Testing One’s Mettle

Prior to moving to my loft last Aug. I had a base mileage of riding where I could easily go out and ride 15-20 miles. Then with all the changes and time restraints I didn’t ride much until after the New Year. I started commuting (by bike) about a month ago a couple of days a week and have gotten out on the weekends for longer and longer rides. Since I’ve acquired the Hillborne, I’ve wanted to ride much more and have set some goals for the year with regard to distances. I believe I’ve mentioned wanting to do a populaire.

First, I want to increase my base mileage, building up to a mildly structured training regimen. However, most of my riding has had the absence of any significant hills. Last Sat. I decided to see what kind of shape I was really in and challenged myself to a local climb over 4 miles long with a consistent 4% grade. I’d ridden this many times before, but what can I say, it’d been awhile; about 22 years! And, yes, I was also lighter. After the birth of my daughter (22 years ago) I began road riding more seriously and rode all over the Berkeley/Oakland hills. I’ve been riding since,  both road and mtb off and on, with a few years where I’ve trained and ridden in a few centuries, with a 100 mile kayak race thrown in between. Now, I want to ride long again, on a comfortable bike (Hillborne), and I don’t care much about racing.

I came from down there
I came from down there

The long and short of it is, I did get to the top of the 4 mile climb. The bad news is that it was very hard and required a couple small stretches of hike-a-bike. Demoralizing when you remember how you use to do it, encouraging when you remind yourself that you didn’t just turn around and coast all the way back to the start when it got hard. I’d had a 20+ mile ride planned for the day, but when I got to the top my legs were spent. There was one other good uphill on the planned route, but I decided to decrease the mileage for the day and head a different direction. Then it got really cold as I was on the shady side of the mountain and had some downhill patches of road. My legs felt really dead and as I pedaled by a road I’d been down before, wondered if I should cut my losses and just get to the end as best I could. I rode maybe a 1/4 mile further and stopped on the side of the road with a large shoulder in the sun to think about it. My goal was to see if I could do this climb, and I did.  I still had to remind myself (especially when I set goals) that I want to be having fun. And I say, still, because I can lapse into the mentality of a youngster who doesn’t believe they’re really accomplishing anything unless they are really suffering. Lastly, I knew continuing on the present road for an additionall 5-7 miles to add to my weekly totals was not going to make today’s ride fun. I turned around. Down and down I went, 28 mph, and found myself dropped in Montclair. A pretty easy last few miles to the start with a sunny stop sitting on a bench in front of a beautiful, little lake ( Lake Temescal) where I devoured a Honey Stinger.

After Sat. I’m feeling some doubts. Am I pushing too soon for the June populaire? Should I take more time, just build more base mileage? Can I really do this?


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