Led another Dirty Dozen training ride today; Rialto, Logan, Suffolk-Hazelton-Burgess, and Sycamore. This time, I failed to fail: although I didn't exactly lead the pack up every hill, I was only dead last on one (Sycamore?!? The EASIEST?!?), and didn't feel like I was going to/wanted to die for more than a minute or two.
Eight riders showed up at the Jail Trail in town; myself, Jim Logan, Guido, Mark and his teenage son (AKA 100 pounds of hill-climbing monster), Don, Brian, and another gentleman whose name I've shamefully forgotten. We cut through town over to 31st St Bridge, then pounded up Rialto as our warm-up hill. Heh. I threw caution to the winds, invoked granny, and just attacked the crap out of that hill. As a result, I was in the first 4 up the hill...kind of a cool feeling not to be last for a change. On the down side, if that hill had been 100 feet longer, I may well have blown myself up, since I was really sucking wind by the top. But hey, it went okay, and I recovered quickly.
From the top of Rialto, we circled around to the top of Logan, then gingerly descended. (As a side note, I've decided to do something about my brakes; I'm just not confident in their ability to stop me when I NEED to stop.) Turning around at the bottom, we began the ascent. I was in my zone, happily pumping along at *mumble* miles per hour, when Guido hit the ground jut ahead of me, less than 100 feet from the top. I could have gone around and kept going, 'cause I HAD that hill, but decided to stop and render assistance as necessary. I feel no guilt over claiming victory on that climb; even if not technically a true DD success, I've beat that hill before, and could have done so again today. Now, I won't try to pretend that taking a break for a few minutes didn't feel really, really nice...
From there, we took Pittview back through Troy Hill, then down to Chestnut and over to East St. A quick glide up East to the left on Suffolk, and "my problems, they were just beginning". Suffolk-Hazellton-Burgess is one of those hills where I almost beat myself before even getting started; I've built it up in my mind so much that defeat seems almost inevitable. Fortunately, I'm a pretty stubborn rider; all that long steady distance this year, if nothing else, has taught me to just keep turning the pedals over. Sometimes at 35 RPM, but still turning them over...
Regardless, I pushed through, and avoided A) stopping, 2) puking and III) rain-of-brimstone-inducing blasphemy. To be fair to myself, I did a LOT better this year than last; last year darn near killed me, while this year was merely pretty frickin' tough. At this rate, I'll be within striking distance of "not sucking" in another decade or so.
Sycamore was not all that much of a much; I didn't put my heart into it, so finished a good 30 seconds behind everyone else. No biggie; Sycamore, much like High St, has become "just another long hill" in my mind.
All in all, I'm pleased. Coming off three weeks of a chest cold, and being a good 30-40 pounds over where I should be, and I can still survive the steeps. Of course, a willingness to go r-e-a-l-l-y slow helps, as does a mountain cassette.