Doing it all the hard way...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Starvation Mountain Solo ...Cytomax and Truth

Oh yeah, THIS one hurt
A friend shared a YouTube video that inspired me to want to ride this.  Unlike the vid, there was no music, just me crying.

I've been having so much fun riding Forest Service roads and exploring seldom visited corners of the backcountry.  I could not resist.

I just LOVE this shot.  
I look skinny and you can't see my thinning hair or abundant wrinkles !
With pockets stuffed with food and bottles topped off I set out on now familiar gravel roads towards Beaver Creek.

After a brief paved introduction the climbing began in earnest.  Where exactly is earnest?
I had "created" and downloaded the course to "my little friend"  
I must confess I still don't understand the info displayed here.
I do believe the meaning can be construed as: 
"My name is Garmin; you killed my father, prepare to suffer."
I am always disappointed that when I try to capture an image of an imposing hill -
it too often seems pretty pedestrian when I view the image
When I arrived at the now familiar junction where one must choose Campbell Lake and Pipestone Canyon or up Lester Hill; I went up.  Some hung over campers started shouting at me after I passed.  Their tone told me it was juvenile goading and I elected to ignore it.  

It wasn't even nine in the morning and it was warming up and I unzipped my jersey and climbed in comfort. This could be a long ride and I needed to be about my business.

The first time I descended Lester Hill it was with KB and we were cautious.  Lots of gravel over the last three months has given me either skill or bravado, either way I'm faster and more comfortable.

At the bottom of Lester Hill I turned up the Beaver Creek "road" and took the fateful right turn that is the gateway to epic adventure.  The jersey would remain unzipped for a long time...

Climbing 4225 I was stunned at how chewed up it was. This road was in the final part of the Winthrop Gran Fondo a couple weeks back and all the riders had established some good lines so it was a fast and fun descent.  Today the climb was loose and finding good lines was a challenge.
Okay once again what is the difference between "distance ahead" and "distance to end?"  And what is 54:14 supposed to mean ?  All I know is I'm the dot on the climb and I have some hurting in front of me..
I passed a snake stretched out on the road that didn't move even though I rode a couple inches in front of its nose.  I spotted a young doe on the side of the road and I moved to the middle as I passed and that was enough for her. 

Before too long, but longer than I wanted I reached the junction of 4230 and 4225.  I turned and once a freakin' again this photo doesn't show the loose, steep washboard that turned off the now familiar 4225.

I was mindful that my friend Brad had taken the same road last week and had trouble finding the key turn so I kept my eyes open..
This is the holy grail. This is the connector "road" between 4230 and 4235.  For some reason it is marked 190..
From the turn the road was flat for a hundred feet then it went up a loose rocky, dusty climb that hit fourteen percent and held it for a turn or two. I was glad I was geared low and I kept plugging. 
This was awesome on several levels. The road got better, the grade let up. 
The views opened up. The green was abundant. I was feeling pretty good.
The road that joined the two "main" roads after starting out pretty poorly got better quickly.  After a bit the surface got loose and good lines were elusive.  In no time I was onto 4235 and heading toward Starvation Mountain.  After a brief but wonderful downhill the climbing resumed and soon I was amid the carnage left from the 2006 Tripod fire.
Recovery takes time...
One of the things I really liked about this route was the rapidly changing topography.  On the fondo and many routes (42, 4225, Pipestone, etc.) you are climbing near the bottom of a valley and while you do get to enjoy cooler temperatures, the views seldom inspire one to break into song.  On this climb you cross a ridge and everything changes. 
As I was watching my Garmin I correctly guessed that this was my objective. 
I could see I still had some elevation to gain and just a couple k's.  After this short respite the road turned and the final climb was sandy and slow going. I dropped into my lowest gear and with my jersey still flapping I climbed the final meters to the top.  
The road seemed to be taking me to the top of the world.
I spied an antenna which told me my upward journey was about to end. The top was flat and the trees on the rim prevented any sweeping vista.  I leaned my bike and sat and emptied out some small rocks from my shoes and drank the last of my water. 
Meters baby, meters...  
The faithful Curtlo has answered the call time and again.  The climbs are hell and the descents are worse.  Doug makes a good bike.  This is the bike resting at the top.
I don't know what it is either, but it is at the top..
Something else on top..
I finished my last sip of liquid and ate my last shot blok.  I thought I had brought two gels but my pockets yielded no more. I zipped up, clipped in and took the short loop around the top. Trees prevented any clear view, but between them I glimpsed the water of Conconully down below. Then I pointed my bike toward home and downhill. It knew what to do..
If you look close you can see some road down there.  
The views reminded me I was up there. 
I spotted a fellow on a mountain bike climbing up the road as I was headed down. I smiled and said, "You're crazy." He smiled and said the same and that was that.  I took some comfort that if I splatted on the way down someone would find me. 

It had taken me thirty minutes longer to climb to the top than I expected and the descent was slow going.  Loose gravel, tight turns and unfamiliar roads meant some judgement was in order.  I would be late and I was miles from any cell coverage.  There was nothing to do but keep at it.

The road that joined 4235 and 4230 was less pleasant on the descent.  Then 4230 was loose and the washboard wicked.  I couldn't go fast unless I wanted to end up with a bloody jersey. 

I was relieved to be back on 4225.  I knew I could fly down that road.  I needed more water and at the lower elevation I could feel the heat.  On the way down 4225 I spotted a blue flash in the road and grabbed my brakes.  I turned around and rode back up 70 meters and found my errant gel.  I had passed a car coming up this road that would have driven over the gel.  The gel packet was dusty but intact. I tore it open and sucked it down with pleasure. 

Then the short zig on Beaver Creek and I unzipped for the final climb up Lester Road. This was the finish of the Gran Fondo so I knew I could climb it when I was gassed.  Sure enough I made the top and then paused for a pick or two.
Campbell Lake is always a welcome sight.
Down to the junction where you either go to Campbell Lake or up Lester Road.
I hit the flat roads and pedaled into Winthrop. The climb to the cabin was tough as I was in the land of BONK.  After cleaning up I took a nap.  I took a nap.  I never take naps.

2,142 meters of climbing.  That was enough.  

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