Eventful ride complete with a bonk and a crash

The day was perfectly pleasant this morning. The plan was to start the ride at 6:30AM from 48th and Warner, head to the South Mountain entrance on Central, climb the summit and then do another 35 or so miles for a total of 70ish miles. Kristi has moved into her new home right next to Camelback mountain. I went to her place and we drove together.

It was 5 of us (me, Kristen, Kristi, Jerry and Justin). Angela was running late and there is a no-wait policy on team KLAR. I txt’d her to meet us somewhere en-route (but we never saw her again today). We started the ride promptly at 6:36AM. Little did I know what was in store for me today!

The first 10 miles (until we enter South Mountain Park) were nice and flat with relatively smooth roads. We rode along the canal at an easy pace. As we entered the park, the road gently started to climb. Today is silent Sunday; no motorized vehicles (except authorized vehicles and park rangers) are allowed in. There were tons of bikers, joggers and families walking their dogs. Jerry took the lead and I followed. Kristi, Kristen and Justin were behind.

Before the steep climb begins, Jerry and I waited for the other three. It was taking them a while to catch up to us. We found out that Justin had flatted and soon after, Kristen had also flatted. I decided to conquer the mountain on my own as Jerry waited. By the first 200 meters, I was already in my easiest gear. The climb was steady. As I rose on the mountain, I could feel my breath getting heavier. I held my cadence at 90+ as the road twisted up towards the summit. I was trying the hold my heartrate in the 150s, but there was no chance of that. The road got steeper as the summit neared.

Kristi and me on South Mountain

Justin, Kristi, Jerry, Kristen, me (left to right)

The last portion was the hardest. I don’t know what the grade was but it felt like there were multiple hills of more than 20% grades. I stood up on my bike and powered my way with my heartrate cresting at 170bpm. I was exhausted and felt like my heart was gong to explode out of my chest. I can’t remember ever having my heartrate that high while biking. After reaching the summit, I stopped and waited for others who arrived one by one soon after. First Kristi, followed by Justin, Jerry and finally Kristen. We spent about 15 minutes at the summit enjoying 360 degree vistas.

The descent was uneventful and fast. As we exited the park, we still had about 35 miles left. The heat was starting to build, but I was in good spirits. My spirits were dashed soon as the temperature rose, the road became desolate and I showed the first signs of bonking. The last 15 miles were absolutely brutal. I was still pedaling at a cadence of 90+, but had no power in my legs.

As we finally made the approach back to Kristi’s car and turn into the parking lot, I slowed and sighed with relief. As I took an easy right into the parking lot, my front tire slid on loose sand and debris and down I went. My left elbow bruised and my left calf and right thigh cramped. I just laid there as a couple of cars stopped and asked if I was okay. No broken bones, but I had zero energy left. I did get up on my own and stood blankly for a while before picking up my bike and slowly walking towards the car.

As I write this, my whole body hurts. While we conquered South Mountain, it wasn’t a fun ride. I hope we never do that route again.

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