Friday, August 26, 2011
GA, 6 Gap, and more!
Climbing, climbing and more climbing! By car, foot, or bike I spent much of my time in GA going up and down and around the hills. Just driving in and out of Big Canoe will leave you hanging on the edge of your seat. Training here is NEVER easy. The hills are steep, and never ending. They are different than the long climbs in Tuscon up Mt. Lemmon or up the long grades in the foot hills of Mt. Hood. This camp was set up for those with late season big races, and was not for anyone who wasn't willing to hurt a little. Everyone worked hard and had awesome training days!
My legs are still talking to me after several big bike days, 1 big brick with some swims and steep hilly runs and I crawled home to try to recover and while running around getting ready for back to school, back to work and back to normal life.
Here is a short summary of the TBC Big Canoe camp as I experienced it:
Day 1: Swim in the morning, then; Preview of the 6 Gap ride.
This section of North Georgia is part of the Blue Ridge Mtns. and in fact you cross the Appalachian Trail in 2 spots. The bike course calls the climbs “gaps” not really sure if its because of the gap it makes in the side of the earth, gap it makes through your muscles as it shreds it while you climb, or the gap in the teeth of some of the locals. Our group road 3 gaps, roughly 60 miles. It was hot, the the hills were tough and I had forgotten how these steep climbs just keep going around every curve. At the top of Nells Gap I caught my breath, saw a phone booth, and tried calling 911
When was the last time you saw a phone booth! The last climb of the day was Woody Gap, with an amazing view across the Blue Ridge mtns at the top. I am partial to the Rockies, the Cascades,and mtns of the west but, these hills are amazing. At the top of this climb you think you are home but there is still about 20 miles of big rollers back to the car.
Day 2: Swim in the morning: my arms felt worse in the water than my legs, then:
Long brick on tired legs. This ride was closer to home and included Sunrise climb. Don’t let the name fool you, she is a b@#% and comes after a 7 mile steady climb, followed by a long decent where you can’t really pedal allowing all the blood and lactate to pool in your legs before starting back up. It was 90 some degrees on this day and running on a gravel logging road off the bike up and down more hills made me feel like an ox.
Day 3: supposed to be an “easy” day with a swim in the morning, and a trail run. After 20 min of running, my running legs finally came to me and I actually could push the pace up and down the steep hills. Later in the day I tried to relax with the kids and camp BBQ while preparing for the big day....all 6 gaps.
Day 4: 6 gap; that would be Jack’s, Unicoi, Hog Pen, Wolf Pen, Woody and Nells in the order we did them. That is 6 big climbs ranging for about 3 miles to 8 miles long. We did 81 miles with something like 9000 feet of climbing. For some strange reason, I felt the best on this day and was able to keep climbing and ride strong keeping up with the boys. My favorite was Unicoi, and I yelled bad words climbing Hog Pen which is the steepest goes for about 7 miles. I can't remember the % grade here, but I think it was in the high teens. I probably should have been on my road bike with a 25 in the back, but was on my flatlander TT bike with the 23 in the back, because well, Vegas is close, and that’s the bike I’ll be racing on there, but not an ideal choice for this terrain. Maybe that explains some of the strange looks from the other bikers out there, but at least it hopefully made me stronger.
We came home to an empty house, the Aussies have moved on to Arizona. We must have worn them out, or they are afraid of Chicago winter. I now have a 3rd grader who can technically ride his bike the 2 blocks solo to school. I haven't let go on this 100%
and walk 1/2 way with him!
Only a few more weeks of training, and its Vegas baby!
Then let the cyclocross begin!