To reach my nemesis of an incline, I rode west of Griffith Park again, up a tangle of absurdly steep streets. They are steep enough that almost every time I meet someone out walking - rare in Los Angeles on residential streets, particularly these, which are narrow enough not to sport sidewalks - I get a reaction: sometimes a look of shock, followed by a big smile, a thumbs up sign, a "way to go!" First, no expects to see someone on a bike riding up a 20% grade. Secondly, I think people are surprised to see someone with a white beard and a deeply lines face managing to enter their rarified world - old people sit in rocking chairs, or stare into the monitors of their computers.
So after my warm-up hills, I put my bike into my 39/24 combo, and began my climb up Green Oak Avenue. This time I kept the rpm's up; not keeping them high enough was my downfall last time up. I also discovered that it's still difficult to power myself up at 20%+ grade in that gear - I could feel the skin stretched across my face as I grimaced with the effort.
I'm amazed that, after weeks off the bike due to illness and travel, and only a few back on, that I'm as strong, or stronger now as I was then. The mind and body never fail to amaze me, even mine.