Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Climbing Boulder

I'm not a fast hill climber, but I really like climbing long hills. There's a purposeful monotony to a long climb. So, my main sort of ride when I"m in Ferry County these days is chopping off a chunk of time to do some climbing. If I were all awesome and amped up, I'd use these climbs to work on intervals and to get fast fast fast. But I just don't. I guess that's ok. But I sort of wonder what it would be like to hammer those and get faster.

I've been working on Boulder Pass all spring. I've climbed it about 1/2 dozen times. The last time, I tried it on the single speed. That felt much slower, but according to strava, that was my fastest time up the climb -- but only by 2 minutes.

Boulder is a solid hill. It's 11.67 miles of climbing. There's short steep pitches throughout and a steady grade otherwise. You always feel like you're climbing. The last 2 miles is pitches up fiercely. But given that you're feeling near the top that steep bit at the end isn't too miserable.

The official name of the road is Boulder Creek Road -- super low traffic road. I've climbed for 45 minutes or so without a car in either direction on a Saturday morning. It's a beautiful area to climb through -- at least I feel it is. The road is surrounded by deep national forest. For most of the climb, Boulder Creek is crashing down the mountain next to you. Spring is particularly lush and clean and lovely.

When my dad moved our family to Washington State in 1974, he had come up here in an attempt to escape the demons he met in Viet Nam and to shake off his association from the hard-living life of "hanging iron" in LA during the continued high rise boom.

One of his first jobs in the new rural Washington was working on a crew to pave Boulder Creek Road. About 20 years later, I'd climb this pass for the first time on a bike. It was an unplanned trip -- I had been helping him and my step-brother do some logging near Malo, WA - where he lived. We fought and I took off -- grabbed my bike and rode up and over Boulder through to Kettle Falls. It would take another 5 years or so before we talked again. That's a silly way to be. It's silly to waste time like that.

Climbing up Boulder sort of rinses my head out. This year especially... as I've brute forced my way back into cycling. When I climb up Boulder -- no matter how slowly -- I can blow out a bit more regret; I can remember nice moments; I try to capture lessons that I missed.

And then I get to descend -- back into the present, back to my people who are here now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bluffing the Heart Rate

I can't seem to get enough of riding the single speed on the High Drive trails lately. I have this perfect 1 hour, 10 mile loop that I've settled into over the last month or so. It's got just under 1000' of climbing and lots of swoopy single track. It's a perfect lunch ride.

I track my rides with a Garmin device and I'm noticing that my average heart rate is dropping over time, though my speed is about the same. I'm around 135 average heart rate for these rides. I think this means I'm getting more efficient. And/or maybe there's something going on with the way I'm forced to grind all climbs on the single speed -- all muscle and not as much heart required?

Until I got this single speed, which used to be my CX bike until Glen made me a newer awesomer CX bike, I was riding the Bluff trails on my mountain bike. I spent a few weeks in February trying to see how much elevation I could get out of a single ride on the trails in under 2 hours. I think the best I did was about 2200 feet. On those rides I was averaging about 150 BPM heart rate.

What's it all mean? I feel like I would get better workouts with that higher heart rate. But I'm enjoying the grind of the Bluff on the singlespeed -- I tell myself I'm building muscle or maybe power? I don't care that much -- because I'm enjoying my rides now, so who cares. But I'm curious about what it all means. I'd like my riding to be improving something. It's fun and that's enough, but I'll take improvements too.

Speaking of improvements. I'm going to make some to the single speed. I want to get it all light and rad and I want to go tubeless. As the Bluff trails have gotten more traffic over the years, a bunch of previously, mostly submerged sharp rocks have been exposed. On a mountain bike you can bomb and be ok. But on a bike with 35mm tires, you gotta run about 55psi to keep from getting pinch flats. That's too hard for finessing some of the most fun sections of trail down there. So tubeless will be happening.

For tubeless I need new rims. I'm also going to put a carbon fork and other carbon bits on this sucker since I plan to race it in the fall and since spending a bunch of money on carbon bits will absolutely guarantee it will go twice as fast, at least.