So after I got the results from my VO2 Max test, Tony & I went over what the prescription to increase those numbers would be. I’m not a fan of Time-Trialing. But I am a fan of being a Strong cyclist. So, to get the training started I went to the North Georgia mountains and did a ride known as the gaps – well, a variation of the gaps. Climbing the mountains will allow me to get my Heart Rate in my zone for the prescribed period of time and allow my legs to increase strength by climbing these mountains!
I drove up and parked at the Turner’s Corner store and headed up Neels Gap – aka Blood Mt. I haven’t ridden my bike in the gaps for at least a year now & it showed on the first ‘warm-up’ climb. I seemed to be in my largest cog almost as soon as the climb started. There is no cheating the Mountain, The mountain can make a bad day worse.
I was hoping that after the warm-up/re-introduction to climbing that my legs would loosen up and feel good for the 1st actual climb – Nope… wrong again. I basically played mental games against my body, for about half of the climb up the mountain – brain saying we have to keep doing, keep pedaling, at least get to the top…. the body was on defense. Stop, hold it right here, I need a break.
I was suffering and I was hurting, and honestly your reading this blog and this test was part of what kept me going to the top. Each subtle relief in the terrain is a test – do I take a relief from the pain, or do I keep my heart rate at the prescribed intensity?!
I wanted a 12×25 cassette to make the climb more bearable – I usually always start my training season on that cassette then switch to a 11×23 later in the season as my legs no longer needing the 25. And my brain was angry for not finding it this morning, and the body was paying the penalty.
Out of the saddle through the hairpins, flop back down in the saddle on the straights. I keep my Heart Rate between 165 & 170 for the duration. The body is again in conflict, it is burning fuel & creating lactic acid & now must flush it out as fast or faster, as it is creating it. This is the prescribed workout.
Slowly I dragged myself upwards until I could see the sign for the AT (Appalachian trail) – only a 1/4 mile to go. I get to the top and soft pedal as I catch my breathe and check out the view.
I hydrate, and ingest some fuel as I debate going home or pushing on to climb another gap, taking me further from the car. I finally decide to attempt the next gap, Wolf-Pen. This is a climb that is always tough for me. For me it is a little deceiving. At first the switch backs seem to allow for some acceleration, but the next section feels a little steeper each time. The uphill sections keep my heart rate maxed out. Slowly I make my way to the top.
There is a section on this climb that always ‘seems’ like it should be easier than it is – but today, although it is tough, I am taking it steadily. Slowly crawling my way up. There isn’t much speed involved, but that is ok, I’m going purely off of Heart Rate today. 1 switch-back at a time.
If you watch old stages of the Tour De Georgia, about the only reason you know this is a climb is they are out of the saddle…. not me. I’m in anguish in these hills, however there is the other side of the coin today, the downhills will be my REWARD!
After reaching the top, and take a brief break, I turn around and descend what I just finished climbing.
Thanks to my buddy ‘HillBilly’ for the video:
Now, I still have 1 more climb to make it back to the car, back up Blood Mountain. On this climb, I am feeling better, the body is working more with me, but I also feel fatigued. I do what I can, and stay in my target HR range and make my way to the top.
Although I can feel the fatigued setting in, I am trying to keep up with the gel & hydration. The legs are responding fairly well, and this climb actually seemed easier than I had thought it would be. This is only the 2nd or 3rd time I had climbed it in this direction. It seems to kick hardest early on, then mainly level off more than the other climbs. With a little speed to keep the HR up, I can now kick little with each incline – then settle back into a decent pace.
View 3 Gap! 2011-03-23 1 in a larger map
After the final descent I do a little exploring on some roads that were fairly early in the ride. I always seem to be curious what is around the next bend.