Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ATOC Stage 6 - Plan B

Last weekend's ride didn't go quite as planned. For starters, I am not in shape to do 7,000 feet of climbing yet. 5,000? Yes (barely) but not 7,000. Okay, so I can't ride Stage 6 up to Mountain High. What to do? How about faking it? Enter Plan B:

Now the plan is to start the ride no later than 8am from the actual starting line in Palmdale. I'll ride the first few miles of the course but where the pros will make a right turn from Sierra Highway to the Angeles Forest Highway, I'll make a left onto Pearblossom Highway. I'll re-join the course when it turns onto Valyermo. I'll take that all the way up to the 2nd KOM at Mountain High. That's the theory, anyway.

What's the point? Why not just park near the base of the big climb and ride up from there? Where's the fun in that? I'd like to start at the starting line but I am simply not able to do the Mt. Emma climb if I want to make it to Mountain High. This route lets me begin at the starting line and reach Mountain High while eliminating over 2,000 feet of climbing. That makes it (probably) do-able. If I leave by 8 I think I can beat them to the top. That's not a given, though.

Back to last weekend's ride. It started off well enough in beautiful weather. I didn't leave the Acton train station until 12:30 but it wasn't a very hot day so that was no problem. This is a lonely ride (or so I thought). There are houses here and there but don't expect a lot of traffic or other cyclists. Unless you come across a bike race! I stumbled on the Devil's Punchbowl Road Race, which followed my route for several miles. What to do? I decided to hop in. It was a 16-mile circuit so the riders were pretty spread out. I was just cruising along, saving my energy for the big climb yet to come. I was getting passed by a bunch of riders, of course, but I managed to pass one! Poor guy, he must have really been in bad shape for me to pass him.

Shortly after leaving the race course, the real climb was about to get started. However, a check of the time and how I was feeling told me that I should turn back. I only had eight miles to go but 2,000 feet of climbing. I knew the ride back itself had over 1,000 feet of climbing, which was going to be hard enough, so I needed to cut my losses. Hey, you don't really know if you're in shape for a ride unless you try it, right? My butt isn't in shape for a long ride, either, and the ride back involved taking a lot of breaks to get off the saddle. The total ended up being 58 miles, 3 1/2 water bottles, two homemade energy bars (topic for another post), a Snickers bar, and a burrito. Could have used more food.

So, this new route has under 5,000 feet of climbing but is 39 miles in one direction. If I get riding by 7:30, I think making it up to the KOM marker is possible. Tough but possible. Not a sure thing, though. It's probably a crazy scheme and I'll like end up getting chased off the road by the CHP as the pros overtake me but you never know.