Tim called this gravel ride. It's awesome to go on gravel rides with him because he knows Capitol Forest really well, and he is very kind to those of us (ahem...me) who are slower than molasses. There were 9 of us with myself, Karen, and Jean being the women's contingent. The guys were Tim, Derik, Henry, Cam, Jason, and Kyle. We met at the intersection of Waddell Creek and Sherman Valley roads--aka, "The Y". I rode over to Karen's, and we drove up.
I had converted Hal to a gravel bike by swapping out the cross tires for some 40mm Kenda Happy Mediums--a gravel tire, slapping on some 50mm fenders, changing the cassette from an 11-28 to a 11-32, and finally, putting a 34 tooth small chainring on the front instead of the 36. I was hoping it would give me a low enough gear. Oh, and two bottle cages. Needless to say, Hal weighs considerably more as a gravel bike, than a cross bike!
The weather called for a fair amount of rain, but it actually wasn't that rainy. It was also almost 50 degrees (at least at the start). We took off, heading for the C-line. I was excited, because I'd never done C-Line. As like most of the roads into Capitol Forest, it's a climb. Right away, I was dropping behind. Not terribly surprising, but I was really dropping behind. Okay, to back up a bit, Friday, I went in to the doctor and found out I have a bladder infection (hmmm...explains the back pain, and general crummy feeling I've been having all week). So, I'm on Cipro, and a prescription strength NSAID for 5 days. The doc said I was okay to go on the gravel ride if I felt up to it. However, one of the potential side effects of Cipro is tendinitis and/or tendon rupture. Soooo....when I picked up the prescription, the pharmacist told me NOT to engage in exercises such as yoga and Pilates. He didn't say anything about gravel riding...of course, I didn't ask him either. Needless to say, I was probably not functioning at 100% today. But, I was determined to go on this gravel ride!
We climbed for awhile, then leveled out a bit before continuing to climb. The real steep stuff started about 10 miles in. I was struggling to keep the pedals turning when Henry came up behind me and put his hand on my back. He pushed me up the hill helping me to catch up to Jean and Karen. He asked me if I was okay with him pushing me. Oh, most definitely, I was okay with that! The thing is, this is a no-drop ride. If I can, in whatever way, get up the hill faster, then the rest don't have to wait so long, and get cold. It doesn't make it easier, I just go faster. I was grateful. Plus, Henry was very encouraging (and incredibly strong to be able to pedal himself, and push me at the same time).
There were parts that, even with Henry's help, I could no longer pedal (partly because I was already tired from the climbing thus far). Then I walked. Jean and Karen were walking by this time too. After one rather prolonged bout of walking, Henry (sticking with us gals) told me to try and get back on. I did, and he came up behind and started pushing again. It was still really hard, but we made it.
Finally, the steepest parts were over. We had just some easier climbing to go, then a nice long downhill back to the cars. For part of it, all the guys except Tim (who was kind to stay with us gals) took a singletrack trail, and met up with us later. Of course, Derik, Cam, Jason, Kyle, and Henry are all very experienced mountain bikers...even though they were all riding gravel bikes. Amazing!
So, I made it! We did 26 miles and 3,435 ft of elevation gain. I am very tired, but would not have missed this for anything! Afterall, feeling crummy outside on a gravel ride is far better than feeling crummy at home on the couch! And, thanks to my hero, Henry, I don't think everyone else had to wait too long for me.
Hopefully, I will be better for next week's epic 50 miler (although, I doubt I'll do the whole 50).