On Sunday June 26th, I climbed Blandor Way to Olive Tree Rd in Los Altos Hills. This is a nice little leg massager that spits you out after it forces your mind and your legs to battle for supremacy over your body. Your legs unleash a tsunami of lactic acid into your quads while your mind sends out “STOP PEDALING RIGHT NOW!!” thoughts to your legs at about 1758mph.
This wonderful little physiological fountain of “OH MY GOD THIS HURTS!!!” happens because you gain almost 900′ of up of over 30% in some spots. In only .63 miles. Brutal, horrible and sucktacular don’t begin to scratch the surface of this little ditty. It is a spot where there are three extremely steep pitches you have to summit without anything resembling even a 5 second break.
Ok, back to why it works. On the 26th Strava clocked me in at 4:21. On Thu the 30th, 3:56 with almost a complete vomit comet coming out of my mouth.
On Sunday the 3rd (the day after a 50 mile ride and 5000′ of climbing in 90 degree heat fighting nasty crams), I did the eye drills at the base of the climb before we took off. I then set my watch to start beeping after 3:40 to give me an idea of where I was, and what was left. As the climb starts it pitches up a little, but it isn’t too bad. I seemed to be going at a pretty good clip in a gear that was bigger than Thu.
After .19 miles you make a right hand turn, and the road kicks up to 16.4% for about a 10th of a mile. You then get a brief downhill (maybe 15 yards), another slight incline, then down a steep pitch where a wall of 16.4% awaits you on the other side. This is the sink or swim area. You either coast down the hill tucked in an aero position and fight like hell to get up the other side, or you burn a ton of matches and almost sprint down the hill to carry as much speed as possible up the other side. I opted to sprint and give the cycling gods the finger.
Once you get past this, its now time for the big stuff. I told you it SUCKS. After this you get a steady upkick from 16% to 30% at the highest spot. At which point, you still aren’t done. I’ll have to drive it and take video so you can see what I’m talking about.
At any rate, even at 30%, almost at the end, I still felt there was a little in the tank. Which confused the hell out of me at this point. By all rights, between oxygen debt, the time that had elapsed, (or more importantly, hadn’t elapsed) my body should’ve shut down my legs. Adamantly. But there was still room to go before completely hitting the wall. Which wasn’t there on Thu btw. Thu was game set match with nothing to spare about 3/4 of the way up.
Well, at the last punch below the belt pitch just before the end, the timer still hadn’t gone off. I thought I had ridden it faster, but in that much pain, it was hard to tell. Well, after the watch beeped, I only had to ride for another 20 yards or so. I begged my legs for one last burst, and for some reason unknown to the laws of physiology, they gave it to me. I was able to big ring the last part up a short 15.8% incline to the end. Mission accomplished, but how?????? This made absolutely no sense. Especially after the small cramps the day before. There is no way in hell I couldve recovered that fast at 39-years-old.
After several primal screams at the top, VR-er Kevin Eck came up behind me. He had the strava app going on his iPhone, and it said 3:55. He figured he was about 10-15 secs behind me, and that I broke 3:50 for sure.I thought it might be possible, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
Well, low and behold, upon upload, my time was 3:42.There is no way in hell this should’ve happened given the time I had seven days before, the way it felt Thu, the ride the day before and the fact that I woke up with one of the more nasty cases of cotton mouth I’d had in a while.
So in only three days, 39 seconds had been knocked off one of the most physically demanding climbs in my area. Coincidence? Placebo? I wanted to know for sure.
So I tested it again on Monday in the hills again, but this time on my MTB. On a stretch of singletrack .8 of a mile with an Avg Grade of 5.7% and 235 ft of up, my time was 4:01. Once again, this was after doing the eye drills before the effort. My previous best time? 5:27 in October of last year. This is a time I’ve been chasing for nine months, and it just now happens? I still wasn’t convinced.
So I had one more test on the bike: Concepcion Rd in Los Altos Hills. A road .8 miles long, 3.3% avg grade and 235′ of up. So far this year I’ve had a hell of a time breaking 3:00 on my best day (2:55). My first trip up without really being loose after the eye drills was 2:48. And, at the top, I felt like I couldve gone a hell of a lot harder.
One more test: 12 sets of KB swings for :30/:30 for the last nail in the coffin. Previously, my forearms were pretty much useless by the 5th set. Like barely able to hold my water bottle worthless. Today, that didn’t kick in until the TENTH SET. 10th, five sets later than usual. I did these on Wed of last week, so it isn’t like I’ve had a ton of time to adapt to the stimulus to get stronger.
So after hitting these times on these segments of riding on top of the swings today, I am convinced this works. I will be researching it more and continuing to share what I find.