Monday, August 11, 2008

Mt. Constitution Ride

Two Thursdays ago 6 of us rode up Mt. Constitution as an optional ride on the High Adventure. I had done some research for this ride before hand and had heard some horror stories about how steep it was so I was really second guessing myself if I could really make it or not.

Before we started I decided if I was going to make it I would have to ride like I was one of the slowski’s. You know those DSL turtles.

As we started out I immediately took the rear and shifted down into my lowest gear. I kept up with the rest of the riders but I was definitely trying to conserve energy. All of the reports I had read were right. This ride was really steep and unrelenting. Fortunately, it wasn’t impossible. We ended up taking a lot of breaks along the way. Every now and then we would ride up to a switch back and around the corner would pop out an amazing view. These were great areas to stop for a break.

As we pushed on I started to get a little jittery. I was in the middle of the riders by now so I sped up a little and then pulled over and sucked down a chocolate gel really quick. It tasted really good but a little thick so I chased it down with some water. That did the trick and I was ready to ride again when the rest of the riders caught up to me again. Jeff and I dropped to the back and pushed on. Toward the top of the mountain the climb seemed to level off. After riding up a 17% grade hill when it levels to 6 or 7% this seems like heaven. Jeff and I had recovered enough to ride side by side and have a conversation. We talked about a book I was reading about Neil Peart riding his BMW 1200 across the country during a 2004 Rush Tour. Jeff seemed to know a lot about BMW motorcycles as he rides a motorcycle himself.

After a couple of more switchbacks we reached the top of Mt. Constitution. I was very happy and kind of surprised that I had made it. At the top of the mountain there is an observation tower you can climb up. Once up there you can see all of the other islands that make up the San Juan’s, Mt. Baker and Victoria Island in BC Canada. It’s quite a sight to see.

After wandering around the top for a while we started our descent. All of the work that we had put into our climb was now paying off. Since we were flying down the hill faster than cars could travel we were able to take up the middle of the lane. At some sections of the descent I had to slam down pretty hard on my brakes because of the tight hairpin turns. It wasn’t as bad as I had read about though. The descent was a blast. It took us 55 minutes of riding to get to the top of the mountain but only 10 minutes to descend the mountain. It was the most fun I’ve ever had flying down a mountain. At the bottom, the road straightens out so we were able to really let loose and gain some speed.

We were having so much fun we went right passed our campground exit and had to backtrack to get back to our camp.

All in all I was really happy that I made this ride and I would do it again. It wasn’t as bad as everyone says.


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