Having broken my record for the counter-clockwise loop around Usery Saturday night I was curious what I could do during daylight. This morning I rolled out of bed at 5:30 and out onto the bike for a quick trip around Usery Pass. This was one of my earliest distance rides (Well, 26 miles was "distance" back then) so it has become a sort of standard to gauge my fitness on. The first time I rode it it took me 2 and a half hours. Saturday night I was ecstatic to find I was able to do it in and hour and 28 minutes with an average speed of 17.4 mph. There is roughly 1000 feet of climbing much of it on false flats so I am actually pretty proud of that. There is also a nice section of 9% grade coming up "King Kong" from the Salt River on the Bush Highway.
This morning I would get hit by the occasional rain drop and I had a bit of a tailwind on the first bit of climbing. I was amazed to see the temperature was already 77 degrees but the cloudy sky kept it down but it would be in the 80s by the time I finished. I kept seeing cyclists going the other way, even a Brumby or two (I didn't wake up soon enough to join them as they meet at 5). I cruised up the front side of Usery faster than I ever have before maintaining 13-14 mph all the way to the top. The trip down the backside I kept it in the high 30s all the way down.
Coming in to the bottom of Kong I noticed a few people ahead of me and worked to catch up. The closest person was a lady that I passed at the bottom of the hill. The guy she was riding with seemed determined to not let me pass him when he saw me approaching near the top of the hill. I was above my LT pretty fiercely so I didn't want to completely blow myself up with 8 miles left to go. He stayed about 100 feet ahead of me up until he turned off to the right (though I was slowly catching him and would have if he hadn't turned).
I fought a pretty fierce headwind all the way home from here but managed to keep the speeds around 20 most of the way. It was a real hard slog since I had burned most of the matches I had left climbing Kong in the way that I did. Still, when I got home I had finished in 1 hour and 25 minutes which is the best time yet for me. I had an average speed of 18.2 mph which is not too shabby on that course.
Anyway, it was a good morning. Nice to see all the work I have been putting in has been paying off. We'll see if I can keep up with the Brumbys on Saturday. I hope so. I am in much better shape than when I rode with them last summer and earlier this year.