59 miles and over 4,000 feet of climbing today.
One sighting of an unbelievably blue Eastern Bluebird (except it seemed to have a yellow breast, not orange.)
One driver pulling alongside me as I was climbing the final half-mile of two miles of eight percent grade (about 40 miles in to the ride) who asked me directions to UMass. While I was climbing. Dude -- can you hear me wheezing?
One moment of extreme self-doubt, traveling about five and a half miles an hour, about two-tenths of a mile from the peak of that same hill (the highest point I reached today). If I had allowed any other thought into my mind besides tenaciously repeating the words, "I can do this" -- anything, such as, "There's a cloud overhead" -- I would have tipped right over in the middle of the road, and just lain there, heaving for breath, hot tears washing my sweaty face clean.
One incident of extreme, full-leg cramps, where I again almost fell off the bike. This is the point at which I changed my route and headed downhill. I added miles but reduced grades.
* * *
Today's ride was my best cycling achievement since I rode most of the Oregon/California coast as a teenager (with 30 pounds of gear on the bike). I try to avoid posting stats on the blog, because I don't like encouraging the whole comparison plague. I just can't help kvelling today. The pneumonia and bone bruise/muscle tears might have set me back a couple months, but I'm making progress, and I'm so happy about that.
I'm still thinking of switching my 53/39 chainring for a compact. It seemed like a stellar idea on the last hill before home.