Squaw Peak Pain

My first ride after being sick was Wednesday at lunch with Mark. It was supposed to be a mellow ride, but Mark informs me that I didn't ride very mellow. I guess I was excited to be on the bike again, but I was certainly not feeling 100%. It was a nice ride, except for the 18 mph wind.

Saturday was cold and rainy. So when I saw the sun in the sky today I had to go for a ride. I headed toward Provo Canyon with my options being South Fork (a mellow climb) and Squaw Peak (a pretty stout climb). I decided I needed to see how bad this illness set me back so I went for Squaw Peak.

Turning off on the Squaw Peak road it starts hurting you right away with +10% grade. It only stays that steep for a 100 yards or so, but the damage is done. I was wheezing and coughing for the increased breathing. While the illness is gone, I have crud in my lungs I'm still cleaning out. At one point I was coughing so hard it was upsetting my stomach and I thought I might hurl. But I hung in there and tried to think calming thoughts. Eventually my airway was clean enough that I stopped coughing and the nausea went away. I got into a slow, but steady rhythm and chugged along.

The Fall colors are muted this year, but there were some splashes of brightly colored leaves here and there. The air had that musty, "dead leaves" smell - I like it, though I'm sure it's repugnant to others. The grade was averaging 6-7% and I was doing OK. Then I hit a section that popped up to 10%, it hurt but I got through it. The grade had turned steeper averaging 8-9% and I could feel my energy draining but I kept going.

Then I hit the final steep section before the end. Before the fork the grade hits 9-10% and I dug deeper. Then it jumps to 11-12% as I take the right fork - I'm out of my saddle and breathing hard. At the crest of the ridge there is a very short rest as I make the left turn to go up the ridge which is 12-13% and I start out the saddle, but sit back down and grind out the last half to the overlook - I'm seriously hurting now and it's all I can do to keep pedaling. I pull into a parking space and flop forward on the bars and pant for a few minutes. Eventually my breathing slows a bit and I get off the bike and take in the views as I continue to recover. 1930' of climbing from my house in Orem.

Now I get a nice downhill run as a reward for my hard work. But it's only in the mid 50s and I'm pretty sweaty so I immediately get chilled. It wasn't too bad because I had on two jerseys, arm warmers and insulated gloves. But I did have a wind breaker in my jersey pocket that I somehow forgot about until I was a mile from home - doh! Except for being a bit cold, the ride down was nice. I took it easy, 25-35 mph, and had fun carving the corners at moderate speed. Remembering Kenny's crash helped me keep my speed in check. I made it back to Provo Canyon and enjoyed pedaling home to get my blood flowing again and warm up a bit.

Sadly, the recent illness took a pretty big bite out of my climbing ability (be it what it is). Squaw Peak is a stout climb, but I did it earlier this year and it didn't torch me this bad. So, I've got some catching up to do. Even with the suffering, it was a nice ride and felt good to be out. Yep, the usual masochism exhibited by many avid cyclists.


Eat Sleep MTB said...

So do you feel better or worse now after the ride? I put that ride on my "Personal Best". What was your time?

KanyonKris said...

It hurt, but I feel better having done it. The heavy breathing helped clear out my lungs and my legs needed to work.

I was sure I'd be slow so I didn't time it.