Train like a PRO day! This installment was Cali style! I am in a spot that Chuckie is familiar with so he gave me my route today. Head up Mount Hamilton (the tallest mountain in the area) and then over the other side, to Del Puerto Canyon Road and on that until I hit 3:45, then turn and head home. Run off the bike of 15 minutes, the first 10 UNcomfortable. My mom dropped me off at 8:30 am and agreed to come back and pick me up 7 hours later.

My approach to Mount Hamilton was the more difficult route up Quimby road. WOW, This was just a taste of what I was in for. Quimby road put the hurt on me. I quickly ended up in my littlest gear, and 30 seconds later I was out of the saddle, where I remained for the next 55 minutes. Getting the the top of Quimby and knowing I had 6 hours to go, that was a horizon broadening experience. I also wanted to call my mom and tell her to meet me in a different spot so that I didn't have to descend Quimby, just the thought scared the daylights out of me. But there was no cell coverage, so I rode on.

I was lucky that the scenery was unbelievably delightful. When I wasn't looking straight down and huffing and puffing I was was looking around. I had quickly gained oodles of elevation and my view of the bay area was awesome.

The climb up Mount Hamilton itself was quite nice. I can see why it's a common climb in the area, it's very doable and somewhat gentle compared to Quimby. But it's long. I rolled into the top at 2:07 and they had a faucet to refill bottles, which I took advantage of. I also poured in the entire new Liquid shot prototype that I had been given this last weekend from First Endurance. Mega yum! There was a payphone there, so I picked it up to call mom to tell her I didn't want to come down Quimby, but it didn't work.

The descent down the back side of Mt. Hamilton scared me for two reasons. One, it was steep and I'm not used to descending things this steep. My seat is a little high, since I just raced and like it a little higher for TTing, but my balance was a little off. Two, I knew that everything I went down I was going to have to come back up several hours later.

After the main descent the road wound around and up and down. The ups were UP, and the downs were DOWN. You couldn't call these rollers, they were serious. I felt dogy through here and used it as a time to refuel big time. I didn't drink on the descent so I caught back up. I turned into a head wind and hammered through that for awhile. The views in here were to die for. Little streams and ponds, big open fields with wildflowers galore.

I finally hit Del Puerto Canyon Road. It was like an oasis! Not! There was nothing there, but a house that had a fat dog, and a pay phone. Pay Phone! Oooh, I picked it up to call mom, again, Quimby descent = scary, it's dead. Humm, ride on.

Down Del Puerto I went. I was getting close to my turn time but continued on, and eventually continued down down down. Oh dear, down down down. I hit 3:45 and I turn around, just before my 9th cattle guard.

I've never encountered cattle guards before. The first one I stopped and walked over, the second one I walked over. The third one I rode slowly over, and with each one I picked up more steam and confidence. By the 8th one I was flying over them, not even batting an eye, looking forward to them actually.

So here I was, at the bottom of a canyon, in the middle of NOWHERE, ready to head back home. The stretch back through Del Puerto and all the way to the base of Hamilton was awesome, best part of the day by far. I had a tail wind, the hills seemed easier than going out, and my nutrition was doing it's job. I guess that First Endurance prototype is spot on.

Then came the backside of Hamilton. Oh Lordy. It was pain, lots of pain. I was in my smallest gear, and it was 5.2 miles out of the saddle. There were several spots I wanted to stop and walk. I've never walked on a hill in my life, I'm GOOD at hills. Colorado hills are no longer hills. I would ride up Mount Evans two times before I ride up the back of Mount Hamilton!

But, I made it! And I knew it was basically downhill from there. I refilled bottles, looked at my watch 5:55 and noted that I had 1:05 to descend 17 miles, cake!

I forgot about the two climbs! I had a little climb in the middle of Hamilton which was no big deal, but the last climb up the backside of Quimby was a BIG deal. It hurt. Out of the saddle for 5 peddal strokes, sit down for 5, out for 5, sit down for 5. Pain. Still no cell coverage.

I got to the top of Quimby and realized that I was going to HAVE to descend it. Face your fears Sonja, there was a reason that cell coverage was nill and that the pay phones didn't work. FACE YOUR FEARS.

And I did. I rode down that crazy steep descent and I didn't shed one tear. I used up a set of break pads, but those I can replace, accomplishment...I can't buy that! I was really proud of not wimping out.

I pulled into the bottom of the climb and there was my mom sitting there in the car with Annie in the back. I quickly transitioned to my run shoes and took off. The only way to go was down. It was that or back up Quimby and I wasn't doing that. I got rolling on the downhill, pushing the pace. You can do anything for 10 minutes. I saw the pace dip under 6 min miles and I just pushed to keep it there.

10 minutes later I was done, 5 min cool down. And it's time to recover like a pro.

This was a good day, a confidence building day. I was totally alone out there and I really pushed hard. Another one in the bank. Horizons broadened, BIG TIME. I'll be back for more big bike blocks in Cali, HANDS DOWN. The hillage here is insanity.

Thank you MOM! You really helped me out today with watching Annie, and dropping me off and picking me up. Thanks for taking those photos of me on the run. I should run downhill more often! I love you, thanks for letting me crash your house for impromptu training camp!

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