Ronde Van Rexburg

I told my wife I was on my way to putting in one hillclimb–that’s a single hillclimb–as I walked out the door yesterday. She responded that she had quite a bit of studying to do and "why don’t you do some more to keep busy for a while?" After I walked out and down the stairs, and climbed on my bike to get going, my mind reflected on the weather reports I’d seen for the rest of the week: rain and possible snow through Friday. And there I was, in 60-degree heat with only a single bottle of sport drink, but forced to make a decision.

I did the hillclimb as planned, only slower than planned because of a surprise head/crosswind, but I didn’t turn around and head home as planned. Instead, I embarked on an almost three-hour ride over 50 miles.

For some time now, I’ve had this idea for a fantasy half-century on the roads in my area. I’d never get more than 15 miles from home, but I’d every single paved rolling hill in the area. In the first 13 miles, I’d have about 1,500 feet of climbing, and I figured I could perhaps gain another 1,000 feet through the sharper climbs littered throughout the rest of the ride. As it turned out, there would be a total of 3.5 flat miles–that’s it–though the toughest climb would only be 250 feet in one mile. All-in-all, not a bad Lotoja training route.

One by one, the shorter, sharper rises took their toll, making me weaker and weaker until, on the penultimate climb, I found my speedometer registering single digits. It was about there that I realized I’d be short on miles for my half-century, and what fun is a 48-mile semi-half-century, really? So I adjusted my route to include just a couple more miles, one of which would be another 240-foot, 1.5 mile climb through town.

I strained on that last climb. Yes, I was gasping, but what really slowed me down was the weakness in my legs. I coasted the second-last mile and then took on the final challenge, a 40-foot molehill rise down the street from my apartment complex where I managed to find enough fumes in my tank to crest at 21 mph, and then hit 50 miles of distance just before I rolled into the parking lot.

And who was around to share my triumph? What royalty graced my finish line and congratulated me after my Ronde Van Rexburg? Just my neighbor, Mitch, out washing his car.

"Hey, Mitch."

"Hey, how you doin’?"

"Me, I’m exhausted."

"Yeah? How far’d you go today?"

"Fifty." Fifty windy, dusty, dry, sweaty, chilly, crank-twisting, brain-baking, stinking miles!


P.S. I don’t know what your musical tastes are like, but after I got back last night, my brother brought over a CD of this pretty snazzy Aussie band called Youth Group, and it’s pretty mellow, but nifty alternative stuff. Enjoy. (And play the ‘Forever Young’ video–it’s cool.)


20 thoughts on “Ronde Van Rexburg

  1. Scott

    Yeah, that is cool.  Wish we has some climbing here, but that is the price I pay for low cost of living. 
    I also wish I could hear those words. "why don\’t you do some more".  Normally, its, "how far?"

  2. Zed

    It was a rare comment, so I had to take advantage of it.
    We actually don\’t really have a lot of climbing close to here, but there\’s enough that I can get in 2,000+ in 50 miles. It\’s nothing compared to some other places–Jackson Hole, most of Utah, Pocatello, etc. But hey, you gotta do what you can with what you\’ve got. Truth is, though, that I don\’t think I could squeeze any more climbing into a half century around here.

  3. Zed

    It makes me wonder if bigmike knows \’em personally, you know, like all the other famous aussies he knows like Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe … I should ask him.

  4. Unknown

    That\’s why I love where I live here in NorCal.  I live about 40 miles east of San Francisco in the San Ramon Valley (the area is also called the Tri Valley since there are three valleys that connect together).  I can ride 50 to 75 miles with less than 500 feet of climbing if I want an easy day.  I can also head up Mt Diablo and get 4,000 feet of climbing in a 30 mile round trip from my front door.   
    Like you my main goal this year is a hill climb event, the Mt Diablo Challenge on October 1st.  The challenge for me is to try and do it in an hour.  The main climb up to the summit is 10.5 miles and rises 3,500 feet.  I\’ve ridden the Challenge 4 times and improved my time on each occasion. My first attempt was 1 hour 15 minutes followed by 1:11, 1:09 and 1:07.  At that rate I need a couple more years to break the hour, but I\’m thinking that if I really push it this year I can do it.
    Well, I\’m off for my lunch ride in the rain…

  5. Zed

    Nice, John. That sounds like a killer climb. Mine\’s half the distance, but a little more than half the elevation gain. I wish I had my hillclimb closer so I could ride it a little more often. But on the other hand, there\’s something fun about knowing that I have a disadvantage in my training. What did you do to get faster? Did you just ride that climb a lot or was there more to it?

  6. Unknown

    That\’s a good early-in-the-year notch on the belt.  And once the lactica is
    gone, it will pay you dividends for the rest of the year.  Investment?  I
    think so–an investment in you.  Full marks for getting

  7. Zed

    Rocky- yup, I suppose it\’s a little late in the season to be building an aerobic base, but you gotta get one sometime, right? How\’s the riding in GJ?

  8. BIg Mike In Oz

    Youth Group live just down the road… about 15 hours.  I helped them write that song. 
    "Oh yeah" is my line.  I was so excited when they used it.  I asked for anonymity, so don\’t get an explicit mention on the album cover (but I\’m there, "and all our great friends-you know who you are").
    You gotta let the kids take their 15 minutes.

  9. Sue

    Rocky, you\’re killin\’ me.
    Caloi, that\’s a pretty good ride.  I know it\’s always windy up where you live, but it seems to be an especially windy (and rainy/snowy) spring around here. You\’re at least 25 minutes faster on the 2,000+ vert foot 50 miler than I was Saturday on a nearly identical ride.

  10. Zed

    I dunno, Botched. You guys have real mountains over there. I did a half century once that consisted of just three big climbs, and it killed me. That Alpine Gauntlet Fatty was talking about–that sounds absolutely brutal. My big achievement yesterday was just that I didn\’t bonk. I\’ve got to give kudos to my energy drink for that. It\’s supposed to have four of the five electrolytes that need replenishing during strenuous exercise, and after last night, I\’d say it does the job all right.
    When I get down to ride with you and whoever else is in Utah, I just hope I can keep up.

  11. Sue

    Oh sure.  Look, I read Fatty\’s entry on reverse trash talking too.  Caloi : "Wow Botched, I almost had to pedal with both legs to keep up with you. Your fast!"

  12. Zed

    So what are you saying? That you\’re not fast? Brother Botched, you raced against Tinker Juarez, and last time I talked to Tinker, he said the only reason he got away from you was because he was on a new Cannondale Rush!!

  13. Tom Stormcrowe

    Ya know, Caloi, I like the closing visual on this post! Reminds me of the first day outbound on my spring ride, 53 miles of headwind! It sucked, big time, but would I do it gain? Most definately!

  14. Zed

    Tom- I\’m sure that\’s nothing for you, man. You\’re going to be putting in some serious randonneur miles sometime. And last I checked, they like to get in some serious climbing elevation gain. I\’m sure that\’s the tip of the iceberg for you.

    Botched- Okay, I really didn\’t talk to Tinker Juarez, but I\’m sure that if I did, he\’d say that about you.

  15. Amber

    Geeeeez. Each time I read your blog, I CRAVE cycling. I biked for hours and hours all over Calgary\’s bike paths when I was in high school and have been dying to get out again. My favorite route was along Fish Creek to Princess Island Park, back along the Elbow, looping the Glenmore Reservoir and then back home.  I make it a point to do it every time I\’m home during the summer!

  16. Zed

    You\’re just makin\’ me jealous. I\’ve done that route, perhaps not in the same direction, but you gotta love Calgary\’s bike paths. Never mind that if you get off the path in Fish Creek there are tonnes of beginner trails–mostly soft, easy singletrack. I spent my summers in Fish Creek with bikes as the primary mode of transportation, and I loved it. Where did you say you grew up? Parkland? My cousin just bought a place in Deer Run–a great location for Fish Creek Park access.

  17. Sue

    Saying that I raced against Tinker is like saying jellyfish compete for food against great white sharks. They may be in same water and eat fish, but they\’re in two different niches (in honor of BIg Mike, that analogy had an Australian theme).
    Well, it\’s raining sideways (again) here, and I haven\’t gotten out on the bike since Saturday. 

  18. Zed

    It\’s turning out to be a weird spring. I\’m starting to think my only hope for a ride this weekend will be a mountain bike ride on paved roads. Gotta do whatcha gotta do sometimes, though, right?

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