Down and up

7 05 2016

It’s been a down and up week.

I don’t mean the eternal quest for employment.

Sunday’s FRF group ride included a descent of Killer Hill.

It’s a pitch of pavement with which I’m well acquainted as it’s en route to the Princess of Pavement’s familial farm. Until her parents sold it last year.

Usually I’ve ridden up Killer Hill, on my way to some sort of family function, like a BBQ, a birthday celebration, my wedding. The curvaceous climb gets as steep as 20 per cent along its 800 metres; not long and arduous but short and steep.

Sunday, Killer Hill was the turnaround of our 103 km group ride. And instead of grinding our way up it, we bombed down.

I love the down. I’ll endure all sorts of pain going up to attain the reward of a descent on the other side.

Descending Killer Hill is the Jackpot of Down.

The pavement is pretty good, traffic is light and the curves are gentle, with a long, straight run out at the bottom. The biggest challenge is the dark shade of the trees on a bright sunny day that could hide a wayward pothole or rock.

Sunday’s descent came up boxcars. At one point, a quick glance on my Garmin on Lapierre’s stem told me I was doing 88.5 kmh. I was feeling fast and there was more speed to come.

Later, at home, the ride’s data revealed I’d topped 104 kmh just before I squeezed the brakes lightly to take Killer Hill’s last curve into the run out!

Friday came the yang to that downhill ying, as I joined a half-dozen FRFers for our first group ascent of Mt. Seymour.

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A handful of FRFers gather their senses, and strength, before tackling the 12 km slog up Mt. Seymour.

Normally such a ride doesn’t officially happen until July, our annual Bastille Day climb to celebrate the French holiday and what is usually an epic mountain day at Le Tour.

But with our ranks now populated by a cadre of climbers, and my legs already in July form from all the kilometres they’ve achieved, the two-month advance was welcome. Even after a 92 km ride the day before.

Seymour’s climb of 1040 metres is stretched along 12.5 kilometres. It’s steepest pitches, about 10 per cent happen early. Get through those and the ride becomes a steady, rhythmic slog to the alpine.

Friday’s weather was perfect; warm like July but still early enough in Spring that the bugs have not yet emerged to torment you through the last two kilometres. And weekday traffic up the mountain was minimal.

As our little group splintered, I chugged along with our resident cap-man, Richard. We chatted for a bit, then retreated into our own worlds of heavy breathing and steady rotations of the pedals.

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The FRF group splinters on the early, steep pitches.

At one point, FRF patron, Guy, rolled back to join us.

Richard pulled off at the seven kilometre marker; he was cooked, needed a moment to regroup, decide if he could continue.

Guy and I carried on, steady as she goes. But a few kilometres later, his legs needed to stretch, so he shot up the road in his usual mountain goat way. I was alone, but feeling good. My legs churned to their reward: the swift, swooping descent.

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The downside of an early-season ascent of Mt. Seymour is still pasty legs.

As for Richard; he gutted his way to the top. Chapeaux monsieur.

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