As part of my weekly training I have started to not only incorporate long rides, which is a given with Half Ironman Training, but making those long rides one with good climbing in them so that I am well prepared for the Queen of the Mountain leg that I have in the LOTOJA relay. I learned my lesson the hard way last August when I did the Big Mountain Climb and was grossly unprepared for it. It was simply miserable to say the least. I am determined not to let that happen with LOTOJA, so it is off to the hills (really mountains) I go!
Last week I started by taking my bike to Mountain Green, and meeting my friend Natalie to do Trappers Loop. We set off and when we got to the top where we were planning on going down into Huntsville and around Pineview, she asked if I was game to try climbing up to Snowbasin Ski resort. Honestly, I didn't want to, but I know that I have no business backing down from these challenging climbs seeing as how I am doing LOTOJA. I figured having company along would make it doable and I was right. Natalie is my friend from the pool and she is great! We had a blast and did the whole ride in just about two hours. It was only 17 miles, but it was a total elevation gain of 2224 feet! And the good thing about this was that I didn't feel wasted! It was hard, but doable!
This week's climb was a much bigger endeavor. I was going to try to conquer Big Mountain again. I drove into Morgan, parked my car and made the trek up to the East Canyon Dam, then around the reservoir, and then to go up to the Big Mountain. At the base I remembered that they had timed us the year before and I wanted to see how I have improved, if at all. I decided to clock it as I went up.
The entire ride was gorgeous. It was a little on the chilly side, but I didn't care. The sun was just coming up and I was riding by myself as no one was able to come with me on this trek. I saw tons of deer, pheasants, and even some moose in the valley below on the actual climb. I found that all of this seemed easier than I remember, but again, I was just starting the Big Mountain climb. The climbs before that weren't bad!
Big Mountain is a beast. Simply put. It is pretty much 5-6 miles of straight climbing with not really any breaks. I made it through though I was not loving it. I was taking the chance to enjoy how insanely beautiful this ride was, and that was nice. I also had the road to myself, no other cyclists and very few cars that early in the morning. It was truly a God given moment! I had to get back for an appointment, so I kept looking at my watch and trying to plan how much time I would need to get back, but then I though, to heck with it! You are almost to the top, and you are not backing out now! I could always reschedule that appointment anyhow. I think that part of it was the part of me that wanted to give up looking for an excuse to do so :)
I got to what I recognized to be the final half mile and the sheer excitement of being so close got me through and it was awesome to get to the top! This time it wasn't the loud atmosphere it was at Pedalfest, it was me, and the mountain and a HUGE feeling of accomplishment. I enjoyed it, took a break to have some water and enjoy what was around me. Seriously, the moment was awesome! I can't believe I almost gave up and missed that!
I did take a chance to look at my watch and notice the time. I made the climb from base to top in 52 minutes. 15 minutes faster than Pedalfest! YAY for progress! And I didn't have to stop once because I felt like puking!
I then headed back, and it was funny how LITTLE time that took. To get to the top from the start took just over 2 hours. To get back to my car from the top only took one! There were some SWEET downhills that made for a great time back.
The total ride was 40 miles, done in 3:02:42, and a total of 3323 feet of elevation gain! BRING ON LOTOJA!