Today's scheduled ride was up Figueroa Mountain (the one in the background not the fore ground). Normally, I do this route 1-2 times at the end of my visits to gauge my fitness. Doing it the first day???? However, this is the schedule I must follow as a part of the Planet Ultra tour group. There are 17 of us in this group, another 13 with Trek Travel and two other tour groups in the valley this week. Both us and Trek were doing "The Fig" today.
After 12 miles or so and 1000' of climbing, we reached the base of Fig. Here, I stopped to redress, hydrate and consume a GU. The guy on the left is Mark from MN. Good guy but being in MN, no matter how mild the winter, you're not going to be in good shape. The guy on the right, Gerd from Berkley, had a very, very long day climbing this monster. These climbs run together in my mind and I had forgotten how long it is but the Trek Travel van driver said from this spot, it is exactly 12 miles to the top. So, as I shoved off, I had roughly 30 cyclists in front of me, a very mediocre cyclist from the plains of Ohio.
On the opening slopes, I passed quite a few of the infirmed, disabled and weak. After 3 miles of climbing, I hit the packed dirt/rock/gravel section that is about 3/4 of a mile and then reached the apex of a saddle and had a long glorious descent into an area with multiple stream crossings and campgrounds. Then the real climbing began. It is friggin steep. Some people had stopped to rest at one of the stream crossings but I had a schedule to keep so I kept plodding along. One of our group passed me, I said, "Lookin Good" and he said nothing. Odd. At the 6 and slightly+ point I looked at my computer and it was at exactly 45 minutes. Normally if I'm in decent shape I break the 1:30 mark so I was doing ok but knew with 6 steep miles to go, things did not look good for me to break the 1:30 mark. This climb is odd in that you never see the summit until you are at the summit. At some point, the Planet Ultra van had stopped but I yelled over I had a time to beat and was going to keep going. The guy who had previously passed me had stopped but I kept turning the crank and at times, actually felt good and picked up the pace.
While you can not see where the road twists and turns above you, as you look back down, a broad expanse of the road opens and the views are of course, spectacular. In the above image, this is going down the other side but gives you an idea of the view. At mile 8, I looked at the computer and thought #@#%^&# it, I'm not going to make my time with still 4 freakin miles to go and in my weakened state, became rather despondent. then....what's this.....I recognize this section and it is close to the top......crossed a cattle guard, hit a steep slope where someone had chalked, "u're almost there", and WOW, reached the top, hit the stop button on the computer and had smashed my previous best time. That felt really good. I concluded that upon my return to Ohio, Flyin T will not drop me for at least a month or two.
As others reached the top, a guy from Norway took my image that shows how I looked.....
.....then he took an image of how I felt.
On the ride down, came around a corner and almost hit one of these beasts. They were happy to pose for a picture. So, the climb was not 12 but 9.82 miles, a 3560'elevation gain ridden at an average of 7.4mh and did it in 1:19. the ride total was 48 miles, 5200' of elevation gain and rewarded myself with a stop at the Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe. However, I discovered I reward myself with a great restaurant and food no matter what I did out here. Tomorrow, it's out to wild California through Casmalia.