But then add in this piece of information:
And then this one:
And it actually starts to look pretty okay.
Beth and I went out to Skyline Drive this weekend for the first time. I had instructions to do an out-and-back and then a 30 minute run off of the bike. I also had pretty strict instructions to stay in Z2 for the entirety of the ride, except for a few very specific climbs where I was allowed in Z3 and one where I was allowed into Z4 if needed. So I knew it would be a long but relatively easy day.
We parked at the first comfort station in the park and headed out. The scenery was pretty gorgeous, and as the first climb started about 10 feet out of the parking lot, we had plenty of time to look around.
I spent the whole day keeping my eye on my heart rate and making sure I was spinning as easily as I could. It meant that the speed I was staring at most of the day was around 8mph, but I was determined to not hammer up any hills and just spin. This was a different kind of climbing than I had done before - even the Reston loops, which have some long climbs, couldn't touch the grade and length of going up the side of the mountain. We saw a few other cyclists out there, but mostly I was riding alone.
There was a "stop at Hogback Overlook and look at the view" line in my instructions for the day at top of one of the longer climbs, so I stopped and stretched for a few minutes.
After I continued on from Hogback, there was a brilliant 3-mile descent. I lost about 950 feet of elevation in the 6 minutes it took me to descend, which would take me about 30 minutes to climb on our way back in. We stopped at the gas station to fill our bottles and did an out-and-back on the flattest part of the day, and then started the climbs back home. When we got back, we changed and headed out for a 30 minute run (only 300 feet of climbing on the run, sweet) and then changed again and headed home.
I think I was mentally very well-prepared for the day, so I didn't spend any time being frustrated or cranky about how slow we were covering ground. I knew it was just going to be slow and easy spinning on long climbs, and I really enjoyed the ride. When I got home I discovered that I had huge heart rate success, spending only 17 minutes out of zone 2. I also nailed my nutrition - this was the second time I've done a "liquids only" ride, and last week was a burping farting heartburn-y disaster. This week I got off the bike feeling fine, and worked my way up and down through my zones on the run without any digestive issues at all. Although this - plus my love, Fritos - did taste pretty amazing on the way home.
Climbing is something I've been working on all summer - something that I started working on last summer, in fact. It's tough for everyone, and it always means a hard and slow workout, and sometimes it makes me pretty stabby to feel like all I do is sit on my bike going 9mph. My upcoming races are hilly and hard, but I actually prefer that to picking flat races where I can train on the W&OD or Hains Point all the time. And I've been toughing it out week after week at the hill ride - either NCVC or Conte's - all summer, but when I line up the elevation maps to compare it to what I did this weekend, I can only laugh.
How was your weekend? Did you climb any mountains?