The last time I put this kind of time in the saddle was well over two years ago. A lot of things have changed since then. This was a taste of what things used to be like.
Next to the Six Gap ride, this is – in terms of elevation gain per mile – the hardest ride I’ve ever done. Ride as in proper ride; not just showing up to a mountain and putting a bike on it, or parking a few miles out to warm up.
It started right from my front door and culminated in a climb up the Kearsarge toll road, on which road I bonked horribly and willfully, having not eaten enough, having burned most of everything I had on the way there, knowing I didn’t have to ride back home. It was one of those punishing yet introspective bonks; the bonk one notch below the one where you start crying. Your quads and glutes and knees are in searing pain, smashed into powder, and you have just enough awareness to contemplate your own stupidity.
I could have stopped at the Foliage Festival and bagged something to eat before heading up Mountain Road, but I figured any food in my stomach at that point wouldn’t be too compatible with the double-digit grades of the toll road. So I resigned myself to the inevitable, although in hindsight climbing so slowly, surely it wouldn’t have been much of an issue. Alas.
Todd and I hadn’t ridden together in quite a while, and when I linked up with him at mile six, the pace was pretty deliberate. My legs were progressively coming apart, feeling the effects of having raced each day of the past two weekends. By the time we hit the outskirts of Warner, they were all but destroyed. I’ve never ended a long ride with a mountain climb like this, and I knew it would be hell.
Hell is awesome.