Monday, May 24, 2010

Biking - Half-century, and an aborted long climb

Today was forecast to be sunny and low 80s, and since many of my afternoons are now taken up by potential consulting work, Mondays and Fridays are my long riding days. So I decided to ride the Mohawk-Hudson Cycling Club's half-century (50-mile) route, but with a twist. This route would put me within only 3.4 miles of Lake Desolation, which sits at the top of a tough climb, gaining 900 feet, average grade about 5%, but maxing out over 14%. To cut the overall mileage, I planned to skip a 4-mile loop a little further along, north of Porter Corners. The map shows what I actually wound up doing, starting from a parking area at the north end of Ballston Lake.

I rode a relaxed comfortable ride all the way up to Middle Grove, where I stopped at a Stewart's Shop for a snack. Soon after that, I found myself at the decision point for Lake Desolation. I still felt fresh, so gave it a go. I didn't quite get there. I managed about 2 miles and 500 feet, most of it at about 7-9%, but I knew the next half-mile was the killer, and I was really gasping for air. So I bailed out. If this climb had actually been on the route and a "must", instead of a whimsical add-on, I expect I would have toughed it out (or walked). But I didn't have to, and I still had 30+ miles to ride, so I didn't.

To make up for that shortage of miles, I included the loop I had planned to skip, and then stopped at the store in Porter Corners for some pizza and fluids. From there, the rest of the ride was a rolling, mostly downhill trip back to the car at Ballston Lake. I made one more stop around 45 miles, with the first hints of possible cramps, but had more sports drink and all was well again. I finished with 54 miles and about 2,500 feet of climbing, so it was a pretty serious day.

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