Early this year I decided I wanted to do all of the classic Salt Lake Valley climbs. I'd heard other cyclists talk about them and I wanted the experience. This evening I completed the last climb. Here is the list (in the order I climbed them):
- Butterfield Canyon
- Emigration Canyon (to Big Mountain)
- Millcreek Canyon
- Big Cottonwood Canyon
- Little Cottonwood Canyon
- City Creek
- Although Parley's Canyon is a worthy climb, I have no interest in cycling along a freeway (I-80) with the associated traffic danger and noise. There is a grass-roots effort to put in a bike/foot path up Parley's and if it gets built I'll climb Parley's.
- I climbed Butterfield last year and I'll probably do it again soon so I will have climbed it in 2007.
We rode from near Trolley Square (where Mark and Craig work) to get the legs warmed up. Pedaling up the (fairly steep) Avenues my legs felt sluggish - not good. I felt better on the down-sloping 11th Avenue and the gently climbing Bonneville Blvd.
City Creek starts mellow and rolling averaging 3-4% grade. We handled the few steeper spots pretty good. I was spinning good and kept it in the middle ring all the way past the water treatment facility, but I was forced into the small ring as I approached the lower Rotary park. Mark joked that once I dropped into the little ring I would be left behind so I tried to keep it in as high a gear as I could. I was breathing hard, but the legs weren't going anaerobic so I kept myself in the pain cave. At one point I got a side ache - that's only happened to my while running (from the impact), never while cycling. I was a bit alarmed, but kept pushing it.
Those nasty 10%+ grades hurt, but I tried to keep my speed up. For some reason I thought the road ended not too far past lower Rotary - I was wrong - it just kept going with more steep spots to boot. At each little picnic area I hoped it would be the end, but it wasn't.
By spinning up to a fast (for me) pace and focusing on the climb, I realized about half way up that I had opened up a gap. So as I hit the tough stuff and slowed down I kept waiting for one of my riding partners to pass me. I knew Mark was strong on climbs (he smoked Little Cottonwood and beat me to the top by 6 minutes) and Craig had pedaled solidly up the lower section. I pushed on, but felt my energy draining.
Finally, I spotted what I hoped was the end and heard a cough behind me. I was so lost in my own masochistic world I was oblivious to most of my surroundings so the cough startled me and I did some sort of spastic jerk and let out a little "oh!". Yea, it was Mark, he had caught me - but the end was near so I kept pace and finished it. Mark said he thought about sprinting past me, but feared he would blow a gasket. I think he was being a gentleman to let me finish first for this last of my SLC climbs. If he would have sprinted I would have tried to answer, but it would have been weak and I doubt I could have held him off.
I was pretty worked over. It was a tougher climb than I anticipated, but it felt good to work hard for it. The canyon is pretty with a little stream and plenty of shade. Being an odd day there were no cars (OK, one truck going down) so that was nice. The descent was refreshing, except when I let on too much speed down a steep spot that ended with a sharp right turn - thankfully Craig was showing me the line and I woke up in time and got on the brakes so I didn't go off the road. Some city riding back to the cars and that was it. City Creek was a good finale.