La Luz Repeats – a series – week 3

In honour of our weekly team ride (aka The Scalo World Championships) and in reverence to the awesome climb that is La Luz, Scalo Veloce will be running several installments of “La Luz – Repeats”. Entries for this series are from various team members of Scalo Veloce,  attesting to their experience of this climb. This column will run the next several weeks. If anyone who is not part of Scalo would like to submit an entry, please email We’ll run non-team member entries in one of the final weeks of the column. 

Thanks for reading,

   Scalo Veloce Team 

WEEK3:   Nathan, Michael, Nick, JBV


La Luz is a climb that will never get easy for me. Almost every time I go up it I think about that first time. After recently moving to Albuquerque I had dusted off my old road bike with a massive chainring and a corncob cassette.  I was out riding and ran into a cyclist on a Cervelo that weighed less than my wheelset. He soon talked me into checking out a local climb instead of sticking to the bike path.

By the time we reached the base of La Luz I was cooked.  We rode the whole thing together. The entire time, the rider crawled along with me, giving a few encouraging words. As I remember it, my cadence never got above 50. La Luz reaches a point where after a brief flat, the road swings right and the grade kicks up.  You can’t see where it finishes, just winding pavement ascending into nowhere. I was done.  Ready to quit. “Don’t look up, just pedal.” Those were the words the rider said that got me up La Luz that day, and the reason I still keep climbing.

Inevitably, when I go up that climb there comes a point when my entire world is compressed into a single thought, “just pedal.”  Everything else disappears except that one all consuming thought. There is no room for life’s bullshit.  I’m not thinking about that car that almost hit me yesterday or next weekend’s race. I’m not thinking about my fitness, my teammates fitness, TSS, CTL, work, family, friends, failure, pride. It all goes away. For that moment you’re free and see the shadows on the wall for what they are, just shadows.



Pronounced “La Poozed”

The other day I was invited to go on a training ride with my teammate Nathan Rediske. The workout was 8 x 45seconds all out followed by a lap of Tramway Road plus La Luz. Reluctantly I accepted, as I hate hard workouts. The 8 x 45s went better than expected except that during my recovery intervals I had to stop and shake my front tire to get a flat to seal. I did this multiple times and decided I would finish my set and ride to the gas station at the bottom to deal with it afterwards. Once we finished part one, we turned back downhill and I thought, “I’m going to use the bathroom down there.” But then I forgot…

After I had changed my flat, Nathan and I started back up the hill. His goal was to ride threshold to the top, mine was to stay on his wheel. After a few minutes, I was really hurting, then I realized I had forgotten to use the bathroom at the gas station.

I decided to back off on the watts a little bit and go my own pace, but shortly thereafter, I realized just how serious my problem was. I thought I just had to pee, but it was much MUCH more than that. I started to fear I would not be able to make it to the top, possibly even the La Luz Road turn-off before something had to happen. I dropped it down to tempo and concentrated on the Metallica “Ride the Lightning” in my ears. I began looking for rocks/bushes to hide behind and paper products to wipe with. As I neared the La Luz turn-off, I knew I could make it to a good spot to unload.

I turned at the first picnic area off La Luz road and found a nice private rock and some napkins. Of course I was wearing a ton of layers and had to peel all of them off before I could get to work. Luckily, I made it in time and had a relaxing movement with a great sunset view.

Afterwards, I got dressed, saddled up, and started up La Luz. I saw Nathan on his way back down the climb. I told him my story and asked if he had time to finish the climb with me. Conveniently, he did.



Every Wednesday, for 7/12ths of the year, we train on this climb. No, not train, but race. We race each other. There’s nothing like racing teammates. Until a German from Alamogordo comes and crushes all of us. Anyhow, this climb is a bitch. I rode it the other day, after 4 weeks off, and remembered how brutally hard it was. I also remembered how, on that rare magical night, a few times per year, I can fly up it. When I don’t even touch the 39/28.

Ranging from 4-14% or thereabouts, this climb doesn’t go to the top, but it goes far enough. Far enough to be perfect for midweek training rides, to top off a long day in the saddle (hard man style), or even, occasionally, for repeats. Yet, every time I think I know it, every time I think I have each gradient memorized, something changes: the wind direction, the temperature, my tire pressure, my fitness. It manages to be a unique beast every time. The racing, the challenge, the Wednesday night worlds; the view, the solitude, the pain, – that is why I love La Luz.



For the first 4 years I lived in New Mexico I was in Santa Fe. I would occasionally meet some of my Albuquerque friends and ride with them, but that was only on occasion – so I never really knew the lay of the land. When I finally moved to Albuquerque in 2008, I quickly found La Luz thanks to my friends Rob & Josh. When I first rode it I was alone, so I just guessed and took the turn near the top that leads to the steepest pitches. Despite being a terrible climber, La Luz quickly became a favorite route that I would ride at least weekly. It’s always a challenge to get up it. About 1/3 of the way up, where it just starts to get steep, I’ve rarely not had the thought of turning around. To date though, I have not.

Adopt Ryan Travelstead – Adoption Exchange Road Race Report

Adoption Exchange Road Race

The Adoption Exchange road race consisted of ~80 miles w/ two trips up heartbreak hill, several rollers of varying size and wind swept stretches of road in between for the cat 1/2/3 field.

In the first few miles of the race there were two or three attacks that went and were covered.  When the last one was brought back, I figured I would counter to see what would happen.  Turns out, no one wanted to ride with me, not even the USAC official on the motorcycle.  I’m not entirely sure what happened since he was behind me, but I guess the first time up heartbreak hill I was going so fast that I was putting the motorcycle into difficulty trying to keep my wheel.  Rather than back off and go up heartbreak at his own pace, the moto-official decided to drive off the road and crash.  Strange.  At the top of heartbreak hill my eyes came uncrossed just in time to recognize that I got the first KOM and saw where Randy Silva was standing to hand up a bottle for me the next trip up.  The next 45 miles were pretty uneventful.  Other than giving out some “keep kicking ass/passing on your left bell rings” to members of other races I passed, I tried to stay hydrated and fueled enough so that I could get up heartbreak hill the second time without walking.  A few miles before the right turn to the final ascent of heartbreak hill I got a time gap of 4:20 back to the group of chasers.  I had a fleeting thought of being able to win the race with that big of a time gap.  Then heartbreak hill happened…again.  I unleashed every sort of watt I had in my body to get up that damn hill.  Arm watts, day-glo watts, snot watts, sourdough watts, you name it.  As I crested the top and collected the second KOM I saw something shining thru my dark and blurred vision.  It was mighty glorious.  The only thing I could think of was “I want that!”.  As I rode toward the light my vision came back into focus and I saw Randy with a new water bottle for me in his left hand.  I quickly noticed the shining object  was a beer he was holding in his right hand.  Being no stranger to hand-ups during cross’ races and the fact that I was riding my cross’ bike, I made no mistake which vessel of greatness I was going to be rehydrating with.  I downed the liquid watts that are in a Java Stout and I felt like I had another gear as I began clipping off the miles to the finish line.  I made the right turn into the headwind and quickly realized that my “extra gear” was nothing more than descending in a tail wind…damn!  I was caught and passed by a group of three and the main group about a minute later.  My day was done.  As I struggled to turn over what gear I had left, I remembered that there was a Shell gas station that sold awesome burritos a block off course.  I went to the Shell, picked up a chile relleno burrito and as I was walking to the checkout I saw there was a special on 25oz cans of Budweiser 3 for $6.00.  What a deal, a whole ounce more than 24oz!  I scooped up the 3 tall cans of Bud Heavy and burrito and rode to the finish line where I found my teammates.  As the stories of the days racing began to unfold I couldn’t help but crack the tall cans and let them know “this Bud’s for you!”




La Luz Repeats – a series – WEEK 2

In honour of our weekly team ride (aka The Scalo World Championships) and in reverence to the awesome climb that is La Luz, Scalo Veloce will be running several installments of “La Luz – Repeats”. Entries for this series are from various team members of Scalo Veloce,  attesting to their experience of this climb. This column will run the next several weeks. If anyone who is not part of Scalo would like to submit an entry, please email We’ll run non-team member entries in one of the final weeks of the column. 

Thanks for reading,

   Scalo Veloce Team 

WEEK2:   Wristen, Ryan (x2), and Tom Jones.


F U ** I N G L A L U Z, M A N.

I love the La Luz climb. It didn’t start that way of course, but I have grown to love it. The way the road never relents, the way it tricks you, the way it humbles you. The gentleman that got me into cycling told me after my first few attempts you weren’t fast until you could “big ring this climb.” The more I have learned about this sport I am not sure it’s even possible but the notion of someday big ringin’ it has kept me searching endlessly for that form. I like going fast so perhaps the ultimate reward La Luz has to offer is it’s descent. Fast and flowing, each apex allows for speed to be built. After each soul searching climb the sweeping pavement down will have you thinking ‘maybe one more time!”



People ascend mountains for various reasons.  Some people ascend mountains to search for fresh air to breath.  Some people ascend mountains to be closer to God.  Then, there are some people that ascend mountains on bicycles at the extremes of physical exertion, disregarding fresh air as they force their bodies into oxygen debt and they see God.  This latter type of people are my friends.  Our mountain is La Luz.  We hallucinate on Wednesdays.



Hey chump, you think monsters don’t exist?   You’ve never seen one?  I know where to find one.  Go ride La Luz with Greg Foster.


6: TOM

I hate this climb. When I first got back to riding and racing I would do this climb with a guy who threw car tires all day for a living. I just stood around and talked about bikes all day, so when he would drop me, often before the climb even started, it would really sting. I would train on this climb 3-4 days per week in hopes of just seeing that guy before the final right turn on to the steepest part of the climb. It never happened. I hate this climb.


The early days of the Scalo World Championships

The early days of the Scalo World Championships

La Luz Repeats – a series

In honour of our weekly team ride (aka The Scalo World Championships) and in reverence to the awesome climb that is La Luz, Scalo Veloce will be running several installments of “La Luz – Repeats”. Entries for this series are from various team members of Scalo Veloce,  attesting to their experience of this climb. This column will run the next several weeks. If anyone who is not part of Scalo would like to submit an entry, please email We’ll run non-team member entries in one of the final weeks of the column. 

Thanks for reading,

   Scalo Veloce Team 

WEEK 1: Greg and Mindy


It seems that cyclists as a whole love organization. We self organize into small groups called clubs where we ride our bicycles at predetermined times predetermined distances while wearing identical clothing adorned with the name of our group. We group ourselves individually by what type of bike we ride and which aspect of riding where we are predetermined physiologically for greatness. We like to categorize ourselves as a climber, a sprinter, a rouleur. I’ve spent some time considering my place in this cycling specialty pie chart and I find the evidence suggests I am a gruppetto specialist.

I have no tales of glory with the La Luz climb. I have been bested by many in ascending the beast of light in the foothills. My good days are when the legs are able to turn the 39×28 over, opposed to the bad when I am left churning and grinding and grimacing, perhaps a Bernard Hinault impression in slow motion. La Luz is characterized by varying gradients, it’s at these murderous ramps that I look down at my cassette in disbelief that I have run out of gears. The very steed upon which I toil was once ridden by Dean Buzbee, a man so talented in riding uphill at ludicrous speed that he would accidentally climb La Luz in the big ring (and turn plaid doing it). I haven’t met this fellow, but I suspect that once at the summit he would wrestle mountain lions and have amorous relations with bears. While that thought enters my head as I search for easier gears I take solace in knowing that Dean’s bike has entered its retirement with me.

As a true gruppetto specialist, I endeavor to reach the top of La Luz with time to put on layers for the descent and take in snacks before the group mobilizes again. They say you should practice in the areas where you need improvement. I usually don’t listen to what “they” say, as “they” also say that beer isn’t a recovery drink, or that bacon isn’t a condiment, or that it’s insensitive to make broad generalizations about the inhabitants of Utah. However, climbing La Luz is one exception where I will go along with what “they” say. What could be better than climbing the biggest hill in town with your buddies in highly revealing clothing to watch a glorious sunset? The romance is palpable!

The Strava Report

The Strava Report



La Luz de Tortura

My first adventure up the La Luz road was bipedal style competing in my first of many La Luz Trail Runs some years ago. My lungs burned, heart raced and legs felt near collapse then, as they do today.

My first attempt to ride to the top was not successful.  The road was rough, broken and my triple gearing simply was not enough to ascend this beast. The day I finally made it to the parking lot, I was elated.  Well, that was until I looked at my time and realized that at one time I could run this section 2 minutes faster than ride.

Today, I may ride this climb up to 5 times during the week, sometimes with up to 3 repeats.  I always achieve some sense of accomplishment at the top, partially because I can finally ride it 3 minutes faster than I could once run.

One story behind “La Luz”, the light in Spanish, sends us back to the 1920s, when a mining operation from near the top could either see some lights of the city….or that the light of the miners were visible from below.  I visited this mine some years ago, orienteering just north of approximately the 15th or 16th switchback.


2014 Cavern City Classic Report

Day 1: TT, Earl and I had a long drive, but made it to the TT with about 1.5H to spare. Unfortunately it took me a while to get the TT bike all prepped out and I had about a 15M warm up for this odd race, an out time trial (this combined with the later start had the race promoter driving behind us in the dark so we could get back to the car safely), The legs felt decent and I was able to do good power, so I was a bit disappointed to get 8th in the TT (dont worry Verheul is looking at my fit next week). When we got the times I was separated by 10th of a second from Nathan, who rode to a super 6th place. Also, Liz Grant needs to be thanked as she brought a bottle and a jersey for me for the ride back to the car. Super RAD!


Day 2: I was looking to be aggressive and try and get in breaks to get a bit of a head start going into the tough climb (only 1mi, but with steep pitches that create good sized gaps) as being a so so climber (and even worse at short climbs) meant that to make a good group I needed to play my cards right. On the first lap I was solo with a 30s gap that allowed me to make the selection (We made the front page of the Carlsbad newspaper with myself, Earl, and Nathan all visible). On the next lap I went clear with Petrillo and we stayed off for a lap, and then it came back together with Nathan making a nice move and staying clear for at least a lap. Meanwhile I got sawed off on the 4th time up the climb and was chasing with Jerry Garcia, Will Hillsman, and Earl. We couldnt close the 1M gap to the 5 leaders (4 after Nathan cramped up) and battled it out for 5th on the stage. I was able to hang tough and win the group.


Day 3: Cold windy day, so I knew that a lot of riders would be beat by the weather and so I wanted to try and get in a move. Fortunately, that is what happened as the field let Matt Chanin, myself and Fortunato go. Fortunato set a hard pace into the headwind and I contributed where I could while Matt sat in as he was unsure of how his team, HDB, would like him working in the break. Our lead got up to, and hovered at around 5M. I figured I would need all of that time with us doing 2 ascents of the previous days climb. Fortunato gapped Chanin and I the first time up the climb leaving us to our own devices. Fortunately the gap was big enough that we were able to cruise in with a safe time gap. 2nd on the day, but a very distant second. Fortunato was super impressive!


Just got an email that I was 4th overall for the omnium, so that was cool!