Monday, April 4

Wheezing Hills

18 miles, 3.5 hours—and 1200 feet ^up^

The Santa Rosa Cycling Club has started an altitude gain challenge for April (April Alpina), having just finished a mileage contest in March. I signed on for 15,000 feet, the minimum. The commute generates 200 to 700 feet, depending on where I start.

It is going to rain for 3 days this week so I went out looking for some climbing this afternoon: over Montecito Heights (200'), up Los Alamos to Cougar (800'), and back over Montecito (200').

The climb up Los Alamos takes 5 miles to get to the top at Hood Mountain State Park. I am fit enough to try it, but about 1 of the 2 miles I made was in my lowest gears. Approaching Cougar (Lane? Road?) I noticed that whatever doctors have been hearing in my left lung for years was getting really loud. Try holding your upper teeth on your lower lip and sucking air though the gap—sounds like the breathing of a guy I heard on his death bed. My pulse was near max as I was having to stop every half-mile or so, but no heart-attack feelings. My breathing was getting towards max flow as my chest muscles and diaphragm really loosened up. That was when I heard the "strangled squirrel" sound. Until I get the problem, if it is one, fixed I'll regulate my climbing rate to prevent that sound.

I sanded my squeaking front brake pads, put on a wind breaker, and started down. Got maybe a quarter mile before the front brakes started squeaking again. As this road is rough and has a lot of sharp blind curves I didn't let the speed get much over 25 mph. Even with full medical coverage I didn't feel like going around a curve at 40 and hitting the back of the FedEx truck I knew was on the hill. Back on Montecito I did manage to hit 36 in a 35 zone.

I will keep looking for those good descents!

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