Sunday, April 17, 2016

The longest road

The weather's been really wonky for much of the past month, so my best intentions of getting an early and fast start to the cycling season remained just that: Intentions.

But yesterday was different. The weather was as perfect as it gets, and after I got home from giving a talk, my wife said a ride would be good for me. And since she's always right about stuff like this, I quickly found myself on the road headed to parts unknown.

I ended up pointing the pink wondermachine westward - a fast way out of town - on what would eventually turn into a glorious 30km loop through the countryside. I was feeling pretty good about myself - cruising at an above-average-for-this-early-in-the-year pace, solid acceleration out of corners, strong overall feeling of control and a smile seemingly stuck permanently on my face - until I turned for home onto a road I'd never taken before. I thought it was a shortcut, but it soon turned into a steepening climb up and out from the river valley that slowed me down like a hand from the heavens. I gutted it out, refusing the give in to the inner voice that kept saying it was OK to walk the rest of the climb.

Needless to say, the last leg of the ride, even after I crested and continued the remaining, flat few kms to home, was a bit slower than the outbound part. But I made a mental note to come back to this place again and again.

Because some workouts challenge the mind as much as the body, and I learned an important lesson about relentlessness in the six or so minutes it took me to grind my way to the top.

Your turn: Your toughest climb. Please discuss...


Gilly said...

Now that sounds like a really wonderful way of, I was going to say exercising, but 'living' would perhaps be nearer what I meant. In control, using muscles, clearing brain, and all in hopefully lovely countryside. Lon ago I enjoyed cycling, not quite as fast as you, but going steadily round the country lanes where we lived then. Alas, age, and back problems made it all too much, and when I had to get off and walk up the incline (I won't dignify it with the word 'hill') I realised my cycling days were over. That was the hardest climb, just a little incline, and I had to walk it, realising that was the end. Luckily I can still get out into the countryside, even if its on four wheels now, and can walk for a while. And going more slowly does have its advantages! I can see the birds, the flowers, stop to chat to others and enjoy the beautiful scenery here on the edge of the Peak District. That's the UK, for those of you across the pond!

Pat Tillett said...

Hi Carmi!
I have had some hard climbs on my bike, but my hardest climb ever was on foot. I was doing some solo backpacking and had to be at a certain spot on a road, at a certain time, for a ride out of the wilderness. I had altered my route to do some exploring and it took more time that I thought it would. I took so much time, that there was none left for me to backtrack and take the original route I had planned on, and still be able make it the predetermined meeting place. To make up for the lost time, I ended up hiking/scrambling up and down (the other side) of a gnarly mountain with no trail. I was carrying a pretty heavy load (mostly water). Because I've had bad knees forever, the down-slope part was even harder than going up (and going up was murder). I made it on time, but it was the challenge of a lifetime. I learned a lot about myself those last few days. I also learned not to take chances like that, because once I'd deviated, nobody knew where I was. No GPS or cell phones back then. If I had broken my leg or had some other emergency, I'd probably still be there...

Vid Digger said...

Carmi, nice to see you're still blogging. :)

I'm not a biker, but the toughest climb I've been through was on a road march in full gear through some woods in Germany. After the first few miles we had a choice of sticking to the road or walking through the woods. We choose the woods, thinking it would be easier on our feet. Our leader made us walk that hill four times before heading back!