Monday, July 21, 2008

The Antennas

When I first moved to Lecheria, one of my first mtn bike rides was up into the coastal range to set of TV antennas. It is a tough climb with a few pitches steep enough for shift into the small ring. After year one, I lost my riding partner (he was fired from school and is now working in Pakistan) so I hadn't been up there since. Everyone says it is hostile territory with the real potential of getting mugged, robbed, or worse, killed.

Sunday I was invited on a group ride back to this area. I left our condo apartment (sea-level) and met the group at the Mobil gas station at 6:00 AM. We rode through town, through the sketchy barrio of "El Pozo" (The Well). It is a slight climb, but we kept a good pace through there.

At the PDV gas station in El Pozo, we picked up a couple more riders and headed into the hills.

Once we turned off the main road, the country road winds up into the hills. It eventually crosses a small river then we started really climbing. I was the oldest rider, and probably the heaviest, so I am a fairly slow climber (but steady and strong). I was able to keep up, not letting the group get too far ahead. I actually liked being alone when the pack was ahead of me.

Somewhere on the route, we took a turn that I wasn't familiar with. It was a technical Jeep track that was steep. I used my 22:34 to climb, but cleaned the hill no problem. I was unfamiliar with this new route, but the rest of the climbing was a steady grind, with a couple of concrete sections that were very steep.

We made it to the antennas around 9:00 AM. Someone had an altimeter and it read 728 meters (about 2380 feet). So about 18 miles with more than 2400 feet of climbing in 3 hours (including two stops for Edwardo to fix two separate flats). Not too bad.

The best part is when we turned around and blasted back down the hill! The Litespeed handled like it was on rails...very smooth, very precise. I am really liking the is a better bike than the Merlin! EGADS! I love my Merlin! It makes me sad to say that.

We were back into town in less than an hour (including two more stops to let Edwardo continue to deal with flat tires). The most dangerous part of the ride was riding against traffic (I was just following the other guys) on the Intercommunal (main avenue through Barcelona/Puerto la Cruz). I finally hopped onto the sidewalk to give myself some relief.

The final 4 miles home was on the flat bike path with a slight headwind. I had zero water was was fairly tired because I only slept 4 hours Saturday (due to being Internet-Guy). I rode past the condo to the Gorditas for two breakfast empanadas (1 fish, 1 chicken) and two cans of Malta (unfermented beer...a Venezuelan drink).

Anyway, it was a good ride. I was beat afterwards, but feel great now. I am really liking the Litespeed. Its a fun bike!

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