one pic of the scene from the top of mountain looking down on civilization. There are so many other hills below. So after taking in some calories it was time to head down and work our way to our next challenge: Cole Grade.
The ride ended up being about 88 miles. Funny thing is, it was about four times harder as the 106 mile Palm Springs century a few weeks ago. I use to hate the San Diego hills/mountains. Last season I committed myself to getting in a lot of climbing early on in the year. I'm at it again, and really enjoying these rides more than ever. It is gorgeous out here, and hills will improve my racing. This was a great ride, and one I'm happy to be able to blog about so I can remember it when pain sets in on those long race days.
I had planned on getting in a good long run on Sunday. I was lucky to run into the guys out at the "Sunday Ranch Run" and hung on. The guys talked s%it back and forth to each other, which kept my mind off the pain running through my quads! Then I was off to the pool for masters. Ahhhhhh, let the legs relax. It is so hard to go to that workout, but I believe it is a huge reason for my ability to make it through last season uninjured. So I went. Hux delivered another awesome workout which kept me engaged even though I was ready to be done for the weekend.
I'm so lucky to have awesome training partners, awesome training destinations AND awesome coaches here in San Diego! Now time to get this recovery week started...(often tougher than the high volume weeks, but I think I need this one!)