RIST Canyon


First time for everything. Today, we climbed Rist Canyon. Seems like no big deal when I write it, but it was incredible - hard and exhilerating all at the same time. there were times along the way when i wondered if i could do the entire climb without stopping - either voluntarily, or just fall over on my bike because i couldn't pedal anymore. The morning started out cool as I made Theresa get up early so we could get a good start on the day and be done before noon. The 59 mile route would take about 3.5 -4 hours depending on how many times we stopped along the way. I planned not to stop at all, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into - so I was prepared for whatever the day had in store. Steve, a friend of Theresa's, joined us for the ride. I met him the other night at a dinner their training group had over at his house. So we took off at about 6:15 am with our arm warmers on and headed for the canyon. A good 45 minutes into the ride, the arm warmers came off and the climb began - 13 miles straight up. The first 6 miles or so were old news to me since I rode them twice yesterday as part of my training. I needed to do a couple of solid 30 minute plus climbs, and the only place to do that that I knew of was Rist. So yesterday, I rode out here and rode up and down a couple of times and became familiar with what I was to expect for part of today. The rumor was that the climb gets steeper as you go, and the top is the steepest. And well, that rumor proved true. after 30 minutes of climbing, it kept on. There were some points when I would go from a cadence of 70 to 50 (remember, no triple granny gear here - tri bike and Q-rings, baby) and my speed would drop from a steady 9.5mph to 6.5mph - then 5.9mph then 5.6mph.... then who know how slow and how low my cadence went because i was just trying to stay upright at that point and not pass out since-i-can't-breathe-and-is-this-hill-ever-gonna-end....and to my surprise (now really, if you ride your bike, imagine this), i felt a sense of relief when i felt the hill give a little and was able to recover a bit - at 6.6mph and a cadence of 60. HA! I never in a million years expected to find relief at 6.6mph uphill, but I did. then the climb eased a little back to the usual 8-10 mph, and then it did that all over again....After 45 minutes or so, it got even steeper if you can believe it. I had no idea how much further this climb would be, and if i would make it all the way. Surely this thing had to be do-able I kept telling myself. People ride it all the time, right? But then again, altitude and thin air for this below-sea-level-creature.... I didnt know if I would pass out first! then we hit the swithbacks and behold! I was at the top! At first, I thought it was just a little patch of flat road before we got to go up again - then I saw the HUGE downhill into the valley and I said "Is that it?" I thought - "is that all you got?" I thought to myself ....hehe...I got a good chuckle out of that. Yeah, that was enough. We waited for Theresa to come along then took a little break and some pictures. Now, it was downhill time - the arm warmers went back on and away we went. i hit my breaks immediately as the hill was HUGE and we were flyin'. I (being the scaredy cat that i am) rode my breaks the entire way not going over 47 mph...! The air was cool and crisp on the way down and I had goosebumps for the first 20 minutes until we began to get back into some rollers then climb back out of the canyon. At this point, my legs were pooped, and the last thing I wanted to do was climb again, but these hills were a breeze compared to the big climb. Piece of cake. We made it home in just under 4 hours...what a great ride - puts red bluff to shame.


Tri-ing Fat Man said...

Looks like you're having fun! Keep that good training going!

Hope to see you soon.


Damie said...

Hey Caroline! I am a former New Orleanian- now in Memphis. I just came back from Boulder-did one run in the mountains. Isn't the weather amazing compared to what we experience day in and day out??? Enjoy your trip to Colorado! make those lungs work hard!