Not having climbed many Mountains- Only one so far- I may be on the wrong track here, but I do a fair amount of distance rides offroad. Theses rides will be tough and sometimes very long. Somewhere about the 8 hour mark on theses rides- I start to lose the will to ride. This is the time that I open my "Emergency" goodwill pack. In it there is a small bar of chocolate- (Comfort Food) a pack of Cheesy/salty biscuits for the salts I have lost and Best of all A small can of Coca Cola. The Coca Cola gives me a break from the energy drink I have been taking for a few too many hours. Doesn't really help on energy but the mental aspect of that special treat makes me stop thinking that I am riding on the seatpost.
I spend most of my time at sea level so altitude is really tuff on me. Last year I road Reed Pass and Rettenbachferner ahead of Tour of Germany riders. Reed Pass was first and not so hard as it is short, but maybe 16 or 18 degrees, can't recall. The next day was Rettenbachferner. I started about an hour and a half before Solden to warm up. At solden the road goes to 10.7 degrees average for 12K with 16 degrees max. This was by far the most difficult I have done. I think the altitude was as big a factor as the climb itself. I made it but was really hurting. Was pushing a 39X27, could have used a compact. At the time I was wishing I was on my mountain bike. I have climbed a lot of hills in southern France and Italy (along the coast) including Madone more times than I can count, Ive done 6 Gap in Georgia. But nothing compared to Rettenbachferner. At the end of August I am going to do Stelvia, we will see if it is as hard, maybe harder?
Why am I doing this? That's exactly what I ask myself every time I spend a small fortune getting to France and starting one of the big climbs. I am 6 foot 3 and 106 KG! I think that the level of joy at reaching a summit is compounded by the length/severity of the climb. Mind you, I did La Marmotte a couple of years ago and found myself lying on the grass roadside in a state of utter exhaustion on the Galibier. Was the bus of shame that time, but for some reason I know I will be back to finish it. :-)???