Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nemesis repeats, whee!

Nemesis is the name I've given to a hill out in Coyote Hills Park,  near the Dumbarton Bridge in Fremont.

It's a short climb, only about 1/2 mile long, but it's a steep little stinker.  The climb is in two parts, both about 8-12% grade, with a short rest in between of about 3-5%.   It then levels off at the top, and for extra credit I can continue on, past a shooting range used by the Fremont police and a former Nike missile control center (cool, eh?), and up a last short bit of another 10-12%.  There it dead ends at a gate at the very top of the hill, past which there are cell phone towers and lord knows what else.  :/

I call it Nemesis because it took me *weeks* to get up that stinker for the first time, back when I first started riding. I was such a happy camper that day when I reached the top -- until I realized it wasn't really the top and there was still that  last section.  Ack!

Nowadays it's much less of a nemesis, but I like the name.  And it can still kick the crap out of me.

The view up there is really nice -- you get a vista of the southern part of the SF Bay and the Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges.

And it's a good hill for repeats.  Which is what I did today.  I could have gone on a "buddy" ride today with my TNT Death Ride team, but I really wasn't up to driving all the way out to the Presidio for the start of the ride, especially since the weather was iffy.  And after the long week I had at work, a sleep-in was in order.  So it seemed like a good a day as any to start up the masochistic ritual known as Nemesis repeats.

My initial plan is to just do a few of them at a time, maybe a couple of times a week, and not worry about my speed yet - just get up the sucker.  I figure over time, hopefully my strength & stamina will improve and the climbing speed will follow.  I hope.

And since what goes up must come down, this'll also be good for my descending. I'm a much more tentative descender since my crash last March.  I'm not fearful, but I do take descents a lot slower than I used to.  I may never again be as fast a descender as I used to be, but I would like to get my confidence back.   Although the trail on Nemesis is paved, it's bumpy in parts, and there's a bit of gravel on it.  I think the more I descend it, the more assured I'll be, and that's a good thing.

So, today I warmed up slowly and deliberately, first heading out to the bay and back around the park,  getting about 8 miles in before I reached the climb the first time.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't all that difficult for me.  I kept in my lowest gears and spun reasonably well heading up.  Just before the top it kicks up to about 14% so I was a bit labored, but still, not too shabby.  I turned around, headed down and along the trail to the parking lot on Patterson Ranch Road where I looped around and headed back.

There were a few other cyclists doing repeats on Nemesis today.  We'd nod to each other as we passed, but we were all in our own little worlds.  It was that kind of day out; on really nice sunny days the park is teeming with people but today, notsomuch.  Nearly everyone I saw out there seemed to be doing some sort of training.

I managed to do four repeats, and I wasn't whupped at all, which was great.  On the last two I headed up to the very top by the cell towers to take in the view.  On the fourth climb it starting sprinkling and the wind was picking up some more (made for some nice crosswinds heading down, yikes) so it was time to pack it in.  Heading back to the Alameda Creek Trail I met up with Lee who had been out on his own ride out to Shoreline Park, so we rode home together.   A good day.

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