Weeks of 2/12 – 2/18 + 2/5 – 2/11

This is Tom Danielson, a pro road cyclist, height: 5’10”, weight: 130lbs: 

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In this photo (found here), he’s breaking the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb record at an incredible 16 minutes, 3 seconds. Super light bike, skin suit, shoe covers.  

That’s really fast. Lookout Mountain Road is the closest hill to climb as the crow flies. ~4.3 miles, 5 to 6 percent grade, 1300+ feet of elevation gain. As Colorado hills goes, it’s small, but the grade is about what you find around here.

One of the problems of being inherently lazy and not really very focused on winning things, or really competing, is that it’s hard to stay motivated and focused. Sometimes, this coalesces into taking large rides at a put-put speed, which is fine, but if this lazy hunk of bones, also strangely has the interest in getting faster, I find I hit a performance wall. What to do about it?

So I purchased a watch, that has a stopwatch (sorry, a chronometer) and I’ve been doing research on some of established races and routes around town, to get a feel on how fast the courses can be done. The Lookout Mountain hill climb is an easy one to find, as there’s a race every year, from the bottom pillars, to the turnoff to Buffalo Bill’s grave (supposedly). Usually clear enough to safely go up and down it during the winter, it’s a lazy haunt to do. 

(If you start your climb from downtown Golden and end it near the Nature Center (like moi), you can give yourself a few hundred more feet of elevation gain and a mile or two more road. Some people start at the pillars and end at the turnoff, never to go further. It’s strange to me!)

One day last week, I attempted to break Mt. Danielson’s record. 

Well, not really, but I wanted to see how I stacked up. My bike probably weighs twice Tom’s – I’m sure his was 6.8kg (the UCI limit) – mine is twice that. He’s got gears, and I don’t – just a 2:1 fixed wheel. And my clothing is so Bad News Bears grungy  right now. And my goals are different. But I can’t think of time I’ve ever, (after literally 100+  – hundreds?) times up, timed myself going up this thing, so this week, I wanted to establish a baseline to work from.

Knowing I will never reach a time of 16:03, I can at least use it to establish the Fastest Known Time and work out some sort of Rate of Improvement (if I do improve). Or at least a countdown to Doctor D up there. There’s math involved and pretty graphs I could make, that will (probably) elude my attempts at creating them. 

So out with a slow bike I went. I did the climb and timed from the historical start and stops: 

#1 –  28:21

#2  – 27:11

#3  – 31:20

(Repeat #3 was slowed down by getting waved down to stop by a flagger, in a construction zone!) 

A little less than half as fast! A good place to start! Minutes could be removed from this time with a better bike, but better bikes aren’t what I’m going to get. We’re going to upgrade the rider, and then eventually the bike, come summer. I have 55 lbs (and one inch in height) on Tom, which is incredible – we don’t even a similar body type.

Sobering. Gives you a feeling of how fast the pros go. I also knew where I was on the road at 16:03 in my little time trial, and I know if I’m improving, if I can get past that spot in the road, before Tom’s time is reached. Something like a nice halfway point split or something. 

In general though, these past two weeks I’ve been riding my bike and going to the gym and doing a terrible job keeping tracks of mileage or even specific rides. But, hazily: 

Did around 80 miles in one cold Saturday, with tons of moisture in the air, given one epic Beard-cicles, 

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Did those hill repeats (Lookout Mountain x3) and the next day, rode around Cherry Creek Res from REI in 1:56:56, which isn’t too far from my own personal best, oddly enough. It’s terribly difficult to understand if one’s legs are actually wasted from the previous day’s efforts, or merely a little stiff, shall we say. I thought I’d be much slower than I was, as I set out to do a, “recovery ride”. 

Gym time(s)  were a mix –  one day I spent over 3 hours – half off that aerobic, bench press is getting better, pullups are getting better – 

Getting better. Still having trouble getting up in the morning. I’m sincerely a night owl. Now that the ice is off the roads, may just take some rides in night time. 

Bike got a minor upgrade of a new back wheel. Managed to crack my second Salsa Delgado Cross wheel, so Salvagetti re-laced it to a Mavic A-719, which they defend that I’ll have a much harder time destroying. Time will tell. Damn hard enough to get the track cog off, 

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Nick, Scott and Justin showing good use of extra leverage. 

The last bummer was finding my rear tire’s sidewall getting a cracked in places – enough to give you that rhythmic BUMP, of the tire being deformed from the pressure of the inner tube and looking for a way out. And four flats on Friday in my front wheel, which is never good. On the fifth inspection and finally coming to terms that there’s nothing sharp in the tire, I found instead that the tire’s sidewall is slit – almost as if someone took a knife to it. Two inner tube patches holding it at the moment, but I’ll have to replace that soon, too. Damnit.