I did the hillclimb as planned, only slower than planned because of a surprise head/crosswind, but I didn’t turn around and head home as planned. Instead, I embarked on an almost three-hour ride over 50 miles.
For some time now, I’ve had this idea for a fantasy half-century on the roads in my area. I’d never get more than 15 miles from home, but I’d every single paved rolling hill in the area. In the first 13 miles, I’d have about 1,500 feet of climbing, and I figured I could perhaps gain another 1,000 feet through the sharper climbs littered throughout the rest of the ride. As it turned out, there would be a total of 3.5 flat miles–that’s it–though the toughest climb would only be 250 feet in one mile. All-in-all, not a bad Lotoja training route.
One by one, the shorter, sharper rises took their toll, making me weaker and weaker until, on the penultimate climb, I found my speedometer registering single digits. It was about there that I realized I’d be short on miles for my half-century, and what fun is a 48-mile semi-half-century, really? So I adjusted my route to include just a couple more miles, one of which would be another 240-foot, 1.5 mile climb through town.
I strained on that last climb. Yes, I was gasping, but what really slowed me down was the weakness in my legs. I coasted the second-last mile and then took on the final challenge, a 40-foot molehill rise down the street from my apartment complex where I managed to find enough fumes in my tank to crest at 21 mph, and then hit 50 miles of distance just before I rolled into the parking lot.
And who was around to share my triumph? What royalty graced my finish line and congratulated me after my Ronde Van Rexburg? Just my neighbor, Mitch, out washing his car.
"Hey, how you doin’?"
"Me, I’m exhausted."
"Yeah? How far’d you go today?"
"Fifty." Fifty windy, dusty, dry, sweaty, chilly, crank-twisting, brain-baking, stinking miles!
P.S. I don’t know what your musical tastes are like, but after I got back last night, my brother brought over a CD of this pretty snazzy Aussie band called Youth Group, and it’s pretty mellow, but nifty alternative stuff. Enjoy. (And play the ‘Forever Young’ video–it’s cool.)