Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The difference a year makes, and, thank you, spring:

On yesterday’s ride, I was doing my “grand tour climbing” repeats – by that, I mean climbing fast, but not over the limit, the type of climbing you could do all day if you had to handle the Col d’Aubisque or the Tourmalet or something. I’m fortunate to live in a fairly hilly area, but it’s a longer drive than it’s worth to get to serious mountains, so going up and down the canyon roads sufficies. It’s about 500 feet of elevation gain per trek. This particular way up the hill is not so steep – right about 2k long, so the average grade is about 5-6%. I’m on my way down after 3 repeats, ecstatic about spring finally having arrived.

It’s sixty-two degrees out, and it means I can get by on shorts, a jersey, and arm warmers, which get rolled down up the climbs. I contemplated the number of articles of clothing I had to wear in February, when it was 40 degrees out and raining. Toes-up, we’ve got socks (2), shoes (2), booties (2), leg warmers (2), shorts, undershirt, jersey, vest, arm warmers (2), glove liners (2), full-fingered gloves (2), hat, helmet, and maybe a rain jacket over that. That’s 21 pieces.

In conditions like that, I think I spend more time getting READY for a ride than many do exercising in a day. Yuck.

As I’m descending the bumpy, concrete-and-chip-seal road, about two thirds of the way down I pass a rider on the way up. Another rider! Amazing things, the weather will do. He’s a middle-aged gentleman on a red Merckx, and waves to me as he clicks out a decent rhythm up the hill.

I need to get the rest of the way to the bottom and get turned around, which means he’s got about 2 minutes head start on me up the hill. I take some pride in being able to think “no problem.” I lean into the climb a bit more, unzip my jersey, roll down my arm warmers, and notch the speedometer up to 28km / hr. Yes, that’s hard.

I pass him with about 400 meters to go in the hill, and he does this priceless double take. Yeah, all right, so that’s part of why I do stuff like that. It’s some sort of sick satisfaction to see them looking at me and thinking “wait, weren’t you just … going down?”

Now if I can just hammer that home in some races, I’ll be just fine.


  • At 10:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    That February rain is the worst in the Pacific Northwest...we in central time might have more layers to put on, but I like 0 degrees and snow ( and sun! ) better than all that rain. It's tough to breathe though!


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