Sunday, June 9, 2013

Try, try again


I'm going to do this every Sunday... until I can do it without swearing and stopping constantly.

Until it's fun, damn it.

It's already absolutely beautiful.Gibraltar Road - rock climbing section

This is an emphasis on a new kind of riding for me. Uphill and A to A riding... to ride, not for a destination or sightseeing. I did a bit of this in the Netherlands, like cycling around the ringvaart, but not very often. The goal here is the ride, not to see cute ducks on a canal, or a new part of Zeeland or Friesland. I even wear a helmet and worry about weight. New stuff!

I made it up about 8 miles today to the Flores Flat area. By my calculations, the average grade was just under 6.5%. I didn't make it to the top- that's one last torturous mile of 7-10% grade.

My decision to stop today was sudden, I did think I'd make it to the top, but when I saw the increase in grade and felt the hot sun on my neck, my legs turned to jello. They said no. Maybe next week I'll be better prepared mentally.

So, after 8 miles, I turned around and rode with my hands squeezing the brakes for about 4 miles before getting a stupid flat tire.  (I had taken the schwalbe marathons off and put back on the stock continentals in a desperate ploy to make the bike just a little bit lighter- Anything to avoid losing weight myself.)

By this time, other area cyclists were awake and doing the climb. Everyone that passed me offered help and support. It was really nice but I'm a skilled flat fixer by this point and waved everyone on until I got the point of inflation. I had a compression canister and had not used one for years... A runner and a cyclist came by and helped me out by also not knowing what to do but being kind and curious. We figured it out eventually. 

Nice day!


  1. Changing the biggest rear gear for a bigger one could made things easier.
    Like a 34 tooth cog.
    Isn't that an option?
    I did this, and also changed the front gears for smaller ones, now I go uphill no matter of my weight!
    Luis Peters

    1. Hi Luis,
      My largest rear cog is a 32... and I use the granny, 30, in the front. I don't think a 34 will make too much of a difference, but I'd try it if I can find one easy to install.
      My bicycle weighs 38lbs total. And then there's me. It's a lot of work. :)

  2. Hey Alicia,
    nice progress. If you come across a steep ascend for the first time it's always a drag.
    That's a fascinating landscape there, though somewhat barren and of little variety (?). Here it's a variety of countryside (much like NL), woodland and low mountain views, that keeps me going.
    Of course you could be a "bike hoarder" and buy another one. If you prefer a tourer with disc brakes (like I do) maybe you'd like a cross bike with a rigid fork:
    or the kona jake (alu):
    or the kona rove (steel):
    or a Trek:
    or a light commuter:

    Those wheigh some 11 or 12kg without additional gear (according to the internet anyway).
    Of course it would be a shame to demote your trusted sutra to a city bike.
    And light bicycles are for wimps =) [no offense anyone]
    You keep practicing and you will have fun going uphill. And the most athletic legs.

    1. Addendum:

      The 2011 Kona Jake in the above link doesn't have disc brakes, but the 2013 model at the kona homepage does. So that probably weighs a little more.

    2. I tried to explain to someone that "there's nothing to see" (they thought I was crazy), unlike the Netherlands where you'll run across interesting things constantly... ducks, cafes, bridges, little towns. You can ride for hours here and only see a car freeway. In NL, I might not notice how far I'd gone not only because it's flat but because it was interesting. Here, there are no distractions and it makes the cycling itself more important/tedious.
      The Gibraltar road route has a few gorgeous views, but no variety indeed.

      It's all about the climb.

      I'm a bike hoarder. :)