It’s not every day that you get to look at a training day and classify it as one of your favorite of all time – but I can do that after Tuesday!
I wasn’t quite sure what all the hype is over Mt. Lemmon here in Tuscon. Coming from where I ride, I had never done a climb over maybe 5 miles at the most before last Saturday’s ride. So while I kept hearing about Mt. Lemmon, it was hard to truly understand what a 25 mile climb was going to be like. I was about to find out though! It’s probably a good thing I didn’t think about it too much and didn’t see an elevation profile beforehand, because I think this may have intimidated me somewhat:
Team HPB headed out to the mountain in style, only to have our eagerness damped by an early flat – tacks on the road! Lucky for us that was the only one on the day. I felt good riding, but heading into the unknown I made sure to pay close attention to how Hillary was riding. If I have learned anything from group rides, it’s that being observant can pay dividends in cycling. When I would hear her shift, I would shift. If she surged a bit, I went with her. She has ridden that mountain many a time so I knew she knows how to do it right, and as long as I had the legs I was going to hold on!
The first half of the mountain flew by. Hillary and I were climbing side by side very evenly. A few times we would come around a bend in the road and were hit head on with some pretty intense winds! While we weren’t taking turns pulling each other on the front, it was really nice to have someone at my side through the sections when the constant grind was getting old.
You can see from the elevation profile that just after mile 20 you get some downhill before the final climb, and that’s where things really started to get fun. Up at 8,000 ft there was plenty of snow, cold and wind — I felt right at home after a winter in Baltimore! Feeling that the end was near, we kept pushing and before I knew it, our final destination was there: The Cookie Cabin! Yes people, I would do that climb every day if this was my reward:
All of Team HPB rocked the climb, and we had some fun on the descent back to Tucson as well.
We were also blessed with good weather – today there were blizzard warnings at the top of the mountain so that certainly would not have made for ride-able conditions. And I have to say, Mt. Lemmon is a must-do ride if you are in Tucson – even if for no reason other than the cookie at the top!