I was nervous about my first ride up Deer Creek Canyon since... Wow! March 12 the last time up! I was dreading our first official training ride since being drawn for Ride the Rockies.
I thought I'd have to pull over a million times to catch my breath. I thought I'd barely make it the first four miles. I thought I'd be so dead (and cold) at the end of the ride, I wouldn't be able to ride again the next day.
My goal for that first official training ride of the year was 6.5 miles because that's how far I pedal to the top of Waterton Canyon on a regular basis. Deer Creek Canyon is steeper, and in Waterton Canyon, I don't have cars speeding alongside me.
I hadn't anticipated how different it is to clip into the pedals on my road bike from what I've been accustomed to by riding mostly the mountain bike for the last year. I didn't anticipate how different the saddle of the road bike would feel. And I wasn't sure what to wear because I knew it could be cold however far up Deer Creek Canyon I got, but it could be pretty warm in the sunny spots on the way up.
I also forgot to grab my camera before I headed out the door. Darn it.
So no fresh photos. The one above is from 2015. We don't have as much snow this year. It wasn't as cold. I did okay in shorts, but I had two layers of jerseys, and one was long-sleeved. I carried full-finger gloves but did not wear them. I wore two pairs of wool socks.
I was plenty warm enough the whole entire climb. I got cold two or three times on the descent in the shadows, thanks to the wind. The wind was so bad, all the riders who passed me (of which there were MANY) commented on how difficult it was making the climb. Three times, the wind nearly knocked me off my bike.
But wind makes us tough. Wind makes us tough. Wind makes us tough. I didn't get discouraged. Can't say I liked the wind playing havoc with my bike, but I suppose that will make me stronger too, if it keeps up. (That is NOT an invitation!!!)
When I hit 6.5 miles, I thought I could go half a mile further. At 7 miles, I thought I could make 8. At 8 miles, I decided to try for 9.
I turned around at 9 miles. I had energy to keep going, but I was concerned about the potential chill in the descent. As the sun crept behind the hills, the temperature was going to drop. I also didn't want to be dead at the end. I wanted to be able to finish a quilt when I got back home. And plant the spent tulips my husband gave me for my birthday. And write my next snowflake pattern. And make healthy chocolate chunk cookies.
When I finished the ride, I was hungry but warm, and excited that I'd chiseled off all but the last five miles of the climb on my first try in nearly a year. Without stopping!
I had been worried this year's Ride the Rockies would really get the best of me because I haven't been training as much in the last year. Now I have high hopes that the "good base" my husband and cycling friends tell me I've built really is a good starting point. I have work to do; I had trouble keeping my bike straight on the steepest portions of the climb because I just couldn't get above 3.8 mph. As I recall, I was pushing for 5 mph on the steepest grades two years ago. I'm going to have to climb a lot to get back into that shape.
But I'm optimistic now that I can do it.
Deer Creek Canyon had me in miles this time around, but it did not beat me!