To the Mountains & Back Again

Weekly Training Totals:

Swim: 2 hr 21 min (6,950 yds)
Bike: 9 hrs 22 min
Run: 3 hrs 45 min
Strength: 1 hr 46 min

Total: 17 hrs 14 min

This was a pretty hefty week of training with 13 distinct workouts, but I was surprised by how the rise in volume and intensity wasn’t at all unnatural.  The Huddle & Frey plan has been amazing so far – before I began training, week 11 looked impossible, and now after week 11, it just felt like a natural build.  The authors seem to know what they’re doing…who knew that a top-10 Kona finisher and a really well-known endurance sport coach could teach me a thing or two?!

Anyways, the week of training started out pretty normal – couple of swims where the shoulder pain was 100% gone (so nice), a few trainer rides on the bike (smooth sailing), a nice long Thursday run without lower leg pain (first time in a long time…thank you Brooks running shoes!), and a strength training week where I definitely felt like I had made some advances over the last few months – all smooth sailing.  And then came the weekend in the Catskill Mountains.  8 of us holed up in an off-season ski lodge rental, but before we could make it there, 2 of us got dropped off about 6 miles from the base of DEVIL’S KITCHEN.

Zack had filled me in on horror stories of this place – a place that forces PRO riders to plant their feet on the pavement and walk portions – and needless to say I was up late with night sweats the night before (type-A triathletes don’t like to walk their bikes…especially in front of other type-A triathletes).  So Zack and I went into attack mode, committed to making it up this beast at all cost.  Here’s what one blogger says about it:

Platte Clove Road, aka Devil’s Kitchen, is quite possibly the most hellacious climb in New York State, and one of the most difficult climbs in the Northeast, with over 1200 feet of climbing, most of it steeper than 12% grade. Several sections exceed 22% grade as the climb ascends the north side of Platte Clove. The climb was used in the 1990 Tour de Trump, where it gained notoriety when several pro riders, without the benefit of compact cranks, were forced to get off their bikes and walk. The climb was featured in Stage 2 of last year’s Tour of the Catskills.

Like I said, SCARY.  Oh, and here’s the elevation profile & map – note that the average grade is @ 12%, and it sits at about 16% FOR A WHILE and even hits 22% (not charted below).

This thing was long.  It just kept going.  I could swear we had gone 2 miles straight uphill, I could hardly breathe, my heart rate was at about 95% of max and climbing, and Zack gasps…”this is where it starts getting hard”.  Damn.

He had told me that the last time he climbed his foot went down on the 3rd part of the climb following the “eye” carved into the cliff, staring at you as you struggle to earn a sliver of this massive climb’s respect.  We hit part #2 after the eye, and I must’ve been low on electrolytes because I could swear it was #3, and as we crested it I was so thankful to have made it through that section, but lo and behold, we hadn’t even started post-eye section #3…and this one was longer and steeper.  We looked down at the pavement and saw a giant pitchfork scrawled in white paint, and we knew we were right in the belly of the beast.

From the start we had been pedaling out of the saddle, standing straight up and crunching.  By now we were fighting for every turn of the pedal just to take us another foot up this monster, and I was sure this thing was gonna beat us both.  But then we found our stride, half blacking out and half blocking out the white noise, ignoring the heart rate monitors that had us well over threshold, and just went.  Somewhere in the haze we saw the top, put our heads down, and made the last push towards the bright light of the leveling horizon.  The next few miles are a blur of recovery as I tuned out the voice of my quads yelling awful things at me for what I did to them, but we had made it.  Originally this was just going to be a 20 mile ride, but with the rain coming we couldn’t mess around this weekend.  A few hours down the road at mile 72 of crazy mountainous concrete trail we called it a day, and our awesome support team came and brought us to the house for a well-deserved recovery meal.  Awesome.

We put in around 107 miles on the bike and 15 running throughout the weekend, and all on crazy hills, so we left pretty content and pretty darn tired.  Needless to say, though, a great weekend of training, eating and relaxing in between that we hope to repeat soon…but not this week, since today marks a 6-day mini-taper into Sunday’s Bassman Half Ironman – the first race of the season.  I can’t believe it’s already race season again!!


One Response

  1. Here are the details from that ride. Notice the part where my heart exploded….

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