25 March 2007

Fargo Street

Fargo Street. I guess every year the Los Angeles Wheelmen sponsor this event where bicyclist climb a hill that is 33% grade. This year I gave it a shot. The above image is again stolen from the internet. In fact, I jacked it from the LA Wheelmen at www.lawheelmen.org
Okay, this image is mine. Actually, Pat Chan took the photo. But you get the idea how damn steep this hill is. The rest of the images here were taken this morning by Pat Chan. Hey here is another one...
That is me at the bottom of the hill with Eric Ostendorff. I just got there, and about to register and make my climb. I got number 56. I of course wanted number 14, but Eric got that, 4 times 14 is 56...good enough.
Got my number, got my gear. Helmet in case I eat it. Sunglasses for the beating sun, and to look cool. Gloves for better grip...and to look cool. Shoes to keep me locked in. IPod Shuffle to rock to. Oh, and the bike, need that to do this thing.

The key to the whole thing, thanks to Eric, 1) keep a steady rhythm, any hiccup in your stride an you may lose control. take it slow. 2) keep weight forward, lean toward and on top of bars. Why? Because since the incline is so severe, your front wheel will pop up. 3) go side to side, going straight up is extremely difficult. 4) take long deep breaths, short and fast breaths will tire you out quicker.

With tips from Eric and a little encouragement from the crowd, off I go. I am in the lowest gear possible. I have never pedaled that low before. Yeah, like I am going to practice. The guy in the yellow shirt is one of the guys running the event. You can see that Red Bull was there next to the registration table.
That is me about 20 seconds into it. As you can see, from the fence behind, it is pretty steep. And yeah, right about now I am starting to get a little tired. Anyway, I rules are you can try as many times you want to as long as you do not touch the ground with your feet, and you make it all the way to the top, you get a patch for all your troubles. So, I am listening to my iPod and just trying to get in the zone. Unfortunately, there are no photos of my ascent to the top. The photographer got tired just walking up the hill to keep up with me.

This is a true test of endurance. I was really getting short of breath, but then Depeche Mode came on the iPod about half way up and that gave me a rhythm to pedal and breathe to. I think I was singing along at one point. After 3-4 minutes I made it to the top. At first, it did not seem that bad. Then the symptoms started to kick in. My arms and legs where numb from the excessive use of the muscles. My throat was sore from gasping for air. I gave my name to the guy up top, and he gave me the patch.
I had trouble even standing afterwards. So I rested at the top before I came down on the next street over. That too was very steep. I thought I was going to flip over the bars while zipping down. That is a shot of me back at the start with the patch.
Ah, much needed water...as if I accomplished something. Wait, I did!
Eric is about to go. He could not fail after I just made it on my first try. He already has a patch from a few years back. You only get one, so you get it on your first ascent. In fact, it is the only way for you to get one. I guess you could find one on ebay, but I doubt anyone will sell theirs.
I came, I saw, I conquered. I also look goofy with my helmet not properly on my head. Well, a lot of people conquered the hill today. Some failed, some did it multiple times. Me, I did it once and once is enough. One for one, that is 100% success rate!
We both made it. I got my own patch, Eric has his. Maybe next year I will do it again...maybe.
Another look from the bottom of the hill. The car is parked about half way up.
One last picture. The number on my leg and the patch.

Update: Here is the list of riders that completed the climb. Yeah, some dude did it 90 times!
Up next for me, I will try to ride 100 miles from LA to San Diego. First, I have to get a road bike.

Another update: Check this out, it takes a while to load (23 minutes)
...and an article on the day I climbed Fargo: http://lawheelmen.org/fargo.htm

1 comment:

swarmLA said...

You rock. You are eligible for SWARM status. Kevin is not. I am going to give this a shot next time, cranksets permitting.