Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Day 75: One less hill left to do

Day 76
Mitchell to Prineville 48miles

Another pretty early start today. Hopefully I dont have too many of these left. Once I hit Eugene, my daily mileage requirement will hopefully be pretty low, so I can have some nice relaxed days.

Wanted to get out early today and deal with the climb up to Ochoco pass before it got too hot. I clearly was the only one with this idea as the other 4 cyclists in the hotel were also up and about! The German couple were the first to leave, and I set off about 7.30.

According to the maps, it was around 17miles to the top, including an initial bit of downhill to take me right to the very bottom of the valley – I would have preferred no downhill and a bit less uphill!

The first 4miles or so finished off the downhill section of the road, and then the next 3 were quite gentle. Just before the road started to get serious, I caught up with the Germans (really should try remembering people's names!) who had stopped for a rest. We had a bit of chat about hills and climbs, and they asked if I remembered Hayters Gap! How could I forget that one! They also thought it was the hardest climb of the trip, so I'm glad it wasnt just me. Apparently they stayed in a church just after it, and the guest book was full of people saying how nasty it was! We set off to do this one, although I quickly left them behind. When I meet people, a lot of them do seem a little surprised at the speeds I'm riding at – maybe I'm not the slowest thing on the road after all! I imagine if I wanted to I could have finished this trip a bit quicker. One thing I dont often do is ride late into the day. But I want to enjoy myself, and also let my body recover.

The climb itself was pretty tough. I budgeted on it taking me 2.5hrs from Mitchell to the top of the pass. It was a fairly consistent grade for much of it, so I was able to get into a decent rhythm and just keep plodding up. For most of it I probably averaged around 7-8mph, which actually I dont think is too shabby.
Looking back where I've come from

My odometer ticked over slowly, and the elevation display on my watch kept creeping up, so it did feel like I was making progress. Stopped for a bit of a breather a couple of times, but no pushing. And no use of 1st gear. I was pretty sweaty today though – definitely one of the more exerting rides of recent times.

Just before 9.30 I reached the top and treated myself to a couple of well deserved Oreos!
Not many more of these left thank goodness!

So how did it compare with the other big climbs?

Well if Hayters gap is a 10, then I would say this was probably about a 7 in reality. The one thing that makes it difficult to compare different climbs is me! It would be interesting (in a purely hypothetical way!) of gong back to the bottom of Hayters gap and doing it again now. Just to see whether I would find it any easier. I was only 13days into my trip when I had to tackle it. Clearly since then I have got more experienced with how to climb hills. I probably have a bit less kit. And I think I have lost a few milligrams of weight. All of which means I'm probably better able to get my bike up a hill now than I was then.

According to my Garmin, the main climb of Hayters gap rose 440m in around 3.9miles, so around 112metres per mile. In comparison, today's climb took me up 730m in 12.5miles, so 'only' around 58metres per mile. Even if I ignored the first few uphill miles today, which were pretty gentle, it was still only an average of 65metres per mile once it started getting steep.

So in conclusion, if I went back and did Hayters gap again now, I still think it would seem very tough, as it was basically twice as steep as today! Although even that looks easy when compared to the climb up from Vesuvius to the Blue ridge parkway – around 3.7miles of climbing at a eye watering (and leg destroying) 135metres per mile! Thank god I got to go down that one!!

Anyway, enough about hills. Well at least for a couple of days!

The rest of the day was pretty simple really after that. A nice gradual downhill for next 30odd miles. Depending on how long the first bit of the day took, I had ear marked a campsite outside of Prineveille as a place to stay. But actually I reached there by around 11am, so even for me it seemed a bit early to be stopping! Although I did decide to stop in Prineville, which I reached by about 12.30. I could have gone on, and had I been behind schedule I probably would have done. But I dont need to kill myself, so I've left myself a nice flat, pretty short day tomorrow to the foot of my last ever mountain pass! Means I can have a lie in!

Spent the early part of the afternoon catching up with friends and family on skype, and then relaxing. I quite fancy a beer tonight, especially as I dont have too much to do tomorrow! And tomorrow marks the start of my final two weeks on the road, so its only right to see it in in style!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael
    It was the CEEU August team meeting today - you remain very much in our thoughts and many of us are following you.
    I tell you what, that's a lot of hills you're conquering!
    Be careful!