Earlier this week, I met a guy by way of this blog, and now the two of us are planning to go for a ride tomorrow. In the midst of working out the details, he was describing a route he often rides that we might try. He mentioned hills and pace, and then asked if I had any “limitations.” Suspicious that his innocent-sounding query might be a thinly disguised hint that he fancies himself the superior rider and is planning to drop me like a bad habit at the first opportunity (just kidding, Kirk; I’m thoroughly looking forward to our ride), I figured it was time to get off the bike path and back on some real roads. So I spent seven miles of bike path warming up and (more importantly, perhaps) psyching myself up, turned off the path at its northern terminus, and set my sights on that God-forsaken, knee-buckling, back-breaking, lung-crushing beast of a hill on Wilmoth.
OK, I’ll admit that by Tennessee or Kentucky (or even southern Rhode Island) standards, it’s probably not all that bad. But for those of us accustomed to relatively flat miles with a handful of rollers now and then, it’s a wonder to behold. The hill is just shy of a mile long. The climbs come in three tiers, with two-, five-, and three-percent grades, respectively. There’s a difference of 79 feet between the lowest and highest points, and a total ascent of 95 feet. It’s wicked.
It’s been a couple of months or so since we last saw one another. We used to be friends of a sort, but time apart has lead to some resentment. I began talking trash to it the minute I turned off Sutton Rd., assuring it that I wasn’t afraid and daring it to force me off the bike (albeit while secretly reminding myself not to puke as I mashed the pedals). I began picking up speed on the west half. The road surface is in wretched condition making the ride quite treacherous. Then, adding insult to injury, there’s a long flat col before the incline that saps every last bit of forward momentum out of your wheels. Every few seconds, I clicked into a lower gear and tried to keep my cadence up. Before long, I was in the thick of it.
I crested the top soon enough, and actually felt quite good. I finished the circuit and then tacked on another there-and-back on the bike path. I missed thirty miles by a lousy two-tenths of a mile, which was a drag, but I held a quicker pace than last week’s, and that was encouraging. I was also happy to have successfully avoided eating every single thing in the fridge upon arriving home, as I’m oft prone to do.
While I was out, it occurred to me that I don’t really like being a weekend warrior. I miss my bike during the week. It’s like a long distance relationship. It’s hot and exciting when we get together, but there’s an awkwardness, too, and it always takes us a few miles to re-acquaint ourselves with one another. My heart goes out to all those folks with real jobs who have no choice. I’m really looking forward to summer.