Friday night ended with a downpour right after I finished the fence. Although concerned about the rain continuing through the next day, I knew I'd be free. That was enough.
Saturday dawned clear and bright. It promised to be a warm day--which was something I wanted. I normally ride in the cool of the morning, so I want to get more acclimated to warm/hot temperatures.
Just as I was getting dressed, there was a knock on the door. Two boys from the neighborhood showed up to invite me on a ride. As I was walking out the door, I told my wife, "After a short ride with them, I'm going to take off on my own for a few more hours."
The guys had some hill climbing in mind. That's fine, I though, I love climbing hills. The hill they picked was very steep, but also very short (less than 1 mile), so I settled into a good pace and started up.
"The Old Man and The Hill" or "Old Shifters Die Hard"
Then Chuck (names have been changed) had a problem: his rear shifter blew up. I should point out that the bikes these guys are riding are literally thrift store bikes--probably late '70s. In this case, it was a clamp-on downtube shifter that was the culprit. After trying in vain to fix it. He says, "I'll just try and push this tall gear going up it as far as I can." (Remember, if the shifter isn't there to hold the derailleur in place, it defaults to the smallest cog/hardest gear. Luckily, he was in the smallest chainring on a double.)
To his credit, he would have made it, too, if his rear wheel hadn't kept slipping due to the torque he was laying down. He stopped a couple of times to get out his wrench and tighten the bolts holding the rear wheel on.
From there, we proceeded on to the BYU creamery. There, these young men feasted on ice cream. "No thanks," I said, "I don't want all that cream churning inside my on this hot day."
Of course, after that, they hammered up this longer, but less steep, hill. I say hammered, but somehow they were just riding and I was hammering to keep up with them.
Is this just age? Is that what makes it so hard for me sometimes? I often wonder what shape I'd be in if I'd started seriously riding back then. (I've been riding that long, but never very serious about getting better.)
"The Real Ride" or "A Hard Lesson to Learn"
With a few parting words I broke off from the group and headed out to do a "real ride". I was feeling fantastic. I had a loose plan of riding the Alpine Loop, but I really wanted to do more than that.
When I started up Provo Canyon, I was going at a pretty good pace--this was partly to try and up the relatively slow average I had while riding with the boys. (Overall, we went really slow. It was just that hill where they lost me.) Another biker passed me, so I decided to keep up with him. I just stepped it up a notch and managed to hang with him without much difficulty. After a few miles of this, I figured I'd better slow it down a little, because I wanted to do the Alpine loop, and maybe something else. I was relieved to see him turn around at the next park. No wonder he was going so fast.
I was still planning on doing something in addition to the Alpine Loop when I turned up Alpine Loop Rd. As has been stated, this is the steepest part of the climb. I flew up it.
Well, for me anyway. I kept a reasonable pace and stayed in my saddle about 95% of the time. After I passed Sundance, I started to get just a little bit chilly.
Uh oh. I guess morning water intake is much to little for a warm afternoon ride. I wasn't too concerned, though, and I started drinking more water.
The closer I got to the summit, however, the more I realized I was losing my energy fast.
"I remember this part being easier."
Once at the top, I pounded the rest of an energy bar and pointed my bike down the American Fork side of the mountain. There's nothing like a nice long downhill to help you feel you've recovered. Unless of course, it is a stiff tailwind on a flat road. Coincidentally, this is what I had once I got to the bottom. I was feeling fantastic. I was cruising on said flat road at around 30 mph for about 15-20 minutes.
"See, I managed to pull myself out of that bonk. That's more like it."
Then I turned a corner. I wasn't actually facing into the wind, but I was no longer with it. From that point on, I wanted to stop. I was still about 10 miles from home.
At about 4 miles from home, I thought about stopping a lot. I mean, I really wanted to stop. My legs were so tired I felt like if I stopped spinning, they'd lock up and I wouldn't be able to move them. I kept eyeing small patches of shaded grass off the side of the road with sincere longing.
At about 2 miles from home, I didn't think there was any chance of finishing. Most of my thoughts were spent trying to think of a good excuse to call my wife. This was mixed with the occasional thought of: "I wonder if I'll ever want to ride again." And, "I hate this."
This, to those who have never experienced it, is a bonk. A full-blown bonk. It took me about 30 minutes after I got back before I even wanted to drink--though I knew it was important. About two hours after that I finally sat down and ate dinner. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
"What Did I Do Wrong?" or "I'm Glad to Be Alive!"
Well, for starters, I forgot sunscreen. Again. I think getting sunburnt makes things worse for me. For another, I really didn't drink enough near the beginning. I've been used to cool rides, so I wasn't worried or prepared for it.
Also, partway into my bonk, er ride, that ice cream sure sounded nice.
On Sunday, I was talking with James on the phone, wondering if I'd ever want to get on my bike again. His reply: "Yes. Tomorrow."
He was right. And I even want to do that ride again. Soon.
This morning's ride was a face-paced solo effort. Mostly flat with a short steep climb right at the end. I kept up a really fast average for the first half and fizzled a little at the end. It was good, because I need to learn how long and how hard I can push myself.
No bonk, though.