Sunday, June 25, 2006

Maybe about sundown

The club I ride with did 2 different rides so I'm just going to cut and paste 'em in. Great reports!

Here's Mt Nebo/Mt Magazine report from Matthew:
Chris Irons, Patrick, and I set off on a noble quest to conquer the forbidding rampart known as Mount Nebo early this morning and ended up getting more than we bargained for.We met at Cook's Landing slightly before 7:30 am and were all a little excited and at the same time apprehensive about the ride ahead. Mount Nebo has a reputation as a challenging climb and would soon live up to it. All of the other FGSG's seemed to have something come up and couldn't attend (surprising number of out of town relatives coming in on a non-holiday weekend?!!) so we set off towards Nebo just the three of us. After a pleasant drive we arrived in Russellville and then drove through to Dardanelle and parked at the Burger King. Chris got out a elevation chart he had printed and it showed near vertical gradients. We held it up to the horizon and much to our horror it matched the profile of Nebo! We put our bikes together and donned our requisite helmets and started off down the road. We had a couple of miles of gently rolling hills to warm us up and then we arrived at the base of the mountain. A quick left turn and then up, up, up. And up, up, up some more and then more up. My quads are screaming at this point as I've already done the equivalent of a Triple Bypass and there is no end in sight! Did I mention this was steep? Finally, after more climbing the road levels off and I see a picnic area on the right. I must be at the top but I don't see Patrick anywhere (yes, he smoked me ladies and gentlemen) so I continue on. I turn the next corner and Holy Mary Mother of God that's the steepest road I have ever seen! What self respecting highway engineer would design a road like that? Folks, this ain't no 18% grade. 18% is just the average of the whole mountain as there are sections easily exceeding 30% at this stage. Sitting and pedaling is no longer an option at this point no matter how strong your legs are. I stand up and press on one pedal stroke after another. My speed has dropped to 3 mph and I'm thinking about stopping to rest but decide against it. No way to get unclipped or clipped in again on this grade without falling down. I've slowed to the point that I'm having trouble balancing my bike and I'm putting so much pressure on the crank that I begin to worry about snapping the chain. Finally, after an eternity of brutal climbing I crest the final rise and find Patrick. We wait a few minutes and soon Chris tops the rise and joins us for a breather. A guy in a Toyota pickup stopped by and started talking cycling with us. He says he climbs Nebo five times a week and can do it under twenty minutes now. Patrick, Chris, and I decide not to challenge him to a hill climbing race! Well, we start back down and soon find that it is impossible to keep one's bike slowed to a safe speed. I'm squeezing my brake levers so hard my wrists hurt. Youch! After a terrifying and painful on the wrists descent we finally arrive back at the base of the mountain and head back to town. When we get to town, Patrick says Hey, let’s go climb Mt. Magazine. Chris has a prior afternoon engagement and has to head back to the Rock so we say our goodbyes and Patrick and I head off to our second mountain climb in one day. We drive 46 miles and can't seem to find our next mountain. Then we cross over a ridge and down into a valley and Um Patrick, that sure is one TALL MOUNTAIN in front of us! It's almost twice as high as Nebo! We couldn't find a place to park at the base so we drove to the top and parked at the visitor center and decided to coast down and then climb up. While we are getting our bikes set up two park rangers walk up and ask if we are the cyclists that had to be carried up the mountain earlier in the morning! We said no and one of them explained that some cyclists had a wheel spoke break which then caused a chain to snap. Not a good omen for sure. I asked them which side was the most challenging climb and they suggested riding down the back side towards highway 10 as it gave over six miles of non stop steady climbing! The back side it is! Patrick and I start riding down and it doesn't seem too steep. The road has far fewer switch backs than Nebo and quite a few long straight always. There is a fair amount of wind slowing my descent so I don't use the brakes much. We keep going down for a long time and we're still pretty high up the mountain. Starting to wonder if there is a bottom to this thing? Down some more, then some more. My god will we ever get to the bottom? Finally we arrive at the base of the mountain and look back up. That sure is one tall mountain and now we have to climb it to get back to my truck! The climb seems easy at first about like Fort Roots. But it doesn't end so soon! Patrick sprints off and starts getting way ahead of me. I stand up on the pedals and start shifting up gears and soon I'm cruising along at a steady clip and regaining ground. After a while, I get tired and sit back down to resume a steady pace. There's a lot more mountain to climb! My steady pace pays off as I somehow end up ahead of Patrick and keep climbing. It had seemed like it took for ever to descend Magazine and it takes even longer to climb it. Finally we crest the last rise and pshhwup! Patrick's rear tire explodes at the top of the mountain! Glad that didn't happen on the descent! It's beyond repair with a three inch long split in the center of the tread so I ride less than a quarter mile back to the visitor center and get my truck then drive back and pick him up. As we are on our way back to Little Rock, Patrick suggests doing the Nebo/Magazine Torturefest again next week! Ha Ha Ha, I wonder how many of the FGSG's will have those out of town guests back next weekend?!!! Any takers? It's not that bad, REALLY!

Geo's comments: Ya gotta love those guys. Ya read the report then see the last statement about it not being that bad. Next week they will say something insane like being the first cyclist to ride Everest! Great report and fun reading!

Here's the Wye Mt report from Will:
Here's my report from the Saturday morning Wye Mtn ride.

Chris, Jen, Will, Denise, Yale, Becca, and Rebecca all showed up at 8-ish for a (having read the Nebo report) pleasant counter-clockwise ride around Lake Maumelle via Wye Mtn.

We all set out working together to reach the base of Wye Mtn. Communication concerning road hazards such as cars, road hazards and aberrations, and dissolving shoulders between the team members was excellent. A reasonable pace (for the group) was maintained. No rider was left behind in the ride to the base.

However, as we all know, all bets are off on the way up Wye Mtn. The leading climbers to the top were Chris, Rebecca, and yours truly. We waited near the top for everyone to regroup which didn't take long. The air was humid but the temp reasonable. There was a bit of rain/mist along various parts of the ride which led to newly wet roads as well.

Off we were again through rolling hills to regroup at the hwy 300 / 113 split.

Off once more for the mostly downhill ride to Hwy 10 where we once again regrouped.

Off once more until we met again at the Barrett Road exit from hwy 10. We're almost home!

We're all starting to feel the hills by now but make it back to the Pinnacle Mtn picnic area intact, energized, no flat or exploded tires and with no rider left behind.

Kudos to Jen for hanging tough on this ride so soon after her recent injury! I think many of us would have taken the day off or at least wined along the way under those conditions. Not so for the tough one! Kudos again.

All in all this was one of my favorite rides of the year. Thanks to all who made it a success!

Geo's comments: Another great report! Wished I'd been at both.

I'm about to leave and go do the homeless cookout with the church group. Since we should finish by 6, I'm hoping for a sundown ride. I'm missing the shower for Chris and Rebecca Irons and I'm bummed about that in the biggest way but I'd promised to be a part of the homeless gig long ago.

This coming week is a busy one for me! Several projects at the office I'm starting plus Monday night has crit race practice (Yep, I hear you laughing! I'm just asking the bike gods to just let mehang on to the wheels). Tuesday night is club ride. Wednesday night is only free night. Thursday night is club ride. Friday night is eat all the pasta you can get your hands on because Saturday morning at 6am is 1st century ride. 50 out, 50 back. This will be a good practice run and a reality check on my fitness level for the August HH100 in Wichita Falls, TX. And then the next week is July 4th holiday!

Maybe I'll ride and write more later tonight.

No comments: