Monday, January 12, 2009

Pretty Much the Hardest Ride Ever.

Five point seven miles an hour. No amount of willpower and positive thinking could make that number creep any higher.

I was on the last climb of the day, a 400 meter cupcake on River Road. I've climbed this riser many times, at 10, 11 MPH. No sweat. But never at the tail end of a Pete's Mountain hammer-fest.

Not like anything that I had done that day resembled hammering.

Saturday mornings for Team Tedder/Circus/Hammer Velo are where the rubber meets the road. Long stretches at race pace, minimal recovery. I knew what I was getting into...pain, suffering and a lot of riding by my lonesome. I spent most of Friday evening and Saturday morning with my stomach churning with anxiety. I knew I would get shelled, I just didn't want take a wrong turn out in Clackamas County, run into "Deliverance" and never make it out again. And we were doing Pete's Mountain, emphasis on the word "mountain." To say that I'm a crappy climber would be to insult crap.

We rolled out Springwater Corridor and cut up to Terwilliger through the cemetery. Because this was uphill, it could've been more fun, but I've done the cemetery dozens of times and know where the top, and relief, is located.

Once we got through Lake Oswego, the boys (and Beth) put the pedal to the metal and I wouldn't see them again for 5 miles, even though I managed to keep over 20MPH for the entire stretch. The point of the ride is to ride hard, though, so I put my head down and kept on keeping on. Which was hard as I hit every stoplight in West Linn and every time my heart rate got over 80%, my lungs started filling up with the remains of my New Year's cold. There were a few times I though I would drown in my own snot.

At the first regroup, I was barely there long enough to farmer blow all over the road when we were off again. And again, it only took a few minutes before I was riding alone. The second regroup wasn't far down the road, and that time I had enough time wrestle out of my bibs, pee and take in a few calories.

Then we started climbing. The climbing gnomes promptly affixed an anchor to my rear hub and I drug that anchor along for miles and miles. We were riding in a thick fog and every time I thought I was close to the top, the fog would part and usually reveal an increase in the grade of the road. I hadn't seen anyone in 20 minutes and could only laugh each time the road got I had voluntarily showed up in order to subject myself to this nonsense.

Third regroup. Again, no time for anything other than a quick drink and a futile shaking out of the quads. Then more climbing. In the fog. By myself. In the middle of nowhere. As hard as I could go. I wanted to take a break after two miles at 7 MPH, but knew the group was waiting. My legs burned and I couldn't stand up in the saddle more than a few seconds before I thought my knees would buckle.

But, surprisingly, I never mentally gave in. I never wanted to quit. I knew I could make it. albeit way goddamn slower than everyone else. I made up a little song in my head that liberally used the phrases "fucking ridiculous" and "fat ass up the hill" and "get your fucking ridiculous fat ass up the hill." To the tune of a Britney Spears' song.

Fourth regroup wasn't even a regroup. The peloton started rolling again as soon as I was within 20 meters.

Fatigue, dehydration and caloric deficit caught up with me in a big way once we hit the home stretch on River Road. I hadn't had time to refuel at any of the regroups and had had a hard time getting anything down while on the bike due to the layer of snot that was blocking most of my windpipe.

The last ten miles were a exercise in frustrated futility. I would try to keep up, try to hold on, but my legs just weren't having it. It was like trying to convince two cranky toddlers to take a nap. I'd say, "come on, just a little bit faster." They'd say, "um, no." By the time we hit the Springwater corridor, it was taking all of my will and concentration to stay above 15MPH.

At the end of it all, we rode approximately 45 miles (my bike computer spontaneously reset itself three times on the ride, so I'm not exactly sure of the mileage), but my body felt like that it was closer to 85. My two wool baselayers, windstopper jacket and tights were soaked in sweat. I was so glad I'd driven to River City, as I don't think I could have made it back up Corbett, even with a pack of wild dogs chasing me.

Hardest ride ever, but not the worst. I knew what I was signing up for, and there will be many more rides where my only company is the climbing gnomes and the sound of Britney Spears in my head.

But I know it will make me a stronger rider. Either that or a homicidal maniac. Stay tuned.


merlin33 said...

i can't imagine suffering that badly and then having a britney spears tune enter my head, even if they were your own words, the fact that her song entered my brain would make me mentally crack--

Lindsay said...

I think its the upbeat,happy pop-iness of it. At that point in time, I needed some sunshine and bubblegum and rainbows. Because the thought of it now makes me want to vomit.