Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ten Days to Alta Alpina 8

Alta Alpina 8  is in 10 days.  The ride is in California Sierra Nevada Mountains with a foray into Nevada at the beginning of the ride. 

This ride scares me.  198 miles with 20,300 feet of climbing, all between 5,300 and 8,900 feet of altitude.  The good news is it's eight miles shorter than Devil Mountain Double.  Of course, 20,300 feet of climbing also means 20,300 feet of descending.  Which is a good news-bad news kind of thing: good news because you can rest on descents, bad because you're descending on roads wet from melting snow, providing plentiful crashing opportunities.  And the bad news-bad news is everything else about this ride's statistics.  This includes the ride's first climb, Kingsbury Grade, the ride up to Heavenly Valley resort from Nevada.  Last 2-3 miles of Kingsbury average 11-12% grade to Daggett Summit at 7,300+ feet.  The lipstick on this pig of a climb is that we're doing Kingsbury first thing in the morning before it gets hot, before cars and trucks show up, before the wind picks up, and before legs turn to Jello for good.

So, how to approach this ride? what gearing to use? what drugs to take?  After reading the description of Kingsbury, I concluded that I should use my climbing bike, the steel Rex with 34x32 low gear that I used successfully at Terrible Two in 2009.  I took this bike out on an 85-mile ride on May 30 and it just didn't do it for me.  It really seems that whenever I leave my Spectrum at home and ride another bike, it simply feels wrong.  So, I decided to ride AA8 on the Spectrum, which has a low gear of 34x29 and which I hope will be small enough for Kingsbury and all the other climbs.  My friends have ridden the Death Ride with low gears of 39x27, so though nervous, I'm cautiously optimistic that my gearing will be adequate.


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