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What I learned on my first mountainous century...

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What I learned on my first mountainous century...

Old 07-28-12, 04:06 PM
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What I learned on my first mountainous century...

I've done centuries before, but never up over a mountain pass .... TWICE. The first 43km was 2368m (over 7800') of elevation gain. The route was: Up to the top of Highwood Pass (the highest paved road in Canada) then down the other side for 38km, then turn around and climb up over the pass AGAIN, then down to the start point... 162km in total.

Here's what I learned:

1. The heavy steel Nishiki Continental is SMOOTH compared to my 19.2lb Cannondale... It's also slow. The wheels/tires on my steel bike weight 900g more than the wheels/tires on the Cannondale. This makes my already slow 235lb body even SLOWER. LOL. (But I wasn't dead last, so that's good).

2. Next time do a "to-the-top-then-down" instead of "to the top, down the other side, turn around and go back up, down the other side" ride... 7800' of elevation gain is enough for one ride. 15,000+ ft of elevation gain in a single ride is downright sadistic - and as such I made an executive decision to not complete it... I did a metric century with about 9,000' of gain instead.

3. Don't wear brand new bibs on a century simply because they showed up the day before the ride. Stick with what you know...

4. A grizzly might look at you with interest if you look half dead and are the slowest of your "pack" while going up a 11% grade at barely 6mph... That was ... uncomfortable.

5. If you decide to race down the slope and catch everyone that passed you on the uphill, it is quite likely deer will run into you path. No racing apparently = no deer.

6. Make friends with the volunteers at the feeding station...

7. The fact that one might be the slowest climber REALLY gives one the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Half of my climbing was just staring around at the majesty that is Alberta's Kananaskis Country.

8. The attractive girl that slows her climb and talks to you for 5 minutes isn't flirting... You simply remind her of HER DAD.

9. Be prepared to talk extensively about the C&V bike you decided to take when everyone else brought $3-6000 climbing machines... I got some great comments ...

10. When preparing for 15,000+ feet of elevation gain in a single ride, riding the local 8% grade 4.2km long hill a few times IS NOT ENOUGH.

11. 34x28 gearing (34 front, 28 rear) is NOT LOW ENOUGH for a 235lb guy on a 25lb bike with those kinds of climbs... Next time I'll use lower gearing.

That's about it... If I learned anything else I'm too damned tired to remember...

Last edited by AlbertaBeef; 07-28-12 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 07-28-12, 04:21 PM
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You have my respect...i doubt very seriously if i could have even completed that much climbing.
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Old 07-28-12, 04:29 PM
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Well honestly I didn't actually complete it all... I got to the top (7800' of elevation gain) then rode a bit farther down and thought to myself "no way in hell am I coming back up this again" and ended up making it a Metric Century instead. My total elevation gain was nowhere near the 15,000 they had planned... Seriously, that's sadistic. I ended up doing a little over 9,000 vertical in total. Some sections were so steep (and I was so tired) I had to traverse the road... going straight up was too much on those sections...

I slowed down on the way back and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery - it was grand. Some of them were doing the entire route though - because they're 100-140lbs.

I'll stick to slightly flatter centuries. I might try to train for this one again next year - If I can get into the shape I want I'll try it again, what the heck.
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Old 07-28-12, 05:33 PM
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The fact that you even made that ride makes you a hero in my book. I couldn't do it on my much lighter bike and weighing a lot less. Congrats to you!
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Old 07-28-12, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by AlbertaBeef
I've done centuries before, but never up over a mountain pass .... TWICE. The first 43km was 2368m (over 7800') of elevation gain. The route was: Up to the top of Highwood Pass (the highest paved road in Canada) then down the other side for 38km, then turn around and climb up over the pass AGAIN, then down to the start point... 162km in total.

Here's what I learned:

1. The heavy steel Nishiki Continental is SMOOTH compared to my 19.2lb Cannondale... It's also slow. The wheels/tires on my steel bike weight 900g more than the wheels/tires on the Cannondale. This makes my already slow 235lb body even SLOWER. LOL. (But I wasn't dead last, so that's good).
One has to wonder why you decided to take that bike and not a lighter weight one.

Originally Posted by AlbertaBeef


7. The fact that one might be the slowest climber REALLY gives one the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. Half of my climbing was just staring around at the majesty that is Alberta's Kananaskis Country.

Canada is like our attic - you forget it's there, but you get up there, you're like, 'wow, look at all this crap!'



Originally Posted by AlbertaBeef

10. When preparing for 15,000+ feet of elevation gain in a single ride, riding the local 8% grade 4.2km long hill a few times IS NOT ENOUGH.
When I did a 8300' metric with Paisan back at the end of June there were a few guys form the flat bit in Delaware that told me at the start line that they wanted to 'try some hills'. Not sure if they are still out there 'trying'.
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Old 07-28-12, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by IBOHUNT
One has to wonder why you decided to take that bike and not a lighter weight one.
Easy answer - Spinal issues... The cannondale, while light, is STIFF and not very forgiving to my spine. For longer rides - my Nishiki Continental is SO much better for me.

Originally Posted by IBOHUNT
When I did a 8300' metric with Paisan back at the end of June there were a few guys form the flat bit in Delaware that told me at the start line that they wanted to 'try some hills'. Not sure if they are still out there 'trying'.
I'll definitely be back for this again... the climb is not only gorgeous, but it's an amazing workout...
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Old 07-29-12, 02:09 AM
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Originally Posted by IBOHUNT
One has to wonder why you decided to take that bike and not a lighter weight one.




Canada is like our attic - you forget it's there, but you get up there, you're like, 'wow, look at all this crap!'





When I did a 8300' metric with Paisan back at the end of June there were a few guys form the flat bit in Delaware that told me at the start line that they wanted to 'try some hills'. Not sure if they are still out there 'trying'.
Paisan and I did a 50 in DE yesterday. the ride leader said rolling hills. Ha...yea right. We were in a flat part of DE and Maryland.
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Old 07-29-12, 07:20 AM
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I'm jealous! We drove to Calgary to do Highwood on the last weekend that it was closed and couldn't go up due to heavy wet snow in the mountains and my better half getting severe nausea and dizziness on the drive in. We're going to try again in September.
I'll take my new carbon bike. If it smooths out the potholes, gravel, and frost cracks of a typical Saskatoon road, it should be a dream on Highwood.
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Old 07-29-12, 08:52 AM
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I should warn you Highwood is MUCH cooler in September, depending on when you're coming in. I've been up at Elbow Lake (a few km from the pass) at 8am when it was actually below freezing... so bring some cold-weather cycling gear just in case. If you've got the ability to do it in August, I'd recommend it...
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Old 07-29-12, 12:30 PM
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I've done it in September before. It was actually warmer and dryer than most June trips I've done. Actually, I've had to start out in tights and a jacket most trips up Highwood, but at least it wasn't raining in fall.
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Old 07-29-12, 02:09 PM
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Yeah, you never know with Alberta weather... One camping trip (tenting, of course) I had nearly foot of snow come down overnight on June 29th... I've seen -7 on Labour Day... I've also seen 35C on the same day... so who knows...
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