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...