Today's ride was just not going to happen indoors. Yes, it was cold, but the sun was out, and I do believe that I reached the USRDA for indoor riding a little while back.
I got the crazy idea to do a loop that I haven't done in a while...the Schmatzenberg. It's a loop that takes about 30 minutes to do, has two killer hills in it, and is picturesque, especially this time of year.
The Schmatzenberg is on the south side of I-44, across from Six Flags. The road is actually called Wegman road. It climbs up just a bit from I-44, drops into a beautiful valley, then shoots skyward on the actual Schmatzenberg climb. The climb is only about a 1/4 mile long, but is very steep. After cresting, the road veers left, meanders downhill a bit, then flattens as it parallels the Meramec river. Then it hits the looong climb. This thing is ferocious, camel-backing 6 or 7 times, finally ending in an out-of-the-saddle, head-over-the-handlebars grunt to get over the top. A screaming descent follows, then you get to start over.
I parked at the Greensfelder visitors center and suited up. I rolled down Allenton road, eyes watering and getting a brain freeze straight away. On second thought, I should've ridden a bit before I attempted a 40mph downhill in 29 degree weather. No matter. I knew I would get warm on the loop.
No traffic to speak of, crisp morning, hrm and Power Tap alive and kicking. I saw between 500-550 watts on the 'berg. What a killer. I settled down and hit the second climb at 450-475 or so. By the time I hit the middle of the climb, I was suffering at 300 watts. Ug. After cresting, I decided to hit the loop again. I had a better plan. Feeling better and better, I hit the 'berg a little easier, this time keeping a steady 400-450 watts. Bingo, much better, and I was able to go over the top with some vigor. I did the same tempo towards the long hill, this time starting at 350 watts or so and maintaining that all the way to the final kick, where I had to stand. Much, much better. What did I prove? My own rule: hit the climb in such a way that you can finish it.
Crossing back under I-44, I wondered how hard Allenton was going to be. Normally, it's a tough climb if you hit it hard. After 2 laps of the 'berg loop, I was figuring it would be tough. It wasn't. The pitches on Allenton are just not bad compared to the ones I had already done.
All said and done, it was only an hour and a half. But an hour and a half of my life spent outside on a beautiful morning versus and hour and a half sitting still in a cold basement watching a small 15 year old television set with no cable? You be the judge.