SLB Day 1 - Puerto Del Sol

I am in Detroit for another hour or two before my last flight back to Columbus.  This has been an amazing week and I want to do a few posts to capture some of the beauty we encountered the past few days.

For those of you I haven't talked your ear off about this camp, I am arriving home from the Strong Like Bull cycling camp in the Andalusian mountains of Malaga, Spain.  It was an awesome week of riding and great company!  Our group was fairly small for the first few days due to flight delays after the massive storms struck the East Coast last week.  However, the seven of us that managed to dodge the bullet trudged ahead with the rides for the first 3 days, enjoying the painfully gorgeous weather in the mountains :-) 

As I mentioned in my brief post earlier this week, our Spanish adventure began (and also ended) with a 57 mile ride (~5,000 ft elevation?), which included a climb known as Puerta del Sol.  This climb includes a 7km time trial up a mountain pass that is part of the Tour de Andelusia!  I had the opportunity to climb this the first and last day of my trip -- it was kind of the book-ends of my trip.  It was interesting how different the ride felt both times I completed the ride.  My first day on my bike in Spain felt epic -- the climb felt huge and the ride was hard.  I was frustrated when other people on the trip kept referred to the day as a short day.  I was reassured multiple times that the other rides are "so much longer" and "much more difficult."  My only thought was, "oh dear..."  However, his ride was truly only a warm up for the rest of the week!

My first ride up the Puerta del Sol, I rode up with one of the Strong LIke Bull camp leaders, John Hirsch.  It was awesome to have the company all the way through the climb.  John is a professional triathlete, so I appreciated his at least feigning fatigue as we approached the top :-)

Posing at the finish line of the Puerto Del Sol on my first day in the Andalusian mountains!

After all the other rides we accomplished during the week, repeating this ride on the last day felt much more reasonable.  It was a "short" and relatively "easy" ride :-).  I did the time trial climb on my own the second time around.  I started off at the back of the group and then passed almost everyone as we were climbing, which was super motivating.  The second time around I had a better sense of the true length of the climb and how to pace myself, so I was able to shave about 30 seconds off my time on my last day!  This ride was the perfect way to end the trip.  It really made me feel like I accomplished something great this past week!

Posted on February 17, 2013 .