Saturday, August 24, 2013

#23 - check! (that was easy)

6:34 sunrise
21:31 sunset

Checked off a few more fit for 40 goals from the list this week.  I am realizing how many of them are summer-oriented and, while I gave myself until I turn 41 to complete them, my birthday is in May so things like "have an overnight bike adventure in summer" are starting to seem like challenges that perhaps won't be met.  We'll see.

Last Monday I rode Mountain Hero with my friend Kate, which was great fun because she has never ridden the trail before and because just being up there is spectacular, even on a mediocre weather day, which is what we got.

New trail marker and license plate at the top of Mountain Hero

And then this week I thought I should get around to #23 which was a bit of a random goal to bike from the bottom of Grey Mountain to the second parking lot in less than 31 minutes.  Why 31 minutes?  As far as I can recall, that's the quickest I was able to cover that route in 2010 when I was training for TransRockies.  It's kinda funny that when I look at the post I wrote in 2010 about trying to ride faster up the road, that post also includes a day on Mountain Hero.  Sheesh, am I that predictable?  Maybe.

Doing my best grinning idiot pose after I realized I had made it in less than 30 minutes

Anyhow, I was pretty stoked to go parking lot to parking lot in 29:48 on Tuesday.  I was certainly trying hard to be fast but more in a consistent, steady way than in a lungs-burning-I'm-dying way.  What I'm saying is: I think I could do it even faster (but I don't have to!).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My first century - 100 miles to Skagway

6:12 sunrise
22:00 sunset

Well, I made it to Skagway on my bike in one piece.  Granted, it took me 9 1/2 hours to get there, but it wasn't actually that bad with the possible exception of the last 13km before the pass (between Fraser, BC and the White Pass Summit).  That section was slightly uphill, super windy and on pink chip-seal.  And of course I was tired by then too so any little challenge seemed larger than usual.

I'm super bummed because I somehow deleted the ride from my Garmin before I was able to download it.  I wanted to see just how slowly I was moving in some sections and I wanted to see how fast I went on the descent into Skagway.  But no - it's gone, poof! into the ether.

For anyone considering the ride from Whitehorse to Skagway, here's how it breaks down:

The first 54km into Carcross are actually pretty boring.  There are some nice views but mostly I was annoyed by the rough road and the fact that I was moving pretty slowly.  It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes just to go this far.  I think, had I not known that the road would improve, I might have given up once I got to Carcross. 

When I arrived in Carcross I was met by Ben (lunch!) and my friend Carolyn who planned to ride with me for awhile.  After eating and resting for half an hour or so, I climbed back on my bike and Carolyn and I headed off down the Klondike Highway.

It was a beautiful day - and I mean jaw-droppingly beautiful.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was warm - at least 25C.  The road out of Carcross has some significant hills to climb but these were made more tolerable by the fact that everywhere I looked the views were just amazing.  I've driven the road many times but it's different when you see it from a bicycle.

Fireweed beside Tutshi Lake

After 50km or so, Carolyn decided that she would probably not accompany me into Skagway.  Having just returned from a year abroad, she had pulled her road bike out just for this excursion and her knees were bothering her.  I have no doubt that she could have made it all the way to Skagway if she had wanted to but she was happy to stop at Fraser (the border point for entering Canada) and catch a ride back.

When Carolyn left me, I had only 13km to go to the summit and another 23km down the pass into Skagway.  I was feeling pretty good!  And then..... the chip-seal made a return.  And the 13km are slightly uphill.  And it was windy.  So what did I do?  Of course I broke out the camera and took a variety of scenic photos including my bike.

This way to America!

I know that road doesn't look too bad but it was killing me.  But, I dropped into easy, easy gears and did my best to spin up to the summit.  At one point I looked down and saw I was going 9km/hour.  I can run faster than that. And I don't run very quickly.  So that gives you an idea of how this section was going.

About a kilometre or so from the summit, I looked up to see the Element and Ben driving towards me.  He had driven from Carcross to Skagway, did his own ride up and down the pass, and then came looking to meet me at the summit.  Apparently I was quite chipper when Ben rolled his window down.  I think it was because the road had *just* started to improve in quality again and I knew the descent was near.  Ben took this awesome shot as I crested the last of the hills.  Yay me!

Although it looks nice and sunny, the majority of the descent was already in shadows as it was almost 7pm Alaska time by now.  Ben layered me up with an extra shirt and jacket and doooooooooowwwwwn the hill I went!

Looking up to the White Pass summit from the Skagway side

I had to brake a lot on the way down.  I was cold and tired and I just didn't trust myself at 70+km/hour. It was kinda fun passing through US Customs and Immigration on a bike though. I wish I could have taken a photo with the border guard but photos aren't exactly encouraged in these kind of "official" places.

As the hill flattened out and I entered Skagway proper, I looked down at my GPS to check how far I had come. In order to cross the 100 mile/160km mark and be able to say that I completed my first century, I had to ride down to 1st and State Streets and then over to the marina.

Once again, Ben met me at the finish to help me get out of my riding clothes, get into a shower and of course, take my photo - complete with ridiculous helmet hair.  My full set of photos are on flickr.

I have to admit, I am surprised that the ride went as well as it did.  I'm not saying it was easy, but it wasn't brutally, brutally hard.  So I am stoked with that and with ticking another one of my Fit for 40 goals off my list! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Heels today, cleats tomorrow

5:57 sunrise
22:15 sunset

I had today off work and since it was such a gorgeous day, I wore one of my favourite summer dresses instead of slobby shorts and a t-shirt.  I've remixed this beauty before but it's worth another showing, I think. And I now have the perfect pair of green shoes to wear with it.  

Today's outfit is in sharp contrast with what I will be wearing tomorrow.  I plan to try and knock fit for 40 goal #10 off my list and ride my bike to Skagway so it will be spandex and cycling shoes.  I'm quite nervous as I have never actually ridden a bicycle for 160km at one go.  I'm not entirely sure that I can do it - at least with the amount of training I have done (ie: none) for this.  Don't get me wrong - I ride my bike pretty regularly but a two hour ride on a mountain bike is not 160km on the road.  And a mostly uphill road until the last 20km at that!  But, if all goes well, I will be sipping a spruce tip beer at the pub in Skagway tomorrow for dinner.  Fingers crossed!