Friday, October 31, 2008

My routine hilly workout

As day gets shorter, it's hard to get in a ride longer than 20 miles before or after work without using light on a significant portion of it. I want to stay in shape to ride the upcoming brevet season as much as possible, so I decide to establish a short ride for a workout during the week. To make up for the relative short distance (7+ miles one-way up the hill, and then same distance coming down), I use my fixed on-one il pompino for the workout. The average grade of this ride is around 4%, with several short steeper pitches between 6%-10%.

(Here is a link to bikely route map of this workout)

The ride starts in my house in downtown Berkeley. The first 1.5 miles is a pleasant flat portion through Berkeley and North Berkeley. I enjoy this portion very much as it's mostly on a Berkeley bike boulevard and one sees many cyclists of all types going in each direction at this time of the day.

I take a right turn on Vine Street through Gourmet Ghetto up to Spruce, then take a left turn and begin the climb up Berkeley Hills. Spruce is a fairly busy street, as it's one of the wider street going up the hill. Like many streets in the Hills, it has many vista of the bay along the way. The grade is not that bad, and it winds gently through neighborhoods of nice houses up the hill. After a re-surfacing project a couple of years ago, this has become quite pleasant to ride on. My 40x17 gearing is quite adequate on this stretch, as I switch intermittently between seated and off-the-saddle position. Many cyclists go up this way, not just to the top, but also to wildcat canyon road into Tilden and beyond. I don't tend to wear cycling garb on my workout, and usually opt for regular exercise clothing. Sometimes when I pass folks who are on their racing kit and carbon-bike combo, they get surprised and pedal hard so they wouldn't get passed by an apparent amateur on a strangely looking fixed gear.

At the top of Spurce, I make a right on Grizzly Peak and continue the upward wind. Grizzly Peak is also a very pleasant road that has frequent view of the bay. The grade here is even gentler than on Spruce. A couple of miles past the turn from Spruce, there is a downhill portion before heading backup again. I tend to watch to make sure there are no cars beford plunging down hill. I pull my knee close to the top tube, tuck myself as low as possible, and then spin as fast as I can. On this portion I can get as fast as 35mph, which means I am spinning at 180+ rpm. I use the downhill to generate enough momentum to carry me as far up on the ensuing stretch as possible. This stretch is steeper than before (probably around 6-7%) and leads to Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

The stretch past Lawrence Berkeley Lab doesn't have private houses on the sides of the road, just trees and occasional animals. It's very pleasant in all seasons because of the shade. The grade is probably around 5% to 9%, but the steeper parts are very short. After 1+ mile, one eventually get out to an open stretch where one can get a stunning view of the bay. Many folks, not just on bike, gather up there on a good day to watch the sunset.

On this day I took some pictures before heading downhill. I try to get down hill before it gets dark because Grizzly Peak has some bad pot holes. I turned on my light and put on my hi-vis vest before heading down. As I spin my way down the hill, I remarked how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place!
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