Saturday, June 7, 2008

The first 20 Miles: 5000 feet elevation

It's fun to read the newspaper after your favorite sports team (let's say, the Los Angeles Lakers) has won a game, because it's human nature to want to reminisce accomplishments.

The impulse to replay the event is especially strong if the event were particularly difficult (like this Stage 2 of Tour de Francis 2008), and you actually rode on the course (as opposed to merely watching a Lakers game on TV).

So to all of you who were there, here's something to reminisce, the first 20 miles.

The first 20 miles is on Frazier Mountain Park Road (FMPR). By the time you reach Apache Saddle Station, the marker at Mile 20 (the first rest stop), you would have gained 5_000 feet of elevation.

No one needs to tell you now what tremendous energy you expended for that kind of effort. Your legs and lungs were telling you that. It's like TWICE climbing "GMR" (Glendora Mountain Road), one our "training hills". In round numbers it's a 10-mile climb with 2_500 feet of gained elevation at 5% grade. (To readers on the METRIC system, such as readers in the Philippines, it's 16 Kilometers long, 770 Meters gained elevation. I wonder how it compares to infamous climbs in the Philippines, like KENNON ROAD in Baguio, TAGAYTAY in Batangas, or BUGARIN in Antipolo.). The difference is that GMR has a constant 5% gradient, whereas FMPR has a mix of gentle slopes and steep slopes in the end. It starts with a gentle 3% slope, then increases to 7%, then in the final stretch it ratchets to 9% (with some sections at 14%). Aray.

At 6:30 AM riders and staffers started to get ready at the parking lot of the Best Rest Inn (Frazier Park, CA).

At 7:45 AM the riders (numbering about 50) gathered for a group photo.

They started rolling on Frazier Mountain Park Road (video here). Here they are at Mile 0. It's quite a beautiful sight to see a huge peloton still tightly packed, in colorful attire.

The first 12 miles consist of 3% to 5% gradient. The morning air was just crisp, clear. In other words, gorgeous.
Right away the peloton gets splintered. Here's a video at Mile 5 showing the breadth of the field, from last to first. About 2 - 3 miles of separation.

Mile 12 is an important marker, because the road splits into 2. Volunteers were set up there to steer cyclists the correct way (veer right, into Mil Potrero Hwy). If you go the wrong way (left to Mt Pinos Rd), it will be a miserable experience.
First to arrive (10:15AM) were the same familiar pair famous already to the TDF: Deo Asuncion (Adobo) and Raffy (MMCC). They did it in 2 hrs 30 mins. The last rider to arrive did so 55 minutes later.

The forest air was cool (65F), the trees were tall. The elevation at this location is over 6,000 feet. It was a great place to have the rest stop.

Volunteers and riders alike enjoyed the camaraderie and scenery. But the day is only beginning. There's 80 more miles to go. Over 3,500 feet of elevation still to conquer. The dreaded "heartbreak" is still to come.

But in the meantime, among the first-timers on this particular course, there's plenty of smiles and laughs to go around. They are still not sure of what's in store up ahead.

Now it was time to continue the course. Check back later.
Here they come, resuming the ride. 20 done (miles, that is). 80 to go.

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