Monday, February 16, 2009

L & M Express to Suffer City

Believe it or not, just the name “Suffer City” was enough to lure me in. Plus the ride leaders, Denis and Cliff put together some great routes with lots of enjoyable climbing through some scenic settings at a time of year when I need to get out on my road bike and build up my leg strength and base endurance. What I really like is that although their rides are rated A/B*, the routes are truly A caliber routes. Being a women, who can not quite keep up with some of the speeds that men can crank out in the A rides, I really enjoy the same challenges offered in the A ride terrain, but at the B* pace.

Besides our leaders, our group consisted of Art, Willy, Marianne, Nate, Jim, Rob and myself. It was really cold off the start as we headed right into the wind and the sun had not quite come over the mountain yet. Luckily the pace was quick enough to keep me working overtime, and my fingers came back in about twenty minutes. The sun was with us all day long, which was perfect.

Our first climb was Tweed from 9W. I was warned ahead and was actually nervous, because I had never gone up it and was wondering if it was possible for my humble winter legs. The ramp is quite steep, and when descending it in the other direction, it can be very dicey in the winter when strewn with ice and piles of road salt. As soon as the ramp came into view, I knew it would not be a problem. The gradual climb on the top had surprisingly better views than in the other direction. Marianne and I climbed side by side, looking out over the Hudson River, and down on the Tappan Zee Bridge.

I like to build rather than blow up on the first climb, so I tempered my speed a bit, and absorbed the views, as I knew there would be plenty more climbing ahead. We continued north, and by this time, I realized that we were doing some of route reversed from last year. This would put the serious climbing in the first half, which could mean not quite as much suffering. Marianne and I hung in there pretty well climbing, always keeping someone in sight, or close to sight. I spotted some more great views that were missed in the other direction. Many of the climbs seemed harder this way, and I was able to embrace the climbs because they seemed new.

On the return home from Nyack, we had a very long stretch on 9W where we encountered many cyclists along the way. The terrain was more rolling, and the group split and merged many times. We picked up a few tag alongs, and traded pulls. I did a little more pulling and riding out of the draft, which I feel good about. Last year at the end of the ride, my legs were quivering and unable to even hang in the draft. This year my legs seemed much better. The ride ended up being 62 miles, and by the time I got home, my legs were just tired enough. Afterwards, on each trip up the stairs my legs talked back to me, but no harsh words. A good ride indeed.

Pictures taken a week and a half later on an abbreviated revisit solo ride up to Tweed.

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