Sierra Rd. The Improvement Challenge

Day 4 of family camp. Seth had departed. Bruce was at yoga. I mean tapering. Cindy had launched into a mixed up triathlon run, bike, swim. Tim and I headed out solo for a little Sierra Rd. action. Not the longest ride we have everdone, but certainly steep enough and the scenery gets 5 stars. For the record, we did wuss out of the Mt. Hamilton loop. Tim and I will forever take razzing for this. It's over 110 miles of mountainous roads. The last time it was attempted by members of Team N, a support vehicle to cart their weary souls home. For some reason the option of lazily sipping coffee with Riley (the dog) at my side before riding sounded spectacular.

Sierra Rd has a bit of history. It has been used in the Tour of California. It historically kicked my butt like no other the first time I rode it. I think it may have been fear of the unknown. I knew no other female who had ridden it. The first time I climbed Palomar I was with another girl. My brain was consoled by if she can do it, I can do it. Right? Looking up Sierra Rd for the first time, not seeing the courtesy of a switchback, I panicked. What if I couldn't make it? What if? I cracked. It was ugly. I fussed, moaned, and groaned. Made it worse then it really was. Then I got to the top and said "was that all?"After all that fussing I declared it not so bad. I am still teased by Tim to this day.

Every year the Tri Club of San Diego gives out awards. This year I received the most improved. I am really touched by this. I think as triathletes we want to be better than we are, and at least better than we were yesterday. We use races as measuring sticks to measure improvement. Often when we get good results, we sabotage our enjoyment by coming up with another way of measuring to invalidate them. I am the queen of over thinking and perseverating. I realized though, if I am to have fun in this sport for the long term I have to let go of this. If I'm going to relive a moment. I should pick a good one. Nobody really cares about self proclaimed sub par performances anyway. This year I didn't have an A race, a B race, or a C race. (Some races are just longer than others so they require more prep) My goal has been to "just keep moving forward." Learn from the experiences. Focus on the good stuff.

Given dozens of people could have been chosen for the title of most improved. Somebody or bodies took the time to choose me. I was going to use Sierra Rd to prove them right. I would make my supporters proud. With my title of most improved I was going to climb this monster without a peep. O.k, it's most imporved not radically changed, there would be peeps, but peeps of positive words.

We headed towards the base of the climb. I focused of the positive. The extra gear I got for my birthday and the fact I was lighter than when I started the ride. Down from 3 full water bottles to 2. By the time I got to the top I might be really light and they might be empty. My bike Sweet Thunder, got a little spooked. She wanted to go charging into the base of the hill. I patted her aero bar's and instructed her to go easy. Momentum wouldn't carry me to the top.

I did really well for a while. I was able to spin my legs. We hit some switch backs and I LOVE SWITCHBACKS. I don't no exactly why, but I do. I just do. Then it got steeper, and despite trying to remain efficient I had to come out of the saddle for bits of time. The last I looked down, my speedometer said 4.6 mph. I wondered what Levi's speedometer said on Sierra Rd. No matter. I wasn't getting dropped at this speed. Tim was out of the saddle and climbing. Sweat was pouring off of us. It was really pretty and I wanted to take pictures. Tim said no way. We'd never be able to get our bikes moving again. I didn't talk much on the way up. I had a lot at stake. This was my chance show my respect to the title of most improved. Elizabeth discovered that talking makes your heart rate go up. I ditched my heart rate monitor when I found that out. I couldn't risk wasting energy talking. I just pedaled. O.k., I only spoke when we hit flatter spots.
After several false summits and somewhere into water bottle #3,we hit the top. I had done it. The proof was there. Nobody could argue that I hadn't improved. Not even me :) There was no subjectivity in this climb. (Well I did have an extra gear this time.....but I am not going to berate myself over that. No overthinking! Just take success a run with it;) For the life of me I don't know why I look so BAD and SAD in the above picture. I was a little spent at the top but very satisfied. I think it's just the nasal flaring. Maybe I am sad because we go home tomorrow and Tim goes back to a million hour work week:(
Tim is the only witness to both my Sierra Rd climbs. Tim says I am stronger this year. He might not be unbiased. I am the hand that doesn't quite feed him, but I do make him cookies and fill his water bottles so that has to count for something ;) Tim thanks those who nominated me for most improved. He says I'm much less whiny now and I can keep up better.

Thanks to all my supporters, resources, and inspirations. You know who you are.

1 comment:

tim said...

this time it was my turn to whine - good thing we bailed on the Mt Hamilton loop!