Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Great reunion last night with Jill and Tim! Had lots to catch up on, but mostly we focused on...
Last year, the 25-mile Artist Drive loop was the first ride of our weeklong camp. It was cold and raining, which was bad enough. But the short distance lulled me into thinking that it would be a relatively easy ride.
It wasn't. The first part of the one-way loop climbs for about 2 miles, starting at 4% and ending in a quad-burning 14%. Then it kind of flattens out for a teaser reprieve, which lasts just seconds before the route suddenly turns into a hairy, screaming roller coaster ride. Steep dips, crazy hairpin turns, and descents so fast your hands lock up on the brakes. A sign points out another switchback turn, but not the wall o' 12% that greets you on the other side. End this ride with a steep, straight downhill run back to the highway (with or without car traffic dangerously up your ass, just for the added excitement).
(Photo above is the view when you stop just before the road turns up 14%. It's a great place for a photo op - and a good excuse to catch your breath)
This year was at least warm and dry. Jill, Dave, and I got out early to tackle 'our nemesis' (Tim, Mr. Ultra Endurance Maniac, decided to go for a little jaunt up to Dante's View, which makes Artist Drive look like the bunny hill).
Me at the start of Artist Drive loop. I wore my Summit Freewheelers kit, just so you guys would have an idea of how COOL it looks in Death Valley (hint, hint). Something to consider for next year?
Dave starts down the first of a series of serious swooping descents.
Below, Jill captures the moment.
I video'd Dave coming up over the steepest part of the first climb: