It sounded like some dumptruck was getting just a little too close to me, but when I turned my head, a bullet bike whizzed past at 80+ mph. I nearly jumped off my bike.

"Ya rotten buzzard!" I yelled after the passing motorcyclist. And, yes, I realize my comment made no sense, but after an hour and a half of trying to force my way through a headwind, and then launching a climb up a canyon road with the same headwind, there wasn’t a whole lot making sense.

"You take this road, and it’s mostly flat for about ten miles," my father-in-law had said. "Then you turn up through this canyon, and it’s a fairly gradual climb. Then you come up here, and it’s rolling hills to here followed by a twisty ten-mile descent here–I know that street’s named Clodfelter–and that’ll lead you back to the house. And it actually works out to about 40-something miles–you’ll see." This was the legendary 50-mile bike ride my brothers-in-law all remembered from their boyscout days in Tri-Cities, Washington. For them, it had taken three hours just to get to the canyon climb, and even more hours to make it home.

After getting on the road, I could understand why–a headwind was shooting through the entire valley like a herd of invisible sheep charging the opposite direction. The first ten miles kept me to about 15 mph. I enjoyed a momentary respite as I turned up the canyon, but then that gradient (which was gradual as promised) combined with the same headwind to grind me into the pavement. But the truth is that I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place. My father-in-law, the former scoutmaster, had printed off a Yahoo map and given me some pretty straightforward directions, but all of the off-shooting roads had left me a little confused. I’d ridden by Badger Canyon Road, thinking it was the way to go, only to find gravel after the initial climb (I had the road bike there, ya know). But I figured as long as I was out, I might as well ride, so I kept going and somehow stumbled onto the right roads.

So there I was, midway up the nastiest climb of the day, on some road whose name starts with a ‘W,’ pinned between a guardrail and a bullet bike, unable to hear my own gears shift over the wind, and struggling to keep my speed above 10 mph. I finally crawled to the top and began clawing my way through the rolling hills expecting thirty more miles of distance, when my saving grace appeared after only 30 miles–Clodfelter Road.

Not only was it comforting to realize that I was in the right place, but it also meant that I had only 10-15 more miles to go. The road narrowed as I actually passed another cyclist going the opposite direction. "Hey! How’s it going?!" I yelled cheerfully to no response–but of course he was riding into the headwind now so he probably couldn’t hear me anyway.

To my shock and amazement, the descent brought a whole new adventure with it. The wind was blowing back and forth as a crosswind, so I eased on and off the brakes the whole way down–afraid I’d get blown into some oncoming dumptruck. I got passed by a joyriding Porche owner and then chased by a couple of dogs that managed 25 mph. Fast dogs scare me.

Near the bottom of the descent, I spotted what appeared to be an extremely steep side road. Realizing I was coming up short on mileage for the ride, I veered off and found the road amazingly easy to climb. At the top, some poor dog, obviously at the end of its rope, charged out in front of my wheel in a suicide attempt. It’s a good thing the owner was there to pull it back inside and give it the necessary therapy. When I turned around to descend the side road, I figured I’d take my hands off the brakes and the pedals and find out how hard the wind had blown me up the road. Yeah, I descended at 13 mph if that tells you anything.

Rolling back into town, I had one last climb up to my in-laws’ house, and to my shock it had only been two hours and fifteen minutes. I charged up the last road, coasted into the garage, hopped off the bike and burst in the door to announce to my father-in-law how quickly I’d ridden the route.

"You must’ve gotten lost …"

P.S. I came across another cycling blog not that long ago that y’all might find interesting: Bike Drool


19 thoughts on “Vrrrrrrrrrrrooooooooommm!!!

  1. Zed

    Jord – good, yes, no, no. Though I\’ve heard it\’s good. If you have a copy and you feel like sharing it, I\’d be game for reading it some time.

    Tom- I know it. I can\’t wait for our next vacation to Washington so I can try out that canyon road again. Maybe next time I\’ll reserve myself some more time and do the climb a few times over.

  2. Unknown

    Did they (he, her?) really ask if you\’d gotten lost?   
    You know, the more resistance you have, the more you are strenghtened.

  3. Zed

    momdeb- yeah, I think he was a little surprised that I came back so soon. I must\’ve given the impression I didn\’t enjoy the ride or something. Truth is, it was tough, but it was also a blast. That\’s a good workout route. I can\’t wait to try that canyon out again.

    Tom- I\’ll have to watch it when I\’m on a different computer. These Macs don\’t seem to want to play the file.

  4. Zed

    Actually I read right over it. I think I\’m only half here today. I\’m still recovering from yesterday\’s 9-hour drive home in the dark.

  5. Unknown

    unable to hear my own gears shift over the wind
    I understand that with a Campy gruppo, that wouldn\’t be a problem.
    [Ducks head to dodge flying bowls of pasta fazool].

  6. Zed

    Al- you are way too energetic for a Monday morning, my fazoolish friend. I\’ve never tried Campy. That\’s for rich folks, eh?

  7. Unknown

    The other day when I was out on my bike, I rode past a car at a stoplight and turned right.  The guy honked right when I was beside him and I jumped so much that I had to laugh.  Sounds like you\’re riding pretty fast.  When I go out I only average about 17 MPH, and that is mostly on the flats.  I guess it\’s because your bike is so much nicer than mine!

  8. Tom Stormcrowe

    Apparently it\’s not safari compatible either! Realplayer will play it as well, and I have a click link to it in the post as well as the embedded mediaplayer in the blog. Did you try that? it\’s .wmv format, by the way.

  9. uncadan8

    You know it\’s a good ride when you are surprised at how much (or how little) time has gone by when you get home. It\’s all relative!

  10. Unknown

    pathetic?! fighting wind the entire way?! it\’s the wind that really makes this a feat. young mr. caloi, i\’ve done 36 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes with some hills but no winds. i\’m totally impressed. i mean, mebbe others are not as easily bowled over, but you should be prooud. it also strikes me that your times can only improve over the season.

  11. katie

    How many miles do you normally ride?!  And are you sore for a
    month after doing something like that? My legs are sore just from
    reading about it.

  12. Zed

    Katie, we\’ve got to get you bike-shopping, friend. You would love this sport.
    I had a friend ride 175 miles in a bike race last year. Less than a month later, he ran a marathon in northern Utah. He said the marathon left him sore for a week afterward, but the ride didn\’t hurt the next day. That\’s one of the reasons I like cycling. Yes, you\’re sore when you first start out, because your muscles and joints need to get used to it (your rear end in particular), but if your bike is set up right, you\’re never sore again–even if you push your limits. You might be tired or beat for a few days, but not sore. Kinda nice, eh?
    In the summer time, I\’ll go for rides of 30 miles minimum (which usually takes about an hour and a half), but during the winter I have to live with the fact that I can be outside for 45 minutes at most before I freeze to death, so it\’s more like 10-20 miles. If it\’s really cold, it\’s more like 2-5 miles. And if it\’s really, really cold, I go to the gym and do something else.
    I\’ve done 70 miles in a ride before, but that\’s about the longest ride I\’ve done. I\’m still an amateur, ya know.

  13. Zed

    Erica- thanks, man. I\’m not quite in top form yet, so I\’m hoping to improve this season. Thing is, I\’ve never been in top form for this race I love, so the idea is to get there this year. I still don\’t think I stand a chance, but I\’d like to get a decent time.
    Cycling\’s funny. If you have a chance after your next triathlon, spend about a month doing nothing but cycling. It\’s weird, but your times will drastically improve. You never know, that might save you a few minutes in your half-ironman.

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