Monday, 9 May 2011

I was looking for hills like a total addict

On Friday, I went for a big ride as planned.  It wasn't as big as I really wanted but it was still pretty big.  I switched my strategy and instead of taking the train to the bottom of a pass and then cycling up it, I thought I would set off from Zürich and try to climb as many smaller hills as possible, meaning I would gain the time that I would otherwise have to spend on the train, to notch up the vertical metres.  It was an experiment and I didn't know whether it would pay off or not.  For instance, climbing the Klausen pass gives you a guaranteed 1,450 vertical metres, but if you climb smaller hills then you need to climb an awful lot of them to notch up that many vertical metres.  My idea came after I saw that my friends cycle race in Wales had managed to notch up 3,000 vertical metres in an area where there are no hills more than 200m high, by climbing such hills over and over again.

I set off along the lake to Wädenswil and from there I started climbing towards Einsideln.  Once I reached a point much further on I saw there was another small climb that branched off from the main road and then joined it higher up.  The gradient was more than 15% according to the sign, so I did this several times, knowing that each time I did so I was climbing 100m in a very short span of time which was going to help me achieve what I wanted for the day.  Next I cycled on to the point where there is an alternative route down to the lake, which comes out near Richterswil train station, and I descended this route right down to the lake and then turned round and cycled back up until I reach Einsideln.

I was disappointed that the last 10km to Einsideln is rather flat and you only seem to gain 200m extra in terms of height, meaning it probably wasn't worth going there and I could have done a couple more runs down to the lake and back up on the steeper part of the climb instead.  From Einsideln I descended towards Wädenswil and when I got to to the turn off for the 15% climb I did that once more before taking the route towards Zug. The route to Zug started off with a small descent and I was beginning to think I had picked a bad route but then just before I turned around I saw that there was some climbing to be done ahead.  By the time I got near the Finstersee I saw another possibility to increase my vertical metres - there seemed to be a steep route passing through the village by turning off the main route to Zug.  I took this route and this was a good choice, as after passing through the village of Finstersee the road went straight up, following the route of a stream.  The climb went on an on and I was incredibly happy when I saw I was over 1,000m altitude and the climb was still in full swing.

By the time I reached the top I was really starting to get tired.  This was most likely the combined effect of burning so many calories and only replacing them with one energy bar, as well as the heat.  Next though I had a nice descent back down to the main road from where I had turned off, and then a bit more climbing before reaching the long descent to Zug.  On the downhill section I took the chance to rest my legs and to stand up and take some weight off my aching butt every few minutes.

From Zug it was along to Baar, and then onwards towards Sihlbrugg.  I decided I couldn't possibly face another climb without eating first though, and I stopped at a petrol station before the first climb.  After stuffing my face it was on the bike again and the cycling seemed much easier than before the break.  I think next time I will take some food with me and then when I am flagging I can eat earlier in the ride, instead of having to wait till I find a shop or petrol station.

After a short climb, the route from Baar to Zürich follows the river Sihl and it is quite easy to pick up some good speed here with it being ever so slightly downhill.  The only small climb after that (that you can't miss unless you are looking for climbs) before entering the city is near Adliswil, and it is nothing really, just a short rise.  After Adliswil I managed to find another small hill though, as I still wanted more vertical metres.  I went up and over the hill before descending towards Wollishofen and the lake.  I still felt however that the number of vertical metres was not going to be high enough, so once near the Limmat rather than take the direct route home, I took the hilliest route that I could find and went further on than my apartment towards Universität Irchel so that I could then descend to finish off the ride.

Looking at my GPS data it seems I did 137.09km and 2,216 vertical metres.   I was hoping I might have done 3,000 vertical metres, but I guess that it is better to up the training in stages rather than risk injury by doing too much too soon.  I have already done more than I did back in 2009 and there is still almost 2 months left.

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