The Hill

I’m back. I was away last weekend in Connecticut for Easter and then had a little road trip to Houston for work this week. I was locked in a conference room trying to stay away from the snacks….Oh wait, nope that wasn’t me. But I was away from home and not able to write much bloggy kind of stuff.

When I go to Connecticut to visit family I take one of my bikes so that I can ride. Everyone (even all of my in-laws) expects this, and expects I will disappear for a few hours each day. Last weekend I took my road bike. I figured I should ride it once or twice before The Tour of the Battenkill just to make sure a) I remembered how to shift it and b) it was working. Its been awhile since Frank and I spent time together. Turns out I needed to remind myself how to shift it. Its a little backwards compared to Truck, my touring bike, which I have been using on my trainer this winter. But I digress, so lets progress.

A couple of years ago I mapped out a 50+ mile ride in Connecticut. After I finished I looked at the profile and had a surprise. Here see if you can guess what it was:

ct_big_hill

It kind of sticks up like a middle finger don’t you think? The first hill of consequence is something that we drive over frequently. My wife was surprised that I was going to bike over that hill. That second one was unexpected.

In my lexicon this ride has become the “Big Hill Ride”. The middle finger hill is almost exactly 2 miles long. The first half of it (1 mile. There I did the math for you. You are welcome.) is a constant, relentless, 18% grade. Then the hill flattens out to about 12% for the second mile. I usually say bad things in to myself when I am riding it. Sunday the bad things centered on the smartness of changing my back cassette from a 11-32 to a 11-23. Its a butt kicker. Not only is it steep but it comes 35 miles into the ride. Those 35 miles are what make this ride deceptively hard.

The initial 35 miles are pretty flat looking. Except for that initial hill, there is nothing long. But Connecticut is filled with short, sharp, steep hills. These are hills that might only get you 35 or 50 ft of elevation gain, but come in a 10-15% grade kicker hill. Those are difficult because they are steep enough that you loose momentum, hard enough that you have to work at them, short enough that you never really get into a good rhythm, and short enough that you also get no recovery when you go down the little bit on the backside.

This ride is one of my favorites. It is a beautiful back road, rural Connecticut ride and its challenging enough to work you pretty hard. This time the weather was fantastic. Warm but not hot. My goal is to ride this route solo with a 18 mph average. Not there yet. Strava said I did the middle finger hill in 11 minutes. Strava also said that the fastest anyone has ridden it is 7:40. Pretty sure I will never ride that hill at that speed.

(BTW. Good call on the bike I need to do a little work before next weekend. Is Battenkill really just 8 days away? Yikes. It feels like Leadville is practically here.)

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