Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Too Much Of A Good Thing: Snowmelt and Gear Inches.

Things look good down at 2000'.

All of the trepidation I have had about the snow pack, turned into a big case of "be careful what you wish for". Very little snow melt had occurred up until late last week when the temperatures shot 20 degrees above normal and started the snow melt in earnest. The 90 degree temps have resulted in flooding on just about every river in the area.
I rode up Mt. Spokane on Saturday and marveled at the raging Deadman Creek that runs along side the highway. The next morning when I was coming down, the road and the creek had become one. I was lucky to cross the washout when I did because during the next 12 hours the asphalt would start to break apart as the soil from underneath it washed downstream. It will be weeks before the road reopens.

At 3400' the snowmelt is causing problems.

From Mt. Spokane I rode out to Farragut again and then on Monday morning biked back to Spokane via The Palouse Highway.
Simon in NZ has been trying to simulate a 12,000 foot day of climbing and the same thing has been on my mind. With most of the big hills covered in snow I haven't really been spending that much time on long climbs. I have felt good when I go out and climb a couple of thousand feet up Mt. Spokane or Fernan Saddle but It hardly simulates the challenges ahead. My big concern is deciding what gearing to use. I thought I was pretty confident about my choice but I have been doubting of recent.
Too low of a gear and it just takes too long to cover the mileage. Too high of a gear and the climbing becomes overly punishing and the day after day leg fatigue piles up too high.
I have done the 12k climbing math but then I look at the photos and see miles and miles of terrain suitable for the higher gear. Can one tooth on the rear cog mean the difference between success and failure? Will one tooth make a difference when climbing the major passes? I still don't have the answer and I may have to flip a coin on this one if I can't get closer to a conclusion.

1 comment:

mc. said...

You've got a freewheel Dave, there's no reason to gear up. Spin. Your cardiovascular system has a lot more capacity than your muscles and ligaments.

It might feel marginally slower sometimes -- but what if it is super windy? What if the road is soft and wet? Also, it is rough and steep down south.

That tooth you remove on a whim will be the bane of your existence in New Mexico two weeks in and will divot itself into your brain. Conservative and consistent, yo. Patience and the bigger picture are your ally. There's no "right" gear...but a slightly lower one is 'righter' than a slightly higher one. You'll see.