As you probably know if you’ve read this blog for a bit, I’m not one for really intense workouts. But I did one the other day.
Not far from my house is Convict Hill. (Convict labor quarried limestone on the hillside that was used to build the Texas State capitol in the 19th century.) Convict Hill Road runs up the hill, and it’s an okay climb, but most anyone can handle it. However, if you take the back way up, via Kenosha Pass, there’s a good climb followed by a tougher climb. Neither is very long, but I’m usually gasping for breath when I get to the top.
From there, you can recover for a few blocks, but Breezy Pass features another intermediate climb up to Convict Hill Road.
In another block, I turn right down La Concha for a fast downhill. But right away I have to climb up Poncha Pass back to Convict Hill — and that’s a steep one. In fact, some guys I know just do repeats of Poncha — each time shifting up one cog until they’ve gone through the whole cassette.
My favorite part of the route is a long sweeping downhill on Convict Hill Road. But at the bottom, I turn left, and do it again.
I did this little exercise three times, then headed for some flat streets, which I ran at time trial pace. It made for an intense 18 miles — until I got a flat. But that’s another story.
Two days later, I still feel soreness in my calves. They’ll just have to get used to it. I’ll be back to do this one again.
Now, I know Austin is loaded with REAL hills. I’ve been on a number of them. But it gets boring to have to get off the bike and walk halfway up, and it really takes a toll on your cleats. I’ll go back and try some of those hills again — after I get the hang of doing this little diversion.
Loving the Bike says
Hi Bike Noob, good to see you out there pushing yourself. Even if they aren’t the biggest hills in Austin, it’s still great that you’re working at getting yourself to a higher level. Congratulations.
T Foster says
My comeback rides were on a very flat trail. Once I started riding the roads with the veterans I could tell I was woefully unprepared for the climbs – even minor ones.
I have also discovered the worst hills are the ones you are encountering for the first time as you have no idea how to manage your resources.
The only way to get better at them is to keep doing them! Dropping weight helps too! Just think about having to drag that extra pound up the next hill when you sit down to a big dinner.
When you recover from Wolfcreek Pass turn right and go down Hill Oaks to 290 and come back up. Interested to know if that quaifies as a “real hill”.
“But it gets boring to have to get off the bike and walk halfway up, and it really takes a toll on your cleats.”
These hills are the best training opportunities, IMO. Be stubborn. Refuse to walk them. If you have to stop, do it, but then wait until you catch your breath and start pedaling up again.
I bet if you tackle the tough hills a few times you’ll eventually make it up, and be stronger and more confident for it. And then you’ll be able to ride up even tougher ones.
“The worst hills are the ones you are encountering for the first time as you have no idea how to manage your resources.”
This is a good point, but as you become a stronger rider I think this feeling will subside to a great extent. If you keep at it, eventually you get to a point where you realize that almost any hill is ridable, and you stop getting that sinking feeling in your gut every time you start up a hill.
All that said, you may find hills you just can’t climb. There is one around here that is so steep I get to a point where I just can’t turn the pedals anymore. But it’s a 23% grade on loose gravel. There is a paved one that I only make it up about half the time.
The rest, I ride now, with very few exceptions — it took a while to get there, but you can get there, too!
T Foster says
Yes, I agree. I cured that problem with a 3 gap mountain ride in north Georgia! That was 58 miles and over 3 hours of climbing.
Sine Botchen says
Great post! I’m gonna try out that route since it’s pretty close to my neighborhood. How’s the traffic on those roads?
Almost nonexistent. They’re residential streets.
pat barry says
Just found your loop route, I have done all of them except
the short poncha pass segment off convict hill.. I think
i will go ride it tonight.. thanks! pat