Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back in the Saddle Again

We're getting down to the last few big weeks of training and so it was that I found myself awake before dawn on yet another Saturday, prepping my gear and heading out for a long day in the saddle.  After killing ourselves climbing steep mountain roads last week, we opted for slightly gentler mountain roads this week.

Nigel (in town for the weekend), George and I met Kristi up in Fremont and ventured up Niles Canyon, through Pleasanton and Livermore, and onto the very quiet, very remote Mines Road, which winds up the back side of Mount Hamilton (the mountain of my birthday ride!).

We were quite happy to start out the ride under cover of fog, because we knew we'd be dealing with major heat out on Mines.

Our last refueling stop before we headed into the boonies

The very beginning of Mines Road. From here it climbs into the hills and it's 28 miles to the next available food/water!

About 8 miles down the road and we've climbed a bit already

Looking ahead on Mines - it just winds up and up this canyon (road on the left)

Later on in the climb, the scenery changed a bit as we entered a pine forest and it looked more like being up in the Sierras.  We were surprised to find this on the back side of such a dry mountain.

My favorite part of the ride - forest/trees, a narrow one-lane road and virtually no traffic!

The final steep climb before our descent to The Junction, our turnaround spot and the only source of food/water on this entire road (which continues another ~30 miles to the top of Mt Hamilton)

The view from The Junction, a tiny little biker bar in the middle of nowhere

"You're young and cute, YOU go ask the big mean biker to take our picture"

Climbing back out from the junction meant just a couple more steep uphills for the day, then we'd *mostly* be downhill going back to Fremont (but with headwind!)

It got really HOT at this point - phew!

The good news is, we kept our happy faces on a LOT longer than last week!

Finally equipped with my brand new COMPACT Quarq crank, I found it much easier to spin up the hills without destroying my legs.  And as a result, I was able to hold a much more steady wattage throughout the ride, as evidenced by my TrainingPeaks data*.

Last week - watts all over the map (and too many above threshold!)

This week - a bit more stable!

In the end, we rode 109 miles and then ran off the bike quite comfortably! I was much less comfortable getting back on the bike Sunday morning for another 3 hours (it was a double bike shorts kind of day for sure) but it got done and another week is in the books.  The countdown continues...just 2 more hard training weeks - separated by a rest week - between us and taper time!

*Don't forget, you can get 15% off a TrainingPeaks premium account and have all these cool data analysis tools too - just use code TPA14!


Katie said...

holy WOW. such gorgeous riding! just, wow! I'm jealous

Runner Leana said...

Great job Molly! With all of this climbing you are definitely ready to tackle Richter and Yellow Lake! I'm also super impressed with your ability to take pictures while you are riding. Looks like amazing scenery (which really helps for long rides).

Question for you about the TP discount code. I'm already a premium subscriber and I'm due for renewal next month. Is there somewhere to input the code to get a discount on the renewal or is it for new sign ups only?

Beth said...

Oh my - what beautiful riding you have!!!! :)

Shevaun said...

I'm jealous. Those views are spectacular. I just have seas of corn to look at, broken up by islands of soy beans.

Anonymous said...

Your views are amazing! Usually in the middle of my long rides the very last thing I'm thinking about is taking pictures...which probably is a good indication of how much more fit you are than I am. :-D

Jessica said...

Such a pretty ride! And, why I love Mines Road and Lake Del Valle. Although I never did make it to the biker bar like the rest of my teammates did! ;P

Sarah K said...

Nice work! You just keep getting stronger & stronger! LOVE my compact crank - I put it on for IMCdA last year and still haven't switched it back.

Karen said...

Beautiful ride - I am jealous! BTW I thought I was the only person who didn't like the taste of VEGA... I was starting to think my taste buds were off :)

Karen said...

Beautiful ride - I am jealous! BTW I was starting to think I was crazy... Glad to hear I am not the only one who didn't like the taste of VEGA.