A few weeks back I wrote a post titled "Cycling Mistakes" and in it I recapped the lessons I learned on the infamous Nate Harrison Grade (NHG). For me, much of the learning curve came afterwards. As I listened to Trainer Road (TR) podcasts and read books such as Matt Fitzgerald's "The Endurance Diet" I began to realize the gravity of my errors and how it had impacted my performance that day on NHG. I was looking for not only redemption but to apply what I had learned on another hard ride. So, I set my sights on the illustrious "Glendora Mountain Road" (GMR).
Prepping for a Category I/II climb
According to the Tour de France a Category I hill is given the grade if: "[the climb is] roughly 5-10km at 8% gradient or 15km+ at 6%." In other words it is long and hard. GMR clocks in at 14.78km distance with an average gradient of 5% with 714 meters of elevation gain. So, in all fairness according to the Tour de France it's a Category II climb but Strava calls it a Category I climb. Hmm...
Probably the most important thing I learned from both the TR podcast and "The Endurance Diet" was the necessity of nutrition. Sure I made it up and down NHG but I had an epic and slightly miserable (okay a really miserable) experience - and the problems were due almost entirely to my nutrition plan. This time around I was going to do it right. The day before I went to Plaza Produce in Glendora and built my own two pound salad covered in all manner of veggies, along with a plum, a hard boiled egg, and walnuts. For dinner I dined on a Wedge Cobb Salad and a full serving of Cabonarra Gluten Free pasta (along with 6-8 glasses of water) at Spaghetti Eddies in Glendora.
The next order of business was getting a good nights sleep. I sipped on one ounce of some high quality bourbon neat with my father-in-law and then hit the rack in my 1969 camper VW Bus at the ripe hour of 2130. My alarm was set for 0600. That night was one of the best night sleeps I have had in a long long time. They sure knew how to make comfortable beds back in the late 60's.
The next morning I woke up before my alarm and downed a cup of dry Ezekiel cereal, a peach, and 36 ounces of water. I was on the road about 10 minutes after sunrise.
It was an easy few kilometers from my in-law's home to the start of Glendora Mountain Road and so I felt sufficiently warmed up when the angle of the road increased. A few hundred meters into the climb I came upon a shattered mason jar in the bike lane. The lighting was poor and so I did not see it in time. From my wheels there came a sickening crunch of rubber crushing hard glass. I cussed under my breath. Was my ride over with before it had hardly begun? I kept pedaling and listening for the tell tale sound of escaping air. There was no sound. Thank G-d for the 120 TPI Kenda Flintridge tires.
Thankfully the rest of the ride was glass free. I was surprised at how good I felt. To make things better I passed seven or eight cyclists on the way up. I could definitely feel the difference good nutrition and rest has on hard efforts on a bike.
My goal was to ride two hours so that I could join my family for Sunday brunch. I reached the turn around point just under 90 minutes from when I started. I snapped a few quick photos, downed a package of Honey Stinger Shots, and pointed my bike back towards Glendora.
The descent was steep and pretty fast. At one point I was drafting a car but when the road straightened out I lost him. I hit my fastest speed yet on my bike, a scary 63 kph (39mph). That brings me to my only complaint about the Flintridge tires - their rolling resistance. On circuits close to home I can achieve similar speeds on pavement with my mountain bike running 2.2 WTB Trail Boss tires and 760mm wide handlebars. It seems a little odd to me that my mountain bike is almost as fast as my gravel bike on pavement...
My ride was almost doomed from the beginning. When I was packing up my bike to fit it into the tight confines of our family SUV, and despite a thorough check-list, I failed to pack my seat post and saddle! Thankfully the good folks at Bicycle Central hooked me up with a used saddle and seat post for $20. It was a bit frustrating but at the same time I will not make that mistake again when the stakes are much higher - like on a race day.
For Sunday brunch we dined at Flappy Jacks, a very famous Glendora dining hot spot. The wait was long but was all worth it when we got our food :P
Overall it had been a really great ride and I was super stoked with my effort. And to top off a great weekend I had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious culinary cornucopia of fabulous food. Yummy!