After a quick Adapt warm-up (even more necessary when it’s 40 degrees and you’re about to go from sitting in a car to grinding up hills in a matter of minutes) we set off. Kelly trailed behind at first, trying to fiddle with the GoPro that were going to use for footage on our trip, but as soon as the gradient kicked up, she was at my side and then off. Unless she’s loaded down with touring gear we don’t even bother keeping together when we’re riding. Kelly’s much too strong of a rider to keep piddling along at my pace, it doesn’t do either of us any good. She learned that on the first big ride we ever did together. When we climbed the road to Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau, Kelly took off the other direction, doing a 5-mile out and back and still catching me before I’d crested the 6-mile climb. She rode circles around me, darting ahead and whipping back down while yelling encouragement: “Come on, you got this!”
I wanted to kill her. Snotty little B, dancing around on the hardest climb I’d ever done. I gave her the nastiest glare I could muster and said, “You are not helping. I’ll see you at the top.” She was gone around a bend before I’d made it another 30 yards.
I’m a self-motivated person. It’s often a huge benefit, not needing external stimuli to push myself physically. But my misery doesn’t want any company, and when I’m really struggling, everybody else (especially those that are kicking my ass) can just shut up and let me suffer.
Since then, we always ride at our own paces. On the hills, Kelly’s speed is something I couldn’t even get to in a 100ft burst. When she stood up and started cranking up this shaded hill on the backside of Haag Lake, she was gone before I even had a chance to start hurting. So I down shifted and tried to settle into a rhythm. It didn’t work. I haven’t been on my bike enough to make hills this steep anything but painful. I caught up with Kelly a few times in the first few miles as she stopped to play with the GoPro and our new Cannon camera.
Luckily, once I finally warmed up, I was able to find my rhythm. Kelly rode around the whole lake looped back, I was on the final climb when she made it to me. I was still having to stop and take breaks, albeit less frequently than at the start. I’ve been messing with my gearing, trying to figure out away to eliminate the flopping of cables attached to my handcranks. Right now, I’m using an 8 speed internal hub, which is smooth shifting and has wonderfully functional coaster brake. But it doesn’t have a wide enough gear range, so I’m unable to spin my way up the really steep hills. A real granny gear is going to be that much more important when I’m carrying the extra weight of my touring setup.
By the time I made it back to the car I was feeling easy contentment that usually finishes a nice hard workout. I got 12 miles in; Kelly rode 19. Maybe it was a bit more difficult than it needed to be, but at least I learned a few things. Always good to get moving, even better when you catch a bluebird day in December.