Sunday, January 27, 2013

Santa Monica Mountains Camp Day #7

Wow, what a day!!! I finally got in the day that I was hoping for and it was amazing. I woke up for a short, but intense swim session. It was a little cooler this morning, but the water was the perfect temperature. My arms were a bit fatigued from the swim day I had yesterday, but I managed to get in a pretty decent swim of 16x100...I held 1'12s for most of them, but I really have no idea how that converts to meters. My swimming is not where it was last summer, yet, but I have cut back on my hours in the pool this winter, and spent way more time developing my technique and top end speed (for the opening 100-400m of a race). So once I build my fitness in the next few months I can be even faster :)

After my swim I had a quick, but big breakfast to fuel up for my epic riding day. Then I was off! My ride started with the famous climb up Rockstore, which is a 5km climb of about 6-10% grade. The scenery going up this climb is gorgeous! All the mountains, trees, a village in the valley is breathtaking. Since I had done the climb before it meant that this time I could really look around and enjoy it. When I arrived at the summit I took Mulholland down to the Pacific Coast Highway and then started my second climb of the day.

Climb#2 was a 13.5km climb up Yerbe Buena and then Cotharin. These roads aren't as well paved, but that didn't bother me as much as it did on Day 1. Yerbe Buena is a fairly gradual ascent, but Cotharin is super steep, mostly around 10% for a few kms and at times as steep as 20%. I was trying to save a bit of energy, since I knew I had 5 major climbs and this was only climb #2, but if I didn't push myself then I was going to go backwards down the hill! It was quite a relief when I reached the top, but then I started my scariest descent ever down Deer Creek back to the Pacific Coast Highway. This descent was super scary just because you could see how high up you were. If you went off the road then you would end up tumbling straight down the mountain. I focused on everything I knew about descending: sit further back on your saddle, knees to the top tube, shift your weight to your peddles so you spread out your center of gravity, look where you want to go, try not to squeeze the breaks so hard! This helped a bit, but I was very happy when I reached the bottom.

Climb#3 was up Mulholland...this is one of my favourite climbs. It is very gradual (5-8%) and although it's 8km long, the road occasionally dips so that you are descending, which allows your legs a bit of a break. This allows time for thoughts of things other than how much your legs hurt :) I thought about how much I want to move to California. Rikki could start up a California Health Study, maybe?'s nice to dream :) Near the top of Mulholland I saw a cyclist...and you won't beleive it, but he asked me directions! And I am very happy to report I was able to steer him in the right direction. Then we rode together the rest of the way to the summit. He was pushing me a bit , which I kind of liked. He was training for a stage race in Europe so I knew he must be a strong cyclist...and I was staying with him 3 hours into my ride :) Once at the top we headed our separate ways. I had a descent down Decker Rd to do that would take me back down to the Pacific Coast Highway. Then it was back up almost right way.

Climb #4 was up Encinal Canyon Road, which I had descended a lot before, but never climbed. This was probably the easiest climb to do...only 9km long and not very steep. I focused on keeping my cadence nice and high. Once I was at the top I was super excited about the fact that I only had 1 more big climb left and only 50km to go! I had already completed 95km and ascended almost 2800m. I took Encinal Canyon Road back down to the Pacific Coast Highway, which I then stayed on for about 12km. This highway took me along Malibu beach where I saw tons of surfers! It was pretty windy so the waves were HUGE. Although this highway might be considered hilly by Ontario standards it was a very nice break from the long climbs I had been doing. Soon I was at the base of Climb#5 - Latigo Canyon Road. This is a 15km climb, about 4 - 8% grade, but sometimes it does get pretty steep for a few 100m. I had already done this climb (Day 3) so I knew what I was getting myself into...and it would not be easy. About half way up the climb I passed someone on a Mountain Bike. It was his second time going up and he said he was training for a bike trip in the Alps. There are definitely some serious riders out here in California! As I passed him he yelled, "don't go too fast you are only halfway there". I was pretty dead at the point already and that did not help. I was counting down the kms now until I got to the summit...5-4-3...(they are actually written on the road!) This road made me re-evaluate how badly I wanted to move to California. After an eternity I finally reached the top. I rewarded myself with a few cookies and some Mixed Berry eLoad and then I started my descent back to town! Only 20km to go...I descended Rockstore (pretty quickly I might add!) and someone even got a photo of me at some point. I will have to search for it online...

Once back at the hotel my biking muscles were screaming in pain, but I still had a run to do. Somehow I found the energy and laced up my running shoes and headed out for a short and sweet 3km run at Zone 2 pace. Next, FOOD and HOT TUB!

Tomorrow is my last day here. I have a quick swim, bike and run on the calendar so we will see how that goes :) As always, thanks for reading!

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