I always looked in awe upon my teammates, particularly my female teammates, who were participating in challenging bike rides, things like the Mulholland Challenge and Furnace Creek 508. And, I've always been a slightly weaker cyclist compared to my abilities in swimming and running, with the excuse that I have long legs and they're just not very good levers.
So, in those six weeks in an orthopedic boot, I'd go to spin classes 3-4 times a week, and sometimes two spin classes back-to-back. I'd put my good foot in a stirrup and the booted foot on top of the other pedal. I got some interesting reactions, a few double takes, a few spin instructors who thought I was "badass", and one who thought I was simply out of my mind and threw me out of her class out of fear that my spinning in an orthopedic boot was unsafe.
As I spun, and swam, I decided on a new goal -- complete some of those challenging rides that my fearless teammates had accomplished. I signed up for Malibu 7 Canyons Century on March 15 and Mulholland Challenge 120 on April 12.
When the orthopedic boot came off, and I was riding with my teammates, I realized that I've become a stronger climber on the bike. And I continued training, but now outdoors, with up to six hour training rides scheduled. Some of the long rides were done while on call, hours of loops around Griffith Park, or up and down Laurel Canyon and Rinaldi Street by Holy Cross Hospital. But the training rides got done, for the most part.
Malibu 7 Canyons
Imagine this -- come up with a hundred mile ride with the steepest climbs in the Santa Monica Mountains -- Decker Canyon, Deer Creek, Latigo, Portrero, Westlake Blvd. Then add in the gnarliest descent with the worst condition roads (Yerba Buena), and have riders come down that descent TWICE. Add in unstocked and unprepared aid stations on an 80+ degree day, no refreshments at the end, and no t-shirts as promised with entry. That was the Malibu 7 Canyons Century.
That was the hardest ride of my life. I was barely turning my legs toward the top of Deer Creek, and on parts of Portrero (mile 70) and Westlake Blvd (mile 85), I got off my bike and walked some of the 17-21% grade climbs. Highlights of the ride included meeting other local cyclists around mile 55 and joining a pace line of about ten strangers on flat roads as we headed down PCH and Las Posas to our next climb. Nine hours and forty-nine minutes later, I finished, sore, exhausted, and tired out.
L'Etape du California
I hadn't planned on doing this ride, as it falls a week before the Mulholland Challenge 120 ride. But, as part of my weekend training before the race, I had done four trips up the Rock Store climb, and seeing several of my teammates sign up, I thought I'd give in to peer pressure and give this race a try.
L'Etape is the eighth stage of the Tour Of California cycling race. The pro cyclists will be doing this same course in May, so this was an awesome opportunity to ride what the pros will ride. The race consists of four loops, starting at the Hyatt in Westlake Village, heading east on Agoura Road, south on Cornell, then west on Mulholland, including the Rock Store climb, and then north on Westlake Blvd.
The Rock Store climb is a famous climb for cyclists. It's about 2.5 miles with an average incline of about 7%, with plenty of twists and turns and beautiful views. The climb gets its name from the Rock Store restaurant and bar which is at the base of the climb, a joint frequented by motorcyclists.
Results for the ride were based on combined times on all four Rock Store climbs. I had no plan to win, just to see how fast I could get up that hill.
That's my team -- Fortius Racing!
Climb #1 up Rock Store felt pretty good. I pushed a little harder on the second climb. On the third climb, I felt a little bit more challenged. And somewhere halfway through the fourth climb up Rock Store, I just wanted it to be over, my legs were tired.
I enjoyed seeing my teammates on this ride, including my boyfriend Joel, who I did much of this ride with, though he sped away from me on the flats and I caught him on the climbs.
Obligatory selfie at the top of the Rock Store climb.
This was a challenging ride, certainly not as painful as M7C. While my fingers were frozen and numb in the first eight miles of the ride, by the third loop I needed ice in my water bottles to keep from overheating. The last half of this ride was easily 80+ degrees, and I was mindful to keep drinking water and consuming fruit for electrolytes once my coconut water was done (the H3O drink on the course simply wasn't palatable to me).
And the shocker -- I won my age group, women 30-39, for the fastest combined time for climbing Rock Store!
Mulholland Challenge 120.