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.


Hobbes vs Boyle said...

I really miss long climbs. Here in the Midwest we have short and steep, and you can link those together to get a lot of total elevation over a ride. But as you say, it's a very different experience from a long climb.

Hank said...

I thought blogs were dead and I just now noticed you have been posting this spring. It's good to see you back, John!

bentography said...

Great read!