Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Of monstrous hills (and dead arms) (a sort of random, mid week, incomplete, wrap-up)

Where we left off, our heroine (that's me!) and her trusty steed, Eric the Strada, had vanquished two imaginary, virtual hills on the trainer. But there was more to be done...!

But first, step back to Wednesday 19 August, 6am, at the tepid baths. Half a dozen silicon-capped and goggled swimmers crowd the slow lane, then take off one by one for 3000 metres with not one, not two, but 24 lengths of butterfly! Our heroine gulps and gasps and splutters but eventually makes her way through most of the set, and sinks into the spa before showering and getting for work (with a stop for a trim flat white along the way, of course).

By the next morning, she can barely lift her arms above her head, and struggles into her sports bra before climbing on her stationary steed, kicking ass and taking names.

And so on Friday, our heroine arrives bleary-eyed at the tepid baths for a Friday, speedwork session, with heavy arms and legs, and an overwhelming feeling of wellbeing. Her shaky quads protest every push off, and resist every kick set. Her dead arms are crying out by the time she completes her sixteenth length of the dreaded fly. On Friday night, she sits with her handsome prince, reflects on a week well done, and looks forward to a weekend adventure.

[OK, so this is getting old, even for me...]

Bike-fit Paul (who we both kinda worship a little.. ) had told us about a rad route in the Hunuas when we went to get Eric set up the previous weekend. When he told us about the hill that "goes up for a bit, then levels off, then goes up to about 20 percent for just a bit, levels off again and then goes up and up and up" we sat agape, and both mentally started calculating whether we'd be up for the challenge (ok, that was just me...) and salivating at the thought of the hill of doom (...yeah, and that one was just Phil.. I was more hyperventilating than salivating!)

As luck would have it, we found ourselves visiting Bike Fit Paul again last weekend (as well as being the proud father of a new powertap, Derek-the-Strada has also had a proper new tri-fit, and scored himself some sweet pedals), so we decided to start in Manurewa and explore. We hadn't exactly planned our route well, and we couldn't find a map that went much further than Alfriston, so we just kinda went with it. We didn't take the best route to start- it was basically along a bumpy, busy, narrow road, with one of those non-existent verges that basically drops you off a cliff if you follow the white line. At least in central Auckland, if it's busy and fast, there's usually enough room for all. Once there stops being quite enough room, the traffic's usually slow. Here it was crowded and horrid and the cars would all have been travelling in the 70s or 80s I guess (we now know a better way for next time, but I'm geographically challenged, so maybe should leave it for the husband to fill in the details! If this link works, you should go "out" the way we came "back"- much much nicer)

A wee way along, Phil spotted a road up a hill to our left. "AWESOME ROAD" he called back to me. I couldn't see a road. At first. Then I saw a dim stripe, spiralling its way up a hill. From the bottom of the hill looking up, it looked pretty dang near vertical to me. "Hell no!" I called back. I shoulda known he wouldn't listen.

We turned right a bit further along, up Creightons Road. It was a reasonably gentle climb, with a short but sharp wee climb a wee way along. I got to the top of that one puffing, and saw that there was another not far up. Sigh! I was busting for the loo, I'd barely been drinking because of the busy road, and although I wasn't in a typical Kate-grump, I was reasonably short on conversational skills. We stopped at the Papakura Water Treatment Centre (something like that) to re-group and do some munching.

Phil: So, shall we keep going up?
Kate: huff huff uh huh....??


Kate: Holy mother of.... that's that HILL you were looking at before! ARGH!

But I did it. I used my babiest gear, and my cadence at one point dropped below 45, but I did it. My HR was through the roof, my quads were screaming, I was swearing, and I almost gave up every time there was even the slightest respite. But I did it. It did level off for a tiny bit before the last push to the top, where Phil was waiting proudly for me- and I confess that if it hadn't eased off there I may have given up- but I didn't, and I did it!

The view at the top was amazing- we could even see the sky tower!

(no, you can't make the sky tower out in this shot, but you can kinda see how steep the hill is.. )

We decided not to turn left at the next nasty hill (Jones Rd), but soon reached a dead end, so sucked it up and went back. I started well- I was going strong and Phil was the one swearing and cursing. "Honey- you're going to need to stand up!" "No I don't! this is fine!" Then, maybe 15 metres from the top dumbass realised he'd been in his big gear. Sadly, I was too knackered by this point to fall over laughing!

Now that I've described the hills in excruciating detail, I'll wrap up fast:

The rest of the ride was good fun. I was buzzing on the feeling of riding up the two steep hills, and enjoying exploring and checking out the scenery. I'm also enjoying actually sticking with Phil on the downhills, even though it's mostly cos he's a pansy now :) The Hunua gorge was just brilliant riding, although quite a few hoons of various varieties seemed to think so too, so we were pretty careful. I felt strong almost the whole way, and thoroughly enjoyed riding through the Manurewa subdivisions at the end. The best long ride I've had in a long time, and I can't wait to go out there again this Sunday (though we're skipping Creighton this time, since I've got four hours on tap!)


Pip said...

Wow - well done! My curiosity is piqued though. Can you think of any hills round Wellington which might be comparable, just so I can understand your level of suffering?

Kate said...

Pip- Phil says maybe Horokiwi, but steeper in parts. While we were climbing he said "harder than London Rd, the hard way." So- go play in the Hutt!

Britt said...

Ugh. Hills. This makes me hate hills even more. Well done!

rauparaha said...

Hahaaa, that big gear anecdote is a quintessentially Phil-ish story. I love it!

E-Speed said...

just reading about that much fly is making my arms hurt!