Monday, September 18, 2006

Le (yet another) Tour

Date: September 16&17
Combined mileage: 43.6
September mileage: 183.9

I have an idea for a decent endurance biking event in Juneau. It came to me today as Geoff and I, while tooling around on a short ride, decided to cross downtown to look at a particular house for sale. The city is carved into a mountainside, not unlike San Francisco, in a way that each city block becomes progressively steeper. I flew across the first five blocks (about 5-7 percent grade) ... began to labor at the next two (10 percent) ... started wheezing at blocks 8 and 9 (15 percent) and wavered alarmingly up the last two blocks (judging by hikes that I've done in the past, I'd say these streets easily push 25 percent grades). About 30 feet from the summit stop sign, I glanced over at a cement barrier and became terrified at the thought of putting my foot down - for fear I would slip backward back down the street and over the edge. But I also wasn't sure I was going to make it - I was feeling light-headed enough that I feared for my consciousness. This happened on the tail end of a casual, 15-mile ride. Now, I'm not in the best shape I've been in all year. But I'm not exactly in the worst shape of my life, either.

So here's my idea for the endurance cycling event - it's a road ride, because the four-mile-long mountain bike trails around town aren't exactly distance-friendly. The cyclists start in downtown and ride out to the end of the road the turn around and return to town, covering the Mendenhall Loop on their way home (~80 miles). Then they cross the Channel bridge, ride to Douglas, out the end of the road, and back (~30 miles). Then they ride out to the southern end of the road, at Thane, and back (~14 miles). So, by covering every bike-legal mile of highway in the whole area, I have a 124-mile ride. I thought I could flesh it out to 150 by then weaving the course through every side street in downtown Juneau, so at the end of their century-plus, all the riders would have to climb and then descend, climb again and then descend again - every heartbreaking, breathtaking road in town. It's the Tour of Juneau. A 150-mile road ride isn't exactly a groundbreaking endurance event, but I thought all those short, steep late-ride climbs could really make it interesting.

Now, if only I could get the city to go along with me. I wouldn't even know how to begin to put together an mass-participant event, but it sure would be fun to try. I already have a T-shirt design idea. Because you can't drive to Juneau, it often carries the reputation in the Lower 48 that it has no roads. So I was thinking the slogan for my road bike Tour would play off that line at the end of the movie 'Back to the Future:' "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."

Um, yeah. I should probably try to get some sleep now.