Friday, December 31, 2010

Not Quite The Incline

The year closed out on an anti-climatic note for me. Thunderstorms and warm temps moved in overnight, erasing the snow and leaving conditions not good for much of anything. Taking a semi-recovery day on Thursday, I was looking to get a decent ride in on Friday. It would have to be studs on pavement.

I waited for the first wave of heavy rain to pass. It looked like there would be a 2-3hr window of little to no rain to ride in the afternoon. Then the back side of the storm system would sweep through.

Even though there is a lack of hills in southwest Michigan, some scenic riding can be had along the lakeshore. I headed south towards Saugatuck. Saugatuck is a tourist town in the summer months with a harbor for multi-million dollar yachts and dunes to nestle multi-million dollar vacation homes. South of Saugatuck is a nice stretch of Lakeshore Drive, which is perched high above the sandy beach with houses on the opposite side of the road. Unfortunately, the road doesn't run through anymore, as several years of high lake levels severely eroded the dunes and portions of the road fell into the lake.

Heading back, now with a strong tail wind and black clouds building over the lake, I decided to take a short excursion to Oval Beach. At one time or another, this was one of the top rated beaches in the country. I got distracted on my excursion. I passed locally renown Mt Baldhead. A brand new stairway has been built to the top. Mt Baldhead can be seen from many miles around with its cold war relic radome atop. The only access to the summit is via a very steep stairway. The new stairway contains 303 big steps and gains well over 200ft. It's not quite the Manitou Springs Incline, but probably the next closest thing in Michigan.

303 tall steps to Mt Baldhead

I hadn't gotten a respectable interval in all week, so I thought what the heck. I ditched my bike behind a building. I figured I could blast up this thing by two's at full running pace without slowing down. Boy was I wrong. About halfway up I imploded. I continued by taking two steps at a time, but no longer at running pace. I didn't have a way to time myself. I'm guessing I was in the 2-3 minute range at full-on VOmax effort. View from the top was decent. Only one other person was on the stairway when I started, but many were coming up on my descent. I bet It took them 10-15 minutes. When I got back on my bike, my legs were all noodly. Glad I didn't do repeats.

From the Holland channel, looking south. Rain coming in again.

I went on a few more lakeshore excursions on my way back to mom's house since the rain was still holding off. The temperature was in the 50's, and with a strong tailwind to push me, it felt downright balmy. I finished with 40 miles in about 2.6hrs. That probably wore my expensive new stud studded tires down a bit.

Thanks for reading and happy new year!

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