Monday, May 28, 2012

Did I Finish That Ride, or Did it Finish Me?

A rough ride yesterday, and I ain't talking road surfaces.

I had mapped out a brand new route on the other side of the river, up through Deerfield into Shelburne, on tiny back ways with names like Sand Gully Road and Lucy Fiske Road (intersecting now, and for all eternity, with Erah Fiske Road... makes you think).

Before the suffering came the bridge over the pretty Deerfield
Many of the roads were gravel. Many -- too many -- were among the steepest actual roads I've ever ridden, more like mountain bike trails.

All of this sounded like a delightful adventure in the morning, but soon after I set out, I began losing power. It felt like a battery was missing. Shortly thereafter, I hit the nastiest hill of the day.
Standing up and jamming down on the pedals for all I was worth brought scrambling, meager progress.

Scramblescramblescramble, stop, heave for breath, hike-a-bike, heave for breath. And so forth.

A third of the way into the loop, the idea of turning back flitted through my mind, but was squashed like one of the gnats flitting endlessly around my sunglasses. Turn back? I might as well give up on the whole day. Turning back is so... depressing.

For better and for worse, I'm not real good with letting go.

This is a road, but only because it says so on the map

Finally, I topped out, at least temporarily. The view was nice, but not nice enough for all the trouble it took to get there. Later, I did get a better reward -- a visit with a local critter.

Climbing does have its rewards, such as the view from the top
Some people find lamas on the tops of mountains; I find llamas
The roads became more rolling, if by "rolling," you mean jagged, nasty sawtooth hills. The scenery picked up as I crossed Route 2 a couple of times and headed through the edges of Shelburne, a classic New England small town.

Pretty much the entire library for the town of Shelburne
Some business owner built this beauty, no doubt. Four chimneys!
It was about at this time I ran out of food and liquids, with nary a store to be seen. From there, it was onward to more ridonkulous hills and forest primeval. The final "road" that completed the loop portion of my ride was three miles of unmarked wet clay and scarifying descents down loose rock. I would have needed more more nutrition, more skills, or just a mountain bike, to enjoy it. Maybe all three.

But I finished. Ragged, barely moving, I crawled into a convenience store about two miles from the car and croaked out a request for a cola and a granola bar. Sweetest meal I've had in a while.

I'm sorry I wasn't in shape to relish the challenge while I was there, but it was, in fact, some of the more beautiful country I've ridden out here. Glad I took photos, 'cause I ain't headin' back there too soon.


Scott said...

Loved the story and the pics. I can relate on the letting go and turning back points. I'm learning to be reasonable with both.
The stone work in the library is inspiring. Just the way a New England library should look. A masterpiece in timelessness.
I rode with a good rider on Saturday. Stuff a little out of my zone. Rocks,roots,singletrack. I didn't do that bad, put was pretty pooped at the end. The thing is, I'm actually pumped to ride with him again.

Velosopher said...

"A little out of my zone" is about where I like to be, Scott -- hope you enjoy the redux!

Thanks for your comments!

Juancho said...

You know you loved it!

Velosopher said...

You know how it is, bro -- loved it in retrospect.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

I have said it many times you never write about or talk about the rides where your fitness, mechanics and food were all perfect. It is the rides like this one that make you a cyclist. My favorite thing of all in cycling (and life) is knowing you can't do something and doing it anyway.
Damn fine. Someday I hope to ride a bike in the state of my birth.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Sounds like you're ready for the D2R2 in August. Some of the same roads, plus lots more!

Velosopher said...

I'm not very good at knowing my limits, Jonathan, but I do know D2R2 is out of reach for this middle-aged wonder. :-) The shortest ride is more than twice what I did here...