Family Services Alliance of Southeast Idaho puts on a yearly bike ride called the Tour de Vins and they have a variety of routes that can be taken. The routes range from “kid friendly” to “one heck of a 3 hour workout”. Naturally I had to sign-up for the most difficult one (see route here). I’ve been cycling for 4 years now, I think I can handle it! Here are my personal and bicycle specs so that you can compare with your own:
- 2007 Mercier Galaxy Steel
- 58 cm Reynolds DB520 steel frame and cro-moly fork
- 52/42/30 tooth crankset, 11-30 tooth cog set
- Shimano Sora front derailleur, Shimano Deore rear derailleur
- 26 mm tires inflated to 120 psi
- Height: 6 feet 0 inches
- Weight: 205 lbs
- Training style: commute to work by bicycle, do long, hard rides on the weekends when time allows
- Diet: mostly healthy stuff, probably too much beer :-D
- Cycling strengths: holding momentum after a downhill followed by flat terrain ;-)
- Cycling weaknesses: hillclimbing! It hurts, it hurts, boo hooo. :-(
- The 54 Mile Route
- Elevation gain: 2186 ft.
- My time: about 3 1/2 hours
So, How Was It, Korey?
I pretty much knew what I was in for with this route since I’ve cycled around the area a lot. Before this ride, the only time I cycled over Buckskin from the southeast direction was when I was coming back to Pocatello from Inkom, not from McCammon. Yeah, this was going to be hard.
I felt really good that morning, and I cycled out to McCammon from Pocatello in about 1 1/2 hours. 16.6 mph average, not bad. The day was pretty cool (I had started at 8 am) and I had only drank about a half liter of water by the time I passed through McCammon. I started feeling pretty hungry on the way back to Inkom, so I stopped for a peanut butter sandwich break, which is my preferred cycling food ;-). I was still feeling pretty good by the time I reached the Inkom park to refill my water bottles. I only filled my 1 liter bottle at the drinking fountain thinking that cycling back to Pocatello over Buckskin wouldn’t require any more water than that. And this turned out to be a mistake!
My legs were pretty fatigued after a few miles going up Rapid Creek, but I kept my gear low and paced myself. I knew it was going to get a lot steeper. I’m used to going up and over the steepest part of Buckskin going back to Pocatlello, so Hoot Owl Road on this route was a welcome relief. By the time I was in the middle of Hoot Owl Road, the temperature was getting close to 80 F and the humidity was 30%, especially in the lush, green Buckskin canyon. Soon, I was drinking water and sprinkling some on my head. This road kind of seems endless when you’re tired, doesn’t it? There’s a lot of bends in it that look a little similar, so it plays tricks with your mind.
Soon, I only had a small amount of warm water in the bottom of my bottle and I still had some climbing to go. I was longing for a full bottle of ice water to dump on myself. Yeah, I really should have filled both bottles before attempting this slow, long, hot climb. My legs were dead and I was thirsty, but I’ve been in this situation before and the best thing to do is to go at a very slow, steady pace. I looked at my speedometer and it said “4.5 mph”. Yeah, can’t go much slower than that.
Eventually, I recognized the houses near the top of the climb and I painfully picked up my pace. Ah, the downhill, how I have missed you! It felt really dang good to finally get some wind whipping past my roasted body. I new that only 1 hill-climb remained: East Terry St. I was seriously considering just zipping down Parks Road instead. But I knew that a good, long downhill can really give you a big boost of feel-good chemicals, so doing Terry probably wouldn’t be too bad. And it wasn’t. The elevation of Buckskin road is about in the “middle” of Terry Street’s elevation, so there really isn’t that much of a hill climb to do, even though hill climbing at this point is a very undesirable thought.
I was glad I successfully completed the route, and I’m actually looking forward to doing it again for the Tour de Vins! Only this time, I’m going to make sure I have 2 bottles of water before Buckskin, especially if the temperature is over 70 F. Temperature and water quantity are proportional. :-)