Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ride 542 (Mt Baker Hill Climb)

What a great day, not a cloud anywhere on the way up or down.

We met before 6 to carpool up and arrived in plenty of time to get fully dressed and bikes all ready. It was cold because there were no clouds overnite either. We wanted to get going to warm the legs and body up.

There were lots and lots of riders, they roll us west on SR542 back out of downtown Glacier to the mile post 33 "starting line". Kevin, Joel and I were towards the back of the group, but once we started we were able to use both sides of the road and I was able to move up quickly. By about a mile into the ride I was within 100 yards of the leaders and on the first downhill section of the uphill ride we were crusin along at better than 30 MPH.

The ride is 24 plus miles from Glacier up to Artist Point which is about 5k past the Mt Baker ski area. The lower first 11 miles or so is the steepest section past Nooksack River Falls. I was about 5 minutes faster up this section than the recon ride last week.

Just past here we get a false flat up past the DOT station to the real climb. It is not as steep but it is much longer, the final 12 miles is just up, go around a corner and then its more up. next switchback, more up, up, up.

You go past the lower ski lodge and you need to either not know the road or gather your mental strength as it seems like forever to get to Heather Meadows and the upper ski lodge. After multiple switchbacks and passing the sign (about 1 mile before the real Heather Meadows) you finally get to the upper ski area.

Now it gets interesting as you turn up the final 5k ascent. This uppper section is what you think of in the Alps of the Tour de France, above the tree line and lots of switchbacks that you can see above you (and below you). This part is tough for me too as once you pass the Austin Pass parking lot you got a big, long switchback and you think your close, but once around the upper part of this you hit the Lake Ann trailhead parking lot and you see a repeat of what looks like the same big, long switchback, but this is great too as you start to see many more spectators, hear the cowbells and it helps get you up to the top.

They mark each kilometer of the final 5k and in between 2k and 1k to go I start to fell real sluggish, I thought it might just be because of my location (riding up the side of a mountain), but as it got worse I noticed some give to my rear tire, yeah I had a slow leaking flat. I started to feel my rim on the ground, so stood up over the handlebars and got a bit better, but couldn't stand the final 1.5k. Once I sat back down I realized I had to stop, ug!

Got my wheel off the bike, got out my tire levers, was about to release the final bits of air to get the tire off the rim, but noticed it still had a good amount of air, so decided to simply fill with my CO2 cartridge. Filled it up, loaded up my gear, and back underway. It was a slow leak and I was able to finish with just the refill of air. (I did a full change before riding back down)

I was close to the 2 hour mark I've been hoping to get, still a personal best on my third time in this event. If I had no flat I still wouldn't of made it under 2 hours.

Great ride, highly recommend to everyone.

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