I took off and immediately began to work up a good sweat. I had arm warmers and a vest on and shed the vest pretty quickly. The trail was feeling great, and I was going nicely. I made it to the trail junction for the waterfall in 45 mins, and started up the climb. The climb was brutal, and I walked at least half of it. It was like doing intervals, because the pitches are so steep (even to hike), and then you get a short breather, and then another bitch of a pitch. All of a sudden I reached the falls, and quickly realized, I'd screwed up again, just like when I rode it with Matt! I went up the descent! Argh--I'd promised myself not to do that. The problem with this direction of climbing, is that it is 700' of gain in 1 mile. Yep kids, that's a 13% grade on average. Uh, huh.
However, I was actually pretty psyched that I'd done this in 25 mins, as memory says it took Matt and I like 40 minutes (of course that day it was also in the 80's, and I know I was suffering on the hike much more). I thought for a moment that I'd turn around and head back down to enjoy the descent, but then said, no, I want to see how I screwed up and turned too early, so I headed down the other side. This is a fun descent as well - rolling on the top half, and steeper on the bottom. Got down, and now know that I have to ride the trail until I get to pavement, then make the 20' hop up the pavement to where the proper entry into the climb lies.
Now is where I start getting pretty excited about my ride though. I was feeling good, and so I turned around and rode back up to the falls again! Ya baby! Climbing this direction it's also 700' of gain (probably more like 850' given that you do a few mini-descents in there, which I saw were 50' of drop or so), but in 2.5 miles. As an interesting comparison, this climb I was able to ride much more of, and it took 27 minutes - much longer mileage wise, but the milder overall grade means it only took 2 minutes longer. Sweet.
I proceeded to ride the full rock wall section, and then up and under the falls, and then ripped the descent. This side of the descent, being a lot steeper, is just a ton of fun. And at this point, I was truly in the zone. I was just flying, and maneuvering the bike like nothing else existed, really working the front end hard, and at one with the bike and trail. Combine this feeling with the happiness of being able to want to do the climb again, and I was quit high (no Rich, not like that).
At the bottom of the climb, I could smell the campfire of a nearby camp, and boy did that smell good. Just added to the buzz. I also realized how little time it'd taken overall so far. With that in mind, I put it in race, and flew over the remainder of trail back to the car. I finished up the ride, in a total of 2 hours, 44 minutes, for 2800' of climbing. Not an epic by any means, but very stoked. Further, during various points in the ride, I was doing a lot of standing up and hammering, and it was the first time, in, well, I can't remember, that I actually felt I had some power in my legs. This was a really big deal for me, and I am just so psyched! It has no doubt helped, that I've ridden 4 times in the preceding week (which is about 3-4 more times than normal ;-)
The weather was extremely helpful for me today. As folks know, I don't like the heat at all, so the temps today (stayed in the 50's all day) were outstanding. I did wind up putting the vest back on on the first descent, and never took it back off (even for the 2nd climb). Again, just an outstanding ride for me as everything came together, and it is the best I've felt on a ride in a long, long time. To top it off, I wasn't even tired when I finished, and had contemplated going back out for another lap, but knew that I wanted to save some juice for tomorrow, as I'm hoping to go ride Waldo Lake, which I hear is about 4-5 hours.
Lastly, the 1x9 worked out just fine. There were a couple sections I could have ridden if I had a granny gear, but the majority of the super steep pitches I'd have had to hike even with a granny gear. I had two close calls crash wise: one where I hit my pedal pretty hard going round a corner at high speed, throwing me a good bit, but rode it out, and second where I lost the front wheel in a fast corner, having it slide a ways, but then I think it caught on something and carved out the rest of the turn. A very good day, can't wait to see what tomorrow brings...