Joel and I went out and did the Summits of Bothell ride today – it’s about 38 miles… and 3800′ of climbing. That’s not a typo. The ride’s great: they do a good job with support and everything, the food stops were really well stocked, the people were great, and the route, though it had some bumps I’m not sure any route could have avoided them: Bothell’s under crazy construction, the roads are torn up all over the place. Joel described it as “Chilly Hilly without the crowds” which is an apt description.
If you’re into climbing-heavy rides, I totally recommend it. Low, low gearing recommended though. I’ve got a triple up front, but my gearing in back is really narrow, and I was pretty screwed once the grade got too steep.
It rained for the first hour. Riding in the rain sucks. Riding up steep hills in the rain sucks more, because if you lose traction, you’re screwed. Descending hills is no fun, either, because your brakes don’t work and if you lose traction, you’re roadkill. When that lifted, the ride got much more enjoyable.
Enjoyable, on any climbing-heavy ride, is relative.
I have climbing power in short bursts: when I can get up out of the saddle and tear into a hill, if it’s short enough I rock out. These weren’t those kind of short hills. I’m in pretty reasonable biking shape, and I still got my ass kicked.
There were two hills in particular: the second one was so steep (and my chain derailed three times at the bottom, forcing me to abandon my three lowest gears)(that really hurt) that I felt like I was going to throw up on myself and then pass out for a good stretch. Then there was another that, had there not been a side street where I could pull off and circle for a couple minutes recovering, I think I wouldn’t have made it up.
We finished and I felt great, loaded up the bikes, drove home, and I almost fell over trying to get out of the car: in the ~20m car ride, my legs got together, decided that they were no longer needed for propulsion, and shut down in protest. I could barely wobble around the house ten minutes later.