Friday, November 27, 2009

Tour das Hugel

100 Miles of Austin’s Most Painful Hills

A little over 400 cyclists started Tour das Hugel 2009 from Zilker Park, but less than half of them would finish the entire 110 mile event. Those that did manage to finish could go home feeling proud of their accomplishment, as TdH took in the steepest and tallest hills in Austin, TX. Here is a short list of some of the steeper roads and grades of each ascent...

Westlake Dr. to Top of 360 3-4%
360 Bridge Base up to Westlake Dr. 5-6%
Bee Caves Hills (2244) 5-6%
Oasis Bluff Dr. 7-10%
360 Hill going up to 2244 Exit 6-7%
McNeil Drive (Backside near Old Spicewood) 10%
Comanche Trail (First leg) 3-15%
Comanche Trail (Second leg) 3-15%
Toro Canyon Dr. 7-12%
Westlake Dr. 7-10%
2222 Hill to 620 10%
Red Bud Trail 10-17%
Far West Blvd. (Backside) 13%
Bluegrass Dr. 10-15%
Lost Creek Blvd. 10-15%
Courtyard Drive 10-19%
15% first leg, 10% second leg, 19% last leg
Bullick Hollow from Oasis Bluff to 620 15%
Jester Blvd. 15%
Beauford Dr. 15-19%

The beautiful scenery and weather definitely helped get us through the event; there were many times the climbs lead to gorgeous overlooks that were spoiled only by the now sprawling neighborhoods that are taking over the central Texas hill country.

The first portion of TdH was a 38 mile loop that took in the first few difficult climbs…
Loop 360 - 6 miles
Westlake - 8
Toro Canyon - 10
The High Rd - 12
Terrace Mtn - 16
River Hills - 26
Barton Creek - 29
Lost Creek - 34
Zilker Park - 38 miles

…before returning to Zilker Park for a resupply before starting lap two. Many of the riders who went out on a fast pace for the first lap were finished and did not even attempt to start the second lap. Going out on lap two we were faced with the following climbs:

Mt. Bonnell - 5 miles
Mesa - 7
Smokey Valley - 11
Blue Grass - 15
Beauford - 22
Courtyard - 24
River Place - 30
Bullick Hollow - 36
Mansfield Dam - 40
620 - 43
Big View - 52
Jester - 56
Loop 360 - 65
Finish at Zilker Park - 71 miles (110 total)

This was, easily, the most pain and suffering I have ever experience on a bicycle. While I would have loved to have spun my way up many of the climbs, my cadence fell below 65rpm on numerous climbs and it required all of my strength to keep pulling through. Add to that a heart rate spiking to 200bpm and many of the climbs that leveled briefly from 15% to a 10% grade felt like rests. In the end I completed the entire ride without ever having to walk the bike or stop in the middle of a climb. Given the number of people that did have to walk up many of the steepest ascents, I feel proud to have completed Hugel in the clips! It hurt, I felt pain in muscles I didn’t know existed, but the sense of accomplishment at the finish was phenomenal.

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