The Alps of Circle C

I’ve griped a time or two before about my slowness on hills, or even an inability to climb them without walking. I’ve kept telling myself this had to change. Recently, I’ve been riding routes that contain some decent hills, in an effort to build my thighs and not flinch from them as much as I have in the past. It’s helped — but I’m not going to win King of the Mountains anytime soon.

Today, that might have started to change. I went out on a friendly ride with a guy I haven’t ridden with for awhile. We cruised at a moderate pace, catching up on what we’ve been doing. But then, it was time to pick a route.

“Have you ever ridden the Alps of Circle C?” he asked. (We live in the Circle C Ranch subdivision.)

“Never even heard of it,” I said.

“That’s because it’s a route I cooked up myself.” he said. “I wanted a place nearby to get some hill work. So I looked around for hills in the neighborhood.”

We headed out on Mopac, turned west on Hwy 45, and rode the first hill up toward Escarpment Blvd. Not too tough, although he finished substantially ahead of me. Turning on Escarpment took us into the residential area, and the first small hill. Then we turned on some streets I hadn’t seen before (this is at the southern end of the subdivision, and it’s an area I seldom visit). We went up a street called Savin Hill, which curved, always climbing, for about half a mile. Then we did it again. I was huffing and puffing at the end of the second climb.

“Got another,” he said, as we turned down a different street. It was a long, looping road with a steady climb to Escarpment. Not tough, but another tester. Time to loop through a different area. Back out onto Hwy 45, with a series of mild climbs to the highest point on the route. But the return eastbound features a nice downhill that gave us a chance to recover — just in time for another series of climbs to the end of the route.

Real climbers won’t be impressed by the elevation change…

But as I said, my thighs burned.

“Whenever I want a quick workout, this is what I do,” said my friend. “I can finish it off in about 45 minutes and head to work.”

I thought I actually climbed better halfway through the ride than I had near the beginning, when I was fresh. I’m sure we’ll do this route again, many times. But I’m also going to be doing it on my own.


  1. says

    I read an article recently about training for mountains when you don’t live in a mountainous area by doing this sort of thing. I have an area near my home where I like to do my hill work. It is a neighborhood with several short but steep climbs. I estimated that by doing a loops that covers about 5 miles though never more than half mile from my star point, I can get close to 1000′ of climbing.

  2. says

    Looks to me like a fair amount of elevation change, at least for such a short ride. Do you know what the total amount of climbing is?

    That should be a good place for training rides. Then again, there’s no shortage of hills on the west side, from what I recall (I lived in Austin several years ago).

  3. rainycamp says

    Apertome, those west side hills are brutal, but they’re not as convenient as riding in the neighborhood. They’re a “destination” ride for me, and as I get stronger on hills, I’ll travel to that destination from time to time.

  4. says

    If you felt better half way through the ride it was probably due to your legs finally warming up. I know that I need 1/2 of riding at a decent pace before my muscles really start to feel good for strenuous riding. Without that warm-up my legs can’t utilize my energy stores efficiently.

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