Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Trek to Treadlemire

Last Sunday, I did a ride with Chuck, Artie and Curtis. And the story needs to be told.

Curtis' Dad had contacted me to see if Curtis could perhaps connect up with some of the CBRC folks that were exchanging e-mails about a ride of some dirt roads. Several e-mail had been exchanged with several combinations of potential participants, including folks from Keltic, Battenkill United, and a Pro rider that was in town. Admittedly, i was a bit intimidated contemplating joining this group on a ride that had all the potential of an epic 6 to 10 hour ride. I was also committed to attending a graduation party that same afternoon, of which i could show late for, but i couldn't show up several hours late looking for IV drips and emergency medical attention due to a 10 hour hammer fest. Ultimately we settled on a reasonable plan that the Q had suggested and the group of interested riders had been whittled down to four... ride leader Q, Artie Gee, Curtis, and myself. The plan was to begin in Altamont, mosey up the hill on Rt 156, head out into Schoharie Valley, and ultimately attack a hill called Treadlemire Road.

The ride started leisurely enough, with eveyone chit chatting about bike stuff, fitness levels and catching up on all the exciting developments in Curtis' world of cycling. Curtis has been selected to race for the Cliff Barr Cyclocross Team and also had just completed a road racing development camp in the NYC/New Jersey area. All exciting events. We are all extremely happy for Curtis.

The real destination however was Treadlemire. A year ago, i remembered that several CBRC folks did a Club picnic ride that included Treadlemire and these same folk came limping into the CBRC picnic area with tall tales of lung busting, leg searing, and teeth gritting steep grades, so i was a bit concerned about this hill. We turned onto Pickett Hill Road to make the approach to T-mire. After climbing up Pickett Hill road, we began on a relatively level stretch of Treadle-kill-me-now Road. Quickly the road tilted upward. No big deal, i had my CX bike with 48/38 (or are they 46/36?) rings in the front and a 12 x 27 ten speed cluster on the back, which will get me up anything. The road kept going up and we all settled into our own particular zone of pain. The surface was all gravel but a previous night's rain actually made the surface fairly hard packed and traction was decent. I was using Maxxis Raze clinchers, the same set-up i had for the BFC, which are very good for these types of road/dirt road rides.

The climb did not relent. The Q was off the front. It was impossible to guess how much hill was left. I would occassionally look up to see if there was an end in sight, or to see if there was any break in the tree line, or any sign of the top. At one point i was ready to explode and the grade went from 20% to perhaps 25% and there was no relief in sight. I could not stand as i would lose traction, so i had to sit and concentrate on a smooth spin and maintain a delicate fore and aft balance to maintain traction. I lost it (traction) and came to a stop. I was off the bike and on foot. Good grief, my heart was pounding. I walked a several meters to get through this steep section and climbed back on. A hundred meters further up, the road twisted into a sharp S turn with a seriously muddy surface and another sharp increase in grade. I was determined not to get off again and i spent some energy here to get through this section. Eventually the grade softened and i could see the Q and Artie Gee at the top. Thank God.

We continued south bound and after a scare with a large Doberman, we dumped out onto Cotton Hill Road. We turned Northeasterly and started the return trip. A remote road with a Hollow in its name caught Q's eye so we diverted onto Brooky Hollow Road for a glorious long curvy downhill. But, this meant we had to climb out of the Hollow and we did that on Lawton Hollow Road. Beautiful hills and nice quiet roads. Art remarked that this area looked very much like the remote hills in North Carolina. .... (The above is NC and not NY's Schoharie Valley) The weather was like NC too, warm and humid and we all were low on fluids. We headed back again, this time on Canady Hill Road and into West Berne where we refueled and then parted ways with Art. Art was heading back to Delmar while us three made the return trip to Altamont on Rt 156. We all made it back and were pleased with our efforts that day. I made a mental note and promise to myself that i will go back to Treadlemire and conquer that hill.

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