Sunday, August 5, 2007

Big swim BIG hill

Well, finally a Saturday rolled around where the Arizona Tri Club had a open water swim workout that I could attend so I was eager to get up there and show them all my new swim moves that my niece had been coaching me on. Of course I was the slowest one there but hey, you can't become a competitive swimmer in 2 months. Well, I guess competing with myself I am a pretty fierce competitor. Anyway, we swam under the bridge pictured above. Between the "no wake" buoy and the rock buoy down the canyon it made for a 900m lap. I was a little intimidated at first wondering if I could do it but 52 minutes later I got out of the water having swim 1900m averaging 2.5 minutes every 100m. Not to bad for a greenhorn I figure. Anyway, it was the first time I had swim that far and interestingly enough I enjoyed it. The swim was just the first part of the day though. The second part of this "little" workout included a ride to the end of the pavement and back via tortilla flat. Well, some of you I know have ridden back to Tortilla Flat with me on permanents. Well, lets just say there is a dirty little secret hill behind Tortilla flat that makes the hill on the way in seem like childsplay. I had a hard enough time getting my legs to pedal after the swim climbing the hill to Tortilla flat but I thought they were on the verge of rebellion upon starting the killer climb of the day. Just a few facts. The ride is a little over 18 miles, the first half of which features nearly 3,ooo feet of climbing. Yes, the ride features 3,121 feet of climbing of which almost all of it is in the first 9 miles. So, lets start in Tortilla flat with the start of the "REAL" workout, never mind the fact that my legs were not happy with the climb to Tortilla in the first place. I had climbed the first part of this before so I knew what was in store. There is a rather scenic little climb around an outcrop.

And then... Could this be the top of the hill? No, it is merely toying with your mind and is but a small dip into a wash and then, the horror of the hill is upon you. Each new corner brings a view of unrelenting 10 degree climbing torture, although torture is not really a word you are thinking about until you are on mile 2 of the hill and your legs are not happy with you and even the triple chainring guys are suffering. Then, you can see it! Is that a flat spot up ahead in a saddle? Is that the top? Can it be? So you climb harder knowing that after three harsh miles of climbing you are at last having the hill letup, but no, the flat spot is but a breath extracted from the unwilling landscape. Expletives are heard as cyclists are informed that there are still 3 more miles of this. Eventually breath is once again used for powering the legs as the backbreaking hill returns with no mercy. About a mile from the turn around another breath of easier grade is enjoyed and not too far later a short flat stretch and then, there it is, the edge of the pavement! After an hour of struggle you are there! Now it is time for the 10-15 minute ride back down hair raising hills and pray your breaks don't fail flight! 3 28 ounce water bottles later my thirst is almost satiated.

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